"To Loosen The Mind" has been my outlet to discuss issues of race, and lately it has included my insight into issues of cancer. And, like any major event or experience, there are ebbs and flows. I never anticipated that I'd sit down to watch TV for one of my favorite shows "Jon and Kate Plus 8" and feel so triggered. Naturally, this episode was all about kids with cancer. Trigger? oh yeah!
This time, just a few years ago, my daughter was experiencing one of the worst reactions to her chemotherapy. We were in the hospital just prior to Christmas, and all we wanted good old Santa Claus to bring was the ability to come home from the hospital. If I remember correctly, we came home on December 23rd late at night.
One part of the episode tonight was when Kate finished giving out presents at the big Holiday party, then she had to go to individual rooms to deliver gifts to children who weren't well enough to be around others. Mine was one of those kids. We even ended up having to change rooms during her chemotherapy treatment that December because she got so sick that the doctors worried any new germs would absolutely just destroy her already shattered immune system.
As I watched the episode, I heard my own voice (and that of many of our cancer friends) repeated on the show. "We are so thankful for this diagnosis because it has given a new meaning to our lives" or "Each day is a new blessing" or "We just learned not to take anything for granted."
Certainly, my family learned all of those things as well. One of the most important lessons for me personally, though, was the lesson of friendship. During this time in our lives, some friendships were strengthened, some were discovered, and some were lost. Rather, some were disposed of quickly!
Given that each day was considered "lucky", I found myself not being able to waste time on anyone who just sucked the life out of me. I had put up with a few casual friends for a long time, but when TIME was my own enemy, I realized that I didn't need other people stealing what I needed most. I no longer had time to soothe egos, to be angry for the sake of being angry, nor entertain folks who couldn't operate the same moral compass I needed. Gone were friends who embraced materialism over good ole' fashioned love. Gone were friends who were egotistic, self-centered, and who needed constant affirmation. I began to finally see the importance of time and examine what I was doing with the little time I had.
Watching the episode tonight reminded me of the "time factor." I felt like turning it off, thinking "Why am I watching this 30 minute show? Could I be doing something else with my time? After all, any good home video of mine from that experience would be much more interesting!" But, I've avoided home videos of those years of turmoil, prayers, anxiety, and hope.
And, on the eve of the day when a good friend of mine begins his own course of chemotherapy (after already watching his own 2 year old battle cancer), I am reminded once again of not only the importance of love, life and family, but also of the importance of surrounding yourself with what makes you happy.
During this holiday season, some of us will find this time of year difficult, some of us find it joyous. Let's keep in mind that blessings and challenges take shape in lots of ways. From the To Loosen family to yours, may you choose that which makes you happy.