Lessons of Cancer…Living in the Moment

Today marks another cancerversary.  One year ago I started Chemotherapy. It was by far the scariest day of my life.  I was terrified to begin Chemo and rightfully so.  But I am very grateful for Chemotherapy as it taught me so many lessons.   The biggest thing it taught me was to live in the moment.

When you are so sick during Chemo, you only have a few moments when you feel good.  You learn to cherish those.   You don’t have the energy to worry about what will happen tomorrow or next month or next year.  All the precious energy you have is focused on right now.

I carry those lessons with me on a daily basis.  If I find myself obsessing or worrying over some future event, I remember the lessons of Chemo.  It stops me in my tracks to refocus, regroup, and trust that it will work out.   Here are a few examples:

1) During the Christmas season this year, never once did I experience holiday stress.   Many times during previous Christmases I ended up ill with a cold, the flu, and one time mononucleosis because I PUT MYSELF under so much stress and unrealistic expectations.  The only person to blame was me.

2) Last year I was not able to file my income taxes in a timely fashion because I was too sick to see my accountant.  He filed an extension for me, and I did get it done in October.  This year I will be able to file them on time.  However, no longer do I have any of the stress about it.  I already have written down on my calendar when I need to start preparing, and forget about the rest.

3) If I could bottle the energy I expended to keep my house clean over the past 30 years, I could live to be 135.  Now, I don’t really worry about it.  I had always put some unrealistic Martha Stewart expectation upon myself.  I’ve learned that if I am surrounded by a cluttered mess, my brain is a cluttered mess.  So it is worth the energy to unclutter it.  But if the house doesn’t get swept, there is always next week.

4) Because of cancer and chemotherapy, I was able to let go of what I thought others expected of me.  Now I absolutely do not care.  It never even enters my mind to even think about it!  That is freedom!

5) I used to have difficulty saying yes to things I really liked to do, or saying no to things I did not like.  No longer do I have any difficulties about those issues.  I have almost an instantaneous feeling that comes over me about which is which!

Before this New Year begins, please take the time to really ask yourself what is causing you stress and start making attempts to get it out of your life.  If you can’t remove it from your life, get help or find a way because it will take its toll on you.   Helpguide.org says this about stress:

It’s important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.




  1. Hello Dear Denise, Have meant to email sooner as every blog entry to send out really hits the nail. Thanks for putting into words what I and I’m sure, many others, really feel too. I got an early Christmas gift by having my 4th and final chemo a week before the holiday and felt good enough by Christmas Eve Day to enjoy being with my local daughter and her family. I, too, am realizing more and more that life can be really simple and that I have spent too much time in the past worrying about stuff that’s not worth worrying about. And I do find I’m living more in the moment too. Now I have to learn not to feel annoyed at others when they bemoan having problems that don’t seem to be even molehills.

    Thanks so much for sharing yourself with us. Hope the New Year will be a great one for you. Nancy Allan

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