SO…It’s been two and a half years since I had breast cancer surgery.  I don’t really write about that anymore, because since finishing active treatment 2 years ago I have different things to say, BUT, and this is a big BUT (because I like big buts and I cannot lie, lol), now that the world’s going through a unique time in history, I realize more than ever, all of the things I’ve learned from having cancer, and the lessons it still teaches me.

I think life is a huge journey.  For years we travel along the same road, with no surprises, and suddenly- BAM! we’re forced to change lanes- or roads all together.  These roads sometimes bring us to great places, like love, success, children, vacations, etc., but sometimes we’re thrust into the unknown.  The unknown is scary, because it’s like a dark forest, with weird sounds all around (the haunted forest in The Wizard of Oz comes to mind) and things that make us uncomfortable- and that’s the important word- UNCOMFORTABLE. 

Let’s talk about being uncomfortable. When you’re forced to change how your life previously was, when you were perfectly content with the way things were, you don’t get “My pants are too tight” uncomfortable, you get “HO-LY SHIT what’s going to happen and how and I going to get through this” uncomfortable.  And that, my friends, is scary.  Fear of the unknown, I think, is what makes people scared the most.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I rode on that “Holy shit!” road for a little while, but then I changed lanes AGAIN, to the “This is NOT going to get the best of me” road- and I’ve kind of been travelling there ever since.  It’s totally normal to be scared, and to even panic when things change and you feel helpless- but then there’s a choice to be made:  Stay there and waste your energy on panicking and being angry, scared, nervous, disgusted, etc., or pick yourself up, pull out your personal armor and fight.  With cancer- you better believe that I chose to fight!

 My fight included protecting myself from the dangers around me while I was having chemo treatments.  What were those dangers?  Things that threatened to make me even more sick, because chemo had compromised my immunity.  So, for over four months, I avoided going to certain places when I was most vulnerable, and made sure that everything around me was clean.  I washed my hands, used hand sanitizer…sound familiar with today’s situation?

Personally, I’ve really had no issue with the way I’m living these days, because of what I learned from living during cancer treatments.  Yeah, washing hands, keeping distance- that stuff obviously carries over from the “Cancer Days”, but more importantly, because of cancer, I have chosen to have a different mindset than I did before I had it.

Cancer stripped me of everything I took for granted beforehand:  my health, my hair, my unwillingness to rely on others for help, and my impatience with small inconveniences.  When you are stripped of everything that you had- you can’t possibly go forward in hate, hurt, or impatience. At least I can’t.  So, I once again pick up my fighting tools- to protect me and others, as well. 

Like cancer treatment- this time in history is temporary.  An inconvenience?  Absolutely.  But one that will make me act out in any kind of hateful manner?  Nope.  Does it mean that I’m happy all the time, and not bothered by everything that’s going on?  Come on, I’m human.  I get pissed off, hide Facebook posts and yell at TLC shows like the best of them- But I can’t see living my everyday burdened with negative energy.  I fought so hard to keep my life going, and so I choose to walk in love going forward.  And I hope you will too.

Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher.  She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group.  She loves to sing, create and help others and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.

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