My first act of giving back was simple: I made an appointment to donate blood at the hospital within an hour of the deadline to be eligible for a prize. Just hours later I got a phone call – I had won admission to the Jets Training Facility. As my husband is a 30-year Jets season ticket holder, he and my son were thrilled.
LOSS – What could be negative about that?
GIFT – I want to do what I want and stop saying “No” to myself.
The decision to donate blood was motivated by more than just the need to give back. I also realized that I had always wanted to do it, but for some reason never made the time. I just didn’t make it a priority. So, finally doing it made me feel connected to my own life and what I wanted to do with it. Then, when I learned I had won a prize that made my husband and son so happy, it was extra validation that I was on the right path!
LOSS – Again, no down side.
But figuring out what you want out of life isn’t easy. It’s hard work and takes thinking outside the box.
GIFT – I’ve met many amazing, supportive people as a result of my hospitalization.
Sarah, Kristen, Sara, Lee Ann, Lockey and others at Overlook Hospital have held me up in a way I never expected. I have a support system which I had no idea existed the day before my mastectomy. It’s a miracle gift to find such support for both the cancer issues and other life issues.
LOSS – Some people don’t get it.
I am scared of getting cancer again in the future. I am scared to go through it all again. I had a mammogram in January this year, which was awful both due to my emotions (in reliving what I went through the first time) and because the tech was an ignorant idiot (at a different facility). Not everyone you meet is supportive and they can inflict incredible pain.
GIFT – I’m taking back control over my body.
I signed up the family at the YMCA and started working out on the machines and taking classes. Again, another thing I always wanted to do but never did. Now I ask “why not?” and go do it.
LOSS – It’s not as easy as it looks.
Okay, so I took a Pilates class. The instructor told us to lie on our backs and raise our feet off the ground. I couldn’t make my feet budge. It took all of my self-control to keep from sobbing and running out of the room. Just another thing I lost that reminded me of how my body was ravaged by cancer. Cancer stinks and it is still sneaking up on me to kick my behind.
GIFT – Keeping at it.
I’m working out and taking care of my body – I think this could lead to a sexier view of myself.
LOSS – This is going to take some time.
I am detached from my breasts, which seem artificial to me.
GIFT – The gift of introspection.
One year of oncology therapy – I couldn’t have made it through without Kristen and Sara. We worked so hard on so many issues – I feel like I was given a wonderful opportunity and I took it and ran with it. I committed to one hour a week and got so much out of our time. It’s an amazing gift to realize your own strength.
LOSS – Crying a lot is no fun.
It was really hard work, lots of emotional turmoil, upset, depression. I went through hell. But, I shudder to think what I would have gone through without the guidance and support I received.
GIFT – Date Nights!
Date nights with Michael – actually on the calendar! I probably wouldn’t have pushed it without having gone through all of this; God knows I didn’t before.
GIFT – Becoming more aware of the present moment.
Since my mastectomy, I’ve read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose twice. It’s a dense book with many concepts to ponder, but I really connected with the voice in the head which lives in the past and worries about the present.
LOSS – I still get easily overwhelmed.
I don’t know what it is, but there are days when you are just one moment away from losing it all over again. Why is that? I am still easily overwhelmed by too many decisions, or facing things where control is an issue. It’s easy to go back to that place….
GIFT – Which led to meditation.
I’m not perfect at the everyday meditation ritual. In fact, I’m pretty bad at it. But when I started the practice of meditation, I learned how to become aware of the voice in my head – if not exactly how to turn it off. Just being aware of it, however, is a huge help.
LOSS – The voice in my head.
It is so easy to drive yourself crazy worrying about doctors’ appointments, tests, every little ache and pain that may be trying to tell you something…… Once you’ve been there, you know it can happen to you again, because it already has.
GIFT – Which, with yoga, led to breathing.
Of course, yoga and mediation go hand in hand. I just didn’t know that. I was meditating when I started looking for an exercise that wouldn’t wreck me emotionally like Pilates. Then I remembered yoga and gave it a try. The focus on being where you are today and breathing put me in a calmer place, emotionally and physically. I often find myself slowing down my breath without thinking about it.
GIFT – I fell in love with yoga.
I love, love, love yoga. Again, I thought about doing it before, in some “oh, that sounds interesting” kind of way, but I didn’t make it happen. It was only after joining the Y and taking that horrible Pilates class, that I focused on my need to search for something better for me. I actually leave the house, in the evening, during good and bad weather, happy to go. That’s never happened to me before with exercise. I get misty just thinking about it.
GIFT – The gift of not grocery shopping.