joy after cancer

Make Your Spirit Soar And Elevate Your Health

March 2013 Hang Gliding Birthday Adventure

Life can often stop you in your tracks!  It certainly did for me a little over 6 years ago.  On my 48th birthday in March 2013, I had 2 things on my agenda.  The first was to make an appointment with the plastic surgeon that had put in my implants nearly 10 years earlier.  The second was to go hang gliding.  

The first available appointment with the plastic surgeon was May 8th.  I had explained to the nurse on the phone that I felt a hardness around my implant.  She mentioned that sometimes, over the years, the implant can become encapsulated. And honestly, after that call I never gave it another thought.

Onward and upward!  I went hang gliding for the rest of that day.  One of my best birthdays ever. I love to jump out of planes, float in the air, go really fast in moving vehicles and dive in the deep sea.  I love adventure. It makes my spirit soar.

I remember being in a personal growth workshop in 2010 and being asked, “What makes your spirit soar?”  I don’t think I had really ever contemplated the question before. Some of us in the group seemed to be stumped by the question.  The instructor then asked a few more questions and I would encourage you to give these some thought.

#1 What do you love to do that brings you pure joy?

#2 What do you love to do that allows you to be 100% in the moment?

#3 What makes your spirit soar?

When the workshop was over, I knew that I needed to spend more time making my spirit soar, finding joy and living in the present.  I had spent the past several years suppressing grief, anger and resentment over a series of losses in my life including the deaths of my father, grandmother and brother and a divorce.  It was time to put the joy back in my life.

Just as I was getting really good at loving life again, May 8th, 2013 brought my life to a screeching halt.  It wasn’t my implant. It was a late stage, rare form of breast cancer that had a survival rate of 36%. Although there were some pretty tough days, I made a point to make my spirit soar each and every day and here’s why.

While we are participating in an activity or a thought and we are feeling grateful, joyful, loving and happy we experience a physiological change in our body.  Our natural human make-up is designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. When we feel happiness and gratitude are brain chemistry is designed to release neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers.  There are numerous substances that are released in the brain that affect happiness but the two that most people have heard of are serotonin and dopamine. These little chemical messengers are responsible for things like mood levels, self-esteem, focus and concentration and even the quality of our sleep.

When we increase our level of joy and in turn release our neurotransmitters we will enjoy 3 amazing health benefits: 

#1 A boosted immune system

#2 Ability to combat stress and pain

#3 Promote longevity

Finding joy does not have to be skydiving. It can be something as simple as your favorite bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter, spending time with the people you love (without your phone in your hand), a walk in nature, travelling to another country, reading a book at the beach or watching a funny movie.

As humans we are here to experience as much joy as we can.  In this hustle and bustle world we live in, it’s more important than ever to take the time to ask yourself the 3 questions from above and then take the action to live out your answers so you can elevate your health.

Wishing you joy and health!