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How my cancer journey shaped the naturopath I’m becoming

Written by Georgina McCormack | Monday, 3 July 2017


Georgina McCormack shares how her journey fighting blood cancer strengthened her passion for holistic health and gave her insights into the type of practitioner she aspires to be.

Patient: “I don’t feel well.”
Doctor: “There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with you.”

Many people drawn to natural medicine can relate to this experience. Those times in your life where you don’t feel quite yourself, however pathology results and physical examination provide no clues. This is where natural medicine has its niche.

This is the reason I was drawn to see a naturopathic practitioner and eventually to study a Bachelor of Health Science degree in Naturopathy at Endeavour College of Natural Health. In my second year of my degree at the Melbourne campus I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I had known for many years I had not been feeling one hundred percent, something that seemed disproportionate to my lifestyle at the time.

I had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, depression, disordered eating and also “nothing”; all, which I knew deep down, were not true for me. I can now reflect on this with my greater understanding of holistic health. I can put my naturopath’s hat on, and see that my decline in health was a direct relation to stress, lack of healthy stress management techniques, excessive use of antibiotics and most likely a permeable gut. This left my body inflamed and my immune system dysregulated.

I was almost twenty-three years old when I found out I had curable, blood cancer.

I learned pretty quickly that a disease like cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter your age, race, ability, gender or your postcode. It will strip you raw. Grind you in everyway possible. Maybe though, this is the point. As the great Tony Robbins describes, life happen for us, not to us.

This is what I held on to when I experienced my life without my health. Something I would not wish upon anybody. I knew in my heart from the outset cancer was not going to end my life. For me I believed it was transient and I had to use the lessons in this year and apply them to my life.

Cancer happened for me, not to me. Having cancer strengthened and highlighted my passion for becoming a holistic health practitioner. I don’t think I quite knew beforehand how much I desired to be a kind, holistic, intelligent, capable health professional in my field.

Without this enforced time cancer gave me, I would not have been exposed to the in-depth knowledge of supplements, drugs, interactions, and all that fundamental science-based material to help to develop the intelligent and the capable aspect that I hope to embody.

Without the emotional, physical, and spiritual journey this has exposed me to, I would not be able to tap into the kind, holistic professional with warmth whom I wish to be.

I was originally drawn to naturopathy because I believed feeling well and vibrant was an achievable state. Knowledge is power. When my health was taken from me, I realised we truly have nothing if we don’t have our health.  

I do not see cancer as a gift, because I would not give it to you. However I am thankful everyday for the way it has taught me to grow, learn and translate my knowledge and experiences into helping return people from a place of being sick to a place where they are flourishing.

This is why I am so drawn to naturopathy.

Georgina McCormack

Georgina McCormack is a third year naturopathy student at Endeavour College. She recently had time off after her cancer diagnosis, followed shortly by the birth of her twin daughters. Her irrepressible passion for holistic health has her back on campus part-time completing her degree, while balancing her lactation cookie business and caring for her one-year-old daughters. She is the author of Cancer at 22, a book about her experience with cancer that has been supported by Australian charity RedKite.

Read more by Georgina McCormack