three tips thursday [5].

by Janetha on April 19, 2012

in guest posts,tips

hey guys! i am so glad you are all interested in doing the fitmixer boot camp with me starting may 14th! if you are ready to sign up, click here! the boot camp is first come, first serve.. so get on it! i look forward to all of you keeping me accountable. also, for those who asked, you can purchase fitmixer off their site:

well, it’s that time again! i am super pumped for this week’s guest, because she is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. no, really. here’s susan :)



Hi there! My name is Susan, you may know me from the blog The Great Balancing Act, or The Great Fundraising Act that Janetha hosted for me last year.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a 26-year-old Atlantic Canadian recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. I was admitted to hospital on June 21, 2011 after a CT scan showed a surprising 14cm mass in my chest. After a month in the hospital, I underwent six months of intense chemotherapy, and was declared “cancer-free” on January 30, 2012. I’ve spent much of the past year stuck in bed and fearing the worst, but I am now back to living what many would call a “normal” life. Although it still feels far from normal!

I know it sounds so simple put into just a few sentences, but believe me, it was and still is the HARDEST experience of my life. There are many, many things I learned by living through the Big Scary C and today I want to share three of those things with you for Janetha’s Three Tip Thursday! There are so many tips I could give out as a result of my experience, but as I live now having glanced into the depths of the darkest parts of life, these are three things I always carry in my back pocket.

1. Life sucks, but not always.

If you think life can be “perfect” at any given point in time, you are living in La-La-Land and setting yourself up for one devastating crash. Telling myself that life sometimes just plain sucks helped get me through the hardest parts of my ordeal. When I was stuck in bed, bald from chemo, fat from steroids, and too sick to move, knowing that “Hey! Life sucks!” got me through it without feeling too bitter about my situation.

I’ll never forget one time when I was sick, my teenage step-sister was throwing a little hissy fit because “there was no food in the house.” There was tons of stuff to eat, just nothing she wanted. She bitched and moaned about how awwwwful her life was because there was nary a Dorito to eat. My response? “Get used to it sweetheart. Sometimes, life just sucks.”

The best part about all of this though is that things aren’t sucky ALL the time. Between the sucky bits are some pretty awesome bits that makes it all worth it. Plus, after experiencing the sour parts of life, the good parts taste so much sweeter.

2. Work less.

I remember reading an article a while back from a palliative care nurse who said the number one thing people said on their death bed was “I wish I worked less.”

I used to be the type of person who dreamed of being self-employed, with a job I loved, and work that didn’t feel like “work” at all. Once I achieved that however, the problem was that I started to totally immerse myself in work. The lines between my work-life and social-life started to blur, and before I knew it, I was spending 15 hours a day away from the house “working.”

Being sick taught me that there are more important things in life than work. I rather have a low-stress job that motivates and stimulates me, but doesn’t bleed into my home or social life. It’s important to have a job you like, but in my opinion, it’s also important to have a job that lets you have a life outside of work. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always come with the sexiest job title.

3. Be social.

Prior to getting ill, I would have never classified myself as a “social” person because I thought I was so shy. But after spending six months stuck in a sterile house because of my dangerously low immunity, I realized just how important it is to talk with and be around other people.

Nowadays, you’ll rarely find me turning down a party, event, or invitation to hang out. I get how tempting it may be to stay at home in your peejays on a Friday night watching movies or home-reno shows. But ever hear that phrase “I never regret a workout”? Well, when I wake up on a Saturday morning, exhausted, slightly hungover, and with a sore throat from talking too much, I never, ever regret it. Memories are made by going out and being with people, so do it more than you feel inclined!

Thank you to my dog Buster Bartholomew for being today’s model and to Janetha for letting me share some of my favourite tips on her blog! I look forward to seeing her and so many others soon at the Blend Retreat!!

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Nicole @ Making Good Choices April 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

thanks to Susan for sharing your tips! you are truly an inspiration! <3

Colleen April 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I just love this post. That is all!

Heather @ Better With Veggies April 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Wow – it’s so inspiring to hear from someone who gone through some a life-changing event! I think the hardest one to really live sometimes is about work and knowing that we want to enjoy it, but not let it take over. It’s all about balance.

Thank you for sharing!

Momma b April 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Dear sweet Susan these are some o the wisest tips!! I love them all and will tuck them in my back pocket as well! You are a courageous and beautiful young woman and that Buster boy is pretty awesome too :)

So happy the ugly C is behind you…..


Maren April 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Thanks for the nice post Susan! I have to tear Nate off the couch to go out sometimes and I just feel like, we aren’t going to remember the nights we got 10 hours of sleep! Let’s go have fun! Gotta make the best of everything. So glad you’re healthy again!

Clare @ Fitting It All In April 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

this is amazing, much needed, wise advice:)

Fox Peterson April 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

this really spoke to me today. what you say in point 2… work less.. i wish so badly I could afford to!

Kris April 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Susan, I am SO happy you conquered your toughest adversary.

I cannot imagine how it would be first hand, but I have been given the gift of perspective as I care for my Dad and help him battle cancer. I look at life and all the great things in it with a renewed lens these days, and don’t take ANYTHING for granted.

much love to you – I really wish I had time to attend Blend! <3

Krissie J @ A Philly Nerd Girl April 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Love this post and glad to hear you are doing well! :D

Nicole G April 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm

SUSAN! I’m so excited to see your writing pop up in my reader no matter the source. I’ve missed your blog so much its a little embarrassing on my part. I love hearing that you are being much more social since I remember your posts about social anxiety that was quite debilitating for a time. I still pray for you constantly because whether or not your cancer-free I wish the best for you in all aspects of your life.

Miss your blog and hope you return someday but am happy to know you’re just enjoying living life in the meantime =)

Nicole G

Lara April 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I would love this post from Susan anyway, but the Buster pics MAKE it :D

elaine c. April 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

susan – i’ve always enjoyed your blog and i’m glad you’re taking time away to get some “susan time” :)
i’m glad you’re doing well and thanks for the buster pics!

J @ ... semplicemente ... j April 19, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Susan! Great to see you … as always you steal my heart with those picks! Loved “seeing” you again!

Annette@FitnessPerks April 19, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Awesome post!! Great tips on how to really enjoy and be ‘real’ during life. So true about how life doesn’t always blow–it really is mostly awesome :)

Laura April 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Susan! I thought of your the other day! I hope all is well and thank you for being such an inspiration!

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) April 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I have always said that you are wise beyond your years, and that was before the cancer. Now you are just wise times a million. And Buster Bartholomew melts my soul every time I see his wittle face.

Your first tip is similar to the one mantra I go by: Lower your standards. I know that people like to set goals and reach and exceed them and soar to the moon and that’s all wonderful. I love that too. But if you do set realistic standards and then EXCEED them, you win and it’s a happy mindset. If you expect great things all the time and set lofty goals, that can be a recipe for disappointment.

Love you- so sorry to miss blend!

Toronto Girl West April 19, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Great tips Susan!!!!

I particularly agree with the work less part. That’s honestly part of the reason I stick with the employer I do. Truth be told I have a really good gig with the kind of hours that are unheard of in the legal world. It’s a blessing that allows me to spend plenty of time with the Husband and Daisy Cakes! :)

Sarah @ The Healthy Diva April 20, 2012 at 2:36 am

Thanks for these inspiration tips susan! really puts so much in perspective :)

Abby April 20, 2012 at 5:35 am

Susan/Buster–I adore you both and although I miss your blog, I am grateful for this post (and that you’re still on Twitter.)

I agree with most of your points, but the last one? I slightly disagree, as sometimes you just need “you” time and to be honest, I HATE waking up in the morning slightly hungover and beat. But I get your point. It’s moderation with everything except gratitude, perspective and love. Total win ;)

Claire @ Live and Love to Eat April 20, 2012 at 6:28 am

Thanks for sharing the positives of your challenge! It’s great to know you’re doing well!

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List April 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

We get to have a slumber party in 2 weeks, Susan. I’m stoked.

Kait @ yogabeautylife April 20, 2012 at 8:35 am

Thank you so much for sharing Susan! Congratulations on your recovery and your amazing outlook on life.

Janetha – another great hit! Thanks. :)

Susan April 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

I don’t look anything like that picture anymore! You’re not going to recognize me, haha.

the delicate place April 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

great tips susan! your story has stuck with me for the better part of a year. i found out about it when j first mentioned it here. you continue to inspire and i wish you the best of continued health! x

my tip for this year is ‘perspective’

Susan April 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

Susan! I miss your blog but it is wonderful to hear from you nonetheless. I have loved following your self-discoveries throughout your cancer. It seems to have brought you many gifts in spite of everything.

Sable@SquatLikeALady April 20, 2012 at 11:58 am

I LOVE this post! Thank you so much Susan for writing it & Janetha for sharing it!

Catalina @ Cake with Love April 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Great tips, but at the moment I can apply only # 1

Nescett @ bananaoats April 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

What an amazing post. You are an inspiration. Hats off to you for all you’ve come through.

Lauren @ Call Me Mrs. Rapp April 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Loved this! Very, very true advice. For as long as I can remember my dad has told me, “life’s not fair kid, and the sooner you get used to that the better off you’ll be.” It’s so true and has kept me from those “it’s not faaaaaiiiiirrrrr” whining moments I hear from so many people (and friends).

Oh, and I have a King Charles Spaniel too, so I’m totally a sucker for the photos. :)

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

These are certainly words of wisdom! Now if my boss hadn’t just dumped on me for the weekend… ugh!

Megan (Braise The Roof) April 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

So good to hear from Susan again! :) The work thing is so important- I struggle with finding balance all the time. Work hard, play hard is my motto.

Jentry Nielsen April 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Love these tips! Such great advice! Those pups are adorable! I know I am one who definitely wished I worked less! Great point though, it’s hard to find that balance of work and play!

Lisa April 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Great great advice here! Sometime I have to roll my eyes at you never regret a workout, I guess its true in some sense, but if your planning to workout instead of hang out with friends then that is a problem. In my future I won’t remember the random workouts I did, but the friends and good times I had.

Krista C. April 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm

It is so great to hear from you Susan! Your first blog Trying for a Tri was the first blog I ever read and I have been a loyal reader ever since. I completely agree with all three tips, all true. Number 3 I need to work on however. I get into money saving mode and going out with friends suffers.
It is so good to see photos of Buster, what a cutie! He is starting to look more grown up now, not as puppyish as he did.

Brittany @ Delights and Delectables April 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Amazing post Susan! Thanks for putting things into perspective for us. I look forward to meeting you and Janetha at Blend!

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More April 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

So inspiring!! :)

Anna@ActiveFingers April 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Susan, it is great hearing you write and thank you for the tips to enjoy life! #2 is very much where I am right now. I love my teaching job but either find myself at school, at home thinking about school or so exhausted I don’t want to do anything.

Amanda April 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

Yay! It’s nice to see a post from Susan.

The tip about working less is so important. I try to remind myself of that when I get bogged down with work and a friend or family member tries to spend time with me. I can manage both and not avoid having fun because I’m stressed about work. In the long run, what will doing an extra hour or two of work matter?

I am sad that I won’t be at blend retreat!

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