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Five Life Lessons I Learned From My Breast Cancer Journey

24/03/2017 13:28 GMT | Updated 24/03/2017 13:28 GMT

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IMAGE CREDIT: AATLAS VIA PIXABAY

Life is a constant journey of learning. One of my favourite proverbs about learning declares that "a wise man never knows all, only a fool knows everything."

Life has a funny habit of throwing the unexpected at us when we least expect it. A breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 32 wasn't part of my grand plan and it completely threw me off course. The route that I had planned in my mind changed completely and I suddenly found myself sailing through uncharted waters. As a result of this challenge I learned a great deal and not just about myself.

How many times have you heard people proclaiming "you learn something new every day" or "you are never too old to learn?"

We tend to think of learning as a one-time process that we complete at school, college and university. But learning can come from so many sources besides formal education and training. More often than not we learn something when we least expect it. No matter what the source of learning might be whether it is from reading a good book, making a mistake or dealing with a crisis it all contributes to us growing older and wiser.

After getting to the finish line of my breast cancer journey, even though it was a tough ride, I began thinking about what I have learned from my journey. And here are my five life lessons:

Surround Yourself With A Positive Team

The most important lesson that I learned is that you need to surround yourself with positive people. This applies to whatever journey you might be on. You're never going to get to the finish line if there are people filling your mind with fear. Nor will you have the self belief to fulfil your dreams if you hang out with the moaners and groaners. Steer clear of those guys. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Ignore the negative Nancy's and start working towards your dream today. There is no time to waste.

Don't Compare Yourself To Others

This can be a very dangerous way to pass the time. Don't compare your journey to another's. It can be very tempting to go online and start your comparison campaign but I can guarantee that this will not make you feel any better. One cancer journey is very different to another and the same applies to life journeys.

Focus On The End Goal

I find the mental technique of visualisation very powerful. If you visualise your end goal in your mind you can 'see' the finish line and it provides you with an aim. If you have nothing to aim for you might never hit your target and it is easier to become disheartened. It's not all plain sailing and I certainly had my fair share of treatment days when I felt like I couldn't go on. That's where your positive team will come into play to help you through the difficult days and get you back on course.

Take One Day At A Time

Take one day at a time. It sounds like the simple advice that your grandmother might offer but it can work wonders for your mental wellbeing. Sometimes thinking about the wider picture can drive you crazy. Make sure you take time to focus on the simple things that give you pleasure. Whether it's reading a good book, listening to your favourite music or relaxing in the garden; all these things can give you a boost.

Keep Moving Forward

It is so important to keep moving forward. On some of my very worst treatment days I had to crawl from my bed to the bathroom. It was not an easy position for me to be in as I am a very active person. But on the days that I could manage, I took myself for a walk. To feel the wind in my hair and to remind myself that I am still alive and kicking. In the famous words of Martin Luther King: "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

We are all passengers on this journey called life. It is a gift and it is an opportunity to learn as we muddle our way through. If we are open to learning en route, it can ease our journey and in turn we can help others by sharing what we have learned.