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The moment my life was turned upside down

Scared and alone: a cancer diagnosis leaves you frozen in suspense and uncertainty

This is part one of an extract from my upcoming book Find your Light as a Warrior Woman. Don’t miss part two tomorrow.

It was a sunny August morning. I was sitting in the doctor’s office in Vancouver, waiting for my gynecologists test results and happily chatting on the phone with my fiancé. We talked about my trip to meet him the next day, and our upcoming wedding the day after on a spectacular island in the wilderness of Northern Minnesota.

Life had never been so beautiful and so favourable to me; it had never shone with such exotic colours. Nor had life ever opened in front of me with such limitless opportunities. And, for the first time in my life, I was desperately in love.

Tanned, toned, active, energetic, and cheerful, with long red hair flying in the wind, I laughed at my age. My motto was “50 years is only the beginning of life”, and I wanted to prove it true. I was always on the move, I danced and lived excitedly. I laughed and enjoyed each new day. Ahead of me awaited grandiose prospects: I was going to “conquer the island”, open a Wellness business; be successful and recognisable. I was going to be a wife and stepmother of a 11-year-old girl. All of life lay in front of me. This feeling was breathtaking. The white-haired, handsome gynecologist slowly entered the room. He sat down on a chair next to me, took my hand and looked straight into my eyes. My heart sank.

“I know it’s not what you want to hear, but you have cancer. You need surgery as soon as possible,” he said gently and firm at the same time.

My whole life in this one brutal moment was split into two parts — before his words and after. And, I knew that there was no return to my previous carefree, beautiful and easy life. From that exact moment everything would be different. The door of my previous life slammed shut without even asking my permission.

I was in another world, where I was told about the survival rate and what my chances were. I was immediately placed in a terribly unfair and cold reality where I felt scared, hurt, lonely, and shocked. I shivered uncontrollably. This is the world where we are not called people but survivors. I was at war. Suddenly, irrevocably, I began a long, exhausting battle with a formidable enemy, cunningly hiding inside me. It had been hiding there for years, but it punched me in the worst possible moment. You could even say that it sent me a direct, accurate and hard-hitting right, a knock-down. I did not know if I could get up.

After this cruel meeting, I sat for a long time in the waiting room. I’ve never been seriously ill in my life, rarely went to doctors or took medications. I was stunned, destroyed, startled, shocked to the very core. “It can not be true, I do not drink, do not smoke, I exercise every day, I have such an active life, I have never felt healthier!”

I was thinking, “I’ve got a wedding, I have more plans than Napoleon! My days and months are already charted far ahead. This is not true, it does not happen. Why is it happening to me?”

How I envy the people who are able to cry in such situations. It would have been much easier if I could cry loudly and bitterly. Tears came to me later, inconsolable, and endless. But then, everything inside me was frozen in suspense and uncertainty

From that moment, I learnt to live differently. To think differently, feel, understand and accept the new me and my new condition. I made a vital decision that kept me going though the pain and suffering of many months. It was my choice not to be a victim of my situation, but a winner. I will win the battle no matter what. I will look and feel good.

I will learn how to do it. I had to forget about the unfairness of life. There is no time to be weak.

I have to fight hard to overcome my illness and continue to live. Live for the sake of my husband, daughters, mother, relatives, friends, readers, students, pupils. I want to be with the people I love and who love me. I want to see the sun and the ocean, to dance and laugh. I dream to publish a new book and see other countries. I want to enjoy gentle smiles, yellow sunflowers, colourful fish, white boats and splashes of turquoise water. I desire so much to help, support and motivate people.

On February 9 from 6pm to 7.30pm. I will lead a free Wellness Workshop with Bermuda Cancer and Health Center. The topics are: support, needs, positive thinking, and boosting energy level. Please call Nina London at 518-1633 or Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre at 236-1001 to confirm your participation. You are not alone. We can walk this road together.

• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: www.ninalondon.com