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Breast cancer awareness concept

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I’ve decided to weigh in on this frightening topic and how it intersected with a business idea.

Yes, I am talking about being diagnosed with cancer and launching a new business. I never imagined going into business for myself at the age of 52 against all odds. Fresh off a life threatening illness like breast cancer . . . who would have thought?

In fact, I swore I would never attempt this, having been married to a serial entrepreneur and divorced by my mid-30s. The never-ending ambiguity and feeling of being in the Wild Wild West during those stressful years was enough for me, and I didn’t want to ride that rodeo again. One minute, the cash flow was solid; then next thing you knew, everything had to be put on hold. Stretching the almighty dollar to make ends meet and watch my former husband make payroll was tough, if not downright painful at times.

To put this lifestyle in context, I grew up as a child of a Marine Corps officer, inspired by the traditions of the U.S. Marines and supported by its extended community. In my entrepreneurial experience, planning for the worst-case scenario simply didn’t exist. The focus was on calculating the next chess move in hopes of winning the game.

After the businesses literally killed the marriage, I began the reinvention process with four kids at my hip. Through graduate school, low-paying internships, and multiple jobs, I discovered my passion for helping others find satisfaction in their careers. My path became clear, and I dreamt of running my own business. But the negative thoughts persisted: No way. Never. I can’t possibly leave my day job as a legal recruiter and venture out into the unknown.

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My “aha” moment

There’s a quote by Ram Dass that I have always loved: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” It was during a quiet moment, in the deep recesses of a life-threatening illness, that I embraced the possibility of being self-employed as an executive resume writer and career counselor.

In a nutshell, I woke up one morning in the fall of 2008, battling cancer during the darkest recession we’ve seen in years, and, crazy as it sounds, I knew EXACTLY what to do with the next chapter of my life. The economy was crashing, and the company I was working for was on its way down. But I found my gift, my path, within the core of my being.

For me, I believe I experienced a divine intervention that morning. I had just finished six rounds of chemo and 31 rounds of radiation. And BAM, I woke up to my “aha” moment. Frankly, I had never been surer of anything in my life.

My new-found clarity and confidence propelled me forward. I had a vision. I knew my craft. The question then was, is there a market? Of course! An unprecedented 2.6 million people lost their jobs that year; someone would want to hire me to write a resume.



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