Tag Archives: cancer

Leaders Intuit: Courage

29 Sep


Today’s post continues the introduction of our Leader Intuit Framework. I’ll be connecting the dots between courage and intuition, and showing how this can strengthen you as a leader and business person.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Steve Jobs

Last week, I had to pull out my courage card. It was a long time since I had so much pain. The doctor pushed the Novocain needle into the tender sole of my right foot and proceeded to cut out the growth that had been annoying me for the past two weeks.

I thought I could manage the pain that followed but finally I had to put my BIG GIRL PANTIES on and suck it up. Within less than a week, I was back for additional surgery to remove a cancerous growth.

I am in shock beyond words. I didn’t see this coming as I really thought that the growth would be benign. How did my intuition help me? I’m not sure that it did. Our intuition must be blinded when we are in a state of fear or denial.

The day after, the shocking news finally settled into every bone in my body. I was so ungrounded that I couldn’t even finish my wine…I’ve got to be very unsettled to not enjoy my daily ritual of a glass of wine.

There was a brief moment when I wanted to die as I had breast cancer in 2007 and didn’t want to ever go through that again. I now realize that new cancer can develop in our healing bodies and I’ve got to reignite the same fuel that got me through the breast cancer.

I know I’m not the only one to walk in the reality of a re-occurrence of cancer and that lots of courage is needed to get to the other side of wellness. But I’m still nervous and fearful though less than the day I got the news. At this point, I’m in a place to move forward – pain or no pain.

What is courage all about? It’s about taking the first step, building our momentum toward action. When you are courageous, you know you are facing down a challenging moment – not just facing it but taking action.

To be an intuitive leader, you need to take action on your ideas. It’s one thing to meditate upon an idea, but if those ideas aren’t brought forward than nothing changes. Sometimes your concepts may be new, risky or simply unorthodox – it takes courage to lead and develop expertise.

It’s time to put my BIG GIRL PANTIES ON AGAIN.

There are times when I’ve faced fear both professionally and personally. In those moments, I’ve found it essential to move despite the fear, to be present in the moment rather than sink into the fearfulness of what may or may not be.

Courage is an activating element that builds experience, confidence and knowledge resulting in rising intuition. You come to know all that you are capable of achieving, and it’s a lot more then you might think.


There are many elements of courage, and different approaches to being courageous. Here are four competencies I feel will bolster your ability to be in the moment and act with courage as you face challenges.


We strive with the power of our convictions. This action relies on the ability to be self-directed and self-controlled in our thinking and actions and to be free of emotional dependency. Obviously, standing up for what may not be popular rests on our degree of self-confidence and courage.

Being in the Present

To ‘be in the present moment’ is to live in and be responsive to each moment. It is to ground ourselves in our body and to be aware of the emotions embedded in our every organ, cell, muscle, fascia and body part. We must focus on the ‘now’ and not wander off into the complex world of ‘what if.’


The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to let go of anger or resentment toward someone. If we can create feelings inside us of forgiveness or any other coherent heart-based emotion such as love, we can influence the field of energy in us and around us. With this energy, we can conceive of new possibilities.


To be resilient is to learn to grow as a result of mistakes, setbacks, and feedback; to gain a new perspective. We must strive for balance by facing our fears when confronted with life’s ups and downs.


With courage, it comes to trust that you can take those first steps, follow what your gut says is right, and move forward despite fear or stress. This is an aspect of leadership not often discussed for fear of appearing weak, but it takes a great deal of courage to act. And, in fact, as you act, you grow.

Thank you to my dear friends, colleagues and family that have already blessed me with their prayers and love. I now realize that if we live in fear, we cannot be intuitive or courageous. Thank you for sharing this journey with me and others before me as well as others to come.



Transforming the Culture of Cancer

5 Jun

As many of you know, I recently participated in the Relay for Life at St Francis Xavier High School in Hammond, Ontario. It was an incredible event powered by the enthusiasm and commitment of the students, leaving me both in awe of their energy and full of hope for the future of cancer research.  Being several years past a breast cancer diagnosis – I am moving forward with my life, just as we, the ‘survivors’ move ahead with our banner during the relay commencement.

And so I’d like to approach a topic that could be seen as controversial but, rather, I see as highly relevant and deeply impacting. It has to do with identity and survivorship. The truth of the matter, as we walked the Survivor’s Victory Lap, is that I preferred not to think of myself as a ‘survivor’, but instead someone who has been through the eye of the needle, and now has the privilege to move forward with my life.

Speaking to the other ambassadors who helped commence the relay (and helped in holding our giant banner as we lead the participants in their first lap), they seemed to feel a similar discomfort with the label of ‘survivor’.  It didn’t fit our experience.

(If you haven’t had cancer, this may be challenging to understand. The biggest dream when told of this illness is to be free: free of the fear, free of the threat, free of the pressure. Free to feel like ourselves without compromise. Yes, we have survived, but now what? Now we live, which is where the real empowerment occurs.)

To my right was a gentlemen who had pushed through brain cancer and is too fatigued to return to work. He spends his time recovering, resting and golfing whenever possible. He is not simply ‘surviving’, he is enjoying life to its fullest.

To my left was a grandmother who has a family and was filled with emotion for the walk. She too was uncomfortable with the label of survivor. She is a mother, a woman, and a friend. Cancer is only part of her story, and now that she is out of treatment she prefers to look ahead.

There’s something in the term survivor that connotes a fight. But here is the thing: our bodies are not built to constantly be in the ‘fight or flight’ position. That high-stress response is reserved for emergency situations; it is a strain for both the body and mind. After the fight, after surviving, I re-established myself (and became a happier person) through centring and mindfulness. The focus became about moving forward.

With each step in the Relay for Life, as the students cheered us onward, we moved away from the days of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and sickness. We were moving forward to who we want to become – and for us who carried the banner to represent the cause, that’s someone cancer-free with a story goes on far beyond the c-word.

We are not survivors, we are instead THRIVERS.

Personally, I feel deeply that the ‘culture of cancer’ could benefit greatly from a transformation in perspective . . . because the fight is not our entire story, and in regards to beating this illness, I prefer to look ahead – to find the lightness, the freedom, and the joy that cancer had once stolen. For me, the Relay for Life was not about survivorship; it was about hope, change, and moving ahead one step at a time.

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her lessons of resilience and perseverance, fighting back and changing perception to others. As the students of St.Francis Xavier High School have inspired her, she hopes in turn to inspire other women and help explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook (where we have a photo gallery of pictures from the event!)

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