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Celebrate Life!
By Elena Iglesias     

October 25, 2011             

As I was leaving the hospital, right after a bilateral mastectomy, one of my children gave me a mug full of candies that read: “Celebrate Life!” And that’s what I’ve been doing these past 30 years after I had my breast cancer surgery. For all that happened to me, I could just as well lie down and die. However, life is a challenge that must be met head on, without dismay or trepidation. If a person can do that, he has already defeated fear.

I don’t consider myself to be a special kind of survivor. I believe we all are survivors, as we do not know what tomorrow will bring. The important thing for me to do is celebrate life every day, understanding that death is also part of the natural process of being born into the universe. Through this awareness, one can overcome confusion and panic, which have always claimed more victims than any illness known to mankind.

Life and death are mysteries beyond our understanding and control. I can either accept what is with an open heart or live angry and frustrated. My attitude might not change the final outcome of my life; however, one journey is enough to make me a happy and peaceful person, while the other will paralyze me and prevent me from enjoying the rest of my life. Without an open heart, I may not be able to see the obvious answers to the important questions posed to me.

Years ago, I received a touching e-mail that made me understand all this. It was about a 92-year-old lady whose husband of 70 years passed away, forcing her to move to a nursing home.

 “As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I started to paint a visual description of her tiny room… ‘I love it!’ she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year old having just been presented with a new puppy. ‘Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room…. just wait.’

‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it,’ she replied. ‘Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged… it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it… It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life…’ “

And the anonymous author of the e-mail added, “There are five simple rules to be happy, whether you live a long or a short life: Free your heart from hatred, free your mind from worries, live simply, give more and expect less”.

In her book, “Heal Your Body,” Louise L. Hay tells us that both the good and the dis-ease in our lives are the results of mental thought patterns, which form our experiences. The author states for example that longstanding resentment, among other emotional wounds, can be a developing cause for cancer, as it was for me 30 years ago.

As Relay for Life approaches each year, I focus not only on “curing or surviving” a tough illness, but also on turning my second chance into a meaningful, fulfilling and loving life.




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