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DON’T GIVE UP! Today is a new day. If you can visualize career success, it can become a reality. My life experience has shown me how to make my dreams come true. I have during my life dealt with some overwhelming, painful, life changing experiences; I’ve learned that bad things can happen and there are no guarantees in life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. You can go as far as your mind lets you. Allow yourself to see the distance. It’s important to remain positive, to push forward, appreciate what you have in your life-who you love and who loves you back. When things are not what you want at the moment, remember “this too shall pass”. Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of the 4-Hour Workweek, in his new book Tools of Titans, a collection of the best advice he’s gotten from the world’s smartest thinkers and doers says “If you want to have joy and not just be successful, because they are not at all guaranteed to come together, then you have to have gratitude and appreciation and perspective”.


~H’s WERE HARD~

A big life changing event for me began when I started not to be able to speak; I knew what I wanted to say, but it was as though my tongue wasn’t with the plan. In the beginning, I seemed to be the only one that noticed it, or at least that’s what my friends said when I asked them. Hard to believe they weren’t hearing what I was hearing…it had become so that I couldn’t say my own name. Saying my name HEIDI was exceptionally difficult. All words with the letter “H” were challenging. We don’t think about how many words start with the letter “h” until we can’t say those words. When this all started, I was the Executive Producer of my own boutique Television Commercial Production Company…talking was a big part of my job. I had to talk to my clients, to my production crews, to vendors, and to my sales reps. I also have two daughters-girls talk a lot. One daughter was starting her junior year at High School and the other was about to begin her senior Year. Senior year in High School is a big year; there’s a graduation, a Prom, lots of college applications to send out, and a smaller group of colleges that we needed to see and check out. My husband and I had moved into a new house just two years beforehand. There was lots of talking. I found myself having trouble keeping up. Things were good and yet NOT.

 

~THE BODY IS AMAZING~

I was due for my regularly scheduled MRI. Why was it regularly scheduled? Well, this is a part of my previously overwhelming, life changing/challenging events. Seventeen years before my having trouble speaking phase, I had woken up one morning and discovered my vision was double. In a panic I made an appointment with my eye doctor who saw me that day and told me my vision was FINE. NOT! I was 30 years old and began researching how fine I was. There wasn’t any internet then; the only research a person was able to do was through friends, family, medical libraries, and other doctors. My internist referred me to a Neurologist who suggested I have an MRI of my brain. MRI’s were new technology back then. It took over a week to get the results, but my neurologist told my husband and I (parents of our 1 year old baby daughter), that I had a “brain lesion”. Let’s just call a tumor a tumor! I had a successful career as a freelance television commercial Producer then, I was a young parent, I was living in the city, I was happy. Now I was less happy. My big brain surgery was scheduled. After a 9 hour surgery, I was left deaf in one ear, my vocal chord became paralyzed on one side, my throat was also paralyzed and I was unable to swallow, one side of my face was paralyzed, my vision was still double, I had no hair because they had to shave it, but I was told that my tumor was mostly removed, and with a bit of radiation I would be fine. REALLY? The body is amazing. I regained my voice even though the vocal chord remained paralyzed, the vision came back, the other side of my throat took over for what swallowing I needed, my facial nerve came back, and my hair grew back in. After radiation and six or seven months I looked mostly the same. I definitely was different emotionally, but to the outside world I looked the same. I was told from the MRI that it looked as though I still had a brain tumor but there was a shadow due to radiation. That didn’t really make sense, but the only way I could confirm this diagnosis was to have another brain surgery. NOT. I went back to work, and on with life. I felt that things weren’t exactly right, but I did have a brain tumor and brain surgery after all, so to not feel EXACTLY right seemed to make sense, and I had a lot of living to do. I had big plans and career dreams I wanted to fulfill.

 

~HOW COULD THAT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE?~

Every year I went for my yearly check up. Every year I was told there was no change. I decided to change doctors after 17 years with the same doctor, because it was becoming too difficult to travel an hour all the way uptown just for a brief consultation and an MRI. Could it be that during all these years that my problem tongue and lack of speaking ability could be related to something that my doctor may have missed in my yearly MRI’S? Life is full of possibilities!

 

~SAY IT AIN’T SO!~

There was one year during those 17 years, about 5 years earlier that instead of going to my usual doctor’s office because I was sick and didn’t want to make the long trip, that I asked if I could get my MRI taken more locally? My “king of specialists”, gave me his blessing. I had that MRI done locally. The MRI report indicated no change from the year before. When I changed doctors, my new local specialist compared my most recent MRI to the one I’d taken locally 5 years previous and he saw that the tumor had grown. GROWN? This specialist suggested I see a neurosurgeon and bring ALL my many previous MRI’s. I made the appointment with several of the best neurosurgeons. Now, different than when I had first been diagnosed 17 years ago with a brain tumor, I was able to research brain surgeons on the internet; all the surgeons I saw confirmed the fact that my tumor had grown in the last five years. They additionally confirmed that since my surgery 17 years ago, my tumor had grown every year and had actually doubled in size. REALLY? How is that possible? It’s possible because it was a slow growing tumor and the MRI’s when taken were only compared to the one from the previous year and unless looked at with a bit more time in between it was not noticed how much it was growing. It had grown enough to begin affecting other nerves and that’s why “H’s” were hard to say. Say it ain’t so!

 

~IT’S A CELEBRATION~

I picked an excellent surgeon, mostly to determine the type of tumor I had and to not have it be as extreme as the surgery as the one I had the first time. I wanted to know what it was in order to determine the next best steps. The diagnosis was a rare cancerous brain tumor. After that surgery I was left with double vision for the second time, which took months to mend and I still wasn’t able to say my “H’s” any better. I needed to close my business; my husband and I had to sell our house. We celebrated my daughter’s Prom and graduation. We got her off to college, and I spent the next several months researching the best possible treatments for my cancerous brain tumor. I discovered MGH Proton Radiation Center in Boston, which had shown tremendous success for the kind of tumor I had. I needed to write a letter to the radiation oncologist expressing my interest as a Proton candidate as though I was writing to be accepting to a college. I drove up with my youngest daughter (who asked to come with me), and met him in person with all my old-fashioned negative copies of my MRIs (nothing in those days were on discs yet), and I didn’t want to lose the only copies I had. I so badly wanted to be approved for Proton Radiation, and it wasn’t certain that would happen especially since I had had a small amount of radiation back when I was originally treated. He gave me the thumbs up! Seven months after my most recent surgery that diagnosed me with a rare cancerous tumor, and after the meeting at Mass General Hospital, I was given the OK to proceed with Proton Therapy. I lived in Boston for seven weeks receiving life saving treatments every day, five days a week over almost an entire summer. I have not had any tumor growth.

 

~STEP BY STEP~

I’m still learning. We learn every day. I’ve learned that bad things can happen to anyone-there aren’t any guarantees. My life experiences have inspired me to be a transitional career coach, and because I had to rebuild my career after illness I know personally what it takes to Master Your Career Success whether you’ve dealt with illness or a plethora of other changes. It’s easier to change things when we’re feeling good or at the top of our game. When we’re not feeling good…it’s not as easy. I have been through many life-altering experiences, the ones I’ve written about here today are just a couple of them. I don’t know who I’d be were it not for these experiences. If given the choice I wouldn’t have chosen them, but they have given me the power to see the light beyond the dark. I have gained a strength that I may not otherwise have known. The things that I’ve learned, have helped me to accomplish and move forward in very sad, sometimes angry times. These sad times have given me a sense of positivity about life and the pursuit of happiness. They have also made me understand how every day is important. These are some of the energizing things I’ve learned from my experiences and from others I’ve come across:

  1. Whatever you are going through in your life, you have a choice as to how to deal with things. You don’t have to take many of the things you don’t want to take.
  2. “Roll up your sleeves, funnel all that frustration, all that anger, all that angst towards a solution.” ~Jon Acuff New York Times best selling author of his book Do Over.
  3. There are two sides to see things, the positive and the negative. Why not choose to see things from the positive side? If you continue to see things from the negative, you will bring yourself down. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going through a bad time? Think “this too shall pass”.
  4. Listen to your inner voice. You don’t hear an inner voice? You’re not listening. There is a voice inside that says if you think something is right or wrong for you. Listen for it, pay attention to it. Use it.
  5. Don’t assume things or take things for granted. If you’re waiting for someone else to help you achieve something because in your mind you feel they should-Don’t. If someone wants to offer you something, that’s one thing, but don’t base your life’s achievement on someone else’s help. If they give it then great, but don’t count on it. Your energy…your achievement!
  6. Acknowledge both your accomplishments and your setbacks. We all have them. If you don’t acknowledge them both, then how will you be able to feel the success when it happens? How will you learn how not to repeat the setbacks if you don’t acknowledge them?
  7. Set goals. You may have lived a life with challenges and already may feel the speed at which life seems to fly by-it’s important to feel that sense of achievement. Do you like to write, to travel, to walk? Is there a career or business you want to be doing and you aren’t? Set goals and stick to them to completion.
  8. “Every day that you let something keep you from following a dream, you lose an opportunity to create meaning. Few people find their ideal job on their first attempt. This is why chipping away at a dream in small steps can be deeply motivating.”~Tom Rath, New York Times best selling author of Are You Full Charged?
  9. Don’t be so worried about making mistakes. Are you worried about asking the wrong questions? Asking the wrong person? Wearing the wrong thing? Doing the wrong thing? Life is too short! The most successful people are often those that step outside the box and don’t think about embarrassing themselves.
  10. How much of what you do during your day, do you enjoy doing and how much of it do you just do because either you’ve gotten used to doing it, or you feel you have to do it? Do you like it? Just think about it.
  11. There are so many people and we all have opinions, spend your time with positive, motivational, uplifting people, because you do have a choice.
  12. You’ve got the power! There may be times when you feel you’re getting to the end of the fuel in your tank. When those times happen, visualize the positive outcome you desire. Having the proper mindset is essential.

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My husband and I…still walking the road after all these years.