Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” The healing power of sharing my cancer story compelled me to found WWGN. I'm an inspirational speaker, contributor at CURE and Positively Positive, Huffington Post blogger, support volunteer with Cancer Hope Network, member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board, patient educator with Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, wife and mother, and a former very stressed out lawyer.
I keep going because I believe that even if we can’t erase the difficult parts of our story, and we can’t control how or when it’s going to end, each of us has the ability, right here, right now, to dream audaciously and ask ourselves the question, “Why not?” Terri Wingham
I've written before about Terri Wingham. In a nutshell, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and chemotherapy, quit her job, volunteered in Africa, gave up her apartment, spent six months volunteering around the globe, and created a foundation to support other survivors starting their own "fresh chapter."
Terri freely admits that none of this came easily and she has experienced fear every day for the last two years. Yet, she keeps going because she asked "Why not?" and that "spark of possibility saved my life."
Terri's recent talk, the video of which you can watch below, got me thinking about the power of "Why not?" This seemingly simple question goes hand-in-hand with another question, Are you "going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure." Joseph Campbell
The power of saying "Yes" comes from listening to our inner voice, letting it lead us out of our comfort zone and into our adventure. Those of us who live with cancer actually have an advantage here. We've been catapulted out of our comfort zones and have the clearest of reasons to say "Yes" to our adventure:
There is formidable power in those two little words. They can make crazy, audacious dreams, such as foundations, books, websites and rehabilitative exercise programs, reality. But, and this is important, they can also birth "little things" with amazing significance. After cancer treatment, I started doing yoga, donating blood, writing, and practicing mindfulness. The more I started asking myself "Why not?" the easier it was to get to "Yes" in every area of my life.
If saying "Yes" still feels unnatural to you, try it the other way around: "Why can't I say "Yes" to myself?" If you can't come up with any solid, good reasons, then go for it! From How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment
Terri dreamed an audacious dream and asked herself, "Why not?" Whatever it is you want to do after cancer treatment, ask yourself "Why not?" and start saying "Yes" to your adventure now.
I won several items I can't wait to tell you about, but this Survivor's Nest post is about my Refresh: Energy Boost Home Candle by Neom Organics. I have to tell you how much I love this candle.
A delicious, bracing fragrance hit me before I even opened the box. It's described as a "cheerful blend that enlivens the body and recharges the soul. The perfect morning energy boost or pre night out pick-me-up." And it really is! If you're feeling groggy, unfocused or just plain tired, this is the fragrance for you.
More exciting than the fragrance is how it's delivered. As I learn more and more about the chemicals we take in and the cancers they cause, I've been less willing to burn candles in my home. Plus, soot is a nasty problem. That's why I'm so excited to discover this candle. It's made using only vegetable wax and pure essential oils (rather than synthetic fragrances) so it burns without releasing harmful pollutants, toxins and soot.
Plus, it works as a powerful holistic treatment as you breathe in the scented air. I'm burning it right now as I write this post and I'm inhaling deeper, enjoying the smell and feel of the air in my lungs. Anything that encourages me to stop and breathe is a very good thing.
I love the beneficial ingredients:
Paper and cotton wicks that are lead free
100% all-natural vegetable wax only (NO paraffin wax - so no carcinogens and no black soot)
100% pure essential oils (NO synthetic chemicals or fragrance)
No "binding chemicals" that make the wax stick to the sides of the glass, so every last drop is used and there is no waste.
So, thank you Terri and O&N Collective, Inc., for the wonderful surprise of actually winning something (which never happens to me.) That it is safe, non-toxic, organic and natural makes it that much better. I'm a convert.
Have you been looking for safer, non-toxic alternatives to bring into your nest? This is one of my happy discoveries (another serendipity moment!) Try it yourself, or think of it if you need a great gift. I highly recommend it! I also recommend checking out Terri's Adventure of Hope. She's a woman on a mission lighting candles wherever she goes and I'm proud to support her and hope you will too.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain
I'm doing something I've never done before with today's Survivor's Nest post - I'm talking about a person. This is a courageous woman with cancer who doesn't even have a nest of her own - she is homeless right now and has been for the past several months.
Last fall, we agreed to meet at a little coffee shop in Hoboken, NJ. It was a bit of a ride for me and I am not a fan of city driving, but I really wanted to meet her. When I got there, she was already sitting, with her cup of tea, looking very relaxed. Just a short time before, she had given up her apartment in Vancouver, sold her belongings and traveled to various places within the US, to wind up here with me in Hoboken. After my jittery ride, I was very impressed with her easy adventurousness.
As we spoke, she revealed that her drive into Hoboken had been scary. There was tons of traffic, sudden lane changes and complicated directions which were less than accurate. She was stressed out about driving around in strange cities, in someone else's car, trying to get from A to B. I watched her walk away from me after we said good-bye, alone and unsure of where she had parked her car. All I could think was how much more impressed I was with her courage now that I knew it didn't come easily.
I'm talking about Terri Wingham and today is her birthday. She is 33 and presently in Giseny, Rwanda, where she is volunteering at an orphanage. Why is she there? Remember my post two days ago, Courageous Women with Cancer Part 2? In it, I talked about women I've met who have taken their cancer experience and created a new normal of power and meaning. Well, Terri is the epitome of that ideal.
Prior to her double mastectomy, Terri was a young executive powerhouse. After cancer, she quit her job to find a more meaningful calling. She signed up for a volunteer program in Africa, which led to her present adventure: a trip around the world to volunteer on almost every continent. Her dream is to create a foundation so other cancer survivors can volunteer overseas and benefit as much as she has from her "Adventure of Hope."
To date, she has volunteered with cancer patients in Viet Nam and India. After her tour in Rwanda, she will move on to Peru, Madrid and Costa Rica. Although Terri doesn't have a nest to call her own right now, she still needs to fund her travel. I'll be donating again today as a birthday present to a woman I greatly admire. If you can, please consider supporting this courageous woman with cancer.
I could never change my life the way that Terri has. But, the specifics of her life aren't the issue. What matters is that we are all living a new life post-cancer and each day, whatever it throws at us, we face it courageously. We each have a story to tell and each story is inspiring. To hear more of Terri's story, I'll leave her to tell it in her own words.
The main goal of WWGN is to support cancer survivors finished with treatment and asking the inevitable question, "Where do I go now?" That question, so simple, yet so profound, invites infinite possible answers as we rewrite the stories of our pre-cancer lives by living our lives beyond cancer as fully as we can.
Today, I want to direct you to someone else’s blog, because she has written about an issue that needs our attention. In the midst of facing her fear of cancer recurrence, Terri Wingham steps away from her own suffering and asks us to consider the agony of the 11.3 million people across East Africa who urgently need food and medical supplies.
I live in a nice house and am able to provide my children with plenty of food. I also live in a country that, right now, can’t seem to get it together politically. I am overloaded on words like “crisis,” “tragedy,” and “meltdown.” Every day I turn on the television, or read the newspaper, I feel greater and greater anxiety about our future.
In the midst of all the political news, has been the news about Somalia. For the most part, I have done my best to ignore it. It seems just too horrendous and too far away. But, as Terri reminded me, we must do more than give in to our own discomfort by looking away.
We have all faced suffering as cancer survivors, but if we are alive and our children are well-nourished, we have much to be grateful for. Let’s show that gratitude by giving hope to others who are suffering so much.
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