Five Seconds Is All It Takes for a Cancer Diagnosis to Turn Your World Upside Down

As a cancer survivor I feel compelled to share my story to help other moms. We have to understand that if momma ain’t happy no one is happy and this directly affects the relationship you have with your children.

Group of docs with colon cancer cake
It only takes 5 seconds to turn your life on its head. (@ruperthank via Twenty20)

Five things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with cancer

Five seconds is all it takes. Five seconds for an ashen face doctor to say I am sorry you have cancer. Five seconds that you wish had never happened. Five seconds that change your life forever.

I had my five seconds when at the age of 38 I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Colon cancer. Today Is World Cancer Day and I wanted to share with you the 5 things I wish someone would have told me before I got cancer.

Put yourself on your priority list – make yourself number one.
As caregivers we are constantly putting the needs of everyone else in front of our own. We will run and do for others often at our own expense. Where are you on your priority list? Are you at the top or in the middle with your kids, spouse, parents coming before you?

This was me 7 years ago, running and doing for everyone else and this strategy almost cost me my life. I didn’t have time to go to the doctor – yes that is the truth. We allow our engines to run out of fuel and this leaves us a hot damn mess. Easily frustrated, not enjoying life, shouting at our kids more than we want to…sound familiar!

So please move yourself to the top of the priority list. Go have your annual check up. Stop throwing yourself under the bus for everyone. You are important enough to be your number one priority. You are enough. YOU MATTER!!!

Being strong is overrated…Supermom is an urban legend
What does strong mean to you – sucking it up, not asking for help, pretending that everything is okay when inside you are falling apart. This is what we have been taught it means to be strong. This was me 7 years ago, supermom, not dealing with any of my emotions, running on empty all the while believing that I was STRONG.

Supermom could do anything no matter what that cost me, which nearly was my children growing up without a mother. Strong is about showing up every day even when you think you can’t. Strong is about asking for help and not being ashamed. Strong is being vulnerable. Strong is about showing an emotion and not worrying about what others think.

So please let’s be strong the right way.

Life is a journey not a destination.
Get married, have children, get them into university – is this your checklist. This was my checklist too. I was so focused on the end point that I forgot to enjoy the million magical moments in between, the moments that create memories, the moments that truly matter. When did you last take a picture of an ordinary moment or are you waiting for the next big moment – graduation, birthday party. Stop waiting, start embracing as many of the ordinary moments as possible because these are actually the most extraordinary moments and the ones that your children will remember the most.

So please stop wasting all the wonderful moments waiting for the big ones, embrace the small ones while you can because tomorrow is not guaranteed which means your checklist may not come to fruition.

Be present.
I know you hear is this all the time be present, and I know that being present 24 hours a day is not possible, but start being more present in your life. If you ask any cancer patient what they regret the most, they will tell you is not being fully present in their lives. Most of us are simply in survival mode, we are simply existing, we are not living. We have to find ways to move out of survival mode and pivot into thriving mode. To learn to be present in our lives, to be an active participant in our lives not a spectator which I certainly was before I got sick. When tomorrow comes I will do this, tomorrow is here, its time to start living!

So please make a commitment to yourself to stop existing and to start living. Stop being a spectator watching your life, get into the game and become an active participant.

Do the things that bring you Joy..YES YOU ARE ALLOWED!!
How much of your schedule is filled with things that bring you joy. I am talking about things that bring you unbridled joy, the ones that you want to scream from the mountaintops about. I am betting not a lot. I bet like me before my diagnosis you are saying yes to things that you want to say No to, that you are doing things to make others happy often at the expense of yourself. I am willing to bet that you feel guilty about doing things that bring you joy. This was me, and I have a feeling this is you.

So please starting today try and do more things that bring you joy than not. Try to incorporate one or two things a week (baby steps) that truly bring you joy. You have permission!!!

On World Cancer day, I salute all those that are battling cancer, those that have survived cancer and those that we have lost to cancer (I lost my dad).

Today and every day take a moment and note of all the wonderful things you have in your life, to tell your loved ones that you love them, and in honor of someone, bring a little light into this world with a small act of kindness.

headshot Allison

Allison Solomon is a mom to three teens all with ADHD and she is a cancer survivor. She shares her journey with fellow parents as real as it gets. Through her blog posts and speaking engagements, she helps other parents navigate this journey with humor, wisdom, and a dose of inspiration. You can follow her on Instagram.

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