Sometimes Your Purpose Finds You in the Unlikeliest of Places (#205)

Sometimes Your Purpose Finds You in the Unlikeliest of Places (#205)

Sometimes in life, our purpose finds us – when we least expect it and seemingly out of the blue. That is the story of our guest, Talaya Dendy, today. It’s a beautiful illustration of turning adversity into serving others.

Sometimes in life, our purpose finds us – when we least expect it and seemingly out of the blue. That is the story of our guest, Talaya Dendy, today. It’s a beautiful illustration of turning adversity into serving others. In addition to that, we discuss how mindset can affect the healing process, how to be your own advocate when you are a patient – or when your loved one is a patient, how we can be our healthiest and have greater levels of well-being. It’s so practical and some of it may surprise you. Links and Resources Website: Social Media: Podcast: New Normal - 30-minute Meet & Greet - Talaya Dendy hosts the Navigating Cancer TOGETHER podcast, and she has been a guest on numerous podcasts. Authority Magazine and Thrive Global featured Talaya as an "authority" in the interview series, I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It. Talaya is also a contributing author to a #1 best-selling and groundbreaking book, I Survived Cancer And Here Is How I Did It. It shares the stories of cancer survivors and thrivers to spread hope and show that a cancer diagnosis is not the end.

[00:00] Bobbi : You welcome to unyielded Thriving No Matter What where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host, Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come. When today’s guest reached out to me, I knew that this would be an important conversation. I’d just lost my dad, and I felt like I had had a crash course in what it meant to be an advocate for him within the healthcare system and with all the ancillary services, there was so much that I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know it existed. And all of a sudden I had to learn it really fast. So I want to share some of those things with you, as many of us are in that boat of having aging parents that we’re caring for. My guest today said that understanding a medical diagnosis can be like trying to learn a foreign language and time is of the essence. But this conversation has a broader application as well. We discuss things like how our mindset can affect our health and how it affects the healing process. We talk about things like what are some of the best practices that help us enjoy greater levels of well being and how we can be in our very best state to make important decisions. Finally, what I loved about this conversation, like so many of the other conversations I’ve had, is that sometimes the bumps in the road that we experience, they can actually lead us to a greater purpose and eventually greater levels of happiness. And this story was very inspiring and very relatable. So I hope you enjoy it too. My guest is Talia Dendy. She hosts the Navigating Cancer Together podcast and she’s been a guest on numerous podcasts. Authority magazine and Thrive Global featured talea as an authority in the interview series. I survived cancer and here is how I did it. She is also a contributing author to the number one bestselling and groundbreaking book, I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It. It shares the stories of cancer survivors and thrivers to spread hope and show that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. Talia, welcome to the show.

[02:29] Talaya: Thank you so much, Bobbi, for having me. I’m honored to be here.

[02:34] Bobbi : Just from talking with you for the already 15 minutes before we hit the record button, I know I’m going to love this conversation. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[02:44] Talaya: Sure. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now I say 2011, but really, Bobbi, it started a year prior in 2010 when I went to my primary care physician. And after my physical exam, I pointed out that there was a small lump on the side of my neck.

[03:07] Bobbi : Oh, no.

[03:08] Talaya: And she knew that I had been working out pretty frequently and she didn’t look at it, she didn’t touch it. She really didn’t ask any questions. She just kind of blew it off as a cold muscle. So during that time, I had a lot going on with work, trying to climb the corporate ladder excuse me, corporate ladder. Just trying to help my family out with some things that they were going through, and I just put it off. And there’s more to that story as well, which, in a nutshell, comes down to self advocacy and valuing yourself, which are two things that I admit I did not do. So fast forward to 2011, and I told my mom, I said, you know, I still have this lump. It has gotten bigger. I’m very concerned. And so she recommended that I go to her doctor. So I went to her doctor after my physical. Once again, I shared that I have this lump on the side of my neck. It’s been there for a year now. I’m concerned. So the doctor immediately looked at it. She started asking questions. She touched it. And I could tell by her reaction in her face that something was wrong. But I did not suspect it to be cancer, to be honest with you. So she recommended that right away I go in and have an ultrasound done. Went to the ultrasound. A couple of days later, I got confirmation that it was inconclusive, meaning they didn’t have an answer. I was recommended to go and have a fine needle aspiration. That is where they take a small needle and pull out a small cell and tissue sample from that area. Unfortunately, that came back inconclusive, really. We’re at number two now. They said, well, we need to do a larger biopsy of that lymph node. So they went in, did a biopsy of the lymph node. They didn’t take the whole lymph node. And I would say about three to four days later, I got a call on a Friday on my way home from work, from a nurse, and she indicated that we received your results from the biopsy. I hate to tell you this. I’m sorry to tell you this. You have hodgkin’s lymphoma.

[05:44] Bobbi : Yeah.

[05:45] Talaya: In that moment, the world stopped, and it was like I didn’t hear anything but what she just spoke, and it was like, ringing in my ear.

[05:57] Bobbi : I bet.

[05:57] Talaya: And it was like this out of body experience. So, of course, I had so many questions, and she could tell that I was upset. And she said, Honey, I’m sorry. I can’t answer any of those questions. However, I can tell you that my husband had Hutchins lymphoma several years ago, and he’s doing fine today. So in a nutshell, I drove to the nearest TJ. Maxx. That’s what happened to be along the way, and I had to park. I was just so beside myself and didn’t really know what to think. You’re just trying to make sense out of all this. What did I do wrong? How did I get this? All kinds of things. So I walked around TJ. Maxx for about 30 minutes to kind of gather myself and in a sense, kind of hoping that I would get some answers. Of course, there were none there. No, it was just really giving myself that moment to try to really take in what I just heard. So got back in my car, drove home, called my family, let them know the news. Of course they had questions. And I said, I’m sorry, I can’t answer your questions. I have questions, but no answers myself. And so I asked to really just have that weekend to myself to get an understanding of what I just heard to the best of my ability. And so that weekend, Bobbi, I think I went through every emotion possible crime, praying, upset, angry, frustration, all kinds of things. And what I really did was I prayed and I asked God for direction. Please tell me what to do. Because I had never really been sick before other than, like, the cold or the flu. So I wasn’t a health care consumer to that extent of cancer. And taking that time for myself was one of the best things that I could have done because it allowed me to eliminate all those feelings and emotions that would have gotten in the way of me taking action. And so that Monday morning, I got on the phone, started making calls, and that’s when my journey began. Part two.

[08:37] Bobbi : Yeah. First of all, I can’t even imagine you’re driving and you get a phone call and you hear the news over the phone. How did the nurse leave it with you? Like, hey, we’re setting up an appointment. I mean, how did she leave it with you on that Friday night?

[08:56] Talaya: Yeah, as I mentioned, she empathized with how I was feeling. And she basically said, here’s a number you can call. No, call the oncologist office on Monday morning. So that’s kind of how she ended the call. And again, she was very empathetic and she said, I’m sorry.

[09:20] Bobbi : Very kind. And I think the fact that she could relate her experience with her husband, I think that’s great. It’s just like the weekend must have just seemed like an eternity.

[09:30] Talaya: Yes.

[09:32] Bobbi : Oh, man. I’m curious. As soon as you said the thing about the lump on the side of your neck, of course I know that you had the Hodgkins lymphoma, but I’m thinking about a friend of mine. We used to work together. That was his indication. As soon as he felt that he’s like, oh, something’s wrong, he went to the doctor and they’re like, yes. And they started treatment. Did it make it worse? It couldn’t make it any better that you had to wait a year.

[10:03] Talaya: Actually, Bobbi, that was one of the reasons why I was really angry was because of how the doctor kind of dismissed my concerns. But then again, I have to take ownership and responsibility for myself as well. Not to dismiss that person, because that was not professional at all. No, but I think about it, and I had to go through six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation. Had I gone and gotten answers a year earlier, it may have been half of that. So, yeah, I thought about that.

[10:43] Bobbi : I bet you did. But I also love, though, how you said, like, taking ownership, because and you said this earlier, we have to be our own advocate when it comes to health care. We absolutely do. So in the middle of all that was it, and you had every right to be angry. I’m just thinking about, like sometimes we get angry and then that can also, I don’t know, distract us from the action we need to be taken. So how did you manage that anger, I guess, during that process?

[11:19] Talaya: Well, honestly, Bobbi, I used that anger as a way for me to advocate properly for myself going forward. I didn’t take on that victim mentality. It actually fueled me to step into my power and say, hey, from this point forward, there will be no more dismissing, and I won’t stop there. I’ll keep going until I get what I need.

[11:43] Bobbi : Good for you. I love that. I love that you turned that into something positive, because it would have been easy to go down the path of being a victim, because that was wrong. Are there other examples? Because I’ve had my own journey there, and I was with my dad at the very end. So this is something that’s on my mind a little bit. But are there other examples of when you really had to step up like that and be your own advocate?

[12:18] Talaya: Many times I remember going to radiation, and radiation was really different than chemotherapy. You would think that chemotherapy was tougher, harder, but actually, in my experience, radiation was because it’s something you go to every day, Monday through Friday. You have to drive there, you have to go get prepped and all these things, and boom, it’s over in 15 to 20 minutes. However, what I noticed, Bobbi, was that the care, or lack of care that they provided when you go in for radiation treatment was a huge distinction from the level of care that was provided for chemotherapy treatments. I found the staff to be quite rude and just really not caring too much. Kind of like, okay, let’s just get this one through. Let’s just get this one through. I will say, in the beginning, they were very thorough. They have to be in making sure that they’re targeting the right area, setting things up. So that initial process was good. But I think that when you carry yourself a certain way, for some reason, some people may take that as a sign of weakness, as opposed to this person is just someone who chooses to operate from a place of professionalism and things like that. But in that case, to answer your question. There were times when I had to tell them, you will not do this, you will not do that. There’s a face mask you have to wear. And thankfully, I still had hair. And one time one of the technicians just ripped it off and they kind of grabbed my hair and I got really upset. And I had to tell her about that because she had done it before. So there were a lot of times in that stage where I had to really advocate for myself.

[14:26] Bobbi : Yeah. And I think if you’re a kind person, if you’re a little bit more quiet, people can mistake that for you’re. Right. Being passive or being weak, and it’s like, no, not at all. I remember with my dad, you want to be respectful, and at the same time, you have to sometimes be firm about, like, in that case, what he needed. And it’s like, what’s not acceptable?

[14:58] Talaya: That’s right. You have to set the tone, and it’s not a reflection on you or me. That was something I had to learn because there were other healthcare professionals that I came into contact with, and there was that mutual respect, because that’s who they were, even with my oncologist. Brilliant man. But he talked to me as if he was an every person, as if he didn’t have a medical degree, as if he was someone who was a friend of mine and, hey, we’re going to do this together. And when I first met him, I laid it out and I said, these are my expectations. I will not be a passive participant. I’m going to be an active patient in my care, and I’m going to do what I want to do, but I need for you to provide me with credible information so I can make the best decisions for myself. And so those are the kind of conversations that we would have. And before my appointments, I would come in with my pen and paper. And I think that helped to create a level of respect beyond what he already had for me. And those are ways that I advocated for myself. And if he explained something to me and I didn’t understand it, I would say, can you rephrase that in a way that I can take it in? And we may do this a couple of times until I say I got it. Okay. Yeah. And that’s the level of patience and care that I wish a lot of healthcare professionals had.

[16:45] Bobbi : Yeah, that’s really good. And even the fact of just bringing the pad of paper in, I think that signals like, I’m not going to be passive, I’m going to have questions, and I’m going to be a participant here.

[17:01] Talaya: Yeah. It’s so important, Bobbi, because a lot of people, due to fear or feeling inferior to these professionals who have this medical training, that they can’t say something or they can’t ask questions, they have to do what they say I’m not saying just be combative. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is understand how what they’re presenting to you can affect your outcomes and quality of life. You have that right. You’re the person that’s going to have to go through it and live with the result. And so that’s really what I’m saying. Again, not be combative or anything like that, but you have to make sure you think about the things that you want and what you want for your life, the things you still want to be able to do after you go through these treatments and how it will impact you. With a lot of these treatments, there are side effects. They may show up three months later, they may show up right away or years later. Just being mindful of those things. All those things should be considered when making decisions.

[18:15] Bobbi : Yeah. So is this what this kind of stuff here? Is this what because you have a new career now. So tell us, first of all, tell us a little bit about what you do now.

[18:28] Talaya: Yeah. So now after being in supply chain prior to being diagnosed with cancer, and then up until about the end of 2018, I was in supply chain, supply chain analyst. And I had always knew that that wasn’t my purpose. And really, Bobbi, from the time of cancer up until 2018, it just was heavy on me, like, this is not it, this is not it. And so finally, after this lady I work with, she had no idea of what I had went through before because we weren’t working together at that time. But she confided in me and shared that she had received a diagnosis. Why did she come to me?

[19:18] Bobbi : Yeah. Were you guys close friends?

[19:21] Talaya: We were, I would say, associates. We had never hung out after work or anything like that. We had a good working relationship. So she pulled me to the side, shared her news, and asked if she could give me a call. And so I talked with her, I heard her out, and I said, I just find it really amazing that you let me know what’s going on with you. I said, I want to share with you that I actually can help you. And I had my own experience with cancer, and that’s really when it started. I had no idea what was happening.

[20:03] Bobbi : Wow.

[20:03] Talaya: And so then that’s amazing. That’s god, that’s right. And so then another person, and I’m just like, where is this coming from? So I started to explore it, and I looked into, like, health coaching, cancer coaching, and while still in corporate America, I worked on getting a coaching certification. And that’s what really sparked it. I felt like it was becoming more apparent as to what my purpose was. I knew that I was a helper, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity.

[20:37] Bobbi : Yeah.

[20:38] Talaya: And so today I am a cancer doula, an independent patient advocate. I’m a certified, board certified patient advocate, I would like to note. And then also I want to explain what a cancer doula is because a lot of I was going to ask what is that?

[20:56] Bobbi : Yeah, what is it?

[20:59] Talaya: So many people are familiar with, like birth doulas they help people deliver babies and postpartum things like that. And then what’s also emerging is deaf doulas. They help people prepare for transition. And so as a cancer doula, I help people focus on the present. What I want to do is go back and give you the definition of a doula. It’s someone who supports another person through major life changes and significant health related experiences. Well, that’s birth, that’s cancer, that’s end of life. Initially I was calling myself a cancer coach. And this was a time when the word coach was attached to everything. Coach this, coach that. And I’m just like, I don’t like it. And it just feels, it doesn’t feel personal, it doesn’t feel warm, right? And so I just really started exploring that word doula. And I said, that’s it, that’s it. And so as a cancer doula, what I do is I walk with my clients and I help them to get on the other side of cancer. I help them to be their best advocates. I empower them to ask the questions and feel like it’s their right to ask those questions. I help them with communication. I help them to understand their treatment options. Of course, I’m not a doctor or an oncologist, but we talk about the information that has been shared with them by their doctor. And I really break that down for them so that they really understand what that looks like. Give them a different way of thinking, okay, think about your quality of life. Think about how things could look for you five years from now. Do you still want to be able to run around with your kids just having them think about those different things? Because what I can share, Bobbi, is making that cancer treatment decision. It can feel like a heavy weight. Like I don’t want to make the wrong choice. I want to live and I don’t want to make the wrong choice. But I like to encourage people that there really is no wrong choice. None of us know what’s going to happen with cancer. You just don’t know. This treatment may work, it may not. It may work for some people, not others. And so I like to encourage people not to look at it that way. Try to take the fear out of it and say, hey, I have these options. What do I think is the best option at this time? Is it option A, B, or C? But I’m grateful to have these options. Some people have nothing and then they have to try to find a clinical trial and that can add more stress. And that’s another thing that I help people do if they have to. Unfortunately, clinical trials is not a standard of care the way it should be. So for some people, they’re offered clinical trials when they have no other options. Now imagine being told that this treatment didn’t work for you. We don’t have anything else. So I help them find those clinical trials that could potentially help save their lives. But then that’s a whole nother learning process as well. How do you qualify? Where do you find them? How do you pay for transportation and all these things? So that’s just an added layer. But essentially, Bobbi, the four areas that I provide support is, again, emotional support and mindset, high level nutrition, communication, and understanding their treatment options. And of course, all of this is personalized to my clients needs. Wow.

[25:13] Bobbi : Okay. So first of all, I can’t even imagine I’m making notes here and I should never try to talk and make notes at the same time because you should see what I just wrote down. It’s like it doesn’t make sense. I can’t even imagine how valuable that is to someone because I think that if you were to receive that diagnosis, the state of overwhelm and how do you find your way through it? Like you said, also feeling that the pressure and the fear of I’ve got to make the right decision and sometimes you got to move quickly. When you said emotional and mindset, tell me a little bit more about that, like how you support someone there.

[26:00] Talaya: Yes. So one of the first things that I do is make sure people understand that you didn’t do anything to cause this. Cancer develops for a number of reasons. All of us have cancer cells in our bodies. All of us. And there’s a time when in people, it could happen to any one of us. Those cells are going to malfunction. And so sometimes those are just things we don’t have control over. A lot of people feel a lot of guilt, like even me. Like I said, what did I do wrong? Was it something I ate? Was I not exercising enough? So many different things. Was it something I put on my skin?

[26:42] Bobbi : That’s right.

[26:43] Talaya: Who knows? And so that’s one of the things that I make sure people understand is that this is not your fault. The other thing is I want people to not get stuck in victim mentality because immediately you’re giving away your power and you’re focusing on the wrong thing. And so those are really essential things that I cover right off the bat if people are feeling that way. Yeah, the other thing is working through those emotions. So Bobbi, I’m not saying a person needs to put on a happy face and pretend to be happy all the time. That’s not the key either. The key is to not get stuck in those emotions that can hinder you taking action. So again, fear, anger, frustration, all of those are valid. And you have a right to feel those, but don’t stay there. Work through those things. Get in tune with your emotions and your body because the mind and the body work together. If you are mad all the time or sad all the time, these are just a couple of examples that can suppress your immune system at a time where you need your immune system to do the absolute best that it can. So let’s figure out a way where we can use this to help your immune system to help you get healthier. And when I explain that to people, a light bulb goes off because we’re not taught that those two things are actually in sync. When one is not working, eventually it’s going to affect the other. That’s right. Just think about when our health is not the best that plays with our mind. Like, wow, I’m really depressed. I can’t get out and run today or I can’t exercise today. I just feel like I’m doing nothing. So making sure people understand how those things work together are some ways that I support them in that area. But then the other important thing is just allowing people to openly, without judgment, share how they’re feeling. A lot of people feel like they can’t be completely honest with their friends, family and loved ones because they don’t want to put all that on them or they don’t want to make them fearful. So there are so many different things that people go through.

[29:19] Bobbi : Yeah. And just when you said the thing about this, you pointed to your brain, your mind. So getting the mind working with your body, basically with the immune system. So what are some of the mindset things? Because you’re right, like if you spend the time in sadness or anger, it does suppress the immune system. What are some other mindset things or ways that the brain affects the healing process, if you will, or recovery process?

[29:52] Talaya: Yeah. I would have to say, Bobbi, one of the things is the will to live that is so important. Unfortunately, there are some people who for whatever reason, they’re just like, you know what, I don’t care what happens, I’m just going to die. And I find that that could be the case for people who have had a tough life, who have had so many trials and tribulations, who are storing so much trauma that could be tough for people. And there’s another study that proves that store trauma can actually make you sick. If you don’t work through those things that you’ve experienced in childhood, they can impact us right today.

[30:46] Bobbi : That’s right.

[30:46] Talaya: In some way.

[30:48] Bobbi : That’s right. I mean, so many of the guests I’ve had on here, from emotional intelligence coaches to other coaches and across the board, they talk about trauma that is not transformed, is either transmitted or transferred. And sometimes it’s just to us it shows up differently in our lives. We don’t even begin to understand how important it is.

[31:15] Talaya: Yeah. And they don’t really talk about this in the healthcare community. It’s more in the alternative and complementary spaces, integrative spaces where they’re starting to bring this to the forefront. But one thing about trauma is we can think that we’re doing fine, but it’s manifesting in our body. And you just said it, one day it’s going to show up in the form of some kind of illness or disease or something like that. And I think it’s very important for people to really face and address work through those things that they have been through in their lives, that have caused them that trauma. Talk to a therapist. You owe it to yourself. That is a part of healing, too. And that’s another thing I want to mention, is that it’s just not about treating the cancer. That’s why I do what I do. I can’t heal you from cancer. I don’t make that claim. But it’s important to look at other areas of your life and figure out, where do I need to make some changes? Because all of these things work together and this mindset and observation and exploration can take place in a number of ways. I encourage people to journal.

[32:37] Bobbi : Oh, yeah.

[32:38] Talaya: And don’t be afraid about writing perfect sentences and things like that. It could be a jumble of words that only you understand. With a journal, you can be completely honest. Once you’re done writing, you can throw it away, whatever. It’s for you to release those things. The other thing that I encourage people to do is like meditation and just taking time to breathe, create that space. You can create calm within your mind no matter what’s going on around you, but it comes down to getting in tune with your body, creating that calming space within your mind. And those are things that I try to empower people to do because those are things they can control. That’s the focus. What can you control? You can control the cancer. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. You can’t control how your family reacts. You can only control you and your actions and how you choose to work through it.

[33:46] Bobbi : Yeah. And having that sort of calm that comes through meditation, that helps in terms of supporting your immune system. Right. And also, it also supports you in terms of making the best decisions for yourself. It’s hard to make decisions when your mind’s in chaos.

[34:06] Talaya: That’s right. Yeah. In fear. You don’t want to make decisions out of fear or desperation. There’s this favorite quote and it says, never make a deal when you’re desperate.

[34:21] Bobbi : That’s right.

[34:23] Talaya: And so that applies to help. And then the other thing is, I like to encourage people to I’m not saying don’t do traditional care. I’m not saying that I use it. It helped to save my life. Okay. But I would like to encourage people what are some supplementary, complementary things that you can do to. Help you through treatment to help your body potentially heal faster. There’s things like yoga, there’s things like tai chi, whatever kind of exercise you can do. So there’s a lot of different ways to complement the care that you’re receiving.

[35:12] Bobbi : Yeah. So many different ways. Do people embrace that?

[35:18] Talaya: It really depends on the person. What I can tell you, Bobbi, is that lately, a lot of people have been they’ve been asking about that. They’ve been asking, hey, can you tell me some complementary therapies that I could consider in my case? And so people are asking those questions. There’s more conversation in the healthcare community about those complementary practices. Some hospitals and clinics are starting to integrate those things.

[35:51] Bobbi : Amazing.

[35:52] Talaya: One thing that I do want to point out, Bobbi, is that I don’t replace anyone on anyone’s healthcare team. I am strictly there for my client, and I am there to help bridge that gap.

[36:07] Bobbi : Yeah.

[36:07] Talaya: So, for example, if they come to me and they say, talia, I keep asking my doctor this question, he or she just won’t answer it. They’ll just talk around it, or I don’t understand what they’re saying. Okay, do you want me to get involved or do you want me to give you different ways to bring this to the forefront? And so those are ways that I work together with my clients and make sure it’s about making sure they get what they need.

[36:40] Bobbi : And part of that too, I think, would be helping them know, shedding light on what they don’t know that they should be paying attention to.

[36:49] Talaya: Absolutely. That’s huge. And thank you for bringing that up. When you’re new to cancer, you don’t know what you don’t know. There’s a lot to learn. A lot to learn. And that contributes to the overwhelm. Also, many people don’t just have the overwhelm of the diagnosis. That was my case. I had a huge learning curve. Huge. And so that’s why I do the helping up people understand their treatment options piece. Because that’s so important. It’s like a foreign language to people.

[37:26] Bobbi : Oh, yeah.

[37:28] Talaya: But thankfully, Bobbi, I’m that analytical, nerdy type of person where I went out and I bought a medical dictionary, and I would read my medical reports, and those things that I didn’t understand, I would go to the medical dictionary, break it down. Oh, okay, got it. That’s what they’re saying. But some people don’t have that time. They don’t have that patience. For whatever reason, they don’t want to know a whole lot about it. That’s the other thing. So that’s why I try to just be there for people and fill those gaps.

[38:03] Bobbi : Yeah, that’s huge. That’s really important. A couple of things I want to comment on too. I know that when we were emailing before being on the show, when we were talking about mindset, you said I didn’t want to dwell on what cancer took from me. You said I asked what could I get from it. Was that something that was going through your mind, like, even when you’re going through the treatment, the six months of chemo? Or was that something that occurred later or both.

[38:37] Talaya: During treatment? I’ll say, Bobbi, that in the back of my mind, I was thinking, okay, I’m going through this for some reason. I don’t know what it is right now. I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t even know if I’m going to live. There was so much uncertainty, but I felt like, if I get through this thing, there’s something I’m supposed to do with this. I don’t know what. So that was always in the back of my mind. And as I mentioned earlier, it became more apparent because I would pray, like, what is my purpose? I really wasn’t fulfilled in my job anymore. I was very unhappy, tired of trying to climb the corporate ladder the way society says we’re supposed to. So feeling very empty in that space and this experience actually gave me, in a sense, what I was looking for. And that is, what am I supposed to be doing with my life that is meaningful? Yes. We all got to go to work and make money to pay bills and things like that, but beyond that, what is there? That’s right. And so that took a lot of soul searching. That took a lot of being honest, that took a lot of sacrifice and just getting out there and seeing what happens. And so that’s when I said, cancer is trying to take my life, but if I beat this thing, I actually got something. What am I going to do with it? And it gave me what I’m doing right now, sitting here talking to you, being able to help people who reach out for my support, being able to take that tough thing I went through and guide and support other people and families.

[40:37] Bobbi : Yes. It’s such a powerful when we tap into meaning like that, it can shed light in the darkest areas of our life. A couple of Christmases ago, I don’t know why I decided to listen to this. It was an audible book. Victor frankel’s. Man’s search For Meaning. And it’s his story of the concentration camps. And I’m like, why am I listening to this at Christmas time? Because it was heartbreaking, but also incredibly inspiring. And one of the things he talked about is at the depth of being in these horrible concentration camps, seeing people being murdered, he thought, I’m supposed to survive this because I’m supposed to teach people afterwards. I’m supposed to share this after. And I’m like and that gave him the will to continue. It’s such an incredible thing, that meaning.

[41:33] Talaya: Absolutely, yes. And I love what you just said there, because that’s an example of the importance of hope.

[41:42] Bobbi : Yes.

[41:43] Talaya: And that’s something that people need, and that’s why I encourage people to, hey, you’re going through this right now. But explore other areas of your life where you have more control and you can make those changes that you desire. Is it a career change? Is it some relationships that may not be serving you anymore that are not healthy? You know, finding those areas of your life that you can heal? That also so that when you get on the other side of cancer, you have an overall better outcome. Maybe you have a new career, maybe you have gotten rid of toxic relationships. Maybe you found ways to reduce stress, whatever that looks like for you. And so it’s not just, again, about healing the cancer. It’s about healing your life. That’s right. And none of us have perfect lives, and we never will. But there are some things that if we stop and we take a look, honest look, there are some things that we could probably change.

[42:54] Bobbi : That’s right.

[42:54] Talaya: That’s kind of how I looked at it. I’m like, I have to heal anyway.

[42:59] Bobbi : Do more than one. I love that though, and very quickly, too, because I want to be respectful of your time. But I still have a couple of questions, if you still have time. The first is you said the power of hope. What role does hope play in this, in recovery?

[43:19] Talaya: Hope is everything. Hope is everything. And if you lose hope, it’s going to be tough to keep going.

[43:30] Bobbi : Yeah.

[43:31] Talaya: Like, hope is tied to, I think, how you view your life, how you view yourself. It gives you something to fight for. And I think it’s essential to healing.

[43:48] Bobbi : Yeah.

[43:49] Talaya: I really think it’s essential to healing and it’s essential to your livelihood.

[43:55] Bobbi : I think two people think that hope is passive, and it’s like hope is not passive. It’s very active. It gives you the will to continue to make choices, to continue to take actions, to continue to look for actions, look for new options. Otherwise, if you lose hope, then it’s like you stop looking because you don’t think it’s possible.

[44:18] Talaya: Yeah, that’s a great point, Bobbi. Hope can be a catalyst for so many different things, for change, for newness revival, so many different things. And I think I know for me, hope was one of the many things that kept me going.

[44:45] Bobbi : Yeah.

[44:45] Talaya: And on the days where I felt like I’m losing hope, I would say, god, I need some more. I’m getting a little low here.

[44:55] Bobbi : That’s right.

[44:56] Talaya: That’s a reality.

[44:58] Bobbi : Wow, I love that. And then one other thing I wanted to ask, too. You mentioned the thing about family earlier. I guess, how do you help people with is there struggle with family or could there be struggle with family? How does that kind of show up here?

[45:20] Talaya: Yeah, I have seen where people do struggle, their relationships are impacted by their cancer diagnosis. The first one I’ll start with is just like general family that could be a parent, a cousin, uncle, aunt, whatever. And they’re trying to enforce their opinions on this person whose life is on the line, not understanding that it’s their right, it’s their decision. But because those family members love that person so much, they want the best for them. They’re trying to impose what they think is right on them instead of hearing what they want to do.

[46:03] Bobbi : Yeah.

[46:04] Talaya: And so that can create conflict that can cause the person with cancer to shut down. Now, in relationships, as far as, like, marriage or partnerships, that could be another area where tension can be created, especially if there was already tension there. It can bring people closer together as well. But it all comes down to, again, communication. If the person with cancer feels like they can be open and honest with their partner spouse, then there’s a less likelihood that there will be any issues. The other part of it is the person spouse or partner, they may feel like they’re being shut out if their partner is not saying, hey, this is what I need, this is what I’m feeling, and on and on. And so sometimes a person with cancer may not share those details because they don’t want their loved ones to worry. So there’s so many different dynamics that can happen here when a person experiences cancer. That’s why I say cancer impacts every area of your life relationships, work, finances, you name it. And so for people to be mindful of all those different things that can be impacted by cancer is important as well, because those are not things if you’ve never been through it, you don’t think about it. I never would have thought cancer would have impacted relationships. I never would have thought that it would have led me to finally throw up my hands and say, I hate this job, I’m out of here. Never. So it’s very important for people to try to talk about what it is that they’re feeling. Share as much as you feel comfortable sharing, but then again, don’t feel pressured to share what you don’t want to share. If there are things that you want to talk about but you don’t feel like talking about it, or you don’t feel comfortable talking about it with your family or loved ones. There’s people like me. We’re non judgmental, and we can help you work through those thoughts and feelings. Wow. The key is it’s important to get.

[48:30] Bobbi : It out, not to hold it in.

[48:33] Talaya: Yeah. Wow.

[48:35] Bobbi : So this has been so good. It’s something that when I came across your profile, I was thinking, it’s so needed because if you haven’t been through it, I just can’t even imagine how overwhelming it would be. So thank you for the work that you’re doing. And on that note, how can people find out more about you? And also, if you want to talk a little bit about your I know you’ve got, like, a best selling book as well. We didn’t even get to that, but yeah. Do you want to just kind of share some of that stuff?

[49:07] Talaya: Sure. Thank you, Bobbi. So for of all people, can find me at onthey Life, on the Other Side Life, and that’s my website. There’s a lot of information there about ways to connect with me. You can also find my podcast, Navigating Cancer Together on all the major podcast platforms. That’s where I bring on guests from different walks of life who have been impacted by cancer in some way, as well as professionals who offer that complementary and integrative care so that people know what’s available to them. So important. The other thing is the book, Bobbi, that you mentioned. It’s called I survive cancer. Here’s how I did it. I’m a contributing author to that book and myself and I believe like 33, 34 other cancer survivors and thrivers have contributed our stories and strategies of ways that we survive cancer. In that book, we talk about those things, and that book can be found on Amazon and the website also is isurvivedcancer co. And I think that’s it. Again, you could go to my website and see all the different social media platforms. Up until recently, I was providing a free 30 minutes meet and greet call where individuals could reach out to me and share their challenges that they’re having. Learn more about the support that I could provide. Effective March 13, there will be a $30 fee attached to that. People leave those calls with a follow up email and some different ways to get started on working through those barriers and challenges so they can get what they need.

[51:01] Bobbi : That’s right. They can get a lot in 30 minutes to help them on their journey. So, any final thoughts you want to offer to the audience on this?

[51:12] Talaya: Yes. Thank you, Bobbi. I would like to encourage people I know it’s hard. I’ve been there, I know it’s hard. But I want to encourage people to not immediately think about death when they hear the word cancer. Don’t give death your power. Yes, we’re all going to die sometime, but don’t immediately assume that because you’ve gotten this diagnosis that you’re going to die. Some people do, unfortunately, but that’s not the case for a lot of people. Advocating for yourself is very important. If you are not getting the answers that you need, if you are not being cared for in the level that you would like, it’s okay to switch doctors, it’s okay to continue to ask questions, and it’s okay to say, hey, this is my decision. And that’s what I want to leave people with. Don’t give up your power. It’s your life, it’s your body, it’s your health. Become a partner with your healthcare team. And oncologist that’s really important. Show up for yourself is what I’m saying. In a nutshell. You deserve that.

[52:31] Bobbi : Yeah, and I love how you’re saying it. Show up for yourself and don’t give away your power, which is great advice. No matter what we’re doing in life.

[52:39] Talaya: Thank you. You’re so true. Especially in these times.

[52:43] Bobbi : That’s right.

[52:44] Talaya: Wow.

[52:45] Bobbi : Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for coming on and making the time. I think this will help a lot of people.

[52:50] Talaya: Thank you, Bobbi. Thank you so much for having me. And I just enjoy talking with you. Thank you for what you’re doing.

[52:58] Bobbi : Thanks for tuning in and for subscribing. And by the way, if you haven’t subscribed yet, now is a great time to hit that subscribe or Follow button. I hope you have a great week. Be well and keep thriving.

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