Media personality, journalist and Author Elle Halliwell spoke with us about the struggles she faced battling cancer whilst being pregnant and raising her son. She talks about what it’s like to finally be cancer-free two years on and the steps she’s taken on her path to healthy living.
Elle was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) just prior to finding out she was pregnant with her first child. She is now in her sixth month of remission and I was lucky to speak to Elle about how one simple sentence about getting cancer can completely change your life.
I look at a woman who has grit, and that immediately shouts success, but what is it that drove you be able to get to a point where you could say to yourself, I can get through this?
I think it was the realisation after the surprise and shock that gave me all of this strength. I had a relatively easy childhood, a few setbacks but nothing that was really devastating and so I guess for me I went through my 20s, thinking that I wasn’t a very strong person. I think that if I had been told before that this was going to happen I would have said there is no way I have the strength to handle this. But it’s not until we are faced with adversity that we realise what we are made of. Looking back it has made me realise that we do have a strength especially women, I think we underestimate ourselves and realizing that I have this strength has changed me profoundly as a person.
People are often kept awake at night thinking about bad things or exciting things, What is it that keeps you up?
It’s definitely the responsibility that I feel to my son in terms of making sure that his future is secure and that not only from a health perspective but from an environmental perspective because since becoming a mum, I now realise that with every single action I need to ask myself, is this going to be something that’s detrimental to the world that Tor’s going to live in the future?
What is not negotiable for you?
Living an organic lifestyle ticks all the Boxes. Not only am I treading more lightly on the planet but I’m also making sure that I you know what I am putting into my own and my son’s Body. It’s free of chemicals, preservatives and it’s grown ethically, so that’s why I am now the Australian Organic Ambassador.
What Was Your Biggest ‘A-ha’ Moment? The epiphanies that helped you pivot, succeed, leap over and work through your CML and pregnancy to get to the next level and the personal mind shift the you went through?
I’ve had two really big ah-ha moments and looking back all of that time was in quite a bit of a blur but I remember fairly early on after my diagnosis, I think I was on a walk and I realised that the crippling anxiety that I’d been battling for a decade had disappeared and I couldn’t get my head around it because how could receiving a devastating diagnosis like cancer make you less anxious? It was because I was becoming mindful, I was in the present. I didn’t have to worry about all the dramas of daily life and thinking ahead into the future and all of those scenarios that we play out in our minds because, there was no future for me at the time. I didn’t know what was going to happen a week from now and being forced to be in the present moment is something that now I’m so much more focused on. I’ve got things to do, responsibilities and I sometimes notice myself projecting into the future and that just kind of reminds me that I’ve got to return to the present so that’s been a really big shift for me.
TV time for anyone successful is usually “I don’t watch TV”, because successful people are out building their empires, traveling the globe, or spending time with loved ones. There usually isn’t time for “Game of Thrones, but… What is your favourite TV show?
Oh my goodness! The worst one is Married at First Sight. It’s literally the only show that I watch and it’s one that every week I say, I’m not watching it this time, and you can’t get away from it it’s everywhere. I do love Netflix docos, and I really love the ones about, living a minimalist’s lifestyle and all the food ones. There’s a really great one that I watched recently called ‘Heal’ which was really fascinating and also ‘Tales of the Green Valley’. It’s about people that live life like they did in the age of the Stuarts in England. It was really amazing.
Elle is a women who has so much to offer and in her video blogs you can see Elle for who she really is, she is not acting for the camera but genuinely sharing her feelings and Elle went on to tell me that, “having been in the media for so long I’ve seen it all, and I’ve seen how you might meet that celebrity and go wow you are nothing like you’re portrayed on social media or in Hollywood. I think for me I just felt like I needed to keep it real. I was first diagnosed with CML, there was no one out there that I could find especially in those early days, who had been through something like I was. All I could think of was that I just wish I could pick up the phone or look at someone’s blog or read someone’s book about someone who has gone through what I was going through, and see that they have come out of the other side. I was craving that connection. I did make myself a bit of a promise, that if I got out of this then I wanted to share what I’ve experienced to make sure that no one else has to feel so alone and scared, but that’s life with CML it’s an uncommon illness and there is a lot of misunderstandings about It. I want to share my story, my highs and my lows and if anyone else is going through it they can feel like they’ve got someone to empathise with them.
My interview with Elle was one of the most honest and enlightening. The way she speaks about her life is truly amazing.