Petra O’Hara - breast cancer champion - on socks, cheeky pants and the greatest lesson having cancer taught her

 

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...

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Erica Beven, founder of Blinking Thinking, on her plight to find a pH neutral shampoo

 

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...

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How Sophie Trew created a legacy out of her own cancer experience

 

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...

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10 mistakes cancer professionals make that prevent them from delivering exceptional cancer care

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...

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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.”

So. TRUE!

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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