I just got home from a lecture by a friend of mine who was diagnosed with breast cancer early this year and has been going through chemotherapy treatments for the past several months. Anyone who knows her knew when she received her diagnosis that nothing would change. She would still be the motivated, driven, take-charge, go-and-do kind of person that she’s always been. The kind of person who doesn’t hesitate to take on another project or to help someone in need because, what the heck? It’s just one more thing among so many. She’ll hardly notice the addition.

There were a few things she said tonight that really struck me. The first is that she didn’t feel like she had to change her priorities when she was diagnosed. She lived her life in such a way that she already knew what was most important to her, and staring down cancer didn’t make her flinch. There was no need to cut down hours here in order to put them somewhere else, no realization that she was wasting her life doing something unimportant. She’d already done that, ages ago. Or else she never allowed those things into her life in the first place.

The second was that the reason she didn’t “slow down” and give up being PTA President or stop running the preschool she started a few years ago or take a break from various neighborhood groups, was that she needed to maintain her sense of purpose. Doing all of those things give her a reason to get up in the morning (aside from taking care of her two kids, of course) and helped her through the “low” days of her chemotherapy treatments.

The last was her perspective on parenthood. She and her husband had very much wanted to have another child or two, but cancer killed those plans. Instead of being bitter or upset about it, they realized that they have an opening there. If they can’t have their own biological children, they can foster children who could really benefit from the kind of help and guidance they feel they can offer. Not right now, maybe, but in a few years, when this year of cancer is just a memory.

Just some things to think about. Some things to aspire to.

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