When change is imposed on you

lotus flower held by buddha

Find your own sense of self through difficult change

I don’t know about you, but I despise the phrase ’embrace change’. To me, it sounds like you’re supposed to give an unwanted change a big hug. While the change may eventually turn out OK or even for the better, while I’m going through it the last thing I want to do is be told to hug the change.

As an organizational change manager, I know all too well how people react and behave through change.  As a cancer survivor, I also know what it’s like to be faced with a serious disease and have your world turned upside down.

As tomorrow is my 6th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis day, I reflect on what it was like to deal with an unwanted change. Summing it up within a ‘change management model’, I offer to you my own experience. Text book explanations show transitions in at least 3 phases which can have many iterations within these phases. Every change is unique, and every person and how they react is unique.

Looking back, here is how my cancer journey went:

First phase:  When the unwanted change hits

Multiple feelings included shock, disbelief, ‘why me?’, tremendous fear, even a bit of numbness where life was happening but I didn’t feel like me. I felt almost like I was an actor in a movie and I had to my part, like the necessity of simple day-to-day things but it felt like I was given someone else’s life.

Second phase:  During the personal transition

After living with the news for awhile, I was able to center myself enough to make decisions, seek as much information as I could, and take charge.  I didn’t want to feel like a victim and became very self-aware of my thoughts, emotions and the intention I set for how I was going to move forward.  Mindfulness and meditation became a reliable friend for me, something I could meet every day and to find some peace. Healing emotionally and physically was my number one project.

Third phase:  Creating a new normal

Learning how to reintegrate into regular working life, focus on maintaining my health, regaining self-confidence and discovering my new identity was a major phase for me.  Again mindfulness and meditation were the cornerstones of my arrival for a new normal.

Yes, I am one of those people who can look back now and say that my diagnosis turned out to be one of the best things that happened in my life.  I have found and am living my purpose, have tremendous respect and gratitude for life itself, and love associating with like-minded people.  I’m grateful I was able to find my inner sense of self which made a world of difference to my experience.

If you are going through a big change right now, I hope this may help you in some little way. When you are in the transition state of a change, it absolutely can be daunting and unsettling, but such is life, and the choice is really ours as to how we show up in such times.

Wishing you love and light, and if you wish to discover meditation, I offer some free guided meditation recordings on www.TheCalmMonkey.com.

~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.


How meditation helps me through cancer

Only the people who have cancer can truly understand what it’s like to live through it. It’s got to be one of the scariest things in human life to deal with.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Once I learned how to deal with my journey through mindfulness and meditation, my experience with cancer changed dramatically.

One of the lovely people who has taken my workplace Mindfulness Meditation Facilitator Training course and is now becoming certified, named Debby from Kentucky, asked me to create this video for a cancer support group.  I thought I would put this out there in the hope that it may help other people going through this.

How meditation helps me:

  • Calms my mind and body, so my body can heal.
  • Gives me the strength to deal with this, and helps me feel connected to something bigger than myself.
  • Gives me perspective in life.
  • Helps me deal with stress so much better these days.
  • Allows me to be at peace with the decisions I make to heal and stay healthy.  Cuts out all the ‘noise’.
  • Cultivates inner joy.  It’s not a constant woo-woo joy, it’s more like a contentment that is with me most of the time.  On bad days, I am able to pull myself out of a funk in a reasonable timeframe.
  • …and much, much more.

I hope this helps someone out there.  Please know that meditation and mindfulness can change your experience through cancer, or any other rough things you go through in life.


~Wendy Quan, of The Calm Monkey.


InspireHealth integrated cancer care is now free

This is a big deal!  Thanks to the BC government and all the donations that made the removal of fees possible.

This is a big deal! Thanks to the BC government and all the donations that made the removal of fees possible.

Do you have cancer, or know someone with cancer?

InspireHealth is not-for-profit society providing a whole-person approach for cancer. They include healthful nutrition, appropriate exercise, and emotional, spiritual and immune support. Their services are available to any Canadian living with cancer and their support people.  They have offices in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna (British Columbia), plus an online virtual component for those not living in these three cities.

Their services used to cost $445 for membership, and now it is free!

I cannot stress the importance of getting whole-person, integrative care through the cancer journey.  Without it, you might be dealing only with oncologists and specialist appointments, surgery and cancer drugs. It’s critical to support the body’s healing ability with whole-person care.  For me, my biggest take-aways were learning what foods to eat or avoid, healthful cooking, relaxation such a meditation and yoga, and most importantly, feeling that I had some control over what was happening to me.  Using their doctors as part of my team gave me more confidence in my choices.

I'm happy to support InspireHealth and provide testimonials. They've helped me and many of my friends.

I’m happy to support InspireHealth. They’ve helped me and many of my friends.

I was fortunate to find InspireHealth through dear friends in the first week of my diagnosis.  InspireHealth introduced me to the world of whole-person care, and now I’ve been able to learn well beyond this myself.

Here is an testimonial I did for InspireHealth in 2010, unscripted and a bit shaky, I wanted to let people know the importance of InspireHealth.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know – whole-person care (whether you have cancer or not) is so important to living life fully and with intention. InspireHealth started me on this path, and now I realize that their teachings were just the start. I wish I had known this earlier in life!

Attend a free ‘fireside’ chat every Monday at 3pm at their offices to learn more.


Celebrating 5 years since my cancer diagnosis!

Wendy in Sedona

5 years of living life with intention and gratitude. Easing up on myself for not trying to be perfect and ‘doing’ so much.

Hi everyone, I want to share my celebration with you that today, May 7, 2015, marks 5 years since the day of my cancer diagnosis in 2010.

The so-called “5-year survival rate” refers to the percentage of patients who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed.  It’s certainly not an indicator of being cancer-free, or what the chances are for recurrence, but it seems like a good time for me to celebrate and recognize how I am today – which is pretty darned good!

The past 5 years have been especially marked by:

  • Continuous learning for whole-person, integrative healthcare to change the internal environment of my body so I could heal and stay healthy.
  • Paying my learnings forward by helping others with their cancer journey.

The most unexpected outcome of all, however, has been the discovery of internal strength that meditation and mindfulness has given to me, and now I teach this to others individually, in groups and in corporate workplaces.  My life has changed quite dramatically in the past 5 years – and surprisingly, for the better.

Every time I teach, I learn. 

Every time I help someone with their struggles in life, I feel my purpose.

You often hear people with cancer say that it was the best thing that ever happened to them – I’m not sure I would actually go as far to say that(!), but it did give me a hard kick in the pants and many things are so much better as a result. I still have some health issues, and some days the fatigue is depressing, but overall, I feel fortunate.

I send my gratitude to all of you who read my blog; somehow this makes a wonderful connection between us all.

Life certainly can be pretty hard at times, but remember, all the difficulties as well as the joys, are part of the human experience.

Don’t let life pass you by.

See life as an adventure.

Choose to live in joy, not fear.

 All the best to you all,



Getting through tough times – Breathe & Flow

flowSomething awful happens in your life, and you are just trying to get through it. You need to continue your everyday responsibilities – work, taking care of your kids, going through with commitments you’ve made, getting your taxes done, ensuring there’s food in your fridge, etc.

The degree of ‘awfulness’ of your situation is a matter of perception.  In helping people all my life, such awfulness can range from ‘my sister-in-law did something hurtful’ to ‘my mom just passed away’.  Indeed, whatever situation someone is hurting about is very real to them, and what they are feeling is not for anyone else to judge.

I want to share with you one piece of advice that someone I treasure shared with me when I was going through one of my life’s tough times.  It is simple, and here it is:

“Breathe and flow”

During a tough time, you can feel deep fear, helplessness, despair, a numbness to everyday life …  you know what I’m talking about if you have been through it.

Here is a personal real-life example to put this into context: 

Since my cancer diagnosis almost 5 years ago, I’ve devoted a lot of my life to educating myself and taking action for healthier living to avoid cancer recurrence. The effort has been significant, costly, and time spent paying it forward in helping others who are also interested.  Through self-initiated surveillance of my health, suddenly I get a shocking blood test result that puts me and my doctors on high alert – indication that cancer may have returned.

For the next 9 days, while getting more investigative tests done, my life feels like it has been overturned. How could this be happening with all the work I’ve been doing to stay healthy?  Just dealing with everyday life was excruciating, trying to function with a cloud of uncertainty about my life hanging over my head, not to mention how it may affect those I love if cancer has returned.

My very wise and special health advisor said “Breathe and flow”. These 3 simple words are what primarily carried me through my 9 days of health scare hell, along with employing all the life tools that I’ve learned over the years.  Here is what these words meant to me:

  • Breathe – paying attention to my breath to be mindful and present
  • Flow – feel and accept the flow of life, of what is happening. Know that things will change, and this situation will continue flowing and will move on.

Every time I couldn’t focus on something I needed to, like writing a document at work, I would breathe & flow.  It carried me through the 9 days.

This story ends positively, I’m happy to say. Further medical testing revealed that the alarming test results were likely not caused by a cancer recurrence. The breathe & flow tip will stay with me forever.

If you are going through something difficult, I hope this helps you.  If this doesn’t resonate with you at all, perhaps you may need this at some time point your life, and I hope it’s something you will remember.

Sending you all the best,