THE BLOG

Time: Love Every Moment of It

06/13/2011 06:13 pm ET | Updated Aug 13, 2011

Time. Is there anything that we don't wish about it? There's a saying that explains it well: "Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity." (Henry Van)

When we're young, we count the months and the days until our next birthday. Time seems to drag leading up to that big day, and then suddenly it's there. And you can bet that once that day has arrived, time is going to pass by fast! Other occasions take time to get there, but pass quickly as well. While birthdays no longer take up as much importance in your life, at a certain point, celebrations such as weddings, births and graduations are ones we will anticipate. What expectant mother has not wished the last month of her pregnancy to pass with lightning speed? This is soon replaced, at times, by the longing of having all that leisure time back again.

And just as we can wish for the speedy passage of time when anticipating happy events, or the slowing down of it when that special day finally arrives, time takes on a different dimension when confronted with something like cancer. Yes, you have the almost-stopped and dream like quality of time when you are diagnosed with the disease, embarking on a roller coaster of emotions, from anger to disbelief.

Then, as circumstances start to unfold, time takes on a pattern similar for most patients. I was counting the days until my major surgery. I was nervously anticipating that day, but wished time to pass by quickly, so that I could have the cancer taken out of my body, once and for all. I would then be on the road to recovery. Following surgery, I counted the days until they would release me from the hospital, and even more so when I arrived at home for the slow healing towards a stronger body.

There were many points at which I wanted time to slow down following my surgery and recovery: the days leading up to that doctor appointment that would determine whether I would have to undergo chemotherapy or not or the days leading up to my appointment with my friend (and hairdresser) to have all the remaining hair on my head shaved off.

But what about living in the minute? Too much of our effort goes into wishing what was, or what is to be. We don't take the opportunity to live in the moment, whether it is good or bad. After all, time will never go faster or slower. It's only our perception of time that changes.

My fight against breast cancer was done mostly with positive thinking. I always knew I would beat it; there was never a doubt in my mind. But the one thing I would do over, if faced with it again, would be to live in the moment. Often, it's not a nice moment, but in those dark times and sad episodes, there are opportunities. There's the opportunity to really search inside your mind and figure out why this has happened. This usually leads to quite positive and significant changes in your life. There's also the opportunity to enjoy your loved ones and friends. I went to each of my eight chemotherapy sessions with a family member or a friend. It allowed me to get caught up with their life, and enabled us to deepen our bond, cherish what we have, and laugh.

And then there's the most important opportunity of all. The realization that you appreciate every moment you have. In fact time is no longer that important. Because in between all that time you once wished away can be found so many small joys. There are little packages of happiness tucked away in all those little places that you won't notice if you're too intent on making your hurried way. And the realization of this fact is the gift that I, along with many other cancer survivors, give to you today. Slow down and appreciate every moment, as hard as that may seem, for you never know when it will be your last.