Receiving a cancer diagnosis is is one of the hardest things anyone can face. The mindset that a person has can be as valuable as any treatment out there and the mindset that Becky Neulieb has is that of a warrior who is ready for the fight.
Neulieb’s battle with cancer started in June of 2015 but her journey to good health started six months earlier, in December 2014.
“I had decided in December of 2014 to quit smoking and lose weight,” Neulieb said. “I like a good challenge!”
She bought herself a Fitbit and the challenge was on! Neulieb decided to make some changes to her diet and to exercise more.
“I changed my diet to whole natural foods and was walking constantly,” said Neulieb. “A day didn't go by that I was not getting my 10,000 steps in and, lo and behold, not only had I quit smoking but I was losing weight too! I fancied myself quite the health Guru at this point and I had never felt better in my life!”
Six months into the transformation, Neulieb decided to go to the gym with a friend of her’s who was needing some help staying motivated.
“In June of 2014 a friend of mine had asked me to go to the gym with her for motivation so I did,” Neulieb reflected. “While on one of the machines my right leg began to tingle and feel numb. At this point I thought I could walk it off.”
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Neulieb felt what she thought was a seizure coming on so she got herself to the ground. When she woke up she was in the back of an ambulance on her way to the hospital.
“Long story short a nearby hospital found a mass on the left side of my brain pressing on the portion of the brain that controls the right side of my body.”
After Neulieb transferred hospitals, she received the official diagnoses of Stage IV non small cell lung cancer with metastases to the brain.
“After I was finally awake and alert enough to receive the diagnoses from the doctor my first question was, ‘Okay. What do we do next?’ So we, as a team, formulated a plan.”
“I would love to tell you I faced this thing head on and bullied through but that wouldn't quite be true,” Neulieb said. “I bawled and I bawled. And then I bawled some more. Then I got mad, really mad! I was mostly mad at myself for not listening to my body and joking off all the usual signs of cancer. I blamed being sick all the time on allergies instead of insisting on an X-ray from the doctor's office when I would go every time the weather changed because I was sick again.”
For Neulieb, it was time to accept the reality of the situation, no matter how devastating, and that she had a choice to make.
“I only had two choices,” Neulieb said. “One: I could stay in bed curled up in a fetal position feeling sorry for myself, or two: I could move forward in educating others and encouraging them to do screenings.”
“I choose the latter!” Neulieb concluded. “At this point in time I am not a Survivor but a Warrior.”
“My advice to anyone who has recently received a cancer diagnosis is that it's okay to be scared. Cancer is a very scary thing. Whether you have one or 30 years left, you are responsible for making the best of it. Don't write off a bucket list! Do it! Enjoy everything you can. Dwelling on it serves no purpose!”
To Neulieb, everything happens for a reason so she asked herself, “who or what are you fighting for?”
“Am I supposed to be setting an example to someone else who may someday be given the same diagnoses?” reflected Neulieb. “Did this happen so you can aid in someone else's journey? What or who is your ‘why’? My husband, Mike (who was diagnosed this year with early Colon cancer) and my children Nicole, Ian and Dylan as well as my granddaughter, Maddasin, are my ‘why.’ I want to be around as long as I can for them.”
If you’re a cancer survivor or you have a friend or family member that is, please share your story and how long you have been cancer free to firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply send us your name and how long you’ve been cancer free to be added to our growing list of Survivors. We look forward to sharing some inspirational journeys with you through this series!