Me? A Motivational Speaker?

FLorence TEDx

“Miss Strang, can we have a News Team meeting tomorrow?” asked one of my favorite, 10 year old, Jamieson Academy news reporters.

“Sorry, I won’t be in school tomorrow, I have to give an important speech to a big group of School Administrators”, I replied.

“What’s your talk about?” asked my inquisitive reporter.

“Well, it is about my book, and my experiences with cancer, and how that led me to a healthier and happier lifestyle.”

“Oh! So then you are a motivational speaker!” he said.

Me? A motivational speaker? I hadn’t thought about it that way before. When did that happen????!!!!!

When I started blogging “The Perks of Having Cancer”, back in October, 2011, it started off as a little project to keep my spirits up during my treatments for cancer. I had no idea at that time where this “little project” would take me, and how my life would change as a result of it. I soon discovered that not only was it cheering me on my cancer journey, but others were finding hope and inspiration from my words as well….many others in fact. By May, 2012, after having blogged about 75 of the perks, and unsure as to whether I would actually reach my goal, I was offered my first public speaking gig. It was at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual retreat. Paula Tessier, the Provincial Co-ordinator, asked Me… (can you believe it? ME!)…to speak to a group of about 200 women about my blog.

My first response was, “Are you nuts, Paula? I can’t do that! I’m not a public speaker.” However with a little coaxing, Paula convinced me to make my public speaking debut. I was nervous as hell, but I kept remembering the words that my father taught me as a child, “Do what you fear and your fear will disappear!” So, if Dad was right, by confronting my fear of public speaking, I could overcome that very fear. That made sense, and besides, I had faced cancer head on, so I reasoned that nothing could be scarier than that. I took the plunge.

I could barely eat a bite as I sat at the evening banquet, waiting to be called to the podium to speak. What if I get up there and go blank? What if I faint? What if I puke on stage? All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I made my way to the podium. When I got there, I took a deep breath and dove right in, telling stories from my heart, laughing at times, crying at others.   As I looked into the sea of faces in the audience, I was surprised to see that they were laughing along with me, and crying along with me. I was hooked! In that moment, a motivational speaker was born.

I have since spoken to thousands of people about my experiences, through keynote addresses, presentations and workshops, along with t.v., radio and magazine interviews. In a relatively short time, this has become second nature to me. It never ceases to amaze me how life can take us in directions we never dreamed possible!

Back when my blog first started to take off, I recall my friend, Michelle, saying, “I’ll bet we’ll see you doing a Ted Talk someday.” I laughed heartily. I mean really, a Ted Talk is the holy grail of public speaking. When I think of Ted Talkers, I think of icons like Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, and Steve Jos, not little old Florence Strang from Lawn, Newfoundland! But then, lo and behold, I heard of a Tedx Talk happening in St. John’s in May (TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, under a license granted by TED.) I put in my application, got an audition, and got picked! So on Wednesday, May 7th, I will be taking the stage at Tedx St. John’s. Am I scared? You bet! Will my fear stop me from doing it? Not a chance!

Lessons on cancer survival from a medical miracle

Cancer Warrior:

Too good NOT to share…..here is my smart and funny co-author, Susan, The Savvy Sister, in ACTION!

Originally posted on The Savvy Sister:

I was so honored to get to sit down and talk with this amazing man and get his story on how he is able to deadlift 600 pounds when the doctors told him several years earlier to get his affairs in order because there was nothing they could do for him.

For those of you who don’t know D Anthony Evans, he is a cancer warrior, insane body builder, fitness expert, inspirational speaker, medical miracle, and a whole lotta fun to interview.

D has neurofibromatosis (NF); a condition that attacks the nerve tissue.  NF causes tumors to form anywhere in the body at any time.  The tumors are particularly dangerous when they grow around the spine and often cause paralysis and death.

When D felt something in his back as he was working out, he practically had to beg his doctor for an MRI to see what was causing the pain…

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If They Grow It……They Will Eat It! (How To Grow Baby Greens With Your Kid)

Ben seeds

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to gardening. I actually get a buzz when there is a sale on potted perennials, and I believe that there is no such thing as “too many “ seeds. I also love counseling, especially when it comes to working with kids. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a way to combine my two passions through an intervention called Horticultural Therapy. Several years ago I enrolled in an online program and now that I am a Certified Horticultural Therapist, I can legitimately engage in my favorite pastime while at work. How cool is that?

I have been gardening with my autistic son, Ben, since he was big enough to hold a seed. If you want to learn more about the many therapeutic benefits of gardening for kids with autism, click HERE to read an article I just had published in Rustik magazine. (BTW, that is Ben in my garden pictured in the magazine article!)  I could go on for hours, maybe even days about how gardening is great for promoting healthy bodies and healthy minds, but I will try to restrain myself. (You don’t want to get me started on that.) However, I will share just ONE of the benefits. From years of gardening with kids, I have learned this: If they grow it, they will eat it. So today, I would like to share with you a simple gardening activity that you can do with your child, niece, nephew or grandchild (or just some random kid you find on the street.)

Baby Greens

 

Here is all you will need:

-A growing tray (I buy mine at Canadian Tire, less than $2 each).

-Seed starter mix (also at Canadian Tire, less than $4 a bag)

-Lettuce seeds (Get them at a Dollar Store….I buy mine at Dollorama, 3 packs for 99 cents)

-A spray bottle (re-use an old window cleaner bottle, make sure it is WELL washed out!)

Fill the tray with seed starter mix, about 7/8’s full. Sprinkle 1 package of seeds evenly over the soil, use your fingers to even them out. Cover lightly with more seed starter mix (not too much!).   Spray with water until soil is moist. Set on a sunny windowsill and wait. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and turn the tray daily, as the plants will grow towards the light. In a few weeks, the lettuce will be 4 to 6 inches high, and you can cut it and eat it! Let your little gardener try it in a smoothie, a wrap or a salad. Then start another pack of seeds!

In addition to promoting healthy, organic eating habits, you have given the child a sense of accomplishment, improved self-esteem, a form of stress relief…….I told you not to get me started!

 

 

Get Fit And Healthy On A Budget

It has been a while since “Perks” has done a guest post, so I am very happy to introduce to you my guest blogger, Jessica Socheski!

Jessica

Jessica is a writer and editor who loves researching holistic lifestyles. Right now she is learning about Direct Primary Care.  You can find her on Twitter.  Take it away, Jessica (isn’t she cute?):

Becoming the Healthiest You Can be Without the Price Tag

Jessica post

Image: http://www.daveramsey.com

Spring is here! As the weather warms, people are pulling tennis shoes out from under the bed and finding new motivation to get fit for summer. In fact, the wellness and fitness industries are some of the fastest growing businesses right now. This not only means increased visits to the doctor but also more money spent on gym memberships and personal training.

We all want to be in shape and healthy, but what if you don’t want to break the bank to get there? Luckily you are not alone, and there are more options this spring than ever before to help people get back in shape without selling a kidney to pay for it.

Here are some ideas to help you put your health back on track and meet your fitness goals without breaking the bank.

1. Look for options outside traditional health insurance

The health care industry is going through major changes to make health care more affordable for Americans. This is the time to take a good look at your current plan and do research on new forms of health care and health insurance that are available to you. Many new options like direct primary care can be more affordable and efficient for the average American.

Weigh all the options before you make a decision. Chances are there is a new program out there that will offer the same coverage as your current health insurance provider for a much lower price.

2. Cancel your gym membership

This may sound counterproductive for those looking to get back in shape, but there are other, less expensive options out there. Utilizing the great outdoors is the least expensive way to get fit. Go for a run, walk, hike, bike, or swim at any city park or local public facility. The fresh air and sunshine will help you burn stress while you burn calories.

If you are not up to quitting your gym membership just yet, maybe you can still bring down the monthly cost. Do you really need to pay extra to have sauna and spa privileges, even though you haven’t used the sauna or spa facilities in months? Eliminating the unnecessary items in your plan will help you shed extra expenses and still shed pounds.

3. Enlist the help of a friend

When it comes to your health and fitness, you don’t have to go it alone. Using a friend instead of a paid personal trainer or wellness coach will keep you accountable so you can stay on track for free. Plan times when you and your friend can exercise together every week. Having someone there to push you or even compete against will help you meet your fitness goals.

You can also use social media, another free resource, to help keep you accountable and make you more aware of your choices. Apps like My Fitness Pal allow you to log your daily food and exercise and share privately with friends on Facebook. This way you are more likely to want to work on your health so you can show it off to your friends instead of hiding your slip-ups.

With these fantastic strategies and tools, you can work on reducing your budget and your weight at the same time. And you’ll be ready for swimsuit season in no time.

 

 

Cancer: What Your Doctors DON’T Tell You!

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I never tire of hearing stories about people who survive cancer against the odds. You don’t read about these stories in medical journals. You’re more likely to find them in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, or on a blog. In rare cases, you will find collections of these “miraculous” stories gathered together in a book ( such as, “From Incurable to Incredible”, by Tami Boehmer). But it’s not the stuff that science or modern medicine is made of. After all, if a doctor TELLS you that you have six months left to live, he is not going to shout it from the roof tops when you are alive 38 years later! Such is the case of Carl Helvie.

I first read about Dr. Helvie on Elyn Jacobs blog (read the whole story here). His credentials are pretty impressive: “Dr. Helvie holds an M.P.H. and Dr. P.H. from John Hopkins University and has 58 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator and researcher. The author of seven books, he is host of the Holistic Health Show on BBS Radio. Thirty-eight years ago, he developed lung cancer and was given six months to live by a conventional physician. He is now among the longest living survivors of lung cancer.”

I don’t know a lot about lung cancer, being a breast cancer gal myself, but I do know that it is considered one of the deadliest types. When Dr. Helvie was diagnosed, his prognosis was grim. With just six months left to live, he decided to try to make himself as comfortable as possible. However, using a combination of alternative therapies, prayer, meditation, affirmations and visualizations (which by the way, are ALL talked about in our book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It)….he cured himself of cancer and has been cancer free for an amazing 38 years!

I devoured every word of Dr. Helvie’s interview, but this is the line which really caught my attention: “Cancer treatment is a multimillion dollar industry in which drug companies make lots of money, hospitals have wings donated, the American Cancer Society stays in existence, there is lots of research money available, doctors make money and on and on. So there is not much incentive to disturb the status quo and find a cure. Alternative doctors have offered successful treatments for over 80 years but when one practitioner gets too successful the anti quack law is pulled out and there are attempts to put them out of business. Many such cases are documented.”

So is there stuff our doctors are NOT telling us about how to survive cancer? Damn right there is! Here are some of the things that my doctors did not tell me about how to survive, and prevent a deadly recurrence:

-By following a regular exercise program, I can reduce my risk of having a cancer recurrence by as much as 40%.

-By eating a mainly whole food, plant based diet, I can reduce my risk of recurrence by a whopping 30%.

-Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. I live in Newfoundland (enough said….) People who live in northern climates are at high risk of being deficient in this vitamin, which in turn puts them at risk of developing breast cancer. To reduce the risk, take a supplement (new studies show that you should take K2 along with D3……don’t ask me why.)

-Numerous studies have demonstrated the power of natural substances such as curcumin, mushroom extract, and dandelion root, just to name a few, which in lab studies have been shown to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

I could go on and on sharing my “quackery” with you but the bottom line is this: people believe what they want to believe, and for the most part, they don’t want to hear the bad news about their bad habits.   It takes guts to make lifestyle changes, and change is not for the faint of heart. Are you ready for a change?

Sign up here for our FREE newsletter, giving you cancer fighting tips; delicious recipes using foods with a powerful cancer-fighting punch; inspirational stories, and MUCH MORE! www.cancerplanforlife.com

 

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A Vaccine For Breast Cancer?

vaccine

 

In 2009, my daughter was among the first group of grade 9 girls in Newfoundland to receive the HPV vaccination, protecting her  from  the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the cause most cervical cancers.  Imagine that!  A vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.   While the type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with is not hereditary (which is true of 90% of all cancers), I worry about my daughter.  What if there was a vaccine to prevent breast cancer?   Well folks, you heard it here first!   Clinical trials will soon begin on a new breast cancer vaccine….cutting edge reporter, Susan Gonzalez, tells you more in this you tube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OdtX1ndueE

 

A Natural (And Easy) Way to Detox Your Body, Freshen Your Breath And Whiten Your Teeth!

oil pulling

When it comes to cancer prevention fads, there are few things I wouldn’t try.  For example, if someone told me that cat’s pee cures cancer, you would find me outside at night milking tom cats. I’m not kidding!  So when I heard talks in the cancer community about oil pulling as a safe and natural way to remove toxins from the body, I was all over it.  Before I began “pulling” however, I did a little research, and what I read seemed too good to be true.  Among the benefits reported are:

-Overall strengthening of the teeth and gums and jaws

-Whitens teeth

-Prevention of diseases of the gums and mouth, such as cavities and gingivitis

-Prevention for bad breath

-Potential holistic remedy for bleeding gums

-Prevention of dryness of the lips, mouth and throat

-Possible holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area

-Migraine headache relief

-Correcting hormone imbalances

-Reducing inflammation of arthritis

-May help with gastro-enteritis

-Aids in the reduction of eczema

-May reduce symptoms of bronchitis

-Helps support normal kidney function

-May help reduce sinus congestion

-Some people report improved vision

-Helps reduce insomnia

-Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption

-Aids in reducing pain

-Reduces the symptoms of allergies

-Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms

So what exactly is oil pulling you may ask?  Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils as agents for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and even throat.  The most common oils used are sesame oil and coconut oil, (I use organic, virgin coconut oil).

Here is how it is done:  Take a full teaspoon to tablespoon full of oil and swish it in your mouth for 20 minutes, then spit it out.  It’s that simple!  I use coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, so I first chew it to melt it, then I swish.  The oils mix with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins, and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. Once the oil has reached this consistency, it is spit out before the toxins are reabsorbed.  (It is best to spit the oil into the garbage, not the sink, as it can block the pipes.) Oil pulling is best done first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach….don’t ask me why, and don’t forget to brush your teeth after pulling.

I have been oil pulling for a week, and while I cannot attest to many of the benefits listed above, my teeth definitely feel cleaner and are noticeably whiter.  It has been 8 months since my last dental cleaning, so needless to say, little sweaters were forming on my teeth (full blown North Face jackets on the molars).  Now after just one week, it feels as if all the plaque is gone from my teeth.  My daughter asked me yesterday if I am using whitening strips, and when I told her my secret, she nabbed a half a jar of my coconut oil for herself.   As an added bonus, after oil pulling, my breath feels as sweet as a baby’s milky  breath.   As for the hangover cure claim, I will let you know in about ten minutes when I finish pulling.

Source:  http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/oil-pulling-the-habit-that-can-transform-your-health

Meet Gai Comans!

My first conversation with Gai Comans went something like this:
Gai: Hi Flo!  Are you ready to do your interview for Survivor’s Secrets?
Me: (Laughing) I think you have the wrong day, Gai, our interview is scheduled for Wednesday.
Gai: Yes.  Today. Wednesday.
Me: No Gai, today is Tuesday.
Silence
Me: Where are you calling from?
Gai: Australia
Me: Oh.  I guess it is Wednesday there.
Gai and I did eventually get our time zones worked out and managed to connect.  I am fascinated with the work that Gai is doing on behalf of breast cancer survivors, and so I would like to share her story with you.
Gai
Gai Comans is a health and wellness advocate who has a passion for helping women thrive after their treatment for  breast cancer.  Gai’s interest in helping breast cancer survivors was sparked by a life-changing cancer diagnosis in 2000, at the age of 38.  Given a 1 in 10 chance of survival, it was time to revisit her choices and the impact of them on her health.  At the time of her own diagnosis Gai was working as a senior executive in corporate, where she held senior leadership roles for 15 years.   When she was diagnosed, being a businesswomen, she dealt with both life fear and career fear.   Gai is now focussed on giving survivorship a makeover and is starting and holding global conversations on the impact and challenges of survivorship and talking about the challenges, which are usually held in secrecy, in an open forum.
Q:  Gai, please tell us a bit about your background.

 

A: I had a pretty ordinary life, really.  I was fit and healthy, working as a corporate executive and I had just married my long-term sweetheart.  Then, we had the party of the decade during the Sydney Olympics. We had to put on quite a show, but it had to top my wedding. Just kidding!  But, it was awesome.

The day we were moving into our new home, I discovered a lump.  No big deal, I thought.  I had discovered a lump in the other breast a year earlier, which turned out to be nothing.  I wasn’t so lucky the second time around.  And everything changed just a few short weeks before Christmas in 2000.

It had taken three months to confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer.  It was small, but extremely aggressive and it had already spread to my lymph nodes.  I was given a one in 10 chance of surviving.  I fought through 10 months of treatment, to emerge on the other side as a cancer survivor.

Q: Why did you start this project?

A: When I finished treatment, I was expecting that I would be ready to party. The reality was very different though.  I had been so strong all through treatment, but when treatment finished the reality started to really hit home.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. As my diagnosis was life threatening, I wasn’t quite sure if I was waiting to live or die and I dove into a short depression.  The worst part was that I thought I was the only person that this ever happened to and from there; guilt and shame took over for a while.

I started this project because if I was aware that this might have happened, I would have found the support I needed instead of thinking that I had to face it alone.  I now understand that this is a very common occurrence for breast cancer survivors. I wish I would have known that then.  This project is about helping people understand the reality of survivorship.

Q: What is Survivor Secrets all about?

A: Survivor Secrets is a conversation or perhaps a narrative might be a better way to explain it.  I wanted to provide a platform for cancer survivors to share their insights as a community, so that others may benefit from our experience.  Hindsight is such a wonderful thing and particularly when you face a life-threatening diagnosis.  I also felt it was important to share the conversations we generally have within our community, but to share them publicly.

Sharing the reality publicly can help the survivor to heal, because then they know they are not facing the trauma alone.  I believe it can provide a way for people to maybe heal a little easier, with more understanding and support.  But, it can also help their family, friends and colleagues to understand and get a little more insight into the life of someone diagnosed with cancer—some insights into the challenges, the fears and tears, the reality, rather than the pink wash of how you are supposed to “do cancer”.

Q: What have you learned from Survivor Secrets?

 

A: I have learned so much.  I loved the conversations with the ladies. Each one of them opened their hearts and provided a treasure chest full of insights.

As I have spoken more broadly about this project, it has given me a much deeper understanding of the real impact of a cancer diagnosis on family, friends, colleagues, husbands and children.  My diagnosis was personal for me, but in a way, it was personal for them too. I think I am just starting to really understand that.

Another thing that I have learned is that everyone has a survivorship story.  It isn’t always cancer, but it is something very deep and personal for them.  I believe our survivorship stories connect us all deeply if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to share our secrets.

survivor secrets

 For your FREE copy of Breast Cancer Survivor Secrets, see my last post:  http://perksofcancer.com/2014/03/02/a-free-gift-for-breast-cancer-survivors/

A Free Gift For Breast Cancer Survivors

survivor secrets

Here’s a great way to empower your life as a cancer survivor – and it’s absolutely free, no strings attached.  (It’s one of the “Perks”!)

My friend, fellow breast cancer survivor Gai Comans, has just released a new guide called “Survivor Secrets – Empower Your Life”.  And, yes, I’m one of the 21 inspirational survivors interviewed.  I was so impressed with all the interviews, I arranged for you to get a copy for free.

It features interviews with leading breast cancer survivors who reveal their insights  and “secrets” for what they wish they had known when they were diagnosed and going through treatment.   This Guide is the first in a new series.

Some of the chapters include:

How To Find Rainbows In The Breast Cancer Storm

Believing It’s Possible, Surviving Cancer 3 Times

Tools To Help You Heal Your Feelings Of Not Belonging

Giving Yourself Choice – Exploring Your Fertility Options Before Treatment

Looking For Beauty Everyday Can Help You Feeling Sexy After Cancer

Focus On Self-Care For An Holistic Outlook On Life

Coping With Anxiety – Finding Tools To Better Manage Stress

You can get your free copy of this guide by clicking here http://goo.gl/1LbH3I

I hope you enjoy this inspirational gift.  And I know it will give you the information you need to empower you through life as a cancer survivor!

The Unhealthy Vegan

fries

Hi, my name is Marcie and I am a vegan.  I have been eating this way…with no meats, eggs or dairy….for more than a year, but I still can’t seem to lose these pesky 20 pounds, and I feel tired all the time.  What’s up with that?  Take this morning, for example, I had almond milk on my bowl of frosted flakes, NOT cow’s milk!   I was feeling a little peckish by mid-morning, so I ate some low calorie BBQ flavored rice cakes and a diet coke, hardly any calories there.  Needless to say, I was starving by lunchtime, so I treated myself to McDonald’s, but in keeping with my vegan diet, I just had a large fries, and a diet coke.  I try to have a really healthy meal for dinner, so I’m preparing a salad (iceberg lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing), mashed potatoes….with margarine, not butter!….and some veggie nuggets which I found in the health food section of the supermarket.  This evening, I will be watching a movie with my boyfriend, so we will have some chips and salsa, with more diet coke, of course.  I love being a vegan, and I cannot for the life of me understand why people would put garbage like meat and dairy in their bodies!

What’s wrong with this picture?   I think it is pretty obvious that, for optimal health, Marcie needs to be more concerned with ADDING things to her diet, not just eliminating meats and dairy.  That’s why Susan and I, in our book 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, avoid using the term “vegan”.  It implies that if you don’t eat animal products, you are following a healthy diet.  As you can see from Marcie’s diet, this is not always the case.  We prefer the term “whole food plant based diet.”  That means choosing food as close to their natural source as possible: like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.  So how many of Marcie’s foods would fit with OUR way of eating?   The almond milk is a good choice and just like cow’s milk, it contains 30% calcium!  The iceberg lettuce and tomato are okay, but as a caution, if you are choosing lettuce, the greener the better.  And while you are at it, don’t smother it in bottled dressings that are packed with fat, sugar and preservatives!  You can also count the potato as a whole, plant based food, but be careful with the added fat!   Aside from that, most of Marcie’s food choices came from a factory and/or have the nutritional value of a piece of cardboard.

Just for today, take note of how many of the things that you eat come from a factory, rather than right from the earth.   How can you add more of these health promoting and cancer fighting whole, plant-based foods to your daily routine?

challenge3

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