Resilience — battling cancer requires you to fight. Many times it requires you to fight the same fight over and over and over again, until you WIN. You must have some “bounce back” in you. You must be willing to become strong, healthy, and successful again even after something bad like cancer has happened to you. At 3 years of age when I faced cancer I fought and then at 9 years of age when I thought it had returned, I fought. As I face long-term effects from chemotherapy and surgeries, I choose to remain resilient and never give up. I choose to live my best life because I beat cancer.
Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany R. Easley.
Tiffany, Author, Transformational Life Coach, and Speaker leverages her 42-year cancer survivorship to help women impacted by a chronic or terminal diagnosis navigate the trauma associated with the diagnosis, live a life of purpose and SOAR in their greatness. She provides resources, strategies, and tools designed to help her clients gain clarity and create a course of action to gain freedom from stagnation. Learn more about Tiffany and SOAR on her website .
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?
I am an accomplished Prescription Benefit Management Professional, Business and Life Coach with a solid record in driving personal/professional improvement and positive results. During my 15 years in Prescription Benefits, I have focused on client and customer relationships across multiple business segments and been responsible for over 80M dollars in revenue. I have developed the skills and competencies — building relationships, influencing/motivating others, managing projects, presenting information in a clear and concise manner which have helped me become a successful business and brand at Tiffany R. Easley Enterprises, Inc., where I serve as the President/Director and Transformational Coach while training leaders to SOAR.
My childhood was comparable to a game of dominos. At any given moment the numbers could be against me in the form of chronic illnesses which included ovarian cancer, hydrocephalus, an inoperable cyst at the base of my brain, and infertility. It was sprinkled with several fun memories of summer camps, learning to sew and bake, and singing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is by John C. Maxwell, and it says, “The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” This quote is relevant to me and my life because I had to change my attitude after facing a childhood cancer diagnosis. I had to be responsible for my response to the diagnosis and how I chose to live my life after the diagnosis. My response was to never give up and always choose to W.I.N.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?
Yes. I feel comfortable sharing the story of how I found out I had cancer. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1980 at the age of 3 years old after experiencing early onset puberty and falling off my tricycle. These sets of events prompted my mom to take me to the doctor who discovered a mass the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. The initial treatment regimen was surgery to remove the tumor. Due to the size of the tumor, the entire right ovary also had to also be removed. After receipt of the pathology report, I was told I had Stage I ovarian cancer.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
My mom always shared the scariest part of that event was thinking I could die before I had a chance to enjoy life. I did not recognize or understand the vulnerability of life and death at that young age; but quickly learned after being told at the age of 9 that my cancer may have returned in my left ovary. This was scary because I truly understood I could die during surgery. This was scary because the cancer I beat at the age of 3 may have returned and could kill me this time. This was scary because I recognized the vulnerability of life and death. I was scared and afraid because I could not control what was happening.
How did you react in the short term?
In the short term, I lived my life as a cancer patient who would not quit and always chose to W.I.N. I chose to enjoy family, friends, school, and doing all the things I loved. I chose to fight cancer and not allow it to get the best of me.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
After the dust settled, my coping mechanism was writing. I would journal my feelings about cancer and how I felt about the disease. I journaled about all the things cancer had taken from me physically, mentally, and emotionally. As I look back on the moment the dust settled for me, I was honestly not coping but I was dealing with cancer from a very negative space. It was at that point I decided to cope with cancer through journaling. I realized cancer took my physical strength but gave me stamina to endure any difficulty I would face in life. Cancer stressed me mentally but taught me how to think outside of the box and become inspired. Cancer strained me emotionally but taught me how to appropriately channel my emotions and properly handling them. Cancer grew me spiritually. Cancer helped me embrace my call with boldness and clarity. Cancer helped me develop a deeper relationship with Jesus and love for His people. It was through journaling I was free to see all of this and begin to cope with cancer.
Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
My mom, Virginia Easley definitely is the embodiment of my first Coach who helped me to cope and heal. She was tough but was there to make sure I never gave up. She would help me with breathing and walking exercises. She would allow me to be vulnerable and cry when I was overwhelmed from treatment or receiving bad news at a doctor’s appointment. She would bathe me when I could not bathe myself, and she would pray for me when I did not know what it meant to pray. I remember at the age of 9 when we thought my cancer had returned. I was so afraid leading up to the surgery. I kept asking my mom “am I going to die?” She would always tell me, God will take care of you Tiffany, God loves you.” As I was being wheeled down to surgery, my mom by my side, holding my hand, I looked at her with tears in my eyes and asked, “mom, am I going to die?” My mom responded, “Tiffany, God loves you and will take good care of you, I will see you in a little while.” My mom never once allowed me to believe that I would not be healed, and she always helped me to cope with my illness.
In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?
Cancer doesn’t just take from people, but it gives. Cancer gives strength, focus, determination, and ingenuity to those who are ready to fight and W.I.N. Yes. The battle with cancer will cause some scarring. The battle with cancer will cause some pain. The battle with cancer will cause you to enter a space you never wanted to venture into, but it will also cause you to do some phenomenal things. Cancer will give you the ability to find strength in the fight. Cancer will cause you to focus on what is truly important and not what once appeared to be. Cancer will help you embrace determination and ingenuity in giving you the victory. Cancer not only to takes but to gives.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before? Can you please explain with a story or example?
During this very difficult experience I learned I am resilient and the power (Holy Spirit) working on the inside of me allows me to be and do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I could ask or think Ephesians 3:20. Cancer shaped my worldview by reminding me it has no specific race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Cancer can impact anyone.
How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?
I use this experience to help others SOAR Beyond trauma which has placed them at a point of stagnation due to fear, anger, disappointment, or any emotion experienced after receiving their diagnosis. I do this by providing resources, strategies, and tools for my clients and those in my sphere of influence. A few of those are — as the President and Director of Tiffany R Easley Enterprises, a business platform I use to coach women using the 5R principles of the SOAR Strategy to SOAR Beyond their place of stagnation. As the Producer and Hostess of SOAR After A Diagnosis with Tiffany podcast which has been created for the professional woman who desires to remain resilient while living with a diagnosis, helping women confidently step to the mic and share their survivor story with authenticity, boldness, and clarity. As the Curator, Hostess, and Producer of The Tiffany Easley Show “Soar with Tiffany” a TV show, providing our viewers with insight, inspiration, and information to assist them along their journey from trauma to triumph. We bring fun, fabulousness, and fashion to the forefront for the SurvivorTHRIVER to help them unleash their SOARing Lifestyle.
What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?
Misconceptions and myths about fighting cancer that I would like to dispel are:
- Cancer is a dreadful disease; but it is not a person’s destined place of residence. More often than not those who have loved ones, family, or friends who have been diagnosed with cancer or lost their battle with cancer choose to remember the disease “cancer” and not the legacy of the person. Every person diagnosed with cancer or lost a battle with cancer has a legacy, remember the legacy and not the disease.
- Sharing your cancer story is an act of self-pity, attention seeking, or a strategy to gain popularity. Those diagnosed with cancer recognize the importance of making every moment count. Sharing their cancer story is NOT an act of self-pity, attention seeking, or a strategy to gain popularity. It is a selfless act of hope and inspiration to encourage and inspire others.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.
5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer are:
- Resilience — battling cancer requires you to fight. Many times it requires you to fight the same fight over and over and over again, until you WIN. You must have some “bounce back” in you. You must be willing to become strong, healthy, and successful again even after something bad like cancer has happened to you. At 3 years of age when I faced cancer I fought and then at 9 years of age when I thought it had returned, I fought. As I face long-term effects from chemotherapy and surgeries, I choose to remain resilient and never give up. I choose to live my best life because I beat cancer.
- Strength — you must remain strong in your mind, will, and emotions as you fight against cancer. Each day you have to strengthen how you think and what you believe. You have to exert willpower and choose to live. You must make a conscious decision each day to guard your emotions and not allow them to control you. Invest in things which will strengthen your entire being. I read books, listened to songs, motivational speakers, and spiritual preachers who helped me to strengthen my mind, will, and emotions.
- Compassion –There will be difficult moments when you may feel you can do more, feel better, or be a better version of yourself, but cancer has you feeling less than. You must extend compassion toward yourself. Give yourself permission to “just be” on the days when you need it most. I remember when I first started having days of extreme fatigue. I would be upset with myself because children my age were able to play outside for hours, and I couldn’t. This is an example of why I had to learn the importance of extending compassion to myself.
- Vision — I am speaking of foresight. You must see yourself after cancer. You must see yourself achieving your goals and reaching your dreams in spite of cancer. You must “see it” before you“ see it”. Growing up, I never really had an imagination, but always had vision. I always saw myself as a speaker, encouraging others to be the best version of themselves. After dealing with cancer and other chronic illness, the vision became fuel for me to make it a reality.
- Plan — Facing a cancer diagnosis will cause you to plan. You have to plan your days around doctor appointments, treatment sessions and when you do not feel well. I remember each day I planned for the worse and prayed for the best. On treatment days, I planned to rest more. I maintained healthy eating habits and stayed hydrated. I planned times for family and fun. I planned time for spiritual development.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
I would inspire the W.I.N. Movement. I would encourage those who have or are facing cancer to Work hard, Inspire others, and Never give up.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
How can our readers further follow your work online?
LinkedIN: @ Tiffany R Easley
Facebook: @Tiffany R Easley Enterprises
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!