I’ve been through a lot of illness in my life. When I was 19, I had Hodgkin’s disease. A few years later, I had rheumatic fever. I had breast cancer two years ago and had a double mastectomy. After the chemotherapy, my neck hurt so much, I couldn’t hold my head up. I’m 56 and divorced with a wonderful 29-year-old son, Kevin. But I felt depressed; it was like the depression was swallowing me up. I’m in remission, which is great, but my diet wasn’t good. I’d eat fast food like chicken tenders and fries. One morning I woke up with extreme pain in my right foot and I was hobbling around. It turned out to be gout. My doctor said I needed to eat better and exercise. 

I read the Thrive Challenge book in the breakroom and was inspired by the stories.

So many people had turned their lives around and I thought: “I can do that.” I started doing Microsteps on the Thrive app, like drinking water instead of Coke. Kevin bought me a water bottle and said: “Mom, you have to drink a lot every day!” I began baking food instead of frying it. My favorite recipe is chicken marinated in lemon juice and honey and baked in the oven. I’m getting out and walking around my neighborhood, and I bought stretchy bands to exercise at home. By eating well and moving, the pain has gone.

I’ve started a little business selling vintage ceramics. 

I’ve always loved beautiful pottery, often from the ’50s, so I buy dishes and plates from thrift stores, clean them up and sell them on Facebook Marketplace. I only make about $125 a month, but it’s so exciting, it’s become a wonderful hobby. I recently sold a porcelain tray with a rose on it to a lady in California who sent me a message telling me how much she loved and appreciated the care I’d put into restoring and packaging it.

At work, I do my best to help people. The other day an older disabled lady in a motorized cart   was struggling with bags, so I carried her groceries to her car and put them in the trunk for her. She was so happy.

I’m taking care of myself. 

I pray every day and listen to music I love, like Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. I went on a trip to Myrtle Beach with my brother and his girlfriend which was amazing. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve had a vacation. I could afford to go because of the extra money I’ve been making. Also, I had been driving a very old truck and I bought myself a 2014 Nissan Juke — to me it’s like a Rolls Royce.

The Thrive app reminds me to be grateful.

I’m blessed that I’m here and I’ve been given another day in this world. I’m feeling better physically and my doctor says my blood work looks much better. I’m more confident and a lot happier.

— Debbie Jewell, Supercenter #5487; Travelers Rest, SC; $5K Winner