Today’s guest blogger is a friend to Aim2Walk and a roll model to many. She’s a breast cancer survivor who dedicates her time and energy to educating others on the importance of a healthy life style. Thank you Nalie, you are truly an inspiration!
1- It’s okay to say NO!
I’ve always been a people pleaser. If someone asks me to do something, I’m always looking to help. But having cancer taught me that time is precious, and life is short! As much as I want to be there for everything and everyone at all times, I learnt to prioritize certain people and projects that I personally, genuinely care about! I no longer have the FOMO, and I learnt to stop splitting myself in 5. Basically, I finally say NO to things I don’t want to do, or that don’t benefit me spiritually, physically, emotionally or financially. But I have no fear of saying YES to what I love!
2- Love & respect your body to see healthy changes.
Being stripped away from my most feminine assets; living without hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, breast and a weak body covered in scars, I was brought down to my lowest point! I had no choice but to seek my inner beauty and try to understand what really, made me, me! I learned to accept my body after all it’s been through. I was proud of it! Amazed by its strength to heal and survive. And now, because I learned to love & respect my body, I choose to take care of it. Because I feel that’s what it deserves. Since then, I’ve lost 15 pounds and I am almost back to my pre-chemo weight. I plan to train my body to be as strong as my new mind.
3- You’re only as sick as you say you’re sick!
Just like a bad day… is only as bad as you say it is. You’ll only be in as much pain as you say you’re in! I learned that the mind is extremely powerful and has full control of our body. My TED talk was 3 days after my 2nd phase of reconstruction. If I didn’t have my TED talk, I can guarantee that I’d be moaning in bed, in pain and agony, unable to stand up by myself on that same day. But because I was so excited and motivated to do my speech, that morning I felt no pain. I got up by myself. Slowly got ready, bandages and all beneath my clothes, and gave the best speech of my life, as if I were never cut up just 72 hours ago. I learned that when you find something you love to do, you’ll never need a “sick day”.
4- Stress is self-created.
When I went to Thailand, from the busy streets of Bangkok, the peaceful temples in Chiang Mai to the relaxing beaches on the islands, I couldn’t help but realize a void of something so present in our society: stress! It almost seemed non-existent. Perhaps it’s due to their strong Buddhist beliefs, or maybe from their consistent gorgeous weather. But really, I learned that stress… is an illusion! We create our own stress. We breed our own stress. We feed our own stress. Until it feels so real that it affects us physically. I learned that the events that happen to us do not cause stress, but more so, how we react to them!
5- Helping someone is the most fulfilling and rewarding aspect of life.
I’ve travelled to the most beautiful places in the world. I’ve received the most generous gifts. I’ve seen high enough numbers on a pay cheque. I’ve been recognized in the streets and experienced a tiny bit of “fame”. But I learned that you will only truly feel fulfilled when you know that you are making a difference in the world or in someone’s life in your very own special way! We all have a gift, being able to share it and put it to service is our purpose. Find your purpose. It will change everything!
6- If you want to do something, just do it!
Everyone has dreams, goals and plans. But people spend so much time procrastinating, waiting for the perfect moment and preparing for it! I used to be a perfectionist so I know! I learned that it’s always best to just DO IT! Go for it! Give it a shot. Because I learned way more from trial and error than I ever have from meticulously planning and preparing. The trick is to learn as you go! The truth is, nothing will ever be perfect. Because every day, you grow and learn new and better things! But that’s okay, because you can always just update and upgrade from there! Implementation is the hardest, but most crucial step to following your dreams.
7- Life doesn’t get easier, you have to get stronger.
For some reason, I had this weird theory in my head, that as soon as I beat cancer, nothing bad could ever happen to me EVER AGAIN! Because, that just wouldn’t be fair right? WRONG! For example, after losing our beloved family dog to brain cancer while I was in the middle of my chemotherapy treatments. I got a new dog for myself, who was like a child to me… and yet he passed away from a congenital disease a couple of weeks after completing my 2nd phase of reconstruction! Losing my puppy was by far harder than the first time, since he was like MY baby! But the way I dealt with it was completely different. I mourned and I grieved for a shorter while, as I was able to focus on the positive side, such as the joy he brought to my life during that one year I needed him most. I learned that the more you love, the more you have to lose, but that the strongest people are those who choose to love anyway.
8- There is always something good that comes out of the bad. Always.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I continue to believe that everything happens for a reason! But that reason can only be discovered if you accept your misfortune. Don’t deny it. Embrace it. And once you truly understand what has happened to you; Learn from it. Build up from it. Turn your misfortune, into fortune. I learned to not just find my silver lining, but to paint it gold.
9- Positivity is the most powerful tool.
Remaining positive doesn’t mean that you’re ALWAYS happy! Let’s face it, we’re human! We all get sad, angry and emotional from time to time. But I learned that remaining positive can help conquer your deepest fears and accomplish your biggest dreams. Why? Firstly, positive energy attracts positive vibes! It is highly contagious when sincerely expressed. Same thing goes for negative energy… So be careful with what you choose to spread! Secondly, it eliminates worry and stress! And worrying, is the number one way to waste your time. Lastly, it breaks down barriers and allows you to move forward! I learned being positive simply means, trusting that everything will be okay.
10- You can only love someone as much as you love yourself.
I now have the healthiest relationships I’ve ever had in my life. Whether it’s with my boyfriend, family, group of friends, I feel like I can respectfully give them all the love they deserve, now that I know what I am worth. Did you notice whenever we feel unfulfilled or angry with ourselves, we tend to reflect that irritation towards the people who are closest to us? Those who tend to remind us of us, like our partners, brothers, sisters and parents. The ones we love the most! Often, we choose to blame others, because we don’t want to be held accountable for our own mistakes. We are embarrassed. We are ashamed. Having had cancer, I was given time to reflect and be more self-aware of what bothers me, and makes me unhappy. And although I’ve been backstabbed and lied to just like everyone else, I realized those issues and people are irrelevant. I learned that you can truly only love someone, when you learn to love yourself.
People often ask me, “What’s your best life advice?” My response “Never Hide!” It was my motto when battling breast cancer at only 24 years old. It was my reason behind starting my blog Nalie.ca, where I publicly share my experience online. And it is what helped me, not only beat cancer, but be the person I’ve always dreamed to be!
When we hide aspects of who we are, whether it’s our illness, insecurities, sexuality, or imperfections, we are inhibiting ourselves to live our purpose and make an impact in this world. By “coming out of the closet”, you can open a door to endless opportunities!
My talk shares vulnerable yet powerful moments of my breast cancer journey where choosing not to hide, allowed me to live my life to the fullest! I will provide examples of how sharing the most negative moments of my life helped turn them into positive experiences.
This speech not only spreads awareness that breast cancer isn’t just an old woman’s disease, but it teaches the benefits of self-love and acceptance in a world where it’s just too easy to “hide”.