I was on the phone with an old friend last evening and I heard myself telling her “you must act on your dreams now, before it’s too late”. That reminded me of myself a few years back.
There was a time when I failed to act on my dreams too. A few years back I was preparing for a 6 months break to travel America in a rented RV together with my partner. I had that dream since I was a child and I kept postponing it from one year to another throughout my adult life waiting to finish various projects.
The project at that time was a third and final research year on an MSc course which stirred a lot of passion in me. On the same day the course was due to start I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was unexpected, as I felt healthy and energetic, but despite my disbelief it was real. A very aggressive and rare type of breast cancer, combined with a genetic mutation and a poor treatment and survival prognostic that shattered my life instantly.
To tell you the entire story we need more than a blog post, but I will share the short version. That diagnostic can be a life sentence and, as I was only 45 at the time, I went through the shock, denial and despair without much external drama, but inside I froze.
I had to stop working and rushed the ending sessions with my clients before the treatment. I had to share with my peers, my supervisors, extended family and friends, and I had to move my life to the hospital. The chemotherapy, its side effects, the hair loss, the surgeries, the regular scans and investigations kept me busy for about 1 year.
It was tough, but at the end of that time a miracle happened. I was in a small category of women that had complete response to treatment and no spread to other organs, and I was fully cured. Of course the risk of reoccurence exists and there are no guarantees for any of us, but I was cancer free.
My initial feeling was a strong sense of serenity followed by confusion and an overall feeling of lack of direction.
At that junction, I went through another layer of self exploration to get some sense of who the new me was. Like most people going through such challenge in life, I found out that in many ways I was still the same person, but on some levels I changed, and my perspective in life was different.
Survivors of significant trauma need to rebuild their lives and adjust to the reality of their new existence. I have done the same. I looked within and I asked my new self what gave me scope, what brought me joy, and what was my purpose in life.
At the end of that search, I concluded that I wanted pretty much the same things as before: to spend more time with my family and around my roots, to travel more and to continue to guide people create authentic, happy and fulfilling lives.
I changed my life-style and I founded The Significant You Mental Health Charity, to reach out to more people, to raise awareness and to inspire them make the best of each single precious day.
My story remains positive and America is still there, waiting for me to travel it, but upon reflection I wish I could revert the time and act on my dreams before it was too late. Sadly, I was only a great talker, encouraging others to live in the present moment and sometimes failing to do what I preached myself.
Like me, my girl friend was now full of regrets for the dreams she had not acted on earlier in life. Like us, many other people give up or postpone their dreams caught in the busyness of life. Every week in the UK alone 150 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Some come out of this terrible illness, whilst others wonder if they will still have time to fulfill their dreams.
Many other thousands of people receive another cancer diagnosis each week or suffer from other types of debilitating illnesses. They will put their lives on hold, postpone their projects and forget about their never accomplished dreams.
Inspired by them and my own experience, I am today even more determined to remind you all that life happens right now, not tomorrow, not next week, and definitely not next year or in 5 years time.
So grab yourself from any angle you can, shake yourself greatly and awaken. Stop living for the weekend or for holidays. It is time to act on your dreams now, before it’s too late.