What would you do if you were given a second chance at life?
Cornelia Borjesson saw her near death experience as an opportunity to stop dreaming her life and live her dream.
Cornelia had been playing soccer since the early age of six years old. By the age of seventeen, she was training four hours a day. She worked her way to be considered as part of the national team representing Sweden. Soccer was all she lived for, her world revolved around it, nothing and no one else mattered! Now, she was on her way to the top! Little did she know about the treasure she would find on her journey…
She woke up one morning with her right foot completely swollen. Cornelia did not make anything of it, thinking she must have of sprained it during the soccer game the previous day. Sure enough, after a couple of days, the swelling went down and she continued playing soccer. Two months later, she felt an extreme exhaustion, she couldn’t make it up a flight of stairs. After having gone through a series of tests at the hospital, they examined the level of oxygen flowing through her blood. The results showed that she had a blood clog in her left lung, it was completely blocked from getting any circulation. She also had blood clogs in her right lung, leaving her with a 20% lung capacity at the time.
Am I going to die?
The doctors first tried to release the blood clog by injecting a substance, but, it did not work. She learned that she probably had the blood clog for over two months, it had moved all the way from her foot to her lungs. Because it had hardened, the regular procedures were not enough in her case to break through it. She was told that because she was in good shape, the 20% capacity was able to keep her functioning. Had she not been in shape or older, she would probably not be living.
Out of desperation, the doctors, told Cornelia that they wanted to try to loosen the blood clog by means of surgery. This was basically their last resort. When she came out of the surgery, she was told that they had successfully loosened the clog in her right lung, however, they had only been able to loosen part of the clogs in her left lung. Cornelia would go on for the rest of her life with a 70% lung capacity.
The single most important thing in life
She was in the hospital for a total of five weeks, sharing her room with different people. One patient in particular touched Cornelia. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was basically there waiting to die. She observed how difficult it was for his family and friends when they came to visit. How much they tried to make the most of every moment they spent together. It was the single most important thing that mattered for him and his loved ones, nothing else was relevant because once that moment was gone, it was gone forever and they would never get that moment back to be together.
Reflecting back on my life
This made Cornelia think and reflect back on her life, up until her operation, she did not pay much attention to anything around her. The only thing she thought about was soccer. She was very competitive… she had to be the best. This competitiveness, took over all her being. She never shared her feelings with friends and family, kept a certain distance; they were there for her to compete against. Cornelia described herself as being selfish. She went through life, just living without considering others, without a purpose or a goal, she had no values. This affected the whole family relation and they didn’t do much together as a family.
During the whole time she was in the hospital, Cornelia’s parents visited her every day. Very often, they slept at the hospital by her side. It was the first time she felt they were together as a family and the first time they said “I love you.”
Cornelia thought about her near death experience. Had she not made it through this, she would have never gotten the chance to say this to her parents.
She realized that she was given a second chance, her illness was an opportunity for her to open her eyes and re start her life. She had put so much importance on things that had no real value in her life. She had become obsessed with something that did not contribute to others. Furthermore, she was not happy being caught up in this obsession,
“it was not rewarding competing alone. It lead to wanting more without having anyone to share it with.”
A new purpose in life
When she got out of the hospital, Cornelia started the process of becoming the new person she wanted to be. Her friends noticed the change, telling her how much more social and compassionate she was. Cornelia paid attention to other’s needs, it became a natural for her to be present for her friends, whether it was in giving advise or actually attending a friend’s birthday party.
Cornelia and her parents started spending more time together, sharing their interests and taking trips together. She developed a whole new perspective in life.
Every moment of her life had meaning.
A few years later, she came across a quote
“Don’t dream your life, live your dream.”
She looked back to the time she had spent in the hospital. She was no longer the same person. She asked herself, “if I were to die today, would I be completely satisfied with my life as ok?” She was not, “ I was given a second chance, not everyone gets that chance.” She remembered the cancer patient she had shared her room with. She remembered how his friends and family were making up for lost time. “We all have a purpose in life, we need to live for that purpose and we need to live towards our dreams.
By just accepting that everything is ok, we are giving up on who we could really be. By giving up, we are not only making ourselves unhappy, we are not using our whole capacity to make a difference.
She decided that she was going to live her life to the fullest. For her, this meant, she would never again just settle with her surroundings just because it was okay. She broke off with her boyfriend of seven years. He was a nice guy and Cornelia has kept all the many good times and memories they shared together. However, she was not completely happy in the relationship, but, it was ok. She felt there was so much more out there…she wanted to follow her passion of traveling. She began to travel, discover new things with every trip, Cornelia gained more knowledge and courage.
She became an inspiration to everyone around her. Her friends went to her for support and courage to make changes in their lives!
Cornelia received the following email from her relatives back home on Christmas Eve:
Idag vid Julfirandet hos Marianne och Ingvar saknade vi dig. Men våga inte komma hem! Du är en inspirationskälla för oss alla, och dina upptäkter blir våra. Vi följer dig och samtidigt avundas det du upplever, ditt mod och dina fantastiska äventyr. Dina bilder är strålande och du lär aldrig mer behöva skriva ett CW, ge dom bara din adress till bloggen. Så Cornelia, när eller om dina pengar tryter till våren ska du inte ge inte upp, för här har du en ny sponsor. God Jule och ett riktigt Gott Nytt År!!!
Din stolta släkting // Sune “
Here’s the English translation:
We missed you today during our Christmas celebration at Marinne and Ingvar’s place. But don’t you dare come home! You’re a source of inspiration for us all, and your discoveries turns to ours. We follow you and at the same time envy your experiences, your courage and your fantastic adventures. Your photos are great and you’ll never ever need to write a Curriculum Vitae, just give them the address to your blog. So Cornelia, when or if your money runs out this spring, you shouldn’t give up because here is your new sponsor. Merry Christmas and a really Happy New Year.
Your proud relative // Sune”
There is no better time than now to start living your dream
She mentioned how many times people approached her, telling her how they would like to be doing something different, whether it was to change jobs, go on vacation or pick up a hobby they loved. It was with a deep sense of frustration that Cornelia spoke about the reasons why they were not already doing so. Either it was because they have kids, they had to support them, so, it was too late to start looking for a new job. They would all say, “it is not that bad, it is ok.” Sometimes they are convinced that they are too busy or too old to learn something new and make a change. Some just say they want to wait…
Cornelia wants to shout out loud, “It is NOW or never…” with a very important message:
Don’t dream your life, Live your dream!!!! I have this quote tattooed on the side of my ribcage that protects my left lung.It is hard sometimes, the tattoo is a reminder to me and for others around me to always do what you want in the moment and not put it off. The worst feeling I ever went through, was when I was in the hospital, reflecting back on the person I was, not wanting to change anything, not evaluating the most important things in life. Reevaluating my values and living my life and making decisions towards those values for the moment has made me grow as a person and I will always continue to grow in discovering and learning new things.
I learned the hard way, I only have a 70% lung capacity. Sometimes I do feel a little tired. It might slow me down a little,but, it will never stop me from going forward. I am currently traveling the world, this was my passion. I have inspired my parents to do the same. For years, before my illness, they kept talking about traveling, but, rarely did anything about it. They now travel many times a year. They will be joining me later on this year in China. My parents in China, wow!
You don’t have to wait to go through a near death experience to start making changes that will enrich your life and those around you, you might never get a second chance.
I was given that chance, this is why I feel it is my obligation to share this experience with you. The material things you may think are important now, will not mean anything when you are gone.
The present moment is all you have, you will not get it back, don’t waste it.
Change that job!
Take that vacation!
Take that course, learn how to play guitar, take drawing lessons, learn that new language!
You will give so much energy to everyone around you!
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