Monday, September 13, 2010

The importance of being healthy

Two years ago today I lost one of my best friends. Her name was Lisa and she was truly an amazing person. She embraced life no matter what it threw at her. Even when it threw a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer her way, she "rolled with the punches."

Lisa was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2007, shortly after I had my first baby and right as she turned 40. I will never forget the day she told me. I had made a stop at my mother-in-laws to change and feed Gav, only a handful of weeks old. My cell rang and I was happy to see "Le" pop up on the caller ID. I always enjoyed Le's calls, we could talk for hours. But that day, it was different. Le told me the tests had confirmed it was breast cancer. As the tears started flowing down my face, she said not to worry, it was all going to be okay, she was going to be fine. Le had a knack for turning negatives into positives. It was natural for her and convincing to everyone around her. Being more of a "glass half empty" person, I needed Le in my life. She would always see it half full. Even with breast cancer.

When Le and I met, I was just seeing the light at the end of a very long Post-traumatic Stress Disorder tunnel. In 2001, my husband was diagnosed with stage four non-hodgkins lymphoma. We spent our first wedding anniversary getting his first round of chemotherapy. It was the heaviest thing I'd ever faced. I held up better than I thought I would. We got through each test, each scan, each doctor's appointment, each up and each down - somehow. But a couple of years after cancer, when the doctors told us we could get on with our lives - I lost it. I was overwhelmed with the thought of the cancer coming back, the infertility issues we now faced and the hundreds of other emotions almost losing my husband brought. It sucked.

By the time Le came into my life I could talk about what had happened with perspective. I could also laugh again. Oh and how she could make me laugh! The thing I attribute to my healing the most (next to therapy) is running. I started running to distract myself from obsessing about illness and infertility. To help me NOT think. What it actually did was help me gain perspective, think about the lighter things in life and it made me lighter! I lost 25 pounds. Losing weight always puts a smile on a girl's face. Running, eating well and laughing helped turn myself around (forward), which led to a closer marriage, which led to a baby. A "miracle" baby as Le referred to him.

Eating well is important. So is exercise and mental health. And although everyone, fit or not, is susceptible to illness or other ailments, being healthy gives us a "leg up" in the battle. And it's days like this I am especially reminded of the importance of health and why I make good food a priority for my kids. As well as how I need to apply it to my life consistently again. In the craziness that is my life, I often forget about my nutritional needs and skip out on exercise because "I have no time." But if I don't make time, I'll be ill-equipped to handle even the smallest of challenges let alone something bigger. So here's to Lisa and to making time to partake in the benefits of seeking out good food, fun and balance for my family. May you be inspired to do the same.

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