I live in New York City after all, where it seems that if you want to survive and make it big, you hustle—where you will be swallowed up alive, passed over for important opportunities or press mentions, and just not taken seriously if you aren’t working as hard as everyone else, staying in the office well past dinner.
Simultaneously, I knew that being constantly stressed out and overbooked wasn’t serving me. I sought out the help of a health coach three years ago to learn about mindfulness and taking care of myself. I practiced yoga on and off in spurts, recognizing how much better I felt when I was on my mat, and then not making time when my schedule seemed to take over (and when, arguably, I needed my mat the most). I dabbled in healthy eating, trying paleo and whole30 with success and then going back to eating doughnuts on the road. I thought meditation could and would somewhat counterbalance the hustling. And on some level it did—my stress was mitigated on a small level and I was learning to breathe through challenging situations. But I hadn’t slowed down and truly learned how to take time off or practice deep self-care.
And then four months ago I was diagnosed with mycosis fungoides, a rare form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Manageable? Completely. Curable? No, ma’am. I am 29 with a very treatable and manageable but chronic cancer.
When you find out you have a condition that will be with you for the rest of your life (that happens to be the C word), that is unlikely to kill you but needs management and care for the long run, you stop and think. You slow down. You practice gratitude for what is good in your life. You wonder how you're really spending your time and whether it’s serving you physically and emotionally. And while I would never go so far as to say I'd brought this on myself, I certainly don’t think my lack of self-care and boundaries helped create a conducive environment for health in my body.