SIB Podcast Ep 05
Donna: I'm really thrilled to introduce you to an incredible woman who through a really challenging journey has come out on the other side with so much wisdom to share with the world. Briony Benjamin is a keynote speaker, author, and global storyteller whose viral videos have been viewed by more than 200 million sets of eye balls! That's a lot of eye balls!
Whilst working as an executive producer at Australia's largest media outlet for women mamamia.com. she got the shock of her life after feeling awful for over a year, she found out that it was because she had cancer all through her body. She decided to turn the camera on herself and Briony started to documenting her journey in the form of a short video. It's called "You Only Get One Life" and you should definitely go and check it out, the link is in the show notes. It's raw. It's a portrayal of her experience, which deservingly so, went viral, touching millions of people. After that experience, Briony decided to write her first book, which is entitled. Life is tough, but so are you. And it’s what we talk about in this episode. It's a book that is an absolutely fabulous read. And I was lucky enough to read it before it hit the shows, and it's packed full of helpful guidance to get you through any life crisis. But more than that, the pages of this book have the wisdom to improve your everyday life.
And as you'll hear through the podcast, Briony is really passionate about helping individuals face the toughest times of their lives with more ease and less fear. And she also encourages everyone that she comes across to live the biggest, most audacious version of their own story. This is a very special podcast and I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did in recording it with Briony Benjamin.
Okay, so good morning, Briony, and welcome to the She's in Business today.
Briony: Thank you so much for having me on Donna. I'm pumped to be here.
Donna: When we first met, it was actually only a couple of months ago through our mastermind group and we were at a conference and I have to say like, standing next to you just loved your energy.
And I felt like there was this. Yeah. I felt like there was this beautiful mix. You being calm and centered and totally vibrant and warm and down to earth.
Briony: Oh, thank you. That's so lovely.
Briony: What a compliment.
Donna: Yeah. And when I think back I started my conversation with you is so what do you do? Cause we're at a business conference, right?
And that's what people do. And I was absolutely oblivious to your story, but once we got talking, I was completely blown away by your journey. And you shared with me that at the age of 30 life, became really tough for you. And I wondered if you can share with the listeners of the podcast, what happened for you at that time?
Briony: Yeah, so I was basically living a really busy, fast paced life. I was head of video at mama Mia women's network. And, it's an intense workplace because it's 24 hours you cicle. You're coming up with ideas every day, but I loved my job. I worked with the most gorgeous women and I had a, you know, jam packed social life.
I was playing a lot of sport. I love squash randomly, Donna, right, I just love something to squash comp with all of my friends and I was playing touch footy and I had a boyfriend and he was a very, very busy guy, so busy social life. And I just was feeling awful all the time. So I just had about 12 to 18 months, from coincided with starting the new job at mama Mia, where I just always felt exhausted and tired and I got sick really easily.
And I think I just started to feel, you know, I was going back to the doctor over this period of time, but they just kept telling me I needed to rest more and that I was probably stressed and overwhelmed. And so I just kept getting to these dead ends in terms of a medical perspective. So I just thought, okay, well, you know, and I'd really gotten to the point where I thought, oh, well, maybe this is just what, like being an adult feels like I just feel tired and exhausted all the time.
And I was thinking, oh my gosh, what it would be like when you had kids. And, uh, yeah, so that was basically what was going on at that time. My parents, uh, were quite alarmed by how I was feeling and that it was going on for so long and that they just didn't think I was my usual sparky self, I suppose. I wasn't really looking forward to anything.
And I didn't think I was depressed, but it starts to get to this point where you're like, well, I'm not looking forward to anything. Everything's feeling like really hard and real slog. And so, uh, they sort of insisted they actually called up my GP and insisted that I got referred to a blood cancer specialist, a hematologist.
And yeah, so two weeks later went in for some tests with her and she, you know, she didn't alarm me or anything. She said, yeah, we'll just do some tests. We'll do a biopsy just to see what's going on. And then she said, come back in a week's time and get your results. And so I thought, oh, well, if something's bad, surely they'd call you straight away.
Right. And you would, um, you know, be alerted to that. No, I, you know, went back in the next week to get my results. And my mom insisted on coming with me. She flew down from Queensland to come with me to these appointments in Sydney and I remember saying to her mom .Mom, let's just get a really busy day. I've got to get straight into work.
Like we've got Sophie Monk coming in the Bachelorette to, you know, like, , that's where my head was at my to do list and all the things that were really important that day. And we went into the appointment. I sat down and my beautiful specialist, Dr. Bosco, she just said, so the results are back and unfortunately it is Hodgkin's lymphoma like your parents were concerned about.
So what that means is we're going to have to clear your next three to six months and you're going to need to start treatment basically straight away. And at that point, I didn't know really what that meant or how bad that was, but she mentioned the word chemotherapy. So I was thinking, oh dear, this is sounding really bad.
So the first question I remember just asking her was like, how am I going to lose my hair? And she said, yeah, you will, but it will grow back. And that was that real sucker punch moment where it, you know, to lose your breath is that. Sort of a bit of a surreal out of body experience because it's not the news anyone ever expects to get, but particularly not when you're young and you know, you feel like you're just hitting the prime of your life.
So yeah, it was a huge shock.
Donna: Yeah. Would have been. I just can't imagine being in that situation. Wow. So through that journey, tell us about, like you told me about this video that you had put together. And as soon as I got home from that conference, I looked it up and watched it and. Oh, my God. Get the tissues out.
Like it was, it was so incredibly heartbreaking, but also so inspiring and thought provoking at the same time. Like, can you tell us about what made you want to do that? And then what it was like for you being on the other side of the camera as you're taking snippets of your journey?
Briony: Yeah, well, I, you know, I'm a video maker, it's sort of what I've always done.
So I think in video, I dream in video, I'm always thinking about video ideas, but actually when I got diagnosed, I was sort of very reluctant to start filming because it just felt all too a bit roar and scary. And my friend at the time, my friends bandied together and got me a bit of filming equipment to go with my phone.
And I remember them just sort of gently encouraging me and saying, and on the first day, my, and my partner at the time said, I just think if you can find the energy to go do it, you should just go put your thoughts down. And I said, oh, I just really don't want to. And he said, I really think you should. So that sort of, you know, reluctantly, I started to document, but I, then I think, you know, cause I, at that stage it was stage four lymphoma.
It was all through my body. I didn't really know what was going to happen. And I didn't know how sick I was going to get. And I didn't, you know, you hope you're going to make it, but you don't know. So I thought, Well, you know, one, this gives me a nice little project to do, it gives me some kind of control over a situation I have no control of, but, you know, in a way I could keep being a filmmaker and it was a good distraction in some ways, because then I was capturing it rather than just living it and doing it. So, yeah, it was kind of nice from that perspective. And I think that was really therapeutic in some ways as well, too.
Video log and, you know, get my thoughts out. I did a lot of journaling throughout chemo, which was really, really helpful for me, but the video journaling I think was really helpful as well. And so bit by bit, I thought, well, I don't know what I'm going to do with this. I'm just going to capture it as I go.
And then at the, um, you know, I started to think as I got good news and knew I was going to sort of get through this and be okay, I thought, oh, maybe I'll make it in to a documentary or something. But I thought, you know, my passion is short form video. I love it. And I'd been making a lot of viral sort of video content at Mamma Mia. So my Mamma Mia a work life. I, I said to her, oh, look, you know, I'd love to turn this into a short little thing now to try and just share the experience with people, because it's a really hard thing to come back from a year of being away, having done IVF, chemo, lost your hair, you know, changed your whole life.
And then you come back into your life and your friendship group and people like, how are you? You know, what was it like, like how you feeling? And it's really hard to convey. I had a lot of people say to me at the time, but yeah, you're going to be able to fit that all into a three minute video, but you know, you've seen it, Donna, like you, you can, because I think, you know, it's that story, isn't it of a picture paints, a thousand words.
So a video just, just takes you right there. And in a, in a quick little heartbeat of a moment, you can really be transported to that place. So, yeah, it was lovely to put it all together. And, and just to put that out in the world was really cathartic actually, because it really just helped share, well, this is what it's like, and this is what I've been through, but I had so many amazing bits of feedback from it when it first went out. So people reached out to me like one lady said, you know, I haven't spoken to my mom in 10 years and, and watching this video just made me realize how futile and silly that is. You know, life is short. If something happened to me, I would want my mom there with me. So she, uh, yeah. You know, decided to reach out to her mum and reconnect again.
Yeah. So there were lots of amazing things like that, but then lots of cancer patients that reached out and just said, thank you so much for making this because I feel like it's given me something to share with the people in my life to help them really understand what I've been through. So that was something I hadn't anticipated.
That was a really beautiful outcome. Because, yeah, so many people just said, oh, that just word for word summed up my experiences.
Donna: Yeah, absolutely. Wow. So then from the video, how did that transpire to becoming a book? Because now you have a book, right?
Briony: Yeah. The video went out into the world, I suppose. And it got a great reaction and response and it did a few million views sort of got really widely shared around.
And one of the people that saw that was a publisher at Murdock books. So I believe Lou, who's the head of publishing sort of the video. And then, so this beautiful lady called Kelly reached out to me who became my publisher. And she said, I was just so moved by the video. And I just think there's such a helpful message in this for people around, you know, getting through tough times.
And so. Just as COVID hit, basically, I got offered a book deal. So as a lot of book deals I think were falling over, they said, we just, we feel like this book has never been more relevant, really, you know, because there's going to be tough times ahead for a lot of people. And so the book became not about so much getting through cancer or health crisis, but it's really like, what do you do when you get thrown a curve ball and you got to get through it?
What are some things, you know? So really the book is a combination of all the things I learned along the way that made it more doable, less crap, and it's just like, this is the helpful stuff that really got me through.
Donna: Absolutely. And like, I've had the pleasure of reading the book, which is, I feel a bit special because it hasn't even been released yet.
So thank you exactly. When does it get released? What's the,
Briony: so it's going to be out on the 3rd of August. So at the moment people can pre-order and then it'll be released on the third.
Donna: Awesome. So by the time that this podcast goes out into the world, the book would have been released. Um, so people can jump straight in and grab it, which is awesome.
And, you know, I loved, it's so colorful. It's so bright and colorful and all of the quirky titles, like there was a couple that really, really made me laugh. Oh, which one? So I've got it back to here. You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter. I like literally laughed out loud.
Briony: That was from a brilliant woman, I used to work with at mama Mia, Monique Boley, who was the head of podcasts at the time. And I remember something went wrong at work one day and she just said, well, you can't polish a Ted, but you can roll in England. And that was a good mantra for me going drinking.
Donna: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think like, I don't know if it's just me but you know, when you are thinking about buying a new car and then you just see that car everywhere. I don't know whether it's like just the age that I'm at. Like I'm 38, I'll be 39 really soon. And I also like recently earlier this year lost my dad to cancer.
Briony: Oh my goodness. Donna I'm so sorry.
Donna: Thank you. But I'm just so now hyper aware and there's so many people around me that are being diagnosed with it and it's really.
Like it's really polarizing, but it was the perfect read for me because not only what you said about it is a book about your journey through cancer, but it's also about mindset and resilience and gratitude and acknowledging the grief and going through the healing and just making the most out of every single moment.
And I think that's like you said, it's what we all need right now. And it's needed, not just right now in the age of the pandemic, but like in every day to really be, honoring those special moments that sometimes pass us by because we're so busy.
Briony: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And, and it's something that really dawned on me going through the whole experience is that.
And like in the case of your dad, who's passed away. And I'm so sorry to hear that. I sometimes hear people speaking so harshly to their parents or, you know, on the phone, I'll be like, you know, so sort of frustrated with them. And I remember chatting to my mum years ago on the phone and just being, I was just tired.
It was the end of the day. I was just feeling a bit like frazzled and I just thought after this experience one day I will do anything for my mom to be able to give me a call. And she won't because she won't be here. So why wouldn't I just enjoy this moment now and be kind and appreciate that she's calling me lovingly and where, you know, and my mum was really, you know, best friend for me.
And so that's something that has really changed for me is. Being present and enjoying this moment, you know, the amount of just normal, everyday moments that we have every day, that in 30, 40 years, we would die to come back and live the way it is right now, even if we're, you know, a bit critical of it or the critical of the way we look, what we would give to a girlfriend, recently she was working in a nursing home and there was this woman in her nineties and a woman came into visit her who was 69. And this woman in her nineties just said, Oh, to be 69. And I just loved that. I thought, oh, that's also relative. Isn't it? You know.
Donna: It really is. Yeah. And when, back in January, like when dad was really sick and we knew that his cancer was terminal, so they were just managing him through treatment.
But my husband and I decided to renew our wedding vows because he wasn't able to come to our wedding and that's like a whole another story. Yeah. So it was really special. But when we were all over talking to the celebrant about getting that going, you know, she said to me that when cancer happens, sometimes it can really bring people together.
She's like, that's the wonderful thing about cancer. And I think at that time, I wasn't really ready to hear that. Like I literally was like, Why would you say that to like, you know, I kind of wanted to punch her in the totally, totally, but she was so right. Like looking back on that and reflecting, it really did bring us all together in a different way.
And it also forced you to have those kinds of conversations. Sometimes they're either awkward to have, or, you know, you don't think you need to have them cause you've got plenty of time and it's just about really taking those opportunities and those moments in real time and doing those things because you know, you just never know.
What he's around the corner. Hey.
Briony: Yeah, absolutely.
Donna: But yeah, I think in the book, another part that at the very, towards the beginning of the book, you say that in the first few days of diagnosis, a friend shared the serenity prayer with you, and I'll read it out just for context. For me listening:
it's grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.
Like, I've heard that before. And it's so it's so impactful. Like when you're in that moment of crisis and everything is like, holy moly, what's going on and it's all happening so fast, actually having the ability to have wisdom in that moment and to know that difference, like, gosh, that's gotta be hard.
Briony: Yeah, it is. I found that. Yeah, it was my beautiful Dutch friend Rica. Um, she had herself had been through a major, sort of depressive incident and like a mental health crisis, which she's now written a book about, which is selling like hotcakes in the Netherlands. And it's similar in that it's a step-by-step guide through getting through that.
And so she was someone who, for me really had the street cred to be able to have these conversations with me. So maybe coming from someone else, you know, like that woman who said to you, oh, you know, it brings people together and use that one. I'm not ready to hear this, and you're not the person. Like you don't have the permission really to say this to me because.
No, you will have a relationship with you, but you know, I'm gonna in case, um, sent this to me. And then she also wrote me out a little quote that just said, and I, you know, I dedicate one of the pages to it in the book. Some things don't have to be understood, just accepted. And I think like hearing that on the first day of my crisis was just the most helpful thing, because you can waste so much energy railing against it and wondering why and why me and I, you know, And it just saps your energy. It's just so fruitless. And so I don't know how, but it just really helped me just to sit with it in those first few days. And it was, I just had this sort of acceptance really, really early on. And I didn't, you know, I never felt angry about it felt angry at my doctor who had really, you know, sort of missed all my symptoms for a couple of years.
And sort of let me down in that regard, but I never felt anger and I did just feel a sense of, okay, well, this is what life has thrown my way now. So let's get on with the business of surviving it and getting through it and, you know, and I think that was a good thing. And interestingly, I heard the other day a, it was a podcast.
A guy who trains fighter pilots. And he was talking about if there's an accident while you're in the air, if something goes wrong, every millisecond that you spend wondering what's happened, what did I do wrong? You know, like trying to figure it out. Yeah. You are like closer to death, basically like imminent death, which is a very extreme analogy.
But I love that idea that they literally train them just to accept in that exact second. Exactly. What's happened and just work it out. So what he had, that's a good analogy and intense one, but a good analogy of just get on with it.
Donna: It is be because it does happen so fast. Like when Dad was diagnosed, it was like, and we want to start chemo tomorrow. And you're like, whoa, hold on a second. Can we backtrack? Like, I need some more information here. Like how do we even get to this point? And, but you're right. Like, it's just, and that's what the doctors were reassuring us of. Like, we've just got to get this going. Like, it doesn't matter about how it happened.
Same as you. like things got missed. Why wasn't this picked up earlier? It's no point in going down that track because it's just a waste of energy and right now you need to conserve your energy.
Donna: To heal and get better. Yeah. And the other thing I loved about you, including that serenity prayer in your book is how then you related it to writing a plan of action.
And you use the example of grant me the serenity to accept that I've lost my job and the courage to get out there and market myself and the reason to know that I'm not a failure and I'm fricking awesome, like here. So good. Cause you've read those things and go, oh yeah, that's lovely. But when you switched the words around a little bit and really make it apply to your current crisis.
Briony: Thank you, Donna. Glad that resonated. Yeah. And that's, there's going to be a booklet actually that goes with the book that people can download for free just as a little gift to go with it. So if they want to also work along and write down things as they go, because I just found, as I said, journaling through chemo is the most powerful thing that I did and I was religious about it. I did it every single day. And there's a lot of research to suggest that journaling is incredibly healing. Like they've even done experiments where people's wounds have healed faster when they are journaling. Really what it does is it's an organisation process for the brain. So you can actually, it's about taking the cloud of thoughts that are in your head and just getting them down on paper.
And, you know, it's removing that from your sort of central processing unit, right? So your brain can sort of think about other things. And over time, day after day of doing it, you sort of get a bit of clarity around what you're thinking. Like it's very hard to journal every single day and write the same thing down and then not do something about it. Like, okay, cool. I've got that clear.
So, yeah, that was something else that was incredibly powerful for me during that crisis time.
Donna: Yeah, for sure. I love to journal as well. And it always helps. It always helps. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Can we talk about post-traumatic growth? I love reading that you said that your friend, Luke, who'd also been through his own journey, told you that you'd emerged stronger and richer and wiser from your experience.
And at that moment, when he was talking to you about that, you felt like he handed you a Cape and turned your sickness into a superpower, which is like just an amazing, like visual. And then it becomes an opportunity for growth. So that's incredible. I want to know more about that.
Briony: Yeah, well, it was, yeah, it was a real mindset shift for me when we had those conversations.
So Luke was someone I'd worked with years before, and I knew that he'd been touched by cancer, but we'd never really talked about it. And so when I first got diagnosed, like, I didn't know anyone who had had cancer, we don't even have any family, friends that have had it not have mom. And dad's. I just didn't know anyone.
And then it sort of came to me like, oh, Luke, I remember something about Luke and you know, so I reached out to him and he was just so amazing from someone I had had a working relationship with, but we didn't know each other super well. He just became my person that I could, you know, he was so generous with his time and he just said, you call me whenever you want. You know, I'm here at whatever time he sent me these gorgeous package with a teapot and all, it was just thoughtful, but it just gave me such strength, knowing there was someone I could, call and he did, he said in that phone call, he said, and I said to him, look, I don't want to talk about chemo yet or treatment. I'm not really ready to hear about that. And he's like yet. Yep, no worries. But he did just say to me, you know, you are going to come out the other side of this, like so much stronger and wiser and with a whole new perspective on life that people. Pay millions to do the green and get coaching to get like, you're going to have it because you've had this, life-changing rattled up, shake up at this age.
And he was so right. You know, like things that used to present, you just don't frazzle me in the same way. You know, not to say that I don't get stressed and frazzled still, but you've got that layer of perspective to sit back and go, okay. So, yeah, it was a beautiful thing. And, and once again, there was this other beautiful girl, Emily who didn't know me from a bar of soap, think compassion runs really deep in the cancer community because you've just, you just get it. And you know, that people need to speak to someone that really gets it. And she runs this amazing company called Bravery Co. They make head for women that are going through cancer because basically she's an amazing designer. And when she went through her cancer journey, she was like, oh my God, all the fashion is so, so daggy, like this cancer thing, let's make a look good. Okay. But I reached out to her, you know, and must get so many people reaching out to her and she jumped on a zoom with me and she would chat to me whenever I needed, needed help, you know? And I've since been able to pay that forward, which has been really nice. But yeah. Once again, it was like the people that had been there and done it. They were the people that helped me the most. And that's once again, what sort of created this book, I was like, I want to get put in this book, what I do for people on a one-on-one basis, like, and the things that I found most helpful when I was going through it, you know, it's, and it's not necessarily the advice of medical experts or your psychologist. It's the people that have done.
Donna: Yeah, that mindset is so important when you're going through that healing process, right? Like for no matter what you're going through, whether it be cancer or, or anything, like you said, in a book, it can be divorce or miscarriage or another illness or anything like that, depression. And that brings me to a part, I think it was page 28, which I've got bookmarked. Is that worrying is like a rocking chair. Like you gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. And I think that, was that a friend that shared that with you too? You've got some great friends around you. Like how many awesome friends do you have?
Briony: Some very wise friends. I know this is a book of all that wisdom, basically. Yeah, girlfriend send that to me on Instagram. And I just like, it just really clicked with me that phrase, because of course, when you're going through a crisis of any form, you worrying all the time and you can get sort of carried away in these worry spirals and I think that idea that I share in the book that are really dear family friend, who actually did pass away from lymphoma. Um, he shared with me, like he was just so positive throughout his treatment and he just said, look, the thing is, if you worry and you find out that there was something to worry about, then you've done double the worrying, you've done all this worrying! And if you worry, and then you find out there was nothing to worry about, then you've worried for no reason. So like don't waste your energy, just live in the moment, carry on. And then when you've got concrete reason to worry, then you can worry and then you will just face what comes and you will figure out a plan.
And that really helped me get through a lot of tense days. And once again, Emily, from Bravery Co. when I was through treatment, I was really worried about the cancer relapsing. It's very common once you've gotten out of treatment that you, you know, you hyper-aware any little symptom, you'd have nights, but one night, oh, it's back like the cancer is back. And we ended up having a conversation cause Em did relapse and went back and had to do a second round of chemo. So I thought actually I was a bit scared to talk to her about it. Then she said, look, the thing is Bri, I don't want to scare you. But I actually relapsed when I was feeling better than ever. I had no symptoms. I went in and got my routine test and it had come back and she said, and the reason I'm telling you that is because. Whether you worry about it or you don't worry about it is not going to affect whether the cancer comes back or not. So all you can do is carry on, get your routine tests done and wait till you've got information. And somehow, even though that was a scary story about how she'd relapse, it just, I was like, yep. Got it. Cool. Not going to worry anymore. I'll do my tests and I'm not going to think about it in the meantime. Yeah. Yeah.
Donna: Cause it couldn't really get you down otherwise. Right?
Briony: Oh, you just be in these spirals and I see friends do it, that are going through treatment that do, and you're like, you're just wasting all this energy.
It comes back to that serenity prayer, right? It's out of your control. It's completely, all you can control is enjoying this day and living in the moment and continue. Do your tests be aware, be alert. Yeah, you can't be freaking yourself. And, you know, I write about it in the book, Donna, like that first day with that specialist. And she just said to me, what I want you to do is you're not going to get too far ahead of yourself. I don't want you to Google anything. We're not going to worry about what Hodgkin's lymphoma is yet or the treatment, or we're going to think about as the next three things that you have to do. And I come back to that all the time. Now I'm a bit frazzled or overwhelmed. What are the next three things I've got to do. I'm just going to focus on those and I'm going to do them really well.
Donna: Yeah. And could do that in, yeah. For like the women that are listening that are running their own businesses and often get really overwhelmed with that.
You know, it doesn't necessarily have to be a full-on crisis that you put that into practice. Like it can be a daily thing. It's such...
Briony: And do it, you know, doing that brain dump and then just going all right. Well, what is the one thing today? That's going to make me feel better if I get it done.
Donna: Yeah. And in regards to mindfulness and that mindset, I just want to share this because it was something that came out of the book that I'm like, that's awesome.
Is practicing that mindfulness when you're having a shower, I'm like, yes. Everybody has to shower every day or at least I hope everybody showers. And that can be your time when you just actually just, will you describe it? Like when you're like mindfulness in the shower? What is that?
Briony: Yeah, so me, it's about trying to find moments in the day where you can be mindful that you can just build into your routine. So if the one, and this was a psychologist that told me this one, she was saying, so when you're having a shower, You know, normally I'm in the shower with a million thoughts running through my head and that's when I come up with something my best creative ideas, actually. Yes. But she's fancy. She said instead try and just like, feel the warmth of the water on your body and look at the way that the droplets are coming out of the shower head and look at the steam. That's fogging up the glass and look at all the little droplets and, you know, maybe smell the soap and what it is, you know? So like taking in all the sensory experience. I find myself able to do that a lot, lot more now. And particularly with nature, like I find I'm just constantly in order of it .Like if you just sit and even just look at the tiny little details of a leaf, you know, something as simple as a leaf or a little flower.
And really look at it. You can be totally absorbed in just how it goes credible, it is, but you know, it's often something you won't even look at and you're back on your phone or you're not managing kids or you're doing whatever, but, you know, even just sitting in there and watching an ant, like carry something along and do something that makes you really present and, and it's that Wow!
There's so, so much richness in the world around us that we're just not zoned into because you know, you can't be because you're functioning most of the time. But if you can just find those little slivers of time throughout the day, even if it's just a minute here and there, it really just helps calm the nervous system.
Donna: Yeah, totally.
Last thing I want to finish on with you, if it's okay. Is talking about listening to your body because I think as women and I'm generalizing. We don't do it enough. And we put everybody else before our own needs and we seem to be pretty awful at listening to our own body. And Dr. Libby Weaver.
I don't know if you...
Briony: Love her. Yeah.
Donna: So good. Right. And she says, why do we do what we do when we know what we know? And I think we know we need to listen to our body, but so often we just don't and we just keep pushing through onto the next thing. And you've got like a whole section dedicated to that.
Briony: Yeah. And it's certainly been, yeah, one of the other major learnings for me, I'm not saying I caused my lymphoma because we don't know what causes lymphoma, but I know that I certainly didn't give my body a chance to help heal and recover during that time. I was constantly under sleeping, working late, just not eating healthily, but probably just no, no clear routine.
Just there was not a focus on health and wellbeing. And in the lead up to my diagnosis, really, my body was sending me every single warning sign. But I didn't know yet how to trust it and listened to it. And I say to everyone now, and there's a page in the book, it just says, remember, you are the world's leading expert on you.
You are the only one that knows what your body feels like, how it feels to live inside your body. And if it's off or feels icky or weak, You know that. So if someone's telling you that you're fine and there's nothing wrong. And the test is saying, everything's fun. You've got to keep digging, be a little bit hypochondriac. I say not, not very, but just a little bit, you know, and be insistent. If you have been feeling really unwell for a really long period of time, document it, be meticulous about keeping notes so that when you go in and you've got that 10 minute window with your GP, who's seeing hundreds of other people in that week, you've got a really good history to share with them so that they, and find someone who really and takes your pain seriously, and that you think really gets it because you know, the other thing is that we know that women take a lot longer to get a cancer diagnosis than men. Women are seven times more likely to be sent home while they're having an actual heart attack from hospital. So this is actually a matter of life and death.
We need to listen to our bodies, but then do what they say and advocate for them. You know, they can't talk, they need us to care for them. So, yeah, and I think. Focus on rest and sleep is certainly a much bigger focus of mine these days. It's still not perfect. I'm definitely on a journey still Donna you know, and it's like, when you know, you're running a business and you've got all these other things that you want to do, but at the end of the day, you know, there's this phrase and they say the healthy person and thinks about a million things. The unwell person thinks about just one. And that's getting well, you know, so it is our bodies and our health are our most important gift. And when they're taken away or you kicking yourself, if you could have, could have done something more and, and so, living well and helpfully now, and we know that 30% of cancers are caused by lifestyle diseases.
They're caused by diet. They're caused by lack of exercise. You know, you just don't want to put yourself through these things if you can't avoid it so you can avoid it.
Donna: Yeah, I was going to ask you to finish what would be your single message that you want people to take from the book, but maybe that was just it.
Briony: Yeah. Like ha, so many messages. But yeah, I think coming back to the message of the video and the book as well, you know, I think we spend so much time and energy worrying about what people think and it's like, we're all going to die and no one's going to remember us, like just live the life you want to live.
Do you know what I mean?
Briony: Just live boldly. Do what you want because, like, we're all going to die. This is finite. We're here just for a period of time, the life that you want to live. Yeah. Yeah.
Donna: Oh, beautiful. Well, thank you so much for giving me your time today. I really appreciate it.
Briony: Oh, thank you for having me on your wonderful new podcast.
Donna: You said that one last thing you said that you had an orange note on your bedside table and that it said you're going to get through this and you're going to come back brighter and shiner and wiser and more gorgeous than ever before. And I just like to say, like, I didn't have the pleasure of knowing you before your journey through cancer, but I can say with all my heart, you are absolutely bright and shiny and your wisdom is incredible in your book and you know, to listen and learn from you has been absolutely gorgeous.
So thank you so much for sharing your story.
Briony: Thank you, Donna. That's so kind. Yeah.
Donna: And thank you for being on the podcast today. And I know so many people are going to get so much out of your book, so yeah. Thank you. I really appreciate it. And where can people get your book if they want to go and find it and dig into all this goodness.
Briony:Well, you can get it really wherever you get good books. So the books going to be stopped in bookshop stores all around Australia. So. A little local bookstore that you love, I'd recommend going there and asking them to order it in for you. And otherwise it's going to be stocked in, you know, all the main sort of booksellers and it will be in Big W and Target and those places as well. So, yeah. Or you can order online with booktopia.
Donna: Cool. And if they want to see your video, That we talked about.
Briony: Yeah. So probably the easiest way is to find me on Instagram, I'm Briony_ Benjamin and in the highlights there, there's one just on the book. And so the videos in that, or they can connect with me on Facebook Briony B and it's the first pin video on there as well.
Donna: So, well, thank you. I will let you go. And yeah, thanks again for everything that you've given us today with your words. Yeah.
Briony: Thank you, Donna thanks for having me on. It's been lovely chatting.