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Stop saving things for special occasions. Being alive is a special occasion.

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Almost three years ago next month, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age. I found out through a mammogram, which had led to an ultrasound and biopsy. My husband and I had a vacation that we had planned well in advance that had us leaving the day after the biopsy. When we left the next day, I really believed that the biopsy would come back negative and that they did the biopsy out of an abundance of caution. But a few days later, I got the call that my biopsy had come back positive for invasive ductal carcinoma. I was devastated and didn’t even know what to say to the lady who called to tell me. I even found myself ruminating for hours after I hung up the phone, thinking that maybe it was possible that the office had accidentally mixed up the results and that I was really okay.

When we returned home, we had a good three to four weeks of complete chaos and uncertainty. Thankfully, over those weeks I learned that the cancer was likely caught early enough and that I would be okay. I went through surgery and treatment and I am finally getting back to my ‘normal’ self.

But one thing that really stuck with me during that time was how it was only when I faced uncertainty about how long I had to live, that I wondered why I was saving so many things in my life for a special occasion. I mean, I had been saving things for special occasions all my life. And most of the time I would forget about these things or they would go bad. I had saved perfumes, creams, hair products, clothing and decorative soaps.

At the time, I had a cute wicker basket in the our master bathroom of soap rocks which are mineral shaped soaps that just smell magnificent. They’re pretty and just make me smile. I had been saving them for a while, waiting for the perfect time to use them.

Shortly after the diagnosis, I had this urgency inside me. I started to panic about not having enough time to do the things I wanted to do, visit the places I wanted to visit and have the adventures I wanted to have with my husband. I worried about not being here for friends and family. I wondered if I would still be able to do work as an investigator or if my health condition would make that impossible. I was flooded with uncertainty about the future. And then….

All of a sudden, being alive was my special occasion.

Cancer sucks, there’s no getting around it. But one of the biggest blessings I have received from this path I never wanted to be on was the unshakeable internalization that our time on this planet is truly limited. We just don’t know when our journey here ends. And it is up to us to make the best of every moment, every relationship and yes, even our cute little things we save for special occasions, right here and right now.

What have you been saving for a special occasion?

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