At 41, Jenni was chugging along working in retail fashion, raising two teenage sons and loving her husband when she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. What followed was a whirlwind of doctors, a mastectomy and other surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. During this time, Jenni felt she had nowhere for me to turn for good, everyday practical advice, so she started Your Life Needs to educate, empower and enlighten others. More recently, Your Life Needs has grown into a community providing information, real life stories, tips, advice and links for those with breast cancer and their carers, family, friends or co workers.
Before I had cancer I didn’t give the disease much thought, it was something that happened to others. I was too young. Truth is, I probably didn’t give a lot of things much thought, I was too busy trying to fit into the cookie cutter mould that I perceived society expected of me. I reckon I lost a few years there when raising my little boys because I wasn’t following my own instincts but rather I was conforming to what other mothers were doing, what schools expected and what family expected. Sure I did my own thing too but in amongst that I was on the treadmill of life. Work was consuming, my home wasn’t always a true expression of us and I was controlling and being controlled.
Having cancer was the lightening bolt I needed to awaken me to what life really means. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anybody but in amongst the awful curse there are definitely blessings. This disease has allowed me to be happy in my own skin, it has given me a voice, a higher purpose. I now do more for others, think of others more, listen more (hard to do) and find pure joy in life. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not be concerned with what others think of me. This used to consume me, I was always worried about living up to expectations.
But here’s the thing, the only expectations are the ones we put on ourselves, I’ve worked out that if you are doing good then good happens. When I run my own race I’m never let down or disappointed. Yeah cancer sucks, it can kill and it has left me with life-long side effects, but it gifted me the strength and insight to now truly live life, appreciate life and love life. Perspective is a powerful mind tool, it’s all about how we choose to look at a situation that determines how we deal with it.