Having Perspective on Moments

A MOMENT DEFINED

Picture of me and my mom in Hawaii
celebrating her 80th birthday.
(It was a very windy day).

How do you capture your moments?

Moments can be brief and finite. They can be good ones… like your first kiss… the birth of your child… a job… the day you found out you or your loved one was cancer free. They can be bad ones… the loss of a loved one…. a breakup…. the day you find out you or your loved one has cancer.

Moments can also be a period of time such as our childhood years… our time in school, at a company, in a location… the period during cancer treatment.

Moments are indiscriminate that way, but moments can also define us.

PERSPECTIVES ON MOMENTS

I recently heard Eva Grayzel, a professional storyteller as well as an oral cancer patient/survivor and advocate, say that you are a survivor from the moment you get diagnosed with oral cancer. That statement resonates so true.

Survivors deal with a new normal every day. My mother, Yun, is a fighter. Like so many afflicted with oral cancer, her battle to get rid of the cancer was gruesome – two recurrences with the last one culminating in a very aggressive surgery combined with chemotherapy and intense radiation, followed by reconstruction and physical therapy. Thankfully, she beat it and continues to beat it daily. However, she now lives with a new normal with impaired speech, eating porridge and soft foods for meals. With each swallow, she can potentially choke and now struggles with the self-conscious stigma of social interactions. She fights to survive every day.

Many of us sometimes think the fight is over after the treatment, and we couldn’t be more wrong. The survivor fight is daily… sometimes hourly with moments sometimes feeling like an eternity. But they are not alone. As caregivers, we are in that fight as well.

Fighting is exhausting, and depending on the moment you are in, relentless. Both survivor and caregiver have to rest and recharge so as to regain strength for the next round and challenge. Often times, the focus is so much on the survivor, which is necessary, but the caregiver can be overlooked.

I try to be intentional to recharge when I can… not just during the holiday season but also during peak periods when I was especially involved in caring for my mother. During those moments, I reached out and received incredible support from family, friends, faith-based support groups, advocacy groups, and counseling in some form over the years and continue to do so. Saying that these help is an understatement. Know you are not alone. There is strength from the community.

DEFINING MOMENTS

During the holidays, we can get caught up with so many distractions. Buying gifts, taking pictures for cards, sending those cards, catching up with family and friends, traveling… on top of… well… everything that is life. First world problems, I know. Yet, this situation is the reality many of us get caught up in without even realizing it. We rush from one appointment and task to another in our attempt to cross off the items on our to-do lists. Stress levels get high; patience gets low.

In the midst of whatever chaos we may find ourselves, I encourage us all to find moments to pause and reflect. Be intentional. Look forward to those moments you have with your loved ones and make the most of them. Rest, support, recover and repeat…. and turn your moments into defining ones.

About Matthew H.J. Kim.
Matthew is a serial entrepreneur, advocate, and strategist. Having raised approximately $20MM and leveraging over $5MM+ in grant funding for his prior startup companies and launching multiple products across various industries, he brings a demonstrated and successful track record taking innovative products and solutions from concept to commercialization. Inspired by both his parents’ battle to overcome their affliction with oral cancer, Matthew’s most recent venture was an oral cancer detection company utilizing salivary biomarkers to aid clinicians in their decision process for more accurate detection and intervention. The products are now available in Europe and currently advancing through clinical studies in the U.S.


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I believe that my success as a cancer patient is first due to the process of recognition on a basic level, that something in my body was not the same as it was and I was worse off.Jessica Tar
National Spokesperson for HNCA & squamous cell carcinoma survivor

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