Although she was young when she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, Holly came to terms with her mortality with incredible maturity and reflected on her time on Earth with a clarity far beyond her age.
Holly Butcher had big plans for her life. She'd pictured herself growing old, with grey hair and wrinkled skin, surrounded by the love of her life and all the children they'd have together. However, life rarely ever works out the way we want it to and Holly's hopes and dreams came crashing down when she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, an extremely rare type of cancerous tumor that primarily affects young people. Although she was just 26-years-old at the time, she soon came to terms with her mortality with incredible maturity and reflected on her time on Earth with a clarity far beyond her age. A day before her death in January 2018 at the age of 27, Holly penned an open letter detailing all the life lessons she'd picked up along the way and it is truly life-changing.
It's a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It's just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming, the young Australian wrote. Until the unexpected happens. 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. I haven't started this 'note before I die' so that death is feared - I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to its inevitability... Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a 'taboo' topic that will never happen to any of us... That's been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that 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.
Here are the valuable life lessons Holly wanted to share with the world: Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It's okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people's days. Once you do that, 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 arse and your belly is wobbling, she continued. Let all that s**t 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'm watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more. 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.
I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. 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, Holly wrote. 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.
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. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends, and strangers; More than I could I ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.
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, Holly wrote. 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 saltwater. Get amongst nature... Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colors 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 okay? 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 okay. Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have, she advised.
Holly ended her letter with one last plea. If you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood, she wrote. 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 3 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 year I had some of the greatest times of my life... 'Til we meet again—Hol.