Giving back is much more important to me now than ever before.
This is because back in 2011, I discovered I had cancer.
I am a breast cancer survivor.
And as odd as this may sound – it changed my life…for the better.
I don’t talk about those dark days very much.
In fact, I hid what was going on from this blog, my social media feed and my public work in television.
My co-workers covered for me at events. And only a small group of friends and family knew that I was enduring numerous tests, four long and complicated surgeries, lots of medications and then physical therapy.
Very few people knew that truth. But those few people supported me in ways I can never put into words.
I remember when I was first diagnosed one of my brothers said to me, “This will change you. But don’t worry. It will change you in a good way.”
No way! I already fully appreciated my life. I loved my family. I was already thankful for this life. How could this possibly change me other than to terrify me?
Well you know what? He was SO right.
I did change.
I am a better person because of cancer and I have a completely different outlook on life.
And so do my husband and my kids.
It took awhile for me to realize this because at the time, I was in survival mode. I was on a mission to not only to tackle this evil cancer, but also keep my family intact in the process.
My boys were 10 and 12 years old when I was diagnosed and at the time, a close family friend was losing her battle with cancer. So my boys knew all too well what cancer was and what it could do. When the time came for me to tell them that I also had cancer, I knew they would “get it”.
And that made my heart ache.
I asked my husband, “How will our kids react to the news that I have cancer too?”
And he said, “They will react however WE react.”
We decided to react with gratitude.
We were thankful that the cancer had been found and thankful that I had another chance at life. We presented it to our kids that way. We kept an open dialog the entire time – never hiding anything. Because of this, they trusted us and felt part of the process.
And cancer opened all four of us up to seeing the world differently. We are all much better able to put things in perspective.
I now have real understanding that the little things in life are really the big things.
It’s funny that I didn’t fully get that before – even though I thought I did.
I savor the little things like that, every single day.
Once you have cancer, you are forever looking over your shoulder as you worry it will come back. For the rest of your life, you are checked, tested, poked and prodded as the doctors regularly monitor you for cancer.
All that checking makes you stop waiting for the right time to do all the things you have always wanted to do.
I no longer wait.
And I started looking at the bigger picture in everything I did.
I am more passionate about growing organically and living sustainably than ever before – for my own health, the health of my family and the little plot of land I call home.
I also changed by giving back all year long – not just at holiday time.
I do this in a variety of ways, including spending birthdays with my family doing Random Acts of Kindness for others. I learned of this practice through the Birthday Project and it really carries through the whole year for us.
And I also give a portion of everything I earn through Living Homegrown to National Breast Cancer Foundation to help others see their next birthdays too.
So, when you buy one of my classes, take a workshop, or click on an affiliate link, you are not only gaining some information or skills that I hope you enjoy. You are also donating to a good cause at the same time.
I wanted you to understand that.
Thank you for being part of my journey here.
And thank you for allowing me to pay it forward.