Clean Up Your Act

...I choose to get tested for the BRCA breast cancer gene 6 years ago knowing my mom and many women in my family have had breast cancer. The test came back positive... and I made a choice to be positive about that information. From that day forward I got tested every 6 months with a MRI or mammogram and I knew I was being watched closely. I always thought that I would be the first generation not to have chemo.  I thought since I was armed with knowledge, I would be spared from having breast cancer and simply take all the precautionary steps after our family was complete. So to say I was surprised to find out I had breast cancer, is an enormous understatement.  However, I know that my decision to get tested saved my life because I would have been off the radar without getting these tests till my 40s. Still, I was blindsided beyond belief...and I still am.
There are no guarantees in life.  It is impermanent and always changing.  To feel the bottom drop out from underneath you makes you question everything you had certainty in.  It would be nice to know that we could come to earth and have a carefree easy path - where sickness and hardship (as horrible as it is), only happened to others...not you.  But that’s not the case even though I thought that breast cancer would never happen to me. Still, I believe it’s not what happens to you, but how you choose to handle it that sets your path.  I’m surprised how it took this monumental experience for my family to clean up our act. I have always thought we were healthy - ate well (I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 yrs.),exercised, minimized stress, treated others kindly...but until we went through this, there is a whole new level of responsibility we have owned up to. 
My choices are now driven by what gives me the best shot to only experience cancer once. The first change is what goes on and in our bodies: organic fruits and veggies– and very little coffee, sweets, dairy, meat or alcohol.  This was a major change….have you all met my wonderful husband?…he owns a brat and cheese wedge necklace that he wears proudly during football season.  My next step is researching toiletries, shampoos, lotions, and cosmetics since these are used daily and filled with who knows what that our bodies absorb.  It’s funny how these changes were a big deal in the beginning, and now they are just the norm.  It seems the hardest part of making a change is just the decision to do it, not the act itself.
The second change has to do our relationships with others.  This experience has been so incredible – we are showered with love from others that carries us through to another day.  My prayers have been answered every single  day through the actions of others.  Because they chose to show up. It has made both Mark and I want to be better people and help others.  Watching how people care for us is the most inspiring thing I have ever experienced. So we plan to clean up our act with our interactions – to be kind to a stranger - to be present when someone is talking – to choose a good attitude - to tell someone not just ‘I love you’….but why - to simply say thank you…and most importantly, to show up. We plan to get out of our own heads, (and off our phones) long enough to look at the world…beyond ourselves.
Something great happened this past weekend.  I realized that the only tears I have had recently are because of someone else’s generosity and kindness…not because I am heartbroken about having cancer.  That switch to having more happy tears than sad, makes it so easy to clean up my act with how I choose to live my life.  Mark said something tonight that really stuck with me… He said, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you".  Despite what I am walking through right now,I am happy this happened for me. I am thankful because our lives will only be better for it…and that’s awesome.

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