Tell us a little about what you do (business, career, etc.) How did you get started?
As the Chief Inspiration Officer of NspireD, LLC, I am an inspirational speaker, author and patient advocate promoting health and wellness as a lifestyle. My “why” is that I am a breast cancer “thriver” who doesn’t want a diagnosis of any type to be the wake up call that forces women to pay more attention to their health and wellness practices. My focus is stress management and lifestyle changes as well as breast cancer awareness and education.
NspireD began in 2007 with seminars for separate and divorced women. There were lots of women like me dealing with and hurting from this experience. Because no one was talking about it, I decided to become “the voice.” Women who were not separated or divorced, but attended for other reasons, commented that they gained something from my presentation and suggested that I expand my audience to include all women. I initially said, “Nope, separated and divorced is my niche.” However, as I heard more comments about the value I provided, I decided to make the adjustment.
Health and wellness became my platform after being diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer in 2011. When my 25+ year career as an educator ended as a result, I realized that I needed to teach others about health and wellness in an effort to help them improve their quality of life. Beyond my personal experience with a health challenge, I set out on a course to increase my knowledge base.
I am now a certified Community Health Worker (Temple University – PA) and a trained Master Food Educator Volunteer (University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension – DE). I also graduated from the ProjectLEAD Institute, an intense program in the science of breast cancer (National Breast Cancer Coalition). Speaking on Capitol Hill was one of my 2019 highlights. My work in the community to connect people with the resources they need includes: Ambassador for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, work with the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute (Community Resource Advisory Board and Breast Cancer Research Board) and two breast cancer support groups in Delaware – Sisters On A Mission and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.
In 2016, I began creating and hosting events in Delaware. The Cocktails & Comedy Show Cancer Fundraiser benefits the KALEIDOSCOPE events for women living with all types of cancer. 2020 marks the 5th year anniversary for these events. My celebratory project was the 2020 Cancer Warrior Calendar. Proceeds benefit the KALEIDOSCOPE Survivors Fund for women living with all types of cancer who reside in Delaware. This is a collaboration with Sisters On A Mission.
How did you push through a turning point (career or life) and what did you learn from it?
Losing my mom three months after being diagnosed with breast cancer was a huge turning point. For the many years that she battled Alzheimer’s Disease, I was her caregiver and subsequently, inherited the role of family matriarch. I had always been that “go to” person when family and friends needed something – money, advice, etc. Now, as a single mother of two college students, a full-time employee in the throes of chemo treatment, and all of my family residing in the Washington DC area, I suddenly found myself having to plan a funeral. It was just me. More accurately, me and my Superwoman complex. I needed help, but was too proud to ask. At this point, cancer wasn’t my kryptonite – pride was. The acknowledgment that I needed help and then the ability to accept it was a game changer. As I interact with other women, I can hear the Superwoman complex and know from experience that even Superwoman has to hang up her cape from time to time. I assure them that it’s okay to do so.
As a breast cancer survivor, do you struggle with your identity? How big of a part does it play in who you are today and who you expect to be in the future?
I don’t think I struggle with my identity because of breast cancer. The day I received the call at work about my diagnosis, I knew that there was a purpose connected to the diagnosis. This is when my goal became living – by any means necessary. Cancer didn’t happen TO me. It happened FOR me. I’m on this breast cancer journey because there are others who need to see me not just survive, but thrive. Fighting cancer is something that I do every day with every decision that I make. Decisions such as what I will/will not eat or drink, whether I do/don’t exercise as well as the amount of stress that I allow in my life. No, I didn’t sign up for the Pink Sisterhood. But now that I’m a member, I want to offer help and hope, and inspire women to wake up each morning, lace up their pink boxing gloves and fight.
What a business/career accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of my book, The Voice of Victory in the Valley: Diary of a Breast Cancer Thriver. People erroneously think that when you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you only have breast cancer with which to deal. No, you have breast cancer and life with all of its interruptions. The book is a behind the scenes look at what happens beyond the outward, physical appearance that people see. It includes the mental, emotional, financial, spiritual and occupational aspects of health. The manuscript sat on my desk for at least three years. In addition to the extremely positive feedback and reviews that I have received, the book won an award as a 2019 Book Excellence Awards Finalist in the Memoir Category.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I hope to expand NspireD’s reach to include an international audience. Having a team in place will assist me in achieving this goal. As the business grows to include online courses and group coaching, I plan to increase my activities in Washington, DC. Working with lawmakers, reviewing grants for the Department of Defense as well as lobbying are ways that I can make a difference on a greater scale. I am committed to doing my part until we’re no longer having conversations about breast cancer.
When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?
When not working, you can find me at church or somewhere exercising. I have been a member of The Resurrection Center in Wilmington, DE for almost 20 years. Over the years, I have been actively involved in the choir, storytelling, drama, dance, hospitality and youth church ministries.
Exercising keeps me in shape and decreases my stress levels. I am a former aerobics and kickboxing instructor as well as a marathoner. Rose Hill Community Center in New Castle, DE is my go to place for kickboxing and Zumba. Early in the morning during the week, I enjoy speed walking at Glasgow Park in Bear, DE. There’s something refreshing about being outdoors enjoying nature and the animal life. The unfriendly geese are the exception.
I equally enjoy hanging out with my husband, Steve. If we’re not home, you’ll find us out on a date at Home Depot or Trader Joe’s. LOL
Give a shout out to the woman or women who inspire you the most
I am extremely inspired by two groups of women who are living with breast cancer. The first group are those who have 20, 25 and 30+ years under their belts as survivors. They are living life to the fullest and their presence is a reminder that I can (and will) have that testimony too. The other group are survivors who have created support groups, organizations, businesses and other platforms to make the cancer journey easier for those who are newly diagnosed. They have embraced their “new” normal to the fullest and aren’t ashamed to be “real” about their experiences as they share their stories locally and around the world. I am forever Linked in Pink with all of these “Bosom Buddies.” Together, we pray, fellowship, help, support and strengthen each other. We are on the front lines providing education and awareness within the community as well as to politicians and pharmaceutical companies.
Why Nicolle Surratte is On this List
“Nicolle is probably the most confident, nicest, and put together woman I’ve ever met. Everything that happens, with or without her control, she owns. Everything she does is above and beyond her call of duty or what is expected — especially as a cancer thriver. Her gift is being able to share these experiences and channel them into true concern for other people in a total non-judgmental way. She genuinely cares about how you feel about yourself and how you can improve your life, health, and spirit for the better. I’m honored to know her — and if you haven’t seen her speak, you’re missing out.”
More 2020 Most Inspiring Women
Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is the Technology Operations & Portfolio Manager with DuPont Transportation and Industrial (T&I) business. She is an inspiration to women who want to work in the STEM field.
Rebecca Simeone Lennon created the Graphic Design & Color Print Department at DLS Discovery Creative. Whether it’s photography or designs, she puts her heart and soul into everything she works on.
Jennifer Vitak is an Insurance Agent at Liberty Mutual Insurance and the organizer for Women United. She’s a networking expert and brings a ray of sunshine to every event she’s attending.
Linda Arrey is the President/CEO of Women in Leadership Development and Empowerment Inc (WILDE.) She is also an Active Duty Captain in the United States Air Force Medical Service Corps.
Janet Killian is the Owner/Founder of Gemini Janitorial Services & a Children’s author! Janet is a fantastic leader and extremely humble. It’s no surprise that everyone who meets her loves her.
Chrysa Cohen is the owner of Continental Jewelers, a family-owned jewelry store that opened in 1955. She takes pride in knowing that the store is on top of every phase in the jewelry industry.
Dr. Eunice Gwanmesia is an educator, author, consultant, speaker, coach, philanthropist, and mentor. Her story as an immigrant is inspiring and we are honored that she shared it with us.
Barbara Day works at Unique Impressions and assists people in finding the BEST marketing and promotional tools for their business. Everything she does is with 100% enthusiasm and pride.
Gigi Gaul is an administrative assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University. Gigi loves giving her time to several DE nonprofits.