For as long as she can remember, Jennifer Giuffre-Donohue took an active interest in her health. In college she studied exercise physiology and worked as a personal trainer. Later, she taught gym classes and trained clients in their homes. She had a passion for nutrition, and especially loved helping other people take control of their own well-being.
As time went on, though, Giuffre-Donohue, a Long Island mother of two, felt herself slipping. She wasn’t getting enough sleep or eating as well as she knew she should. Exercise disappeared from her life. And as someone who put family first, she had trouble balancing family commitments with the need to schedule time for herself to recharge, to the point that even thinking about herself brought on feelings of guilt.
“I was one of those people who needed that kick in the head from the universe,” she told The Huffington Post.
In 2009, the universe sent a signal she couldn’t ignore: doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer. She was 37. The perspective-shifting news helped her rediscover the healthy habits that had always been so important to her. More than that, it taught her to stop putting off until tomorrow the things she cared about most.
For Giuffre-Donohue’s full story, see the video above.
This video is part of a series highlighting the causes and consequences of burnout, and the ways ordinary people are rejecting our culture of overwork and reclaiming their lives. To share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Producers: Gregory Beyer and Jordan Jayson
Videographer/editor: Amber Genuske
Graphics: Noelle Campbell