~ The Basics ~
Roots: I was born in Lufkin, Texas in the early 80’s and at the age of 8 relocated to Katy, Texas where I remained until I graduated high school. I’ve now called Austin my home for over 7 years.
Something People Don’t Know About Me: I talk in my sleep, and I’ve been told it’s not English!
Family Life: I’ve been blessed with two pretty amazing parents who still live in the Katy area. A few years ago, I began realizing how much I am like my mother Lilly, which makes me happy. It’s true, I get it from my momma! I grew up with 2 older sisters in the house who didn’t let me forget that I was the youngest, and most of the time I felt like I had 3 mothers. They have brought wonderful brother-in-laws and nephews into my life.
Robert and I just celebrated 7 years of marriage on July 7th. He continues to make me smile everyday and I’m very thankful for his love. As a teacher & coach he has mastered patience, which is sometimes needed when dealing with me. I’ve joined a very loving and supportive family, I heart my in-laws!
It’s hard to say we don’t have children because so many of our friends and family have let us be a big part of their children’s lives. With our nieces, nephews and Godchildren, we have no shortage of love from the kids!
Favorite Quote: “Be curious, not judgmental.” -Walt Whitman
Occupation: I’m a Registered Interior Designer and just recently joined Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design as the Senior Interior Designer. Our design focus is on higher education, healthcare & other commercial spaces.
Best Advice I’ve Been Given: “You’re much stronger than you think.” My friend Virginia told me this before she became my guardian angel, so I’ve been working on not over-thinking!
If I Wasn’t an Interior Designer, I’d Be… a talk show host or a therapist. I’m a talker, but I guess I’m a good listener too. No joke, strangers come up to me all the time and tell me what’s going on in their life. I just got a hug from a random lady this morning in the Starbucks line on my drive to San Antonio for work! I guess I give off an approachable energy that makes people comfortable.
~My Story ~
Life-Changing Experience: Besides being 27 years old when diagnosed, my ‘cancer story’ is very similar to most other survivors’. I could probably sum it up in a few sentences, with a few big medical terms thrown in. Here goes:
I felt a lump in my left breast and went to my OBGYN to have it checked out. She sent me to get more testing done, and in December 2010 I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (a common type of breast cancer). Between the end of 2010 and November 2011, I had 2 lumpectomy surgeries, fertility treatment, 6 months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. I continue to have to take an oral treatment, Tamoxifen, and have check-ups every 6 months at MD Anderson until 2016.
Having to deal with cancer at such a young age is a game-changer. My story above is just a part of the life of a cancer patient — just a small part. It is probably what most people think about when they find out you’re a cancer survivor, but there is so much more to it. Besides the physical effect of cancer, there are a lot of mental effects that stay with you for years. People can only see your outside, which is “healed” in their eyes, but there is a continuous mind-game going on inside, which most cancer patients and survivors have to play.
I’d love to share a few ways I’ve decided to play the mental game of being a cancer survivor. Overall it has changed the way that I choose to live my daily life. These are the things I choose to do:
- I choose to smile. Not saying I did not smile BC (Before Cancer), but I do make a point to share my smile with others daily. I’m pretty corny sometimes, but come on, a smile is FREE and it could make someone’s day.
- I choose not to let others control my happiness. I’d be lying if I said I don’t get upset by what others do, but I also get over it quickly. I give myself a few sessions with trusted friends to “discuss” what upset me, and then I drop it. Why hold negative energy inside your body, a.k.a the positive energy zone?
- I choose to live life to the fullest. I believe that death is a part of life, and it’s going to happen to everyone one day. But until that day, I’m going to enjoy this life I’m living!
- I choose to be more selective on how I spend my time. If it doesn’t make me happy or I’m too tired to enjoy it, I probably will not do it. We can never get our time back, so enjoy as much of it as possible. I’m still working on learning how to enjoy my time cleaning the house!
- I choose to control what I can when it comes to my health. During and after active cancer treatment, it’s very hard to control how your body will feel. Every few days when I wake up, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Yes, this still happens and it has been this way for a few years. So I try to drink lots of water, work out and nourish my body appropriately to help offset some of the side effects of my medication.
There are a number of other choices I’ve made AC (After Cancer) that keep me living and loving life, but these are my top 5. Knowing that cancer is just one part of my life story and that there is so much more to be written makes me happy to think about. I choose to live!
iGnite Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.
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