I don’t normally share my personal life, but my personal life has taught me how to get through the rough patches so I decided to open up a bit. I grew up in a deeply dysfunctional home. Both my parents were alcoholics and when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my father died. I slept for a few days, cried till I was dry, then I got back up. I am grateful for all the people who helped me get back up. There were times I thought it would be easier to just stay down, but I got back up. It made me stronger.
I thought when I got to college things would smooth out. I came back from the library one day my freshman year to find I had gotten three calls while I was out, one letting me know that my friend Lisa had died, the second that Chrissy, the young boy I had babysat for years, had died, and the third that my cousin had been arrested for armed robbery and was going to jail. I hit the floor for a while, then I got back up. I’m grateful for all the friends who were there for me while I got back up, it wasn’t as difficult as the first time, but it was still hard.
Three years ago I invented a new way to shop online that can be added to any website and I thought wow, this is going to be amazing. I filed for a patent, partnered with David Sturman, an MIT Media Lab alum, and built Stylaquin. The numbers from our first site were off the charts, triple digits, crazy good, so I shifted from focusing on my catalog design business to focusing on Stylaquin. Then we got word that we’d been granted a patent. Whoop Whoop! Software patents are incredibly hard to get, you have to have something really new and unique. I was dancing around the office. I took the family out for a celebratory dinner that night and the very next day I got the call that I had stage 2 breast cancer. Talk about a buzzkill. Having gotten up a few times already, it was almost easy this time. My sister and I had so much fun on a visit to Dana Farber that we agreed it was “The best cancer ever!” Practice really does make perfect.
Covid-19 is bad. It’s a threat to our families, it’s a threat to our businesses and it’s a threat to our health. Every morning I break isolation to get radiation treatment, which lowers my immune system. I’m vulnerable in a way I have never been before and I am so very grateful for the staff who are working to help me get back up rather than sheltering in place with their families. Life has taught me that we are all vulnerable, we are all going to fall down, but if we get back up, we will be stronger. When you find yourself on the floor, look around with gratitude at all the people who are working to help you get back up. Then get back up.