It was one year ago today that I suddenly fell ill with mini strokes and seizures that put me in the hospital twice in a 12-hour period and ultimately revealed a mass in my brain...a possible brain tumor. A week after the rough diagnosis, I found myself surrounded by my family and soon-to-be husband at a hospital in Savannah, having parts of my head shaved and prepping for a robotic-assist brain biopsy, where doctors would remove a nickel-sized piece of my skull and remove several pieces of the supposed tumor for testing. Up until that point in my life, I had never had surgery or even a cavity. This was all new and scary territory for me and everyone around me.
Self portrait - August 18, 2011, eight days after surgery
Fast forward through a few weeks of healing, inconclusive test results and meeting with a new team of doctors for a second opinion. A few days after our wedding, instead of being on a honeymoon, Jason and I were at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville learning that within a month and a half, the mass in my brain had shrunk on its own by 85%, ensuring the doctors that the inconclusive test results on my brain matter were right - the mass was not a brain tumor, and surgery to remove the mass was not needed. What is left is scar tissue from August 2nd & 3rd's series of mini stroke-like events that caused seizures, and the scar tissue will probably always be present but not ever become an issue. In short...this was a fluke occurrence, and I was healthy. My doctor's advice? Go and live and long, healthy and happy life.
So today, that's what I'm celebrating - the one year anniversary of the beginning to my new and improved life! And oh, what a difference a year makes! Within the last year... I married my best friend! I left a full-time job that was not right for me and solely focused on building a successful business around my passion for photography! I attended several amazing and inspiring photography workshops that changed my life! I photographed my first international wedding! I am almost 17 weeks pregnant with Jason's & my first child! And I am healthier and happier than I have ever been before - mind, body and soul!
A year ago today, I didn't know what journey my life would take from day to day, but I just knew that my journey was not meant to end. By taking a moment to reflect on what I really wanted my life to look like, focusing on moving forward, and choosing to only surround myself with positive people, I have spent the last year reinventing myself into the me I have always strived for and wanted to be...but never made time for. Now I laugh more. I give more. I love deeper. I forgive. I spend more time with my family. I spend more time on me. And while that ideal "me" is always changing and strengthening and adapting to life and my goals, today I am going to pause and be thankful. I am thankful for the wake-up call I needed and for the second chance at living the life I was meant to live.
I also want to tell you...whoever you are...to not wait for something horrible and scary to happen before you decide to make some positive changes in your life. What does the life that you dream of look like, and what steps can you take to achieve it? You owe it to yourself to pursue now what makes you happy. Tomorrow is never promised - live for today.
6 months after beginning my new and improved life - Photo by Brian Tausend