Guest Op-Ed: Using your unique perspective when fighting a life-threatening illness

Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness as a young adult is devastating, overwhelming and emotionally draining. In other words, not too much fun! You wouldn’t believe how much you have to deal with on top of the actual illness. Some days can feel so debilitating that you will be lucky to send an email out from your phone.

I know this because I have been through many of these battles and emotions myself. At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yeah — I know. So young, right? That’s what I thought too.

Thankfully, it’s five years later, I am cancer free and a NYU-certified life coach who aims to help young adults with life-threatening illnesses get back on their feet. Talk about making a lemon drop Martini out of the nasty lemons life threw at me! However, it didn’t happen easily, and every day I am still learning how to cope better with it all. So, get excited, readers because I am about to coach you through your illness, one topic at a time.

It’s pretty obvious that many negatives come from being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, but on the flip side, something pretty amazing happens to you if you just choose to pay attention to it. The change happens very fast, with many deep emotions combined and it is…your perspective.

And no, I don’t mean the YOLO perspective; I am referring to the fact that you have gained a tremendous amount of wisdom and insight overnight, which changes your perspective. YOU, my new coachee, have been awakened to the humbling reality that most discover much later on in life. If and when you allow it to, it will take you to amazing places. It took me here, writing to you.

I know that being someone with an illness isn’t always something that you want to share ASAP– well, unless you’re like me. I, on the other hand, went straight on television to tell the world that I had breast cancer before I even lost my hair. And no, I am not a narcissist; I asked my therapist once. When you do choose to share your newfound perspective, you will make some of the most amazing connections of your life because people will get you! And what better relationships are there?

You, coachee, are an example of bravery and survival. You might not see it or understand it yet, but you are. For example, think about a time you heard someone’s life story and thought to yourself, “Wow, this person is so strong. I don’t know if I could have gone through that.” You are that person. Even if you’re not happy with your life and you feel hopeless, you are still that person. On my worst debilitating days, I somehow manage to give someone a little hope by just fighting my battles a little harder. So let’s fight ON!

How do you have your perspective help you more?

Ask yourself…

How am I using my new perspective to help me?

Suggestion: Remind yourself of what you learned thus far and keep it somewhere you can look at it from time to time.

Empowerment: If you thought you wouldn’t make it this far, just think of how much further you can go.

Still need more convincing?

Ask yourself…

When I have a negative perspective how does my body feel?

Suggestion: Write down the feeling you get when your thoughts go into negative land.

Empowerment: “Baby steps” — healing isn’t a competition — it’s a process.

Calming sentence of the month is- I am only HUMAN.

That’s it for today Coachee!

Stay tuned for more tips from your Life Coach Marlena.

Marlena Ortiz, is a Certified NYU Life and Personal Coach and founder of Beating Cancer In Heels and

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.