Beating Breast Cancer
Beating Breast Cancer. Brigette Sigley is in her early forties and feels fabulous, although it has not always been that way.
When Brigette was 40 she was diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes. This was her second serious diagnosis. Brigette felt like her train had been derailed. She went on a 2-year transformational journey to learn how to get well and stay well.
Brigette believes her diagnosis happened for a reason. To help others make the most of their life. She has transformed her own life. Brigette sold her stressful City business because she realized one day that it was not making her happy. Instead, she committed to doing something inspirational with her life and so Focus on Living was born.
Brigette Focused on living while beating breast cancer.
Focus on Living then transformed into an online resource called Focus on Living School where anyone facing a diagnosis of ill health who may be on the path of beating breast cancer can go and take part in some well-being practices.
It’s a space, all about sharing what Brigette has learned and also the wisdom from the amazing experts she came across on her journey so that you too can take control of your health and well-being and focus on living.
Here is some positive feedback from people that have participated in the focus on living school.
“I love the program that Brigette has created. It is teaching people in the program to be empowered on their wellness journey. The fact that it is online means it can be integrated with medical treatment. Anything that helps self-esteem and wellness is good for the immune system which in turn aids recovery.”
For more inspirational interviews about beating cancer check out episode 5
Recovery from Testicular Cancer with Andy Zagami
Recovery After Stroke podcast moving you through life’s transit lounge and helping you go from where you are to where you’d rather be.
This episode of the Recovery After Stroke Podcast is brought to you by recoveryafterstroke.com. Are you looking to get your health back on track? Do you struggle with a lack of energy? Are you recovering from a major health scare? You know that improvement in my health came after I hit rock bottom in 2012 when at the age of 37, a blood vessel burst in my brain causing a blood clot the size of a tensing coin, which became the size of a golf ball six weeks later, after a second blade, the result of which caused me to forget my name.
I’d be able to recognize my wife lose my ability to remember simple things and put me out of work for more than nine months. researching how to recover my health, I discovered that what was causing the symptoms, apart from the blood clot that remained in my head until surgery in 2014 was inflammation in the brain.
For more than four years now I’ve researched the topic of inflammation, and have found that there are many ways to reduce inflammation in the body. With the food we as I started to change my eating habits to reduce the inflammation, I found myself experiencing an unintended consequence. That was quite a pleasant surprise.
Without exercising, I lost seven kilos in the first two years, and since February 2012, I have lost a total of 15 kilos, just by changing my eating habits. If you would like to learn how to lose weight and gain health, get in touch, go to the contact page of this podcast or go to Bill guest yamas.com fill out the contact form and we’ll be in touch.
My guest today is Brigette Sigley, founder of Focus on living school. Brigette was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, and moved to Australia with her family when she was nine. Over the years, Brigette has coupled her love of new experiences with exploring many places around the world, and she has traveled extensively both working and holidaying in various parts of the globe.
She spent a number of years working overseas in South Africa, before returning to Australia in 1994. then spend some time in Brisbane before moving to Melbourne in 1998. Following her brush with death and subsequent survival and recovery from both brain, then breast cancer, Brigette reviewed her life’s priorities.
And in 2012 she sold her profitable IT business to pursue, her dreams Brigette’s business focus on living provides online wellness programs to women going through the experience of breast cancer, which enables women to take control of their lives. Hi, Brigette, welcome to the program.
Hi, Bill, thank you for having me.
I’m curious to know a little bit about you what it is that you’ve done in the past then, and then we’ll talk about what you’re doing now.
Brigette Sigley 3:28
Sure, so, so, my past was entirely different to what it is now, which I’m actually quite grateful for. So I’m going to go back to when I was 35. And, start from there. So I’m 35 years of age and I have a small business and I had just had My first child with my partner Ross, and Zach is now six months old.
Brigette Sigley 4:06
And life seemed pretty good except for one problem. I had this really, really incredibly sore neck to the point where I couldn’t move it very far left or right. I was like one of those Thunderbirds if you ever drove me to that car too.
I do actually, that’s pretty cool. Well, maybe this situation wasn’t but I know the Thunderbirds.
Brigette Sigley 4:28
Yeah, so I was very little movement. And the worst part was that I would hold Zach in my arms, but I could hardly look down at him. And Ross, it got to the point where I said can you do something about your neck? And I ended up going and looking into Have I got me I went to the local GP and I booked in to have an MRI done.
Brigette Sigley 4:52
And you know something’s not right when you’re driving out of the MRI and I got this call from the doctor that I’ve been Seeing? And he said, I’ll look Can you pull over? Uh-huh. Strangely, he said, Look, I need you to drive to the closest pharmacy, and I need you to buy blood thinning tablets. And he said, Put me on to the pharmacist.
Brigette Sigley 5:15
And so we can order those and I’m thinking, oh, what’s going on? You know, I feel fine. And, then he said, Look, I’ve just forwarded your results across to Professor Kay, who is the head of neuro neurology at and I think the Royal, the Royal Melbourne hospital.
Brigette Sigley 5:43
And so, I went and anyway, so I picked up a blood thinning tablets and then I went home and my husband said, Look, if it’s really serious, they would have got you to come in now. And I thought you were right. So We sat down for our Indian takeaway. And then the next minute his secretary rings and says, uh, you Bridget secretly and suggests and he said, Look, this is Professor Kay’s assistant, and he’d like to see you tomorrow morning at seven o’clock.
Brigette Sigley 6:16
And I said I’m a bit busy tomorrow morning because I, you know, I’m about to go for a swim. I was very active at that point in time and an ocean swim. So I could be there at about nine. And she said, no 7 am. So, so Ross draws me in and to the hospital. And he does this examination and he’s looking at my results.
Look at this. Just before we go there. Let’s build the suspense for the listeners a little bit. And I know that you’re about to go into an examination at this point in time, there are some results that are going to come your way they’re probably going to be life-changing in many ways. But you are running a successful business.
You were like the man who did everything and you know, you were doing all the stuff that you thought was what made you successful. And what made you you know, feel like you were contributing and all that kind of stuff? What was it you were doing for a living at the point at that point in time? What were you doing?
Brigette Sigley 7:20
I had, I had a company called computer heads, no more worries, the computer support. So it ran out of home and I had one full-time staff member and another part-time one and me and I would do everything from sales to invoicing if there were some customer problems that couldn’t be sorted out I would be the person that would get things moving, not the technical person.
Brigette Sigley 7:52
So yeah, I was playing a big role in all areas, and it seemed quite it seemed very important to me what I was doing How many hours a day were you working? Look? Actually, to be really honest with you, so Zach was born, and a friend and I shared a nanny, you know, our two weeks after he was born 444 days a week, he went into care. And I feel a little bit embarrassed to say that now at the time, that’s just what I did. I felt like I was providing for him.
Yeah, and you were providing for him because that’s, you know, why we marry most of the time, right? We join as a couple and we work together to achieve something to pass down to our kids or to raise some awesome kids something along those lines, is why we do it, right?
And you had a nanny. So the, you know, your son was being sorted, so to speak, and you were running around. Most of the day, and then Saturdays and Sundays or just Monday to Friday How?
Brigette Sigley 9:05
Look at independence, if a client had an issue on the weekend, then they could find me any time of the day or night to get assistance. Yeah. And that was what it was about. It was about solving those customer problems.
And at any point in that time before your son was born, did you have any inkling that perhaps that version of your lifestyle wasn’t sustainable?
Brigette Sigley 9:37
Ah, I’m just thinking back. No, not really. I used to feel guilty if I wasn’t doing something. So, you know, I loved multitasking. I thought that I was good at multitasking and Ah, ah, and as, as you’ll see, my whole life was really about if I got ill, let’s just fix it so that I can get back out there and keep doing and being busy.
Yeah, I know a lot of our listeners would also relate to what you said about feeling guilty about not doing something or not being busy or whatever it is. Where do you think it stems from this guilt that we carry around with us for apparently no reason whatsoever, that we’ve always got to be doing something? Where do you think that comes from? For you?
Brigette Sigley 10:42
Sure. I think from a really early age, I’d, I’d said to myself, I wanted to be financially independent and not dependent on somebody else and I’d set material things that I actually wanted to achieve, and there’s probably nothing wrong with that. But when it’s to the detriment of your health, and of your family, then it becomes a problem. And often when we get these things, you’ve got it. And that whole desire for it goes away. Yeah.
It’s kind of a bit of the thrill of the chase, once you achieve that, and you look back and you go, Okay, well, I, I achieved that. And it’s not as amazing as I was getting here. It wasn’t amazing as the challenges I had to overcome. So it’s kind of a lesson of the journey rather than the destination, would you say?
Brigette Sigley 11:53
Yeah, and I think I mean, I know we’re jumping to now but I’ve now learned that multitasking is not the right way to go. Because it means that you’re never really present in what you’re doing. If you can focus on one particular task at a time, and you can really focus and do it well, then life is just so much more enjoyable.
Yeah, you get to celebrate your wins more and you get to notice what you’ve done. At least that’s how I feel. So now that we’ve set a little bit of the tone, to give people an understanding of what kind of lifestyle you’re leading, which is pretty awesome, right?
Most people enjoy living that version of their life. They’re busy with work, they’re independent, you know, they’re financially independent, they’re achieving their goals, whether they’re materialistic or not, doesn’t matter because it’s okay to have some materialistic goals because they drive us and they make us wake up in the morning and contribute and do things.
You are sitting at this appointment now. With this surgeon and he’s got you in there finally at seven o’clock after she told him you were too busy to get there. And how does the conversation go down
Brigette Sigley 13:13
They often at that level don’t have a lot of personality. And I remember him coming into I was in a private room in my little gowned. And he had this, it was almost like one of that gravel, those gravels that judges use this tapping or little hammer type of thing.
Brigette Sigley 13:34
And he had he came in and he said, Look, I have some interns working or registrars. I think they’re called those that are training to be neurosurgeons Do you mind if they come in and watch my examination? Because it will help them to learn? And I thought, oh, okay, so he hasn’t at this point told me, you know, what he feels his findings are and so on.
Brigette Sigley 13:59
There was an Indian doctor and he said, You know, I can’t remember his name, but we’ll call them rejects. He said, What do you think’s going on here? And, and he would tap on my leg, my leg would shoot up. And I thought that’s great, great reflexes and this and that. She said she’s got blah, blah, blah. And then he goes, No, you’re wrong, you know, and then the next one, and so there was just no, there was completely cut them off. And I thought, oh my god, these are gonna be the doctors of the future.
Brigette Sigley 14:14
And, and then, you know, they all had a turn of Doctor diagnosing, diagnosing what was the issue, and then he said to me, look, in actual fact, The reason that your leg is shooting up like that is that you’ve got a tumor on the base, the base of your brain on your C two, and which is the size of a golf ball, and I’m surprised you know, paralyzed. And, and, and this doctor rush or whatever, who was who had given his version of what he thought my diagnosis was.
Brigette Sigley 15:13
He actually ended up assisting Dr. Kay and, So anyway, so he gave me this diagnosis with all these, these other registrars standing around as well. So it was a time that I kind of felt like oh my god, I have to hold it together. And at the same moment, I felt this overwhelming sense of terror. You know, he, I said to him, Well, what are my chances?
Brigette Sigley 15:45
And he said, Oh, well, it says 60 40% 60% that we’ll be able to take it out and you’ll be okay and 40% you might be paralyzed, and I suggest you call your family So, you know, my parents came from interstate. And he said, oh, by the way, we’ll be operating on you on Monday. And it was Saturday night, and we don’t want you can’t leave the hospital now.
Brigette Sigley 16:12
And so I remember then, that night sitting there on my bed, and I just had like a scrap of paper and writing out my little wheel, you know, tear-offs, I didn’t really know how to write that out. I’ll leave this, this and this, and to you, and the couch and my little business and things. And I gave it to Ross and my husband, he’s actually a lawyer. And he said I don’t want this. And, at that point, I was feeling like, well, what if I’m not here,
Brigette Sigley 16:47
And then the operation happened and it was a six-inch or maybe a six-hour operation, and they, they removed the tumor and I had to shave up the back of my head, and the Have lots of stitches and they when I came into recovery after that the operation had gone well. They they said to me Look, you know you need to rest for six months or six weeks.
Brigette Sigley 17:18
And all that I could think about was oh my god invoices just out on Thursday and I’m the one that does it. That makes no money come in like these crazy sorts of thoughts and my mom wants to go back to Queensland. I need to be back looking after Zach because I’m the Melbourne you know all those things that that that you think at the time and so they say six weeks and you can’t drive for six weeks? Well, I’m going to do it all in two weeks and show them how strong I am.
And really what what we are he’s we’re fragile right I remember having a similar conversation with my neurosurgeon. You know, three times before I got to the point where I accepted that I needed surgery and there was nothing else I could do about it other than prepare myself and recover. Was that the first time you ever considered your mortality at 35? Or has that been something that you thought of in the past?
Brigette Sigley 18:23
And I used to have this sense and if it goes past 35, because we’ll go on to that because I have another health challenge, like later on, and but I used to have this sense that I would die past young. And so little things like I remember making sure that I would go and give soccer a kiss and say goodbye before driving anywhere. And I go on to have another couple of kids and I would make a point of that.
Brigette Sigley 19:00
And, and I don’t know where that stems from, it certainly doesn’t happen today. But I’ve done some things to be able to help me out with that, that feeling so, but it’s a serious health challenge where it was threatened from that point of view. That was the first first first time Yes.
Okay. I remember feeling, you know, a few regrets about some things that I hadn’t done. So you wrote you’re, you write out your will and handed it to your husband. Were there any regrets at that time? What you hadn’t done? What were you reflecting on? I know there were 1000 things going on in your head. But did you have time to reflect at all on some of the regrets?
Brigette Sigley 19:55
You know, I think at that time I was thinking, Well, look, if I passed My God, how would they be financially? You know, who would? What would happen to that business? Would they be okay, so you’ve crazy thoughts really.
Brigette Sigley 20:14
And I was really focused, I wasn’t actually in that mode. I don’t think I actually thought I wouldn’t be here. You know, I was in that very much that mode of just fix me. I think if I’d had more time to think about it, you know, like he, I was dragged in on a Saturday night.
Brigette Sigley 20:37
And then by Monday morning, I was being operated on, you know, so there wasn’t much time to really think too much about my mortality except for a little scrap of paper to hand him to so right. He goes, if this doesn’t go so well.
Brigette Sigley 20:52
This is what my thoughts were. And if I look back, if I could have Although everything happens in life for a reason, I guess but yeah, at that point in time, I was just saying, fix me not even thinking about what should change.
So I’m getting a sense of regret. Yeah, I’m getting a sense that there was a lesson to be learned. And at the moment, you’re going through the challenge of, you know, dealing with whatever it was that you’re presented with. And then there was going to be surgery, you’re in recovery. At some point. You woke up and everything was looking better. Tell me a little bit about the next few months after your recovery. How did things go?
Brigette Sigley 21:37
So when I got into recovery and started to recover, my take on looking at life was last to be lived. I need to achieve as much as I can as soon as I can. Because I know is what’s going to happen is what, my brain was telling me.
Brigette Sigley 22:04
So it became let’s cram as much into the day as possible and do as much. So I decided that business needed to grow and over the next five years, we grew up so that we were their computer heads on the security road. And we are we had another two children.
Brigette Sigley 22:32
So Mackenzie came along, and then Audrey and so there were three children and Ross had I had some stepchildren from another marriage and so they used to, we used to, they used to come and stay as well. And all the way back to my exercising. I’d always been someone that had liked that but in a really furious battle. case.
Brigette Sigley 23:01
And there was just not a moment in the day to really think about much at all. So, by this time, I’m now 40 years of age, and we had made a decision to move to the beach as opposed to being in the city anymore. And maybe that was a little message to me that in some way I needed to find some way to slow down and smell. So we made that decision.
Brigette Sigley 23:31
And we had now built this beautiful modern house on the beach and we just moved into that. And I remember so I had a live-in nanny for the kids then and I remember it was winter and I’d hopped into the shower and you know, the water was all warm. And I went to so pop And then I suddenly felt this, this little lump under my arm that I hadn’t ever felt before like it was the size of a pea. And just something inside where something’s wrong. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling that you just know, something’s not quite right.
Brigette Sigley 24:22
I then put that to, the back of my mind. And I thought, Oh, look, this lots going on. I won’t go to the doctor yet. And one of the kids then had a wart or something that needed to be burnt off. And so I went to the local GP, which I don’t really know very well, and he was having that off. And I said, I look Can you just take a look at this? And he said, Well, let’s, let’s book you in to get some testing done. And then those tests came back.
Brigette Sigley 24:56
And the tests came back and I remember Just coming back and he said to me, Look, it doesn’t look good. And I said, Well, how quickly can you fix me? And he said, Look, I can’t make any comments. It’s gonna be a long journey. And I was referred to the breast surgeon.
Brigette Sigley 25:18
And I remember sitting in the waiting room of the breast surgeon and it was, you know, one of those daily wedding rooms with the old magazines and but the thing that was most striking to me was, as you looked around, everyone had their eyes to the ground. And no one was smiling. It was like all the air was being sucked out of the room. And everyone looks so helpless. And I remember walking in there and and it was like, time, time and stuffing.
Brigette Sigley 25:55
She got me to sit on the bench at The doctor’s table and she put this crisp piece of paper on the table, and she was examining me and it just felt so cold and alien. And then she gave me the news she said,
Brigette Sigley 26:20
Look, you’ve got grade three, aggressive, ductal invasive breast cancer, and it’s in your lymph nodes and, and it was like time stopped but I was just really very focused on she had this quarter I brown suit on and and and all I could think about was she could be wearing a belt and she had this half bottle of Coke, you know, like this diet coke beside this.
Brigette Sigley 26:53
So I wasn’t thinking and maybe we all do that to some extent that we don’t want to focus on what’s really happening. And Ross was with me at the time and then again, I was like, Well, how quickly can we get those things or that, you know, because the kids had all these various activities that they went to and I felt like I had this need to go to work and she said, Well, look, it’s going to be six months of chemo. And, then I hopped on the treadmill of treatment. And that’s, that’s when the hell started.
Yeah, wow. So a lot of people who know somebody that’s been through chemo would know that it’s really taxing and I’m sure there are a lot of people listening that have been through chemo as well and come out the other side, but going into chemo is that look, what’s that feeling?
What was that feeling for you? Like, were you interested? We’re sort of afraid. Were you concerned? Were you just still gung ho, we’ll get through this I’ll overcome it had anything shifted from the first time that they diagnosed you?
Brigette Sigley 28:10
Not, to be really honest, not at that point. I just, I actually wanted to advocate responsibility. It was almost a relief that someone else was going to fix me and I didn’t have to think about it is what I was thinking so, but it was interesting going into my first session of chemo, I remember, they put me on this bed and the nurses came in and they were all completely they were all in these big gowns, plastic guns with plastic gloves.
Brigette Sigley 28:44
And, then they had, I think they also had some sort of shielding over their face. And then there’s right we’re going to put the chemo into now, which was through a catheter, I think into my arm at that point. In time, I just thought, holy shit, they forget this stuff into my body and they don’t want to get a drop onto their skin.
Brigette Sigley 29:08
What’s that doing in my body? So, you know, they wanted me to visualize this working and to help him but the environment that it was happening in just made me really scared because they didn’t want to get any of it near themselves.
Yeah. Wow. Wow, that’s amazing. You know what was really interesting was that you just said they wanted you to visualize it working and I imagine you might not have realized but that’s a skill that you sound like you’re going to be using in the future. We’ll get there in a moment. Isn’t it interesting that they’re putting this chemical through people asking them to visualize it working? There’s got to be something to that right?
Brigette Sigley 29:54
Yeah, and look with a lot of drugs there is this placebo of effect. So if you think something is going to work for you, it’s more likely to work and they do lots of those trials where they give people a sugar pill and tell them it’s something else. And then the person actually believes that it’s work we’re working and so I can understand why why they do that,
Brigette Sigley 30:26
But it was, it was a scary time. And I guess the other thing was, I actually thought I went into it at 40 being fairly physically healthy. So by physically healthy, meaning that I exercise so when I was actually diagnosed at that point with that brain tumor,
Brigette Sigley 30:45
I was just about to do a half Ironman and a half fine and it is a type of triathlon, but you, you do 1.8 kilometers swim and then it’s a kilometer on the bike, and then you do a 21 kilometer run at the end of it, so it takes about it would have taken me somewhere between six and seven hours. So I was training twice a day for that, and actually griddling and moaning and groaning about having to go to my training, but physically I was pretty fit.
Brigette Sigley 31:25
And by the second round of chemo, I couldn’t even ride my bike up the small hill outside because it’s the topic came on, I have a fix your respiratory system. And I, you know, felt physically tired, and about by number three, it started to affect my brain capacity and even my ability to be able to function so I didn’t feel like it. Couldn’t make a decision at work anymore.
Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me right with all those chemicals going in, but also dealing with, you know, trying to heal and recover. I also remember standing in front of a room at a course introducing myself and telling people why I was at the course and telling them that it had been around nine months after the first time I experienced the bleeding or the second time I experienced a blade in my brain.
And I remember telling them that my biggest concern was I had taken my brain for granted in the past. And now that it’s not working properly, I’m concerned about it. I’m not coming back online like it was before, and what will I do if it doesn’t come back? The way that it was perfect, you know, working in the past?
Brigette Sigley 32:52
Did you relate to that? Is that something?
Brigette Sigley 32:54
Yeah, well, I think I think that in life, we take Our amazing bodies for granted. You know, we take our brain for granted that it will just keep functioning how it is or in my case, the, you know, my legs for granted that they would just be able to right up that hill or, and, and when some of those things are stripped away from you, it just reinforces just how important it is and, and how we how it’s important to do what we can to make sure that they function as well as possible.
Brigette Sigley 33:40
You know, so we can have that and it’s a bit like a car in some ways that if you want a car to run for a long time, you know you get it serviced, and you use it right and with our bodies well We expect it to go for a long time.
Brigette Sigley 34:03
But we don’t get it. We don’t always look after it in the way that we should. And we don’t listen to it when perhaps something’s not right about it. And look at what the message it’s trying to give us.
Your body was definitely trying to send you some messages, and
Brigette Sigley 34:22
I still wasn’t getting it.
So what did it do to really make it even more apparent that it was trying to send your messages What happened then?
Brigette Sigley 34:32
Okay, so my identity was very much I was the managing director of this company, you know, I had these, these children that were actually being mothered by someone else really. But you know, and this nice house out there, so that was all my identity. It wasn’t. It wasn’t about how I could help others and And well as I, as I now feel so,
Brigette Sigley 35:08
The next thing that happened was a message to strip all those things away so my business started to go downhill I wasn’t I, I didn’t have the energy to really be there and make decisions and so we started to lose clients and Iand then I was I got my chemo, they’d said to me six rounds
Brigette Sigley 35:37
And then we’ll, we’ll see what happens and hope that that will be it for you. And so those six rounds of chemo went by and I lost my hair, and I thought that’s okay as long as I don’t lose my eyebrows or my eyelashes, and then moved and I’ve lost my eyelashes and my eyebrows.
Brigette Sigley 36:00
And you know when you look visually sick to people, and you can see the despair on their faces that and their pity for you, and all of those things that and especially for me as a woman that you actually take, that you become really attached to the way that you look, and that that outward appearance, so all of these things were being stripped away from me,
Eyebrows are important,
Brigette Sigley 36:26
Well, I give you expression and they actually there’s a function that they do in that they protect dust from going into your eyes and I remember I remember trying to swim and not having any eyebrows or eyelashes and the water kept dripping into my eyes because they’re there to flick them off, you know more so and the next thing so six rounds of chemo are now up.
Brigette Sigley 36:51
And I go back to I go and have a test and I’m you know, feeling really positive and the test results come back to say that the chambers haven’t shrunk and it’s still in my lymph nodes. And my breast surgeon says to me, we’re going to have to now do a miss ectomy which is where they take your breast off, and then you can opt to have a reconstruction.
Brigette Sigley 37:20
And I was just devastated because I thought I’d be making some small changes, you know that I had started to meditate. And I had started to change the way that I was eating, I was still trying to do what I could workwise and so I was really devastated. And I remember coming away from that and going in and lying down in one of the rooms at the back of our house and just lying on the floor and saying what do I do?
Brigette Sigley 38:00
To change in my life, and I’m not a religious person, but it was like I was talking to my spirit or my inner self. You know, what do I need to change? Because at that point in time, I didn’t know what to do.
Have you ever asked yourself that question before?
Brigette Sigley 38:18
No, no, it has always been rough. What’s next? Okay, they’re telling me this. Let’s just go and do it and fall. So I’ve never had never asked it. I had always wanted to be in control. So I guess the other part of that was actually the letting go process. So I just let go of I actually didn’t know what to do next.
That’s not a bad place. I know. I know. Some people yeah, surrendering. Yeah, but that’s such a good place to be. Sometimes this not knowing means that whatever is meant to happen will just happen.
Brigette Sigley 38:56
Yes, yes. And that’s what happened then. That’s what happened next. I had this after that I had this overwhelming sense of calmness in my body, and this feeling that it would all work out. And then I think I’d mentioned to you before that I had started to meditate.
Brigette Sigley 39:18
And so I got this, this awareness that I should go back and see this Reiki woman that I’d seen once earlier on in that six months. And that was something that I should do. And so I made an appointment to see Margo and, at this point, Reiki is an interesting thing. It’s an energy healing that works on the principle that our hands are energy.
Brigette Sigley 39:44
And so when we, when we hold it over the body, it can actually work in, in healing, it’s a vibration that can actually heal you through energy through The interchange of energy I guess between the person giving the Reiki and the person receiving it. But in order for Reiki to work properly, you actually have to surrender. Surrender is not actually wanting to result.
Brigette Sigley 40:16
So to be able to slide there and relax and receive, as opposed to the first time that I’ve ever had Reiki the other time was I was going to make this like, how do I make this work? How does it work? So when I got to Margo,
I’m gonna just interrupt there for a second. So I have a similar recollection, about Reiki in that before me being unwell. I had never gone to Reiki, kinesiology, or anything that was considered woo-woo you know? Yeah, interesting. After that, I found myself in a situation where I needed to heal, recover, and everything.
I figured, you know what, what if I cut to lose one I just go in Do every single one of these alternative things because if I don’t, I might not discover something that other people are telling me is really awesome. So my mind shift, my mindset shifted, and changed a lot. And I just allowed myself to turn up and not have expectations.
And that’s a skill that I now use for other things in life. And that was one of the amazing things that came out of you know, came out of my diagnosis in my recovery from my illness. What were you like, were you somebody that believed in the or paid attention to the woo-woo stuff?
Brigette Sigley 41:40
No, no, not at all. I mean, I was too busy and I think it was when it all stopped Nope, not working for me on the medical side, so it wasn’t giving me the results and I was feeling and so I thought, I really need to investigate how I That was how I can make some changes for myself and I was prepared to look at, you know, everything.
Brigette Sigley 42:06
And I thought Look, let me think about what comes into my awareness and, and, and if it’s meant to be, it will be. So so then what happened I went and had my session with Margo and I always had this tendency in those six months to my hand would go under my armpit to feel that little piece eyes lamp, and it was just habit.
Brigette Sigley 42:36
And I just remember coming back from Lago and feeling that relaxed and just a bit relieved, and I slept and the next morning I woke up and went to put my hand under my arm, and I couldn’t feel the lump.
Brigette Sigley 42:56
And I just had those tests at the end of the day before. Something that I went to see her confirmed that it was in my lymph nodes and in my breast, then the cancer. And I thought That’s funny. I can’t do that anymore.
Brigette Sigley 43:14
Acid mess, but I wonder what I should do. And he was gorgeous. He said, Well, you do what you think you should do instead. And so anyway, I went down into my meditation room, and I just sat there and put an intention out, you know, what, what should I do? And then the next minute, this is really weird. And this hasn’t happened only one other time. It was like this big booming voice, this male voice, and don’t let them take your notes.
Brigette Sigley 43:48
And I like open my eyes and thought, oh, was it someone speaking? And I thought I just must have been hearing some things. And I went off that day, and I was trying some other things. So I had a chiropractic session with an alchemy chiropractor. And she said to me, oh, it’s a shame that taking your lymph nodes because that could lead to lymphedema.
Brigette Sigley 44:11
So, sometimes we’re given all these messages in life and there’s synchronicity in those and then I, life got pretty busy because we were a few days out from my surgery now and they were doing real reconstructions, blood tests, and all sorts of things. And so I didn’t go and have another test again.
Brigette Sigley 44:34
And I remember being wheeled into the operating theatre and I was just doing some deep breathing, some relaxation, and then that same booming voice said, Don’t let them take you in a test
Oh my God.
Brigette Sigley 44:47
And I thought, right, I’m gonna say something, you know, it’s not too late. They’re just willing me and I’m in my wife, gowned mind you are on the little trolley. And they will mean and I mean This operating theater now and this, the lights are all those fluids that light and there’s like a cast of 20 of them or getting ready to do my surgery.
Brigette Sigley 45:11
And I just couldn’t say anything. And so they do the surgery. And I remember waking up in recovery and just feel feeling like I had this now this ability to know what was right. and I was in recovery and the breast surgeon came in and she said, Well, you know, the next phases are probably going to be this and more. You need to have some and
Brigette Sigley 45:51
You need to have some further for further treatment. And I just said to her, it wasn’t in my lymph nodes and I’m not having any more treatment. And she just looked at me like I had two heads. And she said to me, Look, she said that we biopsied the lymph nodes. And so we’ll get those back and before going into surgery, it was in 21 of the 24-month plans, something like that. And, and the results came back, and guess what?
Oh, it wasn’t the near the lymph nodes.
Brigette Sigley 46:25
It wasn’t in when they thought,
Oh my god.
Brigette Sigley 46:29
So it was a lesson to me to say, you need to follow your inner guidance and to trust that now I, you know, can’t change what’s happened and I don’t look back and have any regrets. And to some extent, I think I wouldn’t be able to share with others had I not had the experience that I’ve had,
Brigette Sigley 46:52
But where I haven’t followed it and what’s been the repercussion and the Other thing I remembered about that time is so after I had had the operation and I’m in my hospital bed and I’m feeling pretty down and out about myself I was wrapped up like a mummy and I had all these drips coming out of different areas drainage tube, so I kinda looked a bit like one of those sculptures, inch installation sculptures, you know, and I’m lying, they’re all wrapped up like this.
Brigette Sigley 47:31
And feeling really down that I’d actually been through this and, and, and, and kind of feeling like, I wish I was dead because I don’t feel so bad. Yeah. And the next minute I hear this little girl’s voice coming down the corridors and it was my grandparents are sorry, my parents had brought my little daughter Audrey, who was three and I started to get really matched, you know,
Brigette Sigley 48:00
I was thinking don’t bring Audrey in here when I’m looking like this because she’s gonna be you’re scared and, and I was I felt overly angry, but I couldn’t move, you know, I couldn’t even move my head.
Brigette Sigley 48:13
And I just remember hearing a little voice and, and they were holding her and, and I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine and I’m on and behind. She wasn’t really she wasn’t seeing any of the bandages or the tubes that were coming out of me and she said, did they take your boob? And then she said, did they make you another one?
Brigette Sigley 48:42
And, and it was so sweet. And I just vowed at that point in time that I never wanted to be in another hospital again. And I needed to do whatever I could do to be well, you know, moving forward. Yeah. So So I came out Knowing that, that I was going to be healthy and to learn how to thrive in that and that was going to be my priority.
Tell me about, you know how you said to the doctor, it’s not in my lymph nodes, you end up having a conversation with your doctor about that discussion that you had.
Brigette Sigley 49:23
I’m looking to interesting, you know, the doctor when the results came back and it wasn’t in my lymph nodes. Shear her response was, Well, look, we would have taken them anyway, as a precaution. Everything’s a precaution.
Brigette Sigley 49:39
Oh, radiation and all future treatment were a precaution because I was offered some more treatment. And I said, Well, why do I need to have that? Well, it’s a precaution because it’s been quite serious. It’s like the icing on the cake. And I thought, well, the icing hasn’t worked. So far so. And it was a difficult conversation to have. Because suddenly I wasn’t toeing the line in being the good little patient that I think. Yeah. And they didn’t they didn’t really like that.
Yeah, well, I would encourage anyone out there to definitely pay attention to doctors, they’re really good at diagnosing they are really good at helping in certain circumstances. And without them, you and I probably wouldn’t be here. So let’s face it, there’s a spot for them.
There’s a role for them. But there’s also a time for us to draw a line in the sand and say, You know what, thank you for everything that you’ve done, and, and we’ll continue to do but also, I’ve got to take responsibility for my own health and I drew a line in the sand about two or three months into my diagnosis because my doctors weren’t speaking to me.
Richard that was speaking at me, and at the edge of the bed about me to a whole bunch of other people. And I got I remember getting really frustrated and I told my wife, I’ve had enough Pakistan I’ve had enough with all this stuff they’re doing at the edge of the bed, and I rang a mate of mine, who was a radiographer at the Royal Melbourne.
And I said to him, get me a doctor, I don’t care what who they are, what they do, that’s gonna speak to me, and he’s gonna answer my questions. I don’t care what the answers are. I just want answers. So he did that. And then we went, I went to the Royal Melbourne and found an amazing doctor and then felt like I was in complete control of my process.
And I had a team member who was prepared to open my head and remove a faulty blood vessel and was trained to do that really well. And she kind of made it made me feel like she was the team member who was going to do that and I was the team member that was going to do all the other stuff. She didn’t, Wow, she didn’t want to judge me.
She didn’t want to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing this. She didn’t force me to have surgery, none of those things. And, and, and that’s what I really got out of the hospital prices were before I was really against doctors running everyone’s life. I found light at the end of the tunnel.
And that’s because like you, I soak up right and I stood up for what I believed in and what I knew was real now, and these voices that you heard wherever they came from, oh my god, they were not to be ignored. So I get that the doctors some of them would have had a bit of a challenge you doing what you did, but it worked out for you. And you then what happened then? Go for it.
Brigette Sigley 52:51
I just wanted to. I just wanted to make a comment there. One of the things that I like about what you’ve you’ve said is that when you come came across a doctor that was at a different value system that wasn’t giving you the support you needed, you reached out to find someone that that was. I didn’t do that. So I went with who I was referred to.
Brigette Sigley 53:17
And although my value system wasn’t aligned with, with IRS and you know, they’re very successful, we’re just different people. I should have actually then looked at that point in time to find someone that was aligned with me and, and that was also, you know,
Brigette Sigley 53:40
I’m going to be supportive of all the things that I was doing to help myself whereas, whereas the team of doctors that will that were looking after me, it was very much as just do what I say Do all that sort of stuff later. You know, don’t change your food. And
yeah, and then
Brigette Sigley 54:08
don’t go and do any woo-woo sort of stuff, don’t take any vitamins or don’t do any juicing or anything out of the normal whilst you’re on chemo in case it doesn’t work, and things like with chemotherapy at the time when I went through it, it was about pointing, I guess, poisoning cancer, but it also ended up really compromising my immune system. It didn’t just wasn’t just targeted at cancer.
Brigette Sigley 54:42
Now, that is probably changing over time, and that’s getting better and better. But at that point in time, so I was doing everything possible to keep my immune system as healthy as I could by juicing and by getting some good vitamins into me.
Brigette Sigley 55:00
Like that, Whereas I could have and they’d be some, and they’d be some chemo therapists that would be. And I do know now, you know since I’ve started my focus or limiting that there’s some that are very supportive of how you can help yourself. And, making sure that you are looking at what you’re eating and you’re on mute and what vitamins and minerals you’re getting into.
Yeah, and why you might be lacking, which is really important. Yeah, yeah. So you got to the end of this sort of next round and you started to heal How long were you in the hospital and what happened after that after that part, so we can sort of
Brigette Sigley 55:49
Yeah, so I was in the hospital for about two weeks. And then I got out of the hospital and one of the realizations that I had was You know, I started to question all parts of my life, like, how did I feel about what I did? workwise Did that make me happy or did it not?
Brigette Sigley 56:08
And I started to realize that I actually liked being home with the children and, and seeing them after school and all these little moments that was almost like time was slowing down. And I realized that I needed that company wasn’t something that I wanted to do moving forward.
Brigette Sigley 56:31
So again, I went back to my practice of meditating where I would sit quietly for 20 minutes, and I put my intention out there to how do I spend more time at home and what happened to the computer hits. And anyway at the end of that meditation This, just this.
Brigette Sigley 57:01
And we all get many messages in different ways. And so at this time, it was just this name of this company computer heads, sorry, that’s my company, combo it and, and I thought that’s, that’s a silly name to pop into my head because they wouldn’t be interested in us. The fellow that ran combo, I felt had a different value system to me and I didn’t really know him very well. But we had competed against some jobs and so I just dismissed it.
Brigette Sigley 57:32
And then, and then about a week later, I get this email from him saying, did I want to sell my company? And it all went from there? Yeah. So. So sometimes, and, you know, we talked about that moment where I let go of the, the outcome and just ask the question, if you’re open, open to receiving that in whatever form that it comes, then your inner voice, spirit whatever you want to call it will guide you.
Brigette Sigley 58:10
So that ended up being what happened you know, they bought that company from me and then I was able to hear and and and look at what I wanted to do next,
Brigette Sigley 58:24
Let’s call it let’s call it your intuition people get what that means so we would call it intuition from now. Was it your intuition that guided you do you feel to do meditation to do all those things? Or did you have a mentor or did somebody else suggested
Brigette Sigley 58:42
I am I went to the Gola retreat for 10 days when I was going through chemotherapy, and they had this beautiful space where meditation was a part of every day initially when I tried meditation years before, but I think I thought I’m too busy for that.
Brigette Sigley 59:05
My mind just won’t stop. And normally not normally people and that was just me, you know, people that say that actually need it more than anybody else does.
That’s what I was thinking.
Brigette Sigley 59:20
So, that was me. So I, I’ve been away to go there. And they had us meditating each day in this beautiful space and eating nourishing foods. So then I started to read online also about how helpful meditation isn’t healing and there’s lots of scientific research now, that shows that there’s this woman, Elizabeth Blackburn, and she is an Australian woman actually, but she lives in the States but she won a Nobel Prize for science.
Brigette Sigley 59:53
And anyway, she had done these studies around with a control group that she got to meditate for Six months, and then another control group, but both of them had a progressed disease process. So they all had advanced cancers and things like that. Anyway, what she noticed is that in the body in the cells, you have these things called telomeres, and they’re like shoelace endings.
Brigette Sigley 1:00:21
And when someone dies, they completely shrink to nothing. And if you’re healthy, they’re longer. And when you have a disease in your body, they’re shrinking. And she noticed with the group that was meditating, she could see under the Microsoft that those telomeres were lengthening.
Brigette Sigley 1:00:40
Yeah. So So it’s interesting. So that kind of gave me a bit of inspiration to go Oh, gotta keep keep this up. You know, like, even though I’m having trouble getting there. At least me sitting here. My telomeres are repairing themselves. I was telling you initially and I Sorry.
So I was gonna say that’s a really good perspective because I do that too now, right? So I do a from a meditation point of view, knowing that when I visualize something in my brain and in my heart, and in my gut, the new neurons that exist there are firing as if I’m actually doing that exercise. Or that process, or whatever it is, the firing is if I’m physically doing something, hmm.
So you, when you imagine something, it has to set off the same part of the brain as if you’re sitting off the part of the brain that’s doing it while you’re physically doing something. And when I couldn’t walk after surgery, and I had to imagine myself walking again, I was already doing what I call rehab for three or four days before I actually started the physical rehab.
So when I got there, it wasn’t foreign to me. I was noticing myself walking with, you know, all the AIDS and through The people around me and I was noticing how my foot initially was touching the ground differently. But then as I got better at it, it started touching the ground, you know better.
So what I had done is similar to what you were saying, these neurons that I needed to create these connections to start my leg work. And again, I had already started working because somebody had described that to me before surgery, and I thought, now that I physically, that I know that I know that I actually know what’s happening in my head. I’m more confident about the rehab, and I know that it’s actually beneficial.
So I really appreciate you sharing that part of the telomeres. I’ve never heard of that before. And I know there’s some people that are going to hear that and they’re going to think that it’s worth sharing and they’re going to be keeping that in the back of their mind.
Brigette Sigley 1:02:49
Yeah, and go Google then. And just to add to what you just talked about, then was initially with my meditation in that period, Read when I was going through chemotherapy, meditation was all about I wish the cancer was gone. And what I realized after that period of letting go and lying down on the ground and how can I help myself was I was actually drawing attention to cancer.
Brigette Sigley 1:03:20
And so I started to visualize myself riding my bike again. I started to visualize myself doing another triathlon, but actually doing like loving it and, and doing my best time ever, but I was, but it was because I was really loving it and my legs going around on the bike. And yes, so similar to you.
Yeah. And that’s the difference. You remember you just said a little bit earlier that we were that you were really winching and struggling about how to prepare for the triathlon. So maybe you weren’t paying attention that it wasn’t the right time for you, whereas now you’re loving it. So your body’s responding in a completely different way.
And any athlete will tell you if they are loving what they are doing. They have better results, and better outcomes because there’s a physiological effect when you dislike something how that makes you feel internally and mentally.
Brigette Sigley 1:04:18
Wow. What a shift.
Brigette Sigley 1:04:23
Yeah. And then I guess the part for me that, you know, from a work perspective, I thought, well, what are what I want to be doing? And I came to this realization that I wanted to be able to share with people about my journey and to be able to help people. And I was also angry in some ways that so many people were being diagnosed with these I call them modern diseases.
Brigette Sigley 1:04:58
And why was that happen? And why weren’t we thinking about when we had these diseases? What lifestyle? What do we need to change in our life? But we were all like me just saying fix me. And so that’s how it started with my journey with what I do now.
Yeah, so what you do now is really amazing and I’ve had an opportunity to sit through the course and loved it absolutely loved it because I did it at a time when I wasn’t recovering from an illness like cancer, but it was serious enough and I felt that it was really beneficial even to me, from you know, somebody that wasn’t recovering from cancer, which was all cool.
It was really relevant and you call it focus on living school. So tell me a little bit about how somebody can interact with focus on living school.
Brigette Sigley 1:05:56
Okay, so, so focus focuses on living School is there for people that want to get ready to say, Well, what changes do I need to make in my lifestyle, and they are ready to basically make some changes. So it looks at various areas of their life that they can add, add things in to do for themselves.
Brigette Sigley 1:06:23
So there’s a module on meditation equals healing, and they can watch it at home and we get them practicing. But what I’ve done is I’ve got different experts in different areas to help people make shifts. And in the modules, I talk about my journey, and they’re all really little short snippets so people don’t get bored.
Brigette Sigley 1:06:47
And people can go through and they can do the whole program and in its entirety. If, like I was in a situation where I just wanted to do everything and see what was going to work for me So I have this open mind about, I’m not sure what will work. So let me just do it all. And I think you sound like you will have the same Bill as yours.
Brigette Sigley 1:07:08
And so we offer that. So being able to look at different aspects of your life. So there’s a module on facing up to your diagnosis. And in that module saying, what sort of language Am I using to describe my challenge?
Brigette Sigley 1:07:26
So if someone just describes it as a crisis, then you know, because what we actually say we internalize, and the way we describe things, so it’s looking at your languaging it’s then looking at also in that module, the people around you, are they people that are supportive? Or are they people that are dragging you down? And looking at your medical team? Are they people that are supportive of your values?
Brigette Sigley 1:07:53
And are you helping yourself or you know, do you need to make some changes and feel okay with that to say Perhaps we have different values I need to find someone else. And then the next module is called meditation for Healing. And we go through exactly the science behind why meditation is important. And then how do you go about it and giving you some tips and then there are some guided meditations there as well.
Yeah, I really got a lot out of the nutrition module. It was the first time that I really got a better understanding of why nutrition was important, or what some of the foods that I needed to start including into my diet and what some of the foods I needed to take out.
And although it might seem obvious to me now, and to some others, it wasn’t at the time. So what I’d say that I sort of really love doing was being able to then speak to the nutritionist that you arrange To be online and answer some questions, which I thought was fantastic.
Brigette Sigley 1:09:03
Yeah, thank you.
So it was really a one-stop shop like it was the place for me to go and get all this information because before what I was doing, was searching everywhere to find all these little bits of information, then bring it together and make something of it. And I felt like you had already done that.
Brigette Sigley 1:09:24
Thank you. And I guess that’s what I want people to get out of it, and some people that goes through them say, Well, look, this area is something that I really need now, and then go in and get more guidance in that area. So there are other resources in there for people to be able to follow up with later if they want to.
Yeah, awesome. We’re coming to the end of the episode. Brigette, it’s been amazing. We could probably talk for ages. I know that I want to make sure that people understand that they can do that. Once they’ve done focus on leaving school, they can log back on and do it again and again, at no cost. Is that right?
Brigette Sigley 1:10:07
Yeah. So people can go through as many times as they want. And I guess what I found when people have gone through that at a certain point, you know, Bill, you might be interested in nutrition, but in another six, six months, you might want to explore,
What you can do to get more passion into your life. And so you might go back and do that module then. Or you might be ready for one or the other. So people don’t necessarily need to do them all at once. And they can do them again and again.
Yeah, I think it’s important to be able to do it at your own pace, rather than sort of be forced into it. It’s all about giving people a choice. I just do want to also mention full disclosure, Brigette and I do not have any kind of business arrangement.
I am not promoting this because I’m sharing any turnover or profits or anything like that. I’m purely doing it because it was an amazing thing to experience. And I think it’s a great service for people to look into if they decide to go on. That’s up to them. Brigette, where do people go to find out more about focusing on living in school?
Brigette Sigley 1:11:25
So, building the website is focused on living.com.au. And when they get to focus on living, they can click for school and to learn more, and they can sit there. I also write a blog every fortnight and so people can go and sign up for that there are lots of free tips and interviews and it’s all about how you can thrive moving forward in your life.
And now it sounds like you’re thriving, moving forward in your life. There are amazing things going on in your life now, which are all more aligned with who you truly are. How long has it been since the last time you were in a hospital doing all that crazy stuff?
Brigette Sigley 1:12:22
Ah, five years. Yeah, five years. Yeah.
Brigette Sigley 1:12:30
So and I would tell you that I feel healthier and happier than ever.
Yeah, that’s an amazing thing to hear to imagine that you could possibly feel healthier and better than ever after going through something like that is such is foreign to some people, but I feel the same even after dealing with some of the side effects of surgery which is some numbness on my left side. It’s kind of insignificant, and I feel better than I’ve felt, I reckon since I was a teenager, and I’m 42 now.
So it’s really achievable. And I want to thank you for making the focus on living school, it’s online. And that makes it even better because I didn’t have to go anywhere to attend. And it was what began my inquiry into the health and nutrition side of recovering from a serious illness.
So thank you so much for sharing that. And thank you so much for being a part of the program. I really look forward to continuing to learn about all the amazing stuff that you’re doing and the difference that you’re making.
Brigette Sigley 1:13:39
Thanks, Bill. Thanks for interviewing me.
My pleasure, Brigette, all the best.
Hey, guys, Bill again. Did you know that collagen is the main structural protein in the various connective tissues in animal bodies as the main component of connective tissue, it is the most common abundant protein in men and mammals, making up from 25 to 35% of the whole body protein content. collagen in the form of elongated fibers is mostly found in fibrous tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and skin is also abundant in corneas cartilages, bones, blood vessels, the gut, vertebral discs, and the dentin in teeth.
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We can tendons and ligaments, damage to blood vessels contributing to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the blood vessels which contributes to hemorrhages just like what I had heart attacks and many other serious illnesses. Protect your collagen and remain looking young. heal your blood vessels and can protect your eyes by simply removing sugar from your diet.
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