Starting A Business In The ICU

What started as a grab for normalcy and sanity during my son's battle with a malignant brain tumor has turned into a thriving public relations agency.

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It was October 2010 and I had just left on vacation when life came to a screeching halt. My son, then 22, was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor. I flew back home, left my job of twenty years at a boutique book publicity agency in New York City, and focused on the long unknown road ahead.

Needing to create some semblance of normalcy while the world turned upside down, I turned to my iPad and LinkedIn to reach out to my contacts, letting them know what was happening and informing friends, clients, and peers that I might be out of pocket for a while, and that odds were I wouldn’t be returning to my position in Manhattan. The responses were supportive and encouraging, and then my son, between brain surgeries, wanted to know why I wasn’t going to work. He didn’t understand the severity of the situation, so I just told him that I needed to be with him. He said, “Well mom, you need to work. Why don’t you start your own business?” And thus ThePRFreelancer, Inc. was born, right in the NeuroICU.

Fast forward to 2018. My son fought a long heroic battle and is now a survivor. And what started as a grab for normalcy and sanity has turned into a thriving public relations agency specializing in non-fiction book publicity and marketing, both nationally and internationally. In addition, as a way to give back and pay it forward, we do pro bono publicity work for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (www.CBTF. org), a national organization, as well as Long Island’s Michael Magro Foundation (, two organizations we love dearly.

My son works at the agency, with a schedule and work environment that allows him to be productive and successful, and the team is rounded out with two additional full-time publicists.

My unintentional entrepreneurial journey has taught me so much about small business, entrepreneurship, strong and willful women, and the amazing world of medicine and the brain. But the journey has also made me a compassionate and flexible employer. But most of all, I learned that life is going to put obstacles in your way – and it’s how you respond and handle them that dictates the path that follows.

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