I'm writing this post from a hospital room. A more appropriate time to emphasize the importance of health seems impossible, so here I go:
My mom is 55 years old and has always painfully driven nutrition into her family like a bald screw (aka, she wore us thin). Her mom died of inflammatory carcinoma when she was only 59, so, paranoid, my mom never let me eat nitrates ("Bologna gives you cancer!"), food coloring, sugar, dairy except on special occasions requiring ice cream. Forget about how unfair my childhood was as I tried to barter food at school and fast forward to adulthood. Even after avoiding known carcinogens, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 with no statistically significant family history, and now, my mom sits in a hospital bed waiting for pathology results, three blood transfusions later to replace what was lost to hemorrhaging, knowing that the 12 cm carcinoma in her pelvis has spread its nefarious cells to her lymph system. I picture an evil black octopus battling with her white blood cells who blast one of the nasty black tentacles attacking her organs only for it to regrow instantly.
While this battle ensues, I reflect on how valuable health and family and optimism are; how precious each day is. She spent so much of her time being stressed to such a high anxiety level that she had psoriasis on her hands and scalp, she would comfort binge eat vegan food, and analyzed her stressful events with everyone. Her stress stemmed from many places: her desire for perfection, financial worries, raising three stubborn children, but also enduring an extremely stressful work environment. She worked in a worthwhile job helping to place foster children with families, but her office was full of unhappy co-workers who made the environment anxiety and suspicious-ridden, unproductive and toxic that permeated throughout the culture from the top down. I have no doubt that this negativity had an impact on her physical health.
As I reflect on her advanced cancer that spring itself on us without warning, I implore myself and everyone in the world:
1. Enjoy every moment of the day-- you truly never know how much time you have left. If you are reading this, you have access to internet and a computer. You have enough leisure time to read this blog post. You're doing better than hundreds of millions of people in the world who don't have those things.
2. Give people a break! Stop judging yourself and others. We're all just trying to get by.
3. Just be nice! Seriously-- it's that simple. Take a deep, long breath before snapping at someone and then be kind; or at least don't be cruel!
4. Be happy-- if needed, focus on being happy for only the next hour, and then the next hour and the next... If you are surrounded by negative people, get away from them. If you are working in a negative or dangerous environment, apply for a new job every day until you get a new one. It's really truly not worth it.
5. Eat veggies! (Thought I'd throw that one in there!) Don't get so fastidious about your diet that it stresses you even more, but eat food that makes you feel good and stop eating food that gives you indigestion, makes you sleepy, or makes you sad and guilty. Simple. Done.