Fi Munro, Ph.D. is a multi award winning researcher, author, blogger, speaker and mentor recognised internationally for her presentations and articles on her journey and the importance of holistic health. She has been featured in two BBC documentaries, in TV and radio shows, and in newspaper and magazine articles across the globe. Fi and I chatted about her personal journey, yoga, and what running a business has taught her.
Tell us about your book How Long Have I Got. What inspired you to write it?
FM: “I wanted to write the book I needed when I was first diagnosed. I wanted a book about someone with stage four cancer who was still able to live an amazing life, and not just be confined to their bed like the media would have you believe. This book is my real, and often very hard, story of life with cancer. It’s not pink and fluffy and it doesn’t hide any of the hard realities, but it is raw and real and it will make you stop and think and appreciate your precious life.
It guides the reader through my life before cancer, in the pursuit of the ever illusive ‘success’, taking them on a journey through my cancer diagnosis and treatment and out the other side a changed and very grateful woman who has opened her eyes to the magic of the world and the joy of living for each day with gratitude in my heart.
It offers tips and ideas for the reader to improve their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health and concludes with a selection of chapters about the invaluable life lessons cancer has brought me.
I wrote it as a form of support and solidarity for people with cancer, but also as a ‘life guide’ for those without.”
I really hope it helps people.”
Following your diagnosis with cancer you trained to be a yoga teacher. Was this a life long dream of yours?
FM: “Absolutely. I always wanted to be a yoga teacher ‘someday’. I was waiting for that movement when it felt ‘right’, when the stars aligned. Since my diagnosis I’ve realized that if you wait for the perfect moment to do something, however, then you will never do it, instead you’ve got to make the moment perfect.
Following my terminal diagnosis I knew that it was ‘now or never’ if I was going to pursue my dream so, perhaps more than a little boldly, just 12 weeks following my major surgery (during which they removed several of my organs) I started my training to become an Ashtanga yoga teacher.
Since then I have qualified in Ashtanga yoga, pregnancy yoga, pre and post natal yoga, baby yoga and children’s yoga. I now teach clients one to one in Perthshire, Scotland and run retreats in the UK.
It is one of the most valuable and rewarding things I’ve ever done and I am so grateful for cancer bringing it into my life.”
How has yoga affected your life and what have you learned from it?
FM: “Yoga has completely changed my life. I always say that while yoga may never cure my cancer, it has certainly cured my fear of it and that is such a magical gift.
Through yoga, meditation and pranayama (breath work) I am able to keep myself grounded in the present moment without letting my mind create fear driven stories about what the future may or may not hold. It has really taught me to enjoy each second and each breath and to value them completely. This is something I hope my students take away with them from their own yoga journeys with me.”
What’s the best piece of advice you received when you first started your blog and writing your books?
FM: “To be authentic and to write for my future self, never for anyone else. Even now this is exactly what I do every time I sit down to write.”
As someone living with terminal ovarian cancer, what do you want your supporters to know about journey?
FM: “The most important lesson cancer ever gave me, and that I wish to now share with the world, is to live like you are dying.
Each of us are living these magical and precious lives and not realising that we are all terminal, regardless of our current health status. My diagnosis doesn’t make me special. All of us are mortal. The only difference is that I see it and I know it and so now I do all the things I always wanted to do, today! I don’t wait until the perfect moment. I create the perfect moment now! It’s been amazing.
I believe that the majority of all of the perceived problems and worries going on in our heads day in and day out could be changed by embracing this simple motto: live like you are dying.
After all, would you stay in the job you hate or the relationship that makes you miserable if you thought your life would end in the next year? Hell no! You’d be out doing things that make you happy and you certainly wouldn’t be worrying about what dress size you were either!”
What would you tell other women living with ovarian cancer?
FM: “I see you, I hear you and I am holding you in my heart. Please know that you are never, ever alone. There are so many of us teal sisters in this together.”
What does success mean to you?
FM: “I was asked in an interview recently if I thought I was successful and I answered with a clear and confident yes.
‘How can you be so sure?’ they asked.
‘Easy,’ I replied, ‘because I am happy.’
You see everything else, the ‘perfect’ car, house, life, body, clothes (insert blank) is all just useless nonsense if you aren’t living a life that makes you happy every single day.
For me, true success is being able to say you are happy.”
What are some ways you apply health and wellness to your life?
FM: “Self care is my number one priority now. I start each day with yoga, meditation, journaling and breath work and I also make sure that I have time to take Ozzy, our dog, out for a walk in the woods each day. By doing this I am taking care of my emotional, physical and spiritual health right at the start of the day.
I always say to my clients, if you can do nothing else then do yoga, meditation and journaling for 5 minutes each, every morning for 6 weeks and notice the difference. Everyone has 15 minutes for their self care and if they don’t then they need to take a serious look at their priorities.”
What is your biggest goal this year?
FM: “To live until the end of it…sorry I have a very dark sense of humour! Seriously, to feel joy and to give joy in each and every day. Oh and to have Hay House publish one of my books.”
In moments of adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
FM: “With self care, time in the woods connecting with the trees and the land and, above all, in the arms of my incredibly brave, strong and loving husband, Ewan.”
Name three interesting facts about yourself.
1. I don’t have any finger prints because my hands were trapped in an electric sander when I was 22 during a workshop accident and I had to have skin grafts on all of my finger tips.
2. I grew up on Guernsey.
3. I was born with jet black hair down to my shoulders that the nurses tied in a pink bow.
About Fiona Munro