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Love the One You’re With: Steps to Self- Love Using Life’s Challenges as the Key

By: Mara Castello, Life Coach

February 1, 2020

I would like to share my story and my insights hoping that it might serve as an inspiration to you in a place you may be struggling in your life.

As a certified empowerment coach, my passion is supporting women to live their passion after trauma.

Coaching from a philosophy that sustainable change occurs from a shift at the “core,” my purpose is to empower women to shift their mindset after trauma so they can actually live a life more fully engaged in pursuing their passion.

I am the owner of Navigate from the Heart Coaching.  I hold a B.A. degree in Psychology from Wellesley College, have a certification in both Empowerment Coaching and Energy Leadership from the Institute for Professional Empowerment Coaching (IPEC), have received a certification as a Relationship Coach from the Relationship Coaching Institute, and I am Massachusetts’ first Certified Imagine a Woman facilitator/coach.  I have also completed numerous trainings such as: Woman Within, Women Empowering Women, Women in Power and (W)hole Work form the (W)hole Point Institute.

What I have found is that embracing challenges provides me with an opportunity to trust myself, make my own choices, and deepen my sense of self-love.

In late March 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer.  This was a serious diagnosis—according to OCRA (Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance) Stage IV Ovarian Cancer has a 5 year survival rate of approximately 17%.  Even my cousin, who is a doctor, talked with me at that time as though I were going to die and had me going into hospice.

The journey actually began a couple of months earlier when I noticed that I was slightly winded after mild physical exertion.  It was nothing major but I knew it did not seem normal.  I saw my primary care physician who found that I had 2 liters of fluid in my lung.  The next step was a biopsy of the fluid.

A few days later I was sitting at Panera, taking a lunch break from the routine work day and received a call from my doctor.  She said that the biopsy results showed malignant cells in the fluid and that it looked like ovarian cancer. She told me she was sending me for a CT scan that afternoon.  The CT scan confirmed that it was in fact cancer of the ovaries.   

I remember feeling so many emotions.  All of the sudden I thought about all the things I wanted to do in my life but had been putting off with stories I had been telling myself because of not loving myself such as, “I am not good enough, I need more education, Every one else knows more than I do.”  The reality hit, “If I continue to struggle with self-love and not trust myself, I will not take the actions I need to take to live.”  I may never get to live my passion of coaching other women to live their passion because I may actually die before I get a chance.”

It was at this point that my life would never be the same again. My journey of healing began.  There were choices that I would have and decisions to be made that would determine the course of my life:  whether I would live or die.  The first choice was that, “I wanted to live,” despite the diagnosis I had just received. 

I opted for surgery and approximately 2 weeks later, I had a complete hysterectomy.

The news was good.  The surgeon told me that he was able to remove all visible signs of cancer and that the margins were clear.

He then told me that I would need to heal for several weeks and that the next step would be chemotherapy to wipe out any microscopic cancer cells that were not visible to the eye. 

The principle behind chemotherapy seemed counterintuitive to me and scared me.  I wanted to take a proactive approach.  During this time, I decided to explore holistic and naturopathic alternatives.  I did a lot of research while recuperating.  I watched DVD’s, researched using the internet, talked with cancer patients, talked with various alternative healers and naturopaths. The information seemed overwhelming… how could I ever know what the right decision would be. 

With all this information spinning around inside of me, I decided to sit quietly.  I knew that the only way to come to the decision was to trust myself and listen for the answer from within.

I thought about a previous conversation with a naturopathic doctor, specializing in oncology, who recommended that I do chemotherapy and take naturopathic supplements at the same time.  This would help diminish the side effects, enhance the efficacy of the chemo and boost my immune system.  I knew that was my answer.  I would “marry” traditional western medicine (chemotherapy) with  non-traditional naturopathic supplements and proceed with an integrative approach.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I truly trusted myself and felt very confident that I was making the right choice for me.  Cancer gave me a beautiful gift of realizing that I love myself enough to want to live and to trust myself to make a life or death decision.

After the course of chemotherapy, I remained in remission for approximately 10 months and experienced recurrence.

At that point, I was offered a menu of approximately 5 different chemotherapies or combinations of chemo…..none of which appealed to me.  Once again, having done my own research, I asked the oncologist about using a form of immunotherapy that I had learned about.  He looked into it and it turned out that I was eligible to enroll in a clinical trial that was using immunotherapy.  I have been on this trial for over 2 years, along with other non-traditional healing therapies, and I now have 100% complete response with the immunotherapy medicine. 

I did not feel this way before in my life. 

Now I am ready to contribute by sharing what I have learned.

Join me for the Dream Factory Community Lunch & Learn on February 20th, 11:30-2pm, where you will do your own work on developing more Self-Love. Members and first time guests are free–but you need to register.


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