I'm lucky enough to know and have worked with a lot of intelligent, inspiring women over the years. Today you're meeting another of them! This is a post from my colleague, Amy (different Amy!). I met Amy through work, and instantly knew she was a #WWGSD. Amy is strong, passionate and smart. She has loads of political savvy, but is completely no nonsense. She's one of those people you love to work with because you know she will tell you the truth, period. When she asked if she could write a post for the blog, I was over the moon! And when I read this, I cried. You see, Amy has already done the bravest of brave things by making the decision to take control of her story and her health. THAT is inspiring, and we can all stand to do the same. Good luck, Amy! Can't wait to follow your journey of purpose.
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I’ve always loved my birthday. It’s not about the presents, it’s a time of reflection and change that I welcome. I was just telling a friend of mine who turned thirty that it was the year I cut out toxic relationships and stopped caring about stupid things. As this revelation clicked, I remember wishing I could go back to tell my teenage self to take this advice. And since you can’t turn back time, I harassed my nieces with my sage advice instead.
This year, 15 days after my 44th trip around the sun, I will be faced with a challenge. I am having a double mastectomy. By choice. Thankfully, I am having the surgery to prevent problems instead of doing it because I have problems. But I worry that I will be hit with a wave of emotions that I’m not expecting. I am confident enough to not worry about this alteration shaking my confidence, but I worry it will shake other’s confidence in me. So when I think about this upcoming birthday, I’m doing so with a mixed bag of happiness and fear.
I called a friend of mine on one particular day that I could not stop crying because of this surgery, and I expressed how fearful I was of the outcome. He wisely told me that I can’t live in fear, and instead, I need to live with purpose. So when I think about my purpose in life, first on the list is being with my family. I waited a long time to find the right person to marry. And I had to work pretty hard to become a mom. But it was worth everything I went through to get here. So as I approach this tough mountain to climb, I take great comfort in my family's support. And it motivates me to keep myself safe so I can, in turn, keep them safe.
Along with a great family, I’m lucky to be surrounded by great friends. Some of these friendships are brand new, while others date back to college and high school. All of my friends are anything but toxic; in fact, they are pretty amazing. They laugh at my corny jokes and understand I sometimes jest to cover my fear. They are comfortable with silence. They don’t care when I call, what I say, or how I say it because they understand me and just want to provide support. They also know I would do the same for them. I hope our kids find out earlier than I did about how important it is to hold out for the right tribe, a small tribe, and to be loyal when you find them.
And finally, I have a great job where I get to help people every day. I’ve spent my professional career helping victims of crime, and people suffering with substance use disorder and mental illness. My job is not a 40 hour a week gig, and I will never do the bare minimum. Because I love it. I get to be a lawyer and work on policy issues. In many cases, I fix problems. And I get such joy out of seeing these wonderful, vulnerable people succeed. I’ll continue to work in this field because it’s my calling and as the blog reads, I’m a #wwgsd.
As I wrote this post for my friend’s blog, I worried whether I seemed too vulnerable. I would never want that vulnerability to affect my work and have someone think I couldn’t do my job because of my health. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually pretty simple. Like many others, I learned I could have a potential health problem and I’m not waiting until there is a problem. Instead, I’m doing something proactive to fix it. Knowing me, I will be back to work in no time.
I also don’t equate bad days or fear to weakness. Most days, I feel brave. Every day, I understand others are dealing with much worse. I hope my perspective helps people have the courage to talk about what they are going through, and then have the courage to make a tough decision to move ahead.
I am approaching my birthday this year with every attempt to stay positive, be thankful, and giving myself grace on the days when I can’t. No matter what, I know I’m going to continue to live life with purpose.