Thoughts on Perseverance: From Shawn

January 15, 2022
Meet Shawn - Ms. December 2014   |   Diagnosed at 42 (2010)

As 2021 comes to a close I am thinking about perseverance. It's the theme of the 2022 Here for the Girls Calendar and I'm Miss January so I must have persevered, right?  Or did I?

I think I was courageous in uprooting my world and moving my daughter and I three states away at 51 years old. I quit a job I loved for one that was unknown to me. I left the largest and most amazing support system. I moved away when I knew my mom's time on this earth was limited. I rented a house through FaceTime (word of advice - don't ever do this ... but my landlords are amazing, and it all worked out - eventually). I filled three PODS with my home and sent them on their way to Indiana. I left a lot behind. I then hopped in my Explorer, with just shy of 200,000 miles, my sweet daughter as co-pilot, accompanied by three cats (in separate carriers), two rats in a large cage, and a lot of luggage. 

We started over almost two and a half years ago. In that time I lost my mom, sold my home in Virginia Beach, my daughter had a bad experience with her father and now she doesn't see him anymore, I  discovered a brother and sister I'd never met (now I have and I love them both and their families), we lost both pet rats, had to put down one of the cats (but have since adopted two more - I'm crazy, I know) and I’ve switched jobs aaaannnddd the changes keep coming. So, have I persevered?  I'm still not sure.

At the risk of sounding conceited (I’m not, I promise) before cancer I was a force to be reckoned with. I was fearless, confident, loud, funny, bold, I could deliver a pitch or presentation to C Suite executives with ease. A lot of that went away after I lost my hair, my breasts, my figure, my energy, a lot of sleep, youthful skin, my ovaries, relationships, and more. All of those things represent the shell of who I was, not WHO I WAS. But I wasn't nearly as fearless, confident, loud, funny, bold, or comfortable in every group anymore. I was changed. Short-changed, I honestly feel. 

I did however, through my cancer journey, meet some of the most amazing, brave, wise, capable women of my life. I am proud to know them still; the ones who are still here. And I am proud to have known the ladies who went before me - they, too, were salt of the earth and taught me so much. Even with the education I got from these amazing women, have I persevered? Did their words and actions help propel me to a better version of myself? I can't say for sure. I miss the old ME.

Even though I feel "less than" I was - I know I'm enough. Even though I left my mom when her time left was short - she knew this was the right move for myself and my daughter (refer back to her dad - she needs to be three states away) and my mom encouraged us to go. Even though I left my favorite job - I knew this town would do me right and do my kiddo even better. Even though I left a huge support system - I'm building another one here with more top shelf people and my social calendar is filled up just like it was at home. My kid is, too - she's made some great friends!!

In terms of perseverance, I do know that I didn't stop living, stop loving, stop giving, stop appreciating, stop sharing, stop growing, stop gratitude, stop moving, stop learning, stop grace, stop compassion, stop; laughing, and stop being present because of cancer. And, frankly, I'm still a funny bitch!! 

So, have I persevered?? I think maybe I have!!

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