A conversation with Chapter 2 Keynote Speaker: author Gina Vild

Gina Vild_new

Learning to live in the moment while embracing the survivorship journey

Is there a scarier sentence than “You have cancer"? Those few words are enough to make everything feel unstable and overwhelming.

But that’s also the day a person crosses the threshold and becomes a cancer survivor. But what comes next, after the tests, the treatments, the surgery? How do you want your life to look as a cancer survivor?

“Time is the only currency that matters and how you spend that time is the most important decision we will ever make. As a cancer survivor, how can you use your time wisely and spend it on what matters most?” says Gina Vild, an author and consultant who specializes in helping people cultivate resilience as they go through major life changes, learn how to move forward and, in time, flourish. She also will be the featured keynote speaker for this year’s Chapter 2 workshop for survivors and patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center on Saturday, October 7. The event is supported by Roswell Park donors with Quality-of-Life Program funding through the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. 

She coaches people by encouraging them to embrace realistic expectations and explains how fully living in the present can be a powerful form of self-care. Vild also helps teach people how to redirect their thoughts as a way to manage their emotional responses, and encourages them to map out a new vision for their future.

Vild has worked with cancer survivors in her career, including time at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in addition to working as Director of Marketing Communications at Mass General Cancer Center and the Associate Dean and Chief Communications Officer for External Communications at Harvard Medical School. Currently she is on the board of the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome Association, supporting those with inherited cancers. She co-authored the book The Two Most Important Days: How to find your purpose and live a happier, healthier life, and is a contributing editor to 10 Secrets to Straight As: How to get good grades in school and life.

“Helping people grapple with their cancer diagnosis is deeply meaningful, purpose-driven work for me,” she says. “Having clarity around the disease can force a person to re-examine their priorities and reassess what matters most in their lives. Cancer can reorder life in some surprising and meaningful ways.”

What resilience is — and isn’t

She believes resilience in the face of a life-altering change is not about returning to a pre-pain state, but rather an acknowledgement that people are forever changed by the events that happen in our lives. Resilience also is about how people mine the experience for wisdom, reset their journey and mindset. She believes there are tools available to help survivors navigate their transformation.

Vild recently had a conversation with a friend who has been diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer. “He was vibrant and full of life. I attribute this in part to his embracing the fact that, for all of us, life is finite and every step of our journey should be paired with gratitude for the gifts that come our way; for the friends who have stepped up, the moments of laughter with family, for the beauty of each flower and the grace that comes with each breath we take.”  

Embrace your vision of a happy future

When she gives the keynote address at Chapter 2, Vild will discuss practices for slowing down and appreciating each moment. She’ll talk about the role beauty can play in a person’s life and how meditation helped calm her overactive mind and reset her priorities during a difficult time in her life. She’ll share research findings that show friendship and community can be a force for transformation during every stage of life. Vild also will reflect on the role grief plays in any diagnosis and how to manage the grief that accompanies the inevitable changes in life while using it as a tool to move forward.

She promises that the session will be interactive and thought-provoking, with a goal of each attendee leaving with a greater sense of buoyancy.

Register for Chapter 2

Register for Chapter 2: A Cancer Survivor's Workshop for Living your Best Life, on October 7.

Register today