Cancer has definitely been a challenge to change for me. When I was diagnosed with stage 1 invasive lobular breast cancer I feel like I got “hard wired” for change.
Prior to being diagnosed you couldn’t tell me to slow down. I was strung out and stressed and doing more imaginable than one person could ever think of doing. I definitely had my cape on wanted everyone to know that I was Wonder Woman! I was a control freak and in my head I thought “I had to do it all” or it wouldn’t get done the “right “way.
I was working full time in Manhattan as a real estate paralegal, I was the consummate PTO mom setting my alarm clock for 4:30 am so that I could “get it all done”, the lone taxi driver taking my kids to all of their activities and in attendance with them on cue, doing all the housework (cleaning, laundry, you name it), arranging playdates and doing all of the grocery shopping, etc., and the list went on and on as did my “to do” lists and no one could have told me to do it any differently and less “perfectly”.
I look at my cancer diagnosis as a Blessing. In some ways I see myself like an addict or alcoholic, meaning I couldn’t stop “doing” until I wanted to change and my breast cancer diagnosis did that for me. I probably have the same, if not more energy now than I have ever had before, but it is a different kind of energy. Cancer gave me a second chance at life, a way to look at and do things differently. It allowed me to finally just BE.
Once I had my diagnosis and started the process of my surgeries I took this “time out from life” to not only heal, but to reassess my life and change things up a bit. I decided that I needed to exercise self-care because without it I couldn’t show up as a mom to my kids. I decided to give up “control” of a lot of things that I thought I needed to do and this allowed me to delegate to my husband more which allowed him to wrench himself out of my control and step up in certain areas in his role in the family, which provided the opportunity for growth for both of us. I decided to dig deep and look within in terms of my relationship with myself and to stop blaming or judging others before I looked in the mirror first. Freeing my time and energy up left a lot of room for doing the unimaginable like reading a book, being with friends or even taking time for me to just do nothing.
This awakening of myself is the best thing that could have happened to me. It has opened me up to loving myself more, which of course has resulted in judging myself and others less. It has allowed me the ability to stop a lot of the negative self-talk in my head which frees me up from self-sabotage. I have reconnected with my inner child and now I am finally pursuing the life that I always dreamed of living when I was a kid. At almost 50 years young, I think the most important take away of all of this for me has been to finally stand up for myself, to say “yes” when I mean “yes” and “no” when I mean “no” and to make decisions and choices for myself that honor me in lieu of constantly seeking to please others for validation. The only one that can validate me is ME.
I am living my dream and growing my business as a survivorship coach, helping women diagnosed with breast cancer cope with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so that they can feel confident and in control of their lives once again”.
The full version of this blog was co-authored by Gina with her friend and colleague Rachel O’Steen. To read this blog in its entirety, visit Gina’s website.