I am a simple girl. Little things amuse me and make me happy. I don’t need much to get excited, usually a chocolate bar or four do the trick. I can find joy in simple things and can always try to find a positive in most situations. Unfortunately, life can throw you some curveballs and leave you struggling to find the rainbow amongst the storm clouds. Last year, our storm cloud was mum being diagnosed with breast cancer and having to go through chemotherapy and radiation. To say it was a rough road would be an understatement. Fast forward 13 months and by the grace of God and an amazing medical team, we got through and came out stronger for it. But while mum has gotten through and is in the clear, chemotherapy and radiation have left some lingering scars; scars that are both emotional and physical and that take a while to disappear, if they disappear at all.
One of the hardest things about chemotherapy is that is strips your body and basically rips it apart. It is harsh and brutal and is at times worse than the actual cancer. It’s not fun and no one that has ever been through it will tell you it was a walk in the park. It is a form of treatment that leaves your body a lot weaker than when it started and leaves side effects that take months to disappear. One of the side effects that mum struggled with the most was the way chemo affected her taste; she basically lost it. Her taste buds were completely stripped and the only thing she could taste was a metallic oil – that was the way mum described it. Mum isn’t a big eater at the best of times and the chemo made her lose most of her appetite, and what was left was ignored because mum didn’t want to eat and not taste her food. It was a battle, with me having to practically force her to eat at times. The lack of taste tends to last for a few months after chemo treatment is finished, in mum’s case, lasting a full six months.
Over the last few months, mum has on many occasions asked me to taste the food she has cooked because she can’t taste it properly. But earlier this week we realised that she hasn’t asked that question in a little while. We realised that, in fact, she has complete taste back. All her taste buds are back in swing and it was an amazing revelation for her. It was an amazing revelation for both of us and we were so excited we decided to mark the occasion by eating chocolate. I mean, what better way to celebrate than by letting your taste buds have a chocolate party, right? I can’t think of a better way to party. But on a serious note, it was huge. It may sound like a small thing, but imagine not being able to taste anything other than metal! Imagine constantly having an oily texture in your mouth every time you ate something. For anyone going through chemotherapy, or who has been through chemotherapy, you understand the frustration this side effect brought with it. But if this is you right now, let me assure you there is a light at the end of the tunnel and your taste will come back. Your taste will come back and you will be able to appreciate the joy of eating freshly baked bread or having a hamburger. If anything, it will taste a whole lot better than before.
Seeing the smile on mamma’s face when she realised that she had all her taste back was like winning a thousand dollars; it made me immensely happy and served as a great reminder to appreciate the little things in life. We get so caught up in the dramas of life, in work and finances and politics and arguments and all the things that just add more stress to our lives that we forget to stop and just appreciate. I’ve spoken about this before, but we need to take more time to appreciate the simple things in life, like enjoying a good coffee, or sharing a piece of cake with a friend, or just sitting outside in the sunshine and watching the world go by. I make a habit of stopping as often as I can to just take a moment and appreciate the little things that make me happy. I go to my favourite local cafe and just sit with a good coffee, usually with something sugary next to it, and just rest and watch the world go past. It helps me to unwind and just rest. It also gives me some great content for my Café Stories series, but that’s beside the point. The point is, we need to stop and just appreciate. Why do we wait until someone is sick, or dying, or dead, to stop and appreciate just how short and fleeting our lives can be? Why not now? Why wait until your house is paid off to enjoy some time away with your family? Go for a drive one weekend, pull over by the beach and share some fish and chips with your family in the sun. Why wait until you’re in your senior years to stop and smell the roses? Go plant a garden in your yard and enjoy the flowers now. You don’t have a yard, get a mini garden for your balcony. No balcony? Go to a park! Why do we constantly put off appreciating the beauty of life? I know that it’s easier said than done for some people, but it can still be done. And I get we have to work and pay bills, but there are 24 hrs. in a day and we shouldn’t be allocating all of those hours to work and sleep. Go travel, or make new friends, or visit a nursing home and sit with a senior citizen for a few hours. Spend a romantic evening with your spouse. Hug your children tighter. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Forgive people. Just appreciate. Look around you, really look around you, and see how amazing and beautiful this world really is because once you do, you will be inspired to go out and see more of it.