(Our first time visiting the brick paver made in Tony’s honor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute)
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy” (Leo F. Buscaglia)
I’d be lying if I told you I never worry. (And for those of you who know me really well know that I am a terrible liar!) Worrying about raising my kids, about making the right decisions alone for my family, about being the best person I can be.... the list can go on and on of things I periodically worry about.
Recently my kids and I with some of Tony’s family went to speak to the first year medical students at the University of Utah campus. This is something we have been doing for the past several years; the students are first given a lecture about Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and then we share our experiences with them as a family who lives with this.
To jog your memory if you are unfamiliar with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) from some of my previous posts, it is a genetic mutation that Tony inherited from his mother (originating from her father). LFS is a mutation that causes those with the syndrome to only have one, rather than two, working copies of a cancer suppressor gene. Basically put, those with LFS have a highly increased risk of getting cancer in their lifetime, specifically at a young age and also with multiple cancers in a lifetime. The syndrome has been passed on to 4 of our 7 children, who are now annually screened to check for cancers.
Sharing our story with the medical students this year was different. Before, with Tony physically by my side, we only had the “possibility” of him passing away from cancer. Now that it is the reality and Tony really is gone, my thoughts do turn more often to my children who are at an increased risk for cancer. This is something that really can happen, it’s not just a passing thought anymore. We’ve actually lived through fighting cancer and losing Tony. I can’t help but sometimes worry about the future and my kids.
“How do you teach your children to deal with the worrying and anxiety that can come with having Li-Fraumeni Syndrome?” This question is asked every year without fail, and it is one of the best questions for me to reflect on as a mother. Tony and I are naturally optimistic people but how can I ensure that I am teaching that to my kids? Especially now that their dad has died? I’ve given a lot of thought to it recently about what I want my kids to really know for themselves one day.
Here is what worrying really accomplishes: nothing. It doesn’t do a thing for us. Naturally, we will have worries here and there that will allow ourselves to prepare for various situations in the future, and that’s okay to visit every once in awhile. But being in a constant state of worry isn’t worth it. I can promise you that. I’ve seen how constant worry can eat away at the soul and break family relationships apart. It will cloud your decision making and drag down your feelings of self worth and confidence. And most of all, it will rob you of the joy you can and deserve to have in your life. When it comes down to it, worrying can run, and even ruin, your life.
So what are the ways in which we can combat the natural worries from turning into excessive worrying?
-Live in the moment, enjoying each day for the beauty we see in that one particular day.
-Foster closer relationships with those we love. Spend time with those who matter to us and add to our lives.
-Dream big! Have you always wanted to take that one special vacation but are waiting for the “right” moment or timing? Or to develop a new talent or hobby? Take advantage of the here and now and stop putting off your dreams.
-Learn to live with no regrets. Let what has happened in the past stay in the past. Be kind and forgiving of yourself and of others so that you don’t continue to have regrets.
-Don’t sweat the small stuff. Stop pressuring yourself to be the most perfect version of yourself NOW and just try to make small improvements a little at a time. In the long scheme of things, what really matters?
And most of all, learn to trust God. Take your worries and set them at His feet in prayer. Learning to pray to Heavenly Father with real trust will help those worries melt away because you will begin to understand that no matter what happens in life, our Savior is always there to help us cope and find joy even after severe heartache. I can promise you that because it has worked in my life time and time again.
So go ahead. Let go of your worries and choose to live!