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Mindfulness brings me inner calm
There are many people who want to get back to being themselves after having had cancer, but I wasn’t one of them. It’s not like having a cold, you don’t go back to being the person you were previously. You are always someone who has had cancer. Your body becomes unfamiliar, and you become hyper-sensitive to every little change, every twinge, every new feeling – well, I certainly did.
Rediscovery started with my hair
So, I needed to rediscover myself, starting with my hair. Before losing it during chemotherapy, I’d had a bright red bob. Red was a long way from my natural blonde, but I’d met a wonderful woman and, after many months of trying, the only way I appeared to be able to get her attention was by having flame red locks! In fact, I hadn’t seen my natural colour for years and was a little worried at the amount of grey I might discover.
I was lucky to find an excellent hairdresser, who specialized in working with people who had lost their hair. She guided me through the many stages of my hair growing back… baby hair, curly (which I loved!), then back to my natural straight, fine, although much darker hair. Having lost it all, I felt bold and experimented with lots of short styles, finally settling on a lopsided bob with purple streaks. Which was the look I sported when I married that wonderful woman!
Mindfulness was so important to my recovery
Exercise was another area where I no longer knew what my body could do. Prior to having cancer, I’d dabbled in running, swimming, and cycling. I finished treatment just as the pandemic started, so, like many others, I tried lots of online classes, from Pilates to HIIT. I’m still a work in progress, but I think I’m more the stretching and breathing type now.
Mindfulness came a bit out of left field. I’m a Reiki practitioner but had fallen into bad habits during treatment. My brain felt a bit ‘out of sorts’ post-treatment so I started doing ten minutes of meditation in the mornings, using an App to guide me.
And then a random conversation with the CEO of an amazing company I work with led me to use my Reiki and meditation experience to run a series of online mindfulness sessions. I subsequently developed a set of mindfulness videos that, I’m proud to say, have been seen by a global audience and I was offered more work with other organizations looking to give their staff some balance during difficult times.
We even created an online platform with one of our customers which offered live and recorded workshops and meditation sessions, and a library of resources. All stemming from that random conversation and the encouragement I was given to either succeed or to fail successfully!
I still run online live meditation sessions and I’m now also a Physical Intelligence Coach, meaning that I coach people to use the amazing technology of their body, not just their brains, to achieve their goals.
For me, mindfulness brings a deep sense of inner calm, even if there are times of outer chaos! I know I can take a breath, drop my shoulders, and immediately my body’s stress response is being balanced by the release of calming chemicals. I love that this is the meeting place of science and woo-woo!
I didn’t want to wait to ‘Live the Dream…’
As we all battled through the pandemic, I lost a good friend to cancer which hit me like a ton of rocks. Obviously, I hadn’t been able to see him whilst he was in hospital, but we’d spoken almost every other day. I consider my experience with cancer a gift because it gave me a way to connect with him right until the end.
My partner and I had been talking for ages about moving to Cumbria and this was the push we needed. We finally got married in our Cumbrian paddock, surrounded by our friends and family, our two dogs and our ducks… and the sun shone!
In all of this, my learning is that we really must be kind to ourselves. However fondly we remember who we were, there is an excitement in discovering a new us, because we are so much more than we imagined.
Charlotte was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in July 2018, after finding a golf-ball sized lump in her left breast. She underwent eighteen months of curative treatment at the Mount Vernon Centre, to whom she will be forever grateful.
She lives in the Eden Valley in Cumbria with her wife, two miniature Schnauzers and four Indian Runner ducks, and says they’re all rescue animals of one sort or another!
She loves to watch the seasons as they move across the hills, swim in the Lakes, and cozy up with a coffee and whatever boxset she is currently addicted to.
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