Feature a Friend Friday – Abbey Slusarski

If you can recall, I had the ambition of staying connected with old friends but it certainly gets tougher as people get busier. So much so, that I often lose track of where they are at in life. Thus, feature a friend was born.

Feature a friend is about learning more about the people I know and inspiring others to have intellectual and thought-provoking conversations with the ones they know and love.

Too often people look past the greatness of everyday friends, family and or any of the people that surround them. As many times as it’s been said and as cliche as it is, it still amazes me of how little we know about some of these same people. To illustrate, let’s say that we “know” about 250 people that we may consider our “friends”. Of those 250 people, how many of them have you asked thought-provoking questions? If you were to state what values they hold and what they were most proud of, would it match their response? Have we really seen their true selves?

Isn’t that what life is about? Showing the world who we truly are. For me, not being seen as the person I know I am or not acting according to my own values is one of my biggest fears and regrets after the fact. I would like to think I am not alone in thinking that.

In essence, its a call to everyone to start having more meaningful conversations with those you know and like. You never know what you might learn and how much more human you become.

In one to two sentences, what do you do?

Oh man! You know I’m a talker, hahaha. That being said, I’m going to disregard that one-two sentences part and give you a general update and trust that you will use whatever you see fit. 🙂

I finished grad school in December! I have my MSW now and am done will formal schooling forever. I am working at North Central Behavioral Health as the team leader of a program that provides community-based services to youth. It feels rewarding to be working in community mental health in the community that I grew up in! More importantly, the program I am working in truly aims to give kids in the community the skills they need to reach their full potential.

Classic pic

What values do you feel define who you are?

Open-mindedness, reliability, optimism

What lesson has been most helpful in your life in the past few years?

Don’t take life for granted.

What was your first reaction or thoughts when you were told you had cancer?

I definitely went into shock. Even though I had a good idea it was coming based on the appointments leading up to it, the words still sent a chill through my body. I was at the doctor’s office on my own (not sure why I thought that would be a good idea). This was on a Friday afternoon, so there was no moving forward with scheduling a biopsy and finding an oncologist until the weekend was over. I drove home in a zombie-like state and told my parents and step-parents. After the initial shock, I was pretty calm. Just in like a “well shit” mindset haha. When Monday came and it was time to make calls to get a biopsy done, it didn’t take long for me to become easily agitated and overwhelmed. That’s when mom took over and got shit done!

What did friends or family do or say that meant the most to you?

This question makes me think of another one of my favorite quotes – “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou. All of my friends and family made me feel so loved and supported throughout treatment – I could go on for days on how helpful and thoughtful everyone was.

How would you say you are living your life differently after going through that experience?

One thing I struggled with after treatment was getting back to “normal.” After a lot of soul-searching and some therapy (had to get that plug in there!), I accepted the fact that no matter what I did or how hard I tried there was no going back to pre-cancer Abbey. The experience has made me more appreciative of life. The little things in life are far more important. And I also appreciate calmness and simplicity.

Looking fresh!

What three things would you tell a person who just yesterday learned of their cancer diagnosis?

Educate yourself, but don’t overdo it – trust your medical team.

It is okay not to be okay. Rely on your support system to help you through the low points.

Get rest!

Any favorite passages or a quote/words you remember each day that guides your life?

I have a ton of go-to quotes, but my favorite has to be this one from the Dalai Lama. I have a scroll of this quote hanging in my office that I got from a Tibetan temple during a volunteer trip, so it embodies all of those memories as well.

“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.” – Dalai Lama XIV


How do you Simply Kill it Every Day?

I try to make a game plan for every day! Whether it’s taking the first part of my day at the office getting organized or laying in bed on a Saturday morning deciding what the day will hold. Also, having a plan helps me SKIED!

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