How I Survived 2020 and Found Hope In The New Year

For me, the year 2020 was pregnant with promise. The year began on a good note, and I had my goals all planned out, ready to be pursued.

Like everyone else, I never imagined a deadly virus was launching a global rampage that would keep the world on standstill. As if the virus wasn’t enough trouble, the year came with fierce job losses, financial worries, ill health, social distancing, social unrest, and so much more.

From my childhood on, I have been tested in incomprehensible ways. I’m used to adapting, taking things in stride. Whatever measures the government suggested to curb the virus spread, such as masks and social distancing, I was all in. This was an easy choice for me considering the life-threatening health challenges I have already overcome.

My 2020 was in full stride—with precautions and reservations, life continued nonetheless. Then came the month of March.

On March 11, 2020, once COVID-19 hit the West, it was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Panic set in.

While states across America began locking down, the virus was already in New York. Little did I know then, but I had contracted this deadly disease.

On March 16, I experienced my first symptom. It was a slight tickle in my throat, but having suffered from year-round allergies, this didn’t seem like a cause for concern. It wasn’t until I felt the undeniable bone chill that I realized something was really wrong, and I suspected I had COVID-19.

On March 20, I was hospitalized, having been diagnosed with hypoxemic respiratory failure, a pulmonary embolism, multiple pulmonary nodules, triple pneumonia (COVID-19, viral, and bacterial), and what appeared to be an aggressive case of lung cancer.

Coach Reea Rodney Battling Covid

Shortly after that diagnosis, I received more disturbing news from my doctors, which left me speechless and in shock. I was told that my body was experiencing sepsis, my kidneys and liver were failing, my heart was enlarged, my white blood cells were dangerously low, and my red blood count was falling.

Never had I felt more scared and alone in my entire life. 

My life as I knew it was slipping away from me. I was in isolation, helpless and alone, given two death sentences: COVID-19 and lung cancer.

Fortunately, after two days of terror, I got some great news: I didn’t have lung cancer. The damage to my lungs, which mimics cancer on a CT scan, was actually caused by this dreadful disease.

I forced myself to take a breath of relief, hearing that I was cancer-free. Shortly after, I was suffocating again as the nurses’ discussions about putting me on a ventilator continued. It felt like I was receiving daily deathly threats, as I was hemorrhaging through my nostrils and female body parts due to the heparin shot that I was receiving for the pulmonary embolism.

Every minute of every day, I fought to breathe, I fought to live, and I fought to keep my faith in God alive. I refused to accept death as my portion, so I hadn’t any choice but to completely surrender myself to God and trust that He would see me through.

As the days followed, the illness worsened, and the pain became unbearable and indescribable. My body was deteriorating quickly, and I was unable to walk, eat, see written text, and sometimes even speak. Each day, I fought with everything I had within me to survive this disease that was so desperately trying to kill me. And knowing that it had already taken so many lives in China and Europe made me feel convicted and sentenced to death.

As much as I was afraid of dying, I was even more afraid of being put on the ventilator. So, I repeatedly refused it and trusted God to see me through. I was on over 17 medications, as well as oxygen, and I wasn’t getting any better. My breathing was reduced to short puffs, and I would often pass out when I coughed, which was about every five to ten minutes.

On my fourth day in the hospital, my doctor walked in, dressed head to toe in her PPE and with most of her face hidden, and said, “There isn’t anything else we can do for you.” My last option, she said, was an experimental drug. At this time, I felt I had nothing to lose, as I was surely dying. I gave her the nod, and I started receiving treatment.

I won’t credit the drugs as my lifesaver because the next few days were the worst. My lungs felt like blocks of concrete in my chest. However, my faith in God grew to a level where I surrendered everything over to Him. I rallied my family, supporters, and prayer warriors on social media, who in turn rallied their friends to pray for me. Before I knew it, I had over 90,000 people from all over the world praying for me to get well daily. 

Seeing the move of God and feeling the love of so many strangers helped me tap into a deep inner strength I didn’t know I had. This empowered me to fight even harder. It was at that moment that I decided to remove the limitation I had placed on myself and decided to take a deep breath, without regard to the fear of it costing me my life.

So now, as you read this article, I want you to take a DEEP BREATH—as if your life depends on it—and say these words: “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO WORK OUT FOR ME.”

Believe in yourself enough to know that there isn’t any high mountain you cannot climb or any obstacle you cannot overturn. Don’t allow fear to prevent you from breathing and believing in your ability to succeed, no matter the situation.

Yes, you may fail! You may grow weary. But YOU WILL SURVIVE because you’ve got what it takes in this season of drought, sickness, heartache, uncertainty, loneliness, and doubt to walk into your purpose and thrive.

I was determined to take some deep breaths when my lungs were telling me I couldn’t, and my body was begging me not to because it couldn’t handle the aftermath. But I took a chance on me, knowing that those deep breaths could kill me but also knowing, that if I didn’t, death was certain.

Never limit your mental capacity in tackling tough situations. Sometimes the things that seem designed to kill us are here to liberate us from the bondage of a limitation mindset. These situations show us what we are made up of and help us to build our self-confidence.

After ten days of suffering, in isolation and crippled by fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and self-doubt, I made it. The darkest part of my journey was behind me, and I was finally able to breathe on my own and walk again. 

It took me a couple of months to feel like myself again, but I did. I made it through, and because I did, I know you can make it through the storms in your life too.

After experiencing death so many times as I lay in that hospital bed, I’ve arrived at a place of full acceptance, and I’ve increased my willingness to fully surrender everything over to God. I have also decided to live in the moment by taking one step at a time. I want to encourage you to do the same by sharing some valuable lessons I’ve learned in the year 2020.

1. Even when life looks the bleakest and you feel like everything is falling apart, in reality, everything is coming together.

2. When life seems overwhelming or when you’re challenged by the things of this world, always remember that you have the power to take your life in the direction you want it to go. You are destined for greatness, and you’re going to win.

3. Family is important and should not be taken for granted. Making quality time for the people you love is very important.

4. Letting go of the things we cannot change can be difficult, but it is a skill learned by many of us this year, including me. I’ve learned to let go of trying to control everything and to embrace the flow of change.

5. It is important to adapt quickly. We are all capable of being resilient in unexpected and uncertain circumstances.

6. This year has reminded me of the precious moments in life. At some point, we’ve all had to make sacrifices in our daily lives, which has given me a greater appreciation for family and friends.

7. As human beings, we were created with the ability to evolve and grow, but for many, accepting change can be challenging. This pandemic has forced many of us to get out of our comfort zones this year, and that has been a good thing.

If I had to use descriptive words to sum up my 2020, I would say it has been unforgettable, unpredictable, unprecedented, and unbinding, as none of us have escaped unscathed in our personal or professional lives.

Regardless of how the year went down, I am most grateful for this: we are alive to read this article, and we have made it to 2021.

I look ahead to 2021 with high hopes. The experiences of 2020 make me open-minded, as I anticipate better times and new opportunities. You should too!

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