Life can seem so unfair at times.
Why is it that some of the most beautiful, kind and big-hearted people are the ones who get cancer?
I used to think like this - in fact, I used to be quite one-dimensional in my thoughts about suffering in this world.
That is, until I met a family who flipped this notion on its head. This family taught me what it truly meant to rejoice in all circumstances, even through suffering.
And since then, I’ve had the honour of getting to know many different people whose attitude to sickness, suffering and life’s big disappointments have totally blown me away.
Including the guest on this week’s interview.
It is my absolute pleasure to share with you an interview with the lovely Talaya Dendy of On The Other Side.
Talaya was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has spent a lot of time reflecting on how her mindset has impacted her healing journey. This year sees her celebrating her 8th cancer-free anniversary, and here she...
In recent weeks, a number of people have asked me what I think about mindset and cancer, and this has got me thinking about the impact mindset may have on a patient’s prognosis.
I’m not much of a Twitter-er, to be very honest with you. I think it’s a confusing social media platform (IMHO!) and I just find it all a bit overwhelming. But now and again, I receive a notification that someone who I may have previously interacted with has tweeted something.
Sometimes I’m drawn in to take a closer look, and on one occasion very recently this was the case.
Somebody living with terminal cancer had read an article in which the author’s turn of phrase really upset her. The author of the article had written something about having “beautifully navigated” cancer and survived.
The author of the Tweet, however, had felt that the phrase inferred that if you were terminal, you somehow hadn’t “beautifully navigated” your cancer experience....
I took a little break last week. It was half term here in Leicester and I had booked some annual leave to enjoy time out with the family (although I did end up spending a huge chunk of that time writing a paper for work, but never mind!)
However, I had also fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy that was doing the rounds. I hadn’t been looking after myself properly - you know, the usual drill...burning the candle at both ends, not eating a terribly great diet, making excuses about exercise because I was “too busy”...(I’m sure you’ve heard this sort of thing before!).
Maybe you’ve been there yourself?
Heck, maybe you’re there now too?! (I really hope not, but if that is the case, reach out and let’s chat - helping others is one of my core values).
But then something shifted in me. You see, I’d presented my research at a conference on the 23rd of May - a conference called “Why is Moving Medicine?”, which was kind of ironic...
This week I had the absolute joy and pleasure of interviewing the hilarious Petra O’Hara. I met Petra recently at a business “discovery day” session and I instantly warmed to her infectious personality and knew right away I had to interview her and share her story with you all.
Petra was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago, and describes this episode in her life as “the best thing that’s ever happened to me”. She talks candidly about her frustrations and fears, things that irked her, and how she used her incredible sense of humour to get her through the tough times.
Click on the video above to watch our interview and be inspired by the belief that her cancer experience brought her to: NOTHING is unattainable.
Go ahead and grasp the nettle!
Be the BEST version of your professional self
No one gets into this line of work with selfish ambition and an hollow tin chest! I’ll bet you are a giver to your CORE.
But we’re all human and...
To continue our theme of sharing inspiring stories, this week I’m delighted to share the story of the lovely Erica Beven, founder of Blinking Thinking, which has quite literally done all the blinking thinking for you when it comes to choosing beauty and hygiene products that are safe to use during chemotherapy.
Erica and I connected on Instagram back in March this year, and I knew instantly that I wanted to share her story with you. I am truly inspired by people like Erica who create something beautiful out of something as “ugly” as cancer.
Erica was diagnosed with breast cancer when her daughters were 6 months and 5 years old. Having been told she had to use a pH neutral shampoo, Erica found herself standing in her local pharmacy just one hour after her first chemotherapy treatment. Overwhelmed by the choice of shampoos on the shelves, of which none appeared to be pH neutral, she went home empty handed.
Fast forward a few years and Erica has channeled her energies...
This month, I have the honour and privilege of sharing the inspiring stories of three formidable women who display unimaginable courage.
We kick off this series with none other than the amazing Sophie Trew!
Sophie was diagnosed with a blood cancer when she was just 23 years old. As a journalism graduate who knew nothing about cancer or its causes, she called upon all her research skills she’d developed as a student and delved into the world of integrative cancer therapy.
This incredible young woman built her own integrative recovery plan alongside her chemotherapy regime and within four months, her scans were clear and she embarked on a quest to learn how to heal her mind, body and spirit.
Fuelled by Sophie’s dreams and ambitions to bring together people in the cancer community who inspired her recovery, Trew Fields was born: the UK’s first Cancer Awareness festival and a legacy to those Sophie knew who died of the disease. Trew Fields represented a place to give...
Can you believe it’s May already?! This year is fast slipping through my fingers…but what a year it has been so far!
As I sat on my egg chair in the garden this morning with my first cuppa of the day and my cats sat either on or near me (!), I was flicking through the pages of my journal.
It randomly fell open at December 31st 2018...and I was sweating over the fact that I wouldn’t have my course finished by then. I read on and saw that I’d actually finished it by 5 January 2019.
Five whole days late…
Devastating, I know…! (Seriously, somebody needs to invent a *sarcasm* font!)
My point is this: sometimes we can be so set on our “perfect” plans that we don’t see all the growth and the learning and skills that we’ve acquired along the way.
As we enter the month of May, I have a series of interviews to share with you. I’ve reached out and connected with a number of people who have lived through the cancer...
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis by looking into the past - unfunking your funk, completing the past and letting go of past hurts. This week, let’s turn our attention to the future and finding the joy in life after a cancer diagnosis. And for this last week of Generous April, I’ve also created another free guide to help you discern ‘It’.
And with it being Easter this weekend just past, I’ve been reflecting a lot on new beginnings, resurrection and rebirth. I went on a long productive meditation walk this morning to think through the content of this particular blog post and the phrase “life after death” sprang to mind. As I ruminated on it some more, I realised I wasn’t thinking about this phrase in the literal sense, but rather, figuratively.
Stick with me here: a cancer diagnosis is a huge, life-changing event. The phrase, “You’ve got cancer”...
This week I want to take it a step further - to go a little deeper and show you how - physically HOW - you can let go of past hurts and painful emotions in order to bring emotional healing.
It all begins with consciousness.
And of course, as you know, it’s “Generous April”! So once again, I have another free download to help you let go.
Lightening the load
Imagine yourself in a swimming pool, trying to hold a float under water. Think of all the energy you’re using trying to keep it under. If you couldn’t swim, this float could literally save your life. But you’re spending all this time and energy trying to keep it under the water, and as a consequence you’re flailing about - you are, in fact, more at risk of drowning.
Now imagine how it feels to stop...
Last week we talked about getting “unstuck”, or “unfunking your funk”. Part of the reason we can sometimes find ourselves stuck is because we’re looping and re-looping the past in our heads.
As the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan so eloquently put it:
“We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.”
The trouble is, sometimes we’re too tied up in what’s happened in the past that we can’t fully consider the future.
Now, before I continue, I’m conscious that I run the risk of confusing my readers. Is this site for patients or is it for practitioners?
Well, yes, Essential Cancer Education primarily exists to serve the professionals who work directly with patients. However, this week - this month in fact - I want to shift the focus of my writing to help those living through the cancer experience. I’ve felt prompted to do something for patients for a while, and I’m not quite...