Over the weekend a heartbreaking Facebook post written by Grafton woman Holly Butcher went viral, just hours after she lost her battle with cancer. The 27-year-old had been fighting terminal Ewing's sarcoma and took the devastating diagnosis as an opportunity to pass onto others what she had learned in the last years of her life.
The post, which was shared posthumously on Facebook with Holly's permission, is a poignant and incredibly beautiful read, filled with lessons that we could all stand to take guidance from.
It starts with Holly reflecting on what it was like facing her own mortality at 26, and the heartbreak rolls from there. "I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey — most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts," she wrote. "That's the thing about life; it is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right. I'm 27 now. I don't want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands."
She may have been only 27, but Holly's wisdom was well beyond her years — and we should all consider ourselves lucky that we are still alive and breathing and able to take stock of what she has to say. Below, the 26 lessons we're vowing to take from the post, followed by Holly's message in full.
May she rest in peace.
- "We all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.
- Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things, just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It's OK to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people's days.
- Get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; it is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that — breathe.
- You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your ass and your belly is wobbling. Let all that shit go. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole.
- I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise — be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things . . . until your body doesn't allow you to do either of them.
- Appreciate your good health and functioning body, even if it isn't your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don't obsess over it.
- Remember there are more aspects to good health than the physical body . . . work just as hard on finding your mental, emotional and spiritual happiness too. That way you might realise just how insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is.
- While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not . . . be ruthless for your own well-being.
- Be grateful for each day you don't have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is shit but be thankful it isn't life threatening and will go away.
- Whinge less, people! And help each other more.
- Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewellery for that next wedding. 1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice; 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.
- Value other people's time. Don't keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too! Amen, sister.
- Use your money on experiences . . . or at least don't miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.
- Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water. Get amongst nature. Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn't meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo . . . enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.
- Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colours the sun makes as it rises.
- Listen to music . . . really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.
- Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that.
- Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing OK?
- Travel if it's your desire, don't if it's not.
- Work to live, don't live to work.
- Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.
- Eat the cake. Zero guilt.
- Say no to things you really don't want to do.
- Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life . . . you might want a mediocre life and that is so OK.
- Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.
- Remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it — in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don't know how much time you've got on this earth so don't waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn't be more true.
- One last thing: if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save three lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple. Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year — a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on earth with my family, friends and dog."
A bit of life advice from Hol:
It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just...