Stories from D-Riskers

A Lesson in Loving Yourself

By: Quality Control Team Lead Carrie Mumma

D-Risker Carrie Mumma learned to love herself…you can too! Here’s Carrie’s story.

Lady and IOver the past nine years, life has taught me to enjoy life, to like myself and to find humor when you think there couldn’t possibly be anything to laugh about.

In 2005, I gave birth to my first child, my beautiful son Aiden. But my joy was short lived, as I was about to receive devastating news. Just six short weeks into life as a new mom, my doctor discovered a lump and there it was….cancer. Yes, I had thyroid cancer. Three weeks later, I was in surgery and receiving radiation. Not only was I now dealing with the roller coaster emotions that come with being a new mom and an out of whack thyroid, but also the terrifying feelings associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Once the realization of my cancer hit me, I knew my son needed me. I had to beat this, I had to lose weight, and I had to start feeling better. I needed answers. I needed to know why this was happening to me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I just needed to know what I was dealing with.

The news continued to get worse as the doctor told me that having more children after radiation would not be a good idea. I don’t always listen to the advice of others as evidenced by my second pregnancy in 2007. Still overweight from Aiden, I packed on another 45 pounds. Between baby hormones, the blood they were drawing, the thyroid medications and thyroid hormones, to be quite honest, I was a hot mess.

Knowing that I was in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy brought about a huge amount of fear, so I sought comfort in food. Forty pounds later (on top of the pounds still hanging around from Aiden), my daughter Jordan arrived. Once again, I was on top of the world. I had a beautiful baby girl, a wonderful son, and I had gotten through the thyroid cancer. Life was good. Yet again, I was about to face another challenge. Just three months following Jordan’s birth, I was diagnosed with lymph node cancer. Really? Again? Having reached my lifetime allowance of radiation, the only viable source of treatment was to remove the lymph nodes, all of about 35 of them from the left side of the neck.

digital-risk-health-challenge-carrieThe neck surgery left nerve damage in my left hand. Nine months of physical therapy, three days a week, was next on my plate with the goal of restoring all feeling and functionality to my left hand.  So here I was, two babies to care for, a full-time job, going to therapy 3 days a week, surely I would prevail.

Prevail I did, eventually. I knew that if I were ever going to be happy and healthy again, I would have to learn to like myself. I was overweight and an emotional disaster. I was always too tired to play with my kids. Too tired to play with my kids!  I had to gain control over my life. I started to remake myself a little at a time with exercise and nutrition I began exercising 30 minutes every day and researching nutrition. In my research, I discovered that “80% of what’s wrong with your body is the food”. So I cut out sugars, ate healthy fats and tons of veggies and fruits and drank lots of water to rid my body of harmful toxins.

Jordan and I

I created ways to manipulate my diet to work around the family diet. If the kids ate spaghetti, I had spinach with marinara sauce. I lost 45 pounds and was down to a size six. I could barely remember what it was like to be that size! It didn’t happen overnight. It took three years of experimenting, researching, trial and error and often going backwards before moving forward. But I got there, I did it, I overcame the many uphill battles, the obstacles, the challenges and regained control of my life.

How did I do it? The focus has to be positive and about moving forward. Fall back on your faith. Stay focused on who you are supposed to be. I always go back to my faith. When I feel down, I ask myself, “am I doing my best and am I making a positive impact on the people around me”. Look at yourself, be honest with yourself and refuse to be victim. Do not let what happens to you define you, rather define yourself on how you impact other people.  And above all, keep laughing.

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