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What Google CFO Ruth Porat Didn’t Have When She Got Cancer

October 2, 2018, 8:55 PM UTC

I’ve been lucky enough to have spent yesterday and today at Fortune’s annual summit for the Most Powerful Women in Business—a gathering of such dynamic energy, wisdom, and brimming insight that it’s hard to believe this isn’t required coursework in business schools everywhere. But since it isn’t, I would urge you to spend some time on browsing through the expert write-ups my colleagues have been doing on virtually every session and watching some of the livestream video. Our event landing page is here.

My colleagues Kristen Bellstrom and Andrew Nusca each wrote about the keynote dinner conversation legendary Fortune scribe Pattie Sellers had with Google and Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat. (No doubt you already subscribe to The Broadsheet, Kristen’s and Claire Zillman’s essential-daily-read, but just in case it has slipped past your inbox, click here to sign up.)

But in a conversation replete with sage life and career advice, I want to make sure that this important nugget gets another airing. Porat, who in the early 2000s was CFO at Morgan Stanley, faced not one, but two battles with cancer. Here’s what she said:

“Cancer was not fun, but it also taught me to really appreciate everything I had. And when I was first diagnosed, my children were very young—our children were very young—four, six, and eight. And I had that scary moment, when you hear that word, which sadly I fear that a number of women here will at some point.

But I didn’t have regrets.

I looked at my career and I was really proud of what I had done. I was married to a fantastic man—still am. I have three wonderful children. And so I hadn’t put anything on hold.

And I really worry when I meet people who say, ‘Well, I just need to get to this level or accomplish this.’

Life does not wait for you. There is no schedule. And so embrace it when you have it. So I didn’t have regrets.”

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