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Posted: March 15, 2012

Cancer is not your brand

Embrace the wholeness of your identity

Lida Citro├źn

At the time of this writing, several of my good friends and clients are going through cancer treatment. The stress and trauma of the medical procedures are overwhelming at times. What I also hear from them is, “I don’t want cancer to now define me.”

The choice to let something like cancer, divorce, job loss or abuse define someone is a very personal one. We all know people who talk about their illness, situation or issue and use the event to create a reputation for themselves. Some use their illness or event to be able to help others, while some seem to define their legacy by what happened.

Wherever we are in our journey toward building a powerful personal brand and managing our reputation, here are some things to consider:

  • We brand what we can control. You can control your behavior, with whom you form relationships, and what you value. You cannot control other people, timing (not always) and external factors. Focus on your brand, your reputation, your vision and on those you have the power to affect and direct.
  • Your identity is where your personal brand lives. Identity is not the same as a role. We all play multiple roles throughout our lives: We go from being employees to being the boss; we go from being a Mrs. to being an “ex”; we go from being a patient to being a survivor. Those roles only define us if we give them the power to do so.
  • Who you are is more than what you do. Take control of your reputation, your identity and how you want to be perceived. Use every opportunity — from in person networking, to social media, to your image and communications — to reinforce the value you bring and the values you hold.

Embracing the wholeness of your identity and legacy gives you control and power over change, conflict and trauma. Those events can define you or not. If you rise through and above the event to illustrate how your values, beliefs and actions define you, then you hold the power, not the cancer.

Lida Citroën is the author of Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition and Principal of LIDA360, a consulting firm that helps create effective market positioning through the use of brand strategies. She regularly presents at conferences, events and programs, teaching transitioning veterans how to understand their unique value and market them to future employers.

Citroën is an active member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and works closely with General Peter Pace’s program in Philadelphia, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF). For more information, please visit,  and connect with her on twitter, @LIDA360.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Thank you for your comments, Nicoll. I'm sorry about the loss of your friend, Mike. Sounds like his beautiful legacy lives on through you. I'm sure he would appreciate that! By Lida Citroen on 2012 03 16
What a powerful concept. My dear friend, MIke, who died of lung cancer at only 25 years old, told his family, "I do not want cancer to define me. This is just dumb luck, not who I am," and that stuck with me. I beleive it helped him face his struggle with grace, determination, and tremendous dignity, and it certainly defined his legacy. I think it is a great message which others could apply in many aread of their lives. By Nicoll on 2012 03 15
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