Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Resolution Reflections: The Road to 100

I've always been the type to make New Year's Resolutions. Looming in the darkest depths of my small, downtown-Toronto-sized-closet is a box full of old photos, random memorabilia, souvenirs, and lined sheets of paper I scrawled my resolutions on every year since graduating university. "Eat more vegetables" and "Run a 10k" screamed at me from my refrigerator door for 365 days one year. I never thought "Be cancer free" would be added to such a trivial list.

The year "Run a half-marathon" made the top of my resolutions list, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. All of 2010's resolutions were put on hold. I had a new resolution, one I didn't dare put words to until long after treatment, when the idea of being in remission could finally be entertained.

During eight months of chemotherapy and radiation, my brother-in-law asked me, "what do you do differently since you've been diagnosed?" It's a question I'm sure many cancer patients get asked, but it haunted me. How could I make sure that my experience meant something? How would I move on carefully and considerately, without forgetting all the pain that I had endured to get myself there?

As a test, I wrote out answers to the question. Things I would do differently:
  • Acknowledge my capability every time I went for a run.
  • Savour the decadence of pekking duck.
  • Advocate for what I believed in.
  • Spend time with my family...
The list grew and grew, and when I got to 100, I had my answer. I would pay homage to my bald, bloated and bummed out cancer-self by making an effort everyday to do all that I didn't before my diagnosis.
That was in March 2011. 19 months later, I have 10 more to go before reaching 100. I can't stop. While cancer motivates me everyday to live better, I now believe that resolve lives in all of us. Hangovers teach us not to drink as much, lost belongings teach us to take better care, and being late teaches us to plan ahead. The worst thing we could do is endure the fallout without knowing better the next time.

Therein lies the answer to my brother-in-law's question. Cancer taught me how to live, but, I'm still learning. Even after attaining Resolution #1, to be cancer-free, my desire to learn form my experience and live my life to the fullest can't be capped at a measly 100.

I have a lifetime of resolutions to go.


  1. Well said Steph
    "I have a lifetime of resolutions to go."
    Every year will bring a host of new Resolutions. But I think none will be more serious the #1.
    Love you,

  2. Your blog is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. A very eloquent and encouraging blog. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

    I am Yvonne and Max's friend, Linn, and my husband is battling kidney cancer right now.

    When I see him tonight, I will mention this read to him.

    Yours in Health,
    Linn Purves