This past July I took a trip from Los Angeles to New Jersey to see my grandfather for what probably would be the last time. My grandfather (we call him Zada) had been battling an aggressive form of lung cancer for the past three years, even though he had never smoked a cigarette a day in his life. Zada was the rock and backbone of my family. He even flew down from New Jersey just a few days after his chemo in order to be with me for my first chemo treatment.
Upon my visit, Zada was at the point in his battle where he was ready to transition. He had started to lose verbal communication, became very agitated by clothing and was having trouble breathing. Among these signs were others that indicated the time was coming. This was hard. I remember the day he passed away like it was yesterday. I was sitting next to him completing a word search. I had just returned from getting my nails done. He’d waited for me.
Being in New Jersey at the time inspired me to create a set of reminders of how to get through tough times in my life. I made a video on this for my channel.
Zada passing away was the third summer in a row that I was experiencing tremendous hardship. Two summers prior, my stepfather died extremely suddenly. A year later, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Hardship is way too familiar to me, but somehow I still find myself smiling at the end of it all. I truly believe that mindfulness is what helps me continue smiling.
We must remember that everything can and will change. Every day, every hour, every moment … things are changing. We have the choice to roll with it and make the best of it, OR to sit back and let it consume us. By focusing on the negativity and the things that are changing, we are not evolving. Change is not a a bad thing. While things seem like they are very bad, we must remember they always can change for the better.
You and I have gone through tough times before. If you’re reading this column it means you’ve either been directly affected by cancer or know someone who has. I began this column with some of the toughest times that my family as been through. This new tough time you may be experiencing might seem like you’ve never been through something so bad before. But you’ve been through hardship, and you got through it. It’s so important, in tough times, to remember the things that you have gotten through. Bad things and good things are happening all the time.
This is a learning experience. The hardships we experience teach us lessons we never could learn in a classroom setting. While it may seem so cheesy to think about tough times as learning experiences, that’s what they are. We learn through our hardships and mistakes in life.
While this may be one of the toughest times in our lives, we must allow ourselves to have fun. There are many patients that I’ve spoken to who have quit their normal activities and dedicated their lives to being a cancer patient. We must learn to laugh and make fun of our situations. There’s that extremely cheesy saying “laughter is the best medicine” and I believe that it’s totally true (to some extent, obviously). We have to learn to make some of our harder situations a little more light and we can do this by having fun!
Through these hardships, we must remember to love ourselves and be kind to ourselves. Through a diagnosis like cancer, our body transforms drastically and we must remember that these changes and transformations are okay. In tough times, a lot of us can be hard on ourselves and look for reasons as to why we are experiencing tough times. But the reality is that tough times happen to everybody and we didn’t do anything to deserve what we are going through.
We have so many strengths that tend to go unnoticed. Along with physical strengths we have strength in our souls that helps us fight through tough times in our lives. The strength to remember to have fun. The strength to remember to love ourselves. The strength to wake up in the morning. Finding these strengths can be a challenge, but once we find it we must hold on and never ever let go.
Lastly, there is always something to be grateful for. I’ll never forget a few weeks before my diagnosis, I was going through an extremely rough time. My mental state was not at its greatest, but I found the strength to create a gratitude list in that moment. I remember making a conscious decision not to write that I am grateful for my health, but on that gratitude list there were so many other things that I was grateful for. In whatever situation we may be in, there is always something to grasp onto that we can be grateful for.
Remembering these things may take some work, but they are so important for our mental state and mindfulness for when we are getting through tough times.
Everything is gonna be okay.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.