THE POWER OF OPTIMISM :: One year ago I was in the emergency room sitting quietly beside death. It was hard to tell who was who as the only real difference was he carrying a scythe and I was clutching a mask. We were both cloaked in black, bald, creepy and no one wanted to be near us.
When he invited me to join him on short trip towards the light – I politely leaned in and said, “Sorry I don’t date men – move along.”
It obviously worked, as here I am – yet back in the doctor’s office – this time not fighting for my life as much as fighting a common cold – which, after having been ravaged by cancer treatments for a year or so, is more like fighting the plague. Who knew these colours existed?
But, surprisingly I am thrilled to have a cold. It seems so normal and I would trade the smell of vapour rub over dose dense chemo any and every day of the week.
But I would not trade in the lessons I learned from having had – and maybe still having – cancer. It may be the best worst thing that has ever happened to me, my relationships, and my outlook on life.
It did however take time and effort to find the light in this very dark time. The glow began when I decided to to do a 30-day gratitude challenge on Twitter. My goal was to just take one negative though daily and turn into something positive.
“All my hair fell out. Yay. No more hair care products means more money to buy wine!”
Day by day I started finding more and more of my experiences hilarious. Ironic. Inspiring. I actually started looking forward to turning my negative thoughts around. It was fun. And I love having fun.
I have always been blessed with the gift of humour. I see it in everyone and everything. So eventually I was able to find my cancer funny and the cancer experience in general funny. Last December 23rd, when I was first in the clinic and last out, the nurses and I made a chemo bag tree with a tongue depressor star on top and I wheeled it around singing loudly and badly for all to hear:
“Star of wonder star of fright – star of royal cancer fight – westward bleeding still tube feeding guide me to the nearest Sprite!” (PS: it is always ginger ale – and no matter how many times I ask for the ale without ginger I never get it.)
I really wanted to organize a flash sob – paediatrics first – then the geriatrics – but none of us could agree on a song, and each time we did the lead dancer always seemed to die. Thank goodness I cannot dance…
And thank goodness for optimism. It helps. I cannot always be positive but I can always try. And if I cannot I will ask for help. If I start crying my partner reassures me for a moment, then tells me to get a grip, then Googles childish vegetable jokes.
The carrot blushed because it saw the salad dressing.
I am thankful for her. I am thankful for so many people who have come in and out of my life these past months. As the light around me continues to grow more and more people are standing in it. What an amazing feeling. I find it very hard to let people love me. I find it very hard to let go of people who do not love me, and even harder to watch people I have come to love depart. But I am always grateful for the conversations shared, the laughter and the tears.
Listen below as Kelly Dear discusses this post on The Shaun Proulx Show:
I am also grateful for the little things. Warm running water to rinse the sweat off my brow. Ice cubes to stuff in my shirt when I have a hot flash. Soft toilet paper. I hope you NEVER need to know the joy of that.
But I do hope you come to find the joy and the light in yourself and in all the challenges and experiences you face this coming year. Take a minute to look in the rear view mirror, happiness is closer than you think.
Happy new year.
– Kelly Dear is an award-winning (former) educator, lecturer and comedian who is now focused on being an inner child desperately seeking her outer adult. Read the rest of her story at DearKellyDear.com and follow her on Twitter.