The other day I heard Jennifer Nettles being interviewed on the Today show where she was featured singing her new song, “I Can Do Hard Things” and it struck a chord with me. I’ve been “Doing Hard Things” for many years now…way before I was diagnosed with lung cancer. When my kids were 5, 2, and 9 months old, their father decided he’d rather be with a senior in high school and left the family. I became a single mother. This left me devastated, angry, shocked, and sad just to name a few emotions. Now, I had been teaching and after the birth of our second child, my husband and I both thought it would be best if I resigned so that I could stay home with the children. So there I was with three very young children, no job and reeling. (I lost quite a bit of weight.) This happened in October and ski season was just around the corner. Then, I received a certified letter from one of his relatives informing me that I had ten days to move. (Long story) So, with the help of my mother, I found a town house at the ski area where my support system was and moved. (Below is me with my kids several years after we moved.)
So, there we stayed. I got stronger and more confident and got another teaching job in a different county. So, the kids and I settled in and my life was busy with taxiing kids from activity to activity…boy scouts…dancing…baseball…softball…Pop Warner football…and so on. Now, I’m not complaining. I loved watching my kids grow and blossom in dance and football and really miss those days. My kids and I were and still are very close. They even moved to Florida after I did.
Because of an accidental finding, I was diagnosed with lung cancer right after I moved to Florida. I needed a physical which was required for my new teaching job. And so my battle began. I started doing real “Hard Things”…having an upper left lung resection and undergoing 6 rounds of harsh chemo. It’s been a series of “Hard Things” from then on. I’ve had countless rounds of chemo, a round of immunotherapy, and finally targeted therapy. I also had radiation and proton beam radiation. Along the way I suffered two life threatening incidents. One was being hospitalized for “failure to thrive”. I was down to skin and bones and couldn’t eat. I remember telling my mother that I just wanted to die. However, my youngest son nursed me back to health by making me drink the smoothies he made for me. He would force me to suck the straw. Then there was the time I collapsed at school because of a pericardial fistula. (People usually die from this.) My family was told that I probably wouldn’t make it through the night. Again, I rallied after months of being nursed again by my son. In addition to smoothies, he injected my daily doses of antibiotics into my pic line.
Things have been running fairly smoothly lately, yet I’m on my sixth clinical trial. So the fight goes on. (Here’s me with my kids today)