As a professor and educator since 2003 both online and in person, I feel education is key to life. If I am not learning, I am not living. This course is the first of MANY to come - some will be free, some will require a small fee ($20 or $30) to sign up. This course is The Basics - all about getting back to "normal" after cancer, major life-changing diagnosis or other news like genetic predisposition to cancer... Watch the video below for a quick overview of the course.
As someone who is focused on helping others oh and who has helped people for over 20 years with resumes, career planning and more (seriously, check out my other small business, The Next Step), I feel that founding this nonprofit is what I am meant to do and grow.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years old, I had just gotten a full time teaching job after subbing and being an adjunct for several years. Before that, I worked in NYC as a Vice President in financial services firms focusing on managing multimillion dollar projects (more about me here). I lost my job the day after my last chemotherapy and started sharing my story shortly after that, here, on this blog.
I shared everything, my story, my topless photos and more. I realized during my sharing that it was helping to heal me. Me, who had been so ashamed and so scared when I was diagnosed, was slowly becoming a voice of reason for myself and others. This blog is still read by over 1500-2000 people PER WEEK and for August alone, I have had over 9100 folks have been on my homepage of this nonprofit - not too shabby for zero dollars in marketing and all that.
This course has been a labor of love for me - I have created and launched countless online courses for other institutions and have done them quickly and efficiently. I am skilled at Moodle and BlackBoard - this was my first experience at creating a course that meant so much to me personally and professionally. I do hope you check it out - I had a soft launch the day before I left for vacation (which I am still on, by the way - more on that later)… and I already have 4 students logged in and learning with me...
I am debating if this course is "too much". It is built like a light college course - there are 3 sections with video and "assignments" which are really just discussion based assignments with review and help from me - a career expert, a cancer survivor, an author and a mom...
Life is all about Balance and this organization, Balance After Cancer, is my way of trying to help others find their "new normal".
The One Boobed Member of Destiny's Child or My Survivor Speech at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Staten Island Kick Off Event...
About Making Strides...
Last August, I signed up to walk in the local Making Strides walk - I had never raised money before nor had I ever walked before for a cause. I had spent the last couple of years raising my kids and giving money if and when I was asked for it but had not ever done anything like a walk.
So I went to last years kick off with my daughter and I had a lot less hair and a totally weird experience with calling myself a survivor. I walked in to register and got a sash calling me a survivor, clapped in by a local cheerleading team, got photographed and a flower and heard the speaker Holly Bonner speak about her story, which had us all in tears of her bravery and strength and then I thought to myself 2 things:
1- I wanted to be a pacesetter and raise more than 2500 but it was a crazy thought and one I had no clue how to execute on but I knew I wanted to do it and
2-I wanted to be the speaker like Holly and share my story - which was just another crazy thought without any basis in reality - I had just started blogging and didn’t even really understand my own story yet or the power of my words...
But I was learning - I was sharing and meeting people from all over who were chatting with me, reading me, sharing me - cancer health magazine began to serialized my content and I had numbers going up and up for unique visitors, twitter followers and my favorite relationship builder instagram was growing and I recognized that maybe I did have a story to tell that people needed to hear,
Well, dear reader, (hey Charlotte Bronte thanks for that), I did it - I became a pacesetter and some extra on top and I was picked to be the survivor speaker at the event.
Whoa! If you watch the video you can just see how damn excited I was and how the American Cancer Society and their events put my kids fears at ease and showed me how to be a survivor.
The making strides event was amazing mc’d by the local office leader Kimberly Cantoni. We had amazing food, camaraderie and what unites us ignites us -
Lessons on just how far our donated dollars go to helping the American cancer society be sure that no one walks alone - with rides to treatment, lodging near cancer hospitals, look good feel good programs and more!
Soo think about walking - join my team if you’re in the NY area I’m Lili’s Team (as we try to come up with a different name )...
This is what I do in the time between.
So here I am, a year and 9 months post diagnosis and still writing and talking about what it means to be diagnosed with cancer...
Some of you might kindly wonder why I’m still writing and talking about these things now and not just putting it behind me and moving on...
Some of you might rudely think I’m just stuck and need to get over myself and come to think of it you’re sick of seeing my body out there as an example of living after cancer...
Whatever it is you think I learned the hard way not to give a good dang about it. No offense please.
The idea is that God gave me the ability to write, to tell my story, to use my voice and shout it out and no matter what I don’t feel the time has come for me to sit down and shut up already.
Would it be easier for my kids if I shut up and stopped sharing? Well, since they see me everyday markedly different than I was before, no I don’t think so. No matter what even if I had reconstructed my right breast I would still look different and feel different too - my kids are used to popping (and I mistyped that at first as pooping lol that’s true too) in on me all the time despite locking doors and being private they can still and have still at times found me mid clothing change or in a wardrobe mishap (it doesn’t just happen to celebrities check out my pics from my luau we hosted and you can peep my scar instead of a boob).
I’m not ashamed of my scars or my body (anymore). I love myself from head to toe and I know there are many women out there and men too who have or haven’t been hit with the cancer stick and don’t appreciate or love themselves. It’s an epidemic and it’s also something that can’t be helped I guess.
You see there are things I wish you knew about yourself that you just probably can’t know unless you get hit with the cancer stick and trust me I will never thank cancer for nothing but I did learn some stuff and as an educator since, well, birth, learning is my favorite thing to do -
So here are some things I wish you knew:
1- Your body is your friend - love yourself, appreciate your body for not failing you, for being strong and carrying you through your days and nights as you work, love and live.
2- Don’t pity me because I got sick - but DO understand how quick the line between health and sickly can be crossed and just remember to always know what you need to be well and that no matter what there isn’t a guarantee you’ll never get sick.
3- Don’t sweat the small stuff - and it's all small! Seriously, I see you all worried about what someone thinks of you or something equally small and inconsequential from my seat in my Chemo chair history and all I can say is that you are wasting your time, wasting your health on something that ultimately doesn’t matter. The only things that matter to me are A) am I helping others? and B) am I a good mom/wife/friend etc?
We all, deep down, crave a meaningful life with relationships and love but what we do is posture around like that doesn’t matter and fret about every little thing (I know I did). And yes it’s in that order because I do believe I was a great mom always though I wasn’t a good wife or friend but that’s ok I learned the hard way how important that is - helping others is really in my opinion the currency of life...
4- Know your worth and don’t squander your time, attention and health on stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run. Find something you enjoy doing no matter how small no matter how silly it seems and do it - try not to worry about bills they will always be there but do try to find something that will fulfill you.
5- Do not stress - stress is the absolute worst thing for your health your body and everything around you - I used to stress and worry about everything then I got stage 3 cancer and now when I should, you know, be worried I realize the futility of worry -
it did nothing to keep me well to get me well or anything and that brings me to my last lesson today...
6 - Don’t ever think “it can’t be me” -- it can be you - risk analysis and or thinking in terms of never are a big way to lead to disaster - I thought it would never be me but I did my screening mammograms anyway - imagine if I didn’t - I would probably be dead.
Every day is a gift live in the moment and know who has your back and always keep them close.
This is what I do in the time between.
The Time Between Is, INC is a 501(c)(3) corporation - help us reach our goals of launching #balanceaftercancer
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