My Reflection: Ups & Downs of 2020
I, like a lot of people, went into 2020 ready & determined to “take on the world”… reach our goals… be in a better place mentally, physically & emotionally by December 31st. For me & my family, 2019 was a year of hell starting with my diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer and then separating & divorcing my husband of 13 years. So, as you can imagine, my attitude going into 2020 was that of growth, stability & being determined to create a positive new life for me & my boys, after having the hardest year of our lives. Little did we know that the struggles we went through in 2019 only prepared us to take on 2020.
Start of 2020 was a real struggle for me personally even though my business started picking up in spite of it being the typical “after the holidays slow period”. Even though I was starting off on the right track in reaching my business goals, I was struggling mentally & emotionally due to my depression and finally processing the year I just had. What I tend to do is when my life is falling apart I am strong and just focus on getting through, however, once I “get through it” & I reach a calmness in my life, that is when I tend to fall apart & my depression kicks into overdrive. The struggle of wanting to get up in the morning and then being ready for bed by noontime. The struggle of not having any motivation to do anything but lay in bed. The moodiness & the inability to not cry over the snap of a finger.
What got me through? I pushed myself to get up each morning. I would start my day doing yoga every weekday. I stopped writing in my diary as I realized this was just making me focus on my insecurities & perceived failures. I went back to the mentality of focusing on one day at a time. Keeping myself on a routine and focus on getting things done on my to do list each day. As I started seeing the light at the end of this dark tunnel, that’s when COVID-19 hit.
Adapting to the “New Normal”
When COVID-19 first hit our state, we were one of the first state’s to close down. Over the course of one weekend, we saw everything around us being shut down…. Schools, businesses, parks, museums. EVERYTHING! At first, my boys & I were staying positive. Hey, if we got through 2019, we can get through this. Little did we know that we were heading into a “new normal” with no set end date, at least not for another year.
Like most, we took advantage of this time to spend more quality time together, sleeping in and with my business all ready established online, I was for the first time in my life able to save! Yes, that’s right. I was a 35 year old with a savings for the first time in her life.
With us being required to stay home unless absolutely necessary, this gave me the time to focus on the next step of my business. It was at this time that I decided to take the plunge and finally start my YouTube channel. This was something I have wanted to do since the end of 2018 but due to health issues, personal issues & not believing in myself, I was unable to do it until this time. And with my boys doing remote learning, they helped me with learning how to edit videos, create thumbnails and give me constructive criticism & advice to be my best.
For the first time in my life, I was truly happy and I was confident in who I was as a person. My life was not perfect, but it was stable & calm. Because of this, my boys & I went into the summer ready to have the time of our lives… to celebrate getting through all that we’ve been through over the past year & a half. Thankfully, our state began opening up again allowing us to have an amazing summer. We were able to do day trips to the New England Aquarium in Boston or Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. We were even able to spend a couple days in Cape Cod. Of course we practiced safety measures of wearing masks, washing hands & maintaining safe distance. But we were able to learn how to live our best life in spite of the pandemic.
As soon as I was truly happy & feeling confident in who I am & what I can accomplish, of course life had to throw a curveball at me. In August, it was time for me to take my annual cancer screening. For those of you who don’t know, when you are in recovery from cancer, you are not considered “cure” until 20 years of clean screenings. Until then you will have screenings to ensure it has not returned. I went into my screening feeling positive. Other than fatigue, I wasn’t showing any signs of Lymphoma Cancer. But I am a single mom of 4 boys who has a successful online business that she works by herself, so fatigue would be expected. Well, that’s at least what I convinced myself to believe. At least until I got the phone call where my oncologist tells me there was activity found in my PET scan. She was not sure what it was because 1. it was very small activity and 2. it was found in my thymus gland. I didn’t even know we had a thymus gland or what it was. Apparently it’s this gland that gives us our antibodies growing up and once we reach puberty, that’s when the thymus gland becomes inactive and for many it disappears by the time you are in your 60’s.
After seeing a specialist, I was told what was going on was 1 of three things:
- My thymus gland is acting up after having chemotherapy & radiation treatments
- It’s thymoma which is a slow growing cancer
- It’s lymphoma which is a fast growing cancer
After fighting & surviving cancer, your biggest fear is hearing those words again. That’s when all of my confidence & stability went out the window. I started going in a downward spiral internally, however, I had to appear strong & I had to go about my day as usual for my boys. I knew if I showed signs of stress or despair, they would be even more scared then they all ready were. After speaking with my doctors & family, I decided to do surgery & remove my thymus gland as this was the best & fastest way to get answers on what is going on.
Three days before my baby’s 4th birthday, I went in for surgery and went through the most painful night of my life. I not only was recovering my surgery but I had a thick tube inside of me going from where my surgery was through my back & came out of my side. The point of this? To remove any fluids I may have. I woke up in so much pain from surgery that I actually started panicking, flailing & freaking out. I’ve had surgeries before… tonsils, gall bladder. This was the first time I woke up like that. After hours of pain & just wanting to sleep, I finally realized the one position I can be in with the least amount of pain, but it was still extremely painful. It was the type of pain I would not wish on my worse enemy. It was the type of pain that I would have rather gone through labor again. I will admit that I hate pain however I will say that I am normally not someone who cries when it comes to physical pain. After having 4 babies, two other surgeries, migraines & horrible dental pain that would shoot up into my brain, I didn’t cry. This pain made me cry. I still don’t know how I got through the night.
The next day, I thankfully was able to have the tube removed & then on, my recovery was a breeze. Up until a week or two ago, I took it easy… didn’t do any lifting or stretching and actually accepted my family’s help through this without guilt. Trust me, that is a big step for me. I even got to the point that when I went in for my post op, I was mentally & emotionally prepared to do another round of chemotherapy & radiation. I was ready to fight cancer once again. When I heard my doctor told me that I am cancer free once again I was in shock. It literally took me a minute to process what he said. There was only a insignificant amount of thymoma & by removing my thymus gland I removed the cancer before it was able to cause any trouble. You don’t understand how happy & thankful I have been since then.
My 2020 Life Lesson
This past year for me has been an even bigger rollercoaster then 2019. For me 2019 was about survival and 2020 was about learning how to be stable, through good times & bad. It’s easy to be stable, happy & confident when everything is going good & working out for you. The real test is when life turns your world upside down…. when things are not working out for you. After having surgery & taking my recovery time to reflect on my life, I have come to that place where I am able to be stable, no matter the circumstances. I can say with confidence that I no matter what life throws my way, I know I will not only get through it, but I will become a better person. This past year has taught me to be thankful & be appreciative of what I got because in an instant, it can be taken away… health, family, self-confidence. I’m not going to sit here & say that I still don’t have goals & things I want to accomplish. However, now, I am going to enjoy & appreciate the journey I have to go through to get there.
What life lesson has 2020 taught you?
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