December 2019: Surviving Cancer & Divorce
It’s been over a year since I’ve actually done one of these blogs. For many reasons I decided to not do this, the main reason was giving my family and myself the time to heal after the year we had. As a heads up, this is much longer then my usual AvonMom blogs, but that is what happens when you survive cancer & divorce in the same year.
If you read my previous blogs, you would know that I was struggling with health issues in 2018. It all came to a head January 17, 2019 when I went to the ER and ended up being admitted for 5 nights. I literally felt like I was dying, no amount of sleep & rest was enough to give me enough energy to get out of bed nevermind being a work at home mom of 6 kids and wife. Then, on February 5, 2019, I was told the three words no one ever wants to hear… “You have cancer”…
I was mad. Not scared… MAD. I went into 2019 saying that this was going to be my year where I took on the world. My Avon business had grown incredibly where I was being recognized for my success & ended up earning TWO free all-inclusive trips to Maui and Los Cabos. On top of my professional success, I was going to personally grow as well. At the end of 2018, I had decided that I was going to leave my husband after the holidays. I had given our marriage everything I could and did not feel like I was getting that in return. We had grown apart and were constantly fighting. In a lot of ways I did not feel like I got the support I deserved as a mother of his children, his wife of 11 years or just being someone he “cared about”.
How was I going to be able to accomplish all of this while battling Advanced Stage of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer? They say when someone gets cancer, it’s like a switch goes off in their head and they make life changing decisions. This is so true for myself. With the support of my family, doctors and social worker, I decided that I needed to make the decisions that were best for me and my health. So, I filed for divorce at the end of March 2019. At this time, my husband and his two children had all ready left our home and moved into his parents house. Filing for divorce was the first time I ever made a “selfish” decision (that’s what some people have told me I did). The thing is people don’t realize is I was truly unhappy, completely stressed out and totally lost in who I was outside of being a wife & mom. My whole adult life I had always put others wants, needs & desires ahead of my own, especially my husbands. I was ready to move on to the next step in my life and he wasn’t.
I look back on this time and really don’t know how I got through it. The effects of chemotherapy had started to take effect, the biggest hit surprisingly was me losing my hair. I did not realize how hard it was going to hit me. I was mentally, emotionally and physically vulnerable. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten through this without the love & support of my boys, my mom, my family and God.
This was a very difficult time for myself and my boys. Yes, I had many nights crying myself to sleep, trying to get over feeling like a failure and learning how to forgive myself for my part in getting me and my boys to this point in our lives. I knew I had to keep it together, at least for my boys sake. Through the back and forth life of one week being a cancer patient and the next week being business as usual, I began reading, journaling, spending quality time with my boys & family… doing things that I use to love doing. Surprisingly during this time, I found new hobbies with photography and bird watching which resulted in me building my relationship with God even more so. Though I am known to be a bit of a control freak, this was the first time in my life I literally left everything in God’s hands. I knew and believed he would provide for me when I needed it, though it may not have always been when I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and I did have rough days. What got me through was focusing one day at a time and ensuring to provide as much stability in my boys lives as possible.
On July 17, 2019, I had my last chemotherapy treatment. I stated that marked the end of the 1st step to a new life, a new Jen. Ready to get the next step of my life going, I naively believed I would be able to bounce back like it was nothing. Boy was I wrong. Even to this day I am still dealing with side effects, like my neuropathy. Everyday I struggle with walking and standing on my feet for extended periods of time. This has put a major damper on my plans and what I can do on a day to day basis. But I am not letting it hold me back. I am learning to adjust and live with it. They say side effects after chemotherapy treatments can subside after a few months to never. Which ever God decides to put in my path, all I know is I am happy to be alive. I can live with numbness & pain in my feet over not being here for my boys.
Now it was onto completing my next step to a new life, a new me- Getting Divorced. By this time I had come along way personally. I learned how to love myself. I learned my self worth. I learned to not give a f*ck about whether or not people like me or not. I won’t go into detail for the sake of my children. All I will say is this was a very stressful time for my boys & myself as I had to learn how to balance when to say something and when not to- What’s worth fighting for and what’s not. The thing is, that is typical when going through a divorce. You can’t get away with saying or doing things like you use to when you were married. Both of us, as parents, have to put our personal emotions aside and be the best parents possible for our boys.
After a very stressful 6+ months, my husband & I officially got divorced on October 3, 2019. I thought I was going to be jumping up & down with joy however, the opposite happened. I was sad. Thankfully I was not the same person I was a year ago, because I recognized that I had to look at my divorce as if it was a death. In a lot of ways it was. The life I had planned when I married him 11 years ago… The life we did have the past 11 years… They all ended that day. The divorce process truly humbled me. Regardless of what anyone says, I don’t put all the blame on my husband and I don’t put all the blame on myself. I don’t regret marrying him because I have two beautiful boys that I can’t imagine life without and I learned A LOT about myself and about love.
Though the healing process for both, divorce and cancer, is taking longer then I had hoped. God made me take this year to meditate, look within myself and to heal emotionally, mentally & physically. I was surviving, now I am living. Of course there are still tough days but one thing I have learned this past year is that you need to take it one day at a time. You have to live in the moment. Yeah I have plans & dreams I want to accomplish but I am enjoying the journey to them. I have learned that I am the only one who can control my happiness. I’ve learned that you can’t love another properly if you don’t love yourself. I’ve learned to forgive myself and others, even if I don’t get an apology. I’ve learned how to set boundaries with others and not feel guilty about it. I’ve learned that if you don’t like the way life is, then make the changes you need to get the life you want. I’ve learned that some people come into your life to stay and some people come into your life to teach you a lesson and sometimes it’s hard to decipher which one people you love are.
As 2019 comes to an end, I am really looking forward to starting the new year feeling better physically, mentally & emotionally. I will be going into 2020 ready to take on the world and I believe it will be even better than I can ever imagine. I know I still have bumps in the road to overcome and my life won’t be perfect, but I do know I am now in complete control of my life and my happiness and I won’t ever let anyone or anything take that away from me.
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