“I’m really sorry. You have cancer”.
I’ll never forget that moment. The moment the word ‘cancer’ entered my world.
I was just 30 years old and I was being told I had stage four ovarian cancer. There is no stage five. My diagnosis was terminal.
I knew, in that moment, that I had a choice: a choice between succumbing to my poor prognosis, giving up and immersing myself in fear and self-pity; or choosing to embrace life, rediscovering the joy of living and spreading positivity with those that I meet.
I, of course, chose the latter.
So, when I was told that my cancer was likely inoperable but that they would give me chemotherapy to ‘make me more comfortable’ I decided that my story didn’t need to end there. I had far too much living to do. I still had the power to remain in control.
Mustering as much strength and positivity as I could – you need to remember at this stage I was critically ill and could hardly walk – I decided to dedicate my time to my health. Having practiced yoga and meditation as a form of relief from a very stressful work life for a number of years I knew that health and healing should be viewed holistically. I began developing my personal healing journey by looking not at the cancer in my body, but at the dis-ease in my mind, body and spirit. The deeper I explored, the more I realised that I wasn’t as healthy as I’d once thought. Stress, anxiety, grief and, unsurprisingly, sugar where plaguing my immune system. I needed to start making changes and fast!
I started to meditate daily – something I’d previously pushed to the bottom of my priorities, telling myself I was far too busy for ‘nonsense’ like that. I started to spend time in nature breathing in the beautiful fresh air that surrounds our country home. I also started to embrace a whole food, sugar free diet. And guess what, something wonderful started to happen. Just 10 weeks following my diagnosis I was approved for surgery.
In May 2016 (five months after my diagnosis) I had the largest operation the team had performed on a stage IV ovarian cancer patient. During this they removed my ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb, cervix, appendix, spleen, omentum, part of my bowel (I now have a colostomy bag), part of my liver, part of my diaphragm and part of my pancreas. Recovery was hard and I spent a long six weeks in hospital.
Once home I wanted to immerse myself into everything I’d been learning. Most importantly, I wanted to start practicing yoga again. However, no one could tell me if it was safe. I’d been told I shouldn’t expect to even walk up stairs for a few months, but here I was 3 months later, walking 2-3 miles daily and desperate to bring Asanas back into my life. A deep inner knowing was telling me this was what my body needed and I wasn’t prepared to give up.
Finally, admitting that no yoga studio was going touch me, I approached a teacher training school. If no one knew if it was ‘safe’ then I would learn for myself. I would become an expert in my own body and healing. Amazingly they took the risk and, just 4 months after my surgery I enrolled in their 12-month training program. Something incredible started to happen. No longer was I just being taught about yoga as a form of fitness – the prevalent view in modern western society – but, instead, I was learning about the holistic benefits of yoga. I was learning about pranayama, the yamas and niyamas and a plant based diet. I knew this was the healing journey I had craved.
And, I was right. I have now been in remission for nearly 6 months and, aside from some fatigue, I am feeling healthier and happier than I ever thought possible.
I don’t know if yoga and embracing holistic health healed my cancer but one thing is for sure, it healed my fear of cancer and taught me how to live again.
I now embrace a happy and fulfilling life flowing with joy and positivity. Having started my teacher training as a means of supporting my own healing I now want to share this knowledge with others and help them on a journey to recovery too, and not just those who have cancer, but all those living with dis-ease in their lives. Most importantly I want to encourage those I teach to embrace yoga philosophy.
I recently qualified as a specialist children’s yoga instructor and in August I’ll qualify as an Ashtanga Teacher for adults. I have just launched my own business as a yoga instructor. I couldn’t be more excited to start this new and exciting phase in my life.
Love and light, Fi xx
Fi has recently set up her own business as a yoga instructor for children and adults.
You can read more about Fi Munro on her public Facebook page.
She is currently writing a book about holistic health and healing due for release soon.
She is also a regular blogger for Huffington Post.