By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
AFTER cancer, everything becomes a new normal, said Bahamian woman Judy Lundy-Miller.
The 67-year-old wife, mother, grandmother and proud 13-year breast cancer survivor believes, as she was given another chance at life, her duty is to wake up every day and choose to live life at 100 per cent with no regrets.
“I have always enjoyed living my best life and encourage others to do the same. I have learned to smile more and frown less. I don’t sweat the small stuff because will it really matter next week or next year? Winning every argument and being right is not important any more. Life is to be enjoyed every minute of every day with no regrets or apology. I release and forgive quickly and hold no grudges or malice. Showing and telling persons, especially the people that I love dearly how I feel about them, holding nothing back, is more important than ever to me. There is no guarantee of tomorrow, so we have to do it now. Helping others and lending a hand of support in any way I can is what I focus on. Do it now,” said Judy.
She truly believes that God allows people to be healed so they can encourage, help and support others. And she hopes to show others that just as she made it over her mountain, so too can they with her helping hand.
“Our lives are so much richer when we help others. We get blessed when we help others. The question may be asked, why does God heal only some and not others? I cannot answer that question, only God can. My answer is for me to live my life to the fullest by pulling out all the stops and maybes. Not putting off all the things I want to do when I retire, get enough money and all the bills are fully paid off. By the way, when does that ever happen? I have learned to question less and enjoy more. Answers always reveal themselves in time. Until then, my purpose is to help as many people as much as I can for as long as I can. I am convinced that God wants us to be His representative on earth,” said Judy.
She said COVID-19 has made an impact, and as people have never experienced something like this, it has taken a great toll on many lives and homes. But, for Judy, she is finding comfort in knowing that God is in control.
“He sees all and knows all. Nothing happens in our world that He is not aware of. I also know and have proven that God is a restorer, returning to us more than we had before. We have to stand strong and continue to have faith and trust in Him. God honours faithfulness and trust. I know it is not easy for many persons, being a small business person myself, but I stand resolute in knowing that God will see us through. Knowing that God has the last say is what makes me happy during this pandemic.
I enjoyed exercising and walking outdoors for most of my life. Exercise is crucial and essential more than ever for breast cancer survivors. Movement and exercise reduce fluid built up under the arm in the area of the surgery, arms and back area which could result in lymphedema. Inactivity can cause discomfort and pain once there is an accumulation of fluid build-up. I also enjoy quiet time reading and working in the yard with my plants. I have been a florist for over 30 years. I find great joy in making arrangements for my niche of customers. I just love the expressions on faces when flowers are delivered. You can always tell a person who loves flowers,” said Judy.
Judy said she is keeping herself motivated by surrounding herself with positive people, and repeating positive affirmations daily. While on her cancer journey, she said she never allowed anyone in her space with tears and words of doom and gloom. She is aware that the tongue is a powerful weapon, and while people may have bad days, that bad day should not last for more than a day or two.
“Life is to be celebrated as much as possible. I always say things could be worse. I try to use my lemons to make lemonade as much as possible. I am so proud and honoured to be a part of the Gennie Dean Caring and Sharing Support Group. I am a member of the administrative team responsible for events. But we all work together as a team to make our events successful. Our members are committed and come from all walks of life with different experiences and stories. Our future looks bright. We have so much more work to do and we will get it done because so many women are depending on us,” said Judy.
She said promoting breast cancer awareness is the fundamental purpose and objective of a support group. And having seminars, group discussions and various speakers that bring vital information are a few ways this can be done.
“My walk with breast cancer has made me more aware that we as Bahamians need to know our numbers. These include blood pressure and sugar levels. Watch your weight. We need to research and trace our family histories of breast cancer to confirm who in the family might have had breast cancer. In some cases, the cancer gene (BRCA gene) may also show up and indicate a family history of breast cancer. This information is crucial in saving lives, tracing and being proactive in knowing what to do in advance," said Judy.
"Having annual physicals, mammograms, blood work, and other exams regularly can indicate problems well in advance so we can correct them. Being totally honest with the doctor about your symptoms is vital for own wellbeing. If you see or feel something, say something. Also, do not allow anyone to talk you out of what you see or feel. No one knows your body better than you. If you feel uncomfortable with the doctor for any reason, feel free to get a second opinion. You have every right to do that."
She believes people can reduce their chances of getting cancer by first of all living as stress free as possible, as cancer thrives in stressful situations.
“As indicated above knowing your family history and all the other areas discussed are all important. We have to make a decision to do the best that we possibly can with what we have available to us in terms of food choices. Being consistent is so important. When it becomes a habit, our results are better. Please always remember to enjoy every single day that you are alive and well. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so make the most of today,” said Judy.