What happens when you are diagnosed with cancer?
We ALL know this drill – everything just stops, we no longer give a crud about what Sarah in Accounting thinks of us or why we do not have a husband / have an annoying husband etc – it just does not matter. What matters is getting the information we need to find out what to do to take care of the cancer or unfortunately for our late stage brothers and sisters to figure out how to live with cancer…
For all of us, we are forever changed in some way big or small.
The certainty we once had is shattered and in its place is fear and worry or anxious thoughts or apathy or something… The fact remains that we are changed. Yet, at some point, our medical team or doctor tells us to go back to “normal” to go back to “regular activity” and they discharge us from their practice or only see us once a year – and now, now when we need it the most, the support and services are just GONE. NOW is when survivorship begins and the whole world of survivorship and help for cancer survivors, thrivers and/or previvors is slim.
Hi, I am Lisa and I am a cancer survivor.
I was diagnosed at 39 years old as a “young” breast cancer patient with very aggressive stage 3A ER/PR + (hormone positive) cancer. I had never thought I would get cancer, full stop. My kids were 6 and 9, my husband was a mess and I was playing SUPERWOMAN doing ALL of the things, ALL of the time. I was an executive, entrepreneur, educator and author – balancing it with being the ubermom, the dad, the housekeeper, the cook, the doctor taker for kids – you kind of get the drill and LOTS of caretakers of children or other family members or friends totally know what I am talking about. And that is it, I was the caretaker, not the one to be taken care of but cancer found me anyway and boy did it suck.
I will NEVER thank cancer for anything full stop but I do know that God was with me every step of the way and that this pain and suffering did allow me to recognize that I am not immortal and that my goal in life should be to help those who also have experienced cancer to get back to “normal” – whatever that means.
About a year after I finished chemo (after my mastectomy – no reconstruction – I literally am a unicorn – 8 rounds chemo, 33 of radiation), I thought I would be able to bounce right back. I had lost my job during my treatment and figured the fact that I had written BOOKS on how to get back to work and had run a small business called The Next Step that helped OTHER get back to work, find jobs and I thought all of that would mean that this would be simple as 1,2,3. HA! I could not even find clothes to fit my body, my hair was a buzz cut thanks to the hairdresser called CHEMO and I was just lost. All of my “expertise” on interviewing and networking were clouded under, “Well, when I had chemo…” and, “Cancer” related menu items. I just could not make it work for me.
I recognized that if I was struggling, other survivors were, too and I also realized that WORK and CAREER, though important, are not enough to make us feel like we are “normal” – we need to have passion and love for what we do and if we cannot make that happen then we need to carve out time for ourselves to do the things we do love to do to try to keep ourselves in BALANCE.
About a year after my chemotherapy, I created a nonprofit focused on helping ANYONE who has experienced cancer get back to normal called The Balance After Cancer Foundation.
As an educator, I taught college online and in person for over 13 years and I used those teaching skills to create easy AND informative online courses that are available FOR FREE at bacfonlinelearning.org or you can find out more about the courses and other FREE tools and services available on our website, balanceaftercancer.org.
We offer free online courses on items from Entrepreneurship to Blogging to College After Cancer.
This College After Cancer course is so important to me as an educator on the college level and now with the experience of cancer I cannot imagine how hard it is for those who experience cancer at an even YOUNGER age like young adult or pediatric can catch up and be college ready but I do think that if they WANT to go to college, they need a resource so this quick online course focuses on the must-haves to be college ready.
In addition to the free online courses, we have a FREE one-on-one coaching session option available right from the home page.
These coaching sessions have focused on careers, friendships, writing, and more. In fact, I got so many requests about writing, we started a FREE writers workshop to help create content and/or share our stories.
The Balance After Cancer Foundation is built on the blocks of learning, communication and content. There is a blog and a research article section on the website as well as books on getting back to work after a life changing diagnosis, getting college ready, and just an overall “back to normal” book.
It is an honor to help others during their survivorship.
I am blessed to be a nonprofit and to accept tax-deductible donations to help provide more services and goods and perhaps to expand to in-person courses and seminars. This is my dream job and I found it myself! I hope to meet you soon and help you get back to “normal”, too!
Life after a cancer diagnosis is changed and it is never going to be the way life was before BUT that does not mean we have to suffer or regret or miss our old life – we can find a way to move forward and create our life the way WE want it – one of passion, joy and faith! Let’s work together for your life after cancer!
- “Stop Telling Me To Be Brave” Campaign To Support People With Cancer
- How To Choose Useful & Comforting Gifts For Chemo Patients
- Six tips to help you talk about your cancer
- Resource for survivors, previvors and thrivers of cancer
Lisa Vento (Nielsen) is a Breast Cancer Blogger & Advocate.
About a year after her chemotherapy, she created a nonprofit focused on helping ANYONE who has experienced cancer get back to normal called The Balance After Cancer Foundation. As an educator, she taught college online and in person for over 13 years and used those teaching skills to create easy AND informative online courses that are available FOR FREE.