Monday, April 2, 2007

Taking Care of Business (and myself)

My wonderful, beloved, radiant, brilliant, strong, and amazing mother, Cindy, would have been 52-years-old today. She was born April 2, 1955. Cancer took her from me on January 1, 1995.

I was thinking about my mother, and missing her so much last night, that I struggled relentlessly to fall asleep. At 11:00 pm, I ran down the street and knocked on my best friend's door. I just needed to hug her tightly; to hold her and tell her how much I love and appreciate her. I just needed to hear her tell me (for the millionth time) that she loves and cares about me and that she will always, always be my best friend. You see, I lost my first best friend to cancer. My heart can't bear to lose my other best friend.

(Okay, so I'm a little sappy).

After a hour of chatting, hugging, fighting back tears, reassuring words, and even laughter, I walked back home. It was now midnight. Suddenly, it began to rain. I walked slowly back home, with my face buried in my hands, and upon arriving back home I sat on the front stoop and cried. There I sat in the dark, and in the rain - crying. I cried both happy tears, and tears of sorrow. I cried all night.

When my tear ducts finally dried out, it was after 3:00 AM. I decided to hop in to the shower, hoping a hot shower would make me feel better. As I stepped into the shower, I was greeted both by the self skin exam card and the self breast exam card that I have posted to remind me to conduct my monthly self exams. What better time than while in the shower to check out my birthday suit? And it just so happened that it was [is] mom's birthday, too.

Speaking of birthdays and birthday suits, I made a goal as I turned 28 (just over a week ago), that I was going to be more committed to taking better care of myself. I have always been good to perform my self skin (and breast) exams, slap on the sunscreen, wear my wide-brimmed sun protective hat, and UV protective glasses, but I needed to do more. I need to do more to take better care of myself. We all do.

So, on that note, I will be paying a visit to my dermatologist's office on Friday for my annual full body skin exam. The lady at the office who books the appointments laughed and said "as a skin cancer educator, you should be coming in here." To which I replied: "Oh, I try to practice what I preach. I don't want to be a hypocrite." Her response: "It is good to practice what you preach [but] you should coming in here to see the dermatologist, Danielle, because you want to take care of yourself. The people who love you want you to love yourself enough to take care of yourself, not just to 'practice what you preach'."

And, so, for the first time in my life, I am actually doing things to take better care of myself; not just because I now that my best friend would like it or because people, particularly my students, would think I'm a hypocrite...

It's because each person and their well being is important and precious. Yes, even little ol' me; my life is also precious and worthwhile (despite how seemingly small and insignificant I may feel sometimes).

So, as a birthday present to myself (and to my mom, may she rest in peace), I am taking care of myself because I really want to, and not "just because...."

In addition to that, I am also making it a point to exercise daily. For the last week, I have been biking it to and from work (that's 11 miles a day five days a week). And my refrigerator contents now include the following items: 4 oranges, 5 apples, 3 pears, 10 containers of Yoplait yogurt, 12 bottles of Aquavista Water, a box of strawberries, a bag of light and plain bagels, and a handful of bananas (technically they're on the kitchen counter and not in the fridge). Last June I gave up my Diet Coke, in March I gave up all carbonation and sugar drinks (it's water only, with lemonade only on very special occasions such as my birthday which was a little over a week ago). And now, I am going to see my dermatologist in four days!!!

With that, I hope each of you will take time today to examine your birthday suit -

Make it a priority to conduct your monthly self skin exams and call your dermatologist NOW to begin your annual routine of full body skin checks.

Let us all take better care of ourselves, as well as our loved ones.

Here's to our health!

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