This is the New Me Essay Contest — 2nd Place Winner, Holly Tabor

holly tabor club amoena essay 2nd place winnerThis past summer, we hosted an essay contest for our Club Amoena members – style-savvy women who are fans of Amoena products. We chose 2 winners — this is the submission from our 2nd place winner, Holly Tabor, of Georgia.


There is a new me in town. Three years ago, I became a brand new person. Three
years ago, my life changed–hopefully, forever.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was immediately swept
into a nine-month spinning vortex of doctors, tests, surgeries, medicine, and
ever-shifting emotions. I felt as if I were walking on quicksand, never knowing
when the ground would be swept from beneath my feet and I would be drowning
in a sea of muddy thoughts and bleak outlooks.

Cancer. A tiny, six-letter word that conveys so much confusion, anger, fear and
pain. Even to the uninitiated, the mere mention of the word stirs up nightmare
visions of hospital rooms, illness, tons of anguish…and death.

This morning I remember those feelings of darkness, pain and fear. I’m sure it
doesn’t help the image by waking up to a horrible head cold that leaves me
physically drained…vaguely reminiscent of the chemo fatigue I lived with for so
many months. For just a few minutes, the fears, the memories, the agony of those
days envelope me again. I cry hot, bitter tears in the shower while trying to allow
the water to wash away the virus, the emotions, the fears, the memories…and the
deep, dark depression that eagerly wraps its tentacles around my heart.

Then, I hear a song–a song that has been my mantra since the early days of my
“new” life, after cancer. A song with a one word title, made of six little
letters…Thrive. A six-letter word that washes away the fear of that other six-letter
word, and conjures up images of everything I most desire in life.

Because life isn’t just about breathing. It isn’t just about getting up, getting the
job done, going to bed and beginning it all again the next day. It’s about
thriving–choosing to focus on each and every experience in each and every
moment, and choosing to live each and every one fully. Webster’s dictionary says:
thrive–to prosper; to be fortunate or successful; to grow or develop vigorously;
flourish. Synonyms: advance, bear fruit, bloom, blossom, grow, prosper, radiate,
shine. What an incredible mental image these words convey. I want to blossom. I
want to radiate. I want to shine!

I realized, after I received my cancer diagnosis, that what was missing in my life
was my living life. I realized that I wanted most–want most–is to live. Really
live…not just going through the motions, not just swimming slowly upstream to
my death with the rest of the fish in the stream. I want to LIVE. I want to have
fun. I want to have new experiences. I want to see old things in a new way. I want
to experience each moment as if it were my last one. I want to get messy with life.
Big sloppy wet kisses, mud pies, rolling in the autumn leaves, dancing in the
rain…exciting, spontaneous, exhilarating…life. Every moment is to be savored,
treasured, enjoyed to its fullest extent…the good, the bad, even the mundane and ordinary. Life is about trying to make every moment count, viewing every
moment as worthwhile, no matter what you’re doing…this is how you thrive.

The head cold that makes my head pound and my throat feel like I swallowed
sandpaper is just one more experience to be savored…if I choose to make it one.
No, it’s not exactly pleasant, but with every ache, pain, sniffle and sneeze, even a
cold can vividly remind me that I am ALIVE….blessedly, blissfully, wonderfully

As my tears dry, I find myself croaking away to the song with a smile on my face
and joy in my heart. Joy that comes from my overwhelming desire to live…to
blossom…to thrive…in each moment I’ve been given. A desire born out of my
diagnosis with cancer, that nasty, six-letter word. Yes, this disease brings
confusion, fear and pain–these things will always be part of the frightening
reality that is cancer. I can–and will–choose to focus instead on life.

I have been blessed with three years of moments to thrive in–so far. Some I
blissfully savored; some, tragically, I allowed to blow past in a frantic flurry.
Overall, my desire is to make it to the end of this journey without regret, knowing
that I have wrung every drop of living out of my time on earth–to truly thrive.

That day, three years ago, changed me forever. Now, instead of filling my life with
the paralyzing fear of an ugly six-letter word; I choose another, better word. I
choose instead, to thrive. This is the new me.

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4 Responses to This is the New Me Essay Contest — 2nd Place Winner, Holly Tabor

  1. Susan Heimbigner says:

    How was anyone able to choose between these two outstanding essays! I thought the one I submitted was good. It was. These two essays are so outstanding, it boggles the mind. Another amazing submission. Thank you.

  2. Lee says:

    Susan, I can confirm that this year’s submissions were all so great, it was definitely difficult for our committee to choose! And yours was definitely good. :) Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

  3. Thomas says:

    Thank you for adding to the awareness and support of cancer. I’ve written two songs, one about cancer and one about going through trials and looking back on them. Reaching out for support and help, and the joy of having come up through affliction. Here are the links I hope you find them connecting, and possibly helpful. Cancer Song-Not a Scarlet Letter: Scars In My Eyes:

  4. Pingback: Announcing the 2013 Club Amoena Essay Contest | Amoena Lifelines

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