WRITTEN BY: Libby Wildman
I am just turning 48 years old. A single mom of three kids, ages 10,14 and 15. It’s exam time for them, and for me, it’s a glorious spring morning; perfect weather for my 6 am run through the park, followed by a workout on the back deck. If I may so myself, I am in awesome shape. Except that, during that whole month of May, I just haven’t had the energy to run up the hill. My heart races, and it’s hard just to catch my breath. Never mind though – I can still do my workout routine on my back deck.
Later that day, in tears of pain, I see a chiropractor who thinks I have cracked my ribs. How strange – I haven’t done anything that might have caused an injury. Later the next day I’m still in agony, as though a muscle is caught under my rib cage. I’m lying on a gurney in Mount Sinai Hospital, and I’m waiting to confirm that I have acute bilateral pulmonary emboli.
Texting my close friends, I implore them not to tell my Mom. I need to figure this out without worrying her. It’s when I see one of my best friends walking down the hall towards me that I think “Oh-oh. This is serious”. Finally, I sort through the thoughts in my head. Where is my Will and, and what exactly does it say? Do I actually have enough life insurance so that my three kids can finish school, and continue living in our house? Will my staff be paid, and will my overhead costs be covered? And, if I recover, how much disability do I have? I know now, I will never be able to buy more. Fog. I need to tell someone where everything is, and why I have arranged things as I have. Thoughts swirl. I hope people think I was thoughtful, and I hope my staff knows how much I care about them, and that I did think about getting things in order. I hope my kids know how much I love and cherish them. And I hope they understand that I also love being an entrepreneur, which is why I couldn’t attend all their games.
Fast-forward two years, and it’s my 50th birthday. Once again I find myself at Mt Sinai Hospital, with the news that I have breast cancer. Me? Really? I’m fit. I eat healthy foods. I work out. I do yoga and am a student of teachers who help me calm my mind. Life is a bag of Bits and Bites. Grab a handful, and you’re in for a surprise. As I filled in the form to collect on my Critical illness, (before my radiation and surgery) I was relieved to know that the $400,000 tax-free I would be getting from the policy within 30 days would pay my business overhead, my mortgage, and be around for my kids.
I could breathe easy for a few months, knowing that business development could ease for a while. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have an outstanding health care system, as well as access to reputable insurance companies.
I have made a full recovery. I’ve talked to my kids about the ‘what if’s’, and I’ve spoken with my partner about my beliefs in bringing up my children. I’ve considered who should buy my business, and I would want them to consider involving my son, should he so desire. I have made some changes to my Will and re-written my shareholder agreement. And most importantly, I have annual mammograms. Early detection can save your life.
I understand that our lives are insanely busy, and as driven women, we’re passionate about building our businesses, while wanting to give back at the same time. Please don’t wait until something happens before you take control and plan for Plan B.