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The Test in my Testimony

 

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Today marks my 6th “cancer-versary” as a breast cancer “thriver.” WooHoo! Amen! And, wow! After rereading these words, the lyrics of a gospel song immediately came to mind. “As I look back over my life – And I think things over – I can truly say, that I’ve been blessed – I’ve got a testimony.” Make no mistake about it, I’ve experienced some extreme challenges while on this cancer journey. However, they are outnumbered by victory…after victory…after victory! 

I remember getting that phone call at work as if it were yesterday. The diagnosis simply made no sense. For decades, I had been doing everything recommended to lead a healthy lifestyle. I ate properly and exercised regularly. I never drank and never smoked. Cancer? The drive home was accompanied by a torrential downpour of tears. I can’t tell you how I arrived safely. But when I walked through the door, the silence was so loud. Cancer.

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Somewhere between the tears, God managed to get my attention. He reminded me that during the years I spent on “Separated Street” and “Divorce Drive,” He provided everything that my children and I needed. I began to have great conversation with myself. “Yeah, that’s right. And if He could do all of that, He can certainly handle a cancer diagnosis.” From the very beginning, I knew that there was purpose connected to my diagnosis. My goal then became living – by any means necessary.

 

Days later, I had a 2-hour conversation with a survivor. She suggested that I include blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes in my diet. My response? “Yuck, yuck, and yuck!” Since childhood, I have always hated the feel of seeds in my mouth. And now she wants me to eat them? After we hung up, the goal continued to ring in my ears: “living – by any means necessary.” I began the process of teaching myself to eat blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes. It would take me 20 minutes to eat 1 strawberry and 5 blueberries. Talk about torture. Today, I absolutely love blueberries and strawberries, and I like tomatoes. Of course, I now wish that they had been part of my food repertoire earlier in life.

 

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6 years later, the goal remains the same and I apply it to everything. I’m clear – I fight cancer every day with every decision that I make related to my health – spirit, mind, and body. For example, I have to: 1) make good decisions about what I eat and drink, 2) monitor my stress levels and distance myself from negative people and experiences, and 3) be mindful of the products that I use on my body and in my home. I’m also clear that God is my center. He is responsible for the smile on my face and the joy in my heart. I have to stay plugged in and connected because He created me on purpose, with purpose, to fulfill purpose. Cancer just happens to be part of my purpose.

My purpose also includes this platform of promoting health and wellness as a lifestyle. My divine assignment is to “speak a word in season to him who is weary.” I don’t want a diagnosis of any type to be the wake up call that forces people to start paying attention to their health. The 25 years that I served in the field of education was the training ground for my current role as an inspirational speaker. I enjoy teaching people how to properly read and interpret nutrition labels. I love speaking to audiences about making lifestyle changes so that they can stress less and enjoy life more. My message can help someone improve the quality of their life, and possibly extend their quantity of days on Earth.

I strive to live each day with an exclamation point – not a comma, a period, or a question mark. I refuse to live a life of regret. My relationships with family and friends are extremely important to me. I make sure that I show and tell them that they are loved and appreciated. I believe that we should live like there’s no tomorrow. When you think about it, there really is no such thing as tomorrow. When tomorrow arrives, it’s called today.

bc girl“Every day is a good day. Some are just better than others.” I coined this phrase years ago and it has helped me get through some trying times. You may find it helpful as well. I envision a world without cancer. Until then, I’m committed to making a difference in the lives of others. 

Cancer didn’t happen TO me. It happened FOR me. And if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.  

I can truly say, that I’ve been blessed – I’ve got a testimony.”

 

be NspireD!

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Say What You Mean in 2017

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At the beginning of every new year, I pick a word on which to focus. The word creates an expectation about the type of day I want to have. It also speaks to the experiences that I want to manifest, as well as those that I want to create in the lives of others. I started with words such as “good” and “great,” and eventually expanded to words like “phenomenal.” Every morning, I would wake up looking forward to something “phenomenal” happening to me, for me, or because of me. At night, I would go to bed grateful for the “phenomenal” day that was ending and for the one that would follow.

“Spectacular” was my word for 2016. I closed my eyes on New Year’s Day and thought about some of the things I experienced last year that were far from being “spectacular.” The last few months of 2016 were especially challenging. My brother, who is 21 years my senior, had a stroke and I found myself in the role of a caregiver. My stress level was at an all time high as I traveled out of state to the hospital and rehabilitation facility. I lost almost an entire month of work. I also lost my combination engagement ring/wedding band. Although I was hysterical, my husband, who is the calm to my crazy, simply said, “It’s just a ring. I’ll get you another one.”

The days became weeks and my hopes of finding the ring faded. The tears that remained instantly dried up with one phone call. My mentor, the person I called when I received my breast cancer diagnosis, called to tell me that she was now on her own cancer journey. My diamonds versus her diagnosis? I no longer had anything to cry about. She shared that because she watched me navigate my cancer journey, she could beat cancer, too. She also reminded me that I am not a survivor, but a cancer “thriver.” With this, she charged me to stay focused, to keep going, and to lead the way for others. The call changed my perspective.

 

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This change started with the thoughts in my mind. There is no reason to let a few life detours discount all of the “spectacular” things that occurred in 2016. I celebrated the “13th anniversary of my 37th” birthday. I celebrated my 5th “cancer-versary.” I hosted my first conference for women living with all types of cancer. Those are the big highlights, but I’m always grateful that everything that I need is provided; that I’m in my right mind; and that my days are filled with life, love, and laughter.

I couldn’t wait to get back to work this week. Why? Because “incredible” is my word for 2017. Every day, I verbally put this expectation into the atmosphere. Incredible things will happen in my marriage and my home, in my relationships and friendships, in my business, and as I carry out my divine assignment to “speak a word in season to him who is weary.” We’re only a few days into the year and incredible things are happening already. WooHoo!

 

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As you look ahead to 2017, what do you want to happen in your life? What do you need to happen in your life? How do you want your life to impact the lives of those with whom you come in contact? With answers to these questions, what changes must you make to ensure that this year is better than last year? Consider using the power of a word to say what you mean in 2017.

For me, INCREDIBLE is just the beginning!  

 

be NspireD!

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