Every single day deserves it’s own victory dance, no matter what you are going through! Make it a good one. Dance it out. Wake up excited to be ALIVE!
When I was going through cancer, I started a Bunco group to play with local ladies on a monthly basis, and of course they always had wild themes! That’s were the fun is! One month was Prom Bunco and we all put on a prom-like dress and it was hilarious. We were all in black since we all graduated in the late 80’s. It also gave everyone a way to check in on me and my progress and I love it when I would just blow their minds. Everyone thinks chemo is for someone else, not anyone like themselves. And I was happy to share the details of the experience. And then they shared the details with their friends and so on and so on. Thank you Pantene commercial.
I was also teaching pilates on the reformers and my class knew that I had just turned 40 and was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer but first and foremost, I was their teacher and we had a great class. One day a new lady showed up we are going through a tough class, and I am walking around checking on everyone’s form when she keeps staring at me and finally says, something to the affect of – This is REALLY hard… especially for people my age… as we are working our adductors (inner thighs) going through a set of plies with low weights. This lady finally says out loud, I don’t know how YOU will feel doing this when you get to your 40’s but it’s HARD! By now my class is all smiling and chuckling and looking over at me, and I found myself also smiling and laughing to my self, when I walk over to her and say, Well, I DO know what it’s like to do these since I AM forty and on CHEMO. This lady just FROZE. Her mouth fell open and then you could see her thinking that she should shut her mouth and she did as she kept going. For the rest of the class she was quiet. But after class, she came up to me and when I say up to me, I mean in my space peering into my eyes with inches between her nose and mine and says to me, “Are you Faking it?”
Completely taken back, I started shaking my head, stepped back away from her and in horror said, Why would I fake THIS? Are you kidding me? I probably pointed to my port and my wig in the process when I said, Are you KIDDING me? And now as my class is putting on their shoes they hear me and all look at her and probably give her some dirty looks, because she looked around and seeing all the concerned faces, she turns back to look at me and in a huff walked out. Then, everyone came up to me and wanted to know what she said. I said, She asked me if I was FAKING it? OMG! Why in the WORLD would any one in their right mind want to fake Cancer? WOW!
I had NO idea people could even DO that. What a lesson to learn. So, everyone MAKE it don’t FAKE anything! The only thing I would fake is putting a smile on my face when I don’t feel so hot. Make it happen. Then you can trick yourself in to a happyer state. Cancer experiences are far and wide. There is so much to learn from how our society responds.
A few years later I was at Saks for a Survivor Day with complimentary hair cuts and mani/pedis when I am talking to another survivor as a new lady joins our group and sits next to me. I introduced myself and then asked about her own cancer experience when she looks embarrassed and says something to the effect of, Well, it’s not me, it my husbands friends’ girlfriends’ mother that has cancer… And now I am thinking, and say out loud, Yes, Caregivers ARE invited. Then, turning back to the other lady who IS a survivor herself, and including the new lady in the conversation, I continue discussing our experience. The new lady barely says a thing. I am talking about heading out to First Descents Rock Climbing Camp for Cancer Survivors and excited that the name of my polish is Soul Mate by Chanel as they send me on my way with the polish itself! I was thrilled. Soon, the lady next to me exits quietly because we barely noticed she was gone, when my hairdresser is soon taking the seat next to me and leans in to me and says, We aren’t quite sure about the new lady, it seems that she is not a survivor or a caregiver… And I just nodded and said that I had spoken to her and she couldn’t remember ANY details about her friends’ friends’ friends’ friends’ cancer experience to discuss with us earlier. So see, lots of people are faking it, but around survivors we KNOW.
Speaking of nail polish, I have to end with one last great story of happyness and hope when I actually finished chemo and my ritual was to get a mani/pedi, so I went to my local nail salon. I walked in knowing all the techs and announced, I’m DONE! Just got my LAST round of chemotherapy so let’s make this mani pedi super cool with sparkles and rhinestones on a reverse French pedicure with Magenta. Everyone is just happy for me and the new people who look like – what’s going on? – are quietly updated by their technicians as my mom and I sit in the big seats for our services. I have to say, that was by far the BEST most beautiful Pedicure I have EVER received and I could probably find a photo of it if I tried from my phone or on FB but I digress. And when we are checking out, the lady at the register says, Your services were paid for by one of the ladies that was hear earlier.
What? I am standing there in shock frozen! No way! Then, I asked, Well WHO was it? you HAVE to tell me! WHO was it? OMG I have to THANK that lady. I have to know! That was to nice. I have to thank her! OMG. Please tell me who she was! And by now the entire nail salon is staring at the lady at the register until she looks around and says, OK, here it is as she gives me her name and phone number. Which I still have in my phone.
I get home and am so enamored at my fortune about feeling so great with 5 rounds of HOT HOT HOT chemo juice and now an amazing mani pedi that I dial the ladies number and then I start to feel all sorts of emotions rushing in towards my face and when she answers I have to hold back tears, when I say, OMG I had to call and THANK you for the most amazing mani pedi ever in my life! You are SO thoughtful. You are invited to my Bunco group, etc. I couldn’t just NOT know who you are! Thank you Thank you Thank you. When she says, Well, I wanted to be Anonymous… And I said, Well, I wouldn’t let the ladies keep it a secret, so please don’t blame them. And she goes on to say, I did it because you were so positive and looked so happy and I just couldn’t believe you had just received your fifth round of chemo and I wanted to do something for you anonymously. Then, she goes on to say, Well, my relative has been going through breast cancer therapy and she has not done as well as you at all. And she lives in Dallas and I just wanted to do something for you since you live in my neighborhood. By the time we hang up, I burst out into tears for all the love and fortunate blessings bestowed upon me during and with this experience of cancer. SHE is the reason I continue to write and advocate for cancer patients, research and legislative action. Because cancer survivors don’t want any more cancer survivors! We want action, support for others that aren’t so fortunate and therapies for everyone’s cancer so they can feel great – and get mani pedis!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the 4th Pathway to Wellness + Happyness through your Lifestyle. Monday, I will continue with the 5th Pathway which is Spirituality as a pathway continuing my series, How to Turn a Hot Mess into Happyness: 7 Pathways to Wellness. And remember, you can work with me through your own cancer experience as your coach by contacting me at 713-232-9796. Thank you.