1. To never take my health for granted
Prior to being diagnosed with my two chronic illnesses, I was very healthy. I thought it was a result of my own doing, I ate right, stayed active and slept the right amount. Well now it is very clear in my mind while yes, these elements play a part, health is something you don’t have control over in its entirety. It is a privilege to be healthy, not a right. Your health is the foundation pillar that the totality of life is set on. If you’re not healthy every single other choice in life; work, travel, social life and relationships can crumble around you. At my most ill, I lost every single one of these.
2. There’s a difference between stubbornness and determination
I had a set plan since I was 16 years old. Get good grades at school, university, two years work experience before travelling the world. My illness completely turned that on its head. I spent 18 month in London, probably 12 months more than I should have working. But because of the ‘plan’ I pushed on, ‘I am not a quitter, I am strong’ I used to tell myself. In reality, this was not strength, this was stubbornness. While my mind was stubborn, my body was weak. As a result of pushing my body, it took 12 months of living at my family home recovering from the damage I had done. Quitting is not weak, nor is going against the grain or doing something different from the norm, do what you is right for you. I realised the main reason I didn’t quit was because I want to be perceived by others as a strong individual. Do not base decisions that are personal to you on how others may perceive this decision.
3. To appreciate every single moment
The first time I got this was standing talking to an old friend from school in a loud room, drinking a glass of wine having travelled down to London for a friends birthday. Seems fairly normal right? Not for me, these were all things 8 months prior I couldn’t have done. This was the first time I got my ‘I can’t believe I’m here’ moment. Health can be a merciless mistress, it takes things away you didn’t even realise were good in your life but as a result you appreciate even the smallest of highs. I’m now three months into travelling and I can’t tell you the amount of times I have had the ‘I can’t believe I’m here’ moments. While anyone would love the experience I am having, with the fact doctors told me I never would be able to do this, makes me appreciate every single spec of it so much more.
4. Having choice in your life is a gift
Lets say you start your morning; you get up, have a shower, stand in front of the mirror blow drying your hair, doing your make-up and deciding on an outfit. You go and make a hot cup of something,
eat breakfast and head off to work. Arriving at work you’ve done ‘nothing’ in your morning.But you have without realising it made so many small choices, all of which you had the option to. If I had had that morning at my most ill, I would need to go back to bed by the time I arrived to work. You’ve stood up in the shower, you had heat on your head while blow drying your hair, you’ve concentrated while standing doing your make-up and you’ve drank caffeine no doubt in your hot drink. Every part of life involve choices you make, when I was at my most ill, every choice was constrained to ‘what will make me the least ill?’. At my final doctors appointment with the words of ‘you’re now in remission’ my first thought was I finally have choice again, choices in my life that aren’t solely to do with my health! The feeling of waking up and having a choice is so empowering. It’s also why I named my website ‘The Chance of Choice’.
5. Absolute clarity of what you want from life
As I mentioned since I was 16 I have had a plan, that plan involved being in the economic sector, schooling, my university degree and my graduate job were all pointed to this very clear goal. When my doctors told me I had opportunities taken away from me because of my health, everything changed. Since I have been ill my priorities have been turned on their head. I had complete certainty of what I wanted; to see more of the world, to be out my comfort-zone and to experience more of life. All my ‘experience’ up until then had been what I thought was the right thing to do, because everyone else was doing it. Previously my job title was important, as was money. Now money is a facilitator of the life I want to build for myself. My goals in life are to travel the world and give back in some way, the contrast between my prior self and myself today is enormous. But it took, taking that opportunity away to make me realize it’s what I truly wanted.
Three years ago Phoebe was diagnosed with illnesses doctors told her she would never be able to fully recover from to lead a normal life. Fast forward three years to the surprise of the doctors of University College London she has recovered. She openly discusses the health battles she was faced with and still faces, but now she is making the most of her life. She is aiming to be the second woman in history to travel to every country in the world while presenting to the younger generation about her journey with her health and her challenge as she goes.
If you want to follow Phoebes Journey please visit The Chance of Choice, or check out her instagram here!