We all have to fight for something in our lives. I have always had a fighting spirit and one of my proudest moments was when I achieved by black belt, 2nd Dan in Karate. I also received my Protea colours multiple times and competed at various World Championships.
After working in London I landed a job at AutoTrader and at the age of 28, having just been selected to be on the company’s Management Development Programme, I was faced with my toughest fight yet. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Stage 3 HER2+ Breast Cancer. At that moment my life was changed forever.
I had 2 large invasive tumours and they were growing fast. I also got news the cancer had also spread into my lymph nodes making it more likely it could spread to other parts of my body. I had no family history of breast cancer. Doctors urged me to act quickly. I was young, newly engaged, in the prime of my career and didn’t see it coming.
I made the tough decision to work full time through my treatment. I was determined I was not going to let this cancer ruin what I had been working so hard to achieve
And so, I made the choice to stay at my demanding job and work and travel full time through my treatment. A mastectomy, removal of my lymph nodes, physiotherapy, months and months of gruelling chemotherapy, losing all my hair, multiple operations and reconstructions, hundreds of tests and hospital visits and 5 years of hormone replacement therapy followed.
I’d often have chemo on a Friday and then be back on a plane on a Monday to our head office to have my next boardroom battle!
12 years later I am still with AutoTrader where I have been Marketing Director for the past 8 years. I lead a dynamic team and work with partners all over the world. I believe my journey has given me a wealth of experience of how to be resilient in stressful situations, and what tactics to apply to thrive when the odds are stacked against you.
As I was navigating this unexpected journey I was stunned at how many parallels I could make with my illness and the business I have worked in for the past 15 years. I feel hugely inspired to share what I’ve discovered with others who find themselves in similar situations, whether in their personal life or in the boardroom in my upcoming blog.
My hope is that in sharing my story & strategies, I can inspire others to be bold in the boardroom and in life.