The Voice

From Survivor to Thriver
A Personal Story

“I don’t feel like myself anymore. What’s the point? What’s my purpose?”

As a life coach for cancer patients, and as a cancer patient — I hear this question all of the time.

I lived this question for 3 years before I found my way to the answer.

I was diagnosed at 34 years old (6 years ago!). Cancer ripped up every root that I had planted. Every single facet of my identity was unearthed & burned to ash. Leaving me with a husk of the vibrant young woman I once was.

Constantly, I asked: what’s the point? What’s my purpose?

Deep underneath was a thought driven by pure terror: I am going to die. If I’m going to die, what’s the point in pursuing a dream, setting a goal or making future plans?

Heather Smith
Coach helping cancer patients find balance in life+treatment to stay present + ENJOY LIFE.

It took disease progression, 3 seizures and a gaping head wound to wake me up.

We say, “Who knows, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow! No one knows when they will die!”, as if this statement is helpful. Conciliatory. Useful. As if it’s supposed to make you feel better.

It’s not. It doesn’t. It’s a cop out. It’s an excuse to avoid big ambitious goals. It’s a sneaky reason to sit back watching the minutes turn into hours, turn into weeks & months.

I woke up in a hospital bed after my seizures and my first coherent thought was that I had NOT been living my life right (and yes, my brain was not grammatically correct.) I was an epic failure at cancer life. I spent three years going to work to pay the bills. Coming home completely wiped out (thanks fatigue!). I grumbled my way through the things that had to get done. I was angry. I snapped at the people I loved the most. I turned inward. I shriveled up and died every single day.

I was NOT my vibrant loving self.

I questioned everything. Should I even bother contributing to my retirement plan? What’s the point in planning a trip? I’ll probably be too sick. Why am I wasting this precious time working for someone else, living to work… and that’s it?

Underneath those questions lurked the BIG question: what is my purpose?

That question is THE question.

It’s the one that fills you with fear. It’s uncomfortable. It gives your brain a ripe breeding ground for scary thoughts to crop up… the thoughts that make you a victim. The thoughts that you could never speak out loud. The darkest fears. The cobwebs that catch you and drag you down.

But, it is also THE question to fuel your internal fire.
I took my understanding “I am not doing my life right”, applied some creativity and a LOT of persistence, to create a purpose. Yes. I created my purpose.

THE purpose.

I am creating a life I love using my mindset tools. I am the proud owner of a “cancer thriver toolbox” filled with all the biggest, shiniest & most useful tools so that I never question whether I am doing my life right.

I became the person I needed back then, when I was skulking through the day… wondering “what is my purpose”? I became a life coach. THE life coach for cancer patients.

I created a belief that the VERY reason why I am living with cancer and why I am here, outliving statistics (twice!) is so that I can BE this person for others. I am a cancer patient because it is my purpose.

With my clients, we work together to create their purpose. To find the little seed, plant it, nurture it, water it and grow it.

Let me be clear. MY purpose is MINE. The purpose for my clients are both grand and small. The common denominator for each person’s purpose is simple.


Stick with me here.

Creativity leads to passion. Passion leads to purpose. Creativity doesn’t mean singing or painting or playing music (although if it does for you, I’m jealous!)

Creativity is using your mind to assess your life to find the things that light you up. It’s being curious: how can I cultivate more of this? Followed by taking action: trying on the things that light you up (even picking up old hobbies) and being creative with what you learn.

Create the life you love by bringing in MORE of the things that light you up. When you do that, you find your purpose.

It’s a pretty easy formula: find the things that light you up PLUS do more of those things, then SUBTRACT the things that suck you dry.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Go back and read that again.

There is no right or wrong way to do this.

I promise.

You can CREATE the life you love. You can create your own passion. You can create your own purpose.

Your purpose can be YOU, fully present with your family without cancer fear creeping in.
Your purpose can be YOU, making the best memories with your spouse
Your purpose can be YOU, wearing a daring red lip as you reconnect with old friends.
Your purpose can be YOU, pursuing your dream of becoming a yoga instructor.
Your purpose can be YOU, a talented seamstress.
Your purpose can be YOU, adopting a dog & being the best dog mama out there.
Your purpose can be YOU, loving your newly retired life.
Your purpose can be YOU, volunteering your time & skills to a cause you are passionate about.
Your purpose can be YOU, running a business successfully.

If you want to learn more about my signature 1:1 coaching program From Survivor to Thriver, where I can help you create a thriving life that you love, send me an email.
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