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  • Valerie Hope

Ep. 61 Not Quite Strangers: Healing Cancer With Soul

Updated: Jun 5




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Not Quite Strangers: Healing Cancer With Soul

Welcome once again to the latest episode of the show. This show is an opportunity to bring people together who may or may not know one another. Hopefully, in the conversation that we have and in the conversation that you read, we inspire curiosity, learn how to shift our perspectives, and ultimately establish a connection between all of us.


I'm excited about every opportunity that I have to meet new people and, more than anything, the impact that it has on my guests. I'll introduce them in a moment. If you're not already subscribed to receive these episodes in your mailbox, feel free to go to NotQuiteStrangers.com. Make sure that you click Subscribe. You can also go to my YouTube channel. If you'd like to get on the mailing list when you subscribe, we'll make sure that we get something to your inbox every day. You can tune in to us on all platforms. Make sure you like and favorite us. You'll get notified by those platforms whenever any new episode is ready. You don't want to miss a single one.


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This is a very special episode. It's like a reunion episode, I believe. Here, I have two amazing women whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for eight-plus years, maybe or so. It's been a while. I'll start with Maurine. Did we meet in Chile or Costa Rica? I don't remember.


It was in Costa Rica or in Mexico City. Remember with the gem training or something like that?


Was that the first time?


I think so. That was the first time, and then we met again in Costa Rica.


This is a very international friendship. Both of us worked for Hyatt at the time. We went to do some training in Mexico City. That's where we first happened to meet. You were in Costa Rica at Andaz Papagayo. You were the food and beverage director. One of the things I remember about you, Maurine, and that struck me is, first of all, the level of energy that you have. Anyone who works in food and beverage, first of all, has to have tons of energy. That's not unusual.


It was also how warm, hospitable and open you are. You took such good care of me every time I came to the property. I knew that I was going to have a ten-plus experience whenever I went. It always happened. Every time I went there to visit and do a property visit, you and I would end up having these really deep conversations. On my last day, I had breakfast and went to the airport. Here’s Maurine and we were like, “Life, and then family.”


That's correct.


It was right before I left.


You helped me a lot to make some important decisions as well during those conversations.


I want to know more. You're going to tell us in a moment what some of those important decisions were. I want to introduce my second guest here, Tami Lee. Tami, you and I go way back to Chile, for sure. There's a connection between the two of you already. What was interesting, Tami, is that I went to Chile initially to support the hotel where your husband, Mark, was the general manager. I ended up being Mark's coach. I was his leadership coach for some time.


Hospitality runs through any of these guests. Mark would invite us to your home and you would prepare this really lavish food. I say lavish because of the time and the plating. Everything was so wonderful. It was so warm. You and I talked a little bit during those interactions, but nothing profound because usually, there were a lot of other people.


When you were working on getting your coaching certification, Mark was telling me about that. I was like, “That'd be cool. I'd like to get coached.” You became my coach. That's how you and I established this friendship. I have not spoken to Mark since. Maybe I spoke to him 1 or 2 times, but he and I spoke so regularly, and all of a sudden, it is like, “I talked to Tami.” All of us are connected because I'm Maurine's coach and Tami was my coach. Tell us how the two of you know each other.


Don't create the stress and environment to allow cancer to come back.

From Grand Height, Santiago.


Say more. Tell the audience how you guys met. What was the connection there?


Mark, my husband, was the general manager there and Maurine was part of his amazing team at that time.


Mark was my food and beverage director first. I worked with him for 2 or 3 years.


We never met in Santiago then, Maurine. You weren't there at all during that time. Tell the audience where you are and how you got there. What took you to where you are, both of you?


Tami, go ahead. Do you want to go?


Sure. We are in Berlin, Germany. We've been here for years. We left Santiago, Chile, which was one of the last stops in a long road of living and traveling around the world in the hospitality industry. Mark and I met while we were both in the hospitality industry. Together, we traveled through North and Southeast Asia to Europe, and then South America and India. Santiago was our last stop. We moved from Santiago to Chile with two young children and a dog. We then moved here to Berlin and settled here. We are working on our own hospitality intergenerational wellness concept North of Berlin called the Schlossgut Finowfurt.


I remember your dog, Saba. Is Saba still with us?


Unfortunately not. Saba turned sixteen and a half. His age was catching up with him, so he's no longer with us.


I'm sorry to hear that. Maurine, what would you add to where you are and how you got there?


I am in Brazil. This is pretty much my fifth property. I'm still working with Hyatt. Before that, I was in Chile for a year because of the pandemic. That's pretty much it. I am in Brazil. I am in the hotel still. I've been here for almost a year. I am on my second journey because before, it was several years ago.


Several years ago, you were in Brazil?


Yeah.


This is part two.


That was my first time in Brazil.


First of all, I'm so grateful the two of you came to be a part of this show because we have a lot to talk about and catch up. You haven't seen each other in eight-plus years, I imagine, or more.


I think more, Tami, right? It’s maybe 9 or 10 years.


I'm trying to think. For some reason, I think that you were still there when we were in Santiago the second time. Since you are telling us the dates, we met you for the first time in Santiago.


I was part of the team when we received you at the hotel for the first time. Mark was my director. You then left. I don't remember exactly where you were, but then you came back. When you came back, I wasn't there anymore. I was here in Brazil at that time.


It's been a long time.


Probably a couple of years ago.


You look exactly the same.


That's good. I'm happy to hear that.


First of all, I always like to ask my guests, “Why did you say yes to being on the show?” I know that when, Maurine, you found out I was introducing you to Tami, you were like, “I already know her.” It has been ten years since we discovered it. Besides the fact that I invited you to do this, why did you say yes to being on a show to have a conversation? I know this is the first time for both of you, so why?


For me, because I didn't even know it was going to be Maurine, the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level is important to me. What transpires in the sharing of it gives me another level of energy that I love to embrace, for sure. Even the fact that we're going from Germany to America to Brazil,  the world is so small. Our similarities are probably a lot stronger than we think despite the thousands of miles between all of us.


Maurine, why did you say yes?


I was always watching all the videos of all these kinds of shows on LinkedIn. When I was watching, I was asking myself, “It could be some time that I will be able to do this one.” I'm not an expert in these things. This is my first time. When you invited me, I was wondering if I could be the one to do it. That was the first reason.


The second one is because in tuning in to one of your episodes before, I was so excited to see the connection in people as well. As with Tami, I like those kinds of things, connecting with other people and meeting somebody else. I didn't even know that I would be talking with Tami, but I'm so excited to have her here because we haven't chatted for a long time. It's good. I’m happy.


I'm grateful you both said yes. Let's talk about this deeper connection. One of the key topics that popped up in my mind when I started thinking about bringing the two of you to the show was that you both have a shared experience in your health dealing with cancer, for example. I don't know how much of it you want to share. You're open to sharing. I don't know if you know that about each other, but I'm curious. You didn't know that about each other?


No.


Let's start there. What would you share with one another about that experience?


Maurine, when did you have cancer?


A few years ago. I was in Costa Rica at that time. What about you?


In 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.


How was your process?


You are really always surprised. Although cancer is in my family on both sides of the family, my father's side and my mother's side, we live a pretty healthy life with diet, exercise, and all of that.


I remember that.


To be diagnosed with cancer was a big surprise. It is to anybody. It also was an opportunity to look at cancer very differently. I often hear the words the war against cancer. The wording in itself tells you a lot about where you stand when you have cancer. I don't think I ever thought about my war with cancer, but I've always said it's my dance with cancer. When you say it’s a war, it automatically comes up with negativity.


This was one of my questions for you, Maurine. When significant events happen in our lives, such as cancer, it provides us with an opportunity to look deeper into things and to do things differently. Besides the physical things that happened to you, and I don't know what treatments you did or what road you have chosen to go down on, how has cancer created a shift in your life? For me, cancer was an opportunity to look at health and healthcare holistically and be thankful that we are in Germany and we have the opportunity to do that in this type of environment where various types of medicine are very well received, so your options are varied.


When I got cancer, I was coming from a very complicated year because I lost my older brother to cancer as well. I come in, too, with a family with a very bad cancer history. My mom died when I was twelve years old. My older brother died one year before I got cancer. It was a very difficult year for me at that time.


After all the diagnosis and conversations with the doctors, I was the one thinking that it was because I was in a big sadness, which is one of the big reasons that I got it. It was a very big surprise because even living with a cancer history in your life, in my case, I never thought that it was something that I was going to get. I believed that I was so strong, and then I got sick. It was difficult.


I don't know if that happened to you, but I had to take the time to understand what I got. The doctor said that I had cancer. He gave me the diagnosis as well, but something in my head was like, “It’s fine, but it's not.” I took time to process that. I was very lucky because my cancer was in the first stage, even though I had a big surgery and a bilateral mastectomy. My process was with cancer at the beginning, but it was more after that because I spent almost a year trying to recover from it.


It's interesting. I've not had any experience with cancer that the two of you have had, but I remember having conversations with both of you during the time that you were dealing with your treatment and your experiences. We’re going back to the question that you asked, Tami, about what it does for you and how it shifts who you are, how you see the world, and how you see your life. I'm curious about what impact you saw it have on others and the relationship that you have with other people.  This is for both of you.


For me, it was especially with your close family. I remember my husband and my daughter were trying to be very strong for me in order for me to be cured, but many times, I was the one thinking or feeling that they didn't understand what was happening to me or what was my feeling at that time. In the beginning, it was that situation with them, especially with my husband and my daughter. They were always super positive, even when we didn't know what was going to happen. I remember that feeling of being the one that everybody was there for me, and they were strong for me, but my feeling was more that they didn't understand what I was feeling at the time.


I got that. They didn't really get it.


I don’t know, Tami. What about you?


What you said is true. You can never really understand physically, cognitively, and emotionally where another person is unless you've been in their shoes. It is exactly the same. Your family is scared for you and they want to support you in all of that. It was really important for me to be honest with the two girls. At that time, 1 was 10 and another 1 was 12, so they were still fairly young. To be honest about it as well. They were free to ask questions. There was no mystery behind that.


NQS | Healing Cancer
Healing Cancer: I have cancer, but it wasn't all about the cancer.


Also, from a cultural point of view, that is different where you may share some information but you may not share all the information. If you're not really truly honest and authentic with information, that's not the right thing either. For me, the mindset of how I accepted cancer in my life was also very important. I didn't want to be identified as a person with cancer. I am Tami and I have cancer, but it wasn't all about the cancer, if that makes any sense. I'm still a person first. I still have feelings. The sickness is part of the journey more than anything else.

One of the things about relationships that was the biggest one was I didn't tell my mother that I was sick. That was not from trying to withhold information, but it was more of being protective of her. I know that she would be the type who worries. She had cancer herself. I honestly think that her worry and the stress in her life were part of the reason why she got cancer. I knew at the time of her life that telling her if I had cancer would not be a good thing for her.


Worry and stress in your life could be part of the reason why you get cancer.

You and I have had some conversations, but I'm curious, what was it like for you to hold that, interact with your relatives, your siblings, and your mom and everyone, and not share that with them? What was that like for you?


It was also really complicated because during that time that I was sick, COVID crept in. It was limited on how you could interact anyway. I didn't travel back to my home country of Canada. I didn't see my parents and all of that. That made it a little bit more strange. If we had physical contact, it would be a little bit different. It was all virtual.


Both of you have given a hint as to how you chose to approach when you got the diagnosis. You said, Tami, the fact that you were in Germany gave you access to a lot of different modalities to handle it. Maurine, you said you took the time to understand what it meant for you and how it could be linked to your sadness for your brother.


I'm curious about how you went about choosing. I want to be responsible. This is not, by any means, medical advice. No one is saying, “If you're reading this,” that you're like, “Tami told us to.” That's not how it's happening here. In the spirit of sharing with each other your experience and unpacking for us, how did you go about addressing the illness at the time you were diagnosed? Once you did your research or whatever, how did you decide how you were going to handle it? Maurine, you can start if you want.


NQS | Healing Cancer
Healing Cancer: We embraced the homeopathic root. It takes time, patience, and persistence, but the persistence paid off.


Do you mean in terms of the medicine or in terms of the doctors?


Yeah, or any aspect that you decided to treat or make yourself feel better.


When I started thinking, “Probably, I have cancer,” I had a Costa Rican friend at the time. She had cancer as well. One day, we were having this conversation. I gave her some examples of the things that I have. She said to me, “You have to go to a doctor because I think that is cancer.” She said that to me before I got all the information. That was the reason. I started thinking that I was probably the one having it.


You're saying that you had some awareness or sensation that you shared with your friend, and then she said, “That sounds like it could be cancer. Go get it checked out.”


Kind of. My cancer started in the skin. I was having, at that time, some scratches and hurt, so I could look at it that time. I was having that conversation with her, and then she said, “That is not normal.” I was with that for almost seven months before I got the right diagnosis. She was the one telling me at that time to visit one specific doctor because she said that he was the one who helped her with her process. That was the reason. I went there with him. For me, he was a very important piece in my whole process. In the beginning, it was very difficult because I remember him saying, “You have cancer. Now, everything is going to depend on how many other parts of your body are having the same.”


It spreads.


Exactly. What was the first conversation? The personal touch of life that you are going to get, it's going to depend on how many parts of your body are with cancer as well. In the beginning, it was very difficult because when you are trying to process that, then you have that feeling that you have something complicated. It is not a cold, a flu, or something like that. That was at the beginning.


He changed his behavior with me a lot. He was the one carrying me through all the processes. I have other doctors, but always, one time in a year, I visit him in Costa Rica. He is the one explaining to me everything and being very clear and transparent. My feeling with him was feeling that I was safe with him. I don't know why at that time, but that was my feeling. This is a connection that I cannot even forget. I was blessed that I was in that country and that I had good insurance as well. Otherwise, it will be complicated.


Tami, I’m curious. What is happening in your head there? What are you thinking and feeling listening to her?


It's curious that this person knew. She had the strength of intuition to share with you.

I remember I was running with her at that moment. In our running, I was saying, “I’m having this. The doctor said that it is something  allergic to the skin or something like that.” She stopped and said, “That is not that one. It's very weird you are having something allergic there. How can the doctor say that to you? I'm going to call my doctor.” She called him and said, “I have my friend here. She has this.” He answered her, “Tell her to come 2 or 3 days after,” and then I went. She was also important in the process because if I hadn't had that conversation with her, I would probably still think that it was something allergic or something normal.


Another key piece of this was that you embraced the situation. I know having conversations with people who either have been diagnosed or there's something wrong with them. Sometimes, when you say, “Maybe you should get that checked out,” or, “That doesn't sound right,” some people take it on and some people push back, whether it's fear-driven or other reasons. Not everybody's open to receiving that type of feedback or information, but you did, which is important.


It was more because of my history. My mother died of cancer. I was twelve years old at that time, so I was the one seeing her process as well. Immediately when she said something like that, my friend, I remembered the past with her. The history of those kinds of things as well also gives you some structure to understand when somebody says, “There is something weird here.”


When she said that, I also felt it. When somebody's telling you something, you feel, “She's completely right. Something is wrong with me. This is something that is happening,” I had that feeling with me. I didn't know at that time. I didn't confirm, but when she said that, immediately, I was thinking, “She's completely right. I have that.”


Tami, I'm curious. You mentioned you had access to a lot of different types of modality, specifically holistic. When had you decided that was a path? There's so much one hears about cancer, at least in my experience. You hear so much about cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy are the two biggest, at least from what I understand, ways to treat it. It sounds like you went beyond some of the standard care practices. How did you go about deciding that was the path for you?


I was diagnosed in a very traditional hospital, a Western medical facility. Quite interestingly, the whole homeopathic and naturopathic path that we had taken started in Santiago with our first child. Our eldest child had really bad eczema and Dermatitis when she was six months old. Mark had found this amazing homeopathic doctor.


The reason why we did that was because the traditional doctors said cortisone. We said, “Are you crazy? Our child is six months old. We're not doing cortisone.” The more that we found out about the homeopathic route, the more we embraced it. It takes time, patience, and persistence. The persistence paid off. I could only imagine what our daughter's life would be like if we didn't go the homeopathic route and she had cortisone and all those harsh chemical creams in her life.


Also, when we came to Berlin, we got in touch with this fantastic naturopath. Homeopathic and naturopathic have been a part of our lives for the last couple of years. When I was diagnosed with cancer in the traditional hospital, my naturopath gave us a book about Max Gerson. He was a German who had cancer. He was about the therapy of juicing and coffee enemas and approaching it in a different way.


I had to make the decision of whether I would go more to the traditional chemotherapy and radiation route. I had heard that people chose to go completely naturopathic. At the time, because of the age of the two girls, Sara and Thalia, I said I would do the chemo and the radiation, but I wanted to integrate other forms into my healthcare. I am thankful that I was in Germany. I am in Germany for that. I managed to find a great anthroposophic hospital.


What is that?


It’s the more naturalistic, holistic form of looking at healthcare. The hospital is particularly known for natural childbirth and is also looking at more than the chemo or the radiation. You can get the chemo and the radiation therapy there, but things like art are part of the healing process. Another example is when I  did the chemo, I was not sitting in a sterile white room. I sat up on the patio with other people getting the chemo. I was looking into a forest instead of a hospital room.


When I went for the lumpectomy from the surgery, somebody came in and played the harp as part of the music for your healing. They believed in lavender and the healing part of lavender to have a lavender foot bath. All of that is in the holistic view of looking at your healthcare. Also, I had found somebody in Berlin, ironically, who had a connection to my home city, Vancouver. His approach was TCM or Chinese Traditional Medicine. You don't look at the problem where the cancer is. You look at your whole body as a whole.


NQS | Healing Cancer
Healing Cancer: You don't look at the problem where the cancer is, but you look at your whole body as a whole.


Not only do you have a problem with the cancer, but you need to make sure that your immune system is taken care of. You need to compensate if you're having the chemo or the radiation. For me, I did 72 hours of fasting before the chemo and then 24 hours of fasting after. I did a lot of things like liver cleansing, kidney cleansing, and colon cleansing to get rid of all the things that happen with all the chemo and everything like that. I had changes in my diet. I did things like meditation. I did more yoga. It was looking at different ways of healing from a holistic entire body perspective but also from a mental and physical perspective as well.


That is holistic, literally.


I never heard of something like that, but it's perfect. I was thinking about my time when I got it. If I had had that opportunity, it could have helped me a lot as well. It's amazing.


One thing we didn't discuss, and that may be for another conversation, is the role that culture plays and how you choose to address cancer or health. Tami, you talked about Germany a lot and how the medical landscape there allowed you. Maurine, you talked about Costa Rica. The two of you are not from these places. I'm like, “I wonder what they would've done in Chile,” or, “I wonder what they would've done in Vancouver, Canada,” if the place where you lived had anything to do with how you went about it. Does that make sense?


Yeah.


It does. There is a bigger, deeper dive in that too. I always thought if we were in Chile, I would always question healthcare. We have really good public healthcare here, which a lot of it was. All my chemo and radiation were covered. In Santiago, since good healthcare is private, you would always question, “Do I really need to have this treatment, or is it because they make more money?”


Probably, they didn't tell you that one. I'm not sure if Chile has that.


What do you mean? As an option?


Yeah. Luckily, being in Germany, you have all these different natural options as well. You have the question about culture in where you are for the treatment, but what about the culture within us? Being Asian, you suppress things. You don't talk about things. It is very cultural that you don't dive deep into sharing and all of that. For whatever reason, it is like, “You shouldn't let the kids know. You shouldn't share that,” or whatever. It’s that part of it as well. It is keeping things calm, keeping things at bay, and swallowing it. I'm sure that plays a huge role in it.


That’s fascinating. How are you guys? What’s the status of your health?


I'm good. I didn't go to the chemotherapy because I took a very drastic decision. I took the decision to remove everything. That's why I got the mastectomy. Even though the sickness was in one, because of my mom's history, I decided to remove everything. I'm okay. I have period exams all the time. I didn't have it again.


I have to change many things in my regular life. They’re not similar to Tami, but, for example, diet and things like that are something that I have to change in order to not be sick again. It’s to get the body healthy to not have that opportunity to have it again. I became vegan a couple of years ago because of the cancer that I got. I'm having a plant-based diet. It's been perfect for me at this time. I'm good. I don't have to worry. I don't have that concern anymore. I don't know if this happened with Tami. You have the ghost all the time. When you have gotten cancer,  you are not thinking of having it again. You are thinking it is something that could happen. You can be that person to have it again.


That's why you've been thinking, Maurine, that you have the ghost of it?


Sometimes. That's the reason. I take the exams every six months to check to see if everything is good. I'm in that kind of process, but I'm good.


That’s great. Congratulations.


Thank you.


It is very similar. I, too, still go for regular checkups. I still have meetings with my oncologist every three months. I still go for the mammogram, the sonogram, blood tests, and all of that to make sure things are okay. I don't know if it was offered to you, Maurine, but here, because cancer was in my family, they offered to do a genetic testing of probability as well so that you can decide about what steps you want to take as well.


Although cancer is very heavy on my mother's side and also a little less heavy but still significant on my father's side, knowing that it wasn't genetic was good because you think of it differently. For me, would I have gotten a lumpectomy as opposed to a mastectomy if it was genetic? They also know that uterine cancer and breast cancer are often quite common. You also know that other people may have a hysterectomy to reduce the chances. That was good in the process of making those decisions for me.


It's always in the back of your mind at some point in time. Two things that I know during the cancer that I look back upon were having lower back pains and being so exhausted. It was the cancer. There are times when if I do have these lower back pains or I'm physically so exhausted, I'm going, “No.” That always still pops up in my mind. Although, like you, I've gone vegan, do the meditation, and everything else, there is still something that's there.


A little voice, right?


Yeah.


That has happened to me all the time. I don't know if everybody can see it as a negative thing. My husband always asks me, “Why do you think that you are going to get it again?” I say to him, “It is not that. I'm not thinking that I'm going to have it again. I want to be fast. I want to be quick. If I have something, because it can happen, I have the opportunity to have time to know earlier.” That's the reason. I do the checkups all the time. Do it frequently, every six months or something like that, but that voice is there. This happens to everyone who has cancer, but you have it and you learn how to live and how to control it when the voice comes.


If you have cancer, you learn how to live with it and control it.

In my family, there is also a history, especially on my dad's side, of colon cancer and prostate cancer.  My grandmother and a couple of my uncles had it. My dad is always very like, “Make sure everybody gets checked.” My mom's like, “Have you had your mammogram?” There is an awareness and an interest in making sure. Thank God. My family, my parents, and my brothers are fine when it comes to that, but there’s caution. There's a little there. The family history does influence quite a bit. Shifting gears a little bit with the two of you, this is probably the longest conversation I've had about cancer with people who have experienced it. I'm curious about what it is like to talk about it. What's it like to share with somebody, whether it's a stranger or not, about your experience?


I'm not cancer first and then Tami, but I'm Tami, who has had the dance with cancer. It’s the same thing with Maurine. Are you ready? If Maurine wasn't ready to hear the information about, “We think that it could be breast cancer. Go see my doctor,” I see that a lot. People are open and receptive to hearing your story to get whatever information that maybe resonate for them so they can integrate it into their journey. Other people are quite the opposite. It’s holistic wellness and seeing your body as one that is not shared by everybody. That's okay, too. You get that sense right away that people are on that journey for themselves.


I would love to share the journey because more people can get from the journey that I've taken. It was a full-time job to research and find the doctors. If I could share that information, I'd be more than happy to. I also don't want to be so much like, “You should be doing this.,” because I'm not that. I don't want to be that. Everybody has to find their own path.


Everybody has to find their own path.

Maurine, what about you?


It's pretty much like Tami. I don't have a big challenge in sharing my history. The most common when I have to explain or when I have to talk about having it, is because everybody at the beginning asked me about why I am vegan. That's the first question normally. When I have to explain that one, I always say, “That is because I had breast cancer some years ago. I found that being on a plant-based diet can help your body not have those kinds of inflammations.”


In the way that I explain them at the beginning, it is the way that Tami was saying. I don't want to be the one that’s like, “I have cancer. You don't have to do this. You don't have to eat this. You have to do sport. You have to be positive.” I like to share it because, as my example with my friend, we probably wouldn't have that conversation if she didn't share anything with me or didn't share her history. Sometimes, when we are talking with another woman, that person probably feels or has the same things that I got. That can be an alert, so I am always very happy to share it.


I don’t know if It's happened to Tami. Probably yes. When you said that you had cancer, it was something very strong. Probably, the other person is going to look at you like, “She had cancer.” I got those ones. At the beginning, it's not easy. I decided to share it because that is very important. Many women can have the same and probably they didn't know. Maybe that conversation can also help a lot to make that person say, “I have it the same. I'm going to go to the doctor. I'm going to go take the exam to check up  in case.”


Something important that the two of you have both mentioned, for anyone who's been reading, is to be open to sharing what's happening in your life with someone you trust or know can hear what you really have to say. Also, it’s to notice what resonates. Both of you expressed in different ways hearing something or experiencing something and exploring, “Does this resonate for me? Is this true for me? Is this something that's interesting to me?”

You're so keenly aware of your reaction to somebody sharing something or something that you learned. That's also a really wonderful message. This conversation is not about giving anybody medical advice. We're not proposing that everyone become vegan or that you go have lavender foot baths or anything like that. Those are all nice. In fact,


Maurine, you were talking about how people were asking you about being vegan. I remember sitting next to this woman at a conference. Our meal was served. It was this very nice meal with all these different types of interesting foods. She would always ask, “What's in this?” She kept asking these questions. I leaned over at one point and said, “I noticed that you've asked a lot about some of the ingredients. I'm curious. What's having you ask these questions? She said, “I've had cancer. I'm committed to ensuring that the changes that I made to my diet, even though I'm in a public space, I'm able to honor them.” I was like, “Oh.”


Apparently, she read this book called The Body by Bill Bryson. She said, apparently, after reading that, she's very disciplined about her movement and exercise, not only with her diet but also her sleep. There were so many things that shifted. She's out there kicking it. I don't know where she's at. This was a few years ago, before the pandemic. She was very active in her life. She was alive.


This is what I want to ask the two of you. Since you've gone through this journey and you've both had your dances with cancer, what are you committed to in your life? What does life look like in your decisions and how you choose to spend your time or your relationships? Any aspect of life that's important to you, what is it like?


For me, too, I have gone vegetarian, not vegan. That wasn't a huge shift because Thalia, our youngest daughter, is also vegetarian.


Were they vegetarian before you?


She was. The shift in the diet to be more alkaline than acidic is also very important. It’s particularly to create the ambiance in your body, knowing that cancer thrives in acidic environments. The other thing is the mindset. It is ensuring and trying to make sure that the mindset is in the right place with meditation, gratitude, and breathing. Incorporating meditation in the morning and the evening, as well as doing a gratitude practice in the morning before getting out of bed, has been important as well.


For me, also exploring the cause of the cancer is a big one for me. Maurine, you have said that we both have it in our genes genetically, but I know that it wasn't the cause of that. I do know that I originally, for the longest time, have said it was due to stress. It was an extremely stressful time in my life. I thought, “That's the cause of cancer.” In that same breath and having certain conversations about life, genetics, and genetic history, it is questioning whether there is something more to that.


Like what?


You've said, Maurine, that your mother had cancer. My mother had cancer as well. Is there more to the history of our families that could also be a source of this? I don't get this.


I want to make sure I'm clear. You're talking about this not in terms of some sort of gene, mutation, or something, but there's some pattern. Is it an emotional thing?


Some significant event or anger or hurt gets carried from generation to generation.


Unhealed trauma.


Unhealed trauma that sits in us that is dormant comes out, whether it comes out to present us with an opportunity to learn or to live differently and for us to address it. I've told you, Val, that I am very curious about the family constellations.


Cancer is either dormant or it comes out. And when it comes out, it presents us with an opportunity to learn.

You might want to explain what that means because people are like, “What is that?” Also, I don't remember.


There is a series on Netflix called Another Self that has found the constellations as a plot within some of the main characters. It is about how three women are going through significant events in their lives. Ironically, the first person has cancer and ends up going to this healing place. The leader is about doing family constellations.


It is about people that you don't even know taking part in something that has happened in your family's life. These scenes are recreated. Things come out that people who participate have no idea why they said this or how they felt this, but they end up playing out with these roles in the past that tell you something about something that's happened in your history.


That's great.


Understanding that can help you in the healing process. Does that make sense?


Yeah. This is deep.


I was thinking about that one as well.


It sounds like there are people in our lives, whether or not they're related or not, who have had an opportunity to interact at some point in time with us, our ancestors, and our family members. Those interactions have an impact on that person. What you're saying is we're all connected. The moment that someone has an impact on your mom's experience, whatever happened to your mom will then be passed on to you, whether that's her knowledge or her reactions. Tami took it deep.


The cancer that I got was an expression of the pain that my mother had. She also had cancer that she got from either her mother or her father. The question is the importance of diving deeper into that because I've got two girls.


I got that point. I have one as well. I had the same thought about her. It was, “You have to be good because you have another girl and she can also have it.” One of the first things that I got when I was diagnosed and everything, the doctor said to me, “You have to do the gene exam.” I didn’t know at that time. He said, “You have to do it.” I said, “Why? I have cancer. My mom has it. My brother has it. Can there be any possibility that I don't?” He said to me, “Yeah, but you have a daughter. She can have it.” You have to understand if you have that gene, depending on her situation, it will be her situation.


That's tough.


Has anybody read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now?


Yeah.


Is cancer a pain body? That’s the power of now.


We could have a 2nd or 3rd episode.


I was thinking that. We have to have another conversation with Tami so she can explain all these deep things that we already know.


It's fascinating. What the two of you are pointing to is not only that there is a physical experience and the healthcare systems that you both connected to address a lot of the physical experience, but it also sounds like there's an emotional experience to explore. There's a mental experience to explore. There are dynamics with other people to explore. For the two of you, a big motivation for it has been both of you have daughters that you also want to continue to share with, empower, and model, it sounds like. You model a way to stay healthy. Maurine, you haven't gotten a chance to ask Tami any questions yet, so I'm curious.


I did some small ones.


That’s true. There was a little bit of back and forth. Where would you guys take this conversation? We’re closing in on our time together. What would you want to talk about if you were to continue this conversation beyond this moment? What are you curious about that you haven't had a chance to discuss yet?


For me, it'd be more of understanding Tami's process. Every person has different processes. When you connect with somebody who has pretty much the same thing as you, you can have many other conversations about many other things. It will be very interesting to understand her process, what is next for her, and how she is looking at her life in the future. These are some of the questions that I sometimes have. It is like, “Where do I want to go? What do I want to do in the future? What do I want to do in 2 or 3 years?” That is something that will be good to know, having after conversations.


NQS | Healing Cancer
Healing Cancer: When you connect with somebody, you can have many conversations about many other things.


Tami, what about you? What would you want to continue to discuss? What haven't you asked that you wanted to?


The ongoing conversation would be the regular checks with Maurine of not just the physical but where and how you are doing with the spiritual. How does that help you? Does it help you? Dancing with cancer and surviving the dance with cancer impacts your belief systems in yourself and makes you feel and think differently. It makes you dive deeper into the emotional and spiritual well-being.


Since both of you said this, I do want to ask this question before we wrap up. Knowing that you're both dealing with what you've dealt with, you've gone through your process, and you're both healthy in terms of cancer no longer in your bodies, I’ll be circling back to the question I asked earlier about your relationships.


How has this experience for the two of you informed how you relate to other people? How do you connect to the people in your lives? How do you express yourself? Both of you are working women. You're both incredibly committed to your work, the communities you live in, and the families you're raising. How does all of this experience inform how you live with others and invest yourself or time with others?


For myself, it is really making sure that I have time for myself. We, as women, get so caught up in being the mother or the caretaker of the home. I was the caretaker of the dog while working full-time, being the chef, being the doctor at home, and whatever. I always came in at the bottom. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, that did not serve me well. I know that.

Living in the present is something that I'm working desperately to try to make sure is on the top of my mind. It is balance, for sure. All of us have been in the hospitality industry. We know that we go into the office needing to accomplish 5 things or 10 things that are urgent. You never get the five done. It builds up from day to day. It's so easy for us to continue and set healthy boundaries. I know I'm not the cancer, but I also need to be cognizant that I can't create stress in the environment to allow the cancer to come back.


I like that.


That, for me, is really important. It is living in the present and being conscious.


Maurine, you?


I agree with Tami. For me, it's trying to be mentally strong every day to leave the person. I learned a phrase when I was very sick. It was one day by day. I'm living day by day. I am trying to keep my mind very strong. I am leaving the present with the people that I have with me all the time. I am using all the moments to join myself. Tami said something important. When you learn that, you know that you come first as well. That mental balance with a healthy balance as well is important to me.


For you, it's all about balance, being good to yourself, and then being able to take every day as it comes day by day. I'd like to ask this one last question for you to share with the audience. If you were to challenge the audience or invite them to do something due to this conversation that they've been present to, what would you each recommend, advise, or challenge people to do?


My challenge would be, what emotion or pattern would you let go of? It’s like the pain body. What pain body do you need to let go of to live a healthier and happier life? Can you identify them?


Thank you. Maurine, what about you?


I'm trying to think of one. I will ask them if they feel that they have a balance in their lives. If they don’t, how can they start having it? After the pandemic, everybody is working like crazy. Things are going very fast. That's probably not a good thing. Remember how important your balance is and how important it is to keep your mind, your health, and your food. If you are doing exercise, that is something that somebody has to question.


Remember how important your mental balance is.

Those are good challenges. They read about it here. This has been a beautiful conversation. Thank you so much, both of you, for sharing so deeply with your experiences. I know it's probably not always easy to share some of the things you shared with each other, with us, and with whoever's been reading. I’m curious. How do you feel? What are you taking away from this experience of not having seen each other after ten years and then having a conversation about your health? What are you taking away from this conversation?


It was a connection despite so long ago that we met and we have reunited. We have gone through the same path and share a lot of similarities. For me, the word comfort comes to mind for some reason. It was an environment that was very natural and open to share. It was a safe place to share. I feel connected.


It's interesting how life is. We met many years ago. We probably shared things completely differently at that time, and ten years later, we are sharing the same experience. I cannot be more happy to have this time. I feel like we are safe to have these conversations. It's good.


That full circle is interesting. You had completely different conversations several years ago and very similar experiences ten years later. That is lovely. I've so enjoyed all the examples you shared and the process you've shared. I'm learning a lot. Some things resonate. Hopefully, there are people out there who are reading who will see a different perspective as a result.


The two of you are such amazing, generous, loving, and open-hearted human beings. That's the piece that really helps with the connection. Some of this stuff is painful too and can be very confronting, but both of you are like, Bring it. Let's explore family history. Let's see what my body can do. Lavender foot baths for everybody.”


I am grateful for the time that you two spent. I hope that you continue to have conversations. The fact that all three of us are in different parts of the world makes it all that more special. Thanks, you two, very much. Those of you who tuned into this episode of the show, thank you all for tuning in. I hope that you do subscribe. Make sure that you hit like or favorite us on your favorite platform. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Have a wonderful rest of the day, everyone.

 

Important Links


Strangers: Meet Maurine Duhart & Tami Lee

From: Chile/Brazil & Canada/Germany

Talk About: Healing cancer with soul

 

Connect with:

Maurine Duhart - LinkedIn

Tami Lee - LinkedIn

 

Resources:

 

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and access new and past episodes! To receive episodes and personal 'Connection Challenges' in your inbox, subscribe at www.NotQuiteStrangers.com.

 

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