How cancer changed the way I use my time

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lindaandgrandma71.jpgBy Linda Ryan

The saying about time being a precious gift has been on my mind since I recently visited with my 101- year-old grandmother. She saw me texting and wondered aloud if that was something she could do. The reason she was interested in having a smartphone was that she said she's bored.

The one thing Nana has is time. Lots of it. Yet, her time also is limited, so I've been thinking about how I can make her time better, more interesting, happier. The answer I came up with is to give her more of my time.

In our busy lives, we often wish our time away to simply want more. My own cervical cancer journey has changed my view of time.

Trading time during cancer treatment
So often we hear people wish there were more hours in the day. More time to do the tasks and chores they need to do. More time to sleep and catch up on the rest they desperately need. My children are a perfect example of this. They don't want to go to bed at a decent hour, but then they don't want to wake up for school. They want more time awake and more time to sleep. 

But in speaking with many of my friends who have cancer, I've noticed their view of time is very different. They want to figure out how they can get more quality time on earth. They are researching different treatments, looking for hope. They are willing to try new things in search of more precious time. 

Cancer patients trade time for time -- time being sick from chemotherapy in hope of more time to live. As cancer patients, many of us strive to use our time wisely and enjoy the time we do have.  

After my cancer diagnosis, my friends and I embraced the "live like you're dyin'" philosophy and used our time to embrace life by jumping out of an airplane, running half-marathons, and laughing while spending precious time together.  

How I spend my time after cancer
Time is something you can't get back. During my cancer treatment, I relinquished most of my parenting responsibilities. I did so in hopes of being around for future milestones in my children's lives. During that time, I was not involved in their school like I had previously been.  I wasn't involved in managing their schedules or needs. I went to very few of their sporting events. 

During that year, they grew and had experiences that I will never be able to recreate. That time is gone, and I will not get it back. But now I can spend more time with them. 

I now have time and make time. I have the time that cancer patients long for and I make the time to do the things that make me happy on the inside. It's one of the blessings of a serious diagnosis that has made me slow down and appreciate the time that I do have. 

Linda Ryan thought she had checked cancer off her list. Having just run her first marathon, it was hard to imagine that her cervical cancer had returned after seven years. Cancer chose the wrong woman. She was ready to battle cancer for the third time with health, laughter and friendship. Follow Linda Ryan at

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