With October just around the corner, you can bet your pumpkin spice & everything nice that UGGS, Beanies, and flannels will be in full effect. But there’s another trend that always seems to out shadow the rest in October and that, my friends, is all things pink! Yup that’s right, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, October holds an extra special place in my heart so it only seemed fit to dedicate a more personal blog to my journey and the inspiration behind starting Sweet DIYG’s.
In June of last year, I was a completely different version of who I am today. I worked a standard 8-5 job as a Human Resource specialist. I was good at what I did, often times bringing work home with me so I could keep up with the constant flow of emails that were flooding my inbox at any given moment. It was a great job that provided me with good friends and a lot of valuable skills but by the end of a long day, my brain was completely fried and I was a serious stress-case.
My personal life was a combination of great and hectic all at the same time. I lived with my amazing boyfriend, and together we bought an adorable, hyper, couch-eating puppy named Maddie. We also lived in a swanky high-rise condo near downtown, San Diego. Not too bad for a 25 year old, am I right? But even though everything seemed perfect on paper, I still was not all that happy. Every day I came home with the day’s stresses on my shoulders, contemplated going to the gym, made a big dinner instead, poured a glass of wine and completely zoned out. Next thing I knew, it was time to go to bed and start the whole thing over again.
This lack luster cycle continued day in and day out until my whole life was put on pause. On July 27th, 2015 I received a call while at work from my doctor. Per usual, I rushed into a private room hoping to hurry her off the line because I had so many things I had to get back to. That’s when she told me that I had Breast Cancer. Before we go on no, your doctor is not just going to call you one day with a cancer diagnosis out of the blue. I had gone for a few doctors visits and had some tests done but every doctor said “You’re 25, this is totally normal. It’s not going to be anything serious. You have nothing to worry about.” I hadn’t even entertained the idea that this could possibly happen.
If you have ever received news like that before, whether about yourself or your loved ones, you know what comes next. You literally can’t move. The only thing I could do is sit there and repeat in my head over and over “Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap.” And by crap, I totally mean the F word… Once I shook myself out of the initial shock, my one and only goal was to remain busy. I literally hosted a BBQ that night for my family and friends who came into town to be by my side. They sat there eating and starring at me like I had completely lost my marbles which I definitely had but I just needed to do something, anything to keep my mind busy so I couldn’t actually think about what was happening.
I’ll spare you the craziness of the next few months and just get straight to the deets. Luckily we caught the cancer very early. After my surgery, the doctors confirmed it was stage 1. I didn’t need chemo, just 7 weeks of radiation and some medication with super fun side effects. So everyday at 2:30 I would leave work and head to the hospital for treatment and once I was done, I would use the rest of the day to do whatever I darn well pleased. I’d go hiking, I’d take a nap, I’d garden, whatever I wanted. The world was my oyster! The goal was to completely turn the craziness from the day off and focus on doing things that were good for me & helped me relax. It was such a revelation to actually take “me time.” I promised myself that when treatment was over, I wouldn’t go back to the hectic lifestyle I lead before and I would take the time to do something good for myself at least once a day. After all, the things that used to stress me out seemed so silly in comparison to everything I had just been through.
Unfortunately this fantasy I had envisioned for myself was short lived. I was back to work full time before I knew it and back to my old overwhelming ways; coffee, work, gym, errands, wine, repeat only this time I had a chip on my shoulder. I was so angry at myself because I felt that I had learned nothing from what I had just gone through. I sat alongside so many people every single day while awaiting radiation who were in worse shape than I was, who might not still be around today. I felt like I had been given a gift; a new lease on life and I was wasting it away by not doing something that made me happy. By May I had had enough. I made a plan and quit my job. I had always known I wanted to be my own boss one day so I focused my efforts on starting a company that I would really be proud of and that would hopefully do some good for others.
So here we are. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2016. This time last year I was just about to start treatment and now I own a small business, Sweet DIYG’s, hosting succulent garden workshops throughout San Diego. Succulent gardening had been a hobby of mine for years but quickly became one of my post radiation go-to’s because I find is super fun and oddly relaxing. So many of the people who attend my workshops have the same response and nothing makes me happier than sharing the succulent love!
Sweet DIYGS is more than just a company to me, it’s my daily reminder that we only have one life and we’re meant to enjoy it. If you can take anything from this post, I hope its that you should treat yourself to something you love everyday because in the words of the lyrical genius Drake, “You Only Live Once.”