Shelly had a life-changing scare two years ago. Today on the blog she shares part of her journey and how getting out in nature helps her feel alive. Thank you Shelly for being vulnerable and sharing your story with all of us. You are an amazing example to women showing us how to fight for life and create the life we want.
“I’m ending my 2018 with a new beginning, 52 hike challenge! Two years ago I was feeling something kind of funny in my throat when I swallowed. I ignored it for a good month. I just figured something was stuck and would eventually go away. It didn’t hurt it was just bothersome. I was out with girlfriends and casually said something about it, right away one friend said it could be your thyroid. To be honest, I knew your thyroid was in your upper body but I thought it was like near your chest, not your throat. So needless to sat I scheduled a doctor’s appt. What happened next was kind of a whirlwind.. My doctor couldn’t see anything down my throat but did feel a little something on my neck, but nothing was visible to him. He sent me to have an ultrasound on my thyroid. The text sent me on my way and said I would receive a call. I have access to all my health notes and lab results online. I was able to look at the results before I received any call. Of course, I didn’t know what the results meant, but I googled everything! Everything pointed to thyroid cancer. I eventually got the call and was scheduled for a needle biopsy. Those results were not so great either, I was then scheduled with an oncology surgeon. His goal was to remove as little of my thyroid as he could to try to preserve my thyroid function and test the tumors to see if they were cancerous. The surgery took longer than expected the tumors were growing in my muscle tissue, vocal cords and some lymph nodes looked suspicious. I guess I was in denial, shock, disbelief or all of the above but I was not really prepared for the surgeons call 5 days later. He said there was “disease” found in your thyroid and in one of thirteen lymph nodes he removed. We need to yo come in tomorrow to remove your remaining thyroid. “Disease” is a code word for caner. I was officially diagnosed with Stage 3 papillary thyroid cancer. CRAZY two years later and still realizing all the important functions of a thyroid and dealing without one! I am blessed the cancer is gone. I am still trying to get back to “normal: the only way I know how… GETTING OUTSIDE!”
Today Stephanie shares her story with us. Thank you for being brave, real, and vulnerable Steph. You are amazing and I’m so grateful to know you.
One of the things I love the most about Get Out There Girl is that it gives women the opportunity to take time for themselves and teaches them the importance of self care. Which is huge! I have never been the best at self care. Truth be told I stink at it. As a wife and a mother of 5 kids (ranging from the ages of 13–2 and one with a severe epileptic medical condition) life can be stressful, busy and unpredictable. I have always just naturally put their needs and their wants above my own, which I think as wives and moms is pretty common and something we just tend to do without thinking twice. Is that wrong? No way! I think it’s extremely selfless but I have learned the hard way that it can also be very damaging. There needs to be some sort of balance with taking care of my own needs, wants and desires.
See, the problem I have is that when I do have an opportunity to do something for myself, or buy something for myself, or go on a trip or a GNO etc, I instantly feel guilt. Every single time. I have this self destructive habit and battle in mind and my first initial reaction is always a big fat NO! Why? I think because it’s the easy answer, the safe answer. So I come up with every excuse in the book to back up the “No.” Such as, not enough time, not enough money, I’m busy, or it’s selfish and irresponsible. I then stew over it for a long time. I let insecurities, guilt, fear and my anxieties creep in which then it takes things to a whole new level. Even if I end up saying yes, those feelings still linger. I overthink everything, literally everything! Needless to say, doing things for myself does not come easy or naturally. This is not something I’m proud of either. Although, I genuinely and sincerely love serving others and find great joy in caring for the needs of my family. I know it’s just as important to put myself and my needs high on the priority list. If I don’t, then feelings of resentment creep in and the victim mentality starts to take over. That is not a fun place to be.
I’m learning that the best thing I can do for myself AND for my family is to nurture my needs and to take time to do things for myself. Most importantly, to NOT feel guilty about it. I have a long way to go but I have been more intentional with it. I feel more balanced and I am able to be a better wife, a better mom and a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I am often reminded of the talk given by President Nelson a few years back. He shared a story about the oxygen mask, and that in order for us to be able to more fully take care of the ones that we love we must first take care of ourselves. I love this analogy and it speaks so much truth!
Another thing I absolutely love about Get Out There Girl is the focus it has on being in the outdoors. There is something very therapeutic to me about being out in nature. When I am in the outdoors whether it be under a starlit sky, sitting around a campfire, or hiking a beautiful trail, I feel a connection to God that I don’t feel any other way. I marvel at His creations. I find such peace and stillness that only comes from being out in nature. I felt all of these things at the Yoga retreat that I went on last year. It was so much fun! Not only was I able to go and be there with my 2 sisters and some friends, I was able to develop new friendships. I met so many women from all ages and stages of life, different backgrounds and beliefs. The unity, love and sisterhood that was felt there was pretty incredible! I learned new things, had some really neat experiences, made some deep connections, and left feeling totally rejuvenated! Oh and not to mention the yummy food!
I am so grateful that I fought off my initial “NO” (along with guilt, fear, anxiety and insecurities) and said “YES” to this opportunity that I took time for myself! I love EVERYTHING that Get Out There Girl is about and I hope to go on many more of the adventures/retreats in the future! I also just started the Self Compassion Workbook that Brittany wrote and it is awesome! I love that I am learning that self care is not a selfish thing at all. In fact, it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for the ones we love!
I am so excited to begin the “Share My Story” series. Ever since GOTG was created I have heard hundreds of women’s stories. My heart has grown as I have listened to women’s struggles and triumphs. I have discovered that women want to share. For so long we (women) have put our best foot forward and only showed the parts of ourselves that we think people want to see. This is exhausting. I’ve learned that one of our deepest desires as human beings is to be seen. We want someone to see all of us and love us regardless. We want someone to see how far we’ve come and how hard we have fought to be who we are. We want someone to see ALL of us, our strengths and our weaknesses and love us. We don’t want to hide parts of us.
As I have heard countless stories I felt like others needed to hear them as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I haven’t met a woman I didn’t love after hearing her story. I want you to hear each other’s stories and connect. Every Monday I plan to share another woman’s story. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
Growing up I was shy and didn’t have confidence in myself. I had some friends, but they were superficial. Some of my so called friends were really mean to me and I was never quite sure how to navigate my feelings and emotions during those situations. I experienced some trauma in my teenage years that shaped my behaviors into early adulthood. I always longed for deep meaningful connections with people, but my lack of self confidence always seemed to bring out my fear to connect. The many experiences of rejection in my life are a huge part of my story. I deeply feared rejection and a lot of my trauma as a kid, teen and young adult stems from some form of rejection.
When I was about 30, married for 7 1/2 years with 3 kids my life changed. I didn’t want my life circumstances to run my life. I didn’t want depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts to be such a struggle. I knew there was hope and I could somehow attain it even though I wasn’t exactly sure where to look. I thank God for his divine timing in directing me to the help I needed.
Over the last 5 years I have gained the tools and resources to help me heal and grow into who I am today. I now have more self confidence and self compassion then I ever have. I am more available for healthy relationships and willing to try things that take me out of my comfort zone. I love connecting with women in fact I thrive on it, but if I am being honest it sometimes scares me because of my past.
Over the last year I have had the opportunity to go on many adventures. A lot of these adventures have been with Get Out There Girl. Each adventure comes with its excitements and fears. I love trying new things that I normally don’t get the opportunity to do and each Get Out There Girl adventure has given me that kind of experience. However, every time I show up to an activity or experience where I have the opportunity to connect with other women, whether I know these women or not, I have to work really hard through my fear of rejection. You would think that with several years of experience I would have conquered this fear of not being wanted or not being enough. I have not arrived there yet, but the more I put myself out there and show up in an honest, vulnerable and authentic way I see growth and change in myself. I am grateful for the many examples of women I now have in my life that provide me opportunities to conquer my fear and grow my strengths.