Wow, what a decade! It has been the most challenging decade of my life. The decade started off with the scariest diagnosis of my life, stage 4 blood cancer…it kicked my ass and sent me through all kinds of hell. It also taught me a lot. The value of life, the value of friendships and family. So many people showed up for me and some didn’t. I met a lot of new, great, inspiring souls that showed me light in the darkness. I lived in this darkness for a while, much longer than the cancer itself. After all of my treatments, I fought day in and day out, many side effects that were quite challenging. Some were not so bad, more manageable if you will. But some of the sided effects had me in the hospital, again. I was still getting treatments 3-4 days a week at UofM hospital, even after the cancer was gone. I was on high dose steroids for a couple years after. I went from not eating for 2 months, malnourished, to gaining over 60 lbs in 3 months. Steroids are crazy! My body was fighting, I was fighting the whole time. I wasn’t giving up. I couldn’t give up. I have too much work to do on this earth.
Then after I was back to “normal” I was expected to fit back into a normal life. I still struggle with this. I lost years of my life to just surviving. I didn’t move forward with school or my career. I had one thing to focus on. I am so happy and proud that I was able to move beyond this. I eventually went back to school. I went back to a full-time job. Something was missing though. I wasn’t living my purpose. Through all of my education and knowledge, but most importantly my experience, I know now that I have so much to offer others that are in similar situations. Fighting chronic illness. The cancer was an acute illness for me. It lasted about 6 months. But the side effects from all of the treatments were chronic. Issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis. My doctor’s knew that it was truly a miracle that I survived so they didn’t hesitate to recommend different medicines for my side effects that were seemingly minimal compared to what I went through. It wasn’t until I started truly listening to my body that I was able to take notice and make some changes on my own. I have either greatly minimized or eliminated a lot of my side effects through nutrition and lifestyle choices. The less medication the better! Pills are only treating the symptoms. Our bodies are made to heal as long as we provide it with the right nutrients, both physically and emotionally. Health isn’t only about diet and exercise. It’s also about our relationships, career, and spirituality, basically what fills us up off of our plates. Believe when I say that this is just as important as the food we put in our bodies. I was the “healthiest” and in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed but things weren’t right in my heart and in my mind. I was fighting many unspoken battles that I truly believed made me sick. Nourish you mind, body, and soul (all of them equally). Make this your goal.
In this decade, I also gained a loving husband who has been by my side through my toughest days. With that said, I also gained a huge, extended family which is so great bc I come from a very small family. I now have more aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws than I ever could have imagined. It was a bit overwhelming at first but now it’s so amazing to have all of these people who love and support both me and Kyle.
Over the past 9 years, I’ve also had the pleasure of developing Rockin’ for a Match into what it is today. This organization is my heart. In the beginning, it was an event that was started to help find me a bone marrow donor. It then continued on each year, into a beautiful collaboration with people in the community to raise awareness for blood cancers and bone marrow donors. I’m both honored and grateful to be able to pay it forward each year with the help of many dedicated volunteers, donors, and fans.
Something that I don’t talk about much is my second battle with cancer. In 2018 I was diagnosed with skin cancer. I had multiple biopsies on my lip that only proved to be pre-cancerous, until it turned into full blown skin cancer. I had a large part of my lip removed and then had my lip reconstructed back together by a wonderful surgeon that made it look almost normal. Although this cancer was much more curable than the original, it brought back many unsettled emotions. Skin cancer is also one of the most common side effects of the chemo treatments I went through. So, always wear your sunscreen and don’t forget your lips! I am still dealing with this and I have another laser surgery scheduled this month. They were able to remove the cancerous cells but not the precancerous cells so the laser treatment will take care of those.
Once I knew I needed to live my passion, I enrolled in health coaching course to become a certified integrative nutrition health coach. I graduated in July and recently started my LLC, Root-Cause Health Coaching. I am now privately practicing with clients, individually. My focus is on people with chronic illnesses, but most importantly I want to help people overcome their struggles and reach their optimal wellness through lifestyle and nutrition choices, and to put the power back in their hands. We have so much power and we don’t ever recognize or give ourselves credit for. We can do so much yet we have conditioned to put our body and health in the hands of the healthcare system. I had a professor who would tell me, “Crap in, crap out.” He was referring to data and scientific research but I’m talking about how we treat our bodies. If you feed your body with crap, you’ll eventually become sick, whether it be digestive issues, stomach problems, headaches, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. I can now say, with the support of my husband, that I am truly living my passion through my new career and I couldn’t be more inspired.
This past year, we sold our house in Royal Oak and moved to a beautiful new home on a little lake in Clarkston. We are loving it! We have a big yard for Henrik and Conoco to enjoy and are hoping to fill our house with a family soon! Kids have been on our minds and hearts for many years now. I was forced into early menopause from the cancer treatments, so I am unable to have children naturally. We have been working so hard on starting a family. It has been emotionally, physically, and financially draining but we are keeping our chins up and hearts open. I trust that this new year and decade will bring us much joy and new family members.
There’s so much more that has happened in this past decade. We traveled and experienced a lot but I’ve only chosen to highlight a few things. If I listed everything, this post would become a novel….which I will save for my book 😉 I’ve already started writing it and making it a goal to focus on in the new year, so stay tuned!
Some ask, “how do you stay afloat?” No matter the many challenges that I’ve experienced and overcome, I always find a way to stay positive. I focus on gratitude and I grasp onto my support. I have faith. I remind myself that somebody, somewhere, close or far is battling something much more challenging than I can imagine. With that, I find humbleness and it keeps me grounded. I try not complain much. I’ve learned that you can’t possibly stay afloat if you focus on negativity. My life is a blessing and I honor my journey as well as others.
Moving into 2020 I am choosing to make my goal to be the best version of myself. I want to read more, love more, exercise more, write more, inspire more, listen more, sleep better, eat better, and communicate better. I want to let go of excuses, extra lbs, perfectionism, and getting in my own way. I have many tools in my toolbox to make these changes. The power is within me, so I have to choose to make these goals a priority each day. This is what I will strive for in 2020. I’m so ready for the new year, new decade! What are your goals? What are you ready to let go of? Thanks for listening and sharing. Happy New Year 2020!
Happiest New Year, New Decade, New You in 2020!
Just remember to… “Be stronger than your excuses.”