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Life As The Real You

Written by Paul Wolf

A cancer surviver shows illness can be a catalyst for change and a remaking of the self.

When Thea Sagen discoverd she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn't want merely to survive.  She wanted to thrive.

Ask yourself, are the things in my life of my choosing or based on others' expectations?
Let go of any aspects of your life, such as toxic relationships, that don't contribute to your well-being.
Don't wait for a serious illness to start setting priorities. Take time now to write your own mission statement. What do you really want to accomplish with your life?
Don't be afraid to be who you really are.

So she decided to rework her priorities. After her diagnosis with a rare islet cell tumor in 1997, she thought, If not now, then when?

Cancer became a great motivator to find her "authentic self." She would no longer live a life based on what she thought others expected of her.

Sagen's secrets to health and happiness:

-A new diet adopted during radiation treatments that continues to support her health. By eating more organic foods and reducing the amount of additives in her diet, Sagen feels that she is giving her body the best means of resisting disease.

-Moved to a to a less expensive home in a more remote part of Carmel Valley, Calif. She and her husband, Kit, enjoy the healthy rural setting, and a smaller mortgage.

-Negotiated and won a part-time arrangement with her employer, enabling her to focus energy on the creative aspects of work.

-Stopped coloring her hair, which had gone prematurely gray decades earlier. She sees this as embracing her authenticity.

-Began tackling fears besides cancer. For example, Sagen participated in a Vision Quest wilderness excursion in 1999. As part of the experience, she spent three days alone in the woods fasting and sleeping without a tent or a campfire.

The changes inspired by her illness have led her to greater happiness and fulfillment.

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