THERESA'S AMAZING JOURNEY
2020: THERESA WRIGHT (nee Llewellyn)
In 2019, I was working with an amazing client named Theresa Wright (nee Llewellyn). During the home sale process, Theresa was diagnosed with an overly aggressive form of breast cancer. Over an eleven-month period, the 45-year-old fitness competitor and model endured 8 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, 28-rounds of radiation, and multiple surgeries. What stood out to me the most was that during Theresa’s battle she remained the most positive, inspirational person that I had ever encountered whilst suffering from such a seemingly insurmountable illness.
- Brian van Vliet
My life may sound like so many. I have been a fitness competitor, I eat healthy, rarely drink alcohol and have always embraced an active and somewhat chaotic lifestyle. Sadly, I would learn of my cancer diagnosis and realize just how much you’re not in control of the outcome of your life.
On January 11th, 2019, my entire world changed. “Theresa, you have stage 2 and 3 breast cancer.” These were words I thought I would never hear. I was shaken to the core and my world was about to be turned upside down. On my way home from the doctor, a song that summed up so many of my emotions on that day, played on the radio. “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan.
At my first oncology appointment I said, “Tell me what to do and I will do it”. From there, we hit the ground running. Little did I know that despite my life being put on hold, the rest of the treatments would progress faster then one could mentally absorb. I endured 8 rounds of the most aggressive chemotherapy, surgery, and 28-rounds of radiation. After my surgery on July 31st and a what felt like a million doctor appointments later, the aggressive cancer treatments were finally over on November 4, 2019.
Throughout my initial cancer journey, so many people inquired as to how I was doing. Honestly, there were more good days than bad and even on the bad days I never felt sorry for myself. No matter how much it seemed as though I had the worst-case scenario of everything, I took every bit of bad news and handled it like a warrior. With the support of my friends, I was able to continue to live a life full of laughter. “You were the ones who wiped away my tears, held my hands and loved me unconditionally.”
I openly shared my cancer journey on social media. I produced numerous videos, some of which were joyous, and others filled with tears. Sharing my journey was intended to illustrate the good and bad things involved in fighting breast cancer and to educate people. I wanted to teach women that 1 in 8 will develop breast cancer. What I never expected from my openness was the outpouring of response. Women told me they were inspired, and complete strangers reached out to say sadly, they also were facing this terrible disease. Life doesn’t come with a road map and it definitely does not come with a “delete” button. It all comes down to how we face adversity, how we pick ourselves up after being kicked down and how we treat not only ourselves but others.
For almost a full year, my life had been on pause. 2020 was going to be my year, a time to live life by my choices!! Or so I thought.
2020 started out with the most amazing marriage proposal from the love of my life, Joey. This was going to be year I would never forget. I was planning to get back on the stage and compete in fitness competitions. As it would turn out, my journey in life had another plan for me. After kicking the crap out of breast cancer in 2019, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Adenocarcinoma (lower rectal cancer). It is the 3rd most common colon cancer.
At my first appointment with my new team of oncologists, and doctors I said, “Tell me what to do and I will do it.” Again, we hit the ground running. Little did I know this was going to be the cancer that gutted me, the one that showed me what cancer can really do to a soul, it took me to Hell and back. 50 rounds of chemo, invasive life-altering surgery, 25 rounds of radiation and what felt like a million doctor appointments later, this round of cancer treatments concluded, the day the world stood still, March 16, 2020. I am currently enduring 224 rounds of chemo that will be finished November 3, 2020. In December of this year, I am scheduled to have the second to last surgery for my breast cancer.
The past year and a half have taught me more lessons then I had ever learned in my 45 years of life.
1. Don’t rush through life, enjoy the moment as the next moment is never guaranteed. Don’t rush through life so quickly that you forget to enjoy it.
2. Do not sweat the small stuff. Life is too short to focus in on the minutia. There are so many wonderful things happening all around us. Stay away from the drama in life, all it does is hurt ourselves and others.
3. Don’t wait for the special moments. Wear that beautiful necklace, wear that beautiful sweater to the office. We spend so much time waiting for what we categorize as “special moments,” when in all honesty living every moment of living itself, is SPECIAL.
4. It’s not about the quantity of friends you have its about the quality. Fill your life with those who support you, inspire you and are there as opposed to filling time with those who pop in and out of your life on their schedule. Life is busy enough however we tend to time manage our own lives. Don’t time manage yourself so much that you forget to build a great life with those who matter.
5. Love happens when you least expect it. The imperfectly perfect person walks into your life at the most unexpected time. If it wasn’t for me having cancer, I would never have been at the Run for the Cure and I would never have met my fiancée Joey. He has changed my life in every way possible and I honestly could not be more grateful and blessed. Despite the fact that we are both independent people, we remind each other that we are not alone to do things, no matter the battle faced, we will both put on the boxing gloves and endure the challenge.
6. We create our own happiness; whether it be an attitude adjustment or simply walking away from something or someone that doesn’t make us happy. It is up to us to create our own happiness with ourselves; you can’t be happy with anyone if you are not happy with yourself. No matter the adversity in your life, things do get better and the bad times too will pass.
7. Be kind and remain humble. You never know what someone is battling in their own life.
8. Life is what you make it. In 2019, I downsized my life because I realized the fancy house and fancy cars are the things that we can’t take with us. Making memories is more important than accumulating material goods. Life is not about the materialistic things you have; it’s about the person you are and the legacy you leave behind.
“Our legacy is all we have to leave behind in this world. Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest lasting legacy you will leave to your Heirs” – Steve Saint
9. Say what is on your mind. If you love someone, say it. If you need help, ask for it. If you are hurt, talk it out. Make time for the special people in your life. Pick up the phone and call someone instead of texting. Be in the moment with those you love and never leave the house or go to bed angry. Although you may not like your significant other or friend at that moment, tell them you love them.
10. Get up and show up. This goes for everything in life; don’t half a*s anything. If you want something, go for it. The answer is always “no” unless you ask. Thinking about something and not acting on it is just wasted time and energy.
I have to say I am looking forward to a new year and I would say that I am excited to see 2020 go; however, 2021 will be filled with so much of what every year is filled with: amazing times, sad times, life lessons and GROWTH.
Love to you all,