This is a story about a girl who lost her Mom when she was 21. This girl is me.
My Mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer when I was 18.
I didn’t really know what stage 4 meant- it didn’t sound good, but she also downplayed it as something they would just remove and then take care of with chemo. So I listened. I was applying for colleges and picking out what school I would go to, I tried to stay occupied.
Over four years, I watched her beat cancer three times. In the end, it came back fast and furious.
No child should have to go through being a caretaker, helping her change a colostomy bag, seeing her on an IV (we called it lurch) because she couldn’t keep food down, seeing her doubled over in pain daily, having an ambulance come because a lung collapsed.
Every day I was WORRIED SICK about her. In her final month, she went to the hospital and never made it home. I had a hard time going that last month because I couldn’t face reality. So I carried a lot of guilt for not seeing her as much as I should have. On her last day, I had the morning shift with at the hospital, and a few hours after I left she passed away. I knew she couldn’t go with me there, there is no way I could handle that. In her last month, she could barely look at me because she was worried about me. Being the baby of the family by 7 years, the one who still lived at home (in the summer), the one who didn’t have a job, or have a house— would I be ok with a year of college left and an unknown future? But that day, I told her she was the Best Mom, that I would figure life out, and that she could go if she needed to. A few hours later she did.
There is NO DOUBT in my mind, that I had to take YEARS to heal from this. I struggled with anxiety, I had suicidal thoughts (after another personal loss the following year). I lost a ton of weight and then gained 40. I emotionally ate. I drank. I spent money I didn’t have. I had insomnia. I self medicated with sleep aids, sometimes alcohol and for sure food. A few years later, I then realized it wasn’t me- I didn’t feel good, she wouldn’t want this for me and either did I! I caught the downward spiral before it got worse. But I had a good job, good friends, a home. Life wasn’t bad, I was just lost and struggling a bit.
So I stopped bad habits. I formed new ones. I fell in love with running as a stress reliever. I joined a gym. I didn’t go out as much. I lost weight, I found my passion in fitness and then started to help people. My anxiety got better, I know how to deal with it now. I sleep better. I eat whole foods, I workout 6 days a week now at home. I have one or two glasses of wine a week. I surround myself with people who are positive, I read personal development and do the things that serve me,
Say no to the things I don’t.
I am not perfect. I am just someone who really values health and feeling good. I know what it’s like to not feel good so it’s motivation for me to keep making ME a priority, even as a busy Mom and entrepreneur. If you wonder why the heck does that girl post about her workouts, or talk about health– it’s because it has saved me, it helps me be stronger version of me inside and out and I want to help spread that to others. Me feeling strong on the outside helps me to feel very strong on the inside too!
And for all you cancer warriors out there, everyday I think about you and fight for you. With all the advancements in medicine now and earlier detection, there are so many warriors that beat it and you will too!
So my message for you today is: Push past the past you, your mess becomes your message, you can overcome the hurdles and the pain. You can come out stronger, better. It takes strength, courage and the desire to change. You’ve got this. If I can do it, so can you!