Growing and Surviving in the Garden of Life

Before I started growing my own plants and vegetables, I used to think gardening was boring.  I didn’t get how people could spend so much time in the garden playing in the dirt.  I never gave it a chance because I thought that I was too busy.  But when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, things slowed down.  My outlook changed on so many things, including gardening.  Watching the plants blossom and grow right before your eyes is amazing.  Nature is fascinating to me.

My introduction to the inspiring world of gardening started on my balcony three years ago.  I was going through a difficult time in my life and being treated for thyroid cancer.  I needed something to feed my spirit and knew that nature would lead me to a better place.  My thyroid cancer treatment was with radioactive iodine, which meant I had to be in isolation for at least three days.  I could not be within three feet of any animals or people.  I was literally radioactive!  So I planned ahead and bought lots of plants to repot, potting soil, gardening gloves and pots.  The first day of isolation was long and emotional.  By day two, I grabbed my gardening gloves and headed out to the balcony. 

I had no experience with gardening.  I started off with the status of “black thumb.”  I was too self-centered to spend time taking care of the plants in my home, so they never lasted long.  After my cancer diagnosis, I began to see all living things as miracles.  Each day of life became a gift.  I realized that I did have time to give.

Back to the balcony…I started with about a half a dozen plants of all shapes and sizes.  I repotted each one with my gentle, radioactive touch.  I could feel the connection to the living energy within each one.  The shapes of the buds, sweet smell and magical colors made me forget that I was in isolation.  I forgot that I had cancer.  Nature’s healing power took over and I started to feel alive!

Last season, a good friend gave me a packet of sunflower seeds.  I never grew anything from a seedling before.  Since most of the plants from last year survived the entire summer, I was up for the challenge.  I to made it through and was in remission.  I’m grateful to be a cancer survivor.  Things were getting better.  My black thumb had changed to a brownish green.  I planted the seeds.  Each day I went out and sat on the balcony with the other plants and pots of soil where the sunflower seeds were planted.  (I even talked to the little sprouts beginning to grow.)  A few weeks went by and I wondered if I planted the right seeds.  They resembled long weeds, not sunflowers.  I wanted to rip them out, but held back on the urge.  Instead of, I gave them more time.  A couple of weeks later, I was filled with joy to see sunflowers had actually blossomed from the top of the “weeds”.  I did it!  I was very impressed with my gardening skills.

This season my gardening confidence has grown.  I decided to buy organic tomato and green pepper seeds.  Yep, I’m gonna grow some organic veggies!  Tomato seeds are so tiny.  I could barely see each one that I planted.  I started indoors.  It took a couple of weeks before they started to sprout. 

I have found that nurturing nature in turn feels nurturing to me. 

Last week, I moved my veggies outside to the balcony.  It will take a couple more months of watering, repotting and tender loving care before my veggies are ready to be plucked.  And they will need to survive the outside elements before that time comes.  This falls in line with one of the main lessons that I’ve learned through my battle with cancer and gardening experience.  We never know what tomorrow will bring, so live life and enjoy every moment.  Be grateful for your health and existence.  It is the little things like watching flowers bloom and veggies grow have become so meaningful and fulfilling to my spirit these days.


2 thoughts on “Growing and Surviving in the Garden of Life

  1. Jennifer, Thanks for sharing this on the Thyroid Cancer Sisters page on FB. I totally relate! I actually never cooked at all until I had to be on the low iodine diet. Now I enjoy cooking and have learned a bunch of dishes after the treatment was over. It really did change my perspective on life!


  2. Loved your veggie story, so heartwarming. I just potted 3 tomato plants on my deck so I can show my small grandson’s how wonderful nature is!!


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