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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

'It's a work in progress': Georgie Crawford on coping with life after cancer

‘It’s a work in progress.’

AS PART OF our ‘U OK, Hun?’ series on mental wellness, this week we chatted to Georgie Crawford, host of The Good Glow podcast and broadcaster on 98FM.

In 2017, Georgie, a mother-of-one, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following the news, Georgie experienced periods of mental ill health, manifesting predominantly in anxiety.

Here she discusses the 16 months she spent traversing a path she never expected to find herself, her new-found approach to self-care, and why relying on people is never something to be ashamed of.

Can you always identify when your mental health needs attention, or have there been times when a friend or family member has had to intervene?

“In the aftermath of being diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2017, I suffered quite badly with anxiety,” Georgie told us.

I would completely panic with a feeling which I can only describe as terror. It’s been over a year since my diagnosis now and I’m so happy to say I feel better every day. I do still have bad days but I’ve learned through counselling how to manage how I feel and cope with life after cancer.

Are there certain habits or activities which tend to have a negative effect on your mental wellness?

“I like routine, especially when it comes to diet and exercise,” she said. “I’m putting my life back together and every part of it has changed so it’s a work in progress.”

I have a very strong support network around me. My husband and my family have been with me every step of the way so they can see when I’m getting upset and they know what my triggers are. They really keep me strong, but also allow me to be sad when I’m having a bad day.

“We’re still picking up the pieces but I’m so happy to say that time is a healer,” she said.

And comparatively, are there habits or activities which are guaranteed to have a positive effect?

“Yes, getting out into fresh air helped me so much, especially during treatment,” Georgie recalls.

Reflecting on the routine she implemented in the early days of her diagnosis, Georgie says that stepping out of day-to-day life simply wasn’t an option.

My baby was only seven months old when I got sick, so life had to continue as normal to some extent. There was no time to lie in bed and cry. I made sure to get up every morning to face the day.

“My mum would call over and we would put Pia in her buggy and just walk. It made me feel so much better,” she remembers.

“Even now, I make sure to get fresh air and daylight every morning,” she tells us. “On Saturdays, my husband Jamie and I do the 5 kilometer Park Run with Pia. It really starts the weekend off on the best foot. I like to call it a healthy habit.”

What’s one thing you’ve learned as you get older in terms of how to better manage your mental health?

“That sometimes you just have to ride the wave,” she says. “It’s OK to have bad days and it makes me appreciate the good days even more.”

In addition to this, Georgie says she sees the benefit in being kind to herself.

“I’m also a lot easier on myself these days. I tell myself that I’m doing the best job I can. I’ve also learned not to build things up too much because I don’t know how I’ll feel day to day.”

All the firsts in my ‘new life’ are difficult, like Christmas and my birthday. I miss my innocence and the feeling of being invincible. But I’ve accepted my cancer and in many ways I wouldn’t change any of it. I’ve learned so much and really embraced my new way of life.

“Staying present works best for me,” she added.

Have any misconceptions about any element of mental health changed as a result of your personal experience?

“I’ve learned that everything takes time,” Georgie explained. “And also, that real change and growth takes work. I’ve learned to accept help from my family and professionally too.”

View this post on Instagram

I’ve learned over the last year that doctors don’t like the phrase ‘cancer free’ because nothing in this life is guaranteed, but my scan this week was clear. There’s been so many horrible lows over the past 12 months, but I never stopped believing I’d get my life back. I feel so lucky I could always see the light. Everything has changed. And I finally feel like I can say it out loud...everything has changed for the better. I’ve started a podcast. It’s a massive step for me and I’m so nervous about it. But I want to have conversations about health and wellness with inspirational people. Together we can change our mindsets and prioritise our wellbeing. My first guest is a very special friend (who you may know 😉) and we go deep! More details coming soon. Thank you for all the support over the last year. You, along with my family, have truly helped me beat this ❤️ ps. I’ve ditched the wig for good ✌🏻

A post shared by Georgie Crawford (@georgie.crawford) on

“When I went back to work in October 2018, I felt like I was OK, but I started to see a counselor just to make sure. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” she attests.

 Through it, I’ve learned to let go of a lot of unnecessary stress and that may be saving my life.

Do you feel that words like ‘anxious’ and ‘depressed’ are used too lightly in today’s society or do you think it’s vital that the language is commonplace in order to remove any remaining stigma?

“I think everyone is on a journey and that should be respected,” she says.

With regards today’s society, Georgie sees the impact that ongoing conversation around mental health has had.

“I think there has been some really positive change in Ireland, especially when it comes to discussions around mental health.”

The departure from a particular mentality regularly associated with the boom years is also welcomed by the mother-of one.

“I think it’s also great that there’s not as much pressure to ‘do it all’ anymore. I think we are discovering that it’s OK to rely on people and more importantly that it’s OK to say no.”

I started a podcast called The Good Glow because I wanted to talk to inspirational people who’ve created positive change in their lives as a result of their struggles. I think many of us feature quite low down on our own ‘to do’ lists, so it’s been really interesting to hear about different methods of self care and ways to prioritise ourselves more. 


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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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