Friday, September 21, 2012

Ten Things I Learned From My Husband's Brain Tumor

Recently my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, had brain surgery and is still undergoing treatment. It has been a crazy journey that has only just begun. I have learned a lot in the last 5 weeks, some of which I thought I should share - here are my Top Ten...

10. Knowledge is Power - The more informed you are about things in your life, the better decisions you can make. Most people won't intentionally mislead you, but they may be limited in their own knowledge and they may have their own agendas. Whether it comes to your health, your diagnosis, your treatment, even your kid's school - know everything there is to know and ask lots of questions. And always get a second opinion. Do not be afraid of offending anyone, you must be your own advocate! This is your life after all and you will be the one who has to live with the consequences.

9. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Easier said than done most of the time, but if something isn't important in the scheme of things just let it go. There is nothing you can do about traffic, bad weather or spilled milk so just take a deep breath and realize that it isn't worth a second thought.

8. Pay attention to the little things - Not to be confused with the "small stuff," the little things are the important things that add up like hugs, sunsets, compliments and kindness. Too often we go through life in autopilot and don't stop to smell the roses or take time to tell someone we love them, or even ask someone we love how their day was. These are the little things that add up and although small, mean a lot.

7. Practice Kindness - "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." - Dalai Lama. This is my husband's favorite quote. Kindness is a hard thing to remember in the midst of everyday life. Too often we go through the day adding up all the bad stuff that happened to us - getting cut off in traffic, being late for work, kids fighting...And then we take it out on others who just happen to get in your way. If we can remember to let go of the small stuff and focus on the little things then we can start to enjoy life more. And we can pass it on. Especially when others are unkind to us, we must remember they could be suffering in some private way and your kindness may change their day too. 

6. Ask for help - This one is hard for both men and women, but so important.There are so many people who genuinely want to help but we are always afraid we are going to burden them. It takes a village to not only raise your kids but even to just get through the day sometimes. Most of your friends and family are offering because they truly want to help. Plus anything you ask, no matter how small, will make them feel useful and important - it's a win win!

5. You are what you eat - I made a decision a while back to try to make healthier food decisions for my family. I don't always stick to it as strictly as I would like, but I try. My husband ate what I bought but he never really bought into it until his diagnosis. That is what a life changing event will do, change your life. He will never drink a Diet Coke again! When something goes wrong inside your body and there is no explanation why, you start to realize that there are things you can control, like how many chemicals you choose to put in your body. You only have one body and no one is going to take care of it for you. Obesity, ADHD, autism, these are all relatively new to the human race. We are animals after all and meant to eat meat and vegetables, not red dye #5. Processed food is just that, processed. They take out the good stuff and then try to compensate by putting artificial stuff back in. If you can't pronounce the ingredients or you don't know what they are then chances are they were developed in a lab to make the product more profitable while getting your taste buds hooked on it. Healthy eating can't prevent everything for happening when it comes to your health, but it can definitely prevent a lot and you have complete control over it. Don't take your kid's health for granted either, they don't a choice. That is in your hands, so do right by them as well.

4. If you have a choice, choose responsibly - Things happen to us everyday that are totally out of our control. You could get hit by a car, get laid off or find out you have a brain tumor. However, there are so many things that we can control that we take for granted. For example, we can choose not to text and drive, not to smoke cigarettes. We can choose to eat healthier, work out, laugh more. Your choices do have consequences both good and bad. Be responsible with your life and with those around you.

3. Say You're Sorry - say it often, mean it and make up for it. There are very few things in life worth damaging important relationships on. Just like the saying, "never go to bed angry," never leave the house angry, hang up angry, etc. Life is just too short. If you did something wrong, admit it, make up for it and move on. Even if you don't think you did something wrong, chances are you could have handled things differently and apologizing for that will start things in the right direction.

2. Be a better person - we all want to do this but in practice it's really hard so we put it off saying we will do it tomorrow. You don't have to completely change who you are or donate all of your time to charity to be better. Just read numbers 3-10 and work on them little by little.

1. Be Happy - To do this you may have to make some hard choices to let go of things that are dragging you down. This could be things, commitments or even people. You won't ever have a chance to do Today over, so make it the best day for you and your loved ones. Choose to be happy.

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