I went to visit my dad at his home this past week. Through our varied conversations, I asked him what items he had kept that belonged to my mom that he still had in the house.
“Not much,” was his reply. Only a few small items, some keepsakes with a special and personal meaning attached. He brought out a box with a lid that attached with velcro and swung open and away. In it, there were several books about menopause and general health, loose papers, and her old wallet still with expired cards and wallet-sized pictures of her kids, grandkids, and her parents.
My dad then relayed to me that there was this journal that he originally thought belonged to my younger brother but, upon opening it, he saw that the writing was my mom’s. Only the first few pages of the journal had been written on with an entry that had many edits and cross-outs, very much a first draft of an email or message she wanted to share.
It was written in the small period after her initial encounter with cancer and before it eventually returned to lead her to her passing. Quite possibly, the cancer ordeal, as she put it, made her take a close look at life and reflect on personal health habits and she felt she wanted to share what she had learned were the major points with us. There was nothing else in the journal.
I took pictures of the written pages and managed to transcribe them here as best I could. I’ve edited a bit for clarity, corrections, and flow.
Angie, Valdo, J.P., Sarah, Armando, Vero, & Denise –
After the ordeal I went through for the last 7 months (breast cancer, surgery, radiation, chemo, etc.). I started to read more and get a little more informed about some health issues. I learned the importance of good nutrition and a daily walk as well as a good attitude towards any problems life can bring us. I learned to appreciate life a lot more!!! I learned to get rid of depression by (in addition to a good nutrition and walk) to breath slowly in and out several times daily to relax, to listen to music and dance to it, to laugh. I learned to not focus on the bad attitudes of people but to appreciate the people around me, and give thanks for not being alone. I thank God for the beautiful family I have and I wish the most wonderful and healthy life for all.
I know how difficult it is when you are working to make time for preparing your lunches and dinner but even if you buy lunch outside, try to prepare every night a lunch bag of healthy snacks for the morning break and lunch.
Morning – a banana, yogurt, bread with peanut butter (in addition to our coffee).
Lunch – eat a fruit before you eat your lunch, like a daily apple or grapes or raspberries, raisins, etc. If you’re buying lunch, have the least fats and sugars as possible (avoid sodas, full of sugar and chemicals). Better juice or water. Sample: instead of a “double cheeseburger” ask for a [can’t make out what she wrote…but I’m sure it’s a lot healthier than a double cheeseburger]. [She crossed the following out on a separate page: Chose your lunch to have the least possible of fats and sugars. If you have a sandwich, always add lettuce, tomatoes, onion instead of only ham and cheese.]
Dinner – eat as early as possible and again try a salad or a fruit before and if possible reduce the intake of fats and sugars. Reduce canned and processed foods to minimum. Drink lots and lots of water and try to eat fish or salmon at least once a week.
Sleep 8 hours if possible.
Your children will eventually learn all about these as well if they see you everyday.
Simple things like look on the boxes of cookies or foods for the ones with the least saturated fats or change ice cream for frozen yogurt.
Let’s all change a bit our eating habits. Let’s give the least of chances to the epidemic of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, weak bones, etc.
By doing these little changes of healthy nutrition, daily walks, relaxation, and [can’t make it out] to your daily life, you may even lose some weight, have more energy (and maybe live a little longer) for your kids and grandkids to come.
I bless you all and thank you for the happiness you have brought to my life.