Dealing with the Unknown

Our daughter, Kalissa, was driving home from a 12-hour shift at work.  She called me and we were chatting.  I told her I needed to get two blog posts written yet before I headed up to bed.  She asked me what I was going to write about.  I told her I had an “Ask Jo” segment almost finished but I wasn’t sure what else I was going to write about.

I’ve been writing the blog here for over 11 1/2 years now so I’ve learned that sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to write about I just sit down and something typically comes.  I might look on Facebook and see something that inspires me.  I might look at the pictures on my phone and something inspires me.

What ended up inspiring this post was Kalissa.  She said she thought I should write a blog post about how I deal with my unknown cancer stuff.  She said I handle it all so well and she thought maybe, I might have something to say that might help one of you dealing with cancer, other medical things, or even life problems.

I thought I could give that topic a try.  So how do I deal with the unknown?  How do I deal with knowing cancer is growing inside me?  How do I deal with knowing slow-growing cancer might change suddenly and become fast-growing?  How do I deal with knowing cancer might be my ending?

I know this sounds simple but I just keep on living.  I control what I can and have learned to let go of the rest.  There was a time in my life that I was a worrier.  I worried if my kids would grow into their names.  I vividly remember worrying if would I pick the right name for my kids.  I never wanted a girl name that sounded delicate like Tiffany because I was sure any child that came from Kramer and I would not be delicate…and I was right.  They aren’t.  Poor Kalissa has to wear men’s shoes as she can’t find shoes in a size women’s 13 wide.

I worried that I wouldn’t be liked.  I worried that my kids wouldn’t be liked.  I worried if I wore the right clothes, if my house was clean enough, if someone thought I was a nice person…oh my.  The list could go on for forever.  I would go to bed and couldn’t sleep.  I had all the things to worry about.  I remember lying in bed and listing the things I was worried about trying to find a solution to fix it all…and all of the things I was worried about weren’t something I could fix.

I don’t worry anymore.

After I was diagnosed with cancer, I learned that those things aren’t worth worrying about.  The right clothes are the last things I worry about.  Before I was so worried about if I looked like I wore “mom jeans”.  Now I just put on what is in the closet and trust my daughters will tell me if I need something different.

One might think that being I don’t worry about that other “stuff”, that I might transfer my worrying to worrying about my cancer.  I haven’t.  I don’t.

Here’s the truth of things.  Every 3-6 months, the doctors haul me in and give me the whole gamut of tests.  I get blood work, ultrasounds, chest CTs, PET scans, and whatever else they can think of.  I am watched closely.  I go to the doctor for other things regularly.  I just had a colonoscopy.  I am going to schedule a mammogram soon.  I take care of myself the best I can.  I do everything I can do to watch my health…well I don’t eat perfectly, but other than that, I’m doing all I can.

If something shows up in any of these tests or procedures, I know that I have done everything I could do to catch it early.  Beyond that, I can’t control a single other thing in regards to my health.  None.  Zip. Zero.  NOT A SINGLE THING.

I can control nothing that happens inside my body in regards to disease.  I cannot control a single thing.  So, what would worrying do?

Nothing.

Well, worrying could do something…I think worrying could damage my mental health.  That is the very last thing I want to do any damage to.

This might seem off-topic but bear with me…
Carver, my grandson, has been having a miserable time going to sleep at night.  He cries and then Gannon cries.  He gets so worked up that he can’t fall asleep.  It has become a MAJOR battle at their house and he’s made bedtime a total nightmare.

I talked to Carver about one day and told him, “If you cry, you make Gannon feel worried and he cries, and not only that, when you cry, YOU WORRY YOURSELF”.

I believe this is true.  Worry is a terrible cycle.

If I fret about my health and my cancer blowing up, I will end up worrying myself…if I worry myself too much, I’m going to end up in tears.  I will then be no good to anyone.  Once a person gets on the worry wagon, it is really hard to get off.

So…I CHOOSE not to worry.  Worrying is a choice.  I truly believe it can be.

Have you ever thought of your legacy?  What are people going to remember you by when you leave this world?  At Kramer’s funeral, so many people came to me and commented on how Kramer was a community helper serving on the fire department and first responders.  People told me what a hard worker he was.  People told me they would miss “shooting the shit with him”.

What will people say about me?

I certainly don’t want them to say after her husband died, she dried up into a ball.  I don’t want them to say after her cancer diagnosis, she just gave up on life.  I don’t want to give my life and time away to worry.

So rather than focus my life on my cancer, rather than worrying about something that might or might come true, I focus my life on my legacy.  After all, I might not have as many years as all of you do to leave that legacy.  So I need to work on it NOW.

So rather than worry…

I spent time with my kids.  I’m sweeter and kinder to them.
I am more focused when I spend time with people.
I cross-stitch big pieces that will be treasured for years to come and not as many cutesy things.
I write down the recipes and share them.
I lookout for the people in my community and help when I can.
I work with the community quilt project here on the blog.
I work to make the blog a place where many of you enjoy drinking your coffee with in the morning.
I love up on my grandkids.  I want them to remember me and remember how loved they are.
I grow my African Violets.
I continue to make and gift quilts.
I make my house a home.
I tend my gardens and my plants outside.
I cook big family suppers.
I am present.
I write this blog and sometimes write posts like this one with the hope that those of you who worry can find a way to move from a life of worry and just live the life in front of you, controlling what you can, and letting go of the rest.

So…Kalissa wanted me to write about how I deal with my unknown cancer stuff.  It’s as simple as this.  Control what you can control and let the rest go.  Focus on your legacy instead.

Cancer has taken my husband and is taking space in my body.  I can’t control cancer… Cancer changed my life.  Cancer controls my body, but I choose to not let cancer control my mind.

Control what you can control and let the rest go.  It’s a good motto to go by whether you have cancer or not.  I wish it wouldn’t have taken cancer for me to see that.  I could have had so many more stress-free days had I only known that worry is a choice.

It bears repeating…it’s what I tell myself every morning…and it works…

Control what you can control and let the rest go!

46 thoughts on “Dealing with the Unknown

  1. Penny Holliday

    I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts & explaining how you live with cancer Jo! I think your excellent advice could easily be applied to daily living with or without cancer, also! Thank you very much!

    Reply
  2. Lynn Walker

    “You’ll worry yourself to death”….. I can still hear my mother saying that. She was right. Worry isn’t worth it. Continuing on from that on was “They can think what they like and so can I ”. I miss her down-to-earth philosophy.
    Jo you’re a star

    Reply
  3. Pat Major

    Excellent advice Jo! My mother has always been a worrier, I really believe it has had a negative impact on her health. I have tried not to be like that. There are so many things out of our control in this world. I just try to do my best to take care of what I can control, like my attitude and behavior.

    Reply
  4. Donna

    Thank you so very much, Jo. We’re all dealing with lots of stuff, including this %$#* Covid. Your words are straight from the Bible – Mt 6:27 says, ” And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
    Thank you for sharing this post with us and encouraging us.
    Love and prayers

    Reply
  5. Miss Daisy

    Remarkably put ! Worrying can ; my sister in law lost all of her hair and years later still doesn’t have any – Dr. says it from worrying , high blood pressure , stroke , heart attack , nervous breakdown , I could go on but I won’t. And you are a remarkable person .

    Reply
  6. Ellie

    Thank you Jo for a wonderful post and thanks to Kalissa for suggesting it. Many years ago I was a worrier and imagined all sort of things happening. At one point I realized that rarely did things work out in as I had imagined and all my worry hadn’t served any purpose. After that I stopped worrying about the things I couldn’t control.
    As you said “Control what you can and let the rest go.”

    Reply
  7. Kate

    Everything you said is so true. Worry will just rob a person of joy and peace. No amount of worrying can change anything.

    Reply
  8. Judith Fairchild

    I appreciate this post! Worry rings nothing but misery to the worrier and their family. The Bible does say to rejoice in the Lord always. When you let go of worry and do the things you can do. That’s a form of rejoicing. Especially when it makes you and others happy. Praying for you always.

    Reply
  9. Hedy

    I was a fantastic worrier years ago. Something happened and I slowly learned to live in Today. I stopped projecting what was going to happen because so many things that I thought would happen did not. It brought tremendous peace and joy and happiness to my life. Now I rarely worry, I’m aware of some serious health issues in my life and with my husband’s Alzheimer’s, but it’s truly one day at a time. I’m grateful for what I have and try to not look at what I don’t have. I was a very young widow and like you, I decided I would not fold up and cease living. Congratulations Jo for having a good life.

    Reply
  10. RuthW in MD

    I agree with Letting Go Of The Worry!! I am also working on letting go of the Imagined Event Line, where I imagine I save someone’s life, or meet someone famous, etc. I found that it too was robbing me of my regular life.
    May I say something about a child crying at bedtime? One of my children put up a great fuss about going to bed, and I had to set up a bedtime ritual just for him, plus endure tears until he got used to it. The ritual was that the children got ready for bed, we had family scripture and prayers, kisses and hugs then I sat down next to the youngest in his crib, and read two or three books to him, ending with “Goodnight Moon” every night.
    That particular book is very calming and soothing, a great help at bedtime.

    Reply
  11. Linda

    This blog post is in the top 10 of all your posts. Thanks for inspiring us with your wisdom. Many blessings to you and yours.

    Reply
  12. Marie C

    Great post. I too used to be a worrier. Life is much better with out that. Another great bedtime book, especially for those with a farm background. It is Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison.

    Reply
  13. Lilac Joan

    Your excellent advice is perfect. I have learned not to worry and I am only past 75 years old! May I add too things: 1) Worry robs one of today and 2) I will think about that tomorrow!

    Reply
  14. Laurie

    I am a worrier and I’m working on it, or I should say, not being one! I feel like it’s in me and it’s hard to fight. Thank you for your insight on this topic. God Bless You!

    Reply
  15. Shannon M

    Thanks Jo for this reminder that worrying is a choice. Congratulations on having such a great attitude, sharing it and being present. Keeping you on my heart.

    Reply
  16. Carmen Montmarquet

    You are truly inspiring and such good advice!! I am a worrier but have started to learn to let some things go, finally at this stage of my life!! Thank You for all you said today It sure helps to put so many more things in perspective!!!

    Reply
  17. Margaret in North Texas

    Jo, you are wise beyond your years! I think of all the different topics you have touched on in your blogs that I thought that. And the way you put your thoughts into words that may provoke change in us. It’s a gift. Thanks

    Reply
  18. Debbie Collins

    Excellent advice and you are a prime example of what priorities in life need to look like. I so enjoy your blog, your wit and wisdom…not to mention your wonderful patterns and life lessons. Keep on keeping on, Jo, and I’ll be right beside you. Cancer won’t consume my life with what ifs and I won’t try to control what I can’t control…God is in charge of that!

    Reply
  19. shirley

    Thank you for putting it into words. It’s amazing once you meet your mortality, how you look differently at things. I had a stroke 2 years ago and spend the 1st months in rehab and worrying it would happen again. Once I passed that panic, by group help and mindfulness, I have looked forward to accomplishing things. I want to get quilts made for my family, I created some nice landscaping and learned to replace flooring among other things. I have a lot I want to accomplish which gives me a purpose, because I am unsure of when I won’t be able to. I am proud of how much I have accomplished. I no longer fear what the future is bringing me, but try to make my days count I didn’t realize what fire I still have in me.

    Reply
  20. LaNan Eldridge

    Thank you for your writing. Worry is an awful part of life and thru this whole pandemic I’ve decided to try my best and live by Philippians 4:6-7. I’m getting better!! Take care and keep writing your words of wisdom and life!

    Reply
  21. Mary B

    I started worrying when I was 5 or 6 years old. It was so bad that it affected my health. The Dr. wanted to put me on medication, but my Mother said no. She said that I would need to learn to deal with it. Many years later when I was around 12 years old, I read an article regarding worry in an Ann Landers column. She said that 99% of what you worry about never happens anyways. I wrote down everything that was worrying me & found out she was right. Now, I always try to keep that in mind.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Mary B. I am so glad you were able to work through it. You are so right. 99% of it really doesn’t happen!!

      Reply
  22. Aletha in Colorado

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post, Jo. I especially needed to hear this right now. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us. I really appreciate it!

    Reply
  23. Nancy Fratz

    Wow! Well said. I totally agree with you. And I would like to add that I feel the same way about guilt. I feel that guilt is something we choose. If we do the best we can do for ourselves and our loved ones, there is no need for guilt. We are truly and with our best intentions doing our very best. If it doesn’t work out, it can be a humbling experience but certainly not one to feel guilty about. We did our best, that’s all we can do. I believe this is where faith and humanity come into the picture. God wants us to do our best and let him do the rest. It’s not our place to fix the people and their screw ups it’s our place to do what we can, let go and let God. Sometimes we can’t or don’t know what is the right thing to do but you can always pray for them. Why waste energy feeling guilty,

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Nancy, this is so true when especially when watching a loved one spiral out of control or dealing with mental health. I’m glad you’re not letting guilt eat you up.

      Reply
  24. Carolyn

    When I was working I had a small sign in my office Worry Steals Your Joy! And it is so true thank you. I have multi- nodular Hashimotos Last yr I had a lung scan and my throat was included. Freaked my Pulmonologist out bc the gaiters were so big…. had an ultrasound basicsly no bigger than a few years ago. But his year my GP has me going for another one. I started to say no, but then I thought of you and said ok. Scheduled for next month. Thanks for sharing as u do about your cancer

    Reply
  25. Phyllis

    As a two time cancer survivor, I say Amen. It’s easy to get all wrapped up in it but it does your mental health no good. I tell my husband, “Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s ALL small stuff”.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  26. Bonnie Lippincott

    You are right on with the letting go! I had to learn years ago to let go of the things that I could do nothing about. It may sound hard, but it sure is doable.

    As for your cancer . . . worrying is not going to make it go away, so you have set yourself on the right path!

    I do love to read your blog! It is the only blog I read and I look forward to it every afternoon when I sit down to look at my computer! Please keep it up!

    Reply

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