Courtney laid awake all night, tossing and turning, fearful of what the morning would bring. It was barely dawn as her mom drove her to the hospital, where she checked in as a patient for the first time in her entire life.
She kissed her new husband, new in-laws, and her sweet mom before they wheeled her back to the OR. She didn’t get to kiss her dad, because he’d spilled coffee on his pants on the way to the hospital and had to stop to change. Although he tried as hard as he could, he didn’t make it in time. (Of course that would have happened that morning, of all mornings). She asked the nurse to deaden her hand where the IV would go in, because she was terrified of needles. She remembers squeezing her husband’s hand and feeling the tears well up in her eyes as they ushered her family out of the room, leaving her no choice but to lay there, alone.
Courtney was just 25 years old when she was hit with the diagnosis none of us ever wants to receive: cancer. Just days after returning home from her honeymoon, she found out that they needed to operate, and operate fast.
In the weeks that followed, Courtney jokingly told everyone that she’d moved back in with her parents after being married and was sleeping on the ‘couch’… where the couch was really a recliner because she could barely sit up or lie down without excruciating pain. Her precious husband drove over 4 hours round trip (on top of a 10 hour workday) to see her, commuting all the way from where he was working and back every day.
“I can’t quite put into words how I felt when the pathology results came back and confirmed that what she had was a mutated, aggressive anomaly that had started to spread and needed further treatment. I can’t tell you how I felt when I found out that the treatment would require a minimum of 3 more days in the hospital… in quarantine… because my entire body would actually become radioactive. But what I CAN tell you is that even though I had no clue as to what would happen next, in my mind I’d kicked cancer’s butt from the moment they wheeled me out of that OR. And I’ll never be able to put into words how utterly EMPOWERING that feels.”
For Courtney, recovery has been an ongoing process that has been underway since that fateful day in 2013. But she has adjusted to her “new normal,” as she calls it, with incredible resiliency. In the years that have passed since she received that horrible diagnosis, Courtney says there are 3 things that having cancer has taught her.
In fact, she goes so far as to say that cancer has completely changed her as a person – for the better – and here are her 3 reasons why:
- Fear can be a blessing, if you let it. Growing up, Courtney always had a fear of getting cancer. She doesn’t know exactly why this was one of her worst fears, but in getting that very diagnosis, her worst fears were realized. Yet when that fear was actually staring her in the face, Courtney knew that she had a choice: she could let that fear overcome her and dictate how she would handle this whole ordeal, or she could fight it and do what she could to put herself on the path to healing, despite the circumstances. It’s in these true fight-or-flight moments that show us what we’re made of, and Courtney says it showed her that she was stronger, better, and bolder than even she believed herself to be.
- Your Mindset Matters. Courtney says, “When I got that diagnosis, I knew one thing: I was not going to let cancer beat me. And that was my attitude throughout my surgery, treatment, and adjustment to life-after-cancer that followed. To this day I don’t worry about it coming back, and I firmly believe that my positive outlook contributed greatly to my healing process. Even though it wasn’t easy and there were certainly times when I wanted to hide under the covers and not talk to anyone, I know that our minds play a huge part in the quality of life we experience, regardless of our circumstances.” And for Courtney, that was the true lesson: our circumstances do not matter – it’s what we make of them and our outlook on them that does.
- Things Really DO Happen for a Reason. Had she not had cancer, Courtney says she would have most likely stayed on the life-path she was on: stressed to the max, working a 9 – 5 building someone else’s dream, and going nowhere to speak of in life. Having cancer has opened up a world of opportunity for her, and in many ways, it acted as a ‘rebound point’ that allowed her to bounce back into an even better version of herself than before. It gave her the courage to leave her 9 – 5 job and pursue an incredible journey of personal growth and development, which in turn has given her the tools and skill-set that she needed to go out and launch a business of her own. She is incredibly passionate about helping positive, growth-minded people discover their potential, realize their vision for their lives, and bring their dreams to fruition. By teaching them the skills they need to become successful, she hopes to inspire many to create the life they envision and pursue excellence in everything that they do. (You can read all about it here, on her blog!) In addition Courtney says having cancer has brought so many new people into her life, many of whom have become her very dear friends. In fact, she’s stayed particularly close with her surgeon, and now has the honor of serving on the board of the non-profit she founded called Blooming Lily. Their sole mission is to help women overcome negative life experiences both locally and in Kenya – her surgeon’s homeland – with a vision to expand globally.
Above all, Courtney says that having cancer has helped her to reset her mindset, giving her a whole new perspective that she now embraces in every aspect of her life. One of the things she’s found that’s helped the most is to stay very selective of her “input,” – that is, the things people, and experiences that she surrounds herself with. She wants everything that goes in to be good, wholesome, positive, and uplifting so that everything that comes back out of her is that much more inspiring and uplifting for others.
Remarkably, despite being met with such an awful diagnosis at such a young age, Courtney chose not to see it as a death sentence. Instead, she looked for the silver lining and saw it as a blessing. She chooses to live life with a vibrancy and vivaciousness like never before, and says that overcoming this obstacle has not only given her a deeper appreciation of the people who she has in her life, but it’s also given her abundance mentality where there’s plenty to go around and where who she is and what she has is enough.
In the words of Courtney herself, “to put it simply, having cancer changed my life.”
A personal message from Courtney:
To all of you who have had cancer yourself, who have had your world rocked when you found out someone close to you was diagnosed with cancer, or who have lost a loved one to cancer… my thoughts and prayers are with each of you. Keep fighting, keep winning, and never, EVER give up.
Courtney is a speaker, author, trainer, and motivator who is on a mission to help others pursue excellence, not perfection. A self-proclaimed travelholic with an obsession for dark chocolate, she makes her home in the funky city of New Orleans with her husband Alan and their furry pups Ace and Deuce, as well as her rabbit Mambo.
Please show your support by visiting Courtney’s Blog and Non-Profit Organization:
Courtney has really found a way to give back and make an impact on her community. She inspires and motivates others to be the absolute best version of themselves they can be. Learn more about Courtney and how she can make a difference in your life.
Blooming Lily Foundation: Empowers women to lead, positively fulfill their destiny, and give back. They help, optimize, equip, support, and inspire women in all facets of their lives. Check out their programs and be inspired.
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