by Laurie Spiegel
Three short years ago, I retired from a 40-year career in telecommunications. In saying goodbye to my colleagues, I wrote, “So what’s next? I’m looking forward to more hiking, biking, and snowshoeing, more museums, college classes on things I missed as a math major, more time for FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, and more family time, especially with my 93-year-old mom. I plan to stay busy!”
I had been primarily working from the corner of our sunny home office. Everything pretty much stayed in place except that I swapped out my work laptop for a shiny new personal model. I found myself going into this quiet space every morning after breakfast, initially to write a lot of thank-you notes and to settle post-employment administrivia. Three art history courses, many museum excursions, and a ton of outdoor adventures later, I am truly spending my time on everything I love. That includes my recent election to the FORCE Board of Directors and two other not-for-profit organizations.
I discovered FORCE after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, where my passion for cancer advocacy was born, allowing me to apply my scientific perspective for the benefit of the hereditary cancer community. As a Research Advocate, I have worked on projects including survey development, website and content reviews and copy editing. I am comfortable unraveling scientific jargon, then explaining the findings in easy-to-understand language. As a Peer Navigator, I provide personalized guidance for women who have been matched to my situation. I regularly leverage the FORCE website, search the medical literature and collect professional insights to answer specific questions. With my willingness, dedication and joy in working with others, I take pride in empowering those who are confronting serious life challenges, and who often lack the knowledge to ask helpful questions.
Having swiveled my desk chair from information and communications technology to hereditary cancer advocacy, I now realize that I am simply applying the same skills I developed over decades of employment to a new context. As in the past, I continue to tackle new challenges, learn new concepts, follow the ever-increasing pace of scientific advances, and in the process, develop new meaningful relationships. I may have retired from my paid position, but I am as engaged as ever in a lifelong career of using my mind to help others.
A recent report, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes, An Edward Jones and Age Wave Study” (June 2021), states: “…we have uncovered a powerful untapped force for social good—the wellspring of potential retiree contribution. A whopping 86% of adults and 89% of retirees say, ‘There should be more ways for retirees to put their talents and knowledge to use for the benefit of their communities and society.’”
According to the report, “Nearly all (92%) retirees say that ‘having purpose is key to a successful retirement.’” I can attest to the fact that volunteering with FORCE is a great way to attain purpose, meaning and fulfillment in retirement.
P.S. Mom celebrated her 96th birthday over the summer. She’s doing great and I love spending my “spare” time with her more than ever!