Discerning ‘It’! Renewed purpose for life after 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”...

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Letting go of past hurts

Last week we talked about the importance of “completing the past” in order to fully consider the future, and we looked at a 4-step process to help with moving on. 

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...

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How “completing the past” can help with healing

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...

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3 steps to unfunking your funk

mindset Apr 03, 2019

As we officially enter the spring (aka British Summer Time) - yet ironically, my weather app is forecasting snow (!) - I find myself reflecting on new beginnings and fresh starts, rebirth and second chances.

And before we begin, I want to point out that this doesn’t always have to be a huge change like starting a new job, moving house or rebuilding yourself after a life-changing diagnosis. Fresh starts and new beginnings can happen in the everyday moments, the seemingly simple choices we make on a daily basis. The power, as you’ll see, is always in the present moment.

Ask yourself a question: when was the last time you felt stuck in a rut? Or felt like you were in a bit of a ‘funk’ - a bit ‘meh’? Can you remember how you got through it? To be clear, I’m not talking about full on clinical depression - that is a very different kettle of fish - I’m talking about the general low ebb that has a tendency to creep over us all at some point...

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National Nutrition Month: The Mediterranean Diet and Cancer

So this week, to round up our monthly theme celebrating National Nutrition Month, I invited a special guest to join me on Facebook live - Dr Orlena Kerek of drorlena.com. Orlena is a doctor from the UK who moved out to live in sunnier climes in Spain, and is now running a successful health and life coaching business. As a strong proponent of the Mediterranean Diet, I thought, “Who better to have as a guest to speak with authority on this topic?!”.

You can watch the live on Facebook (and have a laugh at our technical inabilities!). Seriously, it must have taken us at least 5 minutes to figure out how to get both of us on screen together! On that note of technical hitches, the sound quality from my phone is very echoey, but you don’t need to hear me speak - it’s what Orlena shares that’s most valuable. But because of this, we’ve already made a plan to re-record it and I’ll upload it here and on Facebook as soon as it’s ready.

However, if...

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National Nutrition Month: Intermittent Fasting and Cancer

Continuing with our nutrition theme this month, in celebration of National Nutrition Month, I wanted to delve a little deeper into fasting and the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) in cancer prevention and treatment.

This has been partly fuelled by my interest in - or some might say, obsession with (!) - stem cells. I have a number of Masters students beginning their research projects with me at the moment, and one of them is looking at whether there is any synergy between diet and exercise in mobilizing stem cells.

But before I go into any detail about fasting, FMD, exercise and stem cells, I feel like I want to back up a little and explain a bit about stem cells first.

Not all stem cells are created equal

I think a lot of people hear the term “stem cells” and make an assumption that the reference is to embryonic stem cells, and certainly there has been a lot of controversy around the use of embryonic stem cells in research. But I’m not talking about embryonic stem...

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National Nutrition Month: Keto and Cancer

This month sees the celebration of National Nutrition Month, and so for the next few weeks, I’m going to take a deeper dive into some of the most popular “anti-cancer” diets, with a closer look at the evidence base underlying their potential to protect us against cancer.

This week, let’s start the ball rolling with the ever popular ketogenic diet (or “keto”, for short). I’m pretty sure you’ve definitely heard about this one, and you might even have tried it yourself in a bid to lose weight (Atkins, anyone?!), but with all the talk of different types of diet, it can be difficult to discern the subtle, but significant, differences between them.

So first things first, let’s get clear on what keto is.

Many people think keto and Atkins are the same. Well, almost, but not quite...they ARE the same in the induction phase of Atkins, where participants are required to follow a strictly low carb, high fat diet, but longer term, keto...

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Black History month: the immortal life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks

As it's Black History month, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to one incredible black woman who, unknowingly, played a hugely significant role in the advances of modern medicine.

Mammalian cell culture is something we take for granted these days, and plays a critical role in modern research and therapeutic development, but without the life (and ultimately death) of Henrietta Lacks, much of what we know about cancer, and many other medical advances, wouldn’t have been possible.

When a biopsy is taken from a patient, it is placed in a culture dish with some specialist growth medium. This could be a selection of cells, such as cervical epithelial cells as in the case of Henrietta Lacks (HeLa cells), or it could be a chunk of tissue, from which cells can be “explanted” – i.e grown out. Cells cultured in this way create what is known as a primary cell line.

When these cells are then “split” into two dishes (also known as...

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Facing terminal cancer with grace and courage

Don’t forget to download the free guide that accompanies this month’s articles. In it, I show you three simple steps to help your patients choose to live well with cancer. You can grab your free copy here.

Also, exciting news….next week I am delivering some brand new, totally FREE live workshops! You can reserve your seat here, but don’t wait too long to sign up because spaces are limited.


“Do not go gentle into that good night, raging against the dying of the light” - Dylan Thomas


Human beings have an innate desire to hang on - we are hard-wired to fight for survival, so when a person living with cancer hears the prognosis, “There’s nothing more we can do,” it’s understandably hard to comprehend and process.

However, as the disease advances, “fighting for life” can begin to cause undue suffering, and “letting go” may...

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Reflecting forwards: important lessons from your future self

patient engagement Jan 23, 2019

Don’t forget to download the free guide that accompanies this month’s articles. In it, I show you three simple steps to help your patients choose to live well with cancer. You can grab your free copy here.


I’d like you to cast your mind back to your very first day in your very first job - and I mean your first “proper” job, not your first paper round or something like that!

Perhaps you had just finished college or university. Can you picture it?

How did you feel? Were you nervous? Excited? Anxious? Fearful?

How did that first day go? Was it as you expected?

What did you learn about yourself?

Now, I want you to pause and think about this next question carefully.

Answering as you are today, what ONE piece of advice would you give to yourself as you were starting out?


Here are 10 common threads I’ve noticed in the conversations I’ve had with various cancer...

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