This is not the typical bio. Nor can you expect a typical blog. But then, I’m not your typical…well, anything. You will discover that, as you start to get to know me and just when you think you have figured me out…
I change direction, I adapt, I move on, I look at life from upside down.
On January 2nd, 2010, I started this blog. Today, it is three years and a day later. And it is the day for me to revise this “About me.”
Once, I was told by a friend that I share thoughts, but that I don’t often get into details or the emotion which surrounds them. In this revision, I start by sharing a bit of “my story.” What happens from this moment on will be left to discover…
And so it begins…
It was January 2009 when I made commitment to live my life doing what I was “intended” to do. I wasn’t quite aware of what that meant, except that I felt as if I had more choice in the matter.
Eighteen months earlier, I was fired from a job with a non-profit agency for “not being a good fit” just a few days before the end of my probationary period. In the nearly three months I worked for them, I shared with my boss that I was facing some medical concerns, believing that my honesty would be rewarded with compassion.
The following week, I was working a temporary assignment for a placement agency, and I was diagnosed with Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma in Situ—breast cancer, albeit early stage.
True to my somewhat control freak nature, I decided to “kick cancer’s ass before it kicked mine.” I opted for a mastectomy of my right breast three months after my diagnosis, to be followed by a series of procedures and reconstructive surgeries, the final one being in November 2008.
Once the holidays were over and the new year began, I knew that I could not keep going back to jobs or companies where I did not fit, that I did not enjoy, or that sucked the very life out of me. I had to figure out what my purpose and mission were in this life and go out there and find my way. It took more than 53 years of life for me to get to this point.
In January 2009, I declared that my purpose in life was:
…to inspire others to see beyond the challenges they face.
How would I do that? By being willing and vulnerable to share my story. By being genuine and true to using the skills that I enjoy using in service to others. And by realizing that I have no control over whether or not someone is motivated enough to want to make changes in his or her life or whether or not they will do what is necessary to take action.
That declaration changed my life.
I soon found a job where I was paid to:
Talk. Train. Coach. Challenge. Mentor. Share. Serve.
I began with the company in March 2009. Of course, there were things that were exhausting or frustrating, and there were moments that I wondered if I had made the right decisions. But I knew intuitively that I was finally doing what I was “intended” to do. And there were plenty of lessons for me to learn.
In the first three years—2009 through 2011—I was presented many challenges for which I was not prepared. My work became my solace.
- In July 2009, I was shaken by my friend Sharlona’s murder by her former boyfriend, leaving her two children without a mother. She was just 33-years-old.
- In May 2010, I lost my dear friend, Kim, to breast cancer just days before her 42nd birthday. Her son was a toddler when she was diagnosed, and he knew more about cancer four years later than any young child should need to know.
- In January 2011, three more young children were left behind when my friend, Jeff, died at the age of 31 from esophageal cancer.
- And then on June 14th that same year, my four siblings and I lost our mother, leaving five more children feeling just as orphaned in our 40s and 50s as we might have felt had we been 4- to 12-years-old.
The following year began, dealing with some of the sadness of the past…
but there was a sense of hope for 2012.
In mid-April, I had to call my boss to let her know at the last minute I would be unable to make a road trip to facilitate a workshop I was scheduled to teach. I do not call-in “sick,” as a contractor. But I knew something was wrong and went to the emergency room where I received some troubling news. For the next four weeks, I was at a loss for what to feel in facing my fears, as I was poked, prodded, examined and scanned.
On May 15th, 2012 I learned of my Stage IV diagnosis with Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer.
The following four weeks were likely the toughest of my life, with a grave sense of my mortality and the challenges of dealing initially with a well-respected doctor whose ego got in the way of judgment, as I started asking questions and asked to see specialists who were more knowledgeable. (You can read more about that in the blog entries from April to June 2012.)
I had surgery with a team of specialists from the University of Washington Medical Center on June 21st. They performed a partial resection of both my small intestines and my liver. I spent the final six months of 2012 trying to learn more, and then wrap my head around the knowledge of what I am facing, as I learn to live with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis, and what that means to me and the people around me.
I’m not quite “there” yet…wrapping my head around how to live with this, I mean. But that is part of the story that is left to be discovered and waiting to be told.
My biggest fear is that what I say will make some so uncomfortable that they will walk away.
Life isn’t always pretty, let’s face it.
I promise you that I will share my thoughts and experiences as honestly as I know how. I won’t do that with few words, as you have probably discovered by now. I’m not a woman of few words.
I am extroverted, articulate, outgoing, and have an irreverent sense of humor. I like to laugh and banter. I can be tough as nails, sassy, feisty, bold, and intense. I will challenge you, but never without challenging myself first.
If you stick around and come back often, you will also discover me to be complex. That doesn’t mean that I am complicated, though you may see it that way. But if you look beyond that complexity, you will see the side of me that is soft-hearted, sensitive, introspective, and deeply yearning for insightful conversation.
This blog is not just about me, but is about LIFE.
It is about other people and the connections I make with those whose paths cross mine and what I learn from people along the way.
My vision is, that by sharing what I have experienced or what I continue to learn in life, others will be able to make some sense of their own lives, and vice versa. I do not have the right answers for anyone other than myself as I am able to figure out what I need to do for me. I will always encourage you in the discovery of the right answers for you.
Feel free to share your comments on any post. I love good dialogue. You are welcome to share this site with others. The more, the merrier! We’ll make it a party!
And for those of you who decide to “go the distance” with me, thank you for walking alongside me on the adventures that life’s journey will take us.
And together, we will think, look, see and LIVE…
…beyond life’s challenges.
With my deepest gratitude…I wish you love, peace, joy and laughter.
Coral — January 3, 2013
Update — November 11, 2015: I am still alive and kicking on this side of terra firma! I celebrated my 60th birthday in August, and am grateful for each day I wake up! And I am still as feisty as ever! 😉
Update — August 23, 2017: I just celebrated my 62nd birthday on August 10th! It has also been 5 years 3 months and 7 days (May 15, 2012), since the one to whom I refer as “The Lunatic Colonel” (Lt. Col. T.A.B.) uttered the words, “…six months to a year; two, if you’re lucky…” I’m still here, continuing to challenge people to THINK beyond. And I continue to LIVE each day with cancer, not die from it. Thanks to all of you who continue to read, respond, and encourage me to keep looking and living beyond the challenges. Please continue to share this message with others in your lives. Thank you.