A woman relaxes on an open book and reads words that float off the page

What’s Your Legacy?

When most people think of a breast cancer survivor, they might imagine someone who has endured the horrific challenge of going through radiation or chemotherapy. While those treatments are certainly challenging, survivorship doesn’t stop there. That is merely what I’d like to call a pit stop.

Everyone's path is different

Rarely do they think of what has gotten a person on the path to radiation or chemotherapy. Oftentimes when you tell people that you have cancer, the very next question is what kind? And then that is followed up with, "Oh."

The "Oh" is never further investigated as to why some survivors, like myself, have no other choice than to have a mastectomy, while others may elect to have reconstructive surgery, which is mixed with treatments and harsh realities and new normals.

Regardless of the type of cancer or the treatment, everyone must begin to think about their legacy.

No matter what route a person takes, it is important that they think about their legacy and what they want to leave behind.

Being remembered

How do you want to be remembered? What is your life’s purpose? I’m not suggesting that all cancers will lead to a death sentence. But what if they were? How would you like to be remembered?

Is legacy something that you even care about? Do you believe that if you began to think about your legacy that you will rush your end time, or if you procrastinate then you will slow it down?

Once my health began to betray me I thought that maybe if I procrastinated on my dreams then I would prolong my life or forestall my death. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.

I’ve always said that I wanted to die empty, meaning, I wanted to use every ounce of potential while I’m alive. Every goal, every dream, I wanted to be fulfilled before I took my last breath.

I wanted to leave an inheritance for my children and their children. However, once my health began to fail, I froze. All of the things that I said I wanted to accomplish became like empty promises or hollow words blowing in the wind.

Overcoming fears

I allowed fear to consume me. The what-ifs in my life became my daily focus and not in a favorable way. What if I complete the books, the movies, the clothing lines, will that be the end for me? What if I begin all of the things that I say I desire: Will I have the strength to complete them?

For so long the negative what-ifs had me in a state of paralipomena where I used fixing other people's issues as a substitute for fulfilling my goals, building my legacy. I would do just enough to say I was doing something but not enough to be successful at anything.

Before I knew it, life was passing me by, my friends and family were accomplishing their goals and dreams, and I was at a standstill. And I was losing people quicker than I could count the days of the month.

Then, I decided that it was time to stop the self-sabotage and begin setting a plan in motion for my legacy. That is, if I had any intentions of building one for my husband and children.

My legacy

So, I wrote the book "My Last Breast," held breastie luncheons for "My Breast Friends," created the one-woman show "My Last Breast," created a shoe line and an online clothing store, wrote three more books, and created a greeting card line and a card deck because I wanted to leave something behind for other women who have faced or will face breast cancer.

I also wanted to educate as many people as possible about the disease. And this was the beginning of building a legacy for my family.

So if I live another month, three, six, or ten years, at least I will have built the foundation of my legacy. I’ve begun to complete as many things as I can on my legacy bucket list. Not because I’m preparing to die, but simply because I’ve decided to live.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedBreastCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.