What I Learned from Having Mono


In September of 2012, I got a cold. It was a pretty bad one, but because we had 3 weeks off until our next performance, I couldn’t have asked for better timing. Well those 3 weeks flew by and instead of getting better, I was getting worse. I was so sick I could barely sing, and my whole body was hurting.

By the last week of October I felt like the walking dead. Inconveniently, this was also the week of our photo shoot for our new album, “Come Alive.” It was FREEZING outside. And since winter coats are usually frowned upon for an album cover, I was outside, in the cold, coatless and sick all day. Between shots I would wrap up in my coat, ditching it at the very last second before I had to smile. Many of our shots feature the three of us huddled together-- mostly because Brooke and Whitney were trying to keep me warm. It was one of the longest days of my life.

About half way through the shoot I got a call from my doctor. The results of my blood work were in.

I had mono.

That next weekend was rough. I’ll never forget the night after an exhausting Time Out for Girls (with a Time Out for Women event the next day) waking up in the middle of the night to Whitney getting the humidifier going for me and mixing up oil concoctions to help me breath so I could sleep better.
The next day I gave it all I had physically and vocally. Between sets I would go off stage and fall asleep on the couch. Whit and Brooke would wake me up right before we had to be on stage again. When we were finally done with our last set, we walked backstage and I just broke down sobbing on them both. I was so exhausted. And so sad. We had wanted to do our best for this performance and I felt like I sounded awful. Whit and Brooke just let me cry on their shoulders, literally. Even though I knew they were probably just as bummed with how the performance turned out, they just kept telling me it was ok and reassuring me that everything went well.

It took about a year before I was feeling kind of  like myself again and before my voice started getting stronger. It was such a rough year. But all along the way, the Lord was teaching me.

I learned to be less judgmental of others.

I’ve never been the person that has to stay home, stuck inside, trying to get better. And quite honestly, I realized how quick to judge others I was before I got this illness. Having mono taught me that every human body is different with different chemistry and reactions. When people treated me with empathy and kindness while I was sick, it really touched me. I had no idea how much a kind word or an understanding nod or a judgement-free look could mean to someone who is ill. But now I know. I want to be that non-judgemental, compassionate person for those who are sick.  

I learned that my talents are not really my own.

God gave them to me, and He can take them away in a blink of an eye. All the sudden my talent felt so fragile. And so precious. I was humbled and unsettled and grateful all at once to be reminded of this. Everything I am is in His hands.

I learned that small acts of service can go a long way.

In the middle of my illness, my Relief Society president came to my house, sat on my couch, and said, “What are we going to do to help you get better? What’s going to be the most help to you?” After talking it out I discovered that the thing that would be most helpful was having a place for my 4 year old to go every day so I could sleep while my baby napped. In a matter of days, there was a long list of volunteers who signed up to take Gemma regularly for a month. This saved me. My poor kids were in front of the tv all day every day because I could do NOTHING. So this gave my Gemma some fun time everyday--going out to lunch or making cookies with the sweet sisters in my ward. This small act of love made a huge difference for me. I realized that giving even a little can mean a lot.

Lastly, I learned what a blessing being healthy is. I will never take my health for granted again.

Each time I look at the cover of our album, I'm reminded how the journey of making this music "come alive" was simultaneous to me "coming alive" out of my sickness. We came alive together.