5 Things I Know for Sure

Note: This post is written by Annie Parker, President and founder of the Annie Parker Foundation. Annie has been interviewed in multiple publications about her cancer experience, including Forbes magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and others. Since her diagnosis in 1980, she has been a fierce advocate for cancer awareness and advocacy and is a frequently sought public speaker on cancer-related issues.

In my years as a patient advocate and cancer survivor, I’ve learned the value of a few mottos. Holding on to key pieces of wisdom can provide clarity and help cut through the doubt and insecurity of the cancer journey.

The cancer community is terrifically supportive, and as a result, there are many mottos available to choose from. Here I’ve collected 5 of the most personally meaningful to share with you.

1. Your health is your wealth

Your body is the place your soul calls home.

Your body and spirit need to work together to offer you your best health. Easier said than done, but take it from someone who had her life threatened by illness three times, it’s absolutely necessary.

The most precious thing in this life is time. You can help ensure you get the most you can by investing in your health now. It is much harder to invest when you’re sick, so why wait? Start small, don’t overwhelm yourself. All big changes start with a small step.

2. It’s never too late to dream

Only a few years ago, my dream was to establish the Annie Parker Foundation. This coming June, the inaugural foundation event has been scheduled! Of course, a flood of discouraging thoughts came to mind: you’re too old, no one will be interested, it’ll be too expensive, you’ll fail.

But I came back to where I started from: a woman who held on to her convictions when she was being dismissed left, right, and center. I want all women to have those same convictions for their own dreams, no matter their background, age, or circumstances. Goals give us purpose and our life meaning. Don’t let your goals float away.

3. Wondering “What if” is the worst

People have a hard time forgiving themselves, especially women. When we don’t apply for that job, ask out that guy, or get that pap test done, we can sometimes be left filled with regret. I hate that feeling. So, I make a conscious effort to get out of my comfort zone for something I want or that would enrich my life. In the end, regardless of the outcome, you’ll always have an answer or experience, and you’ll never be left wondering, “what if…”

4. Kindness creates the best karma

When I look back on my cancer journey, one thing that always sticks out is the kindness people offered me. Of course, nothing you say or do can cure someone’s illness, but kind words help a person move forward. It sounds cliche but it is undeniable. If you can offer someone comfort with a few words, you can change that person’s perception or state of mind; “I’m bringing you chicken soup, be there in 5 mins!”, “I saw the sun kissing the lake this morning and thought of you”, “Knock, knock!…”

You never know what people are going through and words can have incredible power for someone who is struggling silently. The next time you’re in a doctor’s waiting room, say something that may brighten someone’s day. “Love your nail polish,” “Man, this waiting room could use a paint job, eh?”, “I’ve read this issue of Marie Claire 11 times in the past three years, how about you?”

5. Mindfulness matters

Cancer patients/survivors often find it tough to stay in the moment. With the anxiety of planning doctors appointments and worrying when or if the disease might return, it’s easy to have life pass you by.

Mindfulness is a habit; you have to talk to yourself. At first, you’ll feel silly, but gradually it becomes an important moment you have with yourself each day. It’s easier when you’re in a positive moment, because you can truly practice gratitude and take in your blessings. Talking to yourself is equally important during times of heartache or anxiety. There are tips and tricks out there to help you do this. Positive affirmations and journaling are tools that have been proven to help you be present in your life. You’ll be thankful for investing in your mental health if you ever find yourself in a mind-over-matter moment.