I remember the feelings of rage as if it were yesterday. I was walking back down the mountain from spreading my dad's ashes. His best friend had carried him up there to overlook the same spot they had sheep hunted many times. My mom and I saw three bucks in velvet along the road; a sign that my dad was there. Deer are his totem animal since he's been gone.
My mom worried about the anger seething out of me. There was no consoling or calming it. In my mind, there was no reason why; why my whole world was gone at the age of 21.
My dad was my safe place, the calm in the storm. The dad who nurtured the tomboy in me. Allowed me to hunt, fish and shovel shit instead of dishes. My mom did too, ironically it took me many years to realize she and I were a lot alike which is why we butted heads.
Cancer was the devil, there was no God and life didn't make sense. Why would such a good person be taken at the age of 49?
It took a long time for that feeling and belief to fade, I can't tell you exactly when it happened. Part of it evolved as we had kids, although not right away. I remember finding purpose out of the pain when I was VERY pregnant with our second child. It was hot, I was huge and miserable.
The little guy beside me looked so much like my dad and his middle name was after him. A few days before I gave birth I bought a fitness magazine at the store checkout on impulse. Not something stereotypical of myself but I did anyway. Inside the letter from the editor Robert Kennedy (not the presidential ones) wrote an article that still resonates with me to this day.
You have 24 hours in a day, if you can't find one hour for yourself you are in a very sorry way.... Photo: Bullfrog Images
It spoke to my soul. It was like someone smacked me upside the head. Perhaps you've thought I've just been a fitness freak always but that's not so.
My WHY is so deeply ingrained, it is part of the fabric of my very being. In that moment I decided that I would do everything within my power to be strong, healthy and resilient to live long for my own children. Be able to run, jump, explore and refuse to be the armchair parent watching from the sidelines.
For over 20 years this has been my fuel to be fit and as healthy as possible. The irony of what has evolved recently isn't lost on me.
I get a lot of well-meaning f*ck cancer messages from people cheering me on through this process and I truly appreciate them. People are passionate about this disease and to be honest it is harder watching people you love than taking one for the team yourself. If the roles were reversed with my husband being diagnosed I would be a wreck.
You can try to be angry through the diagnosis process or you can look at it for what it really is: a choice. We all have a choice. Did I have a choice to get cancer? No. However, I do have a choice in how I respond to it. I woke up one day after telling family and my first thought was I could break the cycle. Cancer doesn't have to mean death.
Another thought popped up while in the ice bath one morning. I have a choice: be angry or be grateful. This is the path I've been selected to walk and learn from, so I depart on it without any fear. There are moments of fear and overwhelming but way more of gratitude for the amazing life I live, have lived and will continue to live. I mean let's be honest who has three birthday cakes? Me! Photo: Bullfrog Images
If I really wanted to stay angry with cancer I could go on about all it's taken from me, my mom at age 61 over a decade ago when I was 36 years old. Friends way too young, family long ago but it's a mute point. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The problem is you can't kill cancer with anger.
Instead, I find myself at a fork in the road, with a choice to make. The choice is clear at this point. Wake up, enjoy life, repeat.
I still don't understand why some people end up with the hardships they do. It seems insurmountable sometimes to fathom the pain and suffering. That's one part that is still a struggle, suffering is something you can't unfeel or unsee if you've watched a loved one go through it.
At the end of the day I fall back on everything happens for a reason. Something much deeper and more ordained than I can explain or even have the intelligence to understand.
Some people say it's a cop-out to believe that but I have watched people survive accidents they shouldn't have and alternately seen people perish unexplainably. It doesn't mean you should give up on living your best life, it means we all need to surrender the thought we have control of everything.
Sending You Love N' SUP,