05/14/2013 03:12 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

Cancer Messed With the Wrong B*tch: Now Is the Time

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I've been reading a lot of posts by people who encourage others to live in the
moment, and to not put too much faith in the future, and that all we have is
the here and now. Well, I hope you're not tired of hearing about this topic,
because here is another one:

In a desperate attempt to do the things we think will leave us with a sense of
accomplishment, fulfillment, and satisfaction, we risk missing out on those
things that actually do. We all know, in one variation or another, the saying,
"the past is the past." Well, if I had to make a choice, I'd rather look back on
the things I was able to do, that made me happy, rather than look ahead to things
I might never get to do. But I'm not at the point yet where I need to start looking back,
and I'm too focused on what's happening to me in this moment to look forward.
I do what I want to do, now. I trust my gut and do what my body and brain think will
fit best in my life at this moment, and just go with the flow.

I'm not sure who said this, but I like it, and maybe you will too:
"If you want to be sad, live in the past. If you want to be anxious, live in the future.
If you want to be peaceful, live in the now."

I'm peaceful, are you?

When I was younger, I lived the "childhood dream" of going to Disney World. I was
very young, but one of the few things I remember clearly was a place in
Epcot Center called the "Carousel Of Progress." It was a sort of ride, where you sat
on your butt the whole time and the seats moved around in a circle, stopping in front
of animatronic interpretations of the future (if you're bored, YouTube it, it's actually
pretty interesting to see what people thought the future would be).

Aaaanyway, the theme song playing during the ride had a chorus that I, along with
my sister, sung repeatedly, and still do, because it's catchy, and brings back
good memories, and makes us smile. But it wasn't until I was older that I truly "got" the meaning.

To help you play along with the craziness of my brain, here's the chorus:

"Now is the time, now is the best time, now is the best time of your life.
Life is a prize, live every minute, open your eyes and watch how you win it."

See, the past is important, because it got us to where we are now. And "now" is
important, because it will guide us to the future. And the future is important because,
when living in the now, or thinking about the past, gets us down, it's fun to imagine
the things that could be. But, since the future is uncertain, and the past already happened,
the most important place and time we have, is now, and it's fabulous. Life is definitely
a prize, but we don't have to do anything special to win it. Just opening our eyes
is enough. Opening them and declaring, "I am here and it is now," and allowing
ourselves to be at peace with who, what, and where we are.

Has this post been schmaltzy enough for ya? No? Well, then keep

Living life to the fullest doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. Just because
you're not climbing Mt. Everest, jumping out of planes, or, um, doing something
else that sounds like it might be really amazing, that doesn't mean your life is
any less fulfilling. If what you do means something to you at that moment, it
means something to your life overall, regardless of what other people are doing,
or are telling you to do.

When you're diagnosed with cancer, there's all this pressure to get out
and "live your life," and anxiety about being judged for taking life for granted
now that you're staring your mortality in the face. But, ya know what?, I don't
know about you, but sometimes I feel like lying around like a bump on a log,
watching a movie, reading a book, or doing something others might consider
a waste of time. But whatever I do, whether it's going out and walking 8 miles,
going to dinner and a movie, or a party, or making sure the butt mark in my
couch stays fresh, that day matters, because I lived it. From the moment I open
my eyes in the morning, to the time I shut them at night, I'm alive, I'm here,
doing what I want. I'm not going to feel guilty for not "getting myself out there"
and forcing myself to do something I didn't really want to do, just because
someone else thinks I should.

Right now I'm back in treatment, getting another course of radiation, hoping
with all that I have that the cancer in my sternum will hate the new warmer
climate radiation is providing, and move out, for good. The treatment is
making me tired. I'm able to get out most days and walk those eight miles
(okay, usually closer to four or five, but still), but then I come home and crash.
Yes, I've been invited out to dinner, and the movies, and other events at night,
and yes, part of me feels like I "should" go, but another part says, "you know what,
you had a good day, you got out and walked, and talked to people, and,
oh yeah, spent another day fighting for your life, take the damn night off."

When you have cancer, waking up in the morning is your greatest accomplishment,
you've already won the prize. Anything you do after that is just icing on the cake.

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