A few days ago, I heard from Beatrice (not her real name), an APHA member who has been successfully running her patient advocacy practice for several years. We met a few years ago when she and her husband attended APHA workshops. I’ve been impressed ever since with their go-getter attitudes and their ability to create the business they wanted to have.
Until this week.
Beatrice, a young advocate by our typical demographics (I’m guessing her age here… maybe late 40s? possibly 50) wrote to tell me she had suffered a heart attack in December. Yes. Really.
She is now working to get back on her feet, which includes (as you can imagine) realigning her life. She has been told she must eliminate the stressors she deals with.
Within the blink of an eye, Beatrice’s life changed dramatically. Suddenly all her hopes and dreams took on a new meaning, and will require a new approach, if they are possible at all.
Here is the statement that will take some of you aback:
Beatrice’s heart attack may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
I say that because I know it to be true. I also “suffered” one of those blessings. In 2004 when I was diagnosed with lymphoma and given just a few months to live, it brought my life’s trajectory to a halt. Literally – a halt.
As difficult and horrible as those next several months were, as I struggled to learn more about my diagnosis, fought off the greedy doctors who insisted I start chemo, and put my efforts instead into trying to make the right decisions for MY life, the entire debacle (and I don’t use that term loosely) turned out to be…
…a blessing in disguise, and one of the best things that had ever happened to me.
How can that be?
The simple answer is that, as many know, I didn’t really have lymphoma, and I was able to figure that out. That was certainly a blessing, of course.
But the bigger answer is that I recognized and embraced the invitation to really look at my life and where it was going. I realized it wasn’t the life I wanted and that changing it meant changing what I was doing with it. That forced a 180° turnaround where I began to take the steps I needed to do what I wanted to do, be who I wanted to be, and live the way I wanted to live.
What an eyeopener. And what an opportunity! A true blessing, which I had pulled out from under its disguise.
Today my life is all about the way I want it to be. I wake up every morning joyfully! with passion! and purpose! I have worked my backside off to make it that way, and have loved every minute of it. I have become known as an expert in patient empowerment and patient advocacy, I have built The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, I have written six books, I have helped build the first international patient advocacy certification, and perhaps, for me, the biggest “risk” of all – I remarried (after being single for 18 years.) Further, being remarried has made me a grandma, too – and oh! what a joy that is!
What a grand life I lead, little (if any) of which would have happened had I not “suffered” my misdiagnosis.
The real shame of it is this: that I had to go through such a horrific experience, to be stopped cold in my tracks, to realize it was time to reprioritize my life.
Which takes me to the purpose of today’s message; that is, that you don’t have to wait for something horrible to happen to you in order to reprioritize YOUR life.
You have it in YOUR POWER, TODAY, to do it without the catastrophic insult of the vision of the end of your days.
Please don’t wait! While you may be thinking you have no heart disease in your family, or you’re not worried about a cancer diagnosis, I’ll remind you that you never know when you’ll encounter a drunk driver, or food poisoning, or a bad fall…
Many of you know you want to be an advocate because you get such joy out of helping others. But at the same time, you see that as something you’ll do in the future. You’ll read about it now, you’ll think about it now, you might even take a course, or do a little planning…
…but you won’t take the plunge because you see it as risky, and you fear the risk.
My question to you is: when WON’T it be a risk? Do you think that waiting a year, or two, or more will make it less of a risk? Think again.
I suggest today that the risk of putting it off is far greater… because…. well…. look at Beatrice. Few of us suffer such frightening and terrible experiences and are able to get back on our feet 100%.
None of us can afford to put off our dreams. The ultimate risk is that without trying, you’ll never achieve your dreams. And NO ONE wants to die with regrets.
You’ve heard the saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
Here’s today’s saying, “It’s better to have tried and floundered than never to have tried at all.” And trying (even if it doesn’t work out) IS succeeding, because you’ll never look back on your life to lament “You know… the one thing I wish I had done in my life…” with regrets.
I wish Beatrice strength and success as she reprioritizes and rebuilds her life. She has promised to stay in touch as she moves forward.
And I wish YOU, the aha! moment that I hope this post will cause that says “Now is the time!”
Join those of us who have found our passion and purpose! What are you waiting for?
- And They Called It Puppy L-o-o-ve
- How to Become a Health or Patient Advocate or Care Manager
- Do I Have to Be a Nurse to Be a Patient Advocate?
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