When Life Throws You a Curve Ball, Lean Into It

Mar 12, 2017


By Robin Clisso, National Channel Manager for Quality Uptime Services



Most of us women work full time, are the primary financial providers & caregivers, and try to maintain a semi-tidy household. This was my life for more than 16 years as a divorcee. During those years there were times I didn’t think life could get any harder than raising three kids, juggling a career, and trying to make ends meet as a single-mom (I had full-primary placement). Little did I know the curve ball life would throw me in 2016.

Many years ago I remarried and switched up my career, which had me traveling a lot. Life was great both personally and professionally. I had successfully launched all three of my kids into the real world: my son was at college, my youngest daughter had a successful career in California and a fiancé, and my oldest daughter was climbing the ranks in her corporate career, married and expecting her first child (my first grandchild)!

Professionally, I was having the time of my life as a salesperson in the service industry. I enjoyed traveling and spending time with my family on the weekends. This was a routine I had grown accustomed to until my world got flipped upside down.


It was a Tuesday in October 2016. I went into the ER with severe side pains. After waiting for what seemed like forever, I was taken for a scan and released with the diagnosis of gas. Wednesday, I got a call from the hospital saying the doctor found a mass in my scan and I needed to go back to the hospital and be admitted immediately. Friday I had a colonoscopy to get a closer look at the mass. Due to the pain, surgery was scheduled the following day to remove it.

The surgery revealed my worst nightmare. The mass was cancerous. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, diffused large B-cell. I was advised to start chemo immediately. Life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. “Wait…what?! Cancer? Chemo?”

I had so many questions:  “Am I going to die?  What will my family do? Will I lose my hair? Gain weight? Will I lose my job? What is going to happen with all the business activity I have going on? Can I continue to work while going through chemo?”

This was 100% out of my control; being a Type-A personality, I struggled. The answers and outcomes to most of my questions were positive. Yes, the cancer was treatable and even curable. Yes, I would be sick at times, lose my hair and maybe gain weight. Most importantly, I would live! I had become a grandma (aka Mache) earlier in the year, and the fun was just beginning!


As I digested the diagnosis and began treatments, I wondered if I could juggle being a mother, wife, Mache, professional AND a cancer patient. Would my co-workers or customers treat me differently if/when they found out?

Sometimes, by the grace of God, things just work out. The President and Director of Sales at my company gave me the flexibility I needed, and I am forever grateful. I have had my bad days during treatments, but overall I have been blessed. I’ve been able to keep a clear head and not think about cancer 24/7 because I can still work remotely and continue doing what I enjoy.

What’s next for me in this journey? I have completed 6 rounds of chemo and am currently awaiting a PET scan to determine if the chemo worked. We are staying optimistic and ready for a new chapter to begin.


WIC is an organization of women helping women find success through networking and sharing stories. Being in a predominately male industry, I was looking for an organization where women could connect both personally and professionally, since each of us understands the daily balancing act between spending time with our families and climbing the corporate ladder. WIC is an organization of strong, successful women who strive to find work-life balance and are willing to share their experiences with other women in hopes of helping, inspiring, networking and maybe even gaining a new friend.

Our plates run over daily. When we are faced with the unexpected, such as a health ailment, it doesn’t mean goal-setting and success should stop. If anything, going through the emotional and physical roller-coaster of a cancer diagnosis and treatment has not only motivated me to be the best that I can be, but also made me realize the strength I have. As my daughter recently said to me, “Mom, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle; he must think you are pretty bada$$!” Aren’t we all?



Robin Clisso is a National Channel Manager for Quality Uptime Services, who is one of the nation’s leading independent critical power service organizations. Supporting a national client base across all industries, Quality Uptime Services provides Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) maintenance, emergency services, UPS battery maintenance, as well as managed maintenance services for generators and HVAC.