The fun of life is to get caught up in living—working hard, taking care of a family, and enjoying friends. The momentum carries us, sometimes too far, and we lose sight of our what’s really important: our health. It’s the backbone of what enables us to lead a successful career and be there for the people who need us.
Janeen Gordon has been a busy career woman for the past 20 years. She’s a well known personality as WMC Action News 5’s morning and afternoon traffic anchor. In 2015, she started seeing the effects of her rigorous schedule. “I knew something was wrong for a long time, but I didn’t want to take the time off work,” she says.
She was suffering from fatigue and her body put on weight that she just couldn’t lose. One morning she woke up with a tingling sensation in her arm and a bulge in her throat. Janeen finally made an appointment with her doctor, who ran a blood test. The results showed there was an issue with her thyroid. She was referred to a specialist for more tests. She learned that she had an enlarged thyroid that could be cancerous. Janeen scheduled her thyroidectomy in October last year. The surgery was a success and there were no complications, but two weeks into her recovery, Janeen encountered another medical issue for which her doctors had no explanation.
“The most important thing is to slow down and listen to your body.”
“I woke up one morning and couldn’t say a word.” Her condition persisted more than just a few days. “Every time I went back to my doctor he scratched his head a little more,” she says. There was no paralysis to the vocal chords or damage of any kind; she simply couldn’t speak. For the past 25 years, Janeen had made her living with her voice on radio and television, so she felt frustrated and powerless. “When you wake up one day and you don’t have a voice, fear starts to set in.”
Her condition lasted over three months. While off the air, Janeen refocused her energy into making changes in her life. She started with her diet by adding in more fruits and vegetables, cutting out fried foods, and drinking a gallon of water each day. “I cook now, which is surprising. I actually use my stove and oven and use the microwave less. I’ve completely changed the way I eat,” she says. Although you can still catch her at one of her local favorites like Side Street Grill or Broadway Pizza. Janeen also got active with Bikram Yoga and Infernal Pilates. Janeen enjoys challenging herself and would like to run a half marathon in the future as well as travel more and do some exploring.
Looking back on her situation she says, “I had a lot of time to myself— a lot of quiet moments. It was an opportunity to see what really matters. It turned out to be a great experience and I wouldn’t change anything about the process.” She adds, “I came out a stronger person. I get up every morning and I’m not fatigued; I get up every morning and I smile.”
Janeen wants her experience serves an example to all of us who have been putting something off. “I could have nipped this in the bud over a year ago, but I didn’t. I waited too long,” she says. “We’re all busy, but the most important thing is to slow down and listen to your body. If you don’t, your body will slow you down.”
By Kathleen Vanderpool Manning
Photo by Sarah McAlexander