Choose Happiness Posted on 02 Feb 20:50

Starting a business has been hard work and can be overwhelming. There have been many times that I have thought about giving up, but when times are hard, I take a moment to think about when times were really really hard.

I'll never forget the day my dad told me he had stage four pancreatic cancer.  From that moment on, I knew that I had limited time with one of the greatest people I had ever met.

I remember writing this on my phone one day in October of 2013, a year before he passed away. His favorite movie was Groundhog Day because the key messaging in this movie teaches you to be the best person you can be regardless of what you are facing every day. Life is never going to be easy, but you can make each day great by being compassionate and grateful for what you have.  

This blog post seemed fitting for today, Groundhog Day, and I had also mentioned Groundhog Day in my writing below. I have never really shared this writing with anyone and decided that maybe it would give people who are going through a hard time a different perspective and the courage to push through even the hardest of times. So here it goes..

Surviving Cancer (Living with Cancer or Not)

"Waking up everyday is like being in a Groundhog Day movie. Different day, but you face the same challenges as yesterday because cancer is all that you can think about. The moment you open your eyes, you think of your loved one and what they are thinking as their eyes open for the first time of the day. You want to cry because your heart hurts for this loved one, but you know that you have a whole day ahead of you, so you start filling your mind with the duties of the day. Then, you start to think: I didn't get an awful call in the middle of the night, and I don't have a text message waiting for me filled with bad news that I'm just not ready for. A moment of peace.

Then the peace quickly subsides, because you know that someday, you will awake to the news that you are just not ready for. You get up, feeling sad, confused, yet absolutely blessed that today is not that day. The minute you realize this, your heart calms, but again, only for a moment.

You get dressed for work and head out the door. At this moment, you are a little bit more awake and ready to face the day, but your mind starts to wonder again. Listening to music that used to fill your soul with promises of a great new day doesn't play. Instead, you choose to sit in silence. In that moment of silence, you set the tone for the new day and think about the exact same challenge as the day before: how will I get through the work day without bringing these emotions to work when all I can think about is this person I love with cancer and all of the struggles that they are going through today.

That's when today's decision making happens. Reality sets in and you realize that you have two choices: be positive and be the best person you can be at work, to your clients, co-workers, your friends, and anyone that you come in contact with throughout the day, or be negative and sad, knowing that these emotions can effect your job and your relationships whether you like it or not.

Then you start to convince yourself to be positive because if you want to keep your job, you really don't have a choice but to be positive. Although the most natural choice is to be sad and negative, you eventually reach deep down and realize that positivity is the best alternative, even though it's one of the hardest choices to make daily.

Trust me, there have been many days when I have chosen to be on the pissed off/ negative side of things and how could you not? Cancer not only takes lives, but dignity, and hope, and above all, it takes away all of your stupid problems that at one time seemed like the end of the world.

Being negative and pissed off at the world got me absolutely no where.  After many days of anger and negativity you start to notice one thing, and it may be the most powerful thing of all: WOW, my loved one didn't die today. Fucking awesome!!

Then you realize, holy shit, I spent the whole day being angry at the world and the whole time, I could have had one of the best days of my life knowing that my loved one, who has cancer, is still alive and available to talk to today. What an amazing day!!! A day you can't get back. A day where that special person could have given you the best advice you've ever received. A day where you were able to hug that person and tell them that you love them. What an amazing day spent in anger and negativity. Now where is the great in that?! There is none.

The truth is that every morning you open your eyes, you are gifted with the most amazing two gifts of all, life and love, cancer or not.

Living with cancer (having cancer or not), may be the most difficult daily morning challenge you have ever experienced in your life, but if you can remember that today you are blessed with life and love, and without that dreaded text or phone call, you will survive today with a positive attitude and will be forever grateful for another day and another chance to be with that loved one.

Still sitting in silence on your drive to work, you realize that today could always be worse. You start to become more appreciative for another day with all of the people that you love, that are still here in your life. Your mind starts wondering and picturing all of the people that you love and a smile comes to your face because you realize that they are still here. Then you become even more receptive to positivity and start to think: I'm glad my car started this morning, I'm glad I have a job, I'm glad I like my co-workers and boss, I'm glad I have a home, and I'm glad I have some money in my bank account to get lunch today. These thoughts start to become natural, especially when you realize that your loved one, dying of cancer, is still here..everything else starts to feel magical. You become grateful for the little things and all of your 'problems' become even smaller when scaled against the things you and your loved one are dealing with. The small wins are the wins that matter the most right now, and those small wins can maximize your positivity and strength to get through the day.

Most mornings, when you open your eyes, or if you're on your way to work, you may want to cry because all you can think about is your loved one's pain points of the day. You will probably contemplate the fact that you would give anything to take those pain points away from that loved one and the sadness will start to creep in. But, if you wake up with life and love, and can remember that your loved one is still here, and can think about all of the things that are going right for you today, you can survive a day of cancer (living with cancer or not)."

-Katherine Gifford 
October 2013

Remembering these times have made me stronger and I hope this post is helpful to you or to anyone struggling with hardship. My dad is no longer with us and I miss him every day, but I know that if I can get through what we went through, that I can do anything. I never imagined starting a business could be this challenging, but it makes me so happy and thankful. I will continue to choose happiness and will never give up. Thanks dad! Love you!

Much Love, 
Katherine