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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Terri's Big Dream

Today's guest post is by Terri Wingham.  Thank you Terri for sharing your dream with me.  I have heard countless women saying that their lives and focus changed dramatically after cancer, and that their old lives seem empty.  Her dream may inspire you to join in or find your own dream.


"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting, he thought, as he looked again at the position of the sun and hurried his pace." - One of my favourite quotes from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Cancer turned me from a pragmatic realist into a dreamer. In my old life, I wrapped my fingers, like the sucking tentacles of an octopus, around anything I thought could control. I thought if I could work 60-80 hours a week, juggle my schedule to try to make other people happy, and earn a six figure salary by the time I turned 30, someone would give me the key to a mystical place where my worries would disappear and I could finally relax.
Then, October 27, 2009 arrived and as I sat on a scratchy purple couch outside the doors of one of the cavernous conference rooms at the Vancouver Convention Center, a doctor's voicemail pried the fingers of control open and I watched life as I knew it, slip right through.
Some of you know the rest of the story...18 months of treatment including 3 surgeries, 4 round of chemotherapy, baldness, a flat chest, hot flashes, depression, and disillusionment....what a ride. But, then...on New Years Day of this year, the heavy fog surrounding my heart lifted and for the first time ever, I listened to the Hell Yes in my gut and came up with a crazy dream to go to Africa.
With an outpouring of support from friends, family, and readers, I raised the money to participate in a six week volunteer program in the Townships of Cape Town. Some of you came along as I crashed into love with a group of mischievous 1-3 year olds, met women my age who had lost entire families to AIDS, and saw more joy on the faces of people who struggled to provide their families with the basic necessities of life, then I ever felt when I earned my six figure income.
If you visit the My Story page on A Fresh Chapter, you will read my (still unanswered) email to Oprah and learn about the book I am sweating through writing. But, today, I want to tell you about a different dream, a MUCH bigger dream that might involve you or someone you know. If I can just get past the anxiety building in my chest and string letters into sentences so I can share it with you, I know I will get one step closer to making it a reality.
I can hear you saying, as you think of all of the other things you need to do today, "C'mon already....what's the dream?"
So, here it is.
I want to start a Not For Profit to help other cancer survivors volunteer internationally. If you have a few moments, please come visit my new page entitled My Big Dream where I tell you more about why I think this experience might heal other survivors in the way it healed me.
I would love to hear your thoughts, positive or negative, about this idea because I don't pretend to know what will work for everyone. Each of us who have faced cancer have handled the experience in our own way and come through it with a different perspective about what we need to move forward. This idea is still a red faced, naked, newborn baby and I know your input will help shape it through the sleepless nights and dirty diapers of its infancy...
In order to start making this dream a reality, I am officially giving up my apartment in Vancouver on September 30th, lending or giving away almost all of my worldly possessions and packing my bags for a Round The World Trip. As I write these words, the old me wants to drop-kick the new me and wrap my arms around everything I own and refuse to let go.
But,  every time I feel the old tightness of fear clamp down on my chest, I look at Mark Twain's quote, written on a card, and stuck to my fridge: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from the safe harbour! Catch the trade winds in your sails! Explore! Dream! Discover!
I'm not suggesting that all of us should quit our jobs and travel the world in the hopes of starting a Not For Profit. But, I would love to bring you with me as I figure out a way to partner with a volunteer organization and then raise awareness for this new venture by traveling the world, volunteering in Asia, Africa, and maybe even South America and then putting the structure in place to help other people dream big, post-cancer, reinvent your life kind of dreams.
So, what do you think?
If you want to get involved or have any ideas around shaping this Not For Profit, please email me. I would LOVE your support and to hear your feedback. I have no idea how to make this happen, but recent events in my life have taught me that Courage is Not the Absence of Fear and if I dream a big dream, anything is possible.

Terri Wingham is a blogger, world traveler, friend, sister, aunt, daughter, wine lover, post-wine booty shaker, writer, dreamer, and breast cancer survivor. Terri’s current address is in Vancouver, Canada, but after her recent return from 10 weeks in Africa, she is itching to finish her book, pack her bags, and travel the world while she starts a Not For Profit to help other cancer survivors volunteer internationally. Follow Terri’s adventures on her blog: A Fresh Chapter. http://www.afreshchapter.com/.




Elyn Jacobs

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Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She empowers women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.


2 comments:

  1. What great spirit to pursue service to others! Best wishes as you begin your journey. I remember reading about a similiar story, a man whose life was changed and numerous people have benefitted from his tireless effort to raise money to use his gift. Three Cups of Tea ring a bell? Not a cancer story, but a story of the remarkable ingenuity of the human spirit. Best wishes! Diane, a fellow cancer survivor in Austin

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