Cancer survivor becomes wellness coach

Here is an article by Joanne Shuttleworth which appeared on the front page of the Guelph Mercury on March 9th 2010 – my 65th birthday.
I celebrated the publicity for my cancer prevention program called Start Here and Go Forward. I also celebrated the fact that I’m still alive and cancer free 23 years after having 3 types of cancer in 1987.

GUELPH -Lynn Roodbol was 41 when she learned she had breast cancer. Six months later she was also diagnosed with colon cancer and then skin cancer. All this a year after her husband had lost his job.

It was a devastating period and Roodbol said she felt helpless and hopeless as she became a pincushion for chemotherapy, at the beck and call of her doctors, and faced with the very real spectre of her death.

“I had myself in a pine box,” Roodbol said quietly. “I really thought I was going to die. But my husband coached me through it and I had a huge support system. And somewhere along the way something changed.

“The light went on for me and I stopped that downward spiral. I wanted to do anything I could to live again.”

Roodbol turns 65 next week — a number she never expected to reach in those dark days. She’s also a certified wellness coach in part from gratitude for the extra 20-plus years she’s been given. And part to help people who may be feeling as powerless as she had. Roodbol is leading a five-week workshop called Start Here and Go Forward, a program based on wellness coaching that will discuss healthy lifestyle choices, which help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of its recurrence.

It runs from Hospice Wellington’s temporary location on Woodlawn Road on Monday evenings, 7 to 8:30 p.m. from March 22 to April 19. Cost is free, but registration is required.

The methods she recommends are neither a surprise nor complicated and they can prevent other diseases besides cancer — eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and relaxation and learn to manage your stress.

“I’m not an expert, so if I can do it, anyone can,” she said. “But sometimes it’s difficult to see that on your own. A wellness coach will grab your hand and work beside you as you realize your goals.”

Roodbol said she was weighed down by negativity when she was diagnosed with all her cancers, and even when she began to recover she still didn’t feel well. She started to visit a therapist who helped her to leave negative feelings behind and focus on the positive.

“Therapy taught me to let go of anger and guilt. After all, I was an X-ray tech and I didn’t have a mammogram. I blamed myself. I was full of guilt. I had to learn to let it go,” she said.

It’s not as superficial as it may sound. Sometimes it takes a seminal event to put life in perspective. Sometimes an attitude adjustment is in order.

“Once you hear the ‘cancer’ word, you often don’t hear anything else,” said Erin McInnis, client services supervisor with Hospice Wellington. “And it’s easy to get lost in all the information. But life is about living, it’s about wellness. Lynn will challenge and inspire participants.

“At times like that, people are looking for things they can do to help themselves. Lynn will show them how.”

“If you spend your energy on wellness, it’s energy you don’t have to spend on being sick. And believe me, it’s so much more pleasant being healthy,” Roodbol said.

If you go:

WHAT: Start Here and Go Forward, a workshop based on wellness coaching that will discuss healthy lifestyle choices, which help people to prevent cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer.

WHEN: Monday evenings, 7 to 8:30 p.m. from Mar. 22 to April 19

WHERE: Hospice Wellington, 107 Woodlawn Rd. W.

COST: Free

This program is now full and I’m registering people for a new program starting on April 26 2010. Thank you for your interest!

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