Wednesday 20th November 2013 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. But it's what cancer has taught me since then that has blown my mind.
Second to my parents, cancer has been the next biggest teacher in my life. Even now I'm cancer free, I'm still reaping the benefits from the many lessons it has to offer. You've heard the quote "when the student is ready the teacher will appear". Well from the very beginning of my cancer journey, I was ready so the lessons came thick and fast.
So for those that don't already know my cancer diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. It was one of the best things to happen to me. I know that must sound strange, but it's the truth. Getting cancer, having cancer and now living with its many side-effects isn't the worst thing in the world to happen to me. It's all about attitude, and I had that squared away from the start. I had an attitude of gratitude.
The biggest lesson cancer taught me was patience especially when I considered myself to be one of the most impatient people I knew. When you're sitting in your oncologists waiting room who's running an hour behind schedule surrounded by cancer patients it puts everything into perspective. I'm just another cancer patient surrounded by other cancer patients who possibly have a worse diagnosis or prognosis than me. It wasn't uncommon to see patients and their loved ones leaving the oncologists office visibly upset due to their 'bad' news. Waiting that extra hour so they could have more time with their doctor meant nothing in the big scheme of things. Being patient now means being respectful towards myself and to those also around me.
The second biggest lesson cancer taught me was gratitude. I was grateful for self-examinations and catching mine early. Grateful for it not being terminal. Grateful for my husband and in-laws who supported and loved me unconditionally through it all. Grateful for private health care which was covered by the Royal Australian Air Force. The list goes on and on. But you can see why I was such a grateful cancer patient, can't you?
Lastly, the biggest lesson cancer taught me was love. You see, cancer taught me to love again. To love myself and those most important to me. Not just love them like we already do, I mean wholeheartedly love them with all of my being. I thought I knew all there was to know about love until I got cancer. But now, well now it's on a whole other level. I never knew you could love so much, do deeply, so passionately. And it's 100% real, no bullshit!
Cancer is an incredible teacher and by living with an open mind and open heart you can learn so much more about yourself, about your life. My cancer journey is far from over, and I look forward to the continued lessons I've yet to learn.
So what about you, who's been your biggest teacher in life?