Do you consider yourself to be a woman of your word? Are you the one who always keeps promises to herself and to everyone else as well?
18 months ago I would have said that was an appropriate description of me. That was before the big wake-up call came knocking. In that moment, long held thoughts and beliefs evaporated in an instant.
I was handed a diagnosis that would strike fear into the heart of a woman of any age. It confronted me with choices and decisions that challenged every fiber of my being. The experience was enlightening to say the least.
For 30 years, in my career I have loved helping other women find the strength to get comfortable with who they are – to cultivate confidence and courage. Suddenly, I was faced with that challenge myself. Now I feel good with who I am. I’m contented, resilient and brave but the journey required me changing my mind and embracing my life as it was.
In life we hold our beliefs dear. We share them freely because they feel totally authentic. Then wham – life throws us a curved ball and principals we envisaged as iron clad suddenly becomes as fragile as gossamer.
In December 2014 an oncologist looked me straight in the eye and delivered the news that I had advanced ovarian cancer stage 3C. Surgery wasn’t an option. He told me that even though it wouldn’t change the outcome, the only hope of extending my life was to receive six chemotherapy treatments.
My daily mantra of “I’m fit and healthy ‘til I’m at least 90 years old” shattered into a million tiny pieces on the floor right in front of me. My belief that I would never personally have chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery dissolved. I was given the option of 3 noxious cocktails, two of which held only a 3% chance of improved results and one where I wouldn’t lose my hair and eyelashes.
The decision was made in a heartbeat. With all my heart I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and recognize who I was. If I was to receive a regime against all my better judgment, I certainly wasn’t going to endure any unnecessary emotional suffering. I realize I was fortunate to have the options, but three months later I was to discover treatment hadn’t worked anyway. The tumors hadn’t decreased!
To be fair, I had been doing my own thing with weird and wonderful supplements and complementary therapies since day one and knew instinctively I was strong enough to withstand going under the knife. However, the surgeries were not successful and I began to honestly face my mortality. So I said no.
No more treatment. No more negative opinions. No more doing things for anyone else’s worries and concerns. I felt I had done my bit and accepted that what came next was for me. I had done my bit and now I felt I was allowed to change my mind, no matter how scary that might be for anyone else.
So, I poured all my passion and newly found knowledge into getting well. I utilized each and every resource I held to be true. Two months later, without prescribed toxic potions, blood tests revealed a remarkable reduction in the disease markers, and in fourth months, the levels were so low that the medics didn’t quite know how to respond.
They simply said, “These are levels that we haven’t seen here before. Shall we discharge you? What would you like to do?” I answered, “I’ll carry on as I am, thank you very much. No more checks unless I change my mind, which I am at complete liberty to do.”
That’s how it remains today. It’s taken a while. Even with a health and radical self-care regime that suits me down to the ground, it has taken months for my emotions and physical body to regain equilibrium. Writing became one of my greatest comforts. Words and mental pictures are my constant companions.
There have been other changes of heart and mind too. Many of which I’m hugely grateful for. I feel so authentically ME. Even if that meant doing a full, 180-degree about turn, it is totally okay. It’s my life. I own it.
How do you feel about changing your mind? Have there been times when changing your mind changed your life for the better?