If someone asked me “are you an optimist?” I would say “well, not quite.”
I am not yet a true optimist, but I am learning to be one. And in this process of learning, I’ve discovered new perspectives, ideas, and layers of myself that I’ve never seen before; all of them propelling me to grow more and more towards optimism, like a budding plant searching for sunlight in the Spring. And I’m here to share everything I’ve learned with you.
It hasn’t always been easy for me to see the glass as half full. I was not born an optimist.
In fact, I was the worry-laden child who fretted over EVERYTHING. After learning about the disease Tetanus at the age of 5 from a cartoon, every cut became deadly in my mind. In high school, I frequented the doctor’s office with an array of imaginary ailments that I was convinced that I had—one of them being foot cancer—because the symptoms were exactly like the ones they had described on Oprah.
It didn’t help that things were falling apart on the home front during those years.
At first, it was easy to make excuses for the bruises on my mother’s arms, or drown out the incessant shouting, or brush off the concerned looks from neighbours, friends, or even the policemen that came to our door. But things have a funny way of breaking apart spectacularly if you don’t mend the cracks. I was 16 when my parents split, for the second and last time in their tumultuous marriage.
And just when things had finally started to look more positive—I was going to university, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time, peace at home at last—I received a shocking diagnosis: Leukemia. The year was 2007, I was only 19 years old. Suddenly, I found myself right in the midst of my worst fear. Unlike before, this was real. It was happening. The diagnosis brought me to my knees.
For the next year, I was in and out of the hospital going through what seemed like an endless loop of chemotherapy, blood tests, transfusions, and waiting. The good news was that because I was young and relatively healthy, I was able to tough through this ordeal without many hiccups.
By May of 2008, my life had seemed to revert back on track.
I was in remission for almost two years before I received the dreaded news cancer survivors fear the most—relapse. I now required a Bone Marrow Transplant—new, healthy stem cells—to stave off the deadly advance of this disease. Being a single child meant that my only chance of a suitable donor would be somewhere out there in the unknown, and thankfully, there was a close enough match.
I received the stem cells from an unrelated donor—who, I later found out, was a family man living in the United States with a passion for sailing—in the first hours of the morning on August 22, 2009.
When the dust from this storm finally seemed to have settled, when the physical pain from the kaleidoscope of treatments and medications have faded, and the dark clouds of worry, bewilderment, and self-pity have dissipated at last—life once again—marched on.
I went back to school and finished my business degree. I got a steady job working in HR. I got engaged to the boyfriend who had stuck by my side this whole time. I was starting to learn how to be optimistic.
Then in 2016 during a routine lung function test for long-term transplant survivors like myself, it was found that my lung function had drastically decreased since the transplant. After some CT scans and a consultation with a lung specialist, I was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans, a rare and irreversible lung condition.
If you just look at the numbers, my current lung function belongs in the category of the “almost severely obstructed”, and yet, I have no apparent symptoms.
The insidious nature of this disease is that it can sneak up on you, like in my case, and take away your ability to breathe bit by bit. It is irreversible, and there is no cure.
Despite the gravity of the disease, there is a silver lining: my lung function has been holding steady for the past 2 years, and my life is largely unaffected by the illness. I still get to do the activities I enjoy—dancing, playing Dodgeball, hiking, swimming, you name it.
To learn more about my personal fight with cancer, read this.
A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT ME
- I’m an only child and a bit of an introvert. I love my alone time!
- But I’m also lively when I’m among friends. I’m told I have a big voice and a rambunctious laugh.
- I chose my own name “Sabrina”, after “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”. That’s a story for another time!
- I love to “space out”. Just stare out the window and daydream.
- I work in human resources, mostly coaching managers and employees on how to resolve conflicts and thrive at work. I have a degree in human resources and a minor in psychology. I’ve always been interested in people’s behaviours and thinking!
- I’m married to a sweet guy who cooks and cleans the bathroom. Hallelujah!
- My favourite food is noodles. Pho, spaghetti, egg noodles, ramen. You name it, I love it. Carbs are the reason why I’m forever struggling to lose that last 10 pounds.
WHY I STARTED THE BUDDING OPTIMIST BLOG
I started this blog because I want to share my story with the world in hopes of bringing a ray of light to anyone who is feeling stuck, who senses the urge within them to make a change for the better, but don’t know where to begin.
I want to share what I’ve learned, and what I’m still learning—everything from the science of happiness to healthy habits that promote better well-being both physically and mentally; from tips to help us engage in more positive interactions with those around us to inspirational stories of people who have triumphed over seemingly impossible challenges of their own.
My goal is to inspire positive change in not only myself, but in those who I connect with through writing.
This is my journey from disease to recovery, from despair to gratitude, and from pessimism to optimism. I know there is no cure for what I have, but I hope, that through learning and writing about the power of positivity, I can find healing.
Here are just a few benefits of signing up:
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You can also connect with me through email and social media. And don’t forget to check out the Resources page where you will find a collection of inspiring and empowering books, videos, podcasts, and quotes that I’ve curated for you.
Before you implement any advice from this blog, please remember I’m not a health/mental health professional and don’t claim to be one. I’m simply sharing knowledge and personal experience that I think would be a waste to keep to myself. Please check out my disclaimer page for more details.