Skip To Main Content
Members In the News, NSLS Member Spotlight, NSLS Success Stories, Make a Better World, Career Success

Cancer Can’t Keep This Member from Her Goals

Rahimah Phillips is totally committed to her education. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, then her master’s in education from University of Phoenix with a concentration in teacher leadership. Next, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

Those impressive accomplishments aren’t the most important facts about Rahimah. That would have to be her strong will and focus in publishing two books during the recent pandemic—all while battling stage four colon cancer.

Rahimah showcases her work on YouTube, where she shares her poetry and updates about her journey as a writer and cancer patient. 

“I am the author of two recently published books, starting with my autobiography, The Life Of Rah, in 2021. In 2022, I also published My Spoken Words, which is a book of my poetry. Next up, I will release my third book, The Life Of An Addict. Most of this work took place after I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in February 2018.”

How Passion and Persistence Illuminate Purpose

Many people discover their life’s work and passion through childhood interests. That’s certainly true in Rahimah’s case. Her journey to becoming a published author started in childhood, with a deep love of reading and writing that ultimately led to her purpose

“I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing short stories, as well as reading and listening to poetry. I kept a diary for most of my childhood and had been journaling for most of my adult life. One day, I decided to gather all of my notes and before I knew it, I had over three hundred pages of documentation.”

It wasn’t immediately apparent to Rahimah what she should do with those pages. It took the objective input of those closest to her to open her eyes to the next step. It also took a little persistence and endurance for Rahimah to begin to see the fruits of her labors. 

“I had no intention of writing a book, but two of my girlfriends insisted. So, I printed out what I had and sent it to a publishing company. After about five rejections, I was about to give up. But then, a literary agent called to tell me that she loved my story.”

Staying Disciplined During Challenging Times

Writing a book isn’t an easy undertaking, and writing two books takes true discipline and commitment. Rahimah credits those skills with helping her manage the challenge during her illness.

“Writing a book takes a lot of focus and discipline. I would sit at my desk in my home office for hours typing on my laptop. Then two years in, I was diagnosed with cancer and told to ‘get my affairs in order.’ At that point, I was even more determined to get my book published.”

Reaching for big goals can seem daunting to anyone. Role models help us stay the course in pursuit of our goals, and spiritual and philosophical beliefs can also offer a tremendous amount of support during challenging times. Rahimah relied on both strategies to keep her going. 

“I look up to President Barack Obama. To me, he’s a great leader because he was the first Black president and he’s proven to be a great husband and father. Also, I’m always inspired by the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 (NKJV), which says ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

Rahimah’s Advice for Future Leaders 

To prepare yourself for meeting future goals, it’s important to understand what strong leadership skills look like to you. How you define good leadership is an essential first step toward becoming the best leader you can be. 

“Leadership means the ability to invoke change and influence people in a positive way. My next goal is to continue beating the crap out of cancer so that I can continue my work with young children, early educators, and other school leaders, as an early childhood education coach and trainer, and to become a more polished and well-known author of multiple books and novels, including another autobiography, short stories, and more poetry, all of which I hope inspire others to follow their dreams.”

Rahimah thinks a lot about leadership skills—how to develop them, how they helped her succeed at her goals, and what real leadership looks like. For future leaders, she has two key pieces of advice, both of which were reinforced for her by her time in The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

“Stay focused and always stay true to yourself. The NSLS has helped me become a stronger leader by providing opportunities to network with and support one another. Also by providing resources that help me enhance my skills as a more effective communicator and educator.”

Hear Rahimah's Inspiring Story


Rahimah’s story demonstrates all that we can accomplish during challenging times. In this Motivational Mondays episode, business leader and tech innovator Chad Foster also talks about turning obstacles into opportunities.