It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and throughout October, those who’ve experienced the disease will be sharing stories and raising awareness.
Here, 43 year old Leigh Howes, a mum of two from Hertfordshire, shares her experiences of breast cancer survival with Eloquently Her.
Leigh says she’s on a mission to highlight the importance of putting ourselves first by valuing our time and creating a business and life that we design and truly love.
“My career started in Recruitment, before climbing the ladder and developing a successful HR career with high profile global brands, including Pizza Hut, KFC & Iceland.
“My entrepreneurial journey started in 2012 following redundancy and the arrival of my eldest son.
“Throughout my career I was unashamedly a work horse, leaving the office late and burning the midnight oil. In 2017, after a series of personal challenges including money worries, my son having Pneumonia and tragic family bereavements…. I was dealt a further blow, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Facing such a diagnosis makes you look at your life very differently. When they first told me, I had an overwhelming realisation that many other things were just unimportant – the diagnosis gave me massive perspective and forced me to look inwards.
“I stepped off my own hamster wheel, dug deep to find ways to cope and made some big changes in how I lived and worked, not least in the design of my business to truly enable me to live a life that puts me first. If I wanted to go faster, I had to learn ways to slow down, to reconnect and reset. Meditation, yoga, walking – all of these are regular in my life now. I treated my mental wellbeing as important as my physical recovery.
“I don’t want to waste my ‘today’ and this has been the push I needed to find my courage to go after the work and the clients that truly make my heart sing and align with my personal values.
“These lessons are incorporated in my programmes today; that wellbeing and happiness are a critical enhancer to both performance and success in our businesses and careers.
“I am super proud that one year on from being in the midst of my grueling treatment plan, I decided to co-write a book and was amazed when I found out that it had become a best-seller.
“My story within ‘She Who Dares’ displays grit and determination to overcome the status-quo and the many personal challenges I faced included my cancer survival story but also my transformation from workhorse to empowered business women and the blessed discovery of mindfulness which has helped me on my journey of well-being and happiness.
“Being included in this book is a celebration for me of how far I have come, and a recognition of what can be achieved when women in business come together.
“Today, I help businesses and senior leaders to disrupt their current ‘norm’ and grow.
As your business partner, I roll up my sleeves and become an extension of you and your team. I listen and observe to figure out what is/isn’t working and what needs to start. I am intuitive, curious about people and behavior and offer a holistic approach to development.
“An advocate of leaning in on strengths, I am often referred to as a tin opener, getting individuals to open up and tap into ideas not considered before. Driving change, creating the ‘aha’ moments and moving forward to grow…
“Every business is different. Every leader is different. It is important to figure out what makes you tick and navigate to find your solution and realise your potential. That’s what I like to do most – helping leaders stretch, cheerleading them on and becoming an invisible crutch on their journey of change and growth.
“Most recently, I am writing my own book which will tell the full story behind the scenes and the lessons I have learnt along the way. I am also in the process of pulling together a guide which lists out what I found helpful when I was diagnosed in the hope that it might help someone else who is just starting on their own Cancer journey.
“They say great things can come from adversity and I am living proof of that.
“I am where I am today for so many reasons. I have achieved so much that I am proud of and am on a mission to make a difference out of the adversity I have faced and the obstacles I have overcome.
“Early detection is critical in getting out of the other side of this disease and I am flying the flag to anyone who will listen on the importance of knowing your body, checking yourself regularly and raising the alarm on anything that feels different to your ‘norm’. Because of early detection, I am grateful every day. I am learning every day. I am on a mission every day. I am grateful to be a survivor.”