GBP Founder's Recent Journey
It's Even Harder with Breast Cancer
Sometimes determination to succeed takes a toll on the body. After spending a lot of time on the road in 2015 to expand usage of the GUIDED Business Plan™ books across the country, the physical stress and hundreds of sugary café drinks caught up with me.
On November 15, 2015 I felt a Tootsie roll size lump. The small individually wrapped kind. I did not need a mammogram to tell me this was abnormal, but I went through the assembly line of appointments and tests for three weeks. I got an inclination about the diagnosis when the doctor performing the biopsy asked if I had a family history of breast cancer. When I said no, she said so, you’re the unlucky one. A little slip made during small talk.
Starting a Plan
I brought my laptop to my meeting with the medical oncologist on December 7th and essentially interviewed him about what to expect. He said I had a 60-80% of beating it. I asked about natural remedies like a diet change since I knew one woman who said she ate her way to her cure. He declared “zero percent survival chance. You only have one shot.” I could not have done the diet anyways. I tried to give up sugar and only lasted for two days. I asked about the start date and he said immediately. Well immediately did not fit within my plans. I was already scheduled to return to Boston for the holidays and had a meeting with people to launch an entrepreneur program for veterans. It was going to be the last Christmas in my childhood home that my family was selling due to the passing of my grandmother a few months earlier. My doctor fast-tracked the prep tests so I could keep my plans and I returned to Los Angeles on Saturday, December 26. I went in for a minor surgery to insert a chest port on Monday and then had my first chemo on Wednesday, December 30th. As forewarned, I did not feel the full effect of the chemo until New Year’s weekend which took away the strength to eat, walk and stay awake. Like anything, I kind of got used to it. It was a pattern that would repeat over and over for five months.
One of the highlights of the process was going to Helen’s Room founded by a woman who lost her best friend to breast cancer. Each cancer patient walks away with a shopping bag of wigs, scarves, and hats to rekindle normalcy. I remember looking at the “gear” spread out on the table before going bald and feeling, I’m ready.
The hair thing was difficult. The day of “the cut” I felt apprehension wondering if a hair stylist would want to touch a diseased person since clumps were already starting to come out. I drove to a random neighborhood so as not to be reminded about the experience on a daily basis. The woman welcomed me into her chair and would not take payment for the cut. One of many kind spirits I would encounter.
Losing my hair felt tragic at the time, but it paled in comparison to the onslaught of weekly side effects that only seemed to distract me from the previous week. I had doctor fatigue by month 5 having to go to numerous specialists in addition to the weekly chemo infusion appointments and blood draws. But after 16 rounds of chemo, 6 weeks of daily weekday radiation and a lumpectomy, I am still here to make a difference in someone’s world. August 24th was the end date of the major phase.
Even though this was an incredibly expensive and soul-testing process, it was not as stressful as building a business alone. For this journey I had a plan and a team.
I came to this conclusion back in May after the ultrasound technician could not find the cancer cells and the light was cracking through the tunnel. Launching a company is so much easier if a plan is in place that is based on research, proven methods, and awareness of known pitfalls. Work is completed faster with a team that has a common goal and is willing to take on any responsibility to make it happen. To eradicate my cancer cells, my doctor had a care plan based on research made possible by thousands of fundraising walks and donors. I was given proven ways to cope on a daily basis. I knew what “pitfalls” were on the horizon even though nothing really could have prepared me for the disfiguring reactions that eventually faded away.
With this plan and endless support from my family and friends, I had the inner strength to push forward with some of the initiatives me and my accountability partner had brainstormed during Fall 2015. I fell short on some things but the highlights that I am most proud of over the past nine months are:
- Launching ShopGuided.us, my first ecommerce website where people can buy the books for individual use outside of a classroom.
- Taking an online class to develop a digital marketing strategy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Introducing two new programs to spur peer groups of entrepreneurs: GUIDED Sessions and GUIDED Church Circles.
- Joining forces with the California Association of Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), RISE Financial Pathways, The Jonas Project, San Diego SBDC, Pacific Coast Regional SBDC and the El Camino College SBDC to host business plan classes for veterans and military families launching new businesses (more info at MilitaryCEOs.com).
- Exhibiting at the Association of Women’s Business Centers where I spent time with part of America’s small business support team. I recorded some excellent customer reviews
- Never giving in to despair over the disease.
It wasn’t until after my 5-months of chemo had ended that I started to let people outside of family know about my Stage 3 Breast Cancer prognosis. I share this story now to inspire other entrepreneurs, especially the solopreneurs, to keep going. Let the body rest but keep the spirit focused. There’s more to do. And it can be done!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!