I had planned to spend time in the garden this afternoon but the rain has hampered my plans! Our garden is still a work in progress but I suppose any gardener will tell you that you can never be satisfied, no matter what effort you put into it!
When pottering around the garden my mind usually wanders and sometimes I reflect on when I was first diagnosed with cancer. I was 31 years old and married two years. All my friends seemed to be moving on with their lives, having children, changing jobs, getting promotions and time seemed to stand still for me. I was afraid to plan long term, as I didn’t know whether I had a future or not. My memories of that period in my life was that of anxiety underpinning and colouring everything I said and did. My sister bought me this book (pictured) when first diagnosed along with a few other books on how people managed to overcome their cancer. On reading this book I immediately like the concept of it as it enabled me to empower myself and regain some element of control at a frightening time in my life. The essence of the book is about how our beliefs and attitudes can affect and influence how we cope with, manage and recover from illness. It is aimed at people with life threatening diseases such as cancer or heart disease. It complements conventional treatment by viewing the person holistically. I consider this my “bible”, my go to book when I need to empower myself or if feeling a little flaky about life. Affirmations like “You are 98% well and 2% ill” have stayed with me all these years! It was first published in 1997 and reading some of the chapters now I think it was ahead of its time in relation to managing stress, advocating yoga as an intervention, mindfulness and challenging negative self talk to name but a few of the chapters. Feeling powerless and having no control over my life, it was the chapter on Life Planning that prompted me to write my own five year and twenty year plan. The author asserts that if you set goals in a life plan your mind will unconsciously work towards achieving them.
As my life was in a bit of a hiatus, I decided to plan towards when I regained good health. Instead of waiting to be well again, each step I took was a step closer to achieving my goals. As part of my recovery, hubby and I planned our garden. As we planted blackcurrant bushes, apple trees, pear trees and plum trees I visualised our future children weaving in and out, shrieking with pleasure as they outran each other. Luckily for us we were blessed with two children and today they are more interested in kicking a ball and more often than not I find a sliotar (ball for playing hurling) or a punctured, faded, football, long forgotten about, lying at the base of the blackcurrant bushes! The plum trees got a virus a few years ago and died and one of the apple trees looked a bit sickly last year but that’s ok too.
Reflecting on the past number of years, I reckon I achieved most of my goals in my Life Plan, the important ones anyway, albeit sometimes in a roundabout way and the path was a bit thorny at times.
For many years the book lay undisturbed on my bookshelf gathering dust. Often I was tempted to give it to acquaintances when they were diagnosed with a serious life threatening illness but something always held me back. When a local recurrence was confirmed after nearly fourteen years in remission, it was the first book I reached for..