By LAURIE MARSDEN
Cancer took me by surprise. I thought I was too young, I had no family history, and most importantly I really had no breasts. When I was 16 and a 32AA, my brother said (truthfully) that mozzie bites were bigger. Nothing much changed as I grew older.
Except, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And my world became a blur of surgeries and treatment.
It was a truly shitty experience, and yet paradoxically it was a real gift. Here’s why:
1. It clarified my life.
All those worries that seemed so important instantly melted away. You know the kind of thing: why can’t the kids get ready for school on time without being bribed? The stress of juggling schedules and feeling like I was always running somewhere; the house being messier than I’d like; my bumps and bulges reminding me I wasn’t Miranda Kerr in a bikini. Those concerns disappeared. I looked at family, friends, connections and meaningful moments as what truly mattered. They were what I should focus on.
2. It made me more appreciative.
As the worry left and the important things became clearer, I started to appreciate what I had. It was like, “Wow, I don’t really have it so bad.” How had I not seen all the blessings that surrounded me, big and small? Healthy children, a solid partner, beautiful sunny days, the taste of a good meal, the feel of a refreshing breeze, the smile of a passing stranger.
3. It improved my relationship with my husband.
Prior to my cancer, we were in a total relationship funk. I think we were both feeling underappreciated and to an extent, unloved. The strains of work and child rearing kept us busy and vying for more personal space and time. The endless list of what needed to be done, arguing about who should do what kept us at odds. But something shifted with my cancer, and my husband rose to the challenge. He became more engaged in the house and family and I became less of a nag. Sometimes he still leaves his dirty clothes on the floor, but he’s a guy…
4. It showed me how much people care.