A few years ago I had thyroid cancer, which metastasized to my lymph nodes. I’m in remission now, but I had bad joint pain and felt depressed. I’d eat chocolate and cookies for comfort. I had low self-confidence because I’ve had a speech impediment my whole life. I stutter, and talking to new people is hard for me. I never wanted to go out.

I was inspired to download the Thrive app by my good friend, Arvis Abban.

Arvis is kind and caring — she’s my biggest supporter. She’d encouraged me to go back to school twelve years ago to become a nurse, which had always been my calling. Arvis is a Thrive Challenge Grand Champ, and I’d seen how she’d changed her own life with Better Choices.  

I began by drinking water instead of fruit juice and eating more salad. 

I stopped using ranch dressing. People used to joke when they saw me eating salad, saying: “Why don’t you have some salad with your dressing?” Now I just use a little vinegar and olive oil. My husband, Bruce, does most of the cooking. He’ll make delicious baked chicken with tomatoes and scallions and a side of broccoli. Occasionally, for a treat, our daughter, Shanice makes her amazing, awesome carrot cake.  

Bruce and I sit down at the table together for dinner instead of eating in front of the TV. 

We’re communicating and bonding more, and on weekends, we enjoy sitting out on the deck playing Scrabble. 

As soon as I get home from work I change into my workout clothes and get on the treadmill. I started walking for 20 minutes, gradually built it up, and now I walk five miles, five days a week. Bruce and I work out together. While I’m on the treadmill, he’ll ride the stationary bike. I now have more energy for my 16-month-old grandson, Kaden. We play patty cake, and I run around with him.

At work, I’m going out of my way to help people.

Recently, a patient wanted help to register for her eye surgery. Usually, we tell patients to go online themselves or contact customer service. But this lady said no one at customer service was answering the phone. I knew it would be hard for me to help her on the phone because of my stutter, but I decided to do it anyway. I talked her through filling out the form so she was all set for her surgery. She told me: “You are so kind, this means so much to me.” And that made me feel good, because my job is about taking care of others.

I say positive things to myself, like: I’m grateful to have a job I love.

I’m thankful for my husband and three great kids. When I wake up in the morning, I’m happy and pain-free. At 50, my future looks bright — it’s going to be awesome. Life is short, and we should cherish the time we have on this earth.

— Schenetta Fortune, Walmart Customer; Ruther Glen, VA; $5K Winner