New Year, new you, new dreams, goals and resolutions. This season is the time of year that we come together to celebrate Christmas, the hope of new life, and look forward to the year that is to come.
For some, the year that has passed has been a great one and we can only hope 2017 is as good, if not better. For others, 2016 may not have been everything hoped for, and some may be glad to see the back of it.
So I pose the question, how did 2016 turn out for you? Did you keep your resolutions? Did you follow them through? Do you even remember them?
Resolutions can take many forms, from deciding to give up nail biting, soft drinks or caffeine, to meeting your life partner, renovating a house, or taking a world tour.
Some people decide not to make resolutions knowing full well they will break them within months or even weeks. Either way, there does not seem to be a right or wrong way. A new year brings the hope of a new day and that is something to be celebrated.
One very inspiring friend of mine knows how to celebrate well. Her New Year’s Resolution is to stay healthy – to have a healthy mind and a healthy body. She has journeyed from being someone who once thought turning thirty was old, to someone who is ecstatic about turning forty, celebrating Christmas and any other excuse to enjoy another milestone – milestones she almost didn’t have.
2013 was looking like an exciting year for Sharron and her family. About to head on a family road trip to the Birdsville Track, the Stuart family was looking forward to their outback adventure.
As part of planning for their trip, Sharron felt she needed to get a routine medical test done before leaving. With one day remaining before the holiday, Sharron managed to book an appointment.
As the GP completed the test, a concerned look crossed her face. Knowing Sharron’s plans to travel, the GP shook her head and said, “I’m afraid you won’t be going anywhere”.
“Yes I am; I’m going on holidays tomorrow,” Sharron remained chirpy.
“Not unless you can get a mammogram done today.”
Determined to take this holiday, Sharron immediately had the tests done and, feeling confident, left for Birdsville with her family the following morning.
Returning from their trip two weeks later, with further concerns, Sharron was called back to the doctor. With strong family support, she had daily tests until a team of doctors was consulted and Sharron was directed to follow up with a specialist.
“I could tell from their faces something was wrong,” says Sharron, “I was very nervous.”
On the Friday of that week, she received the call she did not want to hear. Sharron had breast cancer. Shocked, Sharron contacted her husband and together they began a journey through the unknown – a journey like they’d never trekked before.
“We decided to tell our two girls and keep them in the loop the whole way,” says Sharron, “we were going to do this together.”
Within two weeks, Sharron was being operated on. The following months were consumed with tests, six rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of daily radiation. Throughout this living nightmare, her family walked each step with her, working together to do whatever was necessary for Sharron’s best chance of recovery.
There were some very painful times, and even a night Sharron thought she wouldn’t make it. She came to a point where her body was so weak, she resigned herself to accept that she may not make it through the night. Waking up the next morning was a blessing.
“I just had to survive for the girls,” says Sharron.
Sharron’s positive attitude is evident as she recalls the moments: “Dean was very strong. It wasn’t until later we took time out and reflected on it. I had my blinkers on mostly, just doing exactly what the doctor told me to do to get through it. There were times I was scared but I knew God had everything in control. I felt bad that my girls had to go through something like this at their ages but Dean helped me to see the positive side of it – the girls are who they are today because of what we went through together.”
Sharron is currently free of cancer and although the chances of cancer returning get higher every ten years, Sharron has a 75% chance of surviving.
“Throughout all of this, I have learnt that there are so many people out there with cancer,” she says. “I listen to their stories and know there are many who have it harder than me and I understand what they are going through.”
When asked how she has been changed through this, Sharron says, “I definitely see life differently. I really try to teach my girls to see the good in everything – not just the good in us, but the good in others. I think it is easy to be so busy in everything we do, and sometimes we miss out on the little things that happen. Things that happen all the time that we take for granted or just don’t think about. Going through this has made me appreciate the little things. I’m just so grateful to still be here. I keep thinking in the back of my head, what I can do with my life now. It is such a blessing.”
Sharron can’t wait to get old. For her, making it to 60 means being able to live another twenty years. That’s twenty years she almost didn’t get. So what advice does she have for others?
“Celebrate. Take every moment to celebrate.”
Originally published for the Goodlife Magazine 2017 Summer edition