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Cynthia, the wonderful mind behind Project Pink’d and someone who I hope to be like when I grow up, led a thriving circle about choices and control. Every single day adults make roughly 35,000 conscious decisions according to Psychology Today. Which honestly seems like way more than I am capable of making, considering half the time I can’t decide what I want to eat for dinner. Now, control is something that I don’t like to let go of. I’ve always been someone that likes to feel like I am in control. I don’t like riding in the passenger seat, I don’t like not being on solid ground, I don’t like not having a plan. I like to have things a certain way and have really had to work hard over the years to learn to adapt to change. When you get a cancer diagnosis, it feels like the train has left the tracks and the conductor isn’t slowing down for anything. I lost a lot of control over my life for months. After treatment was over I was grasping at anything to try and regain control. I had expectations of loved ones and friends that were probably unachievable, expectations of myself that were way too high to be realistic, and was generally just not very fun to be around a lot of the time. As most of us do, I often let those I love the most, get the worst version of myself. I didn’t want to be that way, but I just was. Cynthia talked about how as cancer survivors we often spend so much time trying to change the past and change the fact that we have/had cancer that we get stuck there. I was stuck, and I’m still learning to get unstuck. I was appreciative of the medications that saved my life but hated the side effects. I still hate the side effects of the ones I’m taking, but they are preventing me from reoccurrence. I was thankful the surgery removed the tumor, but hated looking in the mirror at my scars. I would get frustrated by people saying I was so brave and strong when I just felt like I didn’t have a choice in the matter; I literally just did what I was told and was trying to survive. When we sit down and think of all the things we can’t control, the list could go on and on. I named off about 20 things and people in a matter of minutes. Has that truly stopped me from trying to control them though? No, it hasn’t. I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy on trying, and in the end, it has just made me miserable. The one thing we can control is ourselves and our choices. It’s so easy to get stuck in a downward spiral of negative thoughts about the past and anxiety about the future, but that doesn’t help anything. Cynthia described having a “get to” attitude. My mom has always encouraged me to have a get to attitude instead of a “have to” attitude as well. I don’t think I fully grasped the importance of this method of reframing my thoughts until after cancer and talking with my fellow sisters. Each day is a gift. I get to go to work, some are too sick to do so. I get to clean my home and do my laundry, some don’t have a roof over their heads or enough clothes for loads of laundry. The more I think in this “get to” attitude, the more I appreciate the day. The easier it is to take each trial and bump in the road with grace, even if I can only take them moment by moment. By reframing my thought process, letting go of trying the change the past and control the future; I can literally feel weights being lifted off of my shoulders. Does this mean I am not going to have dark days? Absolutely not. I’m human and am going to have days where I can’t turn around the thoughts in my head, but I can choose to start fresh the next day and try again. Choosing to live a life of gratitude and giving control over to God is what I strive for. There will be trials and waves of grief, but I want to be able to say it is still “well with my soul”. If anyone knows the backstory of that song, it is very powerful. It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford, he was a lawyer and property owner in Chicago in the 1800's. He and his wife lost their only son due to illness, then had most of their properties destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. Several years later he decided to send his wife and four daughters to Europe for a trip, where he was to join them shortly after. He received a telegram from his wife, stating that she was "saved alone" after their ship had wrecked, all four daughters had perished. While traveling by boat to meet his wife, he wrote the words to this song, which are the ultimate testimony in trusting God through all things in life and choosing to have a positive attitude. The opening words are "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul." If someone can pen those words and truly believe them after losing almost everything that they love, I can choose to try my best to be positive, thrive, and develop a daily get to attitude.

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