The Wonder of You

There are only three days left of this year or three more sleeps whichever way you want to view it. It’s that time of year between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve where our bodies are starting to feel a little over indulged and yet we’ve got still got lots of lovely chocolates to wade through and festive food to munch.

What’s different this year is very clear so I’m not going to insult anybody’s intelligence by stating the obvious. What I’m going to do instead is reflect on something that might feel helpful and if it feels helpful for only one person reading this, then my mission has been accomplished.

The usual resolution-setting stuff seems so very insincere this year when we all have something so much more important to think about than losing half a stone before the end of January. We have the importance of our mental wellbeing to consider as we each try to do our best to navigate the next two long winter months that lie ahead with the additional burden of local lockdowns being the new normal during January and February. For all of us, the imminent approach of a new year requires resolve, courage and a lot of hope. The three go hand in hand in so many areas of life don’t they? I have friends starting new cancer drug regimens in the coming weeks. Friends, who despite their fear, summon courage every day to continue to manage ongoing side effects from treatment. And, in amongst all of that, nestles hope that drug regimens continue to work.

I sit in an outlier position in the cancer community. I’ve been on second line treatment for stage four/secondary breast cancer for 13 years. That’s something that’s unusual but it’s not entirely unique. There are more and more of us living longer with this disease but there are still far too many whose lives are cut short. New drugs are coming to market that mean more people’s lives will be extended providing the bureaucracy and barriers to drug access can be removed. This year has taught us that the snail pace at which new cancer drugs become readily available and accessible for all can be changed to a fit for purpose pace to match that of recent vaccine development. Shared knowledge, communication exchange and a collective sense of urgency can be a feature of the cancer drug development world too.

I know how fortunate I am and I also know how quickly my position can change. Tumour marker testing and CT scans never get any easier but we learn to make fear our friend because without it none of us would know what courage feels like. I’m very familiar too with the pain and heartache that lots of us in the cancer commnuity are feeling now as we reflect on a year that has robbed so many of our friends of time with their loved ones in the weeks and months leading up to their death. We remember you all. Every day. We will never forget you.

If you are still reading, thank you. This is the part about you, the wonder of you, and where I’d like to ask you some questions. You’ll see they have a general theme:

Do you ever wake up dwelling on the mistakes you’ve made with no recognition attached to the things that you’ve done really well?

Do you ever wake up feeling like you’re not good enough?

Do you ever wake up feeling like a failure?

Do you ever wake up feeling like the day is going to be too much for you?

As human beings, our negativity bias means that from time to time the answer is ‘yes’ to at least one or more of those questions. So here’s The Thing. We don’t have to be like that. Instead, we can each have something joyful and nurturing to acknowledge and consider every single morning when we wake up. After a nod of gratitude to the fact that we’re alive and breathing, it’s this: The Wonder of You. YOU in all your beauty and I’m not referring to the physical kind. I’m referring to your beauty inside. The inner you. The beauty that really counts. The one that ultimately determines our mental wellbeing. The one that has brought us to this day.

We each carry with us so many things. Some of those things can make us feel really heavy but we resist so much in putting them down to make our load lighter. Sometimes it feels easier to keep on carrying them because it’s what we know. Layering up our load is easy. It becomes second nature. The challenge is to look at the goodness we have within us; hang on to that and let the other stuff go. Acknowledge your wonderment, your essence, your YOU.

Carrying The Wonder of You into each of our days has a brightness and lightness to it that might feel very much at odds with the heavier things we carry. Infact often, we forget to pick it up at all. Old habits die hard, leaving us feeling smoothered and laden with things that we don’t need. When we all eventually come to the end of the road, how heavy do we want to feel? The ability to live and breathe each day is something that has been taken away for so many this year. We’re all supposed to have learned so much in 2020. Letting go of stuff has to be one of them.

I have one resolution for the year ahead. It’s not to look thinner, earn more, be more, have more. It’s to learn to carry with me into each of my days the most beautiful of things that we all possess; the wonder of you.

Being YOU. This is with us until the end. Let’s show ourselves kindness, love and warmth. What we say to ourself counts. The Wonder of You is listening.

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