Miss Val behind fountain.

GET TO vs HAVE TO: Perspectives from my Chemo Spa

I GET to go to chemotherapy. I GET to have poison shot into my vein that will hopefully kill the cancer in my breast.

It all started when my oncologist said, “You’re going to go through a year of chemo and surgery, but you’ll be fine.” I went home, sat on my couch, and E-X-H-A-L-E-D… then it slowly hit me and I started chanting and eventually dancing,

I get to live.

I get to live.

I GET to live.

I GET TO LIVE!

~ I GET TO LIVE ~

joy

Note, I didn’t repeat a negative mantra that might have sounded something like, “I have cancer. Damn, I have cancer.”


I GET TO LIVE!
I GET to BREATH. I GET to work. I GET to DANCE. I GET to hug my husband, and my athletes, and my family, and my friends and my grandchildren! Do I like to get up early for work? No! Do I look forward to chemotherapy sessions… uh … no. But I GET TO DO ALL OF THIS because I GET TO LIVE!

The one revelation, “I GET TO…” changed my outlook on everything I think about and do every single day.

I purposefully chose to refer to my chemo sessions as my “Chemo Spa.” A Spa is where you go to get healthier. Sometimes it’s painful—for any of you who have had a deep tissue massage—not the most pleasant experience. Once you reframe how you think about something it takes on a different meaning and produces different emotions. I could have thought, “I have to go to the hospital to get chemotherapy.” Or I could think, “I GET to go to my Chemo Spa.” Either way, I was still going to the same place, for the same amount of time, and to experience the same insertion of the needle. I just didn’t dread it once I framed it with a positive spin, my Chemo Spa.

One Thursday I was getting ready to leave our team training to go in for my Chemo Spa therapy and one of my seniors, Ellette Craddock, asked if we could meet later in my office. I told her I couldn’t because I was going to my Chemo Spa. I said to her, “My Chemo Spa is sure screwing up my day.” To which she replied, “Yes, but Miss Val, it’s giving you a lot more days.” … ahh… perspective.

From the moment I heard that I had a malignant tumor in my breast I KNEW I couldn’t let anything penetrate my armor of positivity. I didn’t know what type of a battle I’d be facing, but I knew it needed to be fought with relentless faith that everything would eventually be fine. That armor encapsulated every thought of every waking moment.

Regardless of how I was feeling, whenever I was asked, “How are you doing?” I’d reply, “Great! Life is Amazing!” I remember when Ariana Berlin, one of our alumna, asked me, “Miss Val, how can you say you’re great when you have cancer in your breast?” I replied, “I have a malignant tumor in my breast getting hit with some very powerful stuff. The rest of me feels great, I have energy and I’m having a fantastic time living life. Why would I let a tumor in my boob ruin any part of my day?” I also asked everyone I saw frequently to please not treat me like I’m sick. I’m not sick. Sick is when you feel like crap and have the flu. I feel GREAT, therefore I’m not sick.

Life is hard. Getting through each day, even when I feel great, is often hard. But we have options:

(1) Complain about every little thing you HAVE to do. “Ugh, I don’t want to get out of bed.” “I can’t believe the traffic.” “Another boring day at work.” And so on…

(2) Be Aloof, Indifferent, Bored. Coast through each day with the goal of just getting through it… that is a very empty and unattractive thought, almost worse than the previous option.

(3) Be thankful and appreciative for ALL things. EVERY. LITTLE. THING! Life isn’t just about the good stuff that happens to us. Life is EVERYTHING: the Good, Bad and Ugly. The Fun Stuff, the Boring stuff, the frustrations, the jubilations… It’s all LIFE. The highs, lows and everything in between are what make life challenging, rewarding and downright fun.

Photo credits: Edward Duarte (top); Austin Schmid

38
Leave a Reply

avatar
19 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
58-Day Challenge: Day 16 | Official Miss ValCue Up Your Life | Official Miss Val"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Dr. Carol Dweck | Official Miss ValTami (conway) WelchMiss Val Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Emily Stoops
Guest
Emily Stoops

Printing this out and putting it at my desk at work. Things have been a struggle lately, but I GET TO come in, try harder, and perform a bunch of experiments to see if I can figure out a new solution.

Ravi Deo
Guest

All the best to your recovery, Miss Val! I grew up in an oncology household and work at an oncology practice now. So happy reading your perspective, which I’m sure will help raise morale with patients, families, and providers alike. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Schelly Thompson
Guest
Schelly Thompson

I want to be like you when I grow up! (Actually, I’m older than you, but I still want to be like you!)

Amy Scherer
Guest
Amy Scherer

Incredibly awesome! I do my best to embrace this philosophy, but your post is an important, inspirational reminder! Thank you. (:

Abby Laver
Guest
Abby Laver

Thank you for inspiring me and continuing to inspire me everyday with your positivity and fresh perspectives Miss. Val. You’re incredible💛💛

Abby Laver
Guest
Abby Laver

Thank you for inspiring me and continuing to inspire me everyday Miss. Val. You’re incredible💛💛

Mary Wright
Guest
Mary Wright

And that’s one of the reasons why we are soul sisters. You allow me to think like you . Whenever I read your posts or texts it lifts me up to unimaginable heights. Sometimes we don’t see our gifts. Sometimes those gifts are given to us so that we can gift them to someone else. Love you sweet friend.

Becky Fritzges
Guest
Becky Fritzges

I love you Val! Grateful for all the wisdom and inspiration you’ve given to me over the years. So many fond memories ❤️

Riley Goldberg
Guest
Riley Goldberg

I remember hearing the GET TO have Chemo elevator story. I stil think about it everyday❤️ So inspirational!

Emmanuelle Martin
Guest
Emmanuelle Martin

Love this. I needed this today.