Cancer professionals as coaches: how to help your patients develop a strong mindset

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....

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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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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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Stories can conquer fear: using storytelling for patient engagement

patient engagement Jan 17, 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.


A couple of summers ago, we holidayed in the beautiful Scottish Isles of Orkney with my whole family. We were staying on the Mainland just outside Kirkwall in a quaint little converted church, and to say the landscape on the Orkney Isles is captivating is an understatement. There is a very rich history dating right back to prehistoric times, with standing stone circles and neolithic settlements, and more recent wartime history with the Churchill barriers and the Italian chapel that was built by prisoners of war. It’s plain to see this history is owned proudly by the people on this little archipelago.

On the last night of our stay, we took a drive out to a remote cottage, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, for a local storytelling of Orcadian folklore*....

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Please don’t say that! What NOT to say to your cancer patients

patient engagement Jan 11, 2019

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on this video I made last summer.

You know, there are the three little words that everyone longs to hear:

“I love you”

And then there are the three little words that no one wants to hear:

“You’ve got cancer”

But sometimes this is the harsh reality. And this has been brought into sharp focus for me when someone I know recently announced their painful news of their own cancer diagnosis.

Breaking bad news is never comfortable - for the giver or the receiver - but there are certain things to bear in mind that can make the delivery of bad news a little easier, and there are some definite no-nos that should absolutely be avoided!

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when discussing cancer with their patients (and how to avoid them):

1. Over-complicating matters

I’m sure we’ve all been there: you ask someone a simple question and get a three-act opera in response. I know someone (who shall...

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