health, holistic health, ovarian cancer

Carol Bareham 22.12.1972 – 01.04.2020

As many of you are already aware, my dear friend, my ‘cancer bestie’ as I liked to call her, passed away on 1st April this year.

Like me, Carol lived with late stage ovarian cancer, being diagnosed just 4 months before me.

In the year leading up to her death we talked almost every day about life, death and love. In many of those chats Carol would remind me that when she died (always convinced that she would die before me and no wonder with the treatment options in Northern Ireland being far inferior to those available to me in Scotland) that I was to write ‘an epic blog post’. No pressure Carol!

However, despite writing being one of my most utilised healing tools I have found it impossible to write this post for her until now, 6 weeks after her death. The reason? Writing it means that she is actually gone. Writing it is the final goodbye, the ‘closure’ I have been avoiding. Writing it means that I really don’t get to see my friend again and that reality has just been too hard to face.
Almost every day, I find myself having conversations with her in my head,  desperately seeking the advice and guidance she offered me over the past four years of friendship, unable to believe that she is actually gone.
However, despite my avoidance, I could imagine, only too well, Carol telling me to get a grip of myself and write the bloody thing already so, here goes. Carol, this is for you. I’ll love you for always.
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Carol and I didn’t meet in ‘normal’ circumstances. In fact we first ‘met’ over the internet on 8th May 2016 . This was an auspicious date. It is World Ovarian Cancer Day and it was also the day before I had major surgery to remove multiple organs from my cancer ridden body.
Carol wrote a comment on my blog that day which read Good luck tomorrow…I had the op in January after 4 chemos too and I am pleased to report all went well and I recovered from it well. Having 2 further chemos after the op, well that is another story! I hope it is a big success and will be keeping everything crossed for you. Have just discovered your blog and have been hooked on it all day…have experienced very similar thoughts and feelings, you have a lovely way of saying what many of us cancer patients are feeling. Will be awaiting your next post now post op! Carol xxx”
People comment on my blog and send me messages and emails all the time. I mean I literally get hundreds of private messages every week and yet this one, from Carol, stood out for me and, to this day, I have no idea why but I am so glad that it did. This simple message became the start of one of my most valued friendships and just goes to show we really never know what a simple act of kindness will lead to.
Over the months that followed Carol and I would often exchange weekly messages. Over time we exchanged phone numbers and began texting each other on a more regular basis. While I had no one in Scotland who I could talk to about living with late stage ovarian cancer, I had found in Carol someone who I could share everything with. She just ‘got it’. Every thought, worry, hope, fear, anxiety, pain, horrible embarrassing experience cancer had brought me, Carol had seen and experienced too. There is nothing quite like a friendship build on the common ground of literally shitting yourself through chemotherapy!
However, despite regular messaging, it wasn’t until two years later that we first finally met in April 2018 when Carol and her family were visiting Scotland from their home in Northern Ireland. Despite having planned a lovely ‘normal’ get together my cancer had other plans and I ended up in hospital for the entire time Carol was over. Despite this she still visited me and it was pure joy to finally put a face to the name I had been messaging and sharing ‘everything’ with over the previous two years.
Then, a whole year later, in April 2019 I visited Carol in her hometown in Northern Ireland as part of my book tour for my second book‘How Long Have I Got?’
During this trip I was finally able to meet Carol’s incredible family and friends, including the group of ‘Northern Ireland Ovarian Cancer Ladies’ that she had established. I have never been made to feel so welcome and supported.
Another year of messaging passed during which Carol’s health started to decline more rapidly than my own. She had stopped chemotherapy; her body, mind and spirit having now had enough and she was now doing her best to enjoy her life as best she could despite cancer. However, it wasn’t until winter 2019/20 that I finally started to accept (as best as one can accept) that I was going to lose my dear friend.
At the time my own health was declining rapidly and so began a daily discussion, peppered with the darkest of humour and jokes that only two terminal cancer patients could share and get away with, of who was fairing worse off. This shared dark sense of humour and a willingness not to shy away from the hard times is one of the reasons I will always love Carol so much.
One of the most powerful things about going through this cancer experience together was that we were able to have completely honest and frank discussions. Neither of us ever avoided discussing the reality of either of our situations. And neither of us ever pretended things were any easier than they actually were. I didn’t pretend that Carol wasn’t getting sicker and likewise she offered me the same courtesy. This is a rare and beautiful gift, as hard as it may seem, because it meant that we were able to have conversations that may have otherwise been avoided.
For instance, once Carol had transitioned from her home to a local hospice and I had finally accepted that Carol was going to die, instead of pretending otherwise, I messaged her one day and said “I am either coming to your funeral or coming to see you now. Which would you prefer?” this was in response to her telling me repeatedly not to come and see her. I knew, however that this wasn’t because she didn’t want to see me but because, like many of us, she didn’t want to accept the love that I would be offering in the act of traveling from Scotland to Northern Ireland just for her. She replied almost instantly, “come now”. And so, I found myself sitting at my kitchen table, at 5.30am the following day making plans to go to Northern Ireland to visit her.

The earliest I could go was two weeks later due to a number of hospital appointments that I already had scheduled. During these two weeks our connection and friendship grew stronger. She knew that I was dropping everything that I could to come and see her and she accepted that love and connection. Similarly, I knew how important this time was for her and her loved ones, and I accepted the love and deep honour it was to be a part of this precious time. And I mean honour. So many of us shy away from facing the hardest moments in life like tragedy, grief and death but, I’ve found through my own personal experiences, that it’s in these moments that the greatest opportunity for connection truly lies and that is an honour, and a gift.

During this time some of my other friends would message me to ask how Carol was doing. Many would reflect on how sad it must be for her to be dying. I knew a different truth, however. Carol wasn’t sad. She was ready. Over the previous few months she and I had discussed frequently how she was done with the suffering her illness was causing her. She had taken time to connect with and love her family and friends and she was now ready to release the pain. It was because of this that I didn’t feel sadness about her dying. I felt loss yes and I felt pain, deep pain, but they were my pain, my loss, my imminent suffering, they weren’t Carol’s.

Her messages during this time and, indeed, her conversations when I visited her were all about how happy she felt about the life she had lived and how calm she felt about the death she now faced. I remember having a similar experience with my friend Ali before she died from the same disease. Our final conversations weren’t filled with fear, they were filled with love and acceptance. This, I’ve realised is a gift that the dying can offer the living; to show peace in the face of death. In exchange and recognition of this, the living can offer the dying a gift too. We can choose to show up at this time. To be there, in whatever way they need us. To express love and gratitude for the time we shared together. And, above all, to not avoid their death and our grief because it is too hard for us but, instead, to recognise that grief is often an unavoidable expression of love.

I’ll never forget the journey across to Northern Ireland to see Carol. The weather was wild to say the least. The boat rolled from side to side and up and down as many of the passengers took to lying down in a desperate attempt to avoid sea sickness. I have never been so grateful for a childhood brought up on boats in the Channel Islands!

When we arrived, after a stop for some much-needed food, Ewan drove me straight to the hospice. I wanted to see Carol straight away. I’d waited two weeks and I wasn’t waiting a minute longer. He dropped me off at the door, driving away to check into our hotel. This is what I’d asked for. I wanted to see her on my own first. I wanted time for the two of us to connect. Part of this was about my needs, but part of this was also about protecting Ewan. Carol’s diagnosis is the same as mine and, as a result, our stories have often mirrored one another’s. Ewan knows this and I could see the fear in his eyes about what her now being in a hospice meant for me and, ultimately, what it meant for him. Despite the open honesty in our household about my death and, indeed, about everyone’s certain death, I still wanted to protect him from it being so tangible. It turns out, however, there was no need. When death is faced with love, in the way Carol taught us both to do, it can actually be a really beautiful thing.

I walked into Carol’s room with no idea what to expect. We hadn’t seen each other face to face for a year and for at least half of that time she hadn’t allowed any photos. But I needn’t have worried. I was greeted by the same smiling and vivacious woman I loved and remembered. Without a second’s hesitation she had wrapped her arms around me in a hug, despite her pain and multiple medical attachments, and was asking me to get into bed beside her for a proper chat. I, of course, obliged.

As I lay there with her laughing and sharing stories with one of her other friends who was also there, sitting in a chair beside her bed, I began to reflect on the beauty of this connection. Here we were, three women, all of us living with a terminal diagnosis of ovarian cancer, two of us currently receiving chemotherapy and one of us dying from the disease and yet there was not one ounce of sadness in that room. There was only joy. How often could I say the same of other encounters in my life?

While in Northern Ireland I’d spent my mornings with Ewan walking our dog Ozzy, before spending the afternoons and early evenings with Carol at the hospice. We spent most of our time together sharing stories and laughing. Carol had even managed to plan a short 80s themed party in her honour at which all of the people in her life were able to come along to; many of them to say their final farewells. It wasn’t a sad affair, however. Instead it was one filled with music, food, celebration and fancy dress. Above all, it was filled with love. This wasn’t a woman mourning her premature death, it was a woman celebrating her incredible life. As I stood back and observed all of these people coming to see her, dressed in full 80s fashion no less, I couldn’t help but think of my own death and how what I was witnessing would be exactly what I wanted for myself – love, laughter, music and, of course, fancy dress.

The following day I knew I would have to say my own goodbye to Carol. We didn’t have the 80s costumes, or the party to hide behind. We were having to face this head on, in full recognition of the fact that we would never see each other again. I spent the afternoon with her, as I had done over the previous days. We were joined by one of her best friends, whom had welcomed my presence with such warmth despite it, undoubtably, encroaching on their precious time together. During this time we recorded a podcast together. This was something that Carol wanted to do to not only dispel some of the fears around being in a hospice, but also to share some of the lessons she had learnt about life and death. Unsurprisingly, most of what she talked about was love.

We both put off the moment when I would have to leave. “Just ten more minutes” became a frequent and then desperate phrase until, eventually, there was no choice but to say goodbye knowing that we would never see each other again.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

As I drove away, my heart broken, tears streaming down my face, I reflected on how often I take for granted that I will see someone again. You see, while I knew I wouldn’t see Carol again, I never know I ‘will’ see anyone else in my life again. I reflected on myself saying goodbye in a rush to those I love; dashing away, not always lingering to hear my loved one’s words, to hold them a little longer, to entwine our fingers, to kiss their cheek, to hold them close for just one more second. All these things I did with Carol instinctively as I fought back the inevitable, love filled, tears from cascading down my cheeks until I left the room, not wanting her last image of me to be one of sadness but, instead, one of love and joy.

In one of the last messages I sent to Carol after I had returned back to Scotland, I asked her “but how will I do any of this without you?” “Simple,” she replied, “You will love harder like I have taught you just as you make every day good like Ali (my other friend who died from ovarian cancer) taught you and you will keep living your life every single day as best you can for as long as you can.”

As I reflected on this and the legacies that her and Ali had gifted me through our friendships, I wanted to know what my own legacy would be. What message would I leave for the people I left behind and those that came after me? I realised then that there was no better phrase than “never at the expense of joy”. If I were to leave any kind of impression on the hearts of those I love and who love me then please let it be that.

This brings me to the final and lasting lesson and legacy that Carol left me and all those who love her: LOVE HARDER.

Perhaps it’s that simple. Perhaps it’s not about always thinking that you may never see a loved one again. After all, that does feel more than a little depressing. Perhaps, instead, it’s just about loving them harder.

What does loving harder look like?

For me it’s about looking someone in the eye when they speak to me, rather than looking at my phone. It’s about always valuing my time together with loved ones as sacred, fleeting and precious. It’s about listening when they talk. It’s about asking about the things that matter to them and caring about the response. It’s about making memories, laughing and experiencing joy but also about being there in times of need and support. It’s about not being afraid to show your vulnerability when times are tough and also not being afraid to show your awesomeness when times are great.

I don’t always get it right. Far from it. I’ll sometimes sit scrolling through my phone replying to messages rather than cuddling into Ewan on the sofa. Or I’ll get distracted when someone I love is talking and miss the important part of their story. But I catch myself now and I call myself out for it. I’ll pause and ask myself “Is this how I want to live my life? Is this how I want to be remembered? Is that what Carol would have done” And then I’ll make different choices the next time. Ultimately that’s all any of us can do; take little steps, day by day to love harder, to connect more deeply and to choose to spend our time with those that matter most to us. Anything else, over time, ultimately costs us our joy.

This is what Carol taught me above all else and it’s the lesson I will carry in my heart until the day I take my own last breath. May this lesson be a gift to you too, even if you never had the honour of meeting Carol for yourself.
With love for Carol and all those who love her always, Fi xx
I’m sorry Carol. This post isn’t as ‘epic’ as you might have hoped because how can I put into words what you truly mean to me, the lessons you taught me or the fact that I will always carry you in my heart every single day that I am alive and able to do so.
I may not have known you through your school years, never had the opportunity to work with you, to go to the pub with you, to have adventures or holidays or build wild and fun memories together but what we had was something entirely different from these types of friendships. What we had was a deep understanding of each other’s pains and fears, of our daily struggles and what it feels like to live with late stage cancer every single day year in and year out knowing that one day it will cause so much inevitable pain to those that we love.
What you gave me, dear Carol, is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me. You gave me true, unconditional love and friendship that enabled me to be seen in all of my darkness as well as my light, without fear of judgment.
I am so grateful that cancer brought us together and so sad that it tore us apart. While this blog post may not have been what you hoped for (it’s a lot of pressure writing for a dead person you know!) I want you to know that when I publish my next book it will be dedicated to you my lovely so that everyone will know what an incredible woman you were and continue to be in the hearts of those who love you.
May your name and all that you stood for continue to shine bright for many years to come and, in your memory, may we all remember to tell the women in our lives to be hyper aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. I know that you, like me, had only one wish following your diagnosis – if we can’t be saved then at least let our diagnosis save the lives of other women.
So please, dear readers, share the following symptoms with the women in your lives. There is no screening test for ovarian cancer (no, smear tests do not test for it!) The only way to find out if you have it is to know the symptoms and see your GP if you have two or more of them for two or more weeks.
Please do not ignore any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is curable…only late stage diagnosis is not.
THINK TEAL
T – toilet habit changes
E – energy levels dropping
A – abdominal pain and/or swelling
L – loss of appetite and/or weight
Carol and I also both experienced shoulder pain prior to diagnosis and I always start to get migraines when my cancer is spreading.
Know your body.
Don’t be embarrassed.
See your GP.
If you don’t do it for you or for me then, please, do it in loving memory of Carol Barenham.
With love and gratitude always, Fi Munro xxx
gratitude, health, holistic health, kindness, ovarian cancer, positivity

Today I Rise Again

Today is a new day.

I rose today having felt what I was meant to feel, having seen what I was meant to see, having said what I was meant to say.

So many people ‘advised’ that I stop writing and that I focus on me. I know they meant this with the deepest kindness but writing ’is’ me focusing on me. It is my therapy, my release, my way of processing and feeling everything that is there to be felt.

I do not write for anyone else but myself – although, admittedly, it brings me so much joy to realise how my words have helped so many others.

I can’t help but wonder how different our world would be if someone had told Anne Frank to stop writing. I’m not suggesting I am anything like Anne Frank, a courageous young girl whom I have admired since first discovering her words when I myself too was only young, but I am suggesting that our stories are important, healing and essential. We must share our stories. We simply must.

I feel in a good place today, like I am emerging from something, like I am shedding an old version of myself and stepping forward into something new.

I sense change ahead, yes, but change isn’t necessarily bad and I find myself feeling a sense of excitement at this new adventure I find myself on.

I’ve been in worst places in the past four years since my diagnosis than I find myself in just now. There is, of course, one significant difference now. Now I don’t see chemotherapy as an option for me when the trial completely stops working (which it hasn’t, yet).

As I’ve written many times before, chemotherapy (and any treatment) is a very personal choice and I do not advocate for or against any options. But I do know that chemotherapy is not the right option for me. Not again. Not after 4 years ago. This is my inner guidance and I trust it profusely. Nothing and no one will ever change my mind.

So what are my options?

Just now, medically, it is to stay on the trial. It is to keep breathing in the gratitude that this wonderful cocktail of significantly less toxic drugs is doing something to slow down this disease (even if they can’t stop it completely).

But that is just the medical picture and, if I’ve learnt nothing else on this journey it is that the picture is bigger than what can and can’t be done in a hospital. There is so much more that can be done for my mind, body, spirit and soul.

So, yes, it is accurate when I say I am excited because I find myself wondering ‘what if there is another way?’

And that’s exactly what I intend to spend the next 16 weeks finding out.

Why 16 weeks? Because that is the length of time someone with ovarian cancer is on chemotherapy for…AND, more importantly, because 16 weeks today I plan to get my adventurous soul onto a plane to Bali where I plan to spend 4 weeks healing with my gorgeous husband…something that will only be possible if my lungs stay stable…so I’m excited…I have a focus, I have an aim and I have a shit load of passion.

It ain’t over and, as ever, I ain’t dead yet (motherf*ckers)

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer

The Necessary Grief of the Life Unlived

My cancer markers rose again.

Four months in a row.

Slowly rising, creeping upwards, no longer stable and far from dropping.

It’s not good news.

My treatment is no longer as effective. The trial I fought for is no longer holding things at bay. There is a crack in the dam. The dam is still there, yes, but it’s no longer as effective at holding the tide back from crushing me as it once was.

Was I naive to think that it would keep things at bay longer? Was I overly hopeful?

I thought I was realistic. I thought I had accepted and understood the odds, that I realised how lucky I was that it had worked for as long as it had. Yet my tears tonight tell a different story.

They show the hope that’s been lost, the fear, the anger, the sense of defeat in a battle I never even willingly engaged in.

And while it’s far from over (I am still on the trial treatment and it is still doing ‘something’ even if that isn’t as much as it once was) this rise marks a turn in events.

No longer do I feel like I have the upper hand. No longer do I feel in control. No longer do I feel like I have a grasp on what is coming next.

It’s the fear that hurts the most. The fear of more bad news, of more pain, of less options, of death.

It’s the fear of breaking other people’s hearts, of no longer being able to keep a brave face, of losing my sense of self to this insidious disease.

But most of all it’s the worry that I took the time I had for granted; so busy telling others to live like they are dying that I forgot to do it myself.

I’ve had many great adventures yes but did I love enough, did I laugh enough, did I open my heart to the deep vulnerability necessary for true connection?

I don’t know. But I plan to spend the rest of my days finding out and making sure.

Today marks a change, a shift. Tonight it feels painful. I feel deep sorrow and grief for the life I thought I was ‘supposed’ to have. Tomorrow I will welcome a new day, a new phase, a new beginning.

But, for now, I grieve.

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer, shamanism

Why I ‘Divorced’ My Cancer

On Friday night I held a shamanic ‘Cancer Divorce Ceremony’ on St Andrew’s West Sands Beach as I said farewell to my cancer. Not because my cancer has ‘gone’, far from it, but because I no longer want to be ‘married’ to the labels of my disease.
 
You see, I think many of us, unknowingly, become married to our cancer following a diagnosis. Very quickly we find ourselves in a co-dependent relationship with our disease, avoiding looking at aspects of our lives because we are using our cancer as an excuse to hold us back. I’ve been there too. I’ve done this and I speak from experience.
 
I believe, it is only once we ‘divorce’ and detach that we are able to say ‘who am I without this’ and ‘how has this relationship with cancer changed me, my values and my beliefs.’
 
I no longer want to ever use cancer as an excuse not to do my inner work, not to look at who I am and what needs to heal, not to show up in the world as my authentic self. So, I chose to divorce from it.
 
The ceremony itself was an energetic releasing of the ties to cancer. It was an acknowledging of all that it has brought me (good and bad) and all that it took away (also good and bad).
 
But it wasn’t just about me releasing the ties. It was about my loved ones doing the same too.
 
Each of us wrote a private letter to my cancer in which we expressed our farewell wishes. Some people expressed anger, some expressed gratitude, but ultimately, we were all saying goodbye.
 
None of the letters were read by anyone else, which meant that everyone was able to expre4ss their feelings in unfiltered, raw and open honesty. How often are we able to do that in life?
 
On the night I used shamanic rituals to open a space, calling in the four directions as well as inviting in guardians of the space in the form of the energy of loved ones other members of the circle had previously lost to cancer. I asked many of my shamanic friends to attend the ceremony and together we held a circle of energy for the ritual. I felt truly blessed to be joined by such incredible people.
 
There was music, drumming and chanting as the energy of the ritual built before we each took our turn to burn our letters on the fire and say our final goodbyes to cancer. Many of the group members had experienced cancer in their family lives too and their goodbyes went beyond my own cancer.
 
We also burnt the letters of my loved ones who were not at the ceremony too. In fact, over 30 letters were burnt on Friday night.
 
Everyone who wrote a letter mentioned how healing it was to acknowledge how my cancer has made them feel, to say the things they’ve longed to say, not to me, but to my disease.
 
This ceremony was an acknowledgment that it hasn’t just affected me, it has affected all of us.
 
I wanted to share with you all the letter that I wrote to my cancer. It’s not the whole letter. The whole one was nearly 4000 words. I’ve pasted it below. May it bring you peace and insight into the magic that can unfold when we open a conversation with our disease and with our limitations.
 
With love, Fi xx
 
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“Dear Cancer
 
I want to say that I’m just really angry with you but that would be a lie. In truth, anger is not all that I feel towards you. I am also unbelievably grateful to you too.
 
You see, you enabled me to leave the life that wasn’t serving me. Yes, I could have done it on my own but you and I both know that I wouldn’t have. I needed to get sick. I needed an excuse.
 
You gave me that and, in doing so, you enabled me to not feel guilty when I left that life behind and started to forge a new path in the world. You also enabled me to say no to doing things that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t have to say ‘no’ as such, instead I was able to say ‘no, because of cancer’. It meant that people weren’t angry with me when I said no to things. Instead they were angry with you. I hid behind you in so many ways. You gave me an excuse. I told people that you made me more authentic but, I realise now, that, in so many ways the opposite was true. You actually enabled me to be less authentic. You gave me a mask to hide behind.
 
So, saying goodbye to you is actually really hard because now I will have to do all these things for myself. I won’t have you to hide behind anymore and that’s really scary because, in reality, I’m often really fearful of what other people think and I am often terrible at setting boundaries. With you there I was able to act like I wasn’t but that’s only because people don’t care what you say or do when you have cancer. Well, it’s not that they don’t care but I certainly got away with a lot more while I was able to blame you. I realise now that I’ve been using you as my scape goat. That is so hard to admit but it’s the truth. I’m sorry about that.
 
But, because of you I have grown so much. I have looked at so many aspects of myself that I never would have looked at previously. I have learnt to deal with a lot of things, and I am also healing a lot of aspects of myself that I hadn’t previously known needed healing. Thank you. I am so grateful.
 
Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to go through life being ignorant. But actually, it wouldn’t be easier at all. It would be simpler yes but not easier. So, although it’s hard I am ready for the healing that it will bring me to say goodbye to you and to the excuses you gave me. I am ready to go even deeper with my healing work. I am ready to discover who I really am behind the mask of you that I wore for so long.
 
I am also so grateful for the relationships you brought me. There are so many people in my life now, some of them my best friends, who I only met because of you. Thank you. I genuinely can’t imagine what life would be like without all these people that came into my life because of you and the path you placed me on.
 
If I’m honest, I think that you likely saved my marriage. It’s not that it was failing or in trouble before you arrived by any means, but I was certainly on the trajectory of working harder and harder and pushing myself more and more in a bid to not look at the past traumas and buried emotions I was feeling. I was pushing Ewan (and many other people) away because it was easier but, because of you, I have slowed down and I now value him so much. He is such an incredible and precious man. I took that for granted before. Thank you.
 
I am thankful for all of the amazing experiences I have had because of you too. There have been so many things, too many to mention, all because you came into my life. Thank you.
 
But I am also angry. I am angry at how you sadden my Ewan and my loved ones. I am angry that by being in my life you make them sad and scared. But as I write this, I realise that it is not sadness that they show; it is love. I can’t help then but also be thankful for this too. You have shown me how very loved I am. I didn’t see that before. I couldn’t. I didn’t feel worthy of love and now I do. Now I know that I am worthy and that I have a purpose. You put me on the path to discovering who I am and what my life’s work is, and I am so grateful.
 
It feels really hard to say goodbye to you. I realise that I have interwoven my life with you. We are entangled. The life I have forged over the past four years is so engrained in you. I am scared of what it will be like for me to be authentic without you. I am scared about how I will show up in the world and how I will be received without you as my safety net.
 
I know that I want to change the world, or at least a small part of it, but not because of you. I don’t want that to be my legacy. I want to inspire people because of me. I don’t want people to think of me and then think of cancer. I want my cancer to be a distant memory, but I want my words to inspire, motivate and stay with people, long after my passing.
 
More than anything I want to live a long and healthy life. I don’t want to feel the pain anymore. I don’t want to feel the fear. I remember, before you, thinking that I would live forever. I want that feeling again. I don’t want to be worried constantly that I don’t have time to do all the things that I want to do. But then I guess this is what I tell people all the time, that we may die at any point and so we have to keep doing what we can with joy and passion in our hearts for as long as we are able. So, I guess I am making a commitment now to keep pushing towards my dreams and accept that I could live for many, many years but that I could also die tomorrow. The same could be said for any of us.
 
I really want that you know. I really want to live for many years. I want to be healthy. I want to become an old lady. I want to be free from you. I want you to leave my body. I want you to let me live my life now. It is my greatest wish. My long sought after dream.
 
But, regardless, I promise to commit my life to self-healing and growth and to the healing and growth of others. I promise I will keep striving forward to make the world a better place in the words I teach and the lessons that I share. This is what I want for me. This is what I want for the world. Whether I live until I’m 90 or die in my 30s, my dreams and focus will remain the same.
 
But I know that in order to do this, that I need to energetically say goodbye to you. It’s really hard. You’ve been a part of my life for so long. I am more scared of life without you than of life with you. In fact, it terrifies me. I am terrified of who I will be without you. I am terrified of what my life will be like. I am terrified of how people will treat me. I am terrified of what I will have to face inside of myself. I am terrified of the emotional and spiritual healing work I will have to do on myself and the authenticity I will have to express when I no longer have you to use as an excuse to express it. I am so scared of receiving rejection when I don’t have you to validate my words.
 
I am scared.
 
But I am more scared now of who I will be and how I will be remembered if I don’t release you. I am more scared now that if I don’t do this that I will become overwhelmed by you, and so will the memory of me. I am more scared now of losing sight of all I have the potential to become if I keep hiding behind you.
 
So, as hard as it is, I know that I need to say goodbye to you. I need to find out who I am without you. I need to find out how I can show up in the world without you as my safety net. I believe, only then will I be able to become the best version of myself and the person I was destined to be.
 
So, while I will be forever thankful for so much that you have given me and so grateful for the path you have put me on, it is time for me to say goodbye to you.
 
With gratitude and love for you always. Goodbye.
 
Fi Munro, PhD”
ovarian cancer

‘How long Have I Got?’

Hello!

I am so sorry for the silence on here while I worked on my new book…I have been updating my facebook and instagram so you hopefully knew that I was ok.

Anyway…my book ‘How Long Have I Got?’ is now published and I am about to start my UK book tour!! I am so excited and I truly hope you will be able to come along to one of my events. I would love to meet you xx

Tickets available now on Eventbrite.

Book-Launch

HLHIG Kindle Book CoverHow Long Have I Got? The story of a ‘terminal’ cancer patient

By Fi Munro, Ph.D.

Suitcases filled with medication. Life and death situations. Multiple organ removal.

Risking everything to stay alive just one more day.

And people still moan to you when they have a cold.

Welcome to the life of a ‘terminal’ cancer patient.

In January 2016 thirty-year-old Fi Munro was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Told from day one that her cancer was incurable and ‘terminal’, Fi faced unimaginable pain, heartache and suffering as the life she’d dreamed of was suddenly pulled away from her. Yet in the wake of this news she did not wallow. Instead she discovered a remarkable inner strength, resilience and, above all, a very dark sense of humour.

Years later and she is still here, having outlived, in her opinion, two ‘very unreasonable’ prognoses.

How Long Have I Got? is her inspiring story. Honest, open and often tear-jerking this is everything you wanted to know – and some stuff you’ll want to forget – about living with cancer and an important reminder that we are all terminal. Reading this will change your life forever.

Fi Munro, Ph.D. is a multi award winning researcher, author, blogger, speaker and mentor recognised internationally for her presentations and articles on her journey and the importance of holistic health. She has been featured in two BBC documentaries, in TV and radio shows, and in newspaper and magazine articles across the globe. Today she is healthier and happier than ever before and believes cancer saved her life. She is currently training to be a shaman and is excited for what the future holds.

£9.95 €11.95 $12.95

Available to buy internationally at:
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Warning: some readers of this book have ended their abusive relationships, left their soul destroying jobs and uprooted their lives to follow their dreams.

‘Please read ‘How Long Have I Got?’ Fi has courageously chosen to share her experiences of becoming a warrior – of HAVING to become a warrior. Of having to almost fight for a correct diagnosis of ovarian cancer… and then to fight on with her own extraordinary armoury: joy, light and love. Her generosity in sharing her every step knows no bounds. If you or someone you know has just received a frightening diagnosis – please have this book as your lifeline. I wish my family had had the gift of Fi’s beautifully written account eight years ago when the symptoms of my mother’s ovarian cancer were dismissed. No more of ‘brushing off’. No more dismissal. No more leaving the doctor’s surgery without getting that referral for a scan, exam or test. Take courage and heart from Fi Munro. Oh yes, she’ll make you laugh too.’ – Sarah Greene, television personality

‘Fi is a true cancer warrior and thriver. She has been to the brink, undergone potentially catastrophic surgery and emerged more herself than before. She finds light in darkness.’ – Sophie Sabbage, bestselling author of The Cancer Whisperer and Lifeshocks – And How to Love Them

‘Cancer is a scary word for most people. Putting ‘ovarian’ before it makes many clinicians sigh deeply because of the tough prognosis. Diagnosis often comes late. Raising awareness is vital and that’s why wonderful women like Fi telling their stories is at the heart of what we do as a charity. Fi doesn’t ask ‘why me?’ (statistically it really shouldn’t be her), her call to arms is: ‘this could be any of us so what can we all do?’ Above everything, Fi shows us how to live well with cancer, not to be defined as potentially dying from it.’ – Athena Lamnisos, CEO of The Eve Appeal

‘Fi a rare flashlight in the tunnel of illness. She shows it’s possible to live an extraordinary life with cancer. She empowers, inspires and fills me with hope. We’re all alive, but how many of us are truly living? Fi’s story could save lives and transform beliefs.’ – Sophie Trew, founder of Trew Fields Festival, a ground breaking cancer awareness and holistic health event

‘This book is a powerhouse of useful information from the front lines of a cancer journey. Truth, honesty and practicality shine through; it’s a must read for anyone experiencing or supporting a similar journey.’ – Rhonda McCrimmon, The Travelling Shaman

‘Using her values as a compass Fi shares a message of hope, not fear, about how you can heal your life even if you can’t be cured. A powerful message for us all.’ – Lesley Howells, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Centre Head, Maggie’s

‘Fi is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She has not only brought us all a game changer of a book, it’s also filled with love, positivity, humor, practical insight and huge awareness of what cancer does to the body and mind. It’s a book that changed my life and I now recommend it to everyone.’ – Tina McGuff, best-selling author of Seconds to Snap

‘Fi made a choice to take a leap and live in  her heart.  Her heart centred wisdom, coupled with her fastidious approach to research makes the very best combination. Fi’s book is a generous, hearted and beautiful gift for human kind.’ – Dr Kate James, Integrated Medicine Doctor

‘Fi brings her distinctive voice and perpetual positivity to this wonderful book. Fi and Target Ovarian Cancer share a goal of raising awareness of ovarian cancer, yes – but more than that, of showing the world that you can live a full life after a diagnosis. She is an incredible, inspirational member of a wonderful community and I am full of admiration for all that she does.’ – Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer

“To describe Fi Munro as positive is a massive understatement – she has turned a journey which would have broken the strongest wills into a recognition of what is important in life for everyone.” The Courier

“Anyone suffering from cancer needs to read this book.” The Scottish Sun

“Fi continues to prove an inspiration in her determination to not let a devastating cancer diagnosis ruin her life. Her new book, like so much else, is sure to be a success.”  The Courier

Copyright © 2016-2019 Fi Munro PhD. All Rights Reserved.

ovarian cancer

2018 In Summary and Exciting Plans for 2019 

2018 in Summary – What a Year!

As the year nears its end I wanted to send all of you lovelies a message to thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the past year.

My start to 2018 wasn’t ideal, to say the least, with an emergency admission to hospital due to a collapsed lung resulting in my New Year celebrations involving an Indian takeaway in the respiratory ward at Ninewells!

However, it wasn’t long until I was back on my feet and connecting with you all through events, yoga classes, one to one sessions and, of course, through my blog and social media posts.

——

img_8544A Huge Thank You!

Following the return of my cancer at the start of the year, I took the unconventional route of turning down second line chemotherapy in favour of less invasive maintence therapy. This wouldn’t have been possible without such incredible generosity and support from you all – even now I am in happy tears just thinking how incredible you all are. Thank you! Without you I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today.

——

The Highs

In so many ways this year was absolutely amazing! I completed my training as a Reiki Practitioner, Crystal Therpist and pregnancy, post natal and mother and baby yoga teacher! I also started my training as a shaman.

I spoke at some wonderful events, including Trew Fields FestivalTrew Fields Festival – a joyous experience where I connected with so many like minded souls. I am excited for next year’s festival already! I also spoke at Pecha Kucha Dundee – featuring my now infamous ‘ain’t dead yet motherf**kers slide’!

I was featured in lots of press, including, most recently, The Courier who recognised me as one of 100 people making an impact in Tayside and Fife in 2018 – an unexpected honour!

I was also in another BBC Film – this one was for The BBC Social and was all about ‘self-care’.

AND…I was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Charles!

A highlight for me though has to be the incredible Lindsey Gardiner Artist creating one of the Maggie’s Penguins off the back of my story leading me to teaching children yoga. It was so exciting to be involved in the parade and attend the auction!

Of course, this year also saw me secure a place as the only Scottish stage four ovarian cancer patient on an immunotherapy trial. The results so far are exceeding all of our expectations and – despite the despair of the start of the year – I am hopeful and excited for what 2019 has in store for me!

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2019 – What Next?

I have some big plans for 2019!

New Book

First of all I will be launching the second edition of my book! ‘The Peaceful Warrior – releasing the healing power within’ is due to hit the shelves in January. It features a new cover, new chapters and new (never seen before!) insights into my healing journey. I can’t wait for you all to read it.

Remember that the first edition will no longer be available for sale once the new book is released!

Book Tour

I will be going on a book tour to help ensure that my words and insights reach as many people as possible – however I am asking you to chose where I am going! If you want me to come to your local town then get in touch and we can see what we can do!

I will be holding an official book launch in my local city – look out for tickets going on sale in January.

Workshops

I will be hosting workshops throughout the year starting with one on 9th March alongside Claire Standen of Rising Strong – my wonderful colleague and empowerment coach. Tickets for this event are on sale now!

I will be sharing details of further events at the start of the year.

Retreat!

AND…drum roll…Claire and I will be hosting a retreat in Dunkeld on 14th-17th November 2019! We are limiting spaces to just 10 people so do look out for tickets going on sale in January or send me a message about paying a deposit to secure your space now!

Yoga – some sad news…

With so much other exciting stuff going on in my life it didn’t suprise me when my instinct started telling me not to run any yoga classes at the start of 2019. Always an advocate for listening to our intuition – it did save my life after all! – I know that I have to honour this. So, as hard as it is, I will not be running any yoga classes until March 2019.

I also won’t be taking on any new one-to-one mentoring clients during this time.

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I want to end this message by thanking you all for your incredible support throughout 2018. I can’t wait to see you all in 2019!

Wishing you all a fantastic time with you loved ones over the festivities.

Love and Light, Fi xx

ovarian cancer

Life is Precious

In the early hours of Sunday morning, after a lovely Saturday evening with friends, Ewan and I ended up as the first responders to a young woman who was hit by a car at 60mph…through no fault of the driver I hasten to add and, in fact, I send the driver so much love and compassion as they heal from this trauma too.

I lay in the road with the young woman until the police and ambulance arrived and then I helped the ambulance crew.

Her injuries, unsurprisingly, were extensive and very traumatic to witness. It is unbelievable, in fact, that she was still alive. The police told me that my actions, and first aid training, saved her life.

While I was with her I kept telling her my name and that I was there for her and I wasn’t going to let anyone touch her until paramedics arrived. Like a lioness with its cub I fought off two guys who wanted to roll her onto her back. I knew she had a spinal injury and, because she was still breathing, that this could be a potentially life threatening decision.

I know I was meant to be there. I could feel it the whole time and felt guided in my actions to protect her and preserve her life.

But the reality of knowing that she could die at any time in my arms was terrifying. I could literally feel my soul pleading with hers to stay with me.

One of the most powerful moments was when the paramedics arrived I said ‘I’ll get out your way’ and they said ‘no, you’ve been managing this scene’ and handed me a pair of gloves so I could help. Them valuing my actions is a great comfort for me.

I knelt in this woman’s blood as I helped them to cut off her clothes to assess her injuries. All the time I was talking to her and reassuring her. I have never felt such an instant human connection with a complete stranger.

I am so grateful to the emergency services for their support for this woman, me and the driver.

I feel so much love for the driver who hit her and we had a precious moment hugging each other afterwards as two women who will forever be connected by a traumatic event.

I also feel so much love too for the woman who was hit and I hope that she has the support and protection around her that she needs. I truly hope she finds the inner strength to survive her injuries.

I am sharing this with you all for two reasons. Firstly, this was extremely traumatic for me and I want to talk about it rather than hold it in my body and risk PTSD. I have already arranged an appointment with a therapist for this week in a bid to be proactive in my mental and emotional health – something I encourage others to do too.

Secondly, this offers a reminder for us all of how fragile and precious life really is. I have stage four cancer and thought I had a good understanding of my own mortality but holding this woman and her wounded body made me realise the fine line we all – not just cancer warriors – walk between life and death and the importance of living each day with compassion and love for ourselves and others.

I have no doubt that I will be processing this for a while as I strive for ‘post traumatic growth’ and I plan to take you all on this journey with me.

This evening, and always, I am wishing you all healing and hope you know you are not alone on your journeys.

Fi xx

UPDATE..the police have called me to say that the woman is alive but with very serious injuries. Her family are with her. Please hold her and those who love her in your hearts.

PLEASE NOTE – I do NOT consent to press coverage of this post.

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer, positivity, yoga

Do You ‘Self-Destruct’?

Have you ever slipped into ‘self-destruction’ mode when what you really needed was ‘self-care’?

I certainly have…and more recently than you might think!

Lately I’ve found myself making all kinds of excuses for this – ‘I’ve lost a lot of weight I should eat high calorie processed food to regain it’ – ‘my body is tired, it’s ok to eat sugar’ – ‘I’m too exhausted to go out in nature today’ – and you should see my Amazon purchases after a hospital admission!…yes all books but no definitely not ones I needed!

All of these were excuses for not supporting my body, mind and spirit to properly recover. Instead I was giving myself a hard time, not acknowledging reality and, in fact, making my situation worse through self-judgment rather than much needed self-love.

Realisation, finally, hit me yesterday when I said to my nurse “I’m just too tired to do anything” – now, firstly, dramatic statements like this (in my experience) are usually just excuses and secondly, her reply was the wake up all I needed.

She reminded me what I’ve been through lately: 9 weeks of vomiting; 10 days in and out of hospital; two stone weight loss; an abdominal drain of malignant fluid; being told my cancer had spread (again); an IV of two broad spectrum antibiotics for a week; unable to eat for over a month; starting an immunotherapy trial…need I go on?

I realised that despite all of this happening, what I hadn’t done was give myself the necessary time to properly understand the effect this has had on my emotional and spiritual health.

Yes I’d started lots of self care practices – yoga, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, Body Stress Release etc but I had done so with the frustrated mentality of ‘why isn’t it fixed yet?!’

What I’d needed to do instead was to treat the wounded parts of myself with care and compassion (like you would a small child – a friend recently suggested)

So yesterday I embraced what these parts needed (in particular after a long day in hospital getting dose two of my immunotherapy) – an afternoon cuddling my hubby in the sofa with Ozzy watching comedies…tick!

Then today I did the same. I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn like usual but instead had a lazy morning getting up only in time for my medication; then I sat about in my pjs eating a leisurely breakfast while watching Ted talks before me and Ozzy set out for a long walk in nature just the two of us – allowing me some valuable alone time in nature.

It feels so refreshing to be giving myself ‘permission’ to acknowledge that I am wounded rather than fighting this reality with frustration. In doing so, I am allowing myself the time it takes to truly heal and become whole again.

I wonder if you’ve acknowledged the wounds you’ve gained recently or in the past and if you’ve given yourself permission to take the time and space you need(ed) to heal?

Or perhaps you can relate to being in the ‘self-destruct’ mode through diet, exercise, indulgent or impulsive shopping, self judgement or anything else?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Love and light, Fi xxx

ovarian cancer

How I Thrive with Stage Four Cancer

Hello!

I am Fi Munro – ‘Health Blogger of the Year 2017′; Macmillan Cancer Support 2017 ‘Sir Hugh Dundas Volunteer of the Year Award’; Scottish Fundraiser of the Year 2016; award winning PhD researcher and author of “Love, Light and Mermaid Tails”.

I’m also a yoga teacher; reiki and crystal therapist; intuitive life coach and, now, a trainee shamanic practitioner 🙌🏼

In January 2016, aged just 30 years old, I was diagnosed with non-genetic stage four ovarian cancer.

There is no stage five. At the time of diagnosis my cancer was terminal.

Suddenly, everything I had identified as ‘me’ came to a stand still. In one moment, after months of pain, tests and assurances that it was “nothing to worry about”, my instinct had proved right and my worst fears had been realised.

Yet, just seven months later I was in remission, and healthier than I’d ever been before.

Life before cancer had seen me working as an award winning researcher specialising in health and healthcare.

Using my expertise as a researcher I dedicated my time to understanding everything I could about my diagnosis and subsequent prognosis. I was not prepared to be a statistic. I was not prepared to die. I was going to be the change.

In the months that followed, understanding my diagnosis, recovery and health became my full time job. The more I researched, the more I uncovered about the possible causes of cancer. I began to realise that whilst I appeared ‘healthy’ there was still much repairing to be done to remove the life-sucking ‘crap’ I’d accumulated over the years…a previous abusive relationship; personal traumas; a stressful job; societal pressure; excessive and damaging exercise routines…the list goes on…

So, knowing I needed to do some deep inner work, I gave myself permission to dedicate my time to my health and recovery.

Not a single stone was left unturned as I examined every aspect of my life and, guided by my instinct, I began to make changes.

And do you know what? Wonderful things started to happen.

Just 12 weeks after being told my cancer was inoperable because, not only had it spread throughout the organs in my abdominal cavity but also into my chest cavity, I was approved for surgery. Cancer was no longer evident on my lungs. In fact, the scans weren’t showing any visible signs of cancer anywhere in my body. Amazing huh?!

So, in May 2016 I underwent a 12-hour operation during which they removed my cervix, womb, tubes, ovaries, appendix, spleen, ommentum, part of my liver, part of my bowel (I now have a colostomy bag), part of my pancreas and part of my diaphragm. It was the most radical operation the surgical team had ever performed in one sitting on a patient with stage four cancer.

I’m not going to lie, the weeks that followed were torture. However, just eight weeks after my operation I was on no painkillers, walking 2 miles a day and loving life!

My incredible healing didn’t stop there. Just twelve weeks after this major surgery I began training as a yoga instructor and went on to launch my own yoga business and I knew I was different. I knew something magical was happening inside of my body that was allowing me to live a full and happy life despite my diagnosis.

In August 2016 I was told that my cancer was in remission. Just seven months after being told I had stage four, inoperable cancer I was completely free of the disease. I wasn’t living with cancer anymore. I was surviving and I was THRIVING!

I knew then that I had to share with others what I had done to change my life, the wonderful lessons cancer had brought me and why I am grateful and give thanks for my diagnosis every single day that I’m alive to tell my story.

Since then my cancer has recurred (December 2017). This time it caused a collapsed lung. I was told that without further chemo that my lung woul keep filling with fluid and I would, inevitably, die. However, I was emotionally and mentally stronger than I had been when I was first diagnosed and I was more in tune with my body and what it needed. So, despite advise, I turned down having my lung filled with talc to ‘help it’ and I turned down chemotherapy.

Instead I took the time I needed to recover, heal and become whole again with the support of a range of alternative therapies. I also used western medicine in the form of a privately sourced drug called Avastin – this cost over £2000 per month and was only possible through generous donations (gofundme.com/fimunro)

I had been served another life lesson and I was paying attention. I stood by my values and beliefs and did what felt right for ‘me’. The universe supported this and my disease stabilised. My cancer markers even dropped 70% ….without any chemo!

From July until September 2018 I was given another ‘curve ball’ when I had months of constant vomiting. Various tests (including a frightening brain scan) could not find the cause as I grew increasingly weak. I lost two stone in weight from my already small frame and spent a week in hospital kept alive by a drip, unable to even stomach water.

Then miraculously…literally over night…the vomiting stopped after I saw an energy healer who told me they had removed a ‘wayward spirit’ from my body.

During this time I became the first U.K. patient to start a drug trial* for recurrent non BRCA ovarian cancer. I continue to be on this trial supported by acupuncture, reiki, body stress release therapy, shamanism, energy healing, yoga, nature, massage, swimming, diet…and so much helps more!

My journey isn’t easy but I wouldn’t change a single moment of the bad because it not only makes me value the good but it has made me into the person I am and I love the person cancer made me – she’s a mother fucking warrior!

We all face adversity. Each and every day brings new challenges and sometime despair. But life is a gift and an adventure waiting to be embraced and enjoyed. It is possible to live a fulfilling and grateful life through adversity. At any given moment we can decide ‘this is not how my story ends’ and begin to rewrite our story.

Cancer taught me how to live a deep and fulfilling life. Rather that making me fear death, it taught me how to love life and how to live each day full of joy and laughter. I want to share with you how cancer has healed my life; the wonderful lessons it has brought me; and why I am grateful and give thanks for my diagnosis every single day that I’m alive to tell my story.

My website is a guide for everyone, not just those with cancer, who wants to embrace a healthier and self-caring approach to their life. It explores how you too can embrace a life with complete physical, mental and emotional health. May it bring you hope, peace and, above all, joy.

Love and light to all xxx

http://www.fkmunro.com

To book a one-to-one session please drop me a message 💖

Love, Light and Mermaid Tails” by Fi Munro (PhD) is available to buy now worldwide on Amazon in paperback and for kindle.

UK – http://amzn.eu/iAKYI4F

Kindle – http://amzn.eu/1Ls2TCj

USA – http://a.co/jkQx2fl

#pleaseshare

* I started the immunotherapy trail on 4.9.18. The drugs are :- Durvalumab through IV every 4 weeks; Avastin through IV every 2 weeks; and Olaparib as tablets twice daily. The study leads are keen to recruit more patients so, if you think you meet the guidelines, please do ask your oncologist about the Mediola Phase I/II Study for non BRCA patients. Please note, I am not able to put you in touch with the study leads under any circumstances. Instead please speak directly with your own oncologist. Thank you. I wish you all healing. xxx

ovarian cancer

Why I’m Having a ‘Yes Fast’

I have always been a people pleaser and a yes sayer. Guided by a ‘what will they think?’ mentality I have often found myself doing (and agreeing to do) things that I later regret or wonder how the fuck I got myself into that situation in the first place.

You would think that following my cancer diagnosis this would have been one of the first mentalities to go – I mean I have done a shit ton of internal and spiritual work – but sadly this was not the case.

Instead, even when I was at my sickest and receiving chemo and awaiting major surgery, I found myself agreeing to be filmed in not one, but two(!) documentaries. Exciting? Yes. Exhausting and time consuming? Absofuckinglutely!

And this is just one example! I could give you at least a hundred more but I’m sure you get the idea or, at least, can relate.

I was reflecting on this recently and began to wonder whether I say yes to please others or, actually, because of the fear of missing out if I say no. So, to test this theory in a typical ‘all or nothing Fi approach to life’ I decided that for one month I would say yes…to everything! It was supposed to start the day after my fire walk as I was feeling bold and refreshed and I thought it would lead to new adventures, encounters and more.

However, instead, something unexpected happened. I found myself saying no – a lot. In fact even to things I wanted to say yes to. The complete opposite of what I had planned!!

Now, having spent many years as a ‘people pleaser’ and quite often as a ‘yes person’ this was an odd rebellion. It felt like a switch had been triggered and my sub-conscious had become so resistant to me being a yes person that it was directing me in the completely opposite direction.

I pondered this for several months and, in doing so, I began to really reflect on what I was saying yes to and who these people were I was trying to please.

I realised, like so many other things in life, that it is a societal illusion that we must please others and that, in reality, there is no need – at all! -to please ‘them’ – whoever ‘they’ may be – but instead to honour only our own hearts, values and purpose. As a good friend of mine puts it “we are responsible only for our own happiness.” She also tells me that ‘they’ are usually assholes! She actually has a pretty kick ass website I recommend while we’re on the subject…

So, once again, I took an ‘all or nothing’ approach and decided to start a ‘yes fast’. That’s right, I made the decision to say no to everything.

In just the first week I turned down three press interviews, a research study and being filmed in a third documentary! And, miraculously, the world did not fall apart when I said no. Surprising I know…

Now, the ‘old me’ would have said yes to all of this, despite having just had 10 days in hospital and being very very sick, to please others and/or to not ‘miss out’. Instead I got to have valuable recovery time, focus on my health (in every sense of the word), spend quality time with my loved ones and truly honour my heart, soul and body in a way that felt right to me.

Over the following weeks I continued to say no and, in doing so, I leant three valuable lessons.

1. I now know what I want to say yes to. If the ‘thing’ in question uplifts me, inspires me, makes my heart sing or fills me with excitement and joy in that moment then it’s a yes. Lunch with a friend – yes. Day at the spa by myself – yes. Penguin auction – yes. Nap on the sofa – yes. And so on and so on.

And, on my better days when I have more spoons of energy, a press interview becomes a yes, but not at the expense of my health and absolutely not to please someone else.

2. I also learnt how to say no. Now this may seem like a really simple thing to do, and on paper it certainly seems that way. However, how many times have you said yes when your heart and soul were screaming no but you didn’t know how to say it because you were worried you would a. Let someone down; b. Hurt someone’s feelings; c. Lower someone’s opinion of you….or any other number of reasons?

However, saying no is actually really easy. Here are a few examples:

  • Let me get back to you.
  • This gives you time to think about whether or not you want to do something without rushing into an automatic yes mentality.
  • • Thank you so much for asking but that won’t work for me just now.

    You aren’t saying it will always be no, but just that it is no for now. This has been great for me while I’ve been needing time to heal – I’m not saying ‘never’, I’m saying ‘not now’.

    • Yes, but can we do it this way?

    Maybe the date, location, timings, activity (etc) don’t work but you still want to say yes. For example, a friend might ask me to meet for dinner. My energy levels are best during the day so I might say ‘I’d love to meet but is there a lunch time that works for you?’

    • Just say ‘no, thank you’.

    Sometimes the answer is just simply ‘no’. And, if done in a kind way, it doesn’t need an explanation. A simple ‘thank you’ is more than enough.

    3. I’ve learnt that saying ‘no’ doesn’t cause you to miss out. In fact, when you say ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do you free up physical and emotional space to say ‘yes’ to things you do want to do – and that’s way more fun!

    Learning how to say no has been one of the most empowering changes I’ve made in my life. I’m finally putting my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being first and, more importantly, I’ve given myself permission to honour and respect myself enough to be completely authentic in my choices. This, of course, is scary and raw and exciting all at the same time because, as hard as we try, I think, in reality, we always hold a bit of ourselves back to protect ourselves and others. But when we finally step into our true selves and start to say ‘yes’ to who we really are and ‘no’ to who other people think thinks we are, wonderful things start to happen.

    Also, when we start to say no because we value and honour ourselves, we give others the permission to do the same – and then everyone’s happier!

    I wonder if any of you lovelies have ever done a ‘yes fast’? Or maybe you did a ‘say yes to everything’ month? Or can you relate to trying to please others?

    I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections.

    Above all, I hope this article inspires you to start saying ‘yes’ to what makes your heart sing and ‘no’ to everything else.

    Love and light, Fi xx

    I am posting regular, daily updates about my treatment and journey on Facebook and Instagram.

    Please come and say hi!xxx