10 Life Lessons Cancer Taught Me in 2022

Picture of Sapna Pieroux as Wonder Woman

So that’s the work year wrapped up for me… AND WHAT A YEAR!


If we’ve been connected longer than five minutes you’ll probably know that my 2022 was somewhat derailed by cancer.


Miraculously, thanks to the super-powers of my medical team I was declared ‘cancer-free’ only three months later. My head’s still spinning, to be honest, and despite the relief and immense gratitude, I’m somewhat in disbelief that it all happened and was over so fast… let alone the feeling of incredible good fortune as I’ve been told I don’t need either chemo and radiotherapy.

However, for that time, I stopped marketing my business. So in-between pretty much twice-weekly appointments and procedures I had the luxury of a lot of time for thinking and conversations with many wise people including business coaches, mindset coaches and doctors.


So, as I look back on this experience with a whole lot of gratitude, here are 10 the big life lessons I learned as a result:


  • ONLY surround yourself with people who support and lift you. No one else is worth one second of your time. Thank you to the countless people who showed me nothing but love, kindness and support during the toughest time of my life.You made it even easier to decide that three people who demonstrated zero empathy or care for me were not worth the stress, drama or upset. They are simply no longer in my life. Their actions (or intentional inaction) may have hurt me in the past, but now I had to prioritise my emotional wellbeing to aid my healing. You can do this too..


  • Face up to whatever (or whoever!) scares you. It’s rarely as bad as you imagine. Having lost my best friend Lizzy to cancer in 2008, it was literally the scariest thing that could ever happen to me. But once faced with the scary thing, I didn’t back down, run away or hide. I fronted up to it with surprising calm, acceptance, positivity and self-care which (along with medical science) proved a powerful combination.Crucially, I never felt I was ‘fighting’ an enemy, or that I was a ‘victim’ or a ‘patient’. None of those roles would serve me or my mindset. I accepted the cancer was there and I just tried to give my body the best chance of recovery from it by avoiding stress, visualising my body healing and staying healthy throughout.


  • Your mindset ABSOLUTELY affects your physical state. And, vice-versa. A strong body will help you cope mentally. Incredibly, I saw my cancer off within three months of diagnosis. Whilst I’m no cancer expert and can’t guarantee anyone else those results, all the cancer coaches and doctors I spoke to during my journey told me that my positive mindset throughout the experience was definitely contributory to my recovery.


  • Life isn’t fair. The sooner you accept that, the happier you will be. On the day I was given my diagnosis, my oncologist said that I would go through a phase of thinking it wasn’t fair, and “Why ME?!“.Actually, I never once did.When my mum asked, “Why did this happen to you?” I said, “Hey, mum, I’m not having that language – why not me?!“. I knew the stats were one in two, so I didn’t feel hard done by. I pointed out that I was the first in my large family to get cancer, so we’d dodged the odds pretty well so far, and that my parents were both in their 80th year so we weren’t doing too badly! I didn’t agonise on stuff I couldn’t change. What was the point? It just *was* and I was dealing with it.Also, I reasoned, with those stats, Andy should consider I was taking one for the team!


  • Only focus on what you can control: the rest is just stress. I couldn’t CHOOSE whether I had cancer or not. But I COULD choose how managed my mindset, mood, diet, sleep and energy. I stepped back from my business and chose to focus on keeping a good mental state for my husband and boys. Bizarrely, my cancer turned me from often-anxious into incredibly calm. “If I can’t control it, I’m not going to stress about it.” and “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” became my mantras.


  • You haven’t got the past or the present – you’ve only got NOW so live NOW. The wonderful thing about cancer (!) is I had to stop stressing about the future, and worrying about what may have happened in the past. It all fell away. Which meant all of my anxiety melted away (anxiety being fear of the future). I couldn’t plan more than a week or two in advance whilst I was waiting for a surgery date, and (frankly) I didn’t know if I was going to be alive or not, so I could only enjoy the present. It was incredibly freeing! Of course, businesses work slightly differently with their 30 and 90 day planning cycles, but reminding yourself to enjoy the here and now is still life-enhancing. Try it.


  • Physical strength is VITAL to mental strength. When I got diagnosed, I started eating even cleaner, working out harder and for longer – to get fitter and stronger for the journey ahead. After major surgery, despite not being allowed to exercise for a frustrating EIGHT WEEKS (after near-daily training!) my residual physical strength helped me…sit myself up…reach the remote control…get to the toilet on my own two days later…and start walking again more quickly and easily. I was SO grateful I’d put the prep work in beforehand as those touches of independence stopped me feeling like a ‘patient’, weak or sorry for myself.


  • You are stronger than you know. Or as Bob Marley said, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” I found my strength not by dwelling on myself and my fears (which of course were still there), but by looking after, caring and looking out for my children, my husband and others. It’s why I shared my story – I wanted to create something good out of a crappy situation – to educate, raise awareness and money for Cancer Research (£2.5K!).


  • Laughter really is the best medicine. I surprised people by dealing with my cancer so openly, with a big dollop of grit and gallows humour, but laughing at my sh*t situation was genuinely the only way I could cope and the only way I knew how to be. Cancer may have got my boob but it wasn’t getting ME! And if I was going to leave you, I wanted at least to have a positive impact – and for you to think of me with a smile on your face.


  • Gratitude is powerful. It carried us through lockdown, where my boys, husband and I filled in a family gratitude journal every day. So in my darkest time yet, it was still natural and easy to appreciate that I had my husband and kids to go through this with. That I had caring friends, family and clients. That I had an amazing medical team. That I had a lovely home to recuperate in.My torso is now ravaged by scars across after my operations. I shake my head and laugh when I think of the perceived imperfections I thought my body had a year ago.Yet I’m so grateful for the surgery that saved my life, and these marks that prove (as Andy says) that I’m a miracle of modern science. Oh! And that I have a flatter stomach after they used my belly fat for my boob reconstruction!So don’t wait till something big happens. Be grateful enjoy and appreciate what you have; your life, yourself and your body as it is TODAY. (But still check your moobs/boobs!)


On that note, I’d like to thank my team who have supported me through this toughest of years with kindness, patience, flexibility and understanding…

Andy Pieroux, my husband; Giovanna (Gianna) Loparco, my VA; Rich Steel, my social media manager; Bill Greenwood, my artworker; Mike Cottam, my web developer; Marianne Page, my coach and Ruth Clark, my accountant.

Thanks too, to my darling children, Luc and Leon who were so brave, honest and open about their feelings throughout this whole scary time for our family and to my friends, family clients, partners and collaborators: every single message of support and love, calls, cards, presents, flowers, food, visits and laughs were all so very much appreciated.


Have an AMAZING Merry Christmas and may your 2023 be happy and healthy.


In the end, that’s what really matters.


Peace and love xxx