You are going about your life, dealing with its ups and downs, when a routine medical exam throws up something unexpected: severely abnormal cells, tumour, blockage, hormonal imbalance, or something else. It’s serious, maybe even potentially life threatening, and you need further tests and treatment, preferably sooner rather than later.

You have that worrying time waiting for tests and the results, which will help determine the next course of action. You need to make decisions about treatment, and rejig your schedule to accommodate it. On top of that you are trying to wrap your head around the fact that this was going in your body and there was no sign that anything was wrong. You may also have other big things going on in your life.

I’ve been there.


Snapshot of letter with diagnosis I received. Taken by B Babcock 2015.

10 years ago severely abnormal cells were found, the type where further tests are required to rule out cancer. I struggled to grasp that something was wrong with me when I was feeling physically ok. At the same time I had just experienced a redundancy, was dealing with its aftermath and looking for a new job. Despite it being caught and treated in time so it would not develop into cancer, I remember feeling upset at random moments and asking myself, ‘How did this happen? My last screening was only 1.5 years ago.’

From this experience and many other people I have coached, sometimes the prospect or onset of a serious illness can shatter the assumption that we are in full control of our bodies. That realisation, along with the current medical crisis and anything else going on in your life, can be a lot to handle.


The illusion of control. Photo taken by B Babcock 2015.

But here are some guidelines which can help you identify what you can control and influence.


That is what we can directly control regarding our bodies. (Provided they themselves are not impacted by an illness/condition. For example, mental health issues can impact one’s ability to control the mind, lung and/or heart complications can impact the breath, or spasticity the muscles.)

We can control the choices we make, the food we eat, what and how we think, how we feel when people speak to or about us, how we respond to people in turn, taking a deep breath when we start to feel anxious, exercising to build muscle, clenching and relaxing muscles as part of a relaxation routine, and more.


There are processes within our bodies that happen day-in day-out without us even thinking about it. It is these processes we don’t directly control. For example, we eat food and our bodies get on with absorbing and processing the nutrients. We don’t directly control that digestion process, but we can influence it such as avoiding foods that make that process harder for our bodies or taking tablets to manage indigestion.

So it’s about identifying what we can control and influence and finding ways to do that effectively.


Have you ever had an unexpected diagnosis? What was it like for you? How did you identify what you could control about it and what you couldn’t?


If you are looking for an objective and supportive partnership to help you identify how you can control and influence your body and life differently, have a look at services I offer for individuals and get in touch for a no obligation chat to see if I can help.


If you like what you’ve read, follow my blog and share this post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or email using the icons below. The next few blogs will focus on themes related to taking control of the mind and more so you can live more easily with the impact of a serious illness or long-term condition (whether you are the one affected or are the carer).

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015

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