My name is Elizabeth Morris. I am a military spouse, a mother, and an MFS employee living and working in Washington State. My story begins with misplaced priorities; a desire to be successful at the detriment of my health. I engrossed myself in my career as a former MFRC Executive Director, and loss touch with everything and everyone around me. Ignoring the signs of stress, and the message my body was sending my way. Stubbornness and grit can be wonderful qualities to possess, but when these attributes stand in the way of your own health and physical well-being they can have disastrous effects. There were subtle warning signs over a four-year period that I chose to ignore and explain away, believing I was invincible. My internal dialogue was, “keep your head down, keep going, and failure is not an option.”
Prior to my diagnosis, I lived my life carefree. I was always in control, chasing that elusive, unrealistic goal of perfection thinking that anything was possible. All of a sudden, the shocking and unexpected breast cancer diagnosis stopped me in my tracks and brought me to my knees. My life in that moment changed forever. I was no longer in control, and cancer was in the driver’s seat. My diagnosis came on 11 December 2018, during Christmas vacation in Hawaii, unfortunately on my son’s birthday.
I felt like a failure. Cancer was beating me; a worthy opponent that was invading my body at an alarming rate. I literally had 2 days of fear and feelings of defeat, but then my fierce competitive nature went into over-drive. I will forever remember the moment I decided to fight. Simply said, that decision is the reason I am still here today. There were many challenges along the way. The days following my initial diagnosis came with more and more disappointing news. My cancer had spread to Stage 4. But I was determined to approach my cancer battle like a star athlete. This time the stakes were higher. The outcome of this competition would amount to life or death.
My Oncologist said, “Liz, you are a member of an exclusive club now. Membership dues that you never in million years thought you would have to pay”. My response, “What are the benefits of this club, sounds like a lose-lose situation for me. I think I will take a pass and move on to door number two.” However, sadly, this option was not available to me. Door number two was nailed shut with a very large KEEP OUT sign. Interestingly, turns out my new inclusive membership came with many benefits: happiness, clarity of purpose, and joy of living every day with intent. My new normal now includes close, personal, meaningful relationships, a desire to forgive, and a strong aspiration to give back.
How has Life Changed?
I observe now, some people find my passion and joy for living too intense. I want to change the world and effect positive change wherever I can. This has become my new life purpose. I am currently studying Leadership and Organization Design at Royal Roads University. Cancer is now in my rear view mirror. The path ahead for me is clear. I use mental imagery and positive affirmations every day. I have beaten this worthy opponent. I am ready to see what lies ahead for me free of regrets, fear, and self-blame. Someone gave me a second chance at life, and I am determined not to waste one single moment. In the end, life has been good to me. My diagnosis has become a gift and not curse. The 4th floor of the Oncology department was one-step away from heaven. Sometimes it takes the sky to see the infinite blessings on the ground.