Today is International Women’s day, and when I reflect on the significance of this day, I think about the generation of women who have gone before me. The women of the 60s and 70s that inspired me and paved the path of change. I think of my mother, Marie Chaney. Many of you know her as the inspiration behind Thryv Organics, and since it is also Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, I thought now would be a good time to tell you more about this extraordinary woman and the powerful impact she has had not only on me but on the many people that are lucky enough to know her.
Growing Up in Awe
When I was growing up, my mother modeled strength and determination to succeed in her “field of dreams.” Today, when she meets someone new, she will proudly tell them that she was an EDUCATOR. Education was her life’s love and work. After years of teaching high school business classes, she decided she wanted to be an administrator, a Principal. The path was not easy. In the late 70s-early 80s, there were few women in administrative roles in Amarillo, Tx.
I would watch her every move, and I learned. I watched as she went back to school to get her master’s degree while she worked full time and raised my brother and me on her own. Soon, she was given the Assistant Principal position at the school I attended, Fannin Junior High. I can still picture her walking the halls, looking impeccable in her 1980s power suit, high heels, flaming red hair, and bright blue eyes. I was in awe of her. She was in her element serving her students and staff. She loved them deeply and expected much of them.
She went on to become the principal at Fannin, and then several years later, the first female high school principal in Canyon. In all those positions, she broke down barriers, built programs, and encouraged other women to imagine personal and professional achievements. She would always say that “as you move up the ladder, it’s incumbent on you to turn around and help other women move up too.” There are women educators in leadership roles to this day that she encouraged and mentored.
Then It All Changed
In 1998, out of the blue, she woke up one morning and collapsed. She was diagnosed with a minor stroke. Severe vertigo kept her in bed for weeks. We descended down a long path looking for a diagnosis. After four years, multiple doctors, another “stroke,” and brain hemorrhage caused by an anticoagulant, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The brain hemorrhage was so detrimental that we were told that if she lived, she would not fully recover. She lived, but her career in education was over. I moved her in with me and began my journey as her caretaker.
I would love to tell you the journey has been an easy one. It hasn’t. Watching this woman, this beacon of strength, get chipped away by Multiple Sclerosis has been awful. It’s been over twenty years, and the devastation I feel is just as palatable as it was when she first got sick.
My business partner and Thryv Organics co-founder, Kristi Kelley, and I have been friends during this entire process. When my mom was first diagnosed, Kristi would sit with me while I cried and cried. She held space for me to break down, be vulnerable and deal. She still does. I learned from my mom well - surround yourself with a tribe of women that support and encourage you.
After years of taking care of my mom, I became disillusioned with the one-size-fits-all medical advice we were given. At one point, my mom had a shoebox full of prescriptions, each designed to treat a symptom and then more to treat a side effect of the original prescription. It was madness. I am not anti-traditional medicine, but I was convinced there had to be a better way.
Multiple Sclerosis and CBD
MS affects the body in many ways. It can cause pain, and my mom experiences a lot of it. In 2019, she was on 5 different pain meds, gabapentin, diazepam, methocarbamol, tramadol, and trazodone. At one time, the doctors even had her on methadone. She could not hold her head up or have a coherent conversation. The irony? She was still in pain. Madness.
I was determined to find an alternative way to address her pain and my sister-in-law suggested CBD. I explored it and tested several products. I settled on CBD softgels. Finally, mom found relief, and with the help of her nurse practitioner, she was safely taken off all her pain meds.
An Optimistic Outlook
Through all of these years, my mom remains optimistic. If she has a bad day, she goes to bed saying and believing that tomorrow will be a better day. She chooses every day to have a positive outlook. She never asks, why me? She just moves forward as best she can. She is still the strongest person I know, and I’m still learning from her and in awe of her.
She now lives in an assisted living facility in Dallas and is making new friends, telling her stories, and encouraging all she meets. There are a lot of retired teachers living there, and she is beyond excited to meet them. They will become her new tribe.
It’s been my honor to introduce you all to my hero and the inspiration behind Thryv Organics. I hope she inspires you as she continues to inspire me and all those who know her.
Such a beautiful and touching tribute to an inspiring, awesome woman written by an equally inspiring, awesome woman. Kudos to you both! And hugs❤️