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Thursday, November 10, 2011, By Dave Balch

Choose Your Battles

One of the most important things that we have gained from our cancer experience is appreciation of what is really important in our lives and what is just fluff.

Guess what? In the grand scheme of things, most of what we cared about is just fluff.
Why is this important to recognize?

Because we have less energy than we are used to having and we need to be extra careful how we use it. When we wake up in the morning we only have so much energy to get us through the day; think of it as energy “currency.” Each time you use some of that energy, Ka-Ching! it is spent, gone, never to be recovered. How many Ka-chings can you afford?

Patients and caregivers alike are obviously under tremendous stress and have more to worry about and more to do than ever, so why waste any of that precious energy on fluff when there are so many truly important things to do?

A few weeks after my wife, Chris, was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was at the market walking back to my car when I passed a young couple that was arguing. I couldn’t help but overhear the gist of it, which was that he had put his favorite brand of cereal in the cart but not hers.


Good heavens… if that’s so important that you have to have a screaming match about it, let me gently suggest you get a life! It occurred to me that if one of them got a cancer diagnosis that issue would undoubtedly become “just fluff.” Why waste physical and emotional energy on it? You’re going to need that same energy later.

Another example of wasted energy is road rage. When you’re driving, if someone does something stupid… let me re-phrase that… when someone does something stupid, your tendency may be to wave at them with only one finger, get angry, or worse, get even.


Ignore it and save some of that currency to spend where it counts. Besides, you could get shot. As in “gun” and “bullets.” How can it possibly be worth it?

You have to be on guard for energy “con-artists”—those things that might make you mad or cause a fight or other unpleasantness which, in reality, just don’t matter.

That’s why I say: choose your battles and spend your energy on things that matter. Notice the word “choose” in “choose your battles.” Here is a revelation: how you respond to various situations is a choice.

That’s right… you can choose. You can choose to ignore it or you can choose to expend some of that precious energy.

What choices will you make?

For the fluff, which is most situations, try to remember these three words: “Let it go.”
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