Everything in life has a before and after. For me, my before was about running at the speed of light and managing every minute detail of the lives of my children and husband and other family members too.
I was a professional - able to perform and present at the drop of the hat on any topic involving corporate America, finding a job, managing college process for kids and their families alike and more. But that's just it - it was the polish, the never-ending process of being "on" of being me but better. As a college professor for over 13 years, my time at the podium was also centered around being the best me as possible - not a hair out of place a little makeup super professional clothes and no missteps or oversharing either in person or on social media ever.
All of that changed for me when on November 28 I got the phone call that changed my life. Before that call though, I had a heads up to expect the worst. When I had my biopsy the day after Thanksgving, which was a day ten years before I had found out I was pregnant with my daughter, this time the test was not for an extra pink line; it was the surgeon who did the biopsy telling me to expect the call that it was cancer.
My mom was with me at the biopsy and when I told her, she literally scoffed at the idea - "...there's no way, we don't have that in our family, you don't have cancer." My dad, when I told him about it later, was denigrating the age of the surgeon - "...there's no way she could know she made a mistake." My husband said the same but also added in, "...if you had cancer, the dog would have given us a sign."
That's expecting a lot of a dog!
Though I was told in person during the biopsy it really just did not seem real and in fact that weekend was so fun full of holiday fairs and relaxing- though when I stopped at a vendor to get myself and my daughter lockets with floating charms, I saw the pink ribbon and thought I'm going to survive this, I should get the ribbon to show it to everyone but I stopped myself and did not pick the ribbon.
Just a few days later, I got the call. Now it was real. Somehow it wasn't real until the follow up phone call.
The call "confirmed" is and in an instant, I went from managing my first full time job in 8 years after running my own business for 2 and teaching part time for the full 8 to being a cancer patient. I went from being the sole caregiver of my children, my house, my dog, my husband (and others) to now having to do something I had absolutely forgotten how to do - take care for me.
I had no idea how to do this. I had always been a nurturer, someone who cared for others and I even wrote in a previous post that I thought all of that, "Make sure your oxygen mask is on first..." type of crap was just that, crap.
Now I have learned the hard way that I need to take care of me. A big part of taking care of me is in being this new, unpolished, crew cut like hair version of me. I am no longer interested in projecting myself as "successful" or "smart" or #businesspersonextradoinaire - instead I am just "me". Do I have stuff to offer the world - hell yes. Do I care if I seem "perfect" and "put together" anymore - heck no.
There is something so freeing in just being yourself; it is something I thought I was being but I had no clue. I was pushing myself to be the end all and be all at home and in the world of college and career readiness (seriously, check out my website I ran for my business and look to see if you can find "Lisa" the person and not "LISA the BUSINESS PERSON" www.thenextstep1234.com. She is not there; that is not me.
I am the person you see here, someone who was afraid so afraid of everything that I was not living. And now, that I have something to really be afraid of (cancer, stage 3), I am not scared anymore. I am going to live and do things that I would not have done before. I am applying to win a contest to take me and my best friend to Las Vegas through Pandora - hello, that is not something the "old" me would have done. I am going on a girls night out this Sunday for the first time in way too many years to count. And I am lucky because despite the fact that I have forced everyone to only see me on playdates or other weird kid-centric occassions, I have more than 10 women coming out to drink with me as I celebrate the fact that I am done with treatment, have a little hair and can finally wear a bra again!
Live life, fight hard and be your true self anyway you can! This is what I am doing in the time between.
Just some of my girls who will also be out with me this weekend - but my WIG will be at home :)
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