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It Is What It Is

by Gary Grieger

Inspiration image

Recently, I got together with a longtime friend and fellow survivor. During the course of our conversation, she told me that one thing she will always remember about me was my often speaking the phrase, It is what it is.

We discussed how some of our friends would make statements like “I wish I didn’t have cancer because I want to see my kids grow up.” Well, every person I have ever talked to wishes they didn’t have cancer. But we do have cancer. And no matter how much we wish differently, it is what it is, and we need to accept it.

It does none of us any good to wish or pretend that cancer isn’t part of our lives. But it is good for us to not allow cancer to keep us from doing what is important today. Maybe what’s important to you is telling someone that you love them. Well, you can do that – cancer or no cancer. Maybe spending another day in the hospital is getting to you, and it’s not easy to keep battling. That’s when we have to be mentally strong and to say to ourselves, “Cancer will not stop me today.”

It is hard to be emotionally up every day. I know this very well, but I have learned over the past nine years that if I don’t fight to be motivated every day, then I’m down. Sometimes way down. When you realize that your days here will eventually end, you learn to treasure each one. They are all special.

It does none of us any good to wish or pretend that cancer isn’t part of our lives.

I have been reminded that life goes by fast, and time seems to pass even more quickly the older we get. Whatever your priorities are, strive to reach them. Start today. Take a risk. Tell the people in your life what they mean to you. Don’t leave important business until tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Take that family vacation you’ve been talking about. Visit that old friend you’ve been meaning to visit.

Dealing with a compromised immune system, fatigue, and problems with keeping my balance are all part of the “new me.” But it is what it is. I don’t let cancer stop me from doing what is important. I try not to focus on the things that I may not experience in life. Instead, I focus on what I am experiencing – right now.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2009.