In 2007, things were going really well for me. I had just gotten my residential real estate license and was killing it despite the fact that the market was in the crapper. Back then, I had learned quickly that foreclosures and short sales was where the money was at, so I speedily obtained my CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) designation and was off to the races. And man, oh man, was I winning. I was the preferred listing agent for several banks and acquisition companies. And business?
Well….business was GOOD.
It was also right around this time that I had begun blogging for major websites like Yahoo, CNN Money, MSN Money and even found myself smack dab on the front page of Realtor.com.
And that made business even better.
I had begun developing my own model on how to use blogging for lead generation and business building. And it was going GREAT….until the other shoe dropped.
I got sick. Really sick. I had gone in for my annual OBGYN exam. A few days later they called to tell me the results were abnormal. When I went back in for more tests…that was when I found out I had cervical cancer. Stage 3.
I was 29 years old.
I was devastated.
Upon hearing the news, I went home and didn’t get out of bed for two days. I didn’t say anything to anyone, and many people even close to me didn’t know what I was dealing with. I refused to ask for help. I refused to let anyone know how hard it hit me.
I went to my next appointment alone (which I was fine with), as they begun freezing the cells. It hurt like HELL. But I powered through. Then? That’s when they started the chemo. And while I didn’t think anything could have been worse than what I had already endured, that was. Far worse.
There were days I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. I never told anyone. I totaled three cars in a year, thanks to my stubbornness, but didn’t lose my life. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. Some….because I didn’t want to, others because I just couldn’t. I was too tired. I was nauseated and exhausted. I could barely function. I was fuzzy and lost.
It was at this point that I had to give up my real estate career and focused on blogging full time. I was too sick to do much of anything else at the time.
But, as I got better, the more I wanted to blog and the less I wanted to do real estate. By 2010, I was healthy again. I felt like myself again. The steroids and the depression medication, however, caused me to gain a LOT of weight over the past couple of years. But I fought that back off as well. I worked out, ate right and lost it all. By 2011, I was looking a LOT better.
Then, 2012….tore my world apart. Secrets, lies and devastation took me down a rabbit hole that I would wish upon no one. Ever. And, even though I was cancer free, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live anymore. Yet, as I looked into my all three of my daughters eyes, I realized that wasn’t an option. They still needed me. So? I stayed. All the while never telling the people I should have told about much of my struggle. Because it just wasn’t their business. But, moreso because, when you go through hell, you just don’t want to talk about it anymore. Because you’ve felt it, you’ve dealt with it, and it became this part of you that you would rather forget than remember.
And that’s okay. You’re allowed to do that.
2012 saw a final separation of myself and my husband of 17 years. 2013 had me falling in love again. It also saw me through a house fire that nearly claimed my life….and something that created a lot of change. I remodeled my house and moved the (now 19-year-old) twins out and moved myself and the 13 year old in with the man, the love of my life, a man who, in 2014 I married – despite my saying repeatedly I would never get married again. And 2015 brought back an old friend…my cancer.
Except this time, things were different.
When they told me I needed more tests, something in me knew that this time was going to be worse than the last one. And even though everyone said “I would be FINE,” I knew (somehow) that this time wasn’t going to be as easy.
I hate when I’m right.
I was standing with one of the twins when I got the news. Cervical, uterine, ovarian and colon cancer. Stage 2. Not only did it come back….it had chosen to go to other organs this time. My heart sunk. Thing was, I couldn’t let it sink too far….because I saw the look on her face, even when I pretended not to. She stood there, stalwart and strong, fighting back tears. She had learned well. So, I made the command decision that I had to be strong for her. For all of them.
I picked myself up, dusted myself off and proclaimed that I needed to go to the grocery store for dog food. My daughter, head down, heart sinking, but trying so hard to be strong for me, said she would accompany me.
We went to the grocery store. We were in the chip isle when it happened. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, and said, “Do you need a hug?” I did. So we did. Like a couple of fools, we stood that in the chip isle of the grocery store and hugged it out.
She looked up at me and said she wasn’t concerned, that I had beaten worse things before. That this was nothing. That I was a bad ass. That this wasn’t going to take me down. And we hugged. And people looked at us like we were crazy. And? Fuck those people. They don’t get it. They don’t need to either. Not their moment.
You have no idea how hard it is to not break down and cry in the middle of the grocery store in that situation. None. Because it’s almost impossible.
But, my girls know me. They know that even in the midst of total chaos and destruction, I will still go to the grocery store. I will still fold the laundry. I will still clean the house. I will still run a company. Because I am a freaking machine. Always have been. It’s just in my DNA. I can’t help myself.
So? They meet me on the ground I am most comfortable in….where I move. And I love them all for that. Deeply.
They see how far I crawl up inside my head, into places I will never allow to see the light of day. They know that is where I feel my fear, my pain, my anguish, my anger, my guilt and my shame. Yet, they still meet me on that playing field. And I cannot tell you how much I love them each for that.
And even though she knew that I would hate being in a position to completely lose my shit one chilly March afternoon in a grocery store, she met me on my field of battle anyway. Because my daughter loves me so much that she will meet me on my battleground; a neutral place and call me out, without calling me out. And that is why I am so goddamn proud of her. Stronger women conquer strong women. She did just that. And she will do the same thing a million times over. Because she is a bona fide badass.
However, the irony lies here. It’s because my children, my friends and even my husband do these things — things few humans would do because they just don’t get me — that inspire me to want to fight like I have never fought before. It’s because of these things that I won’t allow myself to get depressed and lay down in my bed and pretend this isn’t happening to me this time. It’s because the people who I love the most in the world understand and love me so much that they will meet me on my field of battle, instead of one the place they feel is best, that I choose life. Their crazy actions, crafted only to suit me, are the exact same things that make me choose to fight back, for them. That I choose to not take the same path as last time. That I am going to fight, fight hard and beat the fuck out of this horrid disease. That I am going to make cancer my bitch. Again.
You see, I believe that life is all about attitude. And lord knows I have PLENTY of that.
And here’s the thing about fighters. You can knock them down. You can kick them in the gut. You can make them swallow mouthfuls of teeth. But fighters? Fighters still get up and SMILE. Even if the grin is totally toothless.
And that is exactly what I am going to do. Fight.
And if you’re like I am, I hope you choose the same. Because the beauty is always in the battle.
Shauna Zamarripa is an author, professional blogger, mother of three beautiful daughters and wife to a real estate investor who is the apple of her eye. She is the owner of Miss Adventures (her personal blog), Valkeryie Consulting (her marketing company), The Penny Pinchers (her frugal living blog) and Smart Ass Investing (a blog she runs with her husband, Jon). She has been a Realtor, a trainer, a speaker throughout the state of Texas and regularly trains on social media and blogging in workshops throughout the state. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.
*Featured image courtesy of Tiffany Lucero.