This mom couldn’t have dreamed that something other than the end of her marriage would be the toughest thing she ever faced. Here’s the inspiring tale of how her family has not only survived, but thrived.
Life threw me a series of curve balls but I still won at the end of the day. Less than two years ago, I left my marriage of 23 years and moved in to my own apartment. Not an easy decision but it was the right one for me. I knew it was going to be a challenge to adjust to living on my own, support my sons during the transition, and become the sole source of income for myself. But I was determined to succeed and I can honestly say I have never regretted my decision.
What I did not see coming was the diagnosis of breast cancer and my eldest son’s diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma—believe it or not, we both got diagnosed at the same time. I’ve always been a strong and independent person, but these issues nearly knocked me out. Thank goodness for friends and family who rallied around and the support of the wonderful new partner whom I met on Match.com several months after leaving my marriage. Two girlfriends drove me every single day for my radiation treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital. My book club friends supplied fresh, home-cooked meals each week and my partner hugged me tight and reminded me every single day that I would beat cancer. As for my son, it’s been a tougher road with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation but, fortunately, he has my determination and strength, and he has remained stoic and strong. He has continued to work thanks to the support from his employers who have been accommodating and empathetic, allowing him to work from home whenever he wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and to take time off for his frequent medical appointments.
One of the toughest aspects of my health issues was the need to keep working no matter how lousy or exhausted I felt. There were days when I was standing in my booth at one of the trade shows where I sell my helmet covers, and the walls of my 10’x10’ space were swirling around me. The lowest point happened during a show in in the Niagara region over the Thanksgiving weekend. I was racing back and forth from Niagara to Toronto every day for treatment and then standing on my feet for the long show days with a smile plastered on my face. But even I broke down on the final day of the show when my son was being given his 1st chemo treatment and I couldn’t be by his side. Much to the chagrin of the show organizers, I ended up packing up my booth and heading back to Toronto even though this is a big faux pas for exhibitors. I’ve probably burned my bridges and won’t be invited back as an exhibitor at that show, but I needed to be with my son—to heck with the consequences.
There were some people who questioned my determination to continue with my fall show schedule during my treatments but, as a small business entrepreneur, I don’t have the luxury of sick days. Bills still keep coming in even when you’re ill and I knew I needed to keep working throughout the pre-Christmas season when sales are highest.
Fast forward to today and I’m pleased to say I have been given a clean bill of health, although the doctors will continue to monitor me closely for the next two years due to the risk of recurrence. As well, my son has almost completed his chemotherapy and his tumours have shrunk considerably, so his prognosis is excellent. In order to celebrate, my son and I are planning a one-week vacation to the Grand Canyon to relax and rejuvenate before he begins one month of daily radiation—anything to help keep his spirits up is important to me. More good news is my boyfriend and I announced our engagement to our families on Christmas Day.
So why am I sharing all of the above with you on a very public blog site? My life has taught me that no one has it easy. We are all struggling with our own issues, whether they are related to health, finances or something else. The key to not only surviving but also flourishing is to maintain a positive spirit, rely on the incredible resources of family and friends surrounding you, and never give up! Life may throw you curve balls, but you have it within you overcome those issues and still thrive.
This is #1000families post number 81. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.