10 years ago I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. I was 48 and had a clean mammogram the year before. I was healthy, fit, working and busy. My life changed at a glance of a mammogram. I had a textbook perfect mammogram showing breast cancer.
The breast cancer treatments threw me into menopause. While my cancer was being treated with surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, my quality of life was miserable. I was tired from the treatments and side effects of menopause. A light bulb went off when I realized that all women go through menopause — usually more naturally and gradual than my experience — but the end results were still the side effects of night sweats and hot flashes!
I knew about wicking clothes from the slopes and trails. Somehow I knew there had to be something more comfortable than wearing my bike shorts and a skiing first layer top to sleep. I made a prototype using my old sewing machine I bought from babysitting money when I was 13 and it worked! I found some lightweight wicking fabric and made another prototype and showed it to my breast cancer support group. These women went crazy with enthusiasm, and I knew I was filling a need, so I started my company, Haralee.Com Sleepwear.
I did not know anything about clothing manufacturing, selling online or design and pattern making. I did know that I could help women get a better night sleep and there was a need and desire for our product.
Being a naïve entrepreneur, I never thought my company would not be successful. We had a mission, a focus and a great product. I implemented my values so our product is made in the USA. I wanted to show that those who survived cancer or touched by cancer are vibrant women, so I use friends for models who filled those criteria. I wanted to employ other small businesses so I sought out other entrepreneurs for their services and skills.
8 years later we are a successful business. 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer I never thought it would lead to a career change. No one is more surprised than me that my cancer diagnosis would make me into a successful entrepreneurial businesswoman. I am lucky and grateful.
Have you been surprised how your life has taken an uncharted or unforeseen turn?