“An empty lantern provides no light. Self care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”
In March I was diagnosed with a melanoma tumor. No one could have been more surprised than I that the small mole on the back of my arm was a ticking time bomb. Within days of my initial appointment, I was scheduled for surgery. I’ve recovered well with the excellent care I’ve received through our health care system.
The reason I’ve decided to share this story is because over a year ago my husband asked me to get a skin check by his dermatologist. He’s been receiving preventative skin cancer care for over 3 years now and urged me to get a peace of mind check. I didn’t procrastinate making an appointment because I was scared; I procrastinated because I felt I had too many other things to do. And because I didn’t really believe there was any danger. After all, I didn’t have any health issues. If there was something wrong, wouldn’t I feel sick or have some kind of symptoms? So, I kept putting it off saying “One day, I’ll book an appointment.” Fast forward and I now have a 3-inch incision and a large chunk of flesh cut away from my arm. A very small price to pay for my life! My surgeon told me if I have come in a year ago, the incision would have been much smaller. And if I waited much longer the cancer would likely have gotten into my lymph system.
I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about how many of us put our own health and well being at the bottom of our priority list. We don’t intentionally neglect ourselves, but somehow, we just get so busy with everyday life that we put off those annual physical check ups and other self care actions. A friend once told me “God gives us a whisper in our ear, then a tap on our shoulder, then a 2×4 up the side of our heads.” My recent experience was more than a whisper, but not a 2×4. This was my tap on the shoulder; and I’m listening now.
This is not the first time in my life that I’ve put my self care at the bottom of my priority list; I bet there are many others who can say the same. We all know the famous quote “You can’t fill from an empty vessel” yet that’s what so many of us try to do.
I don’t mean to imply that by practicing self care you will avoid any serious illness. Despite early detection and the best of medical care, you may be battling a terminal illness. If this is you, then please know that you have my deepest compassion and a wish that you have a loved one in your life to walk that path with you.
This week (and for every week for the rest of our lives) let’s be more caring of ourselves. Let’s book that doctor’s appointment – and actually show up! Let’s find time to go for a daily walk and do some stretches. Let’s make more effort to eat better. Let’s try to get more sleep. Let’s ask our doctor for a referral to a therapist, if we need someone to talk to. Let’s stop procrastinating until we get the 2×4 up the side of the head. Let’s begin to take as good care of ourselves as we would a loved one. Because aren’t we, after all, a loved one too?
This week let’s not put all our focus on caring for the home that we live in; let’s take care of the place we live 24/7 – our bodies, our minds, our soul.
GRATITUDE SUNDAY – I’m so grateful to our health care system. It’s not perfect, and there are cracks to be filled, but I am very aware of the fact that if I lived in another country, one without a national health care system, proper care would have come at an extremely high price.
TUESDAY, next week – Meet me here next Tuesday to continue our journey.
H.O.P.E. is on the horizon my fellow Pathways Traveller – one step, one decision, one action at a time!