Bringing in a New Year: Resolutions to Reflections

Like so many, I was quick to make resolutions each New Year. That is before cancer. Things like losing weight, taking vacations, were big on my list. But after cancer, or in my case, during cancer, I just couldn’t jump on the resolution bandwagon.

When you’re in the throws of cancer, you’re just trying to get to the next day. You think, let’s hope I don’t puke today or that maybe I’ll be able to get out of bed to take a shower. The thought of the next twelve months scares the crap out of you and setting expectations just feels like a recipe for failure.

While I was trying to get to the next day, I started to become very aware of the ‘gifts’ the universe or whatever was giving me. Like watching an amazing sunset so intense it brought tears to my eyes. On a good day, hiking amongst the largest and most beautiful trees I’d ever seen. Or being able to spend an afternoon with my nieces, playing make-believe super heroes.

I realized that these gloriously fleeting moments, is what made up my entire year. These were the things I would call upon from my chemo-ridden memory banks to pull me up from the darkest depths when I could not face the world.

I wasn’t the cancer survivor/patient filling my year with running marathons or walking along the Great Wall of China, but I was doing my best to embrace what makes me happiest and slowing down to take in every second.

It suddenly became so clear. Forget resolutions, I decided to create a “Top Ten Moments” list at the end of each year. Reflecting instead of being resolute. Reflection by definition means we consider an idea or purpose. My purpose is to live in the moment and the idea is to do it as much on my terms as possible.

Your top moments this year might be something grand like the moment you heard the words “No evidence of disease” or completing a “Living Life List” item. Perhaps your moments are full of those ‘gifts’ I mentioned or maybe it’s a combination of both. Time has a way of moving forward, with or without us so why not reflect on what the year brought us, good and bad.

Find out more about Cervivor Ambassador Carol’s story:

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It is getting down to the special night.  The night you will be delivering the gifts to the people from the good list; the things you know they wanted by reading all the letters you get from around the world.  Well, I might be a little late on the letter part but I figured better late than never.  Since we all know you can see us when we are sleeping and when we are awake I won’t even bother to try and use the “cancer card” on you and tell you all the things I want and obviously feel like I should get because I have cancer.  I am not going to ask you for material things.  I am not even going to ask you for an unrealistic wish of being cancer free; a wish that given my medical past is not a reasonable request.  Honestly, I am just going to get real with you.

This year, my first wish is for the gift of time.  However, it isn’t just any time that I am wishing for.  I am wishing for more time to make quality memories with my family.  More time for travel.  More time for advocacy.  More time for things I enjoy.  More time for life.

My second wish this year is the gift of stability.  I want to hear the words “stable disease” more frequently than I hear “your cancer is growing.”  Santa, I recognize that I am not going to magically wake up cancer free, it isn’t likely I will ever have a time that I receive the news that my cancer is in remission, I won’t hear those four little words every person with cancer hopes to hear when receiving scan results:  No Evidence of Disease.  I just want my cancer to stay as close to how it is now as possible; is that too much to ask?

My third wish is that you could give those people around me the gift of understanding and acceptance regarding where I am at in my cancer experience.  It can be challenging and emotionally hurtful when other individuals dismiss my very valid feelings about where I am at in my cancer experience. If I am talking about an upcoming scan it is hard to hear people tell me “I hope it is all clear”, I feel like I am disappointing them if it isn’t a clear scan.  Then, I find myself not talking about scans or results even if they are good enough.  I find myself afraid to share my version of good news; a version that does not meet everyone else’s idea of good news.

My fourth and final wish is that through my advocacy work I can give a gift; the gift of a life for someone who might have otherwise developed cancer.  I hope that through my voice and my story I can encourage women to seek annual wellness exams, ask questions of their gynecologist, and to take the time to learn symptoms of cervical cancer.  I hope that through my advocacy work I can help ensure that this generation is the last generation to have to worry about HPV related cancers by helping to educate individuals about the importance of the HPV vaccine in males and females.  I also hope that my advocacy work related to clinical trials helps to find a plethora of new treatment options and a cure for cancer.

Santa, I know that it might seem like I have a lot of wishes this year.  Honestly, I suppose I do.  These gifts are difficult gifts too.  They are not things you can touch or feel.  They are not gifts you can wrap.  However, aren’t those the best gifts of all?

Cervivor Love Always,