Badassery Magazine Issue 5 October - Page 43

After a long year (and then some) of treatment including 15 rounds of chemotherapy, three surgeries, 32 radiation treatments, I’m thankful to officially be declared cancer-free! But now what? Getting rid of my cancer had been my “job” for the past year, and now, it was finally over. Everyone expected me to “get back to normal.” What does that even mean? Although I have a degree in fashion design, B.C., I constantly felt I needed a safe, “fallback” job. So, I had my own fashion business on the side but was always too scared to really go for it. Dreams don’t pay the bills, right? As the British novelist, Doris Lessing, said, “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” Before Cancer, I was only surviving. Now…I’m ready to LIVE. About the Author After treatment, you can’t wait for either one of two things: 1) to get back to your life, or 2) to start a new one. Now A.C., something shifted inside of me. Sud denly, I realized, “If I could survive cancer, what can’t I do?” What initially felt like a death sentence was a surprisingly beautiful gift -- I now had a second chance at a meaningful, authentic life. Life was too short to do things you don’t want to, and I couldn’t go back. Now, as a cancerpreneur, trying to navigate my “new normal,” I am constantly walking two parallel tightropes as I balance between the constant concern of recurrence and financial instability as an entrepreneur. Although I am constantly scared of the unknown, you eventually get comfortable being uncomfortable. Finally, I also know my own value. Left: Wearing one of my signature scarves during chemotherapy; Right: At my first fashion event after my final breast cancer surgery Instead of worrying about failure, I’m more motivated to show other breast cancer survivors that yes, there is life AFTER cancer. (Not all advocacy has to be loud ra-ras and pink ribbons.) And if my business is truly successful, what better example that you cannot only survive cancer, but you can THRIVE? Rachel Park is a tie designer and founded Rachel Park Designs. During breast cancer treatment, she founded Survivor Moda and created The ParkPuff™a portable, stylish, chest-comforting seatbelt pillow for breast cancer patients. Recently, I learned of the passing of a dear chemo buddy, who was such a bright light during a dark time. I will always be thankful for the time we had together. (It was also a harsh reminder of the severity of cancer; tomorrow is never promised.)   