2011 Phenomenal Female of the Year Shandra Carlson
In 2001 my second baby Mitchell, was born with a Wilm’s Tumour,a childhood cancer usually found in 4-7 year olds, which is a tumour attached to the kidney. Six days before his first Christmas, he had surgery to remove the tumour,and the day after Christmas had another surgery to insert a port to deliver chemo into his body for the next 6 months.
I remember thinking as I drove to and from the hospital over those months, “I had no idea the lives that are impacted here on a daily basis, or how huge this place actually is.” At the end of his treatment and at the ripe old age of 18 months, he was declared cured and cancer free, but will go for annual checkups until he is 21.
Forward a few years and a third baby in tow, I was back to work and experiencing excruciating migraines. After being prescribed a ‘break through’ pain medication, I accidentally double dosed and had a seizure at work. Eight hours in the ER determined that although it was brought on by the medication, I had a benign tumour behind my right eye, larger than my eyeball itself. According to my surgeon, a few months later and I would have been blind in that eye.
Thirty days after that 5.5 hour major surgery, I moved to a new city as a single parent, a new job, knowing only a hand full of people, with no family nearby. Processing the emotions of 3 children going through the separation from their dad and dealing with a new city, new school and new friends, was a task I could never have been prepared for. Trying to heal physically and emotionally while integrating into a new career and lifestyle was nothing less than traumatic.
OH but wait…there’s more!
A year following the move, I was informed I needed another surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells from my body. Really?! Hearing the words as the specialist said them sent me over the edge. I was so devastated I sobbed and sobbed and got lost as a result. What would have been a half hour drive normally, took an hour and a half for me to find my way.
Last year I experienced job lossdue to corporate restructuring, followed a month later by devastating news that has rocked our little family to its very core. When I received the email that I had been nominated for the FIERCE Awards Phenomenal Female, I was at one of the lowest moments of my life. I was so fed up with being told how strong I was, that I should write a book, yadayadayada. I just wanted things to get better! My kids deserve some happiness in their young lives, don’t they?
The nomination was enough to give me hope and buoy my spirits, but being honoured with winning triggered a new determination and resolve to live up to the word ‘phenomenal’. I want to be an example to others facing difficult circumstances that life IS worth living and that hope lives within the depths of each one of us.
Shandra lives in Calgary with her 3 children and their cat named Lucy, living out her dream of becoming a leadership coach, speaker and trainer. Her book will get written. Eventually.
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