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November 7, 2023  •

Reflecting on Progress: Recognizing Your Remarkable Journey

Do you ever actually look back through the photos on your phone? Or are you the one that takes all the photos and let’s them die on your phone except for a random social media post when the mood strikes you? I fall into the latter category. I have dreams of being the person that can capture a beautiful moment when it happens but that would actually require me to attempt to take some pictures and I’ll be honest – I wonder sometimes if maybe the image would be more beautiful if I just let it sit in my mind and heart. Do I need to capture all the moments?

My aging memory tells me yes, yes you do. Capture them all. So many moments I thought I would hold on to for life are somehow dissipating. I feel like I’m grasping at threads of memories now. My memories of my childhood Christmas consist of a Holly Hobby dress (that I remember from a photo), the Sears Christmas Catalog (if you know you know) and snooping through the house for presents. Will the memories come back to me? Will I be 80 years old and saying things to my grandkids like “On August 16, 2020 your Aunt and I double wake-surfed together for the first time!” (true story but I had to look up the photo to find the date)?

When I heard the cancer news (Friday, October 29, 2021 to be exact – thank goodness for Google calendar) I knew I had to document the path forward but it was like trying to take a decent picture of your friend who’s always eating or talking with their hands – the moments never felt like quite the right time to pull out my phone for a photo. It was a lot of time in the hospital, at doctors offices, at physical therapy, in scanning machines, at the gym, napping…was I really going to want to look back on these moments as something to remember? Sometimes no. A lot of times no. (If you aren’t up to speed on the cancer story here’s a link to the Caring Bridge site for some of the scoop).

But there are days…man there are some tough days when my frustrations and fears today block out the memories of the beginning. It’s these days when I am so glad I documented what I could. The days I walk with concentrated effort out to my car (watch out for that pinecone, there’s an incline, heel toe heel toe, use your toes) drive myself to the gym, do a 1 hour workout with my daughter, and then try not to cry because I can’t do the exercises that I used to. I realize this is minor, a very “woe is me” said with an eyeroll type of complaint. But sometimes this is the trigger that sends me down the cancer hell-hole to the scarier things that nobody should have to worry about. While some people may think that re-living brain surgery by scrolling through photos on your phone is a bit dark, it actually gives me some hope when I see how far I’ve come.

I watched some video from pre-brain surgery, when I could barely walk through the halls of the hospital. Then some video of a neighborhood walk with trekking poles and a few off-balance stumbles. Then a picture of me wake-surfing with a HUGE smile. And a few dozen exercise and rehab videos, some when I was feeling so strong! My efforts are paying off and will continue to pay huge dividends as long as I keep showing up.

I don’t think you have to have cancer to be able to relate to this very long story.

How many times have you felt frustrated with your progress, or lack thereof? Your book isn’t done yet? Haven’t lost all the pounds you were hoping to lose? Haven’t quite reached your 5 mile goal on your walk? Business not bringing in as much revenue as you’d hoped? Not as many followers on your blog/social as you wanted? What HAVE you done? WHO have you become in the process? Friend, spend some time looking over your journey, I know you’ve come farther than you realize. It’s just so easy to buy in to the definitions of success that the people “out there” have set. Please don’t. Take pride in your efforts, acknowledge your hard work, the stumbles and falls, the small wins that really aren’t so small.

K. Do Good. xoxo