Our guest blogger is Hope Ross, a breast cancer survivor and certified professional life coach.
Cancer changes you, irrevocably. No matter the diagnosis, the treatment, your age, the timing – cancer changes you physically, mentally, and emotionally – and when the treatment ends, that’s often when the work begins. I know – I’ve been there.
On July 5th 2007, I was diagnosed with Stage II invasive breast cancer. I was 41 years old, with a big-time job, a committed relationship and what appeared to be a pretty charmed life. Chemo, surgery and radiation put all of that on hold (and ended my relationship). It was a rough time, and when I saw my oncologist on the day of my last chemo he said to me, “You’ve done well. Go live your life and come back and see me in three months.”
That well-intentioned message stopped me in my tracks. Go live my life? I was fat, bald, pale, and single. I hadn’t worked in 6 months, and that distance from my successful advertising career had made me realize how much I hated it. What exactly did I have to go back to? To add insult to injury, everyone around me was saying “Thank God that’s over!” and was ready for me to move on, ready to let the topic of cancer fade into memory, just when I was finally feeling strong enough to deal with how cancer changed my life.
It took me a good year of hard work to put the pieces back together and as I worked, I realized that to find meaning and purpose in my cancer experience, as well as in my life, I needed to make a big career change. I went back to school and became a Certified Professional Coach, and now I work with fellow survivors, guiding them along the path back to their lives.
So why work with a coach? The reasons are as varied as the cancer stories my clients tell. Cancer coaching is a process that helps move a client from point A to point B. For me, point A was a place where I was lost after treatment, not knowing what to do next, and point B turned out to be discovering a passion for coaching. For you, it may be something like:
• Creating a vision for your life, post-treatment, including recovery, work, family and recreation
• Focusing on your priorities and determining where and how to expend your energy.
• Determining how to go back to work, or to change careers
• Addressing fears of recurrence and how to live with and through them
• Creating a wellness plan including diet, exercise and ongoing medical visits
• Deciding how to best communicate your needs both during and after treatment with loved ones, friends and co-workers
Whatever the reason, having a cancer coach in your corner means that you aren’t moving from point A to point B alone, and that someone is holding your agenda and cheering you along the way. There are many places to seek support during and after a cancer journey – what’s most important is that you get the assistance you need. And remember, there is an amazing life ahead of you – you fought for it, now let’s make the most of it.