I’m a survivor.
It’s been two years since I stopped chemotherapy.
Two years of getting used to my new “normal”.
And, I’m grateful.
Here’s the thing… we absolutely cannot know what will change us.
We all face challenges, multiple challenges.
Life is fluid.
Four years ago I began my journey of immense change.
I separated from my partner of 20 years.
I “lost” my business by selling my share to my partner.
I was out of a job and an identity.
Did that change me? Not so much.
I kept going, I was resilient, I forged ahead through the difficulty of it.
None of it was easy but when I started to get some traction, I was diagnosed with cancer.
10 days before Christmas… I got spoiled by Mom… it was a different kind of Christmas.
Did a cancer diagnosis change me? Not so much.
I charged ahead.
An aggressive diagnosis meant lots of research really fast… it was a whirlwind of decisions but I had epically magnificent surgeons.
Surgery One ended in complications… back to the hospital, back under the knife.
Surgery Two ended in some changes but went as planned.
Then, the tests came back… aggressive strain… aggressive chemo.
Did chemo change me? Yes. Absolutely.
When I was told… I finally got mad and shed one tear while my Mom looked at me, as I sat in the dark, and said, “we gotta do what we gotta do.”
It was the only tear I ever shed for cancer.
Mom hid her tears from me.
Weeks of surgery recovery meant weeks of dread waiting for chemo to start.
The oncologist pushed and I pushed back… I would start when I was ready.
It was the night of the big Barry Manilow concert, tickets I’d purchased before I knew my diagnosis. I wasn’t going to miss it.
I showered. I stood in front of the mirror and ran my fingers through my hair, hair I’d cut just days earlier knowing what was coming.
When I looked down at my hand it was filled with hair.
And so it began… as Mom and I watched Barry sing his heart out, we did too, my Mom holding onto me for dear life.
10 weeks later, after chemo treatment number 5, I kept my word – quality of life over quantity – I quit chemo.
I stayed in a state of zombie for a couple of weeks… my body damaged.
Four weeks later I could run 3 blocks, a far cry from my usual 3 mile run.
It would take more than a year before I could run 3 miles again.
And, now, 2 years post chemo, here’s what I can tell you…
Chemotherapy changed everything.
My life mission is clear and I’m walking it every single day… because I can.
It’s not the big things as much as the simple things, the simple choices.
Enforcing boundaries to avoid stress and negativity.
Spending time with people I love and those I like.
Practicing gratitude every day.
Giving of my time and resources when it makes me feel good to do it.
Stopping and dropping everything when a friend calls and I’m available.
Never rushing my Mom off the phone even when she talks for an hour about… well, nothing, because we talk almost every day.
Listening deeply when people speak to me.
Accepting love and kindness from others (and that one is still hard).
Taking every single hug I can get.
Serving others in whatever way I can, that makes sense.
Letting go of whatever doesn’t serve my ability to be happy.
Finding peace in every day.
When I worked ALL.THE.TIME I rarely did all those things, some of them I didn’t do at all.
Not all the things are easy to do, they aren’t supposed to be.
I struggle with my body because it still requires more rest time than it used to.
I struggle with survivor’s guilt because not everyone wins this battle.
I struggle with seeing my scars and knowing that my body has this ugly-to-me spot.
I struggle with the fear of being judged, of having my body judged.
What I can do is forge ahead and stay true to my intentions.
As I pass this 2-year mark I am happy and determined.
In personal and in business, when it comes to Me, what you see is what you get.
Uncomfortable as it might be to share this, I don’t really want to work with anyone who doesn’t really know me.
But also to remind us all that no one’s story is completely shiny and polished.
For all my successes there are also the unfortunate dips… and those dips make me successful as well… your dips make you amazing too…