Shelly Rood on

Surviving the holidays: a woman veteran’s guide

Surviving the holidays: a woman veteran’s guide

Shelly Rood

“When you say the words ‘breast cancer survivor,’ it can’t get any more personal for me because that is my mother,” announces Shelly Rood, co-founder of Mission: Ambition LLC and a decorated military intelligence officer who served our country for 16 years.

“It is so fresh in our minds as a family even though it was a few years ago our mother had breast cancer,” Shelly shares during The Breast of Everything podcast. “Sometimes we are so concerned with getting through it, with surviving it, that we don’t take the time for genuine connection and reflection.”

Through her work with Mission: Ambition LLC, Shelly inspires the world to be filled with thrivers, not just survivors. She hopes her message is heard loudly and clearly, especially during this time of year as we approach the holidays, a very difficult time for those living with cancer.

It is important that women learn to delegate and set boundaries when it comes to holiday activities, she urges. Don’t isolate yourself; connect with others and take the time to relax and enjoy the season.

Women in general tend to think they can do it all on their own, but they cannot. Women coping with cancer are exhausted physical and emotionally. They won’t be able to do it all on their own, and it is okay to ask for help.

Shelly examines this internal battle cancer survivors have with themselves. She views it as a military mission. What is your mission? Is it to enjoy the holidays? In most cases, the answer should be a resounding “yes.” Come up with a strategy, she recommends. When delegating work, for example, have your husband pick up the ham. And remember to praise him, she points out. Praise is important. If he forgets the glaze, does it really matter? “We delegate because we are a team. If you aren’t delegating, you don’t have a very good team,” she points out. “And when you praise, do it without expecting praise in return.”

Set up a timeline. These are your boundaries. The holidays shouldn’t be a three-month process, she says. Set a start and stop date. For example, plan to start your shopping on Monday and have it completed by Friday. The mission is over on that date.

Shelly closes the podcast by saying to everyone, not just cancer survivors, to challenge yourself. What is your intent in your life? What do you stand for? That is what you should be working toward every single day, not making the prettiest bow on a package, or using the clear shiny tape instead of the cheap kind.

Don’t waste precious seconds of your life on these decisions. Instead, think about how you are interacting with the people around you in a more meaningful and intentional way. Live with a purpose, not in day-to-day survival mode. What is on the other side of your mission, your journey, your conflict? The immediate survival moment will pass. Will you be ready for when it does?

“You will make it through this mission,” she says regarding a woman’s cancer journey. “My question to you is, ‘what is on the other side?’ It will forever change you.”

“I tell my patients, you can’t see it right now, but there will be a time in your future that you won’t be thinking about your cancer and your life everyday as a cancer patient,” adds Comprehensive Breast Care Surgeon Linsey Gold, DO, FACS, FACOS, The Breast of Everything podcast host. “There will be life beyond this, and it is a choice with what you want to do with that gift given you.”

“Your life should resemble a nuclear explosion, not an old person’s birthday cake,” Shelly concludes.