Taking care of yourself, to take care of your children: preventative breast-cancer surgery

By Shirin Tahmasebi

After wanting to discuss nutrition and how important it is as women that we look after ourselves, with global mind body nutrition coach, Caroline Heaton, we found that there was so much more to her inspiring story that we just had to share. 

Braving a tough decision

Not only did Caroline make a massive decision to go for preventative breast-cancer surgery because she knew she didn’t want her children to have to go through what she did at their age. 

From that brave move, she has created a supportive community, that helps other women experiencing the same tough times as her.

Caroline lost her mum to breast cancer at just 16 and made it her task to make sure she would be fit and healthy and there for her own children when the time came.

"My mum sadly passed away and I would give anything to have that time back for her to have with me and my brother. So it was a no brainer, I just made the decision that I'm not having somebody else dictate to me that I can't be there for my son and daughter.

Then at the age of 17, I was told that I would need to look into my own family history. I had just lost my Mum and I was too scared to do that. But I had recently split up from my children's father and, as a single Mum, I felt this huge sense of responsibility for my two young children."

Later, in 2015, Caroline discovered Preventative breast cancer surgery and then went on to have the surgery herself. However, while working in a school at the time, Caroline felt as though she lacked the vital support, she needed from her workplace with them pressuring her return to work too quickly. 

The process to look into her family history was not an easy one, it took 18 months of extensive appointments with a clinic and she had to do a lot of research herself. 

"It was a really challenging time, but it made me so much stronger as a person. It made me realise, I'm not here just to please everybody else, I'm here to be healthy and be with my children who mean the most to me."
This was the toughest decision that Caroline had ever made but she wanted to secure her children’s future with herself, worried about them going through what she had. 
“I did it because I lost my Mum when I was just 16. She'd been poorly since I was nine, so I'd grown up with the environment of visiting hospitals and developed anxiety around being there.
I would do absolutely anything to make sure I'm here for as long as possible for these two children. I'm not going to let them go through what myself and my brother went through. I felt like I hadn't had the chance of a normal life like my friends had at that age and I thought, ‘I just can't do that to my children.’"
Talking about her Mum: "I believe her breast cancer diagnosis is actually a result of her own stresses in life, she was a very much a very career driven person she was incredible."
After embarking on her own journey into her health, Caroline uncovered her own existing health issues that she now had to look out for. She found out she also carried the breast cancer gene. 
“It wasn’t until I did that that I actually took a step back and thought, ‘You know what? No one's invincible, let's enjoy life, it doesn't have to be so stressful’. At that point I thought, I need to learn and educate myself on how to be healthy and happy, but also to educate other people on that."
Caroline set up an online community to help others who had been through the same experiences as her. She found that a lot of the people she has spoken to haven’t quite ‘tuned into the body queues and the body symptoms that they’ve been receiving’ and unfortunately, are suffering with quite an amount of diseases within the body.
"I wanted to connect with as many ladies as possible who are going through what I went through, because there was no support for me. I didn't have breast cancer I was getting preventative treatments, so I wanted to help people that were going through the same thing.
I did quite a lot of work and connected with a lot of ladies that are going through similar. And, thanks to social media, I've been able to connect with people, globally, who are going through similar. As a nutritionist, to help them prepare their body for surgery, then to support them post-surgery too."
I think we can all appreciate that pre and even post surgeries can be quite a daunting time. Caroline’s aim was to show these overworked professionals and general workers that they shouldn’t have to juggle the work/life balance during this time that they should be taking for themselves. 
"They're learning that, by putting themselves first, they're showing up every day as the best version of themselves and they’ll be more productive at work."
 Early career
Caroline was a teacher before she became she took on one of her roles as an eating psychology specialist.
‘I was so passionate about teaching children, but I was struggling with my own physical and mental health. I was a busy teacher, working all the hours was at the top end of the pay-scale it felt like I had a never-ending list to get through.’
Like many of us stuck in jobs we don’t particularly enjoy, Caroline felt the longer she was in the profession the more she was being taken from the real her, almost taking on that robot work form.
“I also felt I was failing the children, because the system wanted them to achieve a certain level by a certain age and if it didn't fit in that criteria, then it was going to create them some kind of problems further on down the line.’
After being pressured into returning work too quickly after surgery, Caroline’s body disagreed with her decision and got an infection. She found a much-needed appreciation and love from her children when staying at home. 
. Whilst I was off work, my children would say to me, ‘Oh mummy, it’s so nice that your home, it’s much nicer when we come home from school and you're in’. I just thought, ‘What am I doing?’ 
‘That's when my business was very first born, I stepped away from my full-time teaching career, I qualified as a nutritionist and invested a lot of time and effort into finding out how I can help children and their families in our community.’

The Company

"My company's ethos is all about helping our children understand how to overcome stress and to understand that you might not actually fit in that particular peg. I look at the holistic approach to health and I have my own journey with my own health background.I want to help people be healthy, I want them to understand that they have choices in life."
She joined forces with her partner, Bill, ‘He is incredible! He'd already been working locally and he's really passionate about helping people and to overcome obesity. He got our two businesses together and suggested we create a virtual farm job.’ 
At first they focused on solely offering workshops in schools to educate children on how to live a healthy lifestyle. They then got involved with the Wigan programme, which helped children that weren’t eating healthy food throughout the summer holidays and perhaps weren’t eating a warm meal at all.
Change
We know a lot of businesses have had to go through a lot of change over the past year from closing, to not knowing if they can carry on to thriving in our new world and after Caroline’s business still being new, the pandemic certainly pushed her back down. 
"When starting any business, you have to put in the momentum and the effort and lots advertising, which we did before the pandemic. We were finally feeling that we were getting our feet and actually getting somewhere. Then obviously the pandemic happened and the first thing to happen was everywhere went into isolation with schools and external agencies couldn't go into schools.
I thought, ‘We've made a huge sacrifice, I've given up my full-time teaching career and my income isn't coming in anymore. My partner put all this belief into me, we'd invested so much of our savings into advertising the website." 
Luckily, Caroline and her husband never gave up, they just took a different approach in the way they worked.
“We just thought creatively and really started to think about how we can help people. At first, started doing a bit of tutoring online to give us a little bit of time to mull things over and decide what we're going to do next.
I want to help busy professionals who are riding the wave of life and getting caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle, not actually looking after themselves."
This is where Caroline launched her community called ‘Release Your Inner Goddess’. The ‘Release Your Inner Goddess’ community is full of ‘like-minded women that are overworked, overstressed and have pushed themselves to the bottom of their own priority list for such a long time’
The company has now launched ultimate wellbeing packages for their clients such as corporate companies and schools and are now really excited to start going out into the community. They also offer workshops via zoom.

Here at Sparkle Up North, we fully believe that when amazing women come together, wonderful things happen – and Caroline absolutely epitomises that. 

We want to thank Caroline for sharing her truly beautiful and inspiring story with us.

If you would like to find out more about Caroline or are interested in her business, click on the link below!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carri_healthy/

If you would like your story to feature on Sparkle Up North, get in touch with us through our email sparkleupnorth@gmail.com 

or through our social media @SparkleUpNorth

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