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What cancer taught me about uncertainty…

We are living through some uncertain times…we are living through what we never thought we would have to experience….

In a world where we feel we are in control at a touch of our fingers…we are loosing control each day…we are waiting for the government to tell us what to do next, we are not sure how our financial situation will be affected, we are not sure if our local supermarket will have enough food for us to buy…we are lost and all we want is to feel safe again…like before the coronavirus.

But the coronavirus is not going to go away overnight…

This situation brings me back to when the rug got pulled from under my feet.

At 38 years, I was told, I had between 70-90% chance of survival.

As I write this, it pains my heart just thinking about these numbers…all of a sudden I had not only lost my sense of security…

But I was scared, fearful and powerless…

Then I had to face the world…and tell people I had Stage 3 Bowel cancer and that I was going to have 12 sessions of chemotherapy.

Most people’s faces gave me even less hope than the actual prognosis given to me.

My GP then told me that I needed to avoid crowds… I needed to stay at home and away from people as much as possible as my immune system was going to be down.

I had a slim hope my immune system was going to be stronger than most as I was young, righht?

Little I knew that as soon as I started chemotherapy, that became my new reality…my immune system became very weak.

I had many delays during treatment because my immune system wasn’t recovering…

Until one day I ended up in emergency with 0.01 neutrophils (these are the white cells that fight any infection/bacteria/virus you may have)…

Well I had none…

Two bags of blood and one bag of iron later, my body slowly started to recover and one week later I was able to go home.

I was then left by myself at home to pick up the pieces of what was left of me…

I knew I needed to focus on building up myself again…my physical and mental health if I wanted to survive.

I needed to accept my new reality, adapt and change to survive.

Slowly I switched my focus to changing my diet, doing exercise, meditation and listening to anything I could to feed my mind with positive things, with knowledge that was going to help me.

I stopped thinking about tomorrow because I had learned that I couldn’t predict my tomorrow…things could change quite quickly and all I could do was to focus on the NOW.

I feel the world is now at a similar place…we have all lost our sense of security and we are finding difficult to navigate through this new reality.

We are listening to some informative news but we are getting bombarded with a lot of negativity too.

It is challenging to move away from it…

I would like to invite you to think about the things you can control right now…focus on what you can control…tap into your inner strength (we all have one, trust me)…

You could focus on something as simple as reducing the time you spend watching the news…or increasing the time you meditate…or take up on reading again.

Little things can make a big difference in how we live, in who we are, in who we become through this…

I have also learned that nothing is permanent…I had some pretty shitty days but they too passed and the coronavirus shall pass too…

Stay safe and healthy,

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The “new normal”: How to adjust to changes

Even though I don’t watch the news and I don’t allow myself to surf on social media for hours but enough to get myself informed, I have noticed that people are finding challenging to find and accept their new normal. 

One thing is to read positive quotes and ideas on how to deal with this challenging time but it is a different story when we are tested to put it all into practice.

Let’s face it…the COVID-19 has interrupted our lives big time…we have never experienced anything like this in the history of a world where we feel totally in charge at all times.

So being confined home with our kids, or parents, or friends and spending more time with our loved ones is not something we are accustomed too.

Not going to the gym, to grab a coffee when we want, to go for a run when we want feels like our freedom has been taken away from us.

I remember when I was told I had cancer…

I thought to myself is this real? 4 days ago, I came in to hospital feeling unwell and 4 days later I have Stage 3 Bowel cancer and I am about to have a life threating surgery?

I spend quite a few days after that waking up and thinking: is this real or am I dreaming?

Some days I would hang on to that thought for a little longer so I could feel in myself that there was a possibility that I didn’t have cancer.

I would just sit there and think it was a bad dream.

But slowly I learned to accept my new reality…

I had 12 cycles of chemotherapy ahead of me so I had a long way to go so I needed to accept my new reality fast because the alternative was to be paralysed by the fear of having cancer and all the “what ifs” that comes with it.

Accepting my new reality was an enormous part of my healing journey because as soon as I accepted that, I felt empowered to act and do something about my new normal.

So I guess we are living through this exact same thing right now, aren’t we? 

Do we accept our new reality and put a new plan in place for what it is happening or do we keep thinking about the “what ifs” and “why me” and “why now” and focus on what we can’t control?

For me the quicker I accepted my new reality, my new normal, not only the cancer diagnosis but feeling unwell 24/7…

giving up my work ( I kept sending emails to my boss for a good couple of months after my diagnosis)…

feeling weak…

vulnerable…

accepting I couldn’t be or do what I used to before cancer…

the more in peace I felt with my new reality, with my new body, with my new “me” really.

So I invite you to instead of fighting what is happening outside of us and everything that we can’t control…try accepting things as they are…work towards a plan that can help you deal with whatever situation you are in…help your family…loved ones around you to accept this new challenge with you.

As soon as you accept what it is going on, you will feel that life will become easier, the plans that you will be working towards won’t be as challenging…

You will be able to come up with different solutions and before you know, your new normal is what you will know.

We human beings are incredibly adaptable and we can adapt to any situation if we set our minds to.

May this unknown time make us grow and learn whatever lessons we need to learn.

May this unknow time make us be more compassionate to ourselves and others as we work on this challenge together.

Keep safe!
Keep healthy!

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I had never meditated before until…

As ashamed as I am to confess this, it is fair to say if cancer hadn’t hit me I would still be living a life where I would be mostly running away from myself.

Isn’t that crazy? 

I know now it is crazy….but it took me to reach rock bottom…with my health…I almost lost my life to realize that.

So when I started opening up my heart…

I started listening to some meditation…

I remember exactly where I was and the feeling of my first full deep breath…

I didn’t realise that I had been living without breathing deeply…

I am not sure if you know but cancer cells live in an anaerobic environment…instead of using oxygen for energy like healthy cells, they use glucose. They need the healthy cells to survive, think about a parasite living of its host.

That gave me a good enough reason to breath…to breath deeply…but when I first did it…I felt again how uptight I had been…how much ‘stuff’ I had been holding on to…how ‘heavy’ I felt…

And the more I focussed on my breath, the lighter I felt…

the more connected to my body I started feeling…

I could almost feel my cells thanking me for breathing…deeply…

Slowly meditation started becoming a daily habit for me….

I was learning how to be by myself…with myself…I was learning how to slow down…to listen to my inner self…

And it all starts with breathing….a physical action that changes your physical state.

Changing your physical state of being on alert, on flight and fight mode, uptight, upset, angry…

to becoming calmer, more connected to your inner self, lighter, happier, at peace….

I know right? Just by breathing we can get all of these benefits and yet we don’t take the time to focus on it.

Today I invite you to breath…deeply… just try it…inhale to the count of 4 and exhale to the count of 6.

Do it 3, 5, 10 times if you can.

I would love to hear from you…let me know what you have felt…wasn’t it magical? Didn’t it make you feel calmer, lighter, less uptight?

But hey you’ve got to do it at least 3 times on the count of 4 – inhale and on the count of 6 – exhale. No cheating…

If you want to try a meditation, click on the link below as I have recorded a couple of meditations for you:

Meditation 1 – to connect to your inner body in times of uncertainty

Meditation 2 – to cultivate self love