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Are you taking self responsibility for your life?

When I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer, I knew I couldn’t count on anybody or anything outside of me. I needed to count on me only…

Meaning…I needed to take full responsibility for what I had done to get me to my diagnosis. There was no more stories, blaming, resentment that I could depend on if I wanted to survive chemotherapy.

I knew turning up to chemo wasn’t going to save me. Cancer recurrence is massive…and I didn’t want to live a life walking in egg shells, scared that cancer was going to come back…

Taking personal responsibility is very different than blaming myself. I never for one moment regret how I lived up to that point, I just made a decision to make different choices from that moment on…

I started reading every book I could find on health, cancer, diet, exercise, emotional healing…you name it. I couldn’t leave up to chance anymore…

I needed to take this seriously…

I felt I got another chance to live…

I wasn’t going to press repeat this time and stay stuck thinking everything I had done to that point was right…

I had to let go of the need to be right…

I had to let go everything I knew behind…

I had to let go everything I felt was contributing to my diagnosis…

Life is constantly changing…throwing us curve balls….sometimes pretty big ones…

We can choose to stay in the same place, doing the same thing and getting the same results

Or we can change to adapt, change and respond to it by accepting personal responsibility and making different choices.

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How can you create new patterns?

Think about how many times you have driven to work….do you even remember what happens when you are driving to work? I guess the answer is no you don’t. It is something you do automatically, unconsciously – a little like riding a bike.

I guess the same think happens to our habits…We tend to eat the same things, feel hungry at similar times, get angry at similar situations, use the same words when a stressful situation arises…

It is like drawing a line on a piece of paper…at the beginning the line is thin but as we keep drawing on top of it, the line keeps getting thicker and thicker.

When it gets to starting all over again and getting rid of that line, it is logical to think we need to draw a line that is as thicker somewhere else. We need to learn a different route to getting to work, so we will need new directions.

Once we started drawing the line, it takes persistence to keep drawing on top of it. When we learn a new route, it takes practice to learn the new way.

This is called neuroplasticity – our brains are capable to create new pathways, new routes. Think of our brain as lots of different highways crossing each other. They are not fixed, we can build bridges between them, we can build different roads and routes.

But how do we do it?

First we need to understand it is going to take time, it is going to feel uncomfortable, it is going to feel strange for ourselves but as we keep doing it, practicing it and trusting the process. It does get easier and it starts becoming more natural to us.

Whatever you are trying to change, you have to think you need to retrain yourself to doing that. You need to create a new pathway, a new route. With practice you won’t think about the old route anymore, you will take the new route unconsciously and this will become part of who you are.

If you have always got angry in a stressful situation, it is going to take practice to focus on the positives in each situation. it will take practice to focus on the solution.

If you have always reached out to sugar or carbohydrates when you are hungry, it is going to take practice to reach out to nuts, to hummus and veggies as your snack.

If you have always worked 24/7, it is going to take practice for you to let go your work phone, checking your emails in the weekend and allowing yourself to take time out for yourself.

It is up to you to practice and persist in whatever you want to change because we all have in us the strength to doing when we set our minds to it.

But at the end of the day, nobody can do that work for you. You are the only one who can do the work.

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Chronic stress really? No, not me…

There is so much talk about chronic stress…

How we get ourselves into feeling the consequences of chronic stress…

The definition of chronic stress says that it is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time in which individual perceives they have little or no control.

We get up each morning and there is already a mountain of work waiting for us, weighing on our shoulders…an endless to do list…

at home…at work and even in our free time…

But we see it as something we have to do…we have to keep going….

I remember thinking to myself…how could I have gone to the doctor to say I was exhausted all the time before cancer?

I was a mum, a working mum and my kids were still 6 and 4 so really…I hadn’t taken any time off from sleepless night….I was on a constant threadmill to make sure everyone had what they needed for the last 6 years….

I thought it was normal to be exhausted…

Besides I would be too proud to do that….I couldn’t…I didn’t know how to…

I was too stress at work too, not because work was putting stress on me but because I wanted to perform at the highest level I could…

Again I wouldn’t have said I can’t do this anymore… I had set my mind to accomplish certain things at work and that was my focus…

I also was carrying so much emotional baggage that it wouldn’t be easy to write on one post…

When I look back, I felt under pressure in all areas of my life…the biggest pressure came from inside me by the way…

But I never allowed myself to take time out….

To doing something just for me….

To replenish myself, my body and my soul…

I thought I needed to keep going…

I think this is when many of us need to stop and recognize that stress is and will always be part of our lives.

But what we do to replenish ourselves is important to help us to deal with it, to manage it in a much better way…

It doesn’t have to cost mountains of money, it doesn’t have to take all the time in the world…

What it is important is to allow ourselves to take time out to ourselves…to acknowledge where we are at when we are dealing with everyday stress in our lives…

You are not going to be deemed weak or less than by doing that…you will be deemed to being strong by being true to yourself.

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Can you call on your motivation when you need to change something?

Most of us will say that we can’t change a particular area in our lives because we lack motivation…

I would argue with that…

I believe all of us have one area or more in our lives that we do well, we feel successful at it and regardless of what happens around us we keep that area going, moving up, towards achieving our goals around it.

But there are other areas in our lives that we struggle with…we tell ourselves that we can’t change them because of time, money, knowledge…we even blame other people…

What we try to avoid is to get to the truth behind our behaviour…

We don’t want to say out loud that work gets the best out of us…what would people think of you right? Especially when you are a parent right?

We don’t want to say our health is not a priority because who knows? You might get a curse from the skies and get sick…after all we all have been raised to say “Our health is the most important thing we have”. But do we live it?

We don’t want to say out loud: my relationship is not a priority for me because really who has got time to be intimate when we are so busy keeping the world going?

We don’t want to say out loud: I don’t feel connected to my children because I spend all my time correcting them, getting them to do their chores, disciplining them as otherwise they won’t be successful when they grow up right! It does take a lot of courage to say that too.

We also don’t want to say out loud that work is not a priority as we would worry about what our peers would think of us, how can we do well at work if we say what we really think about our jobs?

So we keep telling ourselves the same stories, doing the same things and getting the same results…after all we haven’t got time, money, the motivation or the discipline.

So I argue with that because I believe when you are willing to tell yourself the truth, you are willing to change whatever it needs to be changed in your life because you will find the motivation, the discipline, the how to do it. Remember there is one part of your life that you are already doing great and the only reason why you are doing great at it is because you invest time, money, effort and everything else you have got at it. You were not born knowing how to operate that part of life, you work at it, you change things around, you improved it, you gave and give your best at it every single day.

Now if you are honest to yourself: what is the area of your life that you know you need to change, you need to invest on, you need to look after?

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I went through every piece in my life and picked it a part…

After my cancer diagnosis at 38 years old, I knew I needed to act quickly…I needed to change every aspect of my life if I wanted to live a long life.

Turning up to chemotherapy wasn’t going to cut the mustard…I needed to do a lot more than that…

Cancer recurrence is real…and after you have had it…that little voice on the back of your mind is always trying to play with you….

Nobody told me I needed to do anything other than turning up to chemotherapy…in fact doctors told me I was going to be tired and I wasn’t going to be able to do much during treatment…treatment was going to last at least 6 months – mine lasted 7.5 months with the delays.

I decided I wasn’t going to sit around for 7.5 months

I started with changing my physical body, changing my diet and introducing exercise. Very quickly I knew that I needed to do more…so I started taking every piece of my life a part so I could heal completly: in and out.

I once met a cancer survivor who had also done the inner work as I did. We were talking about how many people try avoiding the inner work…she then said…

“They avoid it because it is HELL”

Yes it was HELL…to open up, to feel vulnerable, to sit with my pain even though I thought I had safely placed that inside me as deep as I could…it needed to come out…when it did…I felt I vomited out all that pain. I couldn’t believe I had lived like I did for so long…in fear, in pain, prisoner of my own story, my own believes.

My husband once said ” We have spent our lives up to now to trying to conform, to fit in. We are now trying to get rid off everything we have done to fit in so we can find who we really are.”

As I lived in different countries and travelled around the world, I always tried to fit in but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it is not a matter of fitting in, it is a matter of finding who I am regardless of where I am, it is been content with who I am regardless of what it is around me.

When you make a decision to take your life a part to discover who you are, you embark on a beautiful journey of self discovery. Even with all the pain that I had to relive and redefine, my self discovery journey was the biggest gift I received from cancer.

Life is all about the meaning you give to things…how can you redefine the meaning to whatever it is happening in your life right now?

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Taking personal responsibility…

I think this is a year of self-responsibility.

We have been facing things that are putting us in a very uncomfortable seat and we don’t know how to deal with any of it.

We started the year having to face that we as a whole are scared to leave our houses because of something we don’t know much about even though we have made “so many advancements in medicine”.

As a civilisation we took pride of being so much more advanced than our ancestors yet something is threatening to kill us now at a scary rate, potentially the same rate as 100 years ago when we faced the Spanish flu.

As a society we have an alarming number of people who are living with pre-existing diseases that put them at a very high risk in getting seriously ill or dying with this epidemic.

100 years ago black people were being attacked by white people across the country in America:

https://www.google.com.au/…/red-summer-1919-raci…/index.html

But yet we pride ourselves for being more acceptant, for living in a society that is more inclusive while companies talk about gender equality, unconscious bias and everything that doesn’t necessarily represent the realities of our societies.

I believe strongly the only thing we can do is to take responsibility of everything that is happening around us and think about what we can do as an individual to create a better reality than we are living right now.

Because no, we haven’t got healthier in the last 100 years and no our world hasn’t got less racist either.🙁

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Is it really possible to have less stress?

It is a powerful exercise to observe what things/people/situations trigger us to become stressed, to feel stressed.

For me I noticed that “worry” was a big part of my stress…

Before cancer, I worried about what would happen at work if I had a meeting with someone who I didn’t shared many common interests with…I would worry about having or not having enough for my children’s future…I would worry about people who I loved and cared…when they were going through issues…

But during treatment, I learned in the hard way I must admit that I couldn’t control anything except the present moment.

One minute I was at home with my family, the next I was at the emergency department going through tests to see what was wrong with me…it was really tough. It happened more than once!!!

I had quite a few delays at the beginning of my treatment too before I understood all I could control was what was happening exactly at the present moment.

As cliché as this will sound…I must admit this was one of the most valuable lessons I learned.

I try very hard not to plan too many things in advance in my life these days….there is so much freedom that comes with that.

When I catch myself worrying about what is going to happen with a situation I can’t control, I take deep breathes and remind myself where I have been.

I have got to say that during my treatment was refreshing to only think about the now…

what will I eat today…

what exercise will I do today…

what book will I read today…

what meditation will I listen to…

What should I do with the kids when they get home from school…

It was so refreshing to have only one focus: SURVIVING….

I didn’t worry about what clothes I should wear as I spent most of my time on my pijamas…

no worries about work as I didn’t go to work….

no worries about anybody else because I had to focus on myself only…

no worries about money because there was nothing I could do about earning more money…

there was nothing I wanted to buy…

things like renovating our house became irrelevant….

It sounds crazy right? Maybe it sounds selfish too as I know we can’t live exactly like that..I was in a very particular situation.

But having cancer and fighting for my life, it showed me that all the “white noise” we create in our heads takes ALL OUR ENERGY AWAY…

We tend to focus a LOT on ALL OF THE WRONG THINGS

We mostly worry about things that WILL NEVER HAPPEN or that WE CAN’T CONTROL…

So if you took all your worries away…how would you feel?

This is your exercise for today…imagine a life without any of the worries you have created in your head every day.

How would that make you feel?

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How do we change our own behaviours?

Leading to my cancer diagnosis – when I say leading I mean a whole year previous to my cancer treatment, I was:
👎Exhausted beyond I had ever been – even when I was breastfeeding my kids, I wasn’t as exhausted
👎My hair was falling like crazy and it was very thin
👎Iron deficient
👎Not present with my family as I would like to be (irritable, short tempered etc)
👎For the first time in my life I had irregular bowel movements
👎Taking vitamins hoping to get my energy back
👎Having terrible sleep
👎Stressed out to the bone at work and about life in general
👎Questioning why wasn’t my body able to operate like when I was younger – by the way I was only 38 years so not that old right?😁
👎Getting constant coughs and cold
👎Getting recurrent cold sores

But instead of listening to these signs (and many more), I was sitting on Number 1. No, not me

As I thought to myself…
🤔I think I might have IBS – easy way out right, something that it didn’t sound very serious….
🤦‍♀️I will NEVER have anything serious, especially CANCER – no joke I never allowed myself to google cancer symptoms because I never thought I would be a candidate for it
🤷‍♀️I have always had great health (this is a complete lie I somehow told myself:
o As a kid, I was extremely allergic to dust, mould, etc and I spent most of my childhood sneezing…I took conventional medication and homeopathy medication but it never worked,
o As a young adult, I developed asthma and couldn’t go to anybody’s house who had a cat as I would stop breathing within 1 hour,
o I had an ectopic pregnancy before my first child and almost died in the process. Ended up loosing a fallopian tube,
o I had gestation diabetes with my second child.

So good health huh??? Not so sure about it…

So I kept pushing myself, my body until my body said STOP….ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…

I had an emergency surgery that removed my tumour in the bowel and one month later, I had to start chemotherapy. I had to have 12 cycles…

The chemotherapy I had is called 5FU….the people who believe in natural healing etc called this chemotherapy
“5 feet under”….
needless to say I was in for one hell of a ride….

I went from sitting at…

NUMBER 1. NO, NOT ME…. to

NUMBER 2. WELL MAYBE?…..to

NUMBER 3. SO OK, WHAT DO I DO NOW?

In a matter of 2 weeks….as the harsh reality of having between 70-90% survival hit me on the face….

Jumping from

NUMBER 3. SO, OK, WHAT DO I DO NOW?….to

NUMBER 4. OK, LET’S DO THIS!

Happened in another 2 weeks then I started my journey to changing everything about my life….

I became obsessed about health, about creating a health body and mind, about surviving…

I read books, listened to everything I could find on body, mind, body and mind connection and slowly I would apply things to my daily routine.

ONE TINY SHIFT AT A TIME

These tiny shifts compounded into MASSIVE IMPACT on my health today…

and I am now sitting at

NUMBER 5. IT’S POSSIBLE!

Deep inside, I have this dream that I can empower people to change their habits:

✅before that daring diagnosis
✅before they get really sick
✅before they become dependant on medication and doctors
✅before they loose what they are taking for granted.

As I spoke to my GP about my dream (I love my GP by the way), she explained to me the 5 stages of behaviour changes that she learned at med school.

She told me when people are at NUMBER 1, there is no point in talking to them about it as they don’t want to listen.

Think about last time you told someone that stop smoking was a good idea huh?

It turns out that until we are ready to do something about it, we don’t do anything about it.

As simple as that…

So I started thinking about what could I have said to myself in that year before my diagnosis that could have helped me to change…

What could I have said to myself that it would have made me wake up?

And this is what I came up with:

😮It is not normal to feel exhausted all the time….
🙄Something else must be going on for you to have a continuous iron deficiency even though you are taking iron supplements and eating red meat 3 times per week…
🙄It is not ok for you to be stressed all the time about work and life…
🙁Sleep is really important for our overall health and if you are not sleeping well, you need to find out why…
😩It is not normal to be catching every cough and cold and getting recurrent cold sores…
🙄Vitamins are not magic pills unless you work on your finding out the root cause, they are not going to solve your problems…
😏If your bowel is not working properly, you need to find out why as your bowel is your second brain…

This is my message to you today….

if you are feeling something is not right and you have to make changes but don’t know where to start…

If you have tried making changes but couldn’t…

I am not going to say, your story will end up like mine…

What I will say is…

YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR STORY FROM NOW ON…

ONE TINY SHIFT AT A TIME….

that will compound into MASSIVE IMPACT.

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How much stress do you put yourself under each day?

I am not sure if you have ever really asked this question to yourself but truth is we all accept that living a stressful life is just what we do these days….and it is normal…

Reality is we accept this new normal without thinking what it actually means to us day to day…what it means to our bodies and our emotional state…the real effects on our physical and emotional body.

We even take pride in saying my job is stressful or I have a stressful life at times…

When I got cancer, I knew stress was one of the causes of my cancer. Nobody needed to tell me stress was one of the causes…I just knew it.

Growing back in Brazil I saw people living in constant flight or fight mode. Whether you are well off, constantly scared of being mugged/robbed or you are living in poverty fighting to meet your daily needs, it is fair to say it is a very stressful way of living.

So I guess my default mode has always been flight or fight…this is what I knew and how I dealt with day to day situations.

It is ok to have some situations in life where you need to activate your fight or flight mode but I think we all know by now that living in constant flight or fight is extremely harmful to our health.

It is like living running away from a tiger in a jungle…constantly….no human being can do that…not physically…not mentally…

When the body is continuously placed in the state of flight or fight we create the conditions of poor health.

And this is what I did…

I never stop to be grateful, truly grateful for being alive, for who I was, who I had become on my own since I left Brazil at 21, what I had accomplished after living in 7 countries, the friends I had made, how lucky I was to have the best husband in the world and to have two amazing perfectly healthy kids…

I allowed myself to get stressed about small things, when things didn’t go my way at work…I allowed myself to get super stressed about things that I thought were important…I gave too much of me…of my energy…

I knew I needed to find techniques to help me to deal with stressful situations but more important than that I needed to rewire my brain to look at life differently.

Every single bit of it…

And it all started when I noticed in my body the effects of being stressed…

I had a discussion with my family the day before chemo…I had an even bigger discussion with them sitting at the chemo chair…and when I got home…my body was a wreck…

I could not only feel the negative effects of the chemotherapy all over my body….this time I felt a much stronger level of toxicity and once more I was hanging on to my life by a thread….

Looking back my body suffered a lot more from the effects of feeling stressed about the discussion I had with my family than the physical effects of the chemotherapy.

I noticed it took me about 4 days to shake off that feeling too.

The recover from that chemotherapy cycle was harder.

I exercised…I meditated…I prayed….I wanted to get that poison out of my body and each day I felt everything I did, it wasn’t working…

I kept trying until 4 days later…I started feeling my body again….I started feeling balanced again…even when my body was full of chemotherapy, I felt balanced when the stress was out of my body…it was a noticeable difference.

So I started reading and researching about stress and how I could deal with stress differently.

I knew life without stress didn’t exist, I needed to create my own way to deal with stress differently, my own stress free life…

Stress is directly related to so many serious illness. If we do not manage or remove stress from our lives altogether, stress can cause a negative impact on the immune system, hindering the body natural defences against disease.

And that was enough to catch my attention….

I needed to look after my stress levels because I needed my immune system functioning at a 100% capacity.

I did and still do everything I can to help my immune system…

I believe if I cultivate a strong immune system, I can get rid of any disease…

So today I invite you to ask yourself this question:

How much stress do you put yourself under each day? At work? At the traffic jam? When together with your kids? When your husband, wife, partner doesn’t do what you expect them to? When people in general don’t do what you expect them to? When things don’t go your way? When you are facing an adversity or challenge?

And when it happens, how do you respond to it?

I found for myself that the first step into change is to observe and acknowledge…

Once I opened myself up to observe and acknowledge what was happening, I started my journey to change….

I am dedicating the month of May to talk about stress….so story to be continued….

It doesn’t take much to observe and acknowledge when something happens to you on the inside….try looking at it as a friend outside of the situation…try observing what happens to you as if you were someone else…sometimes it helps you to observe yourself without any self judgement.

I hope this is a constructive exercise…I hope this is an exercise that helps you to connect to your innerself….


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Are you being adaptable?

I grew up with my dad always saying: human beings can adapt to anything, any conditions, any situation.

Being an immigrant who arrived in Brazil when he was 5 years old, I guess he had experienced himself the need to adapt to a different country, reality, climate, food etc.

As I started my cancer treatment, I knew I had 12 cycles to survive. Yes that right, if you have ever faced cancer surviving chemotherapy becomes your main aim.

After my first cycle, I felt I was so out of it. It felt like I was in a movie when you watch the actors taking a hit of some sort of drug. It wasn’t pretty….

I had had 48 hours of chemotherapy going through my body and when I got disconnected, I felt I was hanging on to my life by a thread.

I was in bed for 5 days.

I remember on day 3 when my husband wanted to take me for a car ride. It took all my strength to get myself in the car and I didn’t say a word for the whole car ride. If you know me, you would know that doesn’t come natural to me.

As cycle 2 came along, my body knew what to expect and I am not going to say it was easy but somehow it was much easier than the first time.

As I changed my diet, introduced exercise, meditation and did a load of work on my own emotional healing, my body got stronger after each chemotherapy session.

I spent less days in bed…more days feeling strong enough to exercise, prepare my own meals and play with my children.

I couldn’t believe how my body dealt with session after session for 12 cycles…

I acknowledge there was a correlation between how hard I work on my own healing and how I felt after each session but I also believe there was an element of my body and mind getting used to the new reality at that time too.

As we all adapt into our new realities…I believe we are all slowly making peace with it or at least finding it easier.

We are sure going to have good days and bad days but I guess that is part of life isn’t it?

So I guess what matters is what we are doing each day to adapt into this new reality. And if I ask you…what would you say?