Dianne’s Battle Royale - Small things small moments

As many of you may have heard, the experiential immunology treatment is not working for me … aaarrrgghh! Consequently, I am off all medication for the next four weeks giving my body a rest before the next steps. 

I see my oncologist in early January and most likely begin chemotherapy soon thereafter. My oncologist is a wonderful, kind, and intelligent person who I find easy to trust and who is firmly committed to ensuring that I have the best possible quality of life. She has already promised to make every effort to ensure I can continue to travel next year, still work on the topic of gender that I am so passionate about, and (of course) continue to drive my family and friends nuts with all my ideas and plans.

People ask me how do I cope with my illness? They ask if I am scared, angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed or stressed. Yes I am, all of the above and more. Do I weep? Yes often but, never for long. So how do I cope?

Many of us face challenges at some point in our lives and sometimes there is very little we can do to change the outcome. I am in this situation at the moment and let me add, it is more than scary. I always want to be in control and now there is no control. The only thing I can do is constantly remind myself that “I” am not cancer. Initially I wanted to hide my illness, pretend (mainly) to myself and to others that nothing was wrong with me or with my health. Soon I realized, we all face adversity at some point in our lives and if I share my experiences, and accept help (very difficult), it might make the road I am walking on a little more bearable. 

So how do I cope?

First, I have wonderful family and friends around me who support me and give me courage. I am so grateful for the warmth of everyone who is walking this journey with me. Genuine outpourings of love and support are contained in the hugs, smiles, messages, cards, notes, flowers and gifts I receive. You do make the journey so much less lonely and frightening. A HUGE thanks to you all! Also, a big thanks to my face-book friends for all their encouraging messages they are always uplifting when I feel down in the dumps.

Second, I continue to make plans. I am still here, feeling fine and I want to continue to make a difference! So, there will be a Women in Leadership Conference in 2017. It will probably take place in June and we’ll likely send out ‘save the date’ notifications in early January. I hope you can attend? I have also signed up to teach next year and to continue working with some great companies that are working hard to address the gender challenges in their organisations. 

Third, I want to finish this book (working title) Gender: Your Insight – HR Challenges! This is where I would really appreciate your help. I am looking for interesting short case studies that illustrate negative and positive gender-based experiences within companies and in other societal settings. The book will be about the challenges facing organizations looking to become more gender-balanced and far more inclusive across all employment levels. 

If you have had an experience or incident that you believe has a pertinent gender element, we would love to hear about it. Please contact Anita Otchere and she will give you more information. Alternatively, follow this link for more information.

Finally, I try to practice mindfulness. Let me add that this isn’t easy for a big planner like me with a brain that does not shut down. But, when I get stressed or sad, I say thanks for the big and small—always wonderful—experiences that I have had over the last few days and focus on things that made me laugh or smile – small things, beautiful moments. 

Only last week when I was feeling a little down and declined dinner with a colleague and friend, she texted me back a photo of a small sack that said “Do not open before Christmas“ (see photo above). She had wanted to give it to me at dinner but somehow knew that I always want to open gifts immediately—patience is not a strong virtue of mine . The photo lifted my spirits and made me laugh. So, a gift from a wonderful friend and colleague is now lying under my Christmas tree tormenting me with the words “Do not open before Christmas“ . Small things – beautiful moments.

So, even if my finale is not far off, mindfulness helps me focus on the positive. It reminds me how happy I am to be here, to be loved, and to love in return. It shows me that I still dancing and having fun in this journey called life. 

This year I will be celebrating Christmas and New Year at my home with my family and many of the people I love. I have my Christmas tree with sparkling decorations and I will dance on New Year’s eve into 2017 with a glass of champagne in my hand!

To all of you, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with joy and laughter. 

And, in the words of Mary Oliver:

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed!”

With much love,


ECWO Storytelling