You Can Choose What to Do with Your Next Chapter

You Can Choose What to Do with Your Next Chapter

by Beth Williams

No matter how much time we have, we can make the most of it – right here, right now.

The day I learned I had brain cancer changed my life. Sometime between my brain surgery and a year of chemo, I had my first wake-up call: If not now, WHEN will I complete coach training to do what I love full time? Coach training was a great way to wrap up my year of chemo. I was focused on what I WANTED in my life, and that was to become an executive-and career-coach. In the process, I broke through many of my inner blocks and became better at silencing my inner critic. Fortunately, ongoing conscious attention and intention have helped me shift from being tormented by self-doubt to experiencing more joy and peace of mind, no matter what’s going on around me.

Surprisingly, my brain tumor became my launching pad. for not only creating the fulfilling career I always longed for but also becoming the person I wanted to be. But it wasn’t until my brother called to tell me he was dying of cancer that I got my second wake-up call. I realized I wanted to live full out. In just a few short weeks, he showed me how.

Geoff was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in August 2013 and given just weeks to live. And live he did, inviting friends and. family to spend his last weeks with him. What a gift! He showed us that no matter how much time we have, we can make the most of it – right here, right now. Our family members and Geoff’s friends had one another for support and comfort when the feelings of pending loss welled up and spilled out.

No matter how much time we have, we can make the most of it – right here, right now.

Geoff chose how he was going to spend those last few. weeks, and he lived them mostly on his own terms, despite the situation. He declined chemo treatments when he learned they wouldn’t improve his quality of life or longevity. He had returned to his job as a metalworker for a few days. after his diagnosis, until the doctor advised him it wasn’t a good idea since he had massive blood clots in his lungs. He told me on the phone, “Screw the job. I’m just going to BE.”

Always the practical one, Geoff gave his siblings and close friends jobs to do to help with his immediate needs and later with memorial services. He and another brother, Bryan, planned a huge bonfire for what turned out to be Geoff’s last weekend on earth. Cousins and friends joined in, too, bringing food, lighting a pathway from the house to the bonfire using solar-powered garden lamps, sharing favorite memories, joking with Geoff, and getting him tot he bonfire with medical equipment in tow. I’ve never felt more alive or grateful than during that time.


Geoff inspired me to refocus my life and my career-coaching practice. Now I help clients define and create the lives and the careers they want. He taught me that we do have choices, even when it seems we have none.

What will you choose to do with your. next chapter?

Beth Williams is an executive-, career-, and life-coach, as well as a brain cancer survivor. She created Your Flourishing Life Coaching to help cancer survivors figure out what’s next and learn how to live fearlessly, with purpose, passion, and presence. Beth also helps middle- and senior-level professionals and managers explore what nourishes their minds, bodies, and spirits; become even better leaders; reduce stress; and improve their work-life balance.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/August 2016.

Everyone has a unique story to share. Do you want to share your survivor story?
We consider a cancer survivor to be anyone living with a history of cancer –
from diagnosis through the remainder of life.
Here are our submission guidelines.