April 22nd, 2016 marks my 7th anniversary of being tumor-free. This time every year, I find myself in deep reflection over where I’ve been, what I’ve experienced, and what I have yet to accomplish.
If there ever was an ultimate #tbt, this might be it.
When I look back at old photos (like this one from 1996-7) I can’t believe it’s me. Back then I was working in finance, doing a job I didn’t love. Add a lack of self confidence and what seemed like a lifelong struggle with cystic acne, all I wanted to do was fade into the background. Back then, if you would’ve asked me what color I was, I would say beige. I wasn’t unhappy by any means. I was an optimist with a nice life, but I did play it safe. My day-to-day was all about checking off the list of things I had to accomplish and things I thought I had to do. I wasn’t living life with passion. I wasn’t confident and I most certainly was not living life to the fullest.
This photo is the only photo I have from April 22nd, 2008.
One word: SURREAL. I can hardly believe 7 years ago today I woke up from surgery (sans my brain tumor, I affectionately called Herman) to the rest of my life. As many of you already know, I considered my diagnosis on 11/4/2008 one of the best days and greatest gift. Despite the bleak prognosis (6 months), I knew that something incredible would come from it. I simply had to allow it to unfold, stay positive and get busy living what life I had left.
The proverbial A-HA moment came when my doctor pointed out that the tumor could have been environmentally derived – possibly something as simple as the personal care products we use on our skin…our LARGEST organ. That’s when I realized my new purpose and spent the days leading up to my surgery researching and formulating products (and of course, spending time as much time with my kids as I could). I knew this was all happening to create a legacy of change. Not only would I create a line of natural products, but I would spend the rest of my life empowering others to make healthier choices.
And so 7 years today, I waltzed into a surgical suite, told the team it’s an incredible day, put on some kickass music and that I’d see them in a few hours. When I woke many hours later, my entire surgical team was in the recovery room waiting for me. I assumed they were there to talk “next steps.” Instead, my surgeon looked at me and said, “They were able to remove the entire mass, welcome to the rest of your life” – and it’s been a most extraordinary life ever since.
And here we are. Another Earth Day Rebirthday!
It’s been an incredible journey and yet, I am just getting started. There is still so much to come for me personally and professionally. Thank you all for being on this path with me. Thank you for all the kinds words, the tags on social media (yes, I really read and answer them all personally), thank you for including me in your daily routines (who would have thought I would be in the bathroom getting ready with so many of you ) and being vulnerable with me while we share our stories with one another.
I’ve always said, “it takes a village” and it does, but now we are so much bigger and brighter…we are a worldwide community who empower each other to live their healthiest life. Love you all.