Are the pages on your calendar turning as quickly as mine appear to be? It seems like just a short time ago we welcomed summer and now here it is—October. I wish time would move a bit slower because I like this month. Cooler temperatures are replacing summer’s heat and we have a bit of time, if we’ll take advantage of it, to slow down and enjoy nature’s gifts in the richness of autumn before the busyness of the holiday season kicks in. October may bring celebrations for you and those you love as well. In fact, have you seen the commercials on television with various musicians singing “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to you.” Notice, there’s no name inserted into the song to identify the recipient of the well wishes. Yet, when you look at the close of the ad you’ll find a reference to the countless numbers of people who are taking time this month to celebrate. They are breast cancer survivors and the family and friends who love them. Women (and yes, men, too) within our community and across our nation are celebrating the gift of life—the gift of each day—as they battle this disease. Neighbors, friends, business associates, family members, and fellow church members are learning how to survive its havoc and move on with their lives. There are some whose fight with this disease is well known to us. Others face cancer’s challenges quietly, and we are unaware. Yet in many ways, it touches us all. God has given me opportunities to walk alongside some courageous women as they battle breast cancer. On this journey, they’re the teacher and I’m the student. Their strength, wisdom, courage and honesty have influenced me in countless ways. I have opportunities to encourage them and meet some of their needs, while they continually teach me so much about life. In their honor, I’ll share a few of the lessons I’m learning—gifts to reflect on as we move through October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness. • Cancer is no respecter of persons. It invades the lives of men and women from all walks of life, regardless of age, background, financial status, or spiritual journey. • Life is not always fair. • You may not have a choice about what comes into your life but you do have a choice about how you will respond, the attitude you will choose to have as you move through the experience. Will you see yourself as a victim or a survivor? • Fighting cancer is hard work. • It’s important to take charge of your life and your health. Understand how your body functions and then make healthy lifestyle choices. When in doubt, ask, and keep on asking until you understand. • Some of the most beautiful women I know are bald. • Planning for the future is important, but the reality is this: you have the certainty of only this present moment. How will you make it count? • Don’t take anything for granted. • The journey of life takes unexpected twists and turns. While we are each responsible for how we travel along that path, we don’t have to make the trip alone. Friends and family are waiting to come alongside with assistance and companionship. • Laughter is great medicine. • Encouragement is a priceless gift. • Prayer is powerful, not just for the one with the need being voiced, but also for the one offering the prayer. • Don’t save the good china just for company. • When you think you can’t take another step, stop and rest. Then take a deep breath and dig into the center of soul where you’ll find strength and courage for the next step. • We all have much to teach each other, and much to learn. Take time to share those life lessons with those around you, and listen. • Never give up. Never. To those of you who are breast cancer survivors, I offer my respect, love, encouragement and prayers. I also give my commitment to make the lessons of your life count in my life, and to share those gifts with others. God bless you. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send comments to her at

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