Fearlessness in the face of a challenge
Trials & Tribulations; Beating the Odds
The passion of red or the innocence of white, all armoured in my little black suit. As I threw on my red 3-inch heels, I was complete. Would the president notice? Most never did, but for a first meeting concerning a potential new project, I always wore the colours of their logo. Why did I do this, besides staying true to my brand?
Why was I concerned about it when I was going in for breast cancer surgery next Thursday? You cannot shut off your brain to business when you are running one, any more than you can shut off the woman you are.
I realized as I was finalizing responses for two RFP’s and heading to meetings, it was my way of coping with the stress of telling my family and friends about the cancer diagnosis. I also realized I had made an unconscious decision. I had decided on hope and the future of my business. The doctor told me I would be up and running in a few days.
Little did we know what I was in for during the surgery, or what the aftermath would hold.
Covered in blisters from an allergic reaction to three different types of bandages and losing my eyelashes to a codeine allergy I was unaware of, were not my idea of up and running in a few days. Not to mention that I was as blue as a Smurf for ten days and would not be seen outside. How could I possibly explain it when I did not have the answer myself? The cancer had already spread to the second layer of lymph nodes, so I was preparing for intensive chemotherapy and radiation. I also knew the sun would come out tomorrow, because each day has some sunshine in it.
After fourteen days, I changed the answering machine to let people know the office had re-opened. As I sat there in my ergonomic chair, I was exhausted and I really had no idea how I was going to actually make it work. I had no-one trained to come in and take over. It was a sad moment when I realized I was self-employed and not the entrepreneur I had set out to be. How could I make the shift?
As I endured three pages of side effects of chemo and fourteen they never heard of, I realized running my business was going to be almost impossible. I had to make changes. For ten days, I answered calls and participated in conference calls while hooked up to an IV for seven hours a day after every chemo session. Radiation saw me not being able to work for eight weeks. Juggling my business and the side effects became harder each day.
I continued my duties as VP of Membership on the Board of Directors for CanSPEP (Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners), until my term was up. I was able to keep the objectives for the year; I had completed my mandate of three new projects and membership had increased by ten percent.
The financial strain began after surgery when I went looking for financial resources for entrepreneurs. With a lot of exhausting research, I found resources, but it was far from easy. The stress of filling out papers made me feel like a manic journalist writing for a deadline.
My family, friends, church and colleagues all helped me with financial gifts during the radiation which enabled me to stay at the Princess Margaret Lodge instead of going back and forth from Guelph to Toronto every day for weeks. It also took the strain away because my bills during that time were paid for too.
The question was posed again whether I should close my business, but I had too much money, time and sweat equity invested in it. I just needed to do things differently and I did. I stuck to consulting, workshops and keynote speaking when opportunities arose. I continued to write articles in local, national and international magazines to keep my company up front.
A positive attitude mixed with laughter creates the courage you need to take a step back, so you can see how far you have already come towards living and accomplishing your goals. I now put on my blueberry suit and raspberry five-inch platform shoes with complementary accessories and enter the new world of keynote speaking. As I live my life with passion and fearlessness, I challenge each of you to look at who you are as a woman and where your business would be if a cancer diagnosis was issued.
Page 16, Fall 2010