Monday, 24 June 2013

today is the first day of the rest of my life

I haven’t written for a long time and I apologize for not keeping up with my weekly blog posts. I wanted to write when I had something positive to say.  For the last 4 months I’ve had a strange rash develop and finally I decided to Google my symptoms because it was spreading and changing my skin.  Surprise! It instilled some serious panic because it looked like cancer. Seriously, it most closely aligned to the symptoms and photos of this form of cancer that I found online and believe me, I spent hours looking at everything. 2 days later my family doctor said cancer was a possibility (but not a probability) when he looked at it, as did two other MDs to whom I sent photos. I know, I know. Going online to self-diagnose is the worst idea ever and I’ve learned my lesson; I’ll go straight to the doctor next time and not wait so long.  My mind went to a really dark place last week. I lost 4 pounds in 3 days—not the healthy way, so there is no boasting about my weight loss progress right now. The kind of cancer that it looked like has a 25% survival rate so naturally I went to the worst case scenario and felt sick with fear. The thought that kept circling in my head was, “Not now. There is so much more I need to do.”  I need to be around for my boys. The little guys need their mom, I need them, and Nick and I are not finished our journey by any means.”  I said to my cousin late last week, “I am so scared,” and she summed it up nicely: “you feel this way because you have a life worth living.”  So true.  I do have a life worth living, and I need to get busy living it.  I think I’m doing a decent job right now, but there is always more I could do.  It’s amazing how motivated I am to start doing things differently after last week. Here are Raeleen’s revised life priorities after her mental breakdown and not-so-near brush with death:
·         Be present all the time with my boys. So often I shut off my hyperactive 3 year old’s incessant chatter and go to my happy place. I haul poor Alex in his carseat for hours on some days getting my errands done. I surf my phone when the kids go to bed instead of having a meaningful conversation with Nick.  I’ve got to invest myself more…as a family we deserve and need that. Liam came running out of the house last week as I was driving to my run clinic session. He said, “Mom, can I have a hug and a kiss? Don’t fall on your run and hurt yourself, ok?”  And then he helped me back the car out of the driveway, motioning and pointing towards the road.  Oh my God, what a sweetheart.  I need to be around for this little guy.
·         Lose the damn weight already! I actually thought to myself this week, “I really don’t want to die overweight.”  Time to ramp it up and drop 2 pounds a week.  For the past 2 months I’ve gained and lost the same 5 pounds; I’m not even going to come up with a reason for why this has happened.  Losing weight isn’t about looking good anymore; it’s about being healthy and feeling amazing that a) I am no longer lugging excess weight in my torso while I run half marathons and after my boys at the park, and b)I set about doing something I didn’t really believe I could do but I did it.
·         Start earnestly researching international work opportunities. It’s been a life goal to work somewhere on a 1 year (or longer) assignment and experience a totally different lifestyle.  Having young kids and a spouse with a good job that’s rooted in Victoria makes this one tough…but still, no excuse. Hawaii, here I come!
·         Let go of every conflict I have with others.  I don’t actually have any ongoing conflict with anyone right now, but there are things from my past relationships and friendships that need to be freed from my mind and heart.  I’m not sure whether I need to have a conversation with anyone or if this is just me letting go of weight inside of me…I will keep you posted. Life is too short for bitterness, resentment, bad relationships.
·         Start helping out in my community.  There are people who could use my help. I did not choose the privileged life I was born into. I was gifted with it. All of us who live in Canada above the poverty line have essentially won life’s lottery. All I have to do is think back to the weeks my MBA classmates and I spent in Brazil, and seeing how people along the Amazon River lived. They didn’t choose that life either. Really, I just have first world problems (check out that hashtag, by the way). I will keep you posted on what this translates into.
So what IS this mysterious disease I have?  Diagnosis today: atypical psoriasis. Doesn’t look like “normal psoriasis,” whatever that means.  Most likely brought on by my body overheating through exercise.  How ironic! The physical activity I love and need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle is wreaking havoc on my skin and especially ON MY BRAIN!

I should say that cancer is a very sensitive topic for some and not to be treated trivially. I do not mean to offend anyone who has lost someone to cancer or is a cancer survivor.  If anything, I have increased respect after last week for you and what you and your families have been through.  Not many people know that my mom was diagnosed with cancer less than a year ago, and endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments throughout the fall and winter. During this time her own mother passed away and I had baby Alex. There were a lot of intense, emotional moments for our whole family and a renewed appreciation for the gift of life.  After her last radiation appointment, my mom declared to me, “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” I am blessed to not have to go through everything she did in order to understand what she meant. 
these boys are why I have a life worth living!

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