In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, solo lawyer Joleena Louis shares how her family’s battle with cancer has shaped her firm and attitude into what it is today.
As I’m writing this post, I’m preparing to leave for Ohio to help my mother. She is currently battling breast cancer and just recently had surgery.
Unfortunately, my family is no stranger to cancer. Both of my maternal grandparents died of cancer and my paternal grandmother survived breast cancer. My father had skin cancer three years ago and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer over this past Christmas holiday. Needless to say, it’s become a big part of our lives.
But as my parents always taught me, there is a lesson to be found in every struggle and I’ve certainly learned a lot from my parents’ experiences. And I have translated many of those experiences to my solo practice, helping me to be an even better lawyer and person as a whole.
Attitude is Everything
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from both of my parents’ battles with cancer is that attitude is everything. Despite their life-threatening situations, they both kept positive attitudes throughout, and it seemed to make the process a little easier for them.
So when I’m going through a tough time financially or dealing with a difficult case, I remind myself that if they can stay positive about cancer I can have a positive attitude about whatever issues I’m dealing with.
Live Life to the Fullest
It sounds cliche, but you never know what day will be your last.
Since my father had his tumor removed three years ago, he has started living life on his terms. He went back to school, changed his career, and travels often.
Often we hesitate to do the things we want to out of fear for the future. But the future is not guaranteed.
From this, I have learned to take risks and try the things I want to try today. Because you never know if you will have the chance to do it tomorrow. I remind myself of this whenever I hesitate to try a new marketing technique or to take that vacation I’ve been needing. You will thank yourself if you just take the leap in the long run.
Make Your Family a Priority
Lastly, and most importantly is to make your family a priority.
It’s so easy to get so caught up in work that you put the people you love on the backburner. My family lives in Ohio and, due to my mother’s chemotherapy, I’ve been home more in the past five months than I usually do in an entire year.
One of the best parts of being a solo lawyer is the flexibility that comes with it. Since I am my own boss, I can make these trips back home whenever I need or want to. Through this experience with my mom, I’ve realized that I need to use that flexibility to spend more time with my family.
Every experience is a lesson. And while cancer is a terrible thing, I feel like it has made my parents stronger. And through their example, it’s made me stronger too.