Guest blogger Laura Duralija Rocca is currently studying to become a registered holistic nutritionist. She shares her favourite recipes on her blog, veganhootenanny.com, which focuses upon holistic vegan and chemo-friendly foods.
In my early twenties, I started stressing about my future. What would I do after I graduated from university? What kind of financial stability could I expect to secure with my drama degree? What if I never ‘made it’? What if I never found my so-called soulmate?
I wish that I had known then that stressing about the future is, in fact, a luxury. At 24, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and the rhythm of my life changed: I no longer stressed about making big plans for the future. My life existed in between CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and check-ups. Life in three-to-four-month intervals.
Six years and four diagnoses later, I continue to exist in these intervals between scans. At a certain point, as a cancer survivor, you learn to just forget about making the big plans, and to start living in the moment. ‘Living in the Moment’ can be frustrating. You feel anxiety over the idea of enrolling in a new line of study. You hesitate before signing a three-year contract with a new cellphone provider. You nod and smile when your friends begin sentences with ‘When we’re in our forties”
But living in the moment can also be freeing. Gone are the stresses over the uncertainty of your career path or your financial security. Taking each new day as it comes means that you learn to take time to enjoy the smallest of things. The first ripe heirloom tomato is worthy of celebration. You start to notice the stars. And a warm embrace from your partner in the morning is all that you need for the rest of the day.
I first learned the true value of living in the moment after my fourth bout with my disease. I had just had a very difficult lung surgery, and my partner and I were about to move. I arrived home from the hospital short of breath, on several painkillers, unable to do much. Our small Toronto apartment was full of half-packed boxes. Our lives were full. ‘Let’s get a dog,’ I told him. We had been talking about adopting a dog for a long time, but it had never seemed to be the right time. You can always find a reason not to get a dog, not to start having children, not to go on that Central American backpacking adventure. It will never be the ‘perfect time’ for any of these things, but sometimes the right time is what seems like the wrong time. And when you have learned to live in the moment’when you realise how fleeting and how delicate time really is, and that all that exists for you is today’there is no wrong time.
We adopted a dog from a rescue organization. He arrived the day we were set to move. His tail was wagging, and his eyes were as big as shiny brown saucers when we came down to greet him. He jumped on me immediately, and pulled on my stitches a bit. It didn’t matter. He was all that I needed in that moment.