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Today: A Cancer Survivor Shares a Special Message

Rita Britt and family

Rita Britt (center) and her children

Rita Britt shares her experiences living with cancer.
 
Last year, July 19th, at my home I had a "Kick Cancer's Butt" Fiesta and invited everyone I could think of who had, in one way or another, helped me through the worst year of my life. We celebrated surviving not one cancer but two, uterine cancer and kidney cancer.
 
The margaritas flowed, the food was wonderful and I danced under the sun with my grandchildren to beautiful music played by my daughter's band. It was my celebration of life and all that entails.
 
Attitude is Everything
 
The reality of the aggressiveness of my uterine cancer does not escape me (funny how once you have cancer it becomes very personally yours). I am fully aware its very nature can make it come back – I just won't let it decide the quality of life I lead.

The blow by blow details of treatment, after effects and recovery is not germane to the purpose of this story – attitude is.

My mother had a very hard and difficult life and as a child I can remember her saying when things were bad "well, it's just for today" or "it's only ever one thing." I used to think she didn't get it, that she didn't seem to realize how hard it was or just lived in denial.
 
She was not an educated woman and believe me, had her faults, but she loved her children, all seven of us, unconditionally, had a wonderful sense of humor and her wisdom guided me through my life. From her I learned, among other things, some very profound tenets.
The past does not exist - it is gone. The only way it can exist is if you live in it.

The future lives only in our minds, yet as soon as it happens, it turns into today.

The only time that is real - is now – today.
All We Have is Today
 
All you have to do is the very best you can – today. My fight with cancer lasted one day because that was all I had to give it. When I had chemo it was only one time, for that day. Foods and smells made me sick but just for one day. My hair, eyelashes and eyebrows fell out but just for one day. Every joint and muscle in my body hurt – but that was only ever one thing. The stay in the hospital was only once – each time.
Rita Britt and Her Family

Rita Britt and her family


My wonderful kids Liz, Kate and John gave their time, love, energy and understanding. Because Liz, my eldest, was the one who lived in town and worked with me she became my nurse, making sure I took the right meds at the right time, my comfort and my strength. She dragged me to chemo and home again, helped me when I was so weak and applauded me when I grew stronger.
 
This time with her was especially hard. Liz had nursed and lost her first husband to cancer and I railed at the fact she now had to look after me also – no mother wants that for her child.
 

Kate and John would come in on weekends. John was the one who finally said, "Mom your hair is coming out all over in chunks and it looks like hell. I'm going to shave your head." He promptly sat me out on the deck and armed with razor, water and towels gave me my first ever head shave.

 

I never did wear wigs but dusted my head with sparkly powder and wore fun hats in the winter. All this has come and gone so quickly.

This is not just my way of dealing with adversity but it's how I deal with my life and taught my children to do the same.

Yesterday is gone; tomorrow doesn't exist

 

All we have is today - do the very best you can


See the beauty in the moment - live in the now.

So, as of now, I go for check ups every three months (just one time) and I'm fine (today). I am surrounded by incredible people; professionals, laymen, friends and family. I volunteer my time for gynecological cancer fund raising and awareness projects, love my work as an interior designer, fill my life with as much positive as possible and hold my family oh so close, pay forward, pay forward.

I thank God for today and for my mother who, in spite of her own dire circumstances, managed to find a way to give me the tools to lead a rich, full life. The thought of her passing brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart. So...to all mothers everywhere I hope you had a Happy Mother's Day!