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.