Letter from a 27-year-old woman who was dying from cancer will change how you approach your life
Holly Butler, a resident of Grafton in New South Wales, was dealt an incredibly unfair hand. While most of us will spend half our days complaining about the smallest things, she had to face her own mortality at an extremely young age. Despite being only 27-years-old, Holly found herself battling cancer, entering the final stages towards the end of 2017.
So when it came to the new year, as many of us were wondering what the future had in store for us, she knew that she didn't have long. Rather than relenting to the bleakness of the situation, she decided to craft a powerful message. On January 3 she posted a list of life lessons to her Facebook. The very next day, she passed away, with her family by her side.
While her final message was intended for her friends and family, her words have gone viral after her death, when she succumbed to a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma. The post, in which she makes a plea for all of us to recognise how much each moment is worth, is a life-affirming message you just have to hear.
She starts off on a heartbreaking note, as she writes that she imagined herself growing old and having a family with the love of her life, and that "I want that so bad it hurts". She writes that she hopes that we take her short time in this world as a reminder to make the most of our lives, without allowing the "meaningless stresses in life" overwhelm us and make us act negatively to others, insisting that we should "think how lucky you are to be able to just that - breathe."
"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."
"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."
"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’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."
The highly emotional post explains that work and exercise only seem trivial until you can't do them anymore, and that we should invest time in our spiritual and mental health as much as we obsess over our bodies. But it's not all about ourselves, but what we do for others:
"Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself"
"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/ buy 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."
This Christmas her family didn't give each other wrapped presents and instead decided to forgo the pressure of finding the perfect gift to focus on their relationships. Her post is full of various calls to action that we can all do, as she sums up:
"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."
"Work to live, don’t live to work."
"Also, 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."
Finally, she also urged others to donate blood, claiming that not only will it make you feel good but reminds us that each donation has the power to save three lives. She herself was kept alive for an extra year by donated blood, which she describes as "a year I had some of the greatest times of my life."
The post has now been shared over 50,000 times and has received 13,000 comments on the original post, showing how this powerful message has affected thousands of people around the world. Maybe it's time to put aside the day's stresses and follow Holly's advice to be thankful for each moment we have.