Was there a defining moment when your life took on a greater meaning?
There were several defining moments over the past year and a half. Being faced with an overwhelming cancer diagnosis was the mother of all defining moments, which then gave birth to other defining moments. I was diagnosed with metastasized ovarian cancer, leaving me consumed with such an all-encompassing fear – a feeling of massive dread, deep and troublesome. It was paralyzing at times; yet I was able to pop my head out of the fear and fog and grab the reins and become a voracious learner of all things in the health and wellness realm. I embarked on a makeover of ethic proportions – I learned about the healing power of diet and eating alkaline foods, the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the importance of juicing (especially green juices), ways to strengthen the digestive process, I accepted that detoxification on many levels is critical, and I embraced strategies to help myself develop a healing mindset. You know, change is very hard – but change was the only option I had and so because of these defining moments of fear, I changed my life in ways that have become so much more joyful and meaningful.
During the defining moment that you just described, what innate strength did you discover?
I had a lot of persistence and discipline to work on my mind and this took a lot of focus – because it was my mind that was causing me such discomfort and fear. By reading numerous articles and books and working on a mindfulness practice I learned how to better handle certain emotions – I learned where to place my attention and energy; in other words, rather than thinking about and talking about cancer – I learned to place my thoughts and focus on healing – because the two thoughts of cancer and healing are radically different. From a spiritual point of view, if you are talking about cancer, you are forever caught in the mindset of cancer and not really never letting go of disease – but rather if you make it your intention to heal, you are manifesting healing and consequently giving your body the messages of healing. So I decided that I wanted to be immersed in the energy of healing and immersed in the conversation and understanding of the power of healing. So with time, it no longer remained my ‘cancer journey’ but rather became my ‘healing journey’. I discovered I had other innate strengths such as being a mobilizer and being a take-charge person. I took control of my destiny and I embarked on a long journey of investigation and education. I listened to my own inner MD – that inner MD being a very curious, stubborn, smart, disciplined and intuitive voice and I mobilized myself into action. My intuition was guiding me down an unknown path and that caused me a lot of discomfort. But I listened to it, said “NO” to the pressures of conventional medicine, forged my own path and adopted a healing mindset (over time).
As you set free your innate strengths and began to embrace your true passion, what new clarity of possibilities began to emerge?
Well Marsh, I became empowered with the fact that I went from having an MRI that showed a tumor and many metastasized lymph nodes on it, to, over time, having an MRI that was clear. Sometimes the most beautiful things spring from the crappiest of times. My gnarly diagnosis became a calatyst for a healthier existence. I now feel happier, healthier and more positive than I have in a long time. I have learned what I could have done to prevent my illness and I want people to hear what I have learned about preventative health so they don’t have to go through what I went through. I want to let people know that: “Your body’s ability to heal is greater than what conventional medical practitioners will tell you.” And it has become my personal mission to share this passion and knowledge with others. As I began to align with and embrace this new passion, I felt driven to write a book on my journey –a book that provides the reader some guidance from the initial Shock of diagnosis to the Wisdom of the body’s power to heal. I am now in the midst of writing, and The Book will also include an action plan on how to create an optimized environment for the mind, body and spirit to heal.
Are you doing things today that you never imagined that you would be doing?
Yes, this is so very different from anything that I imagined that I would be doing – I spent 25 years in business primarily in the tax and estate planning field here in Canada and during that time amassed several designations – and I also authored 2 books in my field of expertise. From 2003 – 2009 I was a corporate executive with a mutual fund company and I founded and oversaw a national tax and estate planning group within that company. During this time I did numerous keynote speeches and also was very much involved in print and broadcast media so I created a strong presence throughout Canada in tax and estate planning. So I never ever imagined that, having invested SO much of my working life into developing my expertise in this field, that I would ever be doing anything else. However, I was always a voracious reader of articles in the health and wellness area and it grew to become a hobby of mine – so my knowledge in the health area has always been quite vast but I certainly never imagined that I would be immersed as deep as I am today in this field. I was blindsided with my diagnosis and that set me on a completely different path and so here I am.
What was the biggest block you’ve encountered and what steps did you take to overcome?
For 2 years leading up to my diagnosis, I was in the midst of developing a business with a partner – and with her, I wanted to thrust forward and reclaim the passion that I once had in the area of tax and estate planning, yet it was the strangest thing – with every step I was taking forward, my lack of fulfillment grew stronger – and I couldn’t understand why. I was experiencing subtle anxiety and career emptiness. I pushed these feelings away and tried to ignore them. Rather than being in the flow, being content and fulfilled, a new kind of discontent surfaced – one that I was not familiar with. All I knew is that I was continually feeling restless – I had this gnawing feeling of restlessness, a constant desire to express my creativity but looking back I guess I had nowhere to express it. Well this all ended abruptly on Valentine’s Day 2012, which was the day I was diagnosed. After the diagnosis, I spent a year and a half investigating and researching all things health related and out of that grew a deep passion and desire to remain in this field. But in order to do this, and enter into this new realm, I had to retrain my mind and grow beyond the defined. There are 3 blocks that I specifically want to mention: The first block: I had to let go of the belief that I should go back into the tax and estate planning field – an area where I had expertise and an area where I had comfort and an area where I though I permanently belonged – but the real and authentic Sandy wanted to stay in the health field and give HOPE to others and to help them understand that, in addition to whatever treatment method they choose, whether it be chemotherapy or something else, there are certain strategies that one can engage in to help the healing momentum. But the ego Sandy kept trying to identify with the old and familiar career. I had to learn to let go of these old limiting beliefs. Another block: I had was letting go of control. In my previous business I had always been in control – knowing exactly where I was going, what the outcomes were likely going to be, and everything I did was organized and pre planned and there were deadlines and agendas and structure to everything. But now – with writing a book and wanting to stay in this new and unfamiliar area to inspire and give HOPE to others – what does this all look like? How will everything unfold? Will everything flow and unfold in perfect order? I have had to learn something fundamentally important here – I had to let go of wanting to control everything and learn that the more I need to be in control the less I allow answers to come to me. In other words, I needed to develop TRUST. The third block– or limiting belief I want to mention today – was a concern that I had little value to offer in this health and wellness field – I thought…”I don’t have any designations in this new area, I’m a Chartered Professional Accountant, I’m not a doctor, so surely I don’t have much to contribute here?” But what I was failing to do was give credit to my life wisdom. I evolved to learn that what does matter is my own true value and that my life wisdom has huge value – that having had this illness and having spent so many months investigating and researching ways to heal my body, this fills me massive wisdom and I am uniquely positioned to impart this massive wisdom to others. I now realize that I have a lot to contribute and my value can help to fill a great need in the world.
Today as you reflect upon your purpose, what do you consider to be the most important contribution that you are here to share?
It is my goal and passion to nurture awareness and to help others create a healing mindset that can empower their medical position. I wish to inspire others to take control of their own health, empower themselves through learning and knowledge, and understand how to develop a mindset that is strong and powerful. I wish to impart with others how we can create a paradigm of transformational healing that we practice before a doctor tells us something we don’t want to hear. And if, by doing so, I help to prevent just one person from having to listen to a doctor tell them soul destroying news – then I have succeeded in my mission. I would say that the cancer woke me up – cancer asks us to rebuild our lives. I also have a thyroid illness called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and I have a deep level of knowledge in this area so I can help others understand some of the root causes of this auto-immune condition and ways to reclaim thyroid health. I would also like to help change the collective mindset in a couple ways. First of all many people have the mindset that it is conventional medicine that will help us to heal – and only conventional medicine. There are still many who tend to think that pharmaceuticals, surgical procedures etc. and other advances in medicine are the key to healing. Conventional medicine is a great start and there is nothing wrong with choosing to have treatment within the convention realm. My suggestion is that in addition to complementary or conventional treatment,there are certain choices we make like what we eat (and don’t eat), exercise, how we respond to stress, the importance of having great digestion, and ways to support our liver’s processes of metabolizing hormones and detoxification, that are the powerful life choices for bringing our bodies back to health. I am also able to help others understand the stages of fear, how to handle this fear and to understand that fear can be a motivator – allow it, acknowledge it – fear can save your life. So it is what we do with our setbacks, which makes all the difference in the world and I would like to encourage and inspire others become active participants in their own healing.