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How breast cancer inspired me to follow my entrepreneurial dream

By Rethink Breast Cancer August 2 2019

By Wendy Thomas

I will never forget the terror I felt when I heard the word “cancer” spoken to me during the results of a mammogram and ultrasound on the eve of my 40th birthday.

I landed here – sitting across from the radiologist in a state of shock on an otherwise unmemorable Friday morning – after following a voice in the back of my head that told me to look into a random, buzzing feeling that I had been experiencing in my breast. In that moment, I knew that nothing would ever be as hard as this news.

What I didn’t know, but would soon discover, is that from that moment on, I would never take another day for granted. I also knew that I would always, no matter what, listen to and trust my intuition – that voice, that gut feeling, that sense of knowingness that every individual has access to.

In the long days leading up to my surgery, I had no way of knowing what stage the cancer had progressed to. My body was paralyzed with fear as I Googled my way through the details of the surgery and the possible results. Filled with dread and eager for hope, I started to realize that the only thing strong enough to combat the powerful pull of my fear was my own mind.

It turned out that the cancer area was far bigger than anticipated, and following an unsuccessful lumpectomy, the next step was a mastectomy. As my fears grew, so did the strength of my mind. Finding a way to maintain an authentically positive mindset during this time truly saved me, and while recovering from surgery, I couldn’t help but think about the positivity that carried me through. What if I could help so many other people change their mindset?

Prior to this experience, I had worked in the corporate world for 18 years and at the time was heading up the Canada office of a large American firm. I had always wanted to start my own coaching business, but my fear of leaving the corporate world held me back. I was so scared of stepping out of my comfort zone of the past 18 years to start on my own as an entrepreneur.

It was at this point that I realized that life is far too short to put your dreams and goals aside. My diagnosis put so much into perspective and made me realize that the only person that was holding me back from going after my long time dream was myself. So I resigned from the very familiar corporate world to pursue my passion of helping other people achieve their dreams. Through my practice, Wendy Thomas Coaching, I help individuals and teams realize their full potential by learning to believe in themselves and the power they have to influence the direction of their life.

My advice for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and wants to change their career is to really think about what makes you happy every day and think about the legacy that you want to build. If you do something that you love, you will bring so much more of yourself to work. I have learned that we are capable of achieving anything we want in life as long as we have the belief in ourselves to succeed. When you start a business, you have to wear so many hats which constantly pushes you to grow.

From where I stand today, as difficult as it was, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change my diagnosis because it taught me the invaluable lesson that life is far too precious to put our dreams on hold.


For more stories about careers after breast cancer, click here.