In honour of World Cancer Day, we want to share the inspiring story of Erika Nilsson-Humphrey.
Just nine months after giving birth to her first child, Erika was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the same time, she embarked on her new entrepreneurial business venture, Dappad, a bespoke shopping service for men. Last year Erika was given the positive news that she will be making a full recovery and she has recently completed her chemotherapy treatment.
What’s left us so inspired about Erika is her incredible positive mental attitude, which is why she has decided to write ‘Positive Mental Attitude: The Secret to my Success’, to help inspire others to develop and embrace PMA.
Here, Erika shares her top tips for how to keep a positive mental attitude during your hardest, (and most trialing) times.
1. Be grateful
Christmas last year was daunting because it would be my first Christmas with the disease. I was nervous because I had just had a huge operation, and I wasn’t able to to do much being tired and also not being allowed to lift anything. However, I also felt so grateful for the prospect that I would soon be healthy again. Since being diagnosed, I have felt an overwhelming sense of desire to celebrate all the small things in my life such as having breakfast as a family on a Saturday morning, being outside in nature and in the parks of London is also something I really try and treasure every time I get the chance to.
2. Be a Role Model
Cancer never strikes at a good time and for me, because I was in the middle of starting my business, it was never an option to not go through with it. Once I had taken the first step it felt like there would be no turning back. When the diagnosis came and I didn’t really know what to expect, I just tried to have the outlook that I needed to get on with normal life as much as I could. All I want is for my daughter to have a strong role model to look up to, so I just had to get on with things to be the best mother I can be.
3. Surround yourself with positive people
As I underwent treatment it started to affect my ability to perform at work in my normal capacity, as I was becoming very worn down by the chemotherapy. Luckily, I have a great team that I was surrounded by, and they remained positive at all times, taking on a heavier work load on a daily basis. We definitely had to slow down the development of the business in certain areas, but we’re all really excited to get back on track in a full capacity this year, now that I have finished chemo and I’m slowly beginning to build up my strength again.
4. Practice mindfulness
Following the diagnosis I started to look into mindfulness. Mindfullness is all about living in the ‘Now’ and making the best out of present situations, rather than living in the past or the future, which we often tend to do. It’s such an effective tool when dealing with adversity, and I found it incredibly influential in my path to recovery.
5. Love yourself
I still want to achieve the things I wanted to achieve before I was diagnosed, but I am certainly going about achieving those things in a different way. Previously I would always put myself last when it came to life and work, but since the diagnosis I have realised how important self care is and I now try to put myself, my health and my family first, before anything else gets tended too. If we are in good health and feel well, this can only have positive effects on work and business.
6. See the glass as half full
There really is a truth behind the glass half full theory. Two people can have exactly the same negative thing happen to them, but the way they react to it can be completely different, and will result in a completely different experience. The only thing that we can control in life is how we react to events around us – everything else is out of our control. Yes I got breast cancer and it is not something I would have liked to have gotten, but I felt like I had to look at it in a positive way, in that I am lucky enough to have supportive friends and family, a roof over my head and some of the best treatment available to me.