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Making Happiness a Life ChoiceLike so many of you, I’ve had my fair share of horrible things to deal with throughout my life: debt, depression, redundancy, not fitting in, the heartache of loss and, more recently, ill health – specifically breast cancer twice in three years with the likelihood of it returning at some point. I don’t see myself as particularly special or strong or different to anybody else, so why am I so happy most of the time these days, living with this, when there was a time when I was in a very dark place, and felt worthless and miserable?

Occasionally, in moments of reflection, I wonder how I might have coped with the cancer a few years ago when I was in that dark place. Possibly very differently, but the ‘me’ of today doesn’t dwell on it, because it didn’t happen, and these days I don’t give head space to negative ‘what if’s’.

So why am I telling you all this? Not for any sort of ego trip, I promise, but because when I was in my dark place I was helped by, and learnt from, others who had found a way forward for them and shared their story. Not everybody I encountered resonated with or helped me, and I am sure this won’t with everybody either. I’m good with that because I’m finally able to be myself, knowing that I am not everybody’s cup of tea. But if there is one person out there who takes just one thing from this blog that helps them move
toward their light, then job done.

Before I got my cancer diagnosis, like so many people I thought it and the treatment attached to it would be hell on earth, and not something I would cope with. Like many I feared ‘it’ in a major way; after all we lost my Dad to cancer, so I had witnessed the worst it could do. However, in the years preceding my diagnosis, I also had people come into my life who were either living with the ‘Big C’ in what seemed to me a very positive way or who had beaten it, so I guess I had a more balanced perspective by the time I got my diagnosis. It’s worth mentioning at this point, and interesting on reflection, that at the time of my diagnosis I CHOSE to focus on the latter.

So as my waltz with cancer built up momentum, I had no idea how much it was eventually going to teach me, and that it would ironically enable me to become a happier person. It would have been nice to have worked some of this stuff out without getting cancer but there you go! I had learnt a lot on my personal development journey and moved far from that dark place, it’s true; perhaps the cancer gave me real clarity and the push to really apply some of this stuff. I know I’m not alone in this. I think it has much to do with
being faced with your own mortality – all of a sudden you have a much sharper focus on what’s really important, you then have a choice on how you are going to live your life going forward.

Yes, when I got my diagnosis I was frightened, and I thought much about dying too young and what I was leaving behind, which made me cry a lot. I’m not sure at what point I got a grip, but the things that helped me were:

  • It did feel rather ironic as my husband and I had finally gotten ourselves in a really good place. In fact our response when told was along the lines of ‘FFS but we have so much good stuff going on!’
  • The good stuff to be around for: grandchildren, a son getting married, growing our business, children going to university, great family and friends, our amazing horses. I CHOSE to focus on these fabulous things.
  • My care team, who were very confident that we would beat it in spite of it being stage 3 and aggressive. Being clear of stage 4 wasn’t confirmed until I started my chemo treatment, so that was hanging over our heads for a while BUT I read about how stage 4 can be kept on top of these days, for years in some cases, so I CHOSE to believe that.
  • My family, especially my husband and sons, were a major factor in helping me get a grip. My sons fed back to me a ‘no-nonsense, can do’ attitude – stuff I had brought them up on, so that was also a proud mum moment. Amazing!
  • Bella, Rosa and Boudi, – our dogs. Especially Bella, who we had only just rescued. She was only eight weeks old and had already had a terrible time. She’d fallen in love with me and was my shadow, and I couldn’t bear to NOT be around for her, at least until we had got her to a confident, happy place.
  • I CHOSE to be well informed and researched my condition and treatment, including questioning my care team extensively. They supported me in this.
  • I CHOSE to trust my care team and the treatment recommendations, but I also embraced sensible, well researched alternative holistic stuff that I felt would help me through the process.

When it came back barely 12 months clear of the treatment for first time around, I’m not going to lie, it was really tough. So many exhausting hospital visits with intrusive investigative stuff going on, and this time my care team were shocked to the core. They had really believed that I was one of the ones who had beaten it first time around. Added to which what I had was unusual, so we were now moving into the realms of experimental treatment with limited and very new data on what works. But it wasn’t secondary cancer, which is a very good thing, so I CHOSE to focus on that. They also had very new data showing really good early results with a different chemo for exactly my situation, so I EMBRACED that! I had total control over my treatment, advised and guided by my care team. I EMBRACED that as well.

Second time around you’re making decisions based on experience; you know what to expect, you came through it before so you know you can do it again, plus you can do those things you wish you had done differently first time around. I was still knocked for six though, and went through the same emotions as before. And the things that helped me get a grip this time around were very much the same.

The big difference second time around was in relation to my treatment choices. After much discussion, investigation and debate, I only had chemotherapy. This time around the feeling is that it almost certainly will come back, but nobody can predict when. Truthfully, I’m not fearful of this. Why? Well, because they don’t always get it right, so I CHOSE to believe I have as much chance of it NOT coming back. But I also decided to increase my self-care and explore more holistic options to support my health and immune system through the chemo, and long after. It was around this time that I met the lovely Jo Hunt of Oils by Jo, who introduced me to essential oils. Jo got a call from me when I was ill in bed after my first of six chemo treatments, asking for help and suggestions. She could tell how rough I was and just organised it all to make my life as easy as possible. She is a very special lady and I am so glad I have her in my life now. I
started with Lavender and Frankincense, and my oil usage grew from there. I am well aware of the claims, particularly for Frankincense, in relation to cancer. I am not going to make those claims, however I wouldn’t be without the oils now. My recovery after the chemotherapy finished was extraordinary. I kept telling my care team it was gone; I knew it had gone, I could tell by how well I felt.

Using the oils along with other holistic stuff, and trying to maintain a healthy diet (my Achilles heel and still work in progress) has all massively contributed to my recovery, and continuing to feel so well.

So what did having cancer teach me? It’s very likely you will have heard many of these before, as I had, but how many, if any, do you really apply in your life? If not, pick a couple that appeal to you and give it a go, see where it takes you, in your business as well as in your life. I learnt:

  • Your physical and mental health and well-being are everything. Even more so if you run a business on your own. Without these everything starts to crumble. So, as a wise lady once told me, “Put your oxygen mask on first.” It’s not selfish or stupid to put yourself first.
  • By all means work hard in your business, but don’t neglect yourself, or your loved ones. It’s time to move away from the ‘working all hours is the only way to achieve business success’ model.
  • Because, frankly, what’s the point if you work yourself into an early grave. It’s possible to achieve work/life balance, so strive for that. Work smart, automate and delegate.
  • ‘Be more dog!’ By this I mean be in the moment every day. Life is made up of a series of moments so take notice. Be joyful and grateful for the simple things in life.
  • Smile! Do a good deed every day, no matter how small. Another very wise lady told me recently to treat everybody, especially those who are proving challenging, like you know it’s their last 24 hours.
  • My goodness me, it changes your perspective and helps you find a calm compassion.
  • Embrace your imperfections, be kind to yourself as well as everybody else.
  • Say yes and figure out how later. Don’t let the fear of anything stop you trying something.
  • When you’ve experienced and survived some tough times, you build an internal resilience and understanding that you do come through this stuff (although I absolutely didn’t understand this for a long time). Know that you are stronger than you will ever realise.
  • There is no such thing as failure, it’s just another lesson sent to teach us. Learn the lesson, try again.
  • When you take a fall, mental, physical, or emotional, it’s okay to NOT get up straight away. Take a moment, a duvet day, have a wallow, eat chocolate, have a cry, talk to somebody, ask for help; recognise what you need to get back on your feet.
  • Surround yourself with joy, love and laughter. Hard as this may sound, remove negativity from your thoughts and your life, including toxic people.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. And don’t hold onto grievances. If you can’t forgive then at least let it go. Holding on to hurt and anger only rots you from the inside.

Finally I am going to finish with my favourite Pooh Bear quote and add don’t wait for something like Cancer to come into your life to realise that…

My favourite quote

Business Growth Landscaper creator Jacky LingBusiness Growth Landscaper creator Jacky Ling has 30+ years’ experience in sales, marketing, business development, training & coaching.

Jacky is on a mission to use her experience and expertise to help home based small and new business owners be the best they can be at selling their product and services.



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