What it’s like to be reborn
By Vickie Girard

We cancer patients receive a unique gift. Yes, we know what it’s like to come too close to death, but we also know what it’s like to be reborn. I remember vividly the day I stepped outside the hospital -released at last from weeks of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Oh, if that wonderful rush of the senses could be bottled, it would be worth a thousand times its weight in gold.

It was a beautiful summer day, but beautiful is inadequate. The colors that day were turned up, as if I had been seeing with poor reception before. The scents in the air were almost overpowering. I could smell fresh-cut grass, growing flowers, traffic, food – I could smell the time of day. Morning smells different than evening or midday.

The sounds rushed at me. Voices, no longer filtered or contained by hospital walls, had a different ring outside. I heard a dog bark, a horn honk, a child yell, shoes hitting pavement, and multiple conversations going on all around me. And the feeling- there was a slight breeze and I could feel my skin. It was almost as if the air itself had texture as it touched my face and arms. The sun, it warmed me from the outside in. Even walking felt different than it had in hospital corridors.

Had the world always been like this, this alive? I vowed to always look at life this way, to never forget this moment.

Nine years ago today at 10am, I was hooked up to IV bags with tubes (connected to my heart)  hanging out of my chest.

I was on the tenth floor of the UCLA medical center having just finished my last week of intensive chemotherapy that brought my blood count close to zero. I was there being treated for cancer – stage IV-B. That’s as bad as it gets. There is no stage V…

At 10am the medical team performed a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.

They call it “Day Zero” – the day you are literally “reborn” from a cellular level. They call it your “re-birth” day — and even give you a cake. (I didn’t eat the cake. Too nauseous from the chemotherapy still :) ).

Today is  “Day 3287″ — my “rebirthday”. My reborn cells have turned eight years old.

The five year mark is a big day for cancer survivors, so nine years feels really special.

It’s been quite a journey. I was back exercising about a month after the transplant (I was discharged just over one week after the transplant which at the time was the fastest recovery in UCLA history).

Until the last couple of years I still had a hard time with energy levels — and the struggle back to fitness has been challenging a lot of the time. I’m not complaining though, it is an enormous privilege to be able to even exercise at all after my diagnosis. It can get depressing at times, but only for a second — as the alternative is much worse :)

I’m now aware every day of how amazing life is.

I don’t know why I was given these extra days on this planet. But I can assure you that I recognize each one of them as a gift and I don’t take any of it for granted. And I don’t take any of you for granted who have cared enough to read my writings, or come to my seminars.

As cancer survivor Lance Armstrong says:

“I take nothing for granted now. I only have good days and great days”

I can relate completely. For me, the glass will always be half full from now on. People who have had cancer or other illnesses understand that you don’t have all the time in the world….

Thank you all for joining me on my journey over the last seven years. It had it’s ups and downs and up’s again — and it has been both challenging and grueling at times. But it’s also been amazing.

Thanks again.  Today is a special day for me.



If I were to tell you that you were about to get into a fight with the toughest opponent the world has ever faced – how would you prepare?
You’d probably learn some martial arts, do some combat training, get stronger, faster, better conditioned, hire instructors and formulate a strategy to take on the opponent.
But what if I told you that all the kicks, punches and choke holds won’t work against this opponent. It’s invisible. Your instructors can’t help you.
That’s the reality of facing cancer.
I beat cancer. Twice. Most people don’t survive the first time. I have no idea why I was given these extra days on this planet, but I treat them like a gift and will never take them for granted.
Prior to my bone marrow and stem cell transplant I had to undergo a battery of fitness tests. The treatment itself is so brutal, you need a certain level of “conditioning” before they doctors will even consider doing the treatment. They did heart tests, lung capacity tests, and a ton more.
I passed the test and entered the “fight” and won. I didn’t think much of it until after being in remission I met a young girl who was facing the same transplant situation. She said ” Oh wow! You got the transplant – that’s amazing!”
I have to admit that I didn’t feel that amazing.
She went on “I need to get one but I can’t pass the tests right now – I’m not in good enough shape to survive the procedure right now”
That’s when I realized the horror of her situation. She, while fighting cancer, needed to improve her fitness, so that they could win. How does a cancer patient get in shape when they are bombarded with a malignant disease, chemotherapy, drugs and radiation? It’s an uphill battle for everyone, but cancer patients are starting well behind the starting blocks.
I knew then that I had survived in part because when the disease hit me, I was in condition. I was strong. I had muscle. I had cardio fitness. I had gritted my teeth and grinded out a heavy last rep, or a max effort sprint.
My body could handle whatever the doctors were going to throw at me. Cancer couldn’t.
Because cancer didn’t train the way we train.
I started weight training to improve my martial arts competition skills. Who knew that the lessons learned in the ring, and the qualities developed under the bar would save my life.

I was at a business mastermind meeting recently with one of the LA Clippers Assistant Coaches – Kevin Eastman.
He was dropping knowledge bombs that morning —

I know what I know.
If all I know is what I already know, then I don’t know enough
I need to know what you know

In sports, to be the best, we have to beat the best, at their best.

In life and business, to be the best, we have to get the best, from the best

With that in mind, here are ten questions for you to consider:

1) What do you know this week that you didn’t know last week?

Have you gained more information?

If you haven’t gained more information – then a competitor who did will eventually and unquestionably hurt your business.

2)What was the last book you read or audio course you listened to and what are you implementing?

3)What was the last professional development course you attended (that you invested your own money in, not sent by your employer)?

4) What did you learn?

5) What did you do with that information next?

6) What did you do after that?

7) What do you need to learn and know to do your job better and take things to the next level?

8) Who are the experts, or people you can learn from in those areas?

9) What material do they have available that you can invest in learning ,to accomplish helping you do your job better?

10) What’s your time frame for studying and applying that information?


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