WomenEd Blogs

Hearing and following my heart


by Nichola Lynagh @nicholalynagh


My stand out moments, some of which have shaped who I am in the world..

At 32 I was diagnosed with a treatable non-curable cancer: Non Hodgkins Lymphoma; a word I am very familiar with now as 51 year old woman.. – how did that happen? I still feel 30, lol!! Cancer brought such a challenge to me and my family; words cannot describe the fear and devastation I and they felt.

This stage of my life should have been open for career development, travel and having a family. Yet it was filled with chemotherapy, hospital appointments and my life on hold, as it felt then. During that year, which I called my chemo world, we lost my father to a DVT.  His death shocked me to the core as he was my angel on legs during my treatment regime, keeping me stocked up with Raspberry Ruffles ( don’t ask, another story). A few years after hearing the amazing word ‘remission’, we also lost a baby at 17 weeks, heightening in my head what cancer had taken from me and us.

Fast forward to today. I had two further breaks to my remission with treatments on my lung in the last eight years and the best consultant in the world so super grateful for his wisdom and co-journeying.

What has my learning been?

  • Life is fragile and we only have one ‘go’ at it and sometimes we get stuck in old habits and un-serving behaviours.
  • We need to be more kind to our bodies and minds.
  • I am soo passionate about life that often it irritates others as I want them to grasp it with both hands
  • I am resilient and focused on making a difference and have stayed true to my passion and commitment of ‘practising random acts of kindness’
  • I know what it’s like to be afraid; and in those moments I lose sight of my optimism and retreat into myself and cope badly; but like all tunnels there will always be light if I am patient with myself( a skill I am working on!
  • The barriers to my career were often myself, and the feeling that ‘I am not smart enough’, an old construct from my own school days.

So, my brave step four years ago was to feel the fear and leave a secure, stable job with a pension within the education authority and embark on a self-employed journey as a coach and leadership facilitator and No regrets.

I am super blessed and trusted to do some amazing work in our school systems. My 10% braver bit is to write this; I rarely share my experiences as I fear pity and that has been recently challenged by two good friends who set me a challenge to share my experience as a ‘space’ for others to think: @_OrlaRafferty and @jeremygardiner.

Thank you to Maire Thompson @ThompsonMaire for being the extra champion today.

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Thursday, 08 June 2023

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