When Life Gives You Lemons- My Survival Story

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By Sherletta Germain

2018 started off so perfect, which was cool because 2017 was a doozie. Have you ever felt like that? Like you wish the year would just “end” already because you are just over it? 2017 left me wanting to leave it right where it was-behind.

The year before, I had lots of hard decisions and welcomed the smooth transition into a new year. I will not bore you with the details, but I remember moving up to MI to be closer to my son, who had only been living with his father since the year before. 2016? 2016 was worse than 2017.

My landlord was a complete jerk, and I welcomed the opportunity to go back home with my friends and run as fast as I could from my roach-infested apartment. The lease was up. I was at a dead-end job. Can you believe I was traveling about 40 minutes each way to be in high stress for 8 hours a day? Well, believe it.

In 2017 there were people dying on me left and right. There was one lemon. January, February, and March. Six people in total I had known and loved, died. I was distressed. How many know you should never make decisions under high-stress and menstrual cycles? Worst decisions ever made, at least for me, were during those times. Fear and panic overtook me. My ex-husband had been sick during that time, losing almost 100 pounds and the doctors could not figure out why. I was REALLY afraid that my son would no longer have a father. I did not want that blood to be on my hands. I was a nervous wreck.

We shared a child, and, although I knew he was never coming to Florida to visit our son, I was unwilling to let his distance keep him from being a father. After extensive conversations I decided to allow my son to live with his father. Who knew how big that lemon was going to be?

Things seemed to be getting a little bit better. I decided it was time to relocate! My daughters and I packed, placed our items in storage, and off we went to discover that lemons follow you all around, and there is no escape.

Michigan was nostalgic yet bittersweet. Nothing was as it was about 10 years prior. My old friends had moved on, the cities were pretty run down. It was gloomy. But me? I had hope! Motivation! Love! Most of all, I had all three of my children there with me.

I started a job in Oakland County in a city named Auburn Hills, MI. The children were in Flint Township schools, another county away. (What was it about me and working in other counties lol)? It seemed I had finally begun reaching my dreams. I was making enough money to pay my bills and save. I reconnected with family and friends. I was doing well for myself, or so I thought.

Well, there went those darned lemons again. My shift was mid-day, so I would generally get home at 7. I was quickly losing a hold on my relationship with my childhood friend, who was responsible for getting the girls home and fed. She bit off more than she was willing to chew. You would think we could have adult conversations about it, but nah…it was easier for a rift to build between us. The sweetness of my nostalgic move lasted about 2.5 months. I was forced to have to transition my childcare elsewhere. How many of you know that when safety is your number one concern for your children, you will pay any price?

But not 250 dollars per week, per child. No sir, no ma’am! Things quickly began to come apart. People were too busy. They did not have transportation. I could not switch my shift to accommodate coming home earlier. My lemon was quickly turning into a lemonade stand.

I called my two-favorite people in the world, my Godparents, who were back in FL. I spoke to them candidly, as I had always done in the past. My Godparents were LIFE to me during my 2nd divorce. We were as close as a child and parents could be, considering they did not birth me. “Let the girls come back to FL for the summer,” they said. “That way it will give you time to figure things out.” (there was that sugar I needed to make my lemonade perfect).

That is just what I did. Packed them up, drove them down, dropped them off around the 4th of July, and came back and went to work. This is going to be GREAT!!! At least that is what I thought. I got back to town, went to work, found the perfect apartment right by my job, and boom! I was ready to go. Well, as you know, there was another lemon waiting. I was unable to secure after school and/or day care. My daughters were not old enough to take care of themselves. I had no one in the near vicinity who could pick them up from the school they were zoned for. I was back at square one. Those frickin’ lemons.

Meanwhile, my son and I were doing phenomenal. His relationship with his father had blossomed, we were very happy…for about 2 months. Summer was almost over. It was time for the girls to come back. I had no clue what to do. But the obvious choice was that I was not going to be able to stay in Michigan.

Maybe I can go back to my travel job? I can keep the girls in FL, they can register for school there, I thought. I made more than enough money, and if my son comes back with me, it will be PERFECT (the sweetener added again).

So, I called Kira. She said, sure, my Prima Donna, of course you can come back. But guess what? My baby wasn’t a baby anymore. He did not want to come back to FL with me. UGHHHH why not?!? I remember asking, and his response was that he was trying to develop a solid relationship with his father. BITTERSWEET LEMONS. I took the job, started traveling and was on my way.

There I was, starting over AGAIN (lemon seeds planted in the back yard) but I was traveling like I wanted to. Remember Hurricane Irma? Yep, she came in 2017. I was working in Miami when I got the call saying, “Sherletta, you need to pack up and go back to Tampa. The storm is going to hit hard, and it’s coming right to where you are working.”

So, what did I do? Packed up and went back to Tampa. It took about 9 hours for what would be a 3.5-hour trip. The streets were super congested. There was hardly any gas. But I made it just in time…for the storm to hit Tampa. Hard lol. The Worst.

My daughters had finally begun school. Life was sending me sugar again. All those lemons needed sweetening, right? As I was traveling, my oldest daughter was beginning to act out in school. By then, I had averaged about a 2-month sweet spot, followed by getting busted in the face by lemon after lemon. Take a breath, then repeat. It was the worst. Did I mention it was the worst? “Mom, can you please just stop traveling and get a local job?” Gurl……let me think about it, I said.

By fall, things were slowing down at work, which they often did. I was constantly getting calls from the school about Minah’s behavior. She became very withdrawn and sad. She would crawl under the table at school and refuse to come out. I did what any empathetic mother would do-I promised her I would come off the road and get a local job. (Throws up in my mouth, hugging her whilst my mouth was full of bile, but I held it in…. those damned lemons.)

Thanksgiving came and went, followed by both my birthday and my daughter’s birthday. She had reminded me again that I promised her I would work locally. I was kind of being a sloth about it, but I had made some progress. And then, I looked out the mirror, and notices something I had not seen before. My lemon seeds had turned into a lemon TREE, girlfriend, and I could literally see the lemons blooming!! My son was on my mind heavy, so I texted him. His response was IWTKM.

Now, Spearman and I are like acronym queens. We can decode an acronym in minutes, even seconds. I called him and said, “Baby, are you saying what I think you’re saying?” My son had become suicidal. This was something no one is ready to hear, especially not from their son. I had to pull myself together. I wanted to know if he made any attempts. I also wanted to know if he had a plan. Many times, when people are dealing with depression and isolation, they do not actually want to kill themselves, they just don’t want to be in pain. So, knowing how to ask the right questions, I believe, helped save his life. Please just give me 90 days. If you can promise me that you will not do anything to harm yourself, I will fix this. I am bringing you back home with me and your sisters. He agreed.


December, I landed a new position. Guess where it was?!? You guessed it…in another county lol. It was local, and 9-5, with benefits from date of hire. I still had not moved into my own place again; I didn’t have the time. But I got it together-Jan 2018 I was finally beginning, and by February I was signing my lease. March of 2018 he was back in Florida with me. April was fun. May, I decided I was going to finally get that annual exam and my first mammogram. Let the lemons begin to fall.

My gynecologist was so close to my job and so fast, I could go on my lunch break for my appointments. I was done with my pap smear and lab work earlier than expected. She asked me whether I was planning to get my mammogram done same day or did I want to schedule. I offered to stop by their office, since it was just downstairs.

If you haven’t noticed yet, there was no mention of God in my story. I had had ENOUGH of God and was on a sabbatical from any conversations pertaining to God for a year or so prior to all this happening. Many friends were not at all happy with that decision, or with me personally, but they kept praying for me.

Anyways, I went downstairs, thinking, “what am I going to eat for lunch?” I was not super hungry, but food was always a thought close to my mind and my heart lol. The receptionist calls me up to the desk. Ms. Germain, would you like to be seen today? We have an opening, and since it’s a 3-D mammogram it should not take longer than 15 minutes and is much less painful than the traditional exam. Sure, why not? I said.

That was on a Monday. Tuesday, I received a call at work telling me I needed to have a diagnostic mammogram. I was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. I received the results same day. The charge nurse was beautiful, her bedside manner was angelic. For the life of me, I could not understand why she had to pull me into the office to talk to me. Why is she telling me all this for an appointment?

She began stating I needed a needle biopsy. That test was scheduled was routine, and, though they look for cancer, many biopsies come back benign. She was hopeful mine would be, too. It was not. I tested positive for Stage II ductal carcinoma. I had cancer and I had to find out on my lunch break.

THE LEMON TREEE WAS IN FULL BLOOM. Lemons were everywhere on the ground.

My son had not been home not even 60 days and I was having to schedule appointments with oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists… wait, what?!? Life was a blur. Make a decision, do it right away, is basically what the doctors stated! Black women, when they get diagnosed with breast cancer, have to make a decision quickly because for whatever reason, the cancer is so aggressive and relentless.

How can I leave my children? Am I going to die? What did I do to deserve this? Can I get a second opinion? Am I going to die?!? I cannot die. God, I don’t know where you are, or if you can hear me, or if you are real, but I will NOT repeat the cycle of having motherless children like I did when I was growing up.

That, ladies, is what sweetened my lemonade. I decided to fight for my life. Not because I wanted to, not because I had to. Because I refused to leave my children alone. It was hell. 7 surgeries including a double mastectomy and full hysterectomy. Not being able to lift my arms to pull a plate off the shelf. Looking down and seeing where my breasts once were, to a nothingness. The immediate reconstruction. The complications from the chemo pills basically causing me to be at an EXTREMELY high risk for ovarian cancer.

I was completely devastated. I feel like I lost my mind. But those that were praying for me. I am now healed. I am now whole. I am now restored. I owe it all to the Most-High God, the Universal God. God is real. Jesus is real. Luciferian Satan is VERY real, and we need to know that he’s not playing with us.

I lived to tell my story to help the Melissa Manning’s of the world. I was sharing my story on social media because I felt like if I didn’t talk about it, I was going to go CRAZY. I met her virtually right after my 3rd surgery. She had stage 4 breast cancer and was refusing treatment. My story was not just written for me. Can you identify with that?

I wasn’t healing due to stress. I made a decision that no one and nothing was worth my life due to STRESS. My last surgery was December 2019. It was a battle sent from the 7th circle of hell. But out of that battle, my son is doing exceptional and will be a 2021 graduate. My daughters are learning engineering and Japanese. I was fired in the middle of my cancer treatment with my ‘then’ job but landed a job where I can work from home. I make more money than I have ever made my entire tenure of being in FL.

I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ back in my life during quarantine. I am looking for a long, long life here on earth sharing my story. I want to encourage those of you who may be going through hell to remember to endure til the end. And pick someone else up along the way.

I love you. Thank you for sharing my journey with me. We must find joy in the journey.