The year of Success

After ending 2011 on a low note on both employment and health fronts, there was one word that particularly inspired me as we rolled into 2012. "Succeed". I was heading into the last lap of my race to a PhD, job-hunting, and praying for better health for our whole family in 2012. And, in many ways, God made that wish - and prayer - a reality.
February: I was told I was finally in REMISSION from thyroid cancer on 2-2-2012 (such a nice date, and a Groundhog Day I'd gladly relive!). Through nutritional therapy and medication, my cancer finally truly went into hiding on both scans and lab tests. Although my tumor markers remain positive, so I am not "cancer-free" (the next Holy Grail of the cancer journey), there was no evidence of active disease anymore.

March: I lost the hearing in both my ears quite suddenly due to a virus or bacteria, but recovered full hearing in my left ear and partial hearing in my right. I am still struggling with the decision about a hearing aid for my bad ear: they cost $2,000!

April: My mom and I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina so I could defend my dissertation. After literally years of work on this project, I was both apprehensive and thrilled to be declared "ready" to defend. My defense went off without a hitch and I earned my PhD on April 17th!

May: I graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina on May 18th, walking down to be hooded by my research mentor and the dean of the College. It was a very emotional moment for me as I reflected back on all that had to be overcome to get to that moment!

June: I accepted an assistant professorship at my alma mater, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. I couldn't have been more thrilled to get my dream job working side by side with my dad, who has worked at the University since 1984 and inspired me to become a university professor.

July: After months of worry over 50 swollen lymph nodes all over our sweet Amelia's body, they miraculously shrank the DAY BEFORE she was scheduled for surgery to remove several from her neck to determine whether or not she had lymphoma (a type of cancer). It certainly was a rollercoaster of worry, but God saw us through and gave us the very miracle we prayed for! Amelia still has two large lymph nodes in her neck 6 months later, but with confidence that they are not cancerous, we continue to watch and wait.

August: I began my job at the University. Moving into my own office was a definite highlight! My dad helped carry up boxes of books and the kids helped me decorate. I started teaching in early September.

My dad and I in my brand new office the day I moved in.

September: Aaron and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on September 6th! Plenty of people were nay-sayers when we got married after just 3 months of dating and 14 days of engagement. After 10 years, I can honestly say our decision was the best we've ever made and has blessed both of our lives beyond imagination.

October: We celebrated the 3rd bonus year of Amelia on her 6th birthday October 9th. It has been three long years of wonderful since she was given a 50/50 chance to live during her battle with encephalitis and brain demylelination in October, 2009 just after her 3rd birthday (click "Amelia's Illness" below the banner to learn more). Every year we host a "celebration of life" instead of a birthday party for her. This year was especially sweet with a houseful of our closest friends.

November: Once again, a health crisis came out of nowhere. Driving a car with a bad muffler to work all week, I suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and quit breathing for 40 minutes, requiring full CPR at home, in the ambulance, and the hospital before I finally came to. I spent those 40 minutes in the presence of something miraculous, and 3 days in the ICU recovering. By God's grace survived what could have been a deadly incident, returning to work just a week and a half later.

December: Although we suffered through a couple of killer viruses for the first time in a year or two, I didn't get pneumonia like I have for the past 4 years since receiving high dose radiation treatment that has affected my lungs. My arthritis is under control. In fact, I feel better at the end of 2012 than I have in several years, partially because my very active job has helped me shed 30 pounds and improve my cardiovascular fitness slowly but surely. We celebrated Christmas a little differently this year, as I was grading until the 23rd - no handmade gifts and a whole lot of wrapping to be done just before the big day! Our time with both sides of family was very sweet, and we are ending 2012 very hopeful for the future!

It has indeed been a year of SUCCESS: overcoming health problems, graduating, and growing into a profession I love with all my heart. The depression that dogged me for 2011 is barely noticeable at the end of 2012, and I am smiling more than I have in years. We found a new church to call home, and the children are settling into new extracurricular activities, homeschool curriculum, and new friendships. God has been very good to us in 2012!

My list at the end of 2011 was this, and I've checked off EVERY ONE by the Grace of God!

1. Succeed at finishing my dissertation and graduating
2. Succeed at finally seeing cancer in remission
3. Succeed in becoming more emotionally intelligent and healing wounds of the heart
4. Succeed at mothering and housekeeping
5. Succeed at becoming a better wife to my dear husband
6. Succeed at kicking depression
7. Succeed at focusing on raising emotionally integrated children thriving with creativity

How about you? Did you pick a word for 2012? Reflecting back, does it capture the type of year you had? Are you picking a word for 2013? Come join me over at Grit and Glory to talk about your word of the year!

OneWord 365 Wrap-Up posts for 2012