What Cancer Treatment Taught Me About My Real Estate Business
What Cancer Treatment Taught Me About My Real Estate Business
those who don’t know me my name is Lorei Velazco and I’m new to J Phillip Real
Estate, but not new to the business. I’ve been around for a few years, but I
had to take a few months off last year and into this year. But that’s about to
myself back into the swing of things makes me feel excited and anxious all at
the same time. I feel like I’m brand new to the business. The good thing now is
that I know what I’m getting myself into. =)
I’m hoping for a smooth transition and I would LOVE to be super busy. I just
hope I have the energy to keep up.
You see, the thing is last year my life went in a direction I never dreamed of
it going. It all started in April when I felt a lump in my breast. My father
and step mom, Susana, were visiting me from Venezuela and all I wanted to do
was go out and have fun. I only get to see them once a year and I did not want
to spoil it with something I thought would turn out to be nothing. Susana
is like my real mother and thankfully she encouraged me to go to the
appointment. I remember telling them I was going to cancel it. I thought I was
being paranoid. Susana
and my father said, “Come on, just go. So I went.”
I’ll never forget the moment the doctor walked into my patient room and I told
her why I was there. Upon hearing this, my doctor told me "Lorei, it’s
probably nothing but lets take a look".
An hour later I was at the hospital getting an ultrasound and moments later a
biopsy. I was told I’ld have to wait a week to get the results. But I didn’t have
to wait a week. I barely had to wait 2 days.
On the 12th of April, I found of I did have cancer, Triple Negative Breast
Cancer to be exact, and three weeks later, at the age of 33 years old I had a
bi-lateral mastectomy (yes I’m an open book) and they removed 23 lymph nodes (6
tested positive with cancer). Before the surgery I was told I was Stage 2.
I was actually Stage 3.
I remember a few weeks after the surgery I was on the
Internet researching all that I could about the cancer and was examining the
different stages and realized that I was actually stage 3!!!! I was devastated.
Later that week at the doctor’s office I asked what stage I was in hopes that I
was wrong and I was told “Stage 3”. I told them I thought I was Stage 2 and
they said after the surgery I was confirmed to be 3 because of all the lymph
I was devastated but I had no time to react. My life changed so quickly and it
would be months before things slowed down.
Well, the only thing that did slow down was my real estate business. I remember
calling my clients before my surgery to tell them the news. I ended up
referring all but two people out. These two clients (buyers) told me that they
wanted to wait for me to gather my strength. They wanted to continue working
with me. I was so flattered.
whole time I was sick I only worked with these two clients. But let me tell you
something….it was not easy. But I’m glad I did it.
remember thinking to myself that I was crazy. And those around me did too.
Nearly every week I had to go to the emergency room. Chemo was super tough on
me. I remember my oncologist telling me that he thinks I suffered every side
affect in the books.
A few weeks after my surgery, I began 4 months of chemo. Two weeks into chemo
is when I called one of my buyers and told him I was ready. This client was
amazing. And then two months later I started working with my second client. And
that client was just as amazing.
Working while on chemo was SUPER tough but I learned so much and I’m so glad I
first and most valuable lesson is communication, followed by setting realistic
expectations, to making sure everyone understands there role and my role in the
transaction, and finally qualifying people.
as sick as I was during treatment was a true test of my skills and strength.
let me focus on communication. I always knew communication was key and I have
always prided myself in my communication but I also learned that I had areas
that needed improvement. For instance, even when I had no updates to provide I
needed to let people know this. I think this was a big eye opener for me. And I
learned that people appreciate a phone call, but they would also be okay with
text messages or an email.
I learned that it is imperative to set realistic expectations for people and to
be honest even with myself about these expectations. For instance, there will
be hiccups as a transaction goes through the different phases. There are always
hurdles to overcome and obstacles to defeat. I have yet to have a closing that
was smooth from the beginning to the end. As these hurdles arise they must be
addressed and dealt with appropriately. And I must communicate these concerns
quickly and make sure everyone knows what is going on.
it is SUPER important that everyone knows what my role is and communicate this
early on. While going through treatment I did have a situation where boundaries
were broken and expectations of me were outside my realm. When I expressed this
problem to my broker (not J Philips) I was told I could report it to their
superior but due to my health my broker told me I should let it go. I learned
that it’s important to know when to stand up for myself and when to just let
things go. Like my husband says, “Pick Your Battles Wisely”.
finally the qualifying aspect of my job and being sick was quite the learning
experience. Pretty quickly told myself I would not be able to be someone’s tour
guide, which can happen when a real estate salesperson does not qualify someone
qualifying someone requires me to be very specific about my expectations and to
know the right questions to ask. For instance, I have to be firm about the
areas I work, I need to be firm about gathering pre-approvals and proof of
funds, I also can’t be shy about connecting buyers to mortgage professionals,
and asking tons of questions to narrow down a search.
the past I would literally work with 10+ people and hope to close one or two.
But I knew I could not do this while going through treatment. So I drafted a
very good "Home Buyer's List" and made sure to qualify people early
on. This was very helpful and I’ll continue to use this form.
were the most important things I learned. But I also learned some other things
like always try to make the close. And its not that I am pushy or being greedy.
I just need to know when to guide my buyers into a home that they may be
confused about. It is my job to not only qualify buyers and show them homes but
to ultimately help them figure out when to bite. And this can be done by asking
them “DO you want to place an offer?” to giving them comparables to asking them
“Do you like the home, why or why not?”.
back to my appointments with these two buyers. I would literally wake up minutes
before my appointments and met them. I had to save all the energy I could to
last through the appointments.
After chemo I had to do 6 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. At first this
seemed like a piece of cake. Radiation was so much easier but the fatigue was
intense and the pain from the radiation burns were no joke either. About 3
weeks into that treatment I stopped working all together.
I used the entire month of December to recover from radiation. I was exhausted.
I then resume physical therapy in January. I say “resume” because basically
from June to mid December I had physical therapy. Physical therapy was so
important. I went 2-3 times a week and in January I went 1-2 times a week.
I needed this therapy because of the weakness and muscle loss my entire body
experienced. I had absolutely no strength. NONE!!!
I remember I did an open house in January and I thought I was going to pass out
by the time it was over. And then for the next week I pretty much had to gather
my strength back. It was very unnerving. After that open house I realized that
I had to do something to get back into shape and that is when I joined a gym. No
I was so tired of struggling to go up and down stairs (night time is the
worst). Even today I struggle. In December, the struggle started at about 6PM.
And now I have a hard time starting about 10PM, which is fantastic. It’s the
little things in life now that make me super excited and going up and down the
stairs with ease is one of the things that makes me happy. But just the same…it
can be the little things that make me struggle or test me. I do have to fight
back tears here and there.
goodness from my amazing support circle, my mom, step dad, sisters, brothers, cousins,
in-laws, friends and uncles and aunts have been amazing (remember I also
mentioned my dad and step mom). I talk to my mom nearly everyday and she always
knows what to say and she bring me so much comfort. Same goes with my brothers
and sister, especially my Brother Ralcy and Sister Hailie. But even my stepbrothers
and sister have been a supportive shoulder to vent things through or whatever.
I could go on and on about this support group. Every one from my friends and
family have been wonderful.
Thanks to the gym that I see my strength increasing and I can see my stamina
improving as well, which makes me want to focus on growing my business again. I
want to recreate my real estate business.
I have about a good 8-10 hours where I feel more or less myself on an easy day
and about 6 hours on a busy day. I literally can't work more than 4 hours
straight!! But the good news is I rarely find myself working more than 4 hours
straight with clients!!! So this is a fantastic point!!! A point that makes me
I’m ready!!!! I’m so excited to hit the road and meet potential buyers and
sellers. I’m pumped. Lets do this!!!!
I find that I can comfortably start the day about noon and work up until 7PM.
If I do any more I’ll collapse. I have learned that I need to listen to my body
and rest when needed and not to over do it. I have been instructed to not over
do it, especially because I do have one more surgery scheduled where I’ll need
about 4 weeks to recover fully.
If I can make one appointment a day where I spend anywhere from 1-4 hours working
with a buyer or a seller I would be so ecstatic. The rest of the time I can
focus on other aspects of my business such was phone calls, emails, social
media, blogging, advertising, research, and so forth.
J. Philip Real Estate is Westchester & Putnam's premier independent brokerage. Founded in 2005, the firm has grown from a single broker to a strong organization of well over 80 associates despite the housing downturn. The team's commitment to results and client advocacy, as well as our focus on technology and innovation, have positioned us as the "go to" brokerage for area buyers and sellers.