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The Mindfulness of our Battles – Cancer Awareness Month.

 

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“We can change the homes we live in, the friends we’ve known and the clothes we’ve worn…

“We could fly across the world, visit new places or investigate new planets; but no matter what our minds sought after, our challenges remain the same; to accept what it means to be human…

To embrace our strengths, our weaknesses, our dreams and to learn how to walk away or fight our battles”

Yinka, 2010 Cancer Survivor.

I’d really been looking forward to vacation and wanted a-me-time alone to relax. I had also purchased the most practical swim suit to gracefully show off my post-cancer surgery scars that I have been battling to accept for years and also to shame the after-effects of thyroid imbalance! 

#BattleWithMyScars   #NoBodyShamingAllowed

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As I sat by the shoreline, chilling out, and soaking in the sun with my family, all I really wanted was to enjoy and take in every moment of creating fond memories, not chase after or flick uninvited ants away from my towel and off my legs.

But as it seems, all of the ants on this Island had arranged a massive dance party and had failed to inform me ahead of time. Literally, I missed the battle-memo!

I was un-invited and I had to leave.

I’d surrendered, not because I was weak and frail or couldn’t indulge my very-zealous 7-year-old in spraying a dozen-can of insecticide, but…’I was learning to let go and embrace my inner peace!

How do you pick your battles?

How do you fight your battles?

Through praises or lamenting?

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MAY 2010 Philadelphia Susan G Komen Race For The Cure- Cancer Awareness Walk

These ants didn’t want me to join their beach party and I didn’t want to be there either. I walked away discouraged and disappointed as I threw a little tantrum in my head. Why should I have to leave? I’m the human here! I paid to be here! Shouldn’t these ants be out there in the dirt? why here? why me?

Not today, I muttered as I adjusted my plans, packed up and gathered my family and went to the indoor waterpark pool instead.

Here, I allowed myself to lounge on the lazy river pool tube as I was selflessly carried through with the tides from the waves.

Mission Accomplished: Battle won!

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OCT 2014 Philadelphia American Cancer Society – Cancer Awareness Walk.

So, there are times in life when things don’t work out as planned. Times when our expectations go unmet and we have to move on or make major adjustments.

Moments when we are unexpectedly approached by life’s challenges and we must decide on which battle is worth fighting…

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OCT 2015 Philadelphia – American Cancer Society – Awareness Walk

You might feel like you’re spinning your wheels in a relationship right now. Or the word “cancer” just reminds you of a hopeless ailment that leads to tortured death? a word never to be mentioned, again?

Or maybe you haven’t moved on from something because you don’t like to quit, even though your time and energy might be more effectively spent elsewhere?

Perhaps, the recovery process of a situation is just too painful and overwhelming for you or the caregivers? Or you have a scheduled medical test coming up and you are in dire need of hope to sustain your doubts?

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Oh goodness! There-is-indeed-a-battlefield of un-reconciled, unresolved thoughts going on in our minds as we anticipate how to deal with it, what’s next? and what if?

You’re not alone.

It might feel like you are surrounded by raging battles, but really…

And still, we all have to wade through stormy waters at times, just to understand why it all started.

I don’t know the particulars of your delayed blessings, unmet expectations or beach-ant frustrations, but God does. Even if you haven’t talked with Him about them yet.

Listen…

It-is-not-every-battle-party we are invited to that needs attention or attendance!
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

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OCT 2013 Philadelphia – Finish The Fight Against Breast Cancer Walk

But how can we know when to stay and when to let go?
How can we know whether we should say yes or no to that opportunity?
How can we know when our uncomfortable situation is to Refine us, to Rebuke us or to Re-route us?

There’s no simple answer, but there is a simple action:
PRAY.  Ask God for direction. Be still before Him and listen.
Be faithful to go where He leads… even if it means that you need to change your plans, your attitude, your location or vocation. Just surrender to His infinite mercies!

So, as we celebrate OCTOBER – Cancer awareness month, I am hoping we all can do more than just wear pink, look cute or display our external compassion on all our social media platforms!

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This is deeper especially when you have lost someone to cancer, and still dealing with the pain of accepting it and moving forward!

Today, I am hoping we can Call up, Visit or Engage with a cancer survivor, take them out to watch a silly comic relief movie and laugh-out-loud together like there’re no scars visible on or within their bodies!

Tomorrow, I am hoping we can Pamper the ones currently going through treatment – Be an escort to one going for chemo or radiation treatment, schedule a spa treatment or visit the children’s museum together and find humor together in the simple things of life!

As always, I am hoping we can Encourage and Pray with the one who’s lost a family member or friend to cancer by just being there for them emotionally….and then only can we confidently carry the banner and campaign for awareness, intervention and erase all hopelessness.

Yours in HOPE as I share Michael Smith’s “Surrounded – Fight My Battles”

Yinka. (Team: Greater Than Cancer)

 

 

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REBUILDING HOPE after a loss.

shine-2There comes a time in our life when we should start thinking about what we will leave behind after we die.

Well, not everyone enjoys talking about it anyway, but we should! Like, Y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y! Because we will all pass away someday.

What will be our legacy? How will our lifestyles be recorded into the annals of history?

Are we aware that this is a deep healing and gratifying moment that could also beAdvertisement  our only chance and opportunity to pay it forward or celebrate life by creating a setting for others to follow? 

So, do you remember how you felt when you lost someone close to you? You witnessed dreams and aspirations snatched away coldly leaving behind dark visions of despair and uncertainty about the future!shine-4

Did your life take an unexpected turn when people you love are diagnosed with a terminal illness? The big question we battle in our minds over time as we witness their pain and struggle with recovering and treatment is…’Will-They-Ever-Make-It?

Or will they disgrace death and defeat the grave? No matter what, our lives and their new journey would never be the same again.

Aha! Because an irreplaceable vacuum has been deposited in our hearts.

The fairytale life we had always dreamed of for them is no longer possible. Is it okay to question God at those very hurting period we witness with them? Or be like Job and continually keep seeking His face in the middle of it all? Is there still hope after all?  #EmpathyLeadsToHope

ekoI still clearly remember the night when my parents went out for an event….

It was Christmas of 1980, my dad wanted to impress his guests that night and had driven them all to watch Bobby Benson’s High-Life band play at the lavishly furnished ball room of Eko Hotel at Victoria Island Lagos.

Jubilant! Excited! my cousins and I (who had come visiting from Port Harcourt and UK) danced around our Christmas tree in the adult parlor as we waved goodbye to our parents, flashing our hand-held sparkler fire works! And as my dad’s car zoomed off the street, we were left with traces of rays from the street lights that eventually nudged us back inside.

But, my parents never came back that night or the next day!

Nothing prepared me for the tons of relatives who stomped into our house for the next couple of months!

There was constant whispering, cleaning or attending to unfamiliar faces who had pressed the loud doorbell that always made our dogs, Jolie and Julie mad and bark uncontrollably!

shine13The warm-natured relatives from my mother’s village in Delta State had hired a commercial station wagon named “Eni Afe” (the one we love) to transport them and their bags full of African pear and Garden egg directly from Oshimili Local government to my door step on Lagos-Island!

Oh by-the-way! Did I mention that they were always humming a moody native song and slapping their heads or their hips! Pointing to the sky as if blaming God for not being on time to the rescue! Or were they blaming the automobile company for the accident? I could barely pick their language, but was always able to identify the word “moto” as they begin to use their wrist to wipe away invisible tears.

And every time I would glare at them in fear and confusion wondering where they kept my parents!!

Ah, I-s-i-o-m-a ’Nne m (meaning My-good-head daughter or good-luck-girl-child) they would exclaim and carry me off into a non-auditioned Igbo dance and bury my head in their humongous Saturday Night-talcum-saturated bosom, like I needed to be smothered because I was missing motherly affection! Oh well, at that time, I guess I was anyway…Phew!    #ILoveMyMothersPeople

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And on the other side, my father’s Lagos-Brazilian quarters family members would all stroll in, in their meticulous apparel, puffing and huffing about how Uncle Kay (my dad) just won’t stop smoking, drinking and driving! their high stiletto competing with their pitchy British accent as they search in their patent fancy bags for a glass-beaded rosary that will be used to sanctify the house or search for their fancy hand fan even as the ceiling fan was in full motion!

I watched as they try to escape the cold nose caressing from our dogs! Their house helps or driver sneaks up behind them carrying home-baked bread and fruit baskets brought from Tom Jones area, covered with beautifully embroidered napkins.

Oh! There you are Yinkus baby! Everything is fine oh? We must book a mass for the family! Let’s thank Saint Christopher and Our Lady of good counsel! Or ‘has anyone gone to Catholic Mission to report this to the Arch Bishop? I will have my driver come get you for the weekend to play with your cousins at Ikoyi club” And then a big hug consumed with choking concentrated overdose of vintage Hermes perfume! 

Ah! play-with-my cousins-at-this-period? Hmm…’No-thank-you-Aunt! #MyFathersDramaticPeople

But, Why-won’t-someone-tell-me-what-ever-happened-to-my-parents

shine-11Thank goodness for older and notorious cousins who were very crafty in stealing top-classified family information! Last I know…they saw my Dad’s car somersault several times and crash into the edge of the reef at Bar beach!

All 4 of them (My dad, mom, late Uncle Siji and Dr. Alagoa) lost consciousness and were rescued by a nearby white garment church congregation having a vigil at the same time on the beach!

Okay…so they made it out of Eko Hotel and crashed into Bar beach on their way back home. Severely injured with the car written off! Both on admission and physical therapy for several months as I was left in denial about their disappearance until they returned home, not the same as they left in December, but alive.

At that moment and such tender age, nothing could have soothed or comforted me enough! For all I care, I could have been an orphan-in-waiting until they eventually came back home with bruises and scars so pronounced, even our dogs wept for them! Literally.

shine-12Today, as you are reading this…In homes and hospitals and confinement across the world, friends and family will soon gather around to usher in the New Year, beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food and gifts to give. Blinking lighted trees with trimmed gold ribbons!

It is Christmas!!

However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Broken hearted families who’ve lost loved ones will struggle to keep hope alive, Friends with terminal or life threatening illness will have to struggle to catch a glimpse of what a painless season without medication or treatment would be, Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for what they believe in, while their families back home long for word of their safety.

The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance.

eko-2For some, an empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost or a failed relationship.

A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job.

A wife, struggling with emotional turmoil of an unfulfilled marriage, a beautiful young lady, wondering if the joy of the season is worth celebrating due to rejection and loneliness.

A family with a child on the spectrum still waiting for a miracle. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.

So, tell me, how do you create or find time to rebuild after you lose someone to death, ailment or disagreement? In all my 6 years of surviving that cancer, I have continuously struggled with the changes that’s taken over my body, my mind and my perception about life and people. I had to crave the urge to keep hoping for a fruitful life; medication, treatment and all by creating time for people in need!

For others, it is still denial of what they can’t understand and are still refusing to accept. That there could be hope because God says so, that we could still find joy and happiness even while going through that phase in life.

How do you intend to help someone going through all these the few days remaining in 2016? Would we rather patronize the needy by dropping by a shelter to suit your conscience? Send text messages or gifts when really your voice of encouragement is what they need? Label them as unfit or dying when really only God can dictate that journey! Hmm.

shine-5What gives us hope today? Even with friends and loved ones dying or shutting down around us, how do we comfort them?

You see, when we convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.

We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things.  When really, we just need to be more thankful for being alive and seek the real meaning behind the lights on the Christmas trees, it’s not about the ornaments or the beautiful wrapped up gifts! Or the beautiful glittering ribbons.

It is about building HOPE for tomorrow! and why we need to celebrate life more…especially with those going through tough time this season.

And because I witnessed my parents come out alive of that ghastly car accident at Bar-beach that had the next day newspaper headlines as “Miracle on the Beach” I certainly have no choice but to keep trusting and hoping in God even as my own strength and flesh falter sometimes!

shine-3Because I-have-been-there-with-you, on both sides…I know the feeling of a blurry future when sickness knocks or when a loved one is lost or when we lose a pregnancy/baby…the vacuum is so uncomfortably evident and can never be filled!

I am hoping someone reading this will allow their heart to beat again after a loss.

Let’s spread the love of Christmas by bringing HOPE to someone really in need of affection today and comfort the weak at heart more.

To all those we lost in 2016. Let’s be rest assured that the peace the birth of Christ brings this season is surely abiding with them.

Yours in HOPE! As I share David Gokey’s ‘Tell Your Heart To Beat Again’

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

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