Anat Akiva, 42

Fabulous Over 40, Women

Anat is a beautiful woman who has overcome breast cancer and made the choice not to have reconstructive surgery. She did this shoot as awareness for herself and for others that you can still be beautiful with one breast and that there is perfection in 'imperfection'. With the challenges she has been through, she wants to be of service and uplift others.

If your friends/family had to describe you in a few words, what would they say?

Someone to take with you when you know you will be stuck on a lonely island.
 My loved ones know me as kind, intelligent, creative, responsible, caring, and a problem solver.

What would you say is your best emotional quality?

I'd say that my strongest emotional quality is empathy. I have a high ability to understand and connect with what others are feeling. I've always believed in being there for people, showing that I care, and taking responsibility in meaningful ways. I think my intelligence and creativity also play a role here, helping me see things from various angles and find unique ways to support and assist others.

What is your occupation and how do you like to spend your free time?

I was an academic scientist for nearly 20 years, investing most of my time and effort in research. However, at the age of 42, I made a significant shift in my career path to pursue what I see for myself: a more fulfilling journey. I now find myself drawn to working closely with people, seeking to inspire and uplift them.

My current focus involves sharpening my skills as a facilitator, aiming to guide and teach others how to cultivate a collaborative and enjoyable work environment. I firmly believe that a harmonious workplace can foster creativity and productivity. Concurrently, I've found another passion that drives me - empowering women who have undergone mastectomy to embrace and love their bodies as they are: resilient and powerful.

The last mission is close to my heart as I advocate for women to see themselves as not just survivors but as victorious heroes. Through my efforts, I aim to redefine societal perceptions and demonstrate that strength and empowerment are above physical appearances. It's about embracing our uniqueness and feeling both powerful and confident with our bodies, even if we have only one boob. Because, after all, we are more than capable of triumphing over adversity and redefining our own narratives.

What are you most proud of?
 What I'm most proud of is the person I've evolved into. While there have been numerous high points in my life, it's difficult to single out just one, as each achievement has shaped the individual I am today.

One thing that stands out is my commitment to not taking the easy path. I've consistently looked for challenges to push myself and propel me forward. Whether it was serving in a commando unit in the army, doing a Ph.D. in a prestigious institute, relocating (alone) to the Netherlands, fighting breast cancer, or starting two businesses at the age of 42, each experience has contributed to my growth.

Embracing these challenges has taught me resilience, adaptability, and the value of perseverance. By continuously striving to overcome hurdles and attain new heights, I've cultivated a sense of accomplishment and an unwavering belief in my own capabilities. This, above all, is what fills me with pride and gratification.

What is your favourite poem, quote or saying

Before each challenge, I tell myself:
 1. Many people did it before me, and many people will do it after me. I am not an exception, and there is no reason I couldn't overcome this challenge either.
 2. There is no point in worrying about things you cannot control.

What advice would you give your 20-year old self looking back?

To my 20-year-old self, I would advise: Don't be afraid to take the plunge and don't hesitate too much. You possess a set of unique virtues and character traits that you might not be fully aware of right now. Trust that as time passes, these qualities will come together to shape your path. At a later stage in life, you'll discover the true alignment of your passions and abilities, leading you to a sense of fulfillment and purpose in this world.

Remember, each challenge you face and every decision you make contribute to your growth. The journey might not always be clear, but every experience is a stepping stone. Embrace uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, and trust in your inner strength. You have the capability to overcome obstacles and achieve more than you can imagine.

Stay open to change, be receptive to new experiences, and don't shy away from taking calculated risks. The journey ahead will test you, but it will also unveil your hidden potential. So, step forward with confidence and a belief in your own unique journey. Your virtues will shine through, and eventually, all the pieces will come together, revealing the remarkable person you're meant to be.

When you entered your 40's, what did you find were the most significant or poignant changes?
 As I entered my 40s, (after already fighting cancer), something clicked inside me – a realization that this might be the last call to truly meet my destiny and redirect the course of my life toward its true purpose.
 Although I like exploring and embracing new experiences, it felt like the right time to gather all these different journey experiences and merge them into a coherent story with a clear purpose. I could feel that there might not be another shot at aligning with my true calling.

What are your thoughts on aging?

If you cannot beat it - join it.
 It doesn't mean that you need to give up and become old...
 Do whatever you can to slow down the process of aging, and not only as in physical appearance. In a way, our physical appearance is connected to our mental state. Involve yourself in many social interactions, be busy, enjoy life, try new things and new activities, and collect good experiences and memories - as many as you can. You will, in a way, stay young.

Do you still have a dream or big goal that you would love to accomplish?

Only now, at the age of 42, I am starting to work on my real dream: to positively impact the lives of many!

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