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When Cancer Throws You a Curve Ball

Life Lessons -

I took 3 weeks off to be with family through the holidays and to make big plans for Living Homegrown.

Part of my look forward to 2015 involved looking BACK.

As I did that, I could see how much this website has changed as my life perspective has recently changed.

It made me realize that I needed to come clean here.

Come clean as to where I have been and where I am headed – especially as I see so many of you going through similar struggles.

I think the lessons I learned from my own recent struggles are in line with what many of you are struggling with every day – especially when it comes to:

  • Determining what is important
  • Setting goals
  • Connecting to your families, your gardens and your food.

I never wrote a blog post on my recent battle with cancer before, but that’s what this is.

Cancer threw me a major curve ball and I have been determined to use the lessons learned to shift my life’s focus.

Now, this website is NOT about cancer (nor will it be) so don’t worry!

You don’t even need to be cancer survivor to relate to my struggles. Everyone has struggles!

The truth is…

We all run up against obstacles in life. Sometimes, even little things like a runny jam can feel big when presented at a particularly bad time.

How we choose to handle these things (big and small) makes all the difference.

I’m hoping that by me sharing here, it will resonate with whatever struggles you are up against now or in the future.

Together, we can take on 2015 with a new perspective!

The C word:

So, let’s cut to the chase.  A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

What started out as a routine mammogram quickly changed direction when my doctor said, “We see a little something here that we want to check out further…”.


You know how people say they were so startled, that their heart skipped a beat?

I think mine literally stopped…for like a full minute!

There were biopsies, tests and more suspicious spots found and more tests. And before I knew it, I was diagnosed with multiple cancers and facing a life-threatening fight that included several major surgeries.

I mostly kept this news quiet because my focus needed to be on the fight itself and on my immediate family coping with this situation.

Although I had months of recovery and physical therapy, I was one of the lucky ones because my cancer was found early. And I obviously came out okay because I am still here.

I am so very, very grateful for that.

The Gift:

Fighting cancer was every bit the hell you think it would be. You have to crawl out of a deep, dark hole both physically and emotionally.

But it was also a gift.

I know that sounds totally crazy but bear with me here…

I think when you go through something horrific, you can either go the “woe is me” route OR you can reflect on the lessons learned and plow ahead.

I went for the lessons…big time.

I figured that I better pay attention to what the universe was trying to teach me.

What I learned changed my perspective, my life and my even my business mission.

Four Lessons Learned:

Actually these “lessons” were things I thought I already totally knew.

In fact, I even had the first quote sitting on my desk WAY before I ever had cancer!

BUT, the reality was that I was only playing these things lip service. I wasn’t truly LIVING them.

So, if I could have a conversation with my younger self, I would sit my butt down, look myself in the eye make sure I caught on to these things just a little bit earlier.

I would say this…

1) Savor Life’s Moments

LifeLessons -

Sure it means enjoying hot cocoa with the kids on a cold winter day, or taking note of the beautiful sunset.

But it is more than that.

It also means savoring the bad with the good.

Yes, even the really bad.

Because in order to truly enjoy the happy moments, you have to fully appreciate that not all of life is perfect.

The imperfection is what makes us human.

Be thankful that you are here to feel ALL of it – the good with the bad.

2) Don’t Sweat It

Don't Sweat Small Stuff -

Yes, yes…you have heard this before and yes it sounds good in theory. But do you really do it?

I didn’t.

However, I now have a different measuring stick upon which to compare how big or small something is. Oh I wish I had this comparison before.

It would have saved me a lot of anguish!

  • Cancer = BIG
  • Being There For My Kids = BIG
  • Running Late for an Appointment = Small
  • Someone Else’s Agenda or Pettiness = Not even on the radar!

Everything should be compared to the big scheme of life. Do what matters most in YOUR life, not someone else’s mind.

A good measuring stick is to think, “Will this matter in a few years?

3) Life is Short, So Live Your Passion

LifeLessons -

We really don’t know how long we have on this earth. So why not spend it doing what you love?

Find your passion –  that thing that gets your blood racing – and DO IT.

It can be as simple as spending more time with family or as fun as teaching people to make jam or as noble as volunteering your time to a worthy cause.

No matter how simple or complex, the act of you following your passion will have an impact on the world. You owe it to yourself and others to do what you love.

If you don’t do it now, then when?

Don’t wait.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes:

LifeLessons -

So many times in your life you will want to try something new and you will freeze up for fear of not doing it right.

Don’t do that to yourself.

Everyone has to start at the beginning.

Don’t feel that you have to be perfect. Waiting until you know it ALL will mean waiting TOO long.

Dive in. Make mistakes. Learn. And then dive in again.

This holds true for everything including:

  • Love
  • Parenting
  • Chocolate soufflés
  • And wild-yeast fermenting…tee hee

Sometimes it works perfectly.

Sometimes there are bumps in the road.

But it is ALWAYS worth the try.


The Bottom Line:

So, I am not waiting.

For the past year, I have been diving more fully into living my passion right here with you.

As we move into 2015, I’m hoping you will continue to join me in learning some new food crafting and preserving things this year.

I’m going to be presenting some of it a new way and I won’t sweat it if I make some mistakes. It will be still be fun.

I hope you will dive in with me & ask lots of questions.

Together, we can totally rock 2015!


We all have life lessons in our heads. What are yours?

If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger yourself?

Please, tell me in the comments…



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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.