Rainmaking Recommendation #263: F*CK CANCER or Rainmaking Lessons Learned During a Health Crisis

This Rainmaking Recommendation may be a bit lengthy. Still, I need to tell you why you haven’t heard from me that often in about eight months and how that ties into the actual Rainmaking Recommendation for today and the lessons learned.

At the end of October 2021, I began experiencing dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Having experienced this before and relying on Dr. Google, I self-diagnosed it as cervicogenic issues and started going back to my chiropractor to no avail. 

It finally came to a head the day after Christmas on December 26, 2021. I reached for a lamp in my bedroom and, in my severe dizziness, slipped and fell against a potted tree that was next to my bed and cracked a rib on my right side.   It being the day after Christmas, and I live alone, I was relegated to contacting 911 to have an ambulance come to take me to the hospital. And since I am trying to find silver linings of all of this, I can say it was my first (and definitely last) time in an ambulance. It was there I went on a health journey I hope no one ever has to go through (but too many of my friends have had to). 

The X-rays of my ribs revealed not only the fracture but that there was a cancerous tumor in my lung. And when they heard about the dizziness, they performed an MRI on my brain, which showed another tumor pressing on the balance center of my brain – hence the dizziness and nausea.

Suffice it to say it is a challenging diagnosis to absorb, but I didn’t have time to do so I immediately went into surgery and they excised the tumor on my brain two days later. On a positive note, it was on the brain and not in the brain, and it did not affect the intellectual centers of my brain – I joke that I am still as smart as I ever was . . .

Without giving a blow by blow description of all that I have gone through since the day after Christmas, I will tell you that:

  • I have been through two surgeries  –  the brain tumor excision and the removal of a piece of my lung;
  • Four Cyber-knife treatments on my brain – which are pinpointed radiation treatments to make sure that the cancer is gone;
  • And four chemotherapy treatments over 12 weeks.

And, another silver lining is that, while in the emergency room, I had been assigned some of the best surgeons and oncologists in the country. A fact for which I am extremely grateful. 

And while I am not here to compare my cancer journey to anyone else’s, I have had it relatively easy. Every thing was caught extremely early and I experienced few side effects from the treatments, maintained my full head of hair, and continued to service my current clients.

Yesterday was my last chemotherapy!

And today, I am 100% healthy.

There are a few reasons why I am telling you this:

First, many people have emailed and called me asking if I was okay and why they haven’t heard from me. It has not been a secret that I have been going through this, but I have not publicized it either. As someone who is highly independent,  I didn’t want to lead my life with “I’ve got cancer.”  There are people who have had it a lot worse than I; I just wanted to get on with my life and get over this diagnosis. I also feel that discussing this diagnosis would be just a way for me to get some attention, and this is not the attention I would like. But, I have become consumed with this over the past six months, and it has led me to neglect certain activities that would have helped me grow my business.   Including my Rainmaking Recommendations.  

As I said, before you jump on me, this was my journey, and everyone has to go through their own health and personal journeys – particularly when it gets bad. 

How does this tie into business development?  

While I continued to serve my clients, I was not growing my business.  So, here is one lesson – regardless of what you are going through, you have to make sure that your clients are happy with the work. I ensured that I continued to work with my clients, most of whom didn’t know what I was going through. 

Second, lawyers are always complaining about how busy they are when they get too hectic or consumed by billable hours. And while I did not complain (well, that much), I will tell you that I deal with several individual lawyers and groups of law firm attorneys who complain about their busy-ness as if it were a badge of honor. 

Busy-ness is not a badge of honor. It is a trap. Being busy doesn’t always equate to significant and billable activities. But yet, “I’m so busy” is looked upon by the legal industry as the only way to be. That busy-ness does not translate into billable activities, and because it is usually low-value work, it often gets written off, losing the firm thousands and thousands of dollars.   
Recently, an article in Law.com International discussed a memo sent out by the firm’s managing partner, entitled “Being a Partner at Hogan Lovells,” indicating that to become a partner at that firm, attorneys need to put in 2400 hours a year at the firm. It was further clarified that about 1700 were billable hours and that the rest is contributions to the law firm – DEI, training, pro-bono work, and the like.   

So, instead of finding ways to be busy, find ways to be productive and use the other time for business development and other activities that will benefit you and your career trajectory. 

I had to learn to be productive with the hours I had available to me which were significantly less than I would like due to some of the side effects (again, thankfully which were so mild and rare).  So the next lesson is, productive is good – busy for busy-ness sake  is not. 

Third, words matter. You are wrong if you think that positive thinking is too “woo-woo” and that using positive language is just semantics. Throughout this entire journey, I have remained as positive as is humanly possible. Yes, I’ve had very emotional moments, and who wouldn’t? But I have remained remarkably calm and positive through this health issue. I even told the doctors that I would not have any side effects from the chemotherapy. And, I haven’t really had a tough time. Sure, there will be some side effects when you are being pumped with so many poisonous chemicals, but the most considerable side effect has been fatigue, and I have honored my body. 

But words do matter. In fact, after this post, I am refusing to dwell or discuss the diagnosis; I have decided that specific phrases and terms will be taken out of my language, including words like “remission” and “cancer-free,” for example. So instead, I am choosing to be “healthy for the rest of my life.”   Yes, I will probably be monitored for the rest of my life, but since I intend on being healthy, it is just the same as getting any annual tests.  (Which, by the way, please do not neglect – get your annual physicals and test now.)

For lawyers struggling to bring in new business, what are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself that Rainmaking is hard? Or are you telling yourself that you can never bring in new business? Again, if you listen to Henry Ford, what you think and say matters. He is quoted as saying:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” 

Mindset matters. And words matter. It doesn’t matter whether you say them out loud or internally; you need to find a way to frame the goals that will allow you to achieve them.  

And last but certainly not least, this post is a thank you to all of those who had known about the diagnosis and have been there for me, even when I didn’t want it. Before I get emails, calls, and texts from friends and colleagues asking me why I didn’t tell them specifically, as I said before, it wasn’t a secret, but I wasn’t talking about it as one of my conversations unless it came up. 

Again, as someone very independent, it is challenging for me to ask for help. But one of the things I have learned is that regardless of who you are, you always need someone on your side. The most important person to thank is my twin sister, who has, on numerous occasions, dropped her life and traveled up from Florida to make sure I wasn’t alone when I needed someone most. 

However, I am sending a huge thank you to everyone else who constantly made sure that I was doing okay.

But the lesson truly is, ask for help! Ask for help with your business devleopment; ask for help with your practice; ask for help with your personal life.   This was a tough one for me, but I realized there is no weakness is asking for help.  

And this summer is my summer to:

  1. Help more lawyers  grow their books of business, as well as grow my business ;
  2. Become even  healthier;
  3. Have fun!

If you need someone to talk to about anything, or you want help growing your book of business, let me know. I am here for you. 

PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO AN ATTORNEY YOU KNOW! 

If you are a law firm leader and would like to discuss bringing a virtual training program or a Rainmaking Webinar (with Ethics CLEs) email me.

Comments

  1. Jaimie dearest, What is going on? I am very sorry to learn about your recent health challenge but happy to know you are recovering well. I’m sure you are inundated with well-wishes, as well as client demands…but when you have a moment, please drop me a line and let me know how I can help. If it would help just to talk, I’m available for that. Let me know what works for you. My cell-phone/text # is still 646-675-5936. Please text when possible. I Love you and want to help in any way that I can.

    Love,
    Cousin (?) Topaz

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