You know how there’s always a feeling of a fresh start at the beginning of each year? Like the slate has been wiped clean and there’s generally a sense of excitement for the coming year? At least, that’s how I’ve always felt. But 2023 was different. It was the least excited I’ve ever been in my life about a year starting.
During December 2022, I started to get ill and didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was more than just the flu which I did get right after Christmas. But as January started, I was having a hard time sleeping because I had a cough (only at night), felt weak, and slowly started to have a hard time even walking. I was exhausted even though I was resting all the time. I’d never felt so strange.
Because I had never had any health issues other than an occasional cold or flu, I didn’t even know how to go to the doctor in Sweden—I didn’t know the system well at all! Once I finally figured out how to get myself to the doctor, she wanted to send me to the hospital for a series of tests but, for a few reasons, I said let’s take the slower route and I’ll do these tests through referral rather than going to a hospital (I really don’t like hospitals!). I figured I’d get better soon and to be honest, thought I could power through this. Talk about being out of touch with my own body!!
Ten days later, as I was still waiting for the referrals to come by mail, my breathing and walking got significantly worse, so I ended up going to the emergency room in mid-January. By then, I could barely walk ten meters without being exhausted! It ended up that my lungs had filled with fluid and needed to be drained. They took out 5.5 liters of fluid! They were also doing a battery of tests to find the root cause of this. The doctors started to suspect some sort of cancer.
After several days, I went home for a week because once my lungs were emptied, I felt so much better. But by the end of that week, I was back in the hospital because my lungs were filling up with fluid—again. This time it was 2.5 liters in 5 days! I knew I couldn’t manage this on my own.
Over the next few days, the test results came back…I had cancer. And it was bad! Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My chest was full of tumors/swollen lymph nodes that were pressing on my heart and the doctors were worried it might have started spreading already. I needed to start chemo immediately.
My life turned upside down and sideways in a matter of 48 hours with this news. All my hopes for 2023 disappeared in a flash and I was left with the dark path of dealing with my body, my mortality, and wondering how on earth I was going to make it.
The doctor told me if I didn’t do this treatment, I would probably die. I knew how it felt to barely be able to breath, to hardly be able to walk, and I had to trust in what the doctors were saying. Several things happened along the way that I won’t get into here that also assured me this was the right path for me. This situation rocked me to the core with my beliefs and faith. I was to go through one of the toughest cancer protocols over the next six months, but it did have an 85% cure rate and that was good enough for me. At least I was in the best hospital in Europe and that gave me some reassurances.
I also took ownership of my healthcare journey and combined it with what is often called Integrated Health. The Swedish system doesn’t support this “officially,” but my doctors approved what I wanted to do in correlation with the chemo. I did several “alternative” methods including gratitude, a power of intention group, prayer groups, deep healing meditations, and several changes to my diet even though I was already eating super healthy foods.
During this time, I was thrown into such uncertainty. But one thing I knew for sure—I was going to survive and thrive. I felt down in my bones that this was just one more thing to get through.
Fortunately, I had a full toolbox with tools and methods to handle the stress, uncertainty, and healing. From an emotional, mental, and spiritual perspective, I was solid! I knew how to manage it. But from a physical perspective, I was in uncharted territory.
Not to mention in the middle of my intense treatments, I fell and broke my arm! I had to have a cast up to my shoulder for five weeks. Talk about slowing down!
These long months became a deep inner journey for me. I completely cut off ALL social media, all news, all technology. I was also isolated because I couldn’t meet people in person due to the risk of infections. As cautious as I was, I still ended up with four infections during the six treatments so to say I was on a roller coaster ride would be putting it mildly.
The great news is that I am now cancer-free!
I’m on the road to recovery with yoga and working out to regain my strength (I couldn’t manage any sort of regular exercising for 7 months, so I was super weak!). Several friends have urged me to do a program because I was able to thrive even though I faced a stage 4 cancer. So, I am seriously thinking about this, just to share what I learned and did on my own journey. I believe strongly in collective learning as it can shorten the path for others. I figure if I can help or inspire just one person through a rough spot, it’s worth it. (If you’re interested in learning more, click here!)
I will continue to work with leaders and culture as that is a big part of my purpose. This year just added a much deeper level of experience to the mix! As I read through the Gallup State of the Global Workplace this year, it made me realize just how the work we do at Evoloshen is needed. We’ve been working with culture and people development for over a decade. Companies and leaders are truly embracing the importance of developing an amazing culture where people can thrive.
I am glad that wellbeing is a topic at the forefront of discussions because with all the uncertainty in the world, and with so many being touched by serious health issues in their closest circles, we need to have tools to navigate through these times. 2023 has given me even more tools to share. Stay tuned to what will come at www.Evoloshen.com!