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SANTIAGO wall by SEBA CENER

Resilience and flexibility

Patricia Lopez

Program Manager

Throughout her professional career, Patricia has faced an array of challenges. While working for SAP for the last 20 years, she had the chance to play dozens of roles and serve hundreds of customers. Patricia, who admittedly gets bored quite easily, explains how she has managed to stay for so long at the same company: it's precisely this passion for change and SAP’s flexibility. Daily stimulation and the versatility of her work fascinate her. Nowadays, in her capacity as program manager, she is in constant contact with specific audiences and companies that have the most diverse needs.

It's a permanent transformation and learning process. I specialize in forming strong teams to meet shared goals.

But it wasn’t until 2010 that she had to manage the most important project of her life –which turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons she'd ever learn. The general medical examinations she’d gone through every year before had never shown any negative results. However, it was different this time. She noticed something wasn't right and decided to get a professional opinion. The diagnosis was fast: a complex breast tumor. She took on the situation the way she best knew and put together an exceptional team of specialists: a doctor, a nutritionist, a psychologist and, a meditation instructor.

She was so busy with work that year, but she needed a break. Twenty days after her biopsy, Patricia initiated aggressive chemotherapy and radiation.

The abuse my body suffered took a toll on me. Still, I knew I had to go through it and that the cure would depend on me only. I had to remember how to take care of myself, laugh and play.

A year and four months after she’d started therapy, she realized she needed to enjoy herself for her cells to recover.

Drag the mouse to check out the before and after pictures of Patrícia's wall.

Patricia, who had always been so invested in helping others solve their problems, now needed to prioritize her own needs for the first time ever. She’d always lived a healthy lifestyle, but with each new chemotherapy session, she became more fragile – there were days when she even couldn't get out of bed. She knew she had to keep her mind busy and thus began studying psychology, which tied in with her earlier studies in systems analysis and social psychology. Also for the first time in a very long time, she had to take a leave from work during the treatment. Patricia feels very grateful for the support provided by SAP.

Their flexibility was critical for my recovery. SAP was there by my side and always understood how important it is to be flexible if you wish to remain relevant in the digital era we currently live in.

Her daughters, Julieta (21) and Delfina (14) were key to their mother's recovery; because of them she felt the obligation to survive. She wanted to watch them grow and enjoy her grandchildren – this became her mantra. “As a mother, the treatment was tough. I couldn't expose my youngest to what an absolute wreck I was after chemo, but Julieta was older, and she had to take on a lot of responsibilities during the process,” she said.

Each experience, no matter how painful, also served to broaden Patricia's perspective of life.

It was an excellent lesson that allowed me to test my limits and live through this situation.

One of the most important lessons was learning to say no. Patricia always tried to carry the world on her shoulders, but she realized she would have to make choices and invest her time and energy more wisely. “I never had any limits, I'd always say yes. I love getting things done, but it's impossible to take everything on,” she reflects, now focused on a more relaxed lifestyle close to her loved ones.

Patricia feels her decisions are no longer based on logic, but on emotion. Apart from her work as a program manager, Patricia is also practicing as a psychologist. She works in a community center and participates in groups for women that have been or are going through what she did. “I want to give back all the support I received,” she says. After all, she had to relearn how to deal with daily situations that had become extremely complex: How to manage a home with a weakened body? How to take care of the kids? How to deal with hair loss? You can better learn from those who have been through it.

Transforming the experience into a positive lesson was essential to Patricia. She firmly believes that, throughout that hardship, she felt the joy of personal growth that came from the experience.

You need resilience to deal with and live through this. As hard as it may seem, if you’re strong and determined, anything is possible.

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