Breast Cancer and the Meaning of Today

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

When one receives a breast cancer diagnosis, your perspective is changed forever regardless of what you may believe. On an almost daily basis, I see and think about things in a whole new way, even years after I was diagnosed, treated and have been fortunate enough to have no evidence of disease. And I never realize this more than on days when I remember someone or  something that I have lost. But, let me explain.

But, most importantly, I hope that for each “today” that I have, I will remember the lessons that I learned and when I reflect on what has happened or occurred, I will be happy about how I lived that day and how I treated other people.Barbara Jacoby

Today, I started thinking about the day that our 23-year-old pet passed away. And while most people don’t normally think of a bird as a pet, this one certainly qualified. There was nothing more that he wanted than to have attention, being fed and watered and given endless amounts of petting and loving. And so it was that he ran our household in this manner during every day that my husband and I have been together. But, with his passing, his life has meant so much more to me than the loss of a pet as I am reminded of all that I have learned from him.

While Guy (that was his name) talked and used this ability to get what he wanted when he wanted, it wasn’t long until he stopped doing this because he didn’t need to do so. The interesting thing is that this is much like people are. We ask for what we need and for the things we want but in those special relationships that we have, we usually reach the point where the other person knows us so well that they know what we need and want and just provide it. I remember when I had my breast cancer surgeries and came home, preferring my own bed to a hospital bed, my husband knew exactly what to do. After making me comfortable, he was out to the drugstore to get prescriptions filled, found a product for waterless cleaning since I wasn’t allowed to shower and obtained a gift card so that I could do some online shopping when I felt like being on the computer. No one told him what to do. He didn’t read any special suggestions. He just went out and did it.

I also found it very interesting that Guy always knew when I was sad or upset about something. Where normally he would yell for attention and run around in his cage eating and drinking and playing with his toys or just settling in for a nap, he would sit on one of his perches and just look at me and tilt his head from one side to the other and wait. Sometimes I just told him I knew that he understood and other times I would talk to him and he would just wait until I was done before resuming his own activities. Such is the wonder and wonderfulness of family and friends who did the exact same thing during the tough times like dealing with breast cancer. They let me know that they were there for me but never required that I do anything other than let them know that I knew they were there for me. And in those instances, when I needed to talk, they would listen and knew that I didn’t need or want any response or reassurance or anything other than an ear that would listen without comment or judgment. And if no one else was around or when I knew that the last thing anyone wanted to hear was about breast cancer again, I knew I could talk to my heart’s content to that bird.

But, most of all, the biggest lesson and reminder was about unconditional love. Other than his basic needs, he never wanted more than to be loved and held and petted and made to feel that he was safe. In those times when we are going through our breast cancer treatments, we pretty much want the exact same thing. We want love and caring and holding and the promise of knowing that others will always be there for us. We want to feel that we are important enough to someone else that they will come to us and make sure that our needs are met. We want to know that in our time of need, there will be someone to hold our hand and guide our steps and support us when we feel that we might fall.

Yes, today as I reflect on the lessons that one silly little bird taught me over the years, I hope that I appreciate the importance of each today that I have with those who are and have been so important to my life. But, most importantly, I hope that for each “today” that I have, I will remember the lessons that I learned and when I reflect on what has happened or occurred, I will be happy about how I lived that day and how I treated other people. Wow! What a legacy one little bird has created for himself!