Monday, September 1, 2014

Professor Cancer

The last year has been difficult.  Four surgeries and a cancer diagnosis have taken a toll on me.  I wasn’t always able to get in front of the computer.   But I didn’t give up writing.  I may not have been writing with regularity but I did carry my notebooks and pens and wrote in them.  I brainstormed in the hospital.  Some of the ideas conceived on the pain meds aren’t fit for public consumption.  But I did keep my brain percolating.

When something negative happens, I like to find the good parts of the situation.  I thought about what I learned this past year and came up with this list.  Though some of these have been said before, I found out they really are true. 

You can get through this.  Even if you think you can’t. 

Don’t allow yourself to dwell on what might happen.  Set short-term goals to get from one thing to another.  Only think about the next step in the process.  Example: Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday.  

You are stronger than you think.  I found that I could take a lot more than I thought.  So can you.   

There are many people who love you and who would miss you.   People tell you how much you mean to them when they think they will lose you.  One friend sent me a utube video of friends who shaved their heads for the friend who had cancer.  She told me she was glad she didn’t have to do that for me.  This was one of the handful of times that I cried.  But it was a good cry.  

Don’t worry so much about small things.  Like cream, what’s genuinely important rises to the top and the trivial sinks to the bottom.

You are not in control. The more tightly you hold on, the less control you have.  All you control freaks, please take note. 

Reach out to others when you need them.  I often feel badly for asking for favors. Learn to do that when you need it.  Plus, others will often volunteer before you even have to ask. 

Let yourself deal with your issues in your own time and in your own way. Realize that you will be dealing emotionally with this long after it is over.  Accept the fact that facing your frailty can be a long process. 

I want to write more than ever.  Looking forward to being able to get back to my normal writing schedule kept me going.  Focus on the things you love, and visualize doing them. 

I enjoy helping other people.  I want to pay forward the wonderful things that people did for me since I realize that it won’t be possible to pay each and everyone back in kind. 

People and things that I love, I love more deeply.  People and things that I dislike, I dislike with less intensity. I focus on what I truly care about.   What I don’t like, I’m able to let it roll off my back more easily. 

Be careful with what you consider important. You only have a certain amount of time on this earth.  Spend it doing things that are important to you. 

People act differently when they hear you have cancer.  You have to show them that it’s permissible not to.  My family didn’t treat me as they normally do.  You have to be as normal as possible and honest about your feelings and it will help them to do so as well. 

It’s good to cry when you need to. It loosens the knot in your stomach and eases the tension.  But don’t let it go on too long.  Otherwise, you won’t be able to function.  Keeping your usual routine is key. 


  1. Sending you my love and admiration dear Lisa, as well as my thanks for sharing such important thoughts that truly apply to us all. I think your example of keeping the journals going, jotting down thoughts to keep those craft skills from rusting out is something we must all do, and by your example certainly can find time to do.
    And you were certainly right about having a world filled with folks who love you...count me in that group. XXX

  2. Lisa ~ Love the list. As Emelle said, it does apply to so many hard things that hit us all. So thank you for sharing from your heart. I love it when people do share from their hearts. I value authenticity, and the reason I do is because it's that authenticity, that realness that truly helps others get through their own hard times. Authenticity breeds courage and inspiration in others. So thank you for sharing. Great post! Hugs!

  3. Lisa, thank you for sharing what you've learned through your incredibly rough year. I love how you share that writing helped you through your hospital stays. And the wisdom you share about life and love is something I'll take to heart. Thanks for writing such an awesome post!

  4. Thank you so much, Emelle. Love you, too. XO

    I think the scribbling kept me from getting too rusty, as you said. Even though some of it was so crazy in my drug induced post surgery state. LOL

  5. Thank you, Mackenzie! This was the easiest post I've ever written. I did hesitate doing it so it's good to hear that you liked it. XO

  6. Thank you, Nichole. I guess you either learn from adversity or let it beat you. And I don't like anything to take me down. :) XO

  7. So good! This quote should be stamped on everyday dishes or embroidered on a pillow: "Like cream, what’s genuinely important rises to the top and the trivial sinks to the bottom."

  8. Last fall I snuck away from the office for a morning of writing. I sat outdoors at a cafe, the sky was that rich deep blue, people were out and about on their business. I felt connected to the world and to my work and it felt RIGHT. I keep that visual with me, that sense of THIS is how I want to spend my time. I agree, Lisa, visualizing your dreams is huge.

    I think your post nailed something else just as important - making a list of things you've learned can help cement the lesson. You had a huge educational arc this year (that's one way to define it, at least) and you're coming away with it with a PhD in Life Values. Thanks for summing it up for us. Now we just need to practice.

  9. Thank you, Marceline! I think there's so much in my life that I've been upset about over the years that when I look back at it now, it was so small. My goal is to recognize those things in the moment, not in hindsight.

  10. Keely - So true that what you write down seems to be more firm in your mind than if you don't. I like that. I didn't think about it in those terms but now that you've mentioned it, I'm aware of another benefit. :)