Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, “Yahooooooo, what a ride!” -Mavis Leyrer
When I was 17 and a junior in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next ten years she had two radical mastectomies and eventually died of bone cancer that had spread throughout her body. She was only 59 years old. She was exceptionally brave, a strong believer, fiercely loved by her family and friends and was joyful, even until the end. When I think of my mom’s tremendous bravery and characteristics, I always think of three things.
- *Believe In Miracles* When she became ill this was the little sign that sat near her bed.
- *This is the day that the Lord hath made. Rejoice and be glad in it* She would greet each day with these words.
- *Have fun* These were her final words.
When she passed away, I was an emotional and physical wreck. I lost twenty pounds in a month, was having regular panic attacks, had to quit work and was suffering from situational depression. Over the next year I had to heal from this place of sadness and one thing I did everyday was walk outdoors and repeat—“God will see you through.” But my biggest ‘A-ha moment’ was when a therapist I was seeing said, “Anne, what are you going to do if you never feel any better than this?” It was at that moment I was given the choice of how I wanted to live my life. I decided I wanted to reclaim a place of health, joy and purpose. I wanted a rich and full life filled with highs and lows. I wanted to live each day as if it could be my last.
I recognize that while life is filled with tremendous blessings, it is also filled with painful moments of loss and great sadness. For me, I have come to my own personal crossroads that has caused me to make choices on how I will continue to live my life. For example, I value my family and friends, my faith, my health, my community, and the freedom to be my authentic self. I want to live each day knowing that I have made a difference not just to myself, but to others. I want people to think of me as someone that didn’t take herself too seriously and found humor in life. I want to keep learning, have a sense of wonder, remain grateful for the life I have been given while also looking towards the future. I want every day to count and have no regrets.
A life with no regrets or living each day like it could be your last is definitely easier said than done. I’ve found that I must face my fears, take risks, believe in myself, take a deep breath and put that foot on the floor each new day. Just this week I have found myself full of fear about having to make the decision to take the Brac breast cancer gene test. I don’t want to find out if I carry the predisposition for breast cancer, but the results might save mine and my daughters’ lives. And, if I claim to value health, then I must do the hard work. Life’s hardships build character and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
This is why I love iGnite — as women we are on life’s journey together, helping each other, encouraging each other to live full and happy lives. We are growing physically, mentally and spiritually. We are there for each other in joy and sorrow. So, from the wisdom of a woman who joyfully lived as she was dying, I encourage you to: Believe in Miracles, Rejoice in Each Day, Have Fun and allow yourself to be moved by closing your eyes and hearing the inspirational words of Tim McGraw in this video.
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