In this week’s episode, Billy talks with Becky Allen, a public speaker and the host of the Win the Day podcast. Becky has endured her fair share of challenges, including surviving cancer, infertility, losing her own husband to cancer, and navigating life as a single mom. Becky blends authenticity, faith, and humor to break down ideas and provide practical steps to shift others’ perspectives so they know they are not alone.
Billy and Becky discuss:
–The emotional toll of her miscarriages
–Her battle with cancer
–Her husband’s diagnosis of testicular cancer
–How the mantra “Win The Day” came to be
–What she means by being a “broken believer”
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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Becky: I had just finished reading this chapter that was like, When have you been your best self? And so I kind of closed the book and then I went for a walk on the beach and I was like, What have I been my best self? When have I been? And immediately, you know, kind of that like gut response that kind of comes up to the surface right away.
And it's like, when have you been your best self? And I'm like, It's right now in this exact moment. But then, you know, think about the other voice on the shoulder that's like, okay, you just lost your husband two months ago, three months ago. How can this be your best self right now? Like, who are you kidding? And I feel so free to do what I want and to live this life how it sees fit, right?
Because you have these moments of clarity when you realize how short life really is. Anyways, immediately I felt guilty. How could this be my best life? Only because of losing someone. And I felt like then it started to kind of become this prayer and like I was talking to God about it and just like kind of wrestling with this idea and he was like, The gift of Darren's short life is to help you step into the fullness of your own.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host, Billy Long and educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning, mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn and grow.
So we can live a more purpose filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of the show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half.
And remember this free and useful information is helpful to people of all ages. Wisdom isn't about one's age. Wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn and grow from our own life experiences, while also learning from the experiences of others, regardless of what stage of life we are in. Because you just never know what life is going to throw at you.
So there just might be a conversation or two from past episodes that help you feel a little bit better prepared for the challenges you might face in life or that you're facing right now. Whether those challenges be your emotional mental and or physical health, your relationships with others, including your partner and children, your career, your finances, whatever curveballs life is throwing your way right now, just know that you are not alone in your experience.
And the conversations I'm having here are with people who have been there before or have done the research to help you navigate these situations with more awareness, openness, curiosity and compassion so you can live a more purpose filled life. And trust me, I take all of these conversations I'm having the heart as well, and I try to apply what I'm learning from these conversations in my own life, which is why I do solo episodes the first Wednesday of every month, because I think of the show as a running dialog between me and you, the listener, because my hope is that you can see and hear the growth I'm making in my own life.
So that inspires you to seek out the connections between our shared experiences so that you too can take intentional and inspired action. So if you're looking for some ways to help you better navigate whatever you've got going on in your life from someone who's been through it before, check out some of these other episodes at WW dot Mindful Midlife Crisis dot com or wherever you get your podcasts.
This week's episode focuses on grief and loss. It's an emotional story. Okay, so buckle up. Make sure you take care of yourself during and after you've finished listening to this episode. If you'd like to hear more stories of how people navigate grief and loss, check out Episode 45 with cancer survivor Joy Huber, where she talks about how beating stage four cancer has given her a new lease on life.
Episode 46 with Michael Mosher, where he talks about how he's been navigating his own mental health struggles. Episode 47 with Marie Nutter, where she talks about navigating the grief of losing her brother while also tending to her role as a nurse. Episode 60 with near-death survivor Danny Bader, whose story literally made me cry during our conversation. That was a doozy.
And so is episode 73 with Jason Clawson, who talks about how he navigated the grief he experienced after losing his wife to cancer. It's a very similar to today's story. If you make it through all of those episodes and if you make it through today's episode, you should probably hug someone because there's a lot of emotion going on right there.
So with that, let's meet today's guest. Today's guest is Becky Allen. Becky has navigated her fair share of life's curveballs, including surviving cancer, infertility. Losing her own husband to cancer and navigating life as a single mom. Through all of this, Becky has come to understand that hard things change us. Becky shares her story as a public speaker and is also the host of the Win the Day podcast.
Becky blends authenticity, faith and humor to break down ideas and provide practical steps to shift your perspective so you know that you are not alone. Becky is a mom to two incredible kids. She's a creative and overthinker with a constant drive to improve. She loves the beach tacos, cold brew, more tacos, a good meme and all things Ina Graham.
So welcome to the show. Becky Allen.
Becky: Hey, it's good to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
Billy: Absolutely. I believe we connected through Matchmaker.fm and just to clarify, matchmaker is not a dating service. It's it's a it's a weird name for pie. Nasser's Matchmaker.fm actually matches podcast hosts and podcasts, gas and that kind of thing. So when I read your story, I was like, You need to be a guest on this show just because you had so many incredible and tragic experiences, but you still find a way to really enjoy life.
And to me that just speaks so highly to your mindset. And I had to get in contact with you and I had to learn more about your story. So I'm so happy that you're here. Thank you for joining us.
Becky: Of course. Thanks for having me. It's good to be here.
Billy: One of the things we always ask our guests is what, ten roles they play in their life. So what are ten roles that you play in your life?
Becky: Yes, I would say this was a fun question. It was a fun way to think about the different parts that I'm involved in. But I'd say mom, widow, friend, podcaster, speaker, creator, girlfriend, Christian, optimist and improver.
Billy: Wonderful. And so then we always asked, you know what three roles are you most looking forward to in the second half of life? And first and foremost, you put mom right here. What is it that you're looking forward to in the second half of life when it comes to being a mom?
Becky: Yeah, it's interesting because I feel like I'm just kind of coming over this season, her way of parenting, where my kids are really pretty independent. You know, I don't have to get them dressed or brush their teeth for them. They can make their own food. And so my like energy as a mom and my time is spent more like having really fun conversations with them and seeing them become their own people and have their own ideas and thoughts and sense of humor.
And so I feel like we kind of have become this little unit that is kind of all in on the same, like jokes and conversation points. And I personally, being a mom to little kids is really difficult. It's not like I'm not like loving the baby stage so much. So this part.
Billy: Is a lot. What people are super honest about that.
Becky: Yeah, it was not easy. I'm not good on low sleep and so I turned into a monster for several years and so nobody wants that. It's been fun. It's fun to see them find their own passions and things. And I'm just like, really? It's the start of this kind of new part of parenting, which I'm really excited about.
Billy: How old are your kids now?
Becky: They are almost 13 and eight, So third grade in seventh grade.
Billy: Oh, wow. So you already have the eight year old doing breakfast? You know, I don't have kids, so I don't know when it's like appropriate. And then when I look back on my own life, like, I think that I was pretty spoiled as a child. And I mean, that probably comes off in every episode that we do here.
But, you know, it impresses me when kids become self-reliant at a young age. I don't know that I was self-reliant at a young age. I'm served if my sisters are listening, they're like, No, you were worthless. So but they had to figure that out probably at a young age, because if you were a single mom and I imagine you're navigating the emotions of losing your husband and they're navigating the emotions of losing their dad at a young age.
So do you think that that helped them become more self reliable?
Becky: Oh, for sure. I mean, there's just very little margin in my life. And so it was like you got to pull your weight here. And I will say I'm super grateful. My oldest is a boy and he is super tender hearted. He's a great teacher. And so he just naturally kind of fits that role, too. I mean, typical firstborn also.
But as a boy, he's very tender. And so he is very sweet at like helping teach his little sister stuff and making breakfast for her or helping her tie your shoes, you know, when she was younger and just little things like that, he just sort of naturally kind of stepped into. Yeah. And it's funny because, I mean, I think as a parent, we all can struggle with guilt, right?
Like mom guilt. You know, you hear about all the time. And I always try to think about my childhood growing up and I had a great childhood. It was very happy and wonderful. And like, I don't ever remember feeling like, did my mom sit down and play with me enough and, you know, like, did I have enough meals and was I cooking them?
Or like, it's so much we get kind of caught up in that. I think, like, it doesn't really matter, you know? So trying to keep that in mind too, but you can certainly get down some rabbit holes of that stuff too.
Billy: And through a lot of your experiences, you have turned that into speaking and podcasting and podcasting is something that you're looking forward to in the second half of life. Tell us more about your show Win the Day.
Becky: Yeah, totally. So I absolutely love hearing people's stories, understanding the why behind things, trying to pick up on things that people do differently that might make a difference or that I can learn from. And I just think it's so important for people to feel seen like that just adds such groundedness to us as people. Like we just want to be seen.
I don't need someone to tell me that I'm right or wrong or special or all these things, but if someone notices you, I just think that goes a really a long way. And so being able to have this podcast for partially it's that right hearing people's stories. What was your hard thing that you had to come through and how did it change you?
How did it make you angry? How does that change how you live now, like on the other side of it? Not that it's ever gone per se, but it does change. That's half of it. And then the other half of it actually has sort of been as much as possible, like an open journal session of what my life has looked like the last several years.
And I joke on my podcast that I'm the anti expert because I don't have it figured out. I'm trying to kind of stumble my way through, but I'm a deep thinker. I like thinking about process and concepts and ideas and where can I improve and why do I do this differently? And just it's been a good placeholder for me to sort of force me like I've got to put out content.
So like, what have I been thinking about? What have I been reading and learning? And so it's been something that all people going through. Things can kind of come alongside with me and like we can learn together.
Billy: I like that idea of being the anti expert because I definitely relate to that because my dad always just said, Do as I say, not as I do. And I think that I can give good advice. I don't always follow through with it on my own. And interestingly enough, we had Jason Clawson on earlier and he lost his wife to cancer and he talked about as a therapist that he was giving all this advice about how to navigate emotions.
But it was really hard for him to even take that own advice as he was doing that, too. And for me, especially when I was doing the summer sessions, it helped me kind of get out all of the thoughts that I had been having in six months of traveling and 2022. I use this in the same way, but I like that idea of giving people an opportunity to share their story because I was just having this conversation the other day that people like to share about themselves.
People like to talk in. Sometimes they just need to have that and I enjoy providing that experience and it sounds like you do as well.
Becky: MM Yeah, most definitely. There's definitely been some podcasts, you know, where you get to the end, and I don't know if you agree or this has happened to you, but you're kind of like wasn't maybe like the most riveting interview, but you can just tell how healing it was for them, right? To kind of have a full circle moment and talk through it and to add to be able to give that to people.
And it's good. And I mean, I'm better for it, too.
Billy: So all of our episodes are riveting. I'm not sure if you're aware of that or not, because it's just I mean, if the guest isn't riveting, then I carry the load for it.
Becky: Sure. Yeah. Yes, I have been there. I have been there.
Billy: Circus, You did not list wife someday in your top ten. But you did list girlfriend. Are you dropping hints here on the air too? You're not boyfriend. Were you like, Hey, you know, time is ticking. I would like to be a wife again. I feel like maybe you are passive, aggressively hinting. Yeah.
Becky: I'll aggressively hint too. It's fine. No, I guess I didn't even really think about, like, talking it through. But, like. I mean, I loved being married. I loved the partnership. I love feeling like you've got somebody to do life with. And I had a beautiful marriage. I mean, yes, it was not perfect, but like, we we grew up together.
We became adults together. We started a family together. So we I really had such a positive experience with marriage, which I know is very honestly, it's really uncommon. And so that's part of my lens looking at this too. But I feel like I have grown and evolved so much. It's been like gas pedal all the way down. I mean, I've been in therapy and continue to go and it's been a huge impact for me.
And it's she was talking about how it's like you sort of are forced into this like self-growth, like rollercoaster, or you're kind of like, can I just get off for a second? But through that, I really feel like I have so much to offer now more than ever, like as a partner. And so to be able to share that and build that with somebody and I think when we have these moments in life that really are clarifying moments of what matters and what doesn't, it's really so much of the small stuff that really matters.
And for me, I found that in kind of this like quote unquote monotony of the grind of life, you know, where you come home and you're having dinner together, you're just sitting on the couch talking about your day or watching a show like just these little things. So anyways, dating could be a whole nother podcast because that has been an experience to say the least, and nothing like what I thought it was going to be like because I never really dated before I was married.
Even so, this was all totally new to me. And so you learn a lot about people in yourself. And yes, I am in a great relationship now and it's been super fun getting to know him and spending time together and blending our families and just thinking about what that looks like in the second half of my life is something I'm definitely looking forward to.
Billy: Wonderful. Well, we're going to do this. We're going to take a quick break and then we're going to go back to the past year and just talk about some of these significant life events that have happened to Becky and how they have had an impact on her and how she still continues to win the day. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also giving the show a quick five star review with a few kind words helps others find a benefit from this podcast just like you are. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose filled life valuable.
My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Becky Allen. She is the host of the Win the Day podcast. Becky has quite the story and we're going to dive into it here.
Becky, To say that you have faced some challenges in your life would be a significant understatement. So can you walk us through some of life's parallels from your twenties?
Becky: I got married really young as 22. I grew up with my late husband and we were going to wait and have kids. We kind of had this like planned out, right? And then good friends of ours that got married a couple of months before us, they got pregnant accidentally and once the baby was here, I was kind of like a baby fever, like was definitely there.
And so I was like, we're changing the plans. We're having a baby in right now. So we did. And being a new mom is challenging. I mean, I grew up nannying and babysitting, so I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Definitely not. It was challenging, for sure, but it was also the start of our family.
So it's a really beautiful moment. And fast forward about a year, year and a half after our son was born, we were like, All right, let's let's have baby number two. So we started trying and it didn't happen the first couple of months, like what it had with our son. And we kind of kept moving on in the process.
And then a month I found myself pregnant, so we were super excited, totally ecstatic. And about six weeks later I started bleeding and I knew, you know, obviously that wasn't good. And so when an emergency room and was having a miscarriage and so obviously was sad, I mean, I never even crossed my mind really, that I could have a miscarriage.
But I was pretty like focused on like now we're having baby number two, you know? And so we tried again the next month and I got pregnant and had another miscarriage, or it could have been a continuation. I'm not exactly sure. And so then the doctor was like, you know, you need to just give yourself like three months time and rest and let's pick this up later on and we'll talk about it.
But like, let your body heal and rest. And so I was doing that. And meanwhile I just was feeling off like my stomach was really distended and I had low energy and I just something wasn't quite right. And I would kind of bring this to my doctor's attention and it was sort of poo poo a little bit, I guess.
And I mean, I didn't know any different. I didn't know to be an advocate for myself. So fast forward three months in this time frame. It was in the spring that I'd had the miscarriages and so now it's middle of July and I was at home. And you know, when you get a bad stomach ache where you ate something and you're like, Oh my gosh, if I just get sick, like, get this out of my system, like I'll be way better.
And I kind of thought it was one of those. I was like, What did I eat today? And so I was getting sick, but the pain was growing more intense instead of like diminishing. And I'm like, This isn't right. This isn't normal. Something's wrong. And I actually ended up passing out from the pain at home because it was so intense.
And so Darren, my husband, he came and found me and drove me to the hospital and we got there and they were doing some blood work and tests and they came in and they said, you know, did you know you're 14 weeks pregnant? And I'm like, doing the math in my head. I'm like, No, that's literally not possible.
And also, even if I was, which would have been like a miracle to be in that much pain, I knew it wasn't going to add up. So they were trying to figure out what was going on. So we're there all through the night, running tests, and the next morning around 5 a.m., Darren was like, I'm starving. I've got to go get some food.
I'm like, Yeah, of course, go eat. I'm just literally sitting here. So of course he leaves and then my doctor comes in, this little petite, fiery woman, and she was like, Okay, your test just came back. You had an ectopic pregnancy and your tube ruptured and you're bleeding out and we've got to get you into surgery immediately or you're not going to make it.
And, oh, by the way, you're at the wrong hospital. So I pulled my car up front because we didn't have time to wait for an ambulance to take you. So I'm going to get you in a wheelchair and bring you out to my car and we're going to go to the other hospital and get the surgery. I'm like, Well, my husband's not here.
She's like, He's going to figure it out. Like, we have to go. We don't have time. So thankfully, like on our way out to the door, he saw us and jumped in with us. And so she drove us over to the hospital and literally, like, I'm signing like release forms as they're like, rushing me into surgery. And they were, you know, remove the tube and I'm in the hospital recovering.
And I was so out of it. I remember they kept being like, all right, it's time to, you know, eat or walk or go home. And I just remember thinking like, you're out of your mind. I can barely keep my eyes open for more than 30 seconds. Like, there's no way.
Billy: Can you explain what is this rupture? Can you talk about like, what this is?
Becky: Cause yeah, when you're pregnant, you have an egg that's fertilized and it becomes an embryo as it grows. And typically it happens in your uterus, which is then where you see women's bellies grow and the baby continued to develop. But what happened was the egg, when I was obviously eating, didn't fully release. And so it was fertilized like in the tube still, it's trying to grow, but it can't because it's limited, essentially because it's in a tube.
What had happened is it kept growing and the cells kept multiplying to the point where it couldn't fit in my tube anymore. So it ruptured the tube. And so that's where the bleeding and the pain and that's where my stomach was distended, is because I had this mass growing in me that I didn't know about and why I was so uncomfortable.
And so couple of days later, as the weekend, I was at home recovering. I was taking a nap on the couch and I woke up and I had a missed call from my doctor. And honestly, the first thing I thought was like, why would my doctor call me on a Saturday? Like, there's no way this is good. So I called and she immediately answered, which also I knew was not good.
And then she proceeded to tell me that they had tested the tissue that they had removed from the ruptured tube, which I also did not know they were going to do the tests Results had come back that I had had a type of cancer called cardio carcinoma. So basically that mass of cells from that embryo was never really like a legitimate pregnancy.
And so the cells just kept multiplying rapidly, which essentially is what cancer is. So it became cancerous tissues. And so because my two bed ruptured, they had no idea of how far this thing had really run because it's a blood borne cancer. She needed me to come in the next Monday to do some blood work, some testing, some imaging so that they could figure out if this was like a stage cancer and like what my treatment plan would be.
I mean, I think at the time I was 25. So then all of a sudden I'm going from let's expand our family and have a baby to then because of that, I have cancer. It was like the hardest, weirdest connection point because it felt like such opposite directions in my head.
Billy: Well, what a wild three years too. Because if you got married at 22 and you weren't thinking about having children right away, and then all of a sudden the baby fever kicked in and then you had a baby. And by my math, I'm 9 to 10 months. There's a lot that happens. And then all of a sudden, to have 1 to 3 miscarriages and then to be diagnosed with cancer.
Like what a whirlwind of experiences for you.
Becky: Yeah, it was very bizarre and hard to process, and so I ended up going through. It had not progressed, thankfully, but because it was a blood borne illness and my tube had ruptured, they're like, there could be some microscopic bits that we can't detect and we don't want those to start multiplying and growing. So I went through six weeks of chemo and then they said that, you know, no, getting pregnant for a year, let your body heal and recover.
And basically after that year, if your numbers are still good, you're pretty much released from our care and can go on and do what you want Through that year, actually, there was sort of this freedom and like lease on life, which I'll touch on later because I felt that again to after Darren passed away. But there's these defining moments, right, where I'm like, I almost died, so what am I going to do now that I'm still here?
And what actually matters, what doesn't like your perspective changes. And it should, you know. And so I wanted to live that out. And so there was really this like freedom and joy and kind of this new way that I wanted to live my life. I just and really since then, with that happening so young, that was, you know, 12 years ago, I've really honestly can say I really don't take much for granted, like as far as time and relationships and experiences and memories and stuff because of that experience happening at such a young age.
But then what got challenging is that after that year of waiting was over, we were able to try again and it took about a year and a half until I ended up getting pregnant. So if you count in the time we were trying before, I mean, then I was sick and couldn't try for a year, but it was still a thought in my mind.
And then adding another year and a half, there was about three years or so, three and a half years of waiting to be a mom again. And I sort of became fixated on that specifically. I don't know why, but specifically about the age difference between my kids and feeling like each day that passed, I was taking away from the opportunity of them to have a close relationship.
And I don't know anybody that's BENNS Through infertility, you're constantly calculating, If I get pregnant this month, I would be pregnant this Christmas, I would have the baby at this month. I would have like a three or, you know, and you're constantly redoing this. And so every month you're not just trying, but you're also moving these dates around and it really messes with you.
It's an emotional rollercoaster. And honestly, like the waiting to be able to have another child was almost a more difficult experience. And the cancer was for.
Billy: Me, it's interesting you bring that up because as you're sharing what you just talked about there, it reminded me of a friend of mine who she has an 18 year old daughter, and she also has and they think he's a ten year old son now. And she is conscious of people's perception of that age gap. Like, why is there such an age gap there?
And it's because she had miscarriages and she has to explain that she chooses. Right. But yeah, I think that that's something that weighs on her and it's obviously something that is lost on me until I hear you share that right there and that it sounds like there's some mental anguish that goes along with the timing of having siblings.
Becky: Yeah, well, I think too, right. We make these choices in our life or sometimes they're made for us. And because it puts us down the certain path, we build a community there, right? You meet like minded people, people that are in similar situations as you. So then you start doing life with those people. Well, I was doing life with all of these new moms that I had met when my son was a baby, and they were all like on this plan to like, have all of these kids, you know, two years exactly apart and to keep going.
So all of a sudden, I felt like I was falling behind, like I was going to be forgotten because these community I was in, all of the sudden I felt like I didn't necessarily belong. And obviously that was a story I was telling myself. But that's how it started to feel like I was being left behind and everyone was just going to move on seamlessly because everything was sort of falling into place for them.
And I all of a sudden felt like the place I had walked myself to no longer fit me anymore, which that's something again, I also experienced later on to more intensely. But I think that was part of what was so difficult.
Billy: And that brings me to an observation that I made in the first episode of your podcast was how quickly you breezed through that story, everything that you just shared right there. And when you and I talked in our first meeting, I pointed that out to you and we talked about were you in such a baby making mindset that despite battling and overcoming cancer, that you weren't really present and you were focused on what our friends Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd call the checklist?
Does that resonate? Does that sink in right there, that you had the baby checklist or the life checklist and you were so focused on that that it was almost like, get this cancer out of me and we got to go. And then it sounds like you shifted your mindset after that.
Becky: Yeah, it's funny. And hearing in talking about this in depth because I really haven't done this maybe ever or in a very long time. Anyways, there's a lot of mirroring in this part of my story that happens once Daryn passes and how I process and handle grief and different situations that came up because I almost feel like I mean, I couldn't even say the word cancer for like years.
I just would say I was sick because I didn't want to connect with the word. It just I had almost like an aversion to it, Like it just made my tongue thick and my throat feel like it was going to close, you know? And I think I hid my grief and processing in my planning of what was next for me.
It was way easier to think about being a mom and growing my family and how exciting and what will the nursery look like and what could we name the baby and what pregnancy clothes will I wear? Instead of thinking about like, What in the hell did I just go through? I think that it was a case of that, you know.
Billy: Well, then if we fast forward a bit, you know, life threw you another curveball, another crisis when your husband, Darren, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. So walk us through that situation and how that was similar to yet different from your diagnosis.
Becky: Yeah, it was. So let's see, that was about seven years ago. Kind of almost is where it started. Like right now, like it's kind of can play through the seasons, but we had just built a house and we were getting ready to move in in a couple weeks. And Darren was actually in a car accident. He was parked in the woman was going maybe like 40.
So he definitely got some whiplash and stuff, like he walked away from it fine, But he had a concussion and it kind of messed him up. And so when we were moving into this house, like he was just not right. And he was a personal trainer, a bodybuilder. Mr. Muscle So for him to not be able to, like, use his brawn to move his family into his new house was definitely difficult for him.
And then it was kind of in moments like that where I would be like, something's not right. Like if he can't even do this, which normally he would kind of grunt through and do something somethings off. So just seemed to take a long time for him to get back to himself. And so that was in the fall. And then he kept having these weird episodes of these like weird stomach flare ups and like sharp back pains.
And it felt like maybe he threw it out lifting or he had a sensitive stomach. And so it was like maybe he ate some fried food and it didn't agree with him or, you know, there was just always seemed to be a reason. And as soon as it would come, it would leave. So it wasn't even really time to put a lot of thought into it.
So then over the holiday season, we'd been in our house for a couple of months and Christmas, it's super stressful time for a family. I mean, it's beautiful and wonderful, but there's a lot to do, right? The wrapping presents, getting the gifts, the decorating, the making the cookies, putting up the tree, all those things. And he was like out of commission.
He was in so much pain, which we thought at that time that he had thrown his back out lifting, that he was like couch ridden. And so I'm starting to get kind of resentful, right, because it's like, Oh, it must be nice to sit on the couch all Christmas. I'll take care of everything. You're such a brat anyways.
But then there was these moments again through the holidays where I knew he would get through if he could and he couldn't. And I'm like, This is not like him. Like, what's going on right after Christmas is over, He made an appointment and he went into the doctor and he went by himself. I was home with the kids because we were like that certain.
It was like no big deal. And so they went in, they did an ultrasound or something to him, I think. And she was like, Oh, I'm fairly confident. No, they didn't do an ultrasound. It was just talking through. I think maybe they did some bloodwork. She's like, It sounds like it's your gallbladder, so we'll make an appointment for some imaging tomorrow, but you know, we'll probably just remove it.
You have a little bit of a modified diet and you'll be totally good to go. And so he came home, was like, perfect, awesome. Let's get you feeling better. So the next day he went in for imaging again. I stayed home with the kids. She made it seem like such a no brainer that I didn't even consider anything different.
So I remember I was sitting literally right in this exact same spot working from home, and his appointment was like taking forever and again never occurred to me something was wrong. Darren was super extroverted, so I always joke that like it was like as if he was in a parade wherever we went, you know, Hey, how you doing?
Whatever. So I just honestly assumed he had made friends with people in the waiting room and got lost in conversation and just totally forgot what time it was. So he called and I picked up the phone in a snippy wife fashion, and I was like, Hey, did you want to come home? Like, What's going on? Where are you?
And his voice was super somber and he just said while they did the imaging and they think it's either Hodgkin's lymphoma or testicular cancer, I was like, what? Like again, such a 180. From the way he lived, he made a career out of healthy living. He was literally like the last person I would ever have thought this would happen to.
Like he was Mr. Invincible. It did not make any type of sense in my brain. So immediately, of course, I leave to go be with him and I pull into the clinic parking lot just as he's walking out and he gets to the car and his phone rings and it's the doctor and she's like, I'm so sorry, but it's testicular cancer and you need to go to this clinic here and start doing this.
And I wish it wasn't that. And at the time he was, I think not quite 31, maybe 32 anyways. YOUNG And then that started the series of having surgery and chemo and just everything. And it just felt like it was 15 months of this battle and literally the most hellish 15 months of my life to see someone you care about so much hurt and be suffering so greatly.
And there's literally nothing you can do. Meanwhile, having like a two year old and a six year old and trying to keep their lives as normal as possible, like they knew that he was sick, we didn't hide that from him. He slept a lot. He was pretty removed from their life, to be honest with you. It was kind of this like slow dissolve, which at the time was literally torture, but it made their grieving process so much.
I don't I say easier because that sounds weird, but it wasn't like this huge Band-Aid being ripped off, right? He already had been very removed from their daily living. And even for me to write, I hadn't had real conversations with him. I hadn't been treated as like a wife. I had been taking out the garbage and I had been shoveling the driveway and paying the bills online and, you know, doing all those things.
It wasn't like I had to relearn them overnight. It was just kind of like as he couldn't do them, I took them over. I mean, we did everything. I felt like we did not go to one doctor's appointment with positive news ever. There was one brief moment, you know, where we had thought he basically had kind of come out of it.
But then he went back six weeks later for a checkup and it was back and spread in his brain and just like all over and then got to the end and they were like, there's really nothing more that we can do for you. And we're like, Sorry, that's not good enough. So then we did some alternative treatment at Reno at a facility that was incredible.
I wish we would have known about it earlier. I don't know if it would have made a difference or not, but their philosophies and ways of doing things were incredible. But we came home beginning of March, so it had been about a year and three months or so since he had been sick and he was bad. I remember my parents thankfully flew to Reno to help us home, which I would have never been able to do it.
And he was on oxygen and he was weighed about £160. He was normally like 230 probably, you know, comes home in a wheelchair, super pale, bald. And I remember to actually I didn't see this, but my mom caught it when we were leaving the airport. He saw servicemen and like saluted him and shook his hand and thanked him for service.
Well, he's like days away from passing is just like that's kind of who he was. Just so others focus. But anyways, we were at home and I was really struggling because I could tell that we were kind of near the end and I was so afraid that there was going to be some kind of situation that would happen at home because he wanted to be home.
And honestly, we did not know we were this close to the end. Otherwise we would have done things differently. But I was just like having panic attacks and I couldn't sleep because I was so afraid. Something was going to happen, like on my watch randomly, but not so randomly. My parents ended up being here and my sister in law, who's now a nurse, was here and he had collapsed in the bathroom and yelled for me to come and help him.
And, you know, my dad was here and he was able to help me. And my mom scooped up the kids with my sister in law and they took off. And it was like 24 hours. So I'm kind of zigzagging. But 24 hours before he had passed away, I remember getting down on the floor because he was kind of hunched over.
So that was the most comfortable for him in a chair. And I was like, Hey, if you're tired, you don't have to keep doing this. And he was just like, his eyes got super big and he was like, kind of offended, I think. But because we hadn't really had any of these types of conversations yet. And he's like, What do you mean?
And I'm just like, We've literally done everything. And if you're tired and exhausted because everything in him hurt, he couldn't use his feet in his hands because the chemo was so bad. I started to think like, we get on the other side of this. What is his quality of life, Even like things you don't think you're going to have to think about when you're, you know, like 33 years old?
And so I just said to him, do what you need to do and I respect you. And I mean, the kids are going to be great no matter what. And he was like, I can't think about that. And I said, And you don't have to. I said. But you need to know, like in the depths of you, when you get to that moment that you have to decide it's okay and like we're going to be okay.
It's like, I can't think about that right now. I said, That's fine. You don't have to. But just, you know, tuck this conversation away. And 24 hours later, we are in the hospital and 24 hours later, he was gone.
Billy: Huh? Well, I think I need an emotional break after that. And I'm going to give the audience an emotional break here. So we're going to do just that. And then when we come back, we're going to continue talking to Becky Emery, going to get a better understanding of this idea of when the day means and where that comes from and how that came about from all this tragedy that she's experienced in her life and how she's turned that into something really powerful and really beautiful.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact me or if you have suggestions about what you'd like to hear on the show, visit WW dot Mindful of midlife crisis dot com and click Contact us while you're there.
Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to get free weekly meditations as well as free resources from our reflective Learn Grow program. You can also click on the show notes for links to the articles and resources referenced throughout the show. If you want to check out my worldly adventures, follow me on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis.
My hope is that my trials, tribulations and successes will inspire you to take intentional action to live a more purpose filled life. And while you're at it, remember to show yourself some love every now and then, too. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Becky Allen. She is the host of the Win the Day podcast.
She has been sharing her story of so much such emotional, powerful story. There's a range of emotions, I imagine, listeners. You do, too. And just imagine having lived that and the range of emotions that Becky has experienced, too. Becky One of the reasons why I wanted to have you on is because want to share that story, but then to do you now have this powerful message of when the day and you do speaking engagements and you host a podcast with this title, when the day.
So where does that slogan come from? What's the origin of that?
Becky: Yeah, so Darren was a big picture thinker. He was super goal oriented and really driven. And so when he was going through this treatment and he was so limited physically, it was incredibly difficult for him because he just felt, I want to achieve these things, but I physically can't. And he didn't know how to really feel like he was still fulfilling what he was supposed to do when he was so limited.
And so he went away and he was praying. He had some quiet time. And I remember he walked into the kitchen. I'll never forget he came in and a real big eyes and he looked totally different. I was like, What happened to you? I go, I know what you're doing. But some changed. And he's like, You know how I've been struggling with this?
And he's like, It's win the day. I was like, What do you mean? He's like, I need to get up every morning, assess my day, assess how I'm feeling and my abilities, and then I need to give that day everything that I can based off of those things. And just when that day and, you know, if I wake up the next morning, then I'll do it again.
But it's just this surrendering of our own plans and desires and sort of submitting to like what God has for you for that day, whether it's people to meet conversations, to have things to accomplish or like sometimes winning the day for him meant just like eating, you know, or taking a shower. And sometimes it meant, you know, living a pretty relatively normal day of what that looked like.
And so it became this mantra for our family to just like one day at a time, because you can't look out more than one day at a time when you're going through something super tragic. And so that became kind of our marching order. And he was really public when he was going through his battle with cancer. And so he would talk a lot about it.
And as he would sign off, he would say when the day and it kind of caught on with people and kind of became this mantra. And it's kind of grown from there. And so, you know, you kind of get this different lease on life or freedom, if you will, after you go through something tragic because it's like, gosh, I survived literally the worst thing I thought I could and like, here I am.
There was a moment a couple of months after Darren passed that I was walking on the beach. I needed to go on a vacation and be by myself. I just needed to be alone with myself. And I was reading this book at the time called The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelley, and it was just sort of the perfect intersection of like where I was at and what I needed to hear.
And I had just finished reading this chapter that was like, one, have you been your best self? And so I kind of closed the book and then I went for a walk on the beach and I was like, What have I been my best self? When have I been? And immediately, you know, kind of that like gut response that kind of comes up to the surface right away.
And it's like, when have you been your best self? And I'm like, It's right now in this exact moment. But then, you know, think about the other voice on the shoulder that's like, okay, you just lost your husband two months ago, three months ago. How can this be your best self right now? Like, who are you kidding? And I feel so free to do what I want and to live this life how it sees fit, right?
Because you have these moments of clarity when you realize how short life really is. Anyways, immediately I felt guilty. How could this be my best life? Only because of losing someone. And I felt like then it started to kind of become this prayer and like I was talking to God about it and just like kind of wrestling with this idea.
And he was like the gift of Darren's short life is to help you step into the fullness of your own. And I'm like, That is not right. That's not right. And he said, Of course it is. He said, Think about this. When you give your kids a gift at Christmas, do you give them a gift because you want them to feel my gift is way better than yours, or to feel guilty like, no, you don't give people gifts to feel guilt.
You give them out of love. And this is a gift that you need to receive out of love, to really step into this next part of your life. And so that's kind of where this win the day idea started kicking around in my head about what does that look like to pursue my best self, but not in the way that I maybe thought, like maybe my best self is undoing things more than doing things, you know, and kind of relearning who I am after these hard things, inviting people to come into that.
Billy: When you've talked about this a little bit, but you mentioned that after your cancer diagnosis that you stopped taking things for granted and then there was this second shift. So how did life shift and how did your perspective shift differently from those to like what were the different lessons that you took away from each of those situations? Because it sounds like one situation in that you've gone through would shift your lens, but then how you go through this next one and how does it shift it even more?
Becky: Yeah, I don't know that they're so different as I would look at them as like building blocks because I really feel like the first experience allowed me in those next, I don't know, five or six or seven years, whatever it was, to really be so present in the moment. And after that miscarriage and me having cancer, Darren and I decided to start a business together.
So we were together all the time and so we really had pretty good time freedom, but we were able to work together and be together. And so I feel like because of that first hard thing, it allowed me to be able to really fully. Like after I lost Erin, say, like I have zero regrets, I don't have any regrets.
And so then that really allowed me to continue to step into this living free space. And I almost feel like it's funny because I've met a lot of young widows who have lost their spouses, too, and there is definitely this euphoric season, I'll call it, of losing someone where you have this YOLO attitude of like, I'm doing all of the things I am saying yes to everything.
I don't give a crap about what anybody else thinks. I am living life large and you're just in this mode because it's been heavy for so long and not that grief ever leaves you. But then there's all of a sudden this like, shift of like, But wait, I'm still living and what do I want? This can be anything I want.
I thought my life was kind of planned out ish, and now it's a completely blank page. And so there's this freedom that kind of comes through that that I feel like because I didn't have any guilt or regrets about how I lived in the past, like I was really able to like, embrace that and move forward with the understanding of like, nothing is really guaranteed.
Billy: You know, as you were talking about your being married young at 22 and then having your first child, do you ever look back on your experiences and think to yourself, Boy, I was on the freeway to living a very comfortable but potentially complacent life. Had this just gone without incident, without me going through cancer, without me having miscarriages, without Darren having cancer and losing him.
Has that ever popped into your mind in any way, shape or form of like, Boy, I was on Easy Street here for a while, but it doesn't sound like Easy Street would have suited you. Does that make sense? Hmm.
Becky: Yeah. I mean, it's interesting thought. I don't think it was necessarily a complacent way of living, although maybe this is just a different way to say it, but....
Billy: Let me clarify that. What I meant was that things were getting comfortable with the potential for it to become complacent or kind of boringly stable, that kind of things, not to say that where you were at that time was complacent, but meaning that there was the potential that you would just get into the routine and the rut because things kind of just happened pretty easily in those first year or two of marriage.
That kind of clarified a bit.
Becky: Yeah, I would say the thought that I have sort of regarding what you just sort of flushed out more than anything is, I wonder if there is like a level of depth and dimension that I have learned about myself that I would have missed and that like, would I have ever been able to find this like, depth or version of myself had I not gone through these experiences like what I have ever met?
This version of me that I've talked about, that was a fair amount of people. And I don't know that there's really been a conclusive answer that I've had with people. I personally don't think I would have. But that's the part that I wonder about. What I still have. Yeah, met this these parts of me. And it's funny because in therapy we joke that like sometimes I feel like I'm like a 22 year old living in like, but also like, I feel like I'm also like 80, you know, because it's like there's this newfound freedom and like, I never really was single and had this time to myself, right?
I mean, obviously I'm a mom, but you know what I'm saying? But also like living this like widowed life and being, like, so reflective at such a young age about things that most people don't think about until they're older. So it's like this interesting dynamic sometimes that I feel a weird conglomeration of personalities or ages or I don't know.
Billy: Well, in the beginning when we introduced you, you said that your podcast focuses on how hard things change you. And so I like that you say, I don't know that I would have gotten to the depths of who I am today, that I want to know me as well as I know myself Now, had I not gone through those things, You have a really strong faith in God.
But on Instagram, it's interesting you describe yourself as a broken believer. What do you mean by that?
Becky: Yeah, great question. I think that kind of comes back a little bit to my anti expert messaging in the sense of I don't ever want to arrive or have things all figured out. And when you have things all figured out, you don't need anything, you don't need people, you don't need relationships and you don't need a faith. It's acknowledging that I am not strong enough on my own, like I do not have it all together.
Like I have major flaws and things that I am a broken person. That's where God's grace comes in. That kind of covers those areas for me and really gives me a purpose, gives my short little time on earth weight, knowing that there's more to come and really is a total game changer for me. And and that's why perspective is so important for me, because I really believe there's an eternal perspective.
And it's not just we're here and then we're gone. And that to me, changes how you live.
Billy: Well, Becky, I just really want to thank you so much for your vulnerability and sharing your story with our listeners. Go check out the win the Day podcast with Becky Allen. You can also follow her on Instagram @becky_allen, you can go to www.winthedaypro.com You guys have shirts there I think, correct.
Becky: We do yeah we've got some when the day apparel for sure some hats and t shirts and some more stuff coming out later this fall and as.
Billy: Well And there's a story behind that correct. How did this apparel come to be?
Becky: Yeah, we have such a great community of people that were so supportive while Darren was going through this cancer treatment. We had friends take this win the day slogan and put it on t shirts and sell them as a fundraiser. We sold thousands of t shirts, so it was so cool. I would get text from friends like I'm in the Denver airport.
I just saw when the day t shirt or like we're at Disney World and I just saw in that t shirt. And so it was kind of this movement and people kept asking like, can we get a sweatshirt? Can we put this in red? Can you put it on a hat? And so we had a friend came and visited us when Darren was sick.
As was leaving, she was like skirting out the door to her car and she turned on. She was, Oh, I'm supposed to tell you I was praying for you guys this morning and I felt like I'm supposed to tell you to start the win the day apparel and supposed to be like this lifestyle brand. And she kind of scooted away and him and I kind of looked at each other like this never crossed our mind.
So that's kind of where it came. People kept being like, Are you going to do this? We want more. I'm like, All right, well, if I don't do it, someone else will. So that's sort of where it's come from. And it's been a good reminder for people because it's just so applicable to so many different hard things. And it's a great perspective for people to have as they move through them to the other side.
Billy: Well, it's a beautiful message that continues to share a beautiful story. And we want to thank you again, if you want some when the day apparel go to WW dot win the day pro dot com see what they have there get in touch with Becky you're just a wonderful person It's been great talking to you. Thank you so much for sharing your story Becky.
Becky: Thanks for having me.
Billy: Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the show notes for all of Becky's contact information. Don't forget to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. If you're an Apple listener, you can do that by clicking the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Also, please do me a favor and leave a five star review with a few kind words.
Or if you're a Spotify listener. Click those five stars under the show hour after you click the follow button. If you'd like to share your thoughts on this week's episode, you can find all of my contact information in the show notes as well. Feel free to email me your takeaways from this conversation at MindfulMidlifeCrisis@gmail.com.
You can also follow me and DM me on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. You can find me on LinkedIn at Billy Lahr. That's LAHR. Or you can send a message to the contact page at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com while you're there. Feel free to sign up for the newsletter so you can get access to the free meditations I send out every Sunday.
Finally, I know Becky and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from Becky's expertise and life experiences. Remember, the purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. And I hope this conversation provides some insight that will help you reflect, learn and grow so you can live a more purpose filled life.
So for Becky, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved.
Take care, friends.