What if I told you that, for me, being diagnosed with cervical cancer turned out to be a blessing in disguise? At age 31, I now know exactly what I want from my life. I know what’s truly important to me, and I’ve entered a new realm of self-discovery. All because I have cervical cancer.
Imagine if you could feel this way—without this deadly disease. Do you want to live a fuller life? A life with no regrets?
I've made this list just for you, whether you have cancer or not. These are the five ways my life has changed and things I urge you to do as they'll make your life fuller, more complete, and could lead to greater things:
1. Listen to your body.
Before I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, my body was trying to tell me that I was unwell, and I didn't hear it. I had all of the common symptoms: irregular bleeding, lower back pain, and I was incredibly tired…every single day.
You’d think that would prompt most women to question their well-being. I ignored my body for an entire year until I was overdue for my three-yearly pap smear appointment. The results showed that I had cervical cancer. It was only then that I realized my body had been trying to send me warning messages the entire time.
That’s when I realized how important it is to really listen to your body. Tune into yourself, and try to understand what your body is trying to tell you. Take notice if it changes and get checked out if you’re unsure.
2. Take time out to smell the roses.
In this busy world we live in, it’s easy to get caught up in the menial tasks of our everyday lives. Cancer has helped me remember how beautiful our world really is.
Something as simple as watching the ocean can transform my day. Just recently, I sat on a park bench and inhaled the sea air. I felt the sun beaming down on me, and I watched two ducks frolicking on the beach.
I felt healthy. I felt lucky. I felt alive.
I realized how important it is to take a moment and just breathe. I encourage you to take time out of your busy day, even just for five minutes. Enjoy your surroundings. Go for a walk. Moments like these can have more impact than we realize.
3. Do something you've always wanted to do.
I’m not just talking about eating that block of chocolate you’ve been lusting over. Think deeply—is there something you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve never taken the time to do it? Or perhaps you’ve had a dream of becoming something and have been too scared to take action?
As a child, I always wanted to write a book. Some of my earliest memories consisted of a typewriter. My little fingers typed as fast as they could, for fear that I would forget the amazing idea I needed to put on paper. Having cancer has made me realize just how short life really is. I’ve discovered that I am meant to write a book and that I would truly regret it if I didn’t get to achieve this lifelong dream.
4. Write a bucket list.
This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It seems crazy at first; however, it was a real eye opener. I wrote a list of the top things I’d love to experience and it was incredibly exciting! At the top of my list, I wrote "I would like to drive a monster truck." My husband had a good chuckle at this one. Not what most ladies my age dream of doing! I’d like to go go-kart racing, ride a jet ski, and learn to play guitar.
I also wrote that I would like to travel to Japan, Canada, and back to India. This proved to me that travel is an important part of my life and that I need to save money and make time to see the world.
5. Reconnect with people from your past.
Just recently, I caught up with a friend I haven’t seen for 10 years. I had been thinking a lot about her lately, and I couldn’t believe it when she contacted me and asked if we could catch up. If that wasn’t a sure sign that I wanted that person back in my life, then I don’t know what is! I had an amazing time with her. She is the same kind, loving, and nonjudgmental person that I adored all those years ago.
If you’ve felt drawn toward someone from your past, I urge you to take action. Don’t wait for another opportunity to contact them.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my diagnosis, it’s that life is short, but we also have the power to create our own future. We can experience things we’ve dreamed of for years and catch up with people that we love, or we can choose to let life pass us by. Me? I prefer to grab life with both hands. I don’t want any regrets. I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity—all because I was too scared.
I want to experience all that I can, to love hard, and to live the life I’ve always wanted to. And you can do the same. Life is too short to sit on the fence.