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The Hustle

Name: Vanessa Bernard (Leaping Love)

Posted By Keara McGraw

A breast cancer survivor, Vanessa Bernard says she's on a mission to make the road to recovery a "tad bit easier" for fellow cancer patients. "I know all too well about the struggles and challenges faced after a devastating diagnosis," she says. "I was 37 years old and a newlywed trying to start a family when I received the life changing news." Bernard shares her story here, and in more detail on the Leaping Love website. As for the name of her support organization ... well, it has to do with frogs! Read on.

Years in Tampa Bay

I have been in St. Pete for three years. I was born and raised in Texas and lived briefly in Louisiana. Clearly, I am drawn to the beautiful Gulf Coast!

Hustle (job)

Founder & Chief Advocate Officer

What do you do?  

Dedicated to supporting cancer patients, Leaping Love sells care packages that provide joy and comfort during cancer treatment. Our boxes help ease the treatment process’s physical and mental side effects.

Why do you do it?

After experiencing cancer first-hand, I developed anxiety and depression symptoms that I had never had previously. This made me realize that there was a need to approach the healing process from a holistic and practical perspective beyond just treating my tumor alone. So, I created boxes with products that focus on treating the mind, body and spirit.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

After enduring 17 rounds of chemo and multiple surgeries, I was fortunate enough to ring the bell to signify completion of my cancer treatment. Ever since then I felt a strong desire to give back and pay it forward to the cancer community. Leaping Love uses a portion of our revenue to give boxes to cancer patients, volunteers in the community and partners with vendors who do good. And it promotes advocacy.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

People often think that once a patient’s cancer is treated, they return to normal. While many cancer survivors lead healthy lives post-treatment, they may still face physical, emotional and mental challenges that you cannot always see. Cancer survivors often have to adjust to a new “normal” that can vary from person to person.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

The most challenging part of my business is not being a part of a team to bounce ideas off of or lean on for expertise. I wear many hats and have strengths in some, but weaknesses in others. I have learned to become resourceful through networking, mentorship, and the St. Pete Greenhouse for support.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

The best advice I was ever given is to stay positive and celebrate company “wins.” I keep a list on my desk of the monthly wins to remind myself that I am making a difference and progressing. Opening and running a small business is hard and full of challenges. It is easy to feel defeated and focus on the failures. I focus on the positives and learn from the negatives.

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