Nipples to nowhere! – Kathy Ashton – Australia

One Woman’s journey of health and recovery

As I sit here getting ready to write this I wonder to myself, where on earth do I begin.  My health story, or my health journey, like many other women is complicated, long winded and a little scary at times.

As I write this I do not have nipples, I lost them, how careless of me I hear you say… and my thoughts exactly. In actual fact I have lost both my boobs too… super careless I know.

Back in 2014 I had a double mastectomy due to a diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. I will explain all this further in my story, but for now, all I need to say is I am a Nipple-less woman due to my medical insurance telling me that an operation to put my nippples back was not covered.

You see, I had planned on having a full breast reconstruction, and of course, that includes nipples. Most people are born with nipples, they are an integral part of the breasts. My son tells me however that I don’t need nipples any more, given my children are all in there 20’s! Not needed anymore Mum they say we have truly finished with them … very funny. This journey has been a long one.

It started when I was just 34 years of age, my three children were very small and I was super fit, a stay at home mum, with a zest of life and fun. Then came the challenges:

Completely out of the blue, I woke one morning and I felt a lump on my right breast.  It was so big my husband could see it. We panicked, so I rang my trusted health specialist, who suggested I go see a breast surgeon that afternoon and have it looked at.  

To make a long story short the end result from this was a cyst and that I would have to have regular checkups, mammograms and many biopsies during my life to date.

In November of 2013 my lumps moved to another level, it was so sore I was unable to lie on it or sleep on it and yet again it was another cyst. This one was the biggest though by far. But as usual more ultrasounds, mammograms and biopsies.

The thing that makes this lump stand out, was I thought to myself, I am totally over these breasts. They are totally annoying and I was finished with them. I remember telling my sister-in-law at a family function after this last episode, I was sick of these things, and wished they weren’t there – Oh dear, one thing is for sure, be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday May 2014, it was 4 am in the morning, I woke with a dragging feeling in my left breast. Oh no, not another one, I thought to myself. But this just did not feel the same, I woke my husband and said hey feel this. He thought his Christmases had arrived, but no, I wanted him to feel this lump. It was really nagly.  He said oh no, that doesn’t feel good, you’d better go get it looked at in the morning.

I tried to return to sleep however there was this little voice in my head telling me no matter what you do, make sure you get this looked at tomorrow.  No waiting, you need it seen to in the morning.  As I tried to rest some more, a memory came flooding in from a very long time ago.  

When I was 36, my husband and eldest child went to Hong Kong to visit friends and whilst there we went to Hong Kong Disney. It was a wonderful day riding on all the rides and having fun. Towards to end of the day, we met a Chinese fortune teller, and we decided to have our hands read. I will never forget my reading. He said, “In your 54th year you will suffer a major health crisis, but don’t worry you will be fine and live a long life to late 80s or early 90s … no worries, you will be fine”.

This memory was more than a memory, I could hear this Chinese man in my head really loudly. He was telling me that all would be ok, but I needed to go tomorrow to have things seen to. I was meant to go to work that day, but rang and cancelled. I then rang the breast cancer clinic and told them I had a lump and needed to be seen straight away. They had a cancellation, and said come in straight away. So I hurried to get dressed and went in.

I did not go in thinking it was anything dramatic. I was quite calm, and was convinced it was another cyst of some description. It was in the vicinity of the fibro-adenoma and for all I knew it may have just been this doing something silly.  

I told the 1st Dr that I saw that I did not want to have a mammogram I just wanted an ultrasound. The test result was it was another cyst sitting under the fibro-adenoma pushing that up so that is why it felt so bad. I also had quite a few other cysts that needed to be drained as well. So in came the big guns.  The specialist to drain the cysts. Oh boy was that an experience.  He was livered I didn’t have a mammogram. He started telling me how stupid I was and that really I was being irresponsible and many other things. I felt so traumatized by his berating.  

It was at that time I heard the little Chinese voice again, you have it checked, so I agreed. I think my words were, ok then, I’ll have your bloody mammogram.

So with the cysts drained, it was not as painful. So mammogram done, I then expected the Specialist to call me in and say, ok off you go. All good, next time though have it first. But that was not to be the case, I waited, and waited, and waited. I was the last person there, and it was getting very late. About 4 or 5 by that time.  The Dr called me in and said, not good news.

What …….. What was not good news, what did she mean. She then showed me my scan, and the results were that I needed another biopsy as the little ring of calcifications were a prime indicator of cancer.

I was not allowed to drive home, so my husband who was in the city, came and got me. We were both shell shocked and I needed to wait till the Friday to get the results. The next day I went to work, and one of my Dr’s asked me how it went. I told her what happened, the whole story and how the Specialist had been so mean. Bless her, she then took control and decided I would not go back to him for the results on Friday. She would get the results and she would tell me.

I felt so much better about that, so Friday morning came and I went to the clinic.  My Dr was in her room waiting for me. I went up, closed the door and watched.  She looked terrible, her words were, I’m sorry but it’s cancer. You have early stage breast cancer.  

What the…..

We both had a little cry, and she then said, right, you are now off to see a friend of mine. A breast surgeon to see what she has to say about it all.  I’ve got you an appointment this afternoon and her name is Katrina.  

We sat in the waiting room feeling numb.  What were we doing here.  

It was at that moment, that my Chinese voice came back in my head, it will be OK you just be OK live to 90……

So I trusted.  We went in and the first thing Katrina said to us was, gosh you two have had a rough morning……. come sit and let me explain everything to you, cancer is such a big word…… we felt calm straight away.

She draw me picture and explained that this was very caught very early. The cancer was contained within the cells of the breasts and it would mean that if it was not wide spread she would be able to go in and cut it out and all would be good.

DCIS – ductal carcinoma in stitu.  

I needed to have an MRI to see the extent of it and then we would discuss treatment from there. This was arranged for the following week.

So MRI results not so good.  The right breast was riddled. I did not have big breasts but every duct was filled with DCIS. She recommended that I have a mastectomy with a reconstruction. She also recommended that I go see her husband who just so happened to be a plastic surgeon. She said I could see him that night and we could discuss doing everything at the same time. I loved the thought of this, a husband and wife team of surgeons, I thought is was like Dr McDreamy and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, it tickled my fancy.  

We went to see her husband and as we talked about reconstruction and the surgery etc., he throw a curly one our way. As I was telling him a little about my history and about how I actually thought there was a problem in the left breast, he said, if I were you I would consider having a double mastectomy.  He said there was a 40% chance of this same thing happening in my left breast later on. He gave us till the Wednesday night of that week to work out should they take one or take two.

So after much discussion on Friday 16th May, 2014, just 12 days after my little Chinese man woke to tell me go and get things checked, I had a double mastectomy.  

The operation went relatively well and I woke I woke to no boobs, but I woke to part of the right side skin just above the scar had turned black and was dying. I was told this was pretty normal and I was told not to worry, in a couple of weeks, I would go back in and they would do a skin graft and fix it that way.  I asked how long I could have to mend it myself from the inside out, and was told that it was very unlikely that this would happen.

All the time I was in hospital I ate as a no oil vegan. No saturated fat. The hospital was not sure what to feed me, but I told them I only wanted boiled rice and steamed vegetables, salad and a little soup and that is what I got.  

And when I went back for my first check up, the black piece of skin had turned pinked again and my Dr had to take me off his operating list for the next day.  I told him yee of little faith, and he told me, must be the crazy way I eat. I was just thrilled. My recovery was really remarkable, and I was thrilled.

One silly thing I did was took myself off the painkillers long before I should have. That was pretty silly as one week after the operation I felt like I was being stung by 1000 bees all at once. It was incredible so back on the drugs I went, they were great and I coped a lot better weaning myself off them more slowly.  

Four weeks after my operation, I had a small fall in the street. I tripped over and because I was so worried about my new boobs breaking, I held those, and took the fall flat on my face. I broke a tooth grazed the entire front of my face. I looked a mess.

The next day my daughter and I were off on a girl’s trip to Greece. We had been planning it for two years and were so excited. The funniest thing was the way kids looked at me because of my face at the airport I was a mess to look at. But that didn’t bother me, I was happy, I had these funny blow up boobs and was cancer free.

After Greece in 2014 I got my replacement implants and things felt much softer.  So I was much happier. Now just one more operation to go, and that was to have the nipples reconstructed.

The last operation was due to happen in July, however this was not the case.  I was so excited, but the day before the operation, my health insurance company decided that I was not covered for this particular item number surgery. I was covered the previous Easter to do it, because it was a secondary part of the operation that was fixing a fat pad, but since it was now the primary reason for the operation it was no longer covered … sorry.

I mentioned to the very nice man on the phone who worked for our insurance company that it was part of breast reconstruction after breast cancer, and we were told it didn’t matter. I told him I thought breasts came with nipples and that it should all be part of the same thing. He said, it didn’t matter they were not covered. The number as a primary operation was considered cosmetic.  

I cried heaps that day, I was so upset. But after speaking with some lovely friends and family I got over that pretty quickly. I am now nippleless. My son bless his socks, has taken this predicament up with the insurance ombudsman and now I can have the surgery done for $88.

But I am not sure if I want to do that anymore. I have had nipples tattooed onto them and maybe for now it is enough, actually I have only cried three times during the whole experience. I don’t like to be blind sided. It is the only time I have cried when I have not seen compassion coming my way.

Many people have called me brave, and have told me that I have handled this so incredibly well, but I just think it is what everyone would have done. It was no different to fixing a broken leg. I knew it would be fine, my Chinese Man had told me that. “You will suffer a significant health crisis in your 54th year, but you will be fine and live a long life to late 80’s early 90s.” remember!

That has been what has kept me going. I am one of the lucky ones no chemo or radiation therapy for me, it was not needed as the cancer had not invaded any of my lymph nodes, it will never return so I feel blessed.  

I feel certain that my guardian angles have been looking after me this whole time. I am not too sure what the lesson is in all this. Maybe it is one of trust.  Trust in the universe, trust that my Chinese man knew more than me. Trust that I will live a long and happy life till well into my 90’s. Trust that food is medicine. Trust in the power of the placebo. Trust in love.

As a footnote to the story I did get the operation for nipples so I am now the “complete” women again, thanks to my son and his never ending efforts.

About the Author

International award winning business person and author, Kathy Ashton understands that the health of your business is reflected and influenced by your own health. Kathy teaches which foods benefit the mind and body.

As a nutritional medicine practitioner she believes that the gut is nothing short of a miracle, and when it is healthy, your brain and mindset are also healthy. Kathy’s motto:  the miracle gut = a miracle ‘me’ (m = mind, and e = emotions).  

Using whole food, plant based, oil free foods she sees her patients produce amazing results, transforming their energy levels, sleep patterns, they lose weight and become pain free.

Through her programs, My Healing Kitchen events and clinic work, Kathy believes that change in your health, is a journey from fork to mouth and is only one small decision away.  

You can contact Kathy on email kathy@flourishnutritionalmedicine.com.au or on her website www.flourishnutritionalmedicine.com.au

Kathy Ashton (BHSc Nut Med)(Cert PBN Cornell) Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, LifeCoach, Remedial Therapist, Flourish Nutritional Medicine

 

A Mother’s journey in Resilience and Gold – Pam Cleverley New Zealand

Not in your wildest dreams could you imagine this journey. You wake up one day and it leads you to 5 months away from home. I am a single Mum of 3, Ruby now 24, Riwa 21 and Charlotte 13.

I worried about having a third child, but Charlotte was a delightful baby. Secure in her routine, happy, healthy and bubbly, bystanders would notice her and see her spirit. She was born in November of 2003, and entering into her 6th month on June 17th 2004, she woke at 3am, with vomiting and high temperature, I rushed to get her the appropriate meds, and she started a high pitch whimpering ( a symptom not then mentioned, as a symptom).

We fell asleep together till morning, but little did I know she was in deep toxic shock. Waking, I let her sleep on, my gut feeling was worried, but I put it down to me being over protective, and with a sitter in place to oversee Charlotte I rushed Ruby and Riwa to school, and went to work for two hours.

Arriving home I was shocked to hear Charlotte was still sleeping and on closer investigation, I was shocked to see her in the same position I left her in, motionless, gazing, eyes half open, and two defined blood spots on her neck. Panic rose up my body, as I recognised the symptoms as Meningitis.

The story continues as written by Perry Bisman (her Dad) on her website.: www.charlotte.cleverley.bisman.com

Life changed that day, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness was hard to endure. The emotion like having a jumbo jet fly over you while you lie paralysed on the tarmac face up. We watched helplessly over Charlotte as she went to war with the most deadliest disease known to man. Hospital was our world for the next 3 months. Day/Night – we never knew, it just blended into continual highly stressful seconds, minutes, hours, days and months.

Our journey climaxed to a social media frenzy after a front page Herald paper headlined  the Vaccine for the Meningitis B (which Charlotte was suffering) was about to be thrown out due to the nearing use-by date, along with $250 Million of taxpayers money. We contacted the Herald, Really – You have a Vaccine?

Get it out there that this is what it’s doing to our baby. Charlotte’s photo in the front page of the next morning’s Herald paper, article written by Charlotte’s father Perry. She was pictured happy on a swing. Holding on with hands. Balanced by legs, all now taken by this evil disease. New Zealanders we’re mortified and demanded the vaccine. Which was soon released into all schools. Nurses left our ward to take part. Doctors thanked us.

Charlotte survived, she had nationwide interest in her well being and we were followed around by media. But we had our child, devastated by disease, a quad amputee, only her elbow to work with. We spent two months at a children’s home to heal from skin grafts and debridement, and to adapt to Charlotte as a quadruple amputee.

One doctor, one day mentioned the journey will be a rocky road. Little did I know the journey, little did I know the road was, in fact, many mountains to climb. How much resilience does one need? For a baby to fight a deadly bacteria. For doctors and nurses to be in the operating  theatre and save children’s lives. For parents to endure the grief and guilt of their child’s illness. To endure whatever trauma life gives you.

Now our ‘Normal’:

Battling the accessibility of businesses, inaccessible disabled car parks that have had no thought around their placement, disabled toilets that are locked or used as a storage lobby, public transport that is not accessible, governed limb centers on tight budgets and over loaded with patients exasperated by diabetic casualties, Carer Aids that are underpaid, unfit, and uneducated on a high-needs spectrum on the individuality of ORRS students, a Health and Safety law which confines parents of disabled children and entitles the removal of their mobility and free movement and speech.  – To name some of the hurdles. The strength and endurance it takes. On top of the 24/7 care of a high-needs child.

My job title of now without the university degree : Activist for Human Rights, physio, mobility designer, and gadget designs, prosthetist, skin and scar management, employer, wages clerk, fundraiser, public speaker (TV and articles), assisting with infrastructure for access, researcher, environmentalist, nutritionist, mentor, carer, organiser of equipment repairs, appointments and meetings.

Without these ongoing challenges, I would not be the strong confident person I am today. Charlottes resilience and spirit, has enabled me to endure all challenges in our journey. When you mine for gold, there’s a lot of hard work to find it. Similar to the strength and endurance you need to raise a quad amputee.

When the day flows, when Charlotte first swims, when she takes her first prosthetic leg steps,when she runs in blades, disabled surfing, skydiving, her incredible art, her happiness. That is my gold.

About the Author

Pam has gone through many struggles over the last 10 years. far more than other mums, this story is a way of her connecting with the world about how you can get there if you keep on pushing. You can find out more about charlotte her daughter at

www.charlotte.cleverley.bisman.com

Life Can Change in the Blink of an Eye – Julie Sawchuk – Canada

They say that life can change in the blink of an eye. There is no better example than what happened to me on July 29th 2015. I live in Huron County, on the “west coast” of Ontario, Canada where endurance athletes ski in the wintertime and swim, bike and run in the summer. On this particularly beautiful day while out on a 60 km training ride I was hit from behind by a car traveling at full speed. Thrown into the ditch, I sustained multiple life threatening injuries, including a T4 spinal cord injury that left me with paralysis from the chest down. I was forced from my two wheels on to the four wheels of my wheelchair – for the rest of my life. I spent 10 days in hospital and three months in rehabilitation – away from my friends and family. It was lonely, but necessary, as I had to learn how to live with my new body. In rehab I started to rebuild my strength and endurance and learn how to handle a bladder and bowels that did not function properly.

The local media covered my story because I had close ties to many parts of this small community. I was a secondary school science teacher and Nordic ski coach and had a close group of triathlon training friends. I spoke to the media about road safety and, with the help of my community, we started the Huron County Share the Road campaign. Our bumper stickers can be seen across Huron County and around the province. I also started to write a blog, to give my brain an outlet, a way to stop questions of the future from spinning around in my head. Now I write for lots of reasons.

Sharing my story has become a top priority for me – a way of reaching out to others in similar situations. I found that there was not a lot of guidance available to me, so I wanted others to benefit from the knowledge I had gained so far. As an educator I never like to miss an opportunity and I had learned that many people did not know what it was like to live with paralysis.  I decided that the best thing would be to share it all. And so I do – I have written more than 100 posts that have been read by thousands of people. I write about paralysis, accessibility in our built environment, fitness and sport, relationships, driving, travel, kids, frustrations, chronic pain and depression. It has not been easy. My life, my family and my relationships have all changed.

When I left rehab I was told I had a 12% chance of recovering. So that has been my focus – twelve is not zero – and the only way to know is to try. It will not happen “just like that” it will take a lot of work. So that is what I do. I work on my body trying to make it move again. Physiotherapy four days a week, plus exercises at home, and it’s working. I have abdominal, back and hip flexor muscles that are responding. The hard work is paying off. Not only that, I am also hearing from people who are following my story, people who have been inspired to push through the difficulty that they face in their own lives. Because, let’s face it, everyone has adversity at some time or another, mine is just a bit more obvious when I roll up to greet you. Ernest Hemingway said it best: “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

About the author:

Julie Sawchuk is a wife, mother of two, teacher, athlete and author. As a person with a disability she is working to change people’s ideas about accessibility, road safety and perseverance. She shares her ideas on her blog, as a speaker to schools and through the media. Julie’s blog “Living life with Paralysis” can be read at www.juliesawchuk.blogspot.ca

I Never Lost Sight of What I Wanted To Do! – Tina Banitska – Australia

It’s the story of how, in the late 1970s, sculptor Tina Banitska drove into Daylesford Victoria, spied the tower of the Holy Cross Conventand and declared to her friend: “One day, that is going to be one of Australia’s best galleries.”

A decade later, with barely any finances but a powerful sense of destiny being fulfilled, she took a massive loan to purchase the empty, crumbling building. In the subsequent two years of renovation and delay, due to money and all manner of issues – Tina sold many of her treasured possessions in order to pay tradesman wages, opening in 1991 on the day the banks vowed to foreclose the project.

Tina went through an enormous personal and professional struggle with not only her bank balance but her reputation at stake as well. She overcame so many obstacles along her way that would have led many people of lesser character and drive to just quit …. and walk away.  

Since opening way back in 1991 the gallery has now doubled in size, it now attracts over 200,000 visitors a year to its art-filled rooms, the cafe, the museum and the gardens – all the while continuing to service bank loans – underscores her true legend.

But the personal story of Tina, her philanthropy and her vision for the future of rural Victorian art, is less known.

Wiping away tears, Tina – who on most days is an intensely private person despite her bubbly personality – recounts the story of what has been her underlying driver at the Convent.

“Success for me is not about money or what you achieve. It’s about how you follow a dream, pursuing things your heart tells you is important,” she says. “I’ve never seen this as a sacrifice. It’s been a huge blessing.”

Her greatest driving force, she says, was her impoverished childhood. The daughter of Greek migrants, her most vivid memories are of her hard-working, generous parents, Steve and Sophia, whom she now looks after. “I remember my mother, I would have been four or five, holding my hand and saying she had a shilling and should she spend it on vegetables or bread,’’ says Tina.

“It wasn’t about money, but choices, the decisions you make. That memory has never gone away. It makes me feel how everything is possible. It’s not about the barriers that stop you but where your heart is. Money is just a vehicle.”

“When I heard it was for sale, all I could imagine was artists working together. I could picture it. I couldn’t sleep for two months, I’d wake with hot and cold sweats, I was very unsettled until I got it,” she says. “I do believe in energies beyond what we understand. I think there was a plan somewhere for this.”

But when she took possession Tina admits she “cried for hours and hours”, such was the derelict state of the building, built in the 1860s. Yet she “never lost sight of what I wanted to do”.

“Even when I had a loan of $1.5 million at 18.5 per cent locked-in interest rates for five years it didn’t deter me.” When the Convent Gallery finally opened on March 31, 1991 – the same day the banks were set to foreclose – there were 5052 customers. “But we didn’t have an entrance fee and we didn’t have anything to sell,’’ she recalls.

In 2001 Tina borrowed more, nearly $3 million, to double the size of the gallery, incorporating a chapel and school, and now function rooms. Never has she applied for a grant.

Looking back she admits those early years “don’t seem real’’, with her average day now spent as an “office girl’’, working up to 14 hours with customers or cleaning toilets. While not religious, she categorises herself as spiritual, believing in the “goodness and kindness of humans’’.

“I’ve been given the privilege of looking after this building, to make it a place for the community. I don’t own anything, I’m the custodian of it,” she says. “It was all in the plan. I was just given the strength, courage, foresight and planning to make it happen.”

Tina’s greatest love is mentoring young people. She estimates she has taken hundreds of budding artists under her wing over the years – dancers, fashion designers, jewellers, painters, not just locals but international exchanges as well.

“This job is about people, it’s one of the reasons I set the Convent up, to share and interact and engage people,” says Tina, who has owned and sold several galleries in rural Victoria.

“Art is the only inspiration we have to keep our hope going. It uplifts the spirit.”

About the author:

Tina studied fine arts at Melbourne University and postgraduate sculpting at RMIT, before she was employed as an art consultant in Ballarat in the late 1970s. But it was while she was operating her Creswick Springmount Pottery, opened in 1981 and which she still operates today, that she had a vision for the historic 19th century mansion.

You can contact Tina on + 61 3 5348 3211 or tina@threconvent.com.au or visit her site http://theconvent.com.au

Anything is Possible – Carmen Harrison and Cassandra Rathgeber- Canada

If someone told my sister and I that 2 years ago we would be young entrepreneurs running our very own food truck, we would have never believed them. We are twins from a farm with big dreams and aspirations, and our passion is food. We absolutely love to bake. It puts us in a relaxed and comfortable zone, a place where you can think, dream and be true to who you really are. Our goal when starting our food truck was to connect to our community through our food. We wanted to create an experience that everyone could enjoy. In the past year, we are so proud to say we have created our passion; Queen Bees Food Truck.

Queen Bees did not happen over night… It felt like it took a lifetime for the vision to arrive in our lives. Following college and without a clear idea of a concrete career path, both Cassandra and I had worked jobs in the hospitality industry. These jobs helped build the work ethic we would need to start Queen Bees. We both married young and decided to stay at home and run a dayhome. This allowed us stay at home and raise our children. After several years had passed we found ourselves in a place of uncertainty. We were internally struggling with a direction to take in our lives. We both new this wasn’t our true path or purpose.

In the evening, we would walk and on these walks the seeds of the Queen Bees idea began to grow. We started to create our vision, discuss ideas, argue details and slowly the dream took shape. We made vision boards to help us manifest our reality.  As time went on we felt we were getting closer to actualising our plan but our 5 children were still really young, between 18 months to 4 years old. That was our major hurdle, trying to balance our children and a full-time job. But honestly, we needed a change in our lives. It wasn’t healthy for our well being and we wanted to show our children how to reach for the stars. We felt we owed it to ourselves to follow our dreams, and to show our children if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.  Many people have faced hard challenges and even impossible ones and still found success. We were also nervous of the one thing all entrepreneurs are scared of…failure. Yet, because of our prior experiences, our bond with each other, and the belief we could succeed, failure was tempered by excitement. We knew this adventure was about our personal growth and about discovering who we really are as people.

This idea kept blossoming. We created the menu in 2 minutes. It was basically all our favourite treats. However, we did teach ourselves to make French Macarons. We loved them, and thought it would be a treat to share with our community. We purchased an old delivery truck online that had no engine. We had no idea how this was going to come to life. Our childhood neighbour came to our rescue and made this entire truck a reality for us. We couldn’t believe our luck. Len Aucoin was able to transform this shell of a truck in to a beautiful full service Food Truck.

After one season in the books and many lessons learned, Queen Bees Food Truck is nearly booked solid for the 2017 season. We service the City of Red Deer as well as Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas. We are so excited to see where Queens Bees takes us. We are still dreaming big and hope to open a store front in the near future. We have endless ideas and it will always be in our nature to reach for the stars.

About the Authors

Carmen Harrison and Cassandra Rathgeber are strong women, mothers, wives, sisters, dreamers and owners of Queen Bees Food Truck. Together we designed and created our dream Food Truck servicing Central Alberta, Canada.

We, Carmen and Cassandra hope to inspire everyday women, mothers, or anyone with a dream or passion. We hope to encourage you to never give up and to understand that if it feels right in your heart then of course anything is possible! Never allow people to shy you away from your true passion and what makes you happy.

Follow Queen Bees Food Truck:

Facebook: Queen Bees Food Truck

Instagram: The Hive QB

For more information about Queen Bees and how to contact Carmen and Cassandra visit:

http://www.queenbeesfoodtruck.com <http://www.queenbeesfoodtruck.com/

Nikki Taylor personally thanks both Carmen and Casandra for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor <http://nikkitaylor.com.au/>.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/

Estella’s Brilliant Bus – Estella Pyfrom – USA

Estella’s Brilliant Bus – Estella Pyfrom – USA

My name is Estella Pyfrom. I am the CEO and Founder of Estella’s Brilliant Bus (not for profit organization). I am the second oldest of six daughters and one son. My father, Roy L. Mims, was a migrant worker, a crew leader and a camp manager for many years. As a kid my family and I traveled for nineteen (19) years, transporting migrant workers from Florida to New York, by driving trucks and buses to the camps. As a village kid, I was inspired to give back to my village (my community)

As an adult, I worked very hard in my community and was a dedicated wife and mother to my children and to many other children in my neighborhood circle.

After raising four children and teaching them how to stay out of trouble, my accomplishment that I am proudest of is the Creation and founding of Estella’s Brilliant Bus. … AWESOME because we are mobile and virtual and can learn anywhere in the world. We’re a learning center without walls… no boundaries. The learning center travels to communities where service is needed. We will make a difference…one child at a time and/or one family at a time.

I believe that by forming alliances with agencies in communities who have similar missions and who have been awarded grants, have grant funds to provide services can form partnerships to serve hard to reach individuals and all will benefit from the union. The learning center travels to communities where service is needed. Estella will continue to seek financial assistance and continue to collaborative community stakeholders provide resources to help improve the quality of life for children and families who are in need of our services. We will make a difference…one child at a time and/or one family at a time.

I am proud to say we have served more than 100,000 underserved children over the past four years and have not charged them any money.

During the first year after we started this Brilliant Bus Movement Business, my husband became of victims of a triage visit at a local hospital which landed him in ICU for two months that required me to be with him (in ICU) for 24 hours in order to help keep him alive. In spite of all of our assistance at the hospital, he survived 4 cases of CODE Blue and 26 pints of blood transfusion. Luckily he survived four times resuscitation. Thank God he is still here… well and alive. In August of 2013 both my husband and I were victims of an automobile accident, when a texting driver t-bowed us as we were driving out of our development. Yes, they ran the red light. As result of that accident, my husband was 98%paralyzes and had to have and emergency spinal surgery. As for me, I got away with only one broken hip, and injured knee and ankle and a battered face to the point that my children could not recognized me. But to God be the Glory, WE ARE BOTH ALIVE TODAY.

When I look back over her past and begin to think of what attributes to my success in life, all I could think of is the “no failure” options that was instilled in me as a child by my father. . My dad made all of us believe that if you could dream, … dream Big, and work hard to make your dreams become realities… Failure was not an option.

During the past four years we have been very celebrated for our hard work: PLEASE NOTE:

FEATURED: NBC News Network… Prime Time with Brian Williams and other associated networks
All Local TV and Radio Stations
Jet Magazine
5000 Points of Light–Ranked – 4998 around the world- Hosted by President and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House
CNN Hero- 2013– Top 10 around the world –Ordinary People doing extraordinary things around the world
Woman of Worth — Top 10 around the world–L’O Real of Paris
Who’s Who Global–Directory – dedication, hard work and for making a difference
ESSENCE Magazine – 2014
MV Magazine
Success Magazine
Her Life Magazine
O-Oprah Magazine -January -2015
O-Oprah Magazine- This I know for Sure —Special Column
Oprah-The Life You Want Tour- Toyota Standing Ovation- Florida VIP
Wells Fargo Community Award
Florida A & M Alumni Association -PBC-
Community Service- From Local to National
Legacy Award — by Dexter Bridgeman–Legacy Palm Beach Magazine
Living Legends Award- Human Symphony – National
Community Service Award – Alpha Kappa Alpha
Community Service Award – Alpha Kappa Alpha
Community Service Award – Alpha Phi Alpha
Community Service – Citizenship Awards – Zeta Phi Beta
Community Partners Award – Delta Lambda Chapter – Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter
Woman of Excellence – Delta Sigma Theta
Spirit Award–Delta Sigma Theta
NBA – Pro player Philanthropy Award
African American Achiever Award
National Education Award
Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award – Palm Beach State College-2014
Microsoft Youth Spark Award – Grant
Microsoft – National-Global – Super Bowl Commercial and Award
Office Depot Adopt-A-Teacher
Comcast-Comcast Community Service Award Grant
Dr. Oz Show
Woman of Excellence – Humanitarian Award
John Maxwell Leadership Award
Diamond Award for Community Service – National Coalition of 100 Black Women
Citizenship Award – Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
FEA -Martin Luther king Jr Award- Outstanding Leadership Award
Professional-Influential Business Professional
Most Powerful 25 Women- In Palm Beach County – Dexter Bridgeman
OCR REAP Grant
Dream Forward Award for courage, persistence and sacrifice while making dreams become a reality. Jason Hall
Dream forward Award for making a difference in the lives of many by Dr. Norma C. Pearson
Excellence and Generous Commitment to Student Award- Belle Glade, Elementary School.
The Shero Award by: Anne Harvey Missionary Society –Outstanding Service
The Steve Binko Award for Educational Innovation and Justice …The Scribe’s Institute
Cultured Pearls Award- Presenter by Alpha Kappa Alpha
Rainbow Push Philanthropic Foundation of the Year Award ‘Jessie Jackson
Legends. Trailblazers and Rising Stars Award for Community Service by Payne Chapel
Key to the City… Columbus Georgia. Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor- Columbus Georgia
Proclamation. Columbus Georgia. Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson,
ESTELLA PYFROM declaration –July 16, 2016
RESOLUTIONS: Representative Carolyn Hugley, District 136, Georgia House of Representatives…Outstanding Public Service
National Association for Professional Women
Continental Who’s Who Recipient of the Year -2016
We will continue to collaborate with partnering organization to grow our business around the world, making a difference in the lives of children who need us the most.
I have successfully completed and published my first book, The Legacy of A Humble Black Woman. I am most proud to say that if I can do this at age 80, so can you, soooooo…… what are you waiting on? Let’s get ROLLING.

For more information about Estella a Brilliant Bus Movement and how to donate to our nonprofit organization, you may visit:
Website: estellasbrilliantbus.org
Email: estella@brilliantbus.org
Phone: 561-985-1889

A special thank you to all of our supporters who continue to support us for many years such as Microsoft and Office Depot.

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Estella Pyfrom for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/

Finding Heaven Through my Own Hell – Liz La Force – Ibiza

A Strong Intuition and Ability to Heal – Liz La Force – Ibiza

When does one start to awaken…the moment we are born or the moment we realize we are not what we think we are. Our body, our mind, our emotion, our personality.

For me this moment came quite early at the age of 10 I already started to ask my mother about the purpose of life here on earth. An answer she at that moment could not provide me.

An answer I would start to search for from age 24 when I totally collapsed and was bed bound for two years. A blessing in disguise as many traumatic and/or life changing experiences often are.

Since nobody could heal me, although I tried almost every medicine, both regular and alternative, I was “forced” to heal myself. And so I did. It took me 13 years to heal my illness. A wonderful journey back to my true self.

It was a interesting journey. Which taught me a huge lesson. As a light worker I am very fond, like many of us, of the light. But I learnt along the way that we are both light and dark. And to truly heal or become whole again, we need to look into the face of our demons. Which is not always easy, but very worthwhile. Since they are there it is good to know, understand and learn how to love them. So they can start to work for you instead of against you. You meaning your true self.

Along the way I reconnected with my healing gifts. I learnt how to use and deepen them. Mostly by inner guidance and sometimes through spiritual masters that I met.

After a world travel I was guided to Ibiza in 2014, a small island in the mediterean sea. And have been working on and from this magical island .

My life has even more expanded since then. It is all about being able to open our heart to receive the gifts life is offering us. Day in day out. No exceptions. We just need to recognize the gifts. Because sometimes they come in a package that is different than we expected.

Since my life is so much overflowing with gifts it feels only natural to share them with others. And I am very happy to be able to do so on a daily basis. With love, gratitude and dedication I go further on my journey. Knowing that there is still so much more to experience.

About the Author

Liz has been born with a strong intuition and ability to heal. She has learnt to communicate with body, mind and soul. Through this atonement she is able to understand the processes that are going on in a human or organization. And can guide them towards their authentic true self.

She has learnt most by experience, but has also a degree in business economics, Chinese medicine, divers healing methods, and teaching. Nowadays her work is mainly focused on teaching. With her new company Get Real she organizes retreats, and workshops. For business, adults, kids and parents and lovers.

More info at www.getreallifeprogram.nl or www.lizlaforce.com

To contact Liz:

Facebook: Liz La Force
Twitter: @lizlaforce

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Liz La Force for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/

Why Your Story Matters – Suzie Lightfoot – Australia

Why Your Story Matters – Suzie Lightfoot – Australia

Let me just start by saying, I love being a woman, and I love what I do! However, everyone knows that being a woman in business doesn’t come without its challenges!

I believe everything that happens in our life we can learn and prosper from. Even heartbreak, loss and failure. Every challenge or moment of adversity gives an elevation of thought and tests your passion. They shape us into who we are today. In fact, interpreting your experiences with adversity and failure can be an exciting way to change your future.

My journey started as an elite athlete at the Australia Institute of Sport, where I learned the foundations of leadership, personal drive, focus and the power of self-confidence and visualisation. Now I share these success rituals with other women so that they can achieve extraordinary goals too.

I’ve enjoyed success as a model, media personality, brand ambassador and businesswomen and for the past 25 years, I’ve worked with industry leaders in media, PR, marketing and brand leadership. I’ve also worked with some of the biggest names in fashion, learning first-hand how a simple piece of fabric can empower a person and alter people’s perceptions.

But it hasn’t always been a smooth road to success. As a single mum and business woman for over 20 years, I had certainly experienced extreme highs and terrible lows, including two broken marriages, brushes with depression, workplace bullying and sexual harassment at a time when my life and ‘public’ image appeared perfect from the outside. These experiences, although so painful, emotionally exhausting and challenging at the time, ultimately laid the foundations for my new business and success I have achieved today.

For me, my biggest aha moment was when I turned 50. After fighting back from years of feeling invisible and insecure, I finally got the courage to quit my job and back myself in my new business! I had found a niche that I deeply connected and resonated with. Helping other professional women in their 40’s turn their life experiences into powerful personal brands so that they have more choices, attract more opportunities and can be more financially secure. It’s a role that I love, I am passionate about, and is a natural extension of who I am and all that I’ve accomplished in my career.

I believe that acknowledging your personal story and journey is so important in your plan for success. So many of us look back at moments in our lives and wonder how on earth did we managed to be so fearless in our pursuit of success. When we’re young, we naturally feel invincible, but that can fade as we age. We find that we no longer fit into the ‘square’ we are in and we have a growing fear for financial security. We also lack the courage to put ourselves ‘out there’ in today’s professional landscape, that values youthful dewy complexions over experience and know-how.

Taking a moment to look back on your story and all that you have achieved and experienced in life, personally and professionally, can help you to re-boot your self- confidence. It changes your perspective and transforms the way that you view yourself today. Your personal journey is all part of your unique story! It’s your foundation that shapes and defines your true values and beliefs and is the corner stone of building your authentic personal brand. Your personal brand is your unique real-world fingerprint and digital footprint. All will recognise it. No-one will replicate it.

Shifting your mindset and attitude can make all the difference when you’re faced with failure, loss of confidence, or challenging moments in both life and business. In fact, the one thing that all successful people have in common is the ability to refresh and reboot their mindset and to power on and turn their biggest failures into their greatest success.

Highs and lows are all part of your journey to success. They make you more resilient, determined and strong. In fact, failure is not the end, it’s just the beginning!

Today,  I am on a mission to change the conversation about women and aging in the workplace. I am driven to help other professional women walk into a room and just own it. No apologies, no hiding, no holding back. I believe in speaking the truth about who you really are. Success is a choice. The future is ahead of you. You can be whatever you want to be!

About the Author

Suzie Lightfoot is a Mother, Business Owner, Media Personality, Fashion Identity, Key Note Speaker, Personal Brand Expert, who understands the complexities of what it takes to make it to the top as a professional woman in her 40’s.

After 25 years in the corporate world as a business owner, brand ambassador, top international model and professional athlete, Suzie has the real-life ‘know how’ to help other professional women package themselves to get to the top.

Suzie helps professional women develop strong Personal Brands that re-energize them and position them as leaders in both life and business so that they can have more choices, more opportunities and more financial security.

If you would like to attend the Women Leading Business Masterclass on April 21, Suzie is offering Inspiring Women Today readers 30% off the full price ticket using her unique discount code SUZIEVIP. Book now to reserve your seat. Limited offer.

Please click on this link and start finding and activating your personal brand:
Women Leading Business Personal Branding Masterclass

To contact Suzie:

Contact Suzie – https://www.suzielightfoot.com/contact/
LinkedIn: Suzie Lightfoot

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Suzie Lightfoot for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/

A New Adventure – Justine Asher – South Africa

A New Adventure – Justine Asher – South Africa

At the age of 18, freshly out of high school my modelling career was blossoming and the dream of travelling to exotic locations across the world was at my fingertips. Now that my school days were behind me I was seduced by a sense of wanderlust and had the world at my feet.

I travelled from my hometown in Cape Town to Johannesburg, to join a top agency and shortly before landing a modelling contract in Milan I suffered a chronic spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident. I recall lying in hospital when I received the news and felt a deep sense of disappointment. I don’t think the reality of my situation had quite set in.

Everything I had taken for granted became impossible, even the easiest of tasks such as scratching my head or feeding myself. I was told by the doctors that I would never walk again. Those words never quite resonated with me. During my months in hospital rehab I regained the use of my arms, and some use of my hands, but never regained my ability to walk again, remaining paralysed from my chest down with limited use of my hands.

I never gave up dreaming, hoping and desiring, but rather shifted my focus on all I could do and the impossible become my challenge.

Looking back, I marvel at what my life has become, I am now a mother of two teenage daughters and happily married for 18 years. My husband and I run a successful real estate company. I have had the wonderful experience of diving and excavating wrecks and I have swum alongside sharks in the Waterfront Aquarium.

When I turned 41, I decided to embark on a new adventure after a friend introduced me to para-cycling, just for the challenge and excitement of trying something new.

I use to love running and enjoyed the fresh air and being active out in nature and cycling came pretty much close to it. I loved the freedom and the feeling of the wind on my skin and being out on my bike with no limitations. Starting with only completing 4 km’s, a ride to the beach and back, my first little hill felt like Mount Everest. Determined to push more and challenging myself each day to push further and take on bigger climbs and more challenging rides, eventually after persevering and lots of hard training, I was cycling 50 kms and climbing over 700m.

After joining Maties para-sports club, I entered Nationals and was fortunate to make the SA Para-cycling team and have now been cycling competitively on the international circuit for 4 years.

In 2014 after winning numerous sports awards including the prestigious SA Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability which was a great honour and privilege, I won the world champion title in both the road race and time trial in 2015. In 2016 I was selected to represent my country at the Paralympics in Rio.

My life has been and continues to be an amazing adventure, from travelling the globe to looking to some more exciting adventures. I feel immense gratitude and a wonderful sense of achievement and not for a moment do I live in regret, but rather live each day as if it were my last.

I am fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful family and friends and every day is a new day worth celebrating. My proudest moments are when I see my children following their passions with purpose and never losing their sense of self-esteem and I hope that I have been successful at leading by example.

About the Author

Justine Asher is Wife, Mother, Artist, Dreamer, and Para-Cyclist double world champion. She and her husband own a real estate company specialising in residential sales and rentals. She began para-cycling 2 years ago. Prior to cycling, she swam 2km a day at the Virgin Active in order to maintain her health and fitness.

“Never, in my 25 years of being a quadriplegic, have I experienced such challenge, freedom and reward as I have in para-cycling.”

Justine hopes to inspire other women to take up para-cycling by creating awareness and bringing some exposure to the sport.

Follow Justine Asher:

Facebook: Justine Asher
Twitter: @JustineAsher

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Justine Asher for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/

Living Life Positively Courageous, with Femininity & Style! – Deborah Johnston – Australia

Living Life Positively Courageous, with Femininity & Style!  – Deborah Johnston – Australia

After a diagnosis of terminal abdominal cancer in 2005 and being told by my Oncologist I had to “get my things in order”, as I only had 6 months to live, I am sitting here writing this article for you, 11 years later in 2017, feeling very alive and well and reflecting on everything that I went through to lead me to this point.
When you get news as shattering as that, it changes your perspective on life forever, it rocks you to your core being, and nothing is ever the same after that.

I was carrying a very heavy load of grief, after a Miscarriage, a failed Romance, losing both Parents to Cancer, and dealing with bullying in the workplace, and Retrenchment from my Corporate Job in Recruitment.

So, how did I get through all of that you may be wondering? Honestly, sometimes I ask myself the very same question. Sometimes I shake my head in disbelief that I am still here living and breathing to tell my story. Sometimes I pinch myself, sometimes it feels surreal.

In basic terms, I simply said NO to Chemotherapy & Radiation – it was that simple. I carefully chose a Natural approach to getting well and positive results came my way. I was well informed and with the support of my wonderful GP, I did my Research on my options to heal myself naturally – so that’s what I did.

From a mindset perspective, my healing involved learning to dig very deeply inside myself to find the courage and hope to keep on going. Opening up my self-awareness, and owning it, was so cathartic and it worked tenfold.

By journaling and meditating and asking for a “Medical Miracle” and doing all sorts of things I loved, to raise my spirit and self-belief and self-esteem. The most cathartic turning point for me to let go of my painful past and choose to “change”, came when I began studying Human Behaviour and NLP-Neuro Linguistic Programming and surrounding myself with positive like-minded people and successful Entrepreneurs and Mentors. Who to this day still encourage and support my quest to inspire people with my story, and beyond that with my Mentoring Business and being a Guest Speaker at Events.

Gaining a Masters in NLP & Neurological Re-Patterning– was certainly the most empowering thing I have ever done and certainly the most profound and effective method I have ever come across to heal at a deep Neurological level. Which I share with my Mentoring Clients and in my Workshops and Retreats.

I feel it is my quest and purpose in life now, to inspire women, and I am smiling widely with gratitude to be alive and breathing, and being able to share my story with you!

I am thrilled to say I am currently writing my first Book, “Absolutely Courageous” – 10 Steps To Finding Courage When You Are Stretched To Your Limits – which will be Published later in 2017. A goal I have had for over 20 years is coming to fruition!

Having goals and ambition and knowing what your passions are in life, and following them are very important aspects to know about yourself. I learned this early on in life from my inspiring Mother who had a very successful Business when I was a Teenager. It propels you forward into the future, and paves the way to manifest what you really want from your precious life!

Gratitude is something I practise daily, its a powerful force to be reckoned with, lean into it, embrace it easily by being grateful for what you do have. Gratitude will shift your mood – practise Gratitude daily and repeat every morning, and notice how your life changes.

Mine has! Your’s can too!

Life is for Living Positively Courageous, Feminine & Stylish!

___________________________________________________________________________
If you would like to be invited to my Book Launch as a VIP Guest, & receive a free-downloadable copy of Chapter One – Join my VIP Membership Lounge via this link – its free for a limited time for the first 50 Guests.
http://www.deborahjohnston.com.au/vip-membership/

As a VIP Member you will also receive other Bonuses for Free in the VIP Membership Lounge – inspiring you to live your life – Positively Courageous with Femininity & Style!

My Mentoring Programs, Workshops & Retreat information is here: http://www.deborahjohnston.com.au/programs/
Email: enquiry@deborahjohnston.com.au

About the Author

Deborah Johnston is a Well Being Mentor, Entrepreneur, Conquerer of Cancer, Published Co-Author and at present is also writing her very first Book, all about getting and having Courage! These days after learning many cathartic things about life, she has an innate calling, and feel it is her soul duty and purpose to work with women, as their personal confidante` Mentor, passing on and sharing what she knows about life, in all of its textures, colours, challenges and joys!

Working with women, just like you, who have a deep yearning to achieve “more” from life! Guiding you, step by step to create the life that you SO deserve to have, the life that you want SO badly, that NEW YOU that wants to make some changes!

Follow Deborah:

Facebook: Deborah Johnston 
Instagram: deborahjohnston.com.au 
LinkedIn: Deborah Johnston Well Being Mentor | Speaker | Author | Retreat Planning Specialist

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Deborah Johnston for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email nikki@nikkitaylor.com.au and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.

Join us today STAY INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED FOR FREE http://nikkitaylor.com.au/join-us-free/