lemon slices

On February 26th I went into an estimated 2.5 hour surgery to remove a parotid tumor in my neck and face.  The tumor had been discovered in late December while I was getting a massage.

Over six hours later, the surgery that was supposed to be pretty straight forward became much more complex.  Apparently, the avocado size tumor had been growing for years and stretching my facial nerve along with it.  While the surgeon painstakingly tried to remove it without damaging the facial nerve, the tumor was just too big.

When I woke up, my mom and husband had to break the bad news.  The right side of my face was completely paralyzed.  The doctor, after sincerely sharing in my sadness and frustration said, “Don’t worry it’ll be okay, in most cases the nerve will repair itself in 6-18 months.  Unfortunately, if the nerve doesn’t come back by then, it probably won’t.”

I was devastated.  As a professional speaker, I’m in front of audiences all the time, and I didn’t want anyone to see me looking like this.  In addition to the aesthetics of it, my right eye can’t close all the way, and my speech is slightly impaired.

As if that weren’t enough, I have to go through radiation to ensure the tumor doesn’t return, another surgery, and a life that will forever be impacted by check-ups, tests, and treatments.  This was not how things were “supposed” to go.  I got angry, I cried, felt sorry for myself, and then cried some more.

Then, I put on my big girl panties and got right back up.  We can’t always control what happens, but we can most certainly control how we react and respond.  Do I still feel angry?  Sure.  Do I still get sad?  Yup.  Do I know that there’s a way I can use this lesson to become stronger and help others?  Absolutely.

I have so many things to be grateful for, and I find that when I focus on those things, everything else falls into place.  If you have some lemons in your life, it’s time to start making some lemonade.

15 Comments

  1. I have been praying for you and will continue to pray that you make a complete recovery. I want you to know that you continue to inspire me! I appreciate your openess and your willingness to share your life with us. It just reminds me that everyone has their own struggles. Its amazing to me the things that you have been through this year but yet you continue to post and be an encouragement to me and so many others. Thank you for doing what you do Anne!

    • Hi Amber! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I don’t always feel inspirational, but it certainly helps to know there are people out there who find inspiration from me 🙂 Thank you very much for the prayers. Keep it up 🙂

  2. Anne- I am so sorry you’re going through this. You are already a powerful speaker so full of great motivators, funny stories, and about how to work with different types of people. I would venture a guess that almost anyone that knows you will want to hear you speak no matter what, because it’s what is inside you that we all love. I for one can’t wait to hear you speak again and I hope we cross paths so that can happen. Take the time you need and I hope you heal soon.

  3. Anne, you are such an inspiration and I just love your awesome speaking technique. You came to my company about 9 years ago for a leadership seminar. Your humerous stories and easy way about you helped me so much. You may remember me, I’m the person you had make the little “STOP” sign to put on my computer monitor to remind me to stop before I speak. Nine years later I still have the torn little stop sign and everytime I see it I think of you. You are a storng person and your positive energy will get you through this. Good luck and I will be thinking of you.

    • Hi Karen! Of course I remember you!!! It’s wonderful to hear from you, and I’m so glad the stop sign still helps 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to comment and for keeping up with me!

  4. Anne, I have no doubt that your great strength and wisdom will shine through this adversity and that your message will be more powerful for it. Also, dammit; I hate that you’re going through this!

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Anne. You’ll never know how many of us are impacted/inspired/encouraged/strengthened by your story.
    I know you to be a fighter, so no matter the outcome I look forward to continued great things from you. #eyeofthetiger

  6. Anne, I was fortunate to hear you speak in Austin at TASSP this past summer and I enjoy reading your motivational emails. They always seem to arrive when I need them most. I am sorry for you what you are going through. I just emailed the following bible verse to a friend:
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
    Seems appropriate for you too. Thank you for sharing and I will say a prayer for you.
    Libby

  7. Anne – thanks for sharing; my prayers are with you!
    I need to email you – if you have my info, please shoot me a line when you have a chance.
    Blessings and Peace!

  8. Anne,I will gladly make some fresh delicious spiked lemonade with you and have a drink!!!!

    You have been an inspiration for years and I enjoy everything you speak and write about. Just keep trucking girlie, you’re a fighter!! Have a blessed day!!

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