Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Maria’s story

Maria Honeker blogs on Instagram under her account @HolisticlivingwithMaria. The account was set up to support and inspire people to eat and live well during their cancer journey and beyond.

Maria Honeker set up a food blog on Facebook back in 2015, mostly as a hobby, but little did she know that her own experience with cancer would turn it into a tool for helping others.

“In August 2017, two days before my 10th wedding anniversary, I was shocked to learn I had stage III colon cancer at the age of 40. I have always been a healthy eater and a lover of exercise. I hardly drink alcohol and I have never smoked one single cigarette, so my diagnosis was something I simply couldn’t understand. I remember sitting in a hospital room with my husband, following a colonoscopy, waiting for a member of staff to come in and tell me the result. A cancer specialist nurse came in and told us that it most certainly was cancer, but that this would need to be confirmed following some more tests. My husband and I sat there speechless and tears started to well up. Everything else thereafter is a bit of a haze.

A couple of weeks after my colonoscopy I had a scan, which confirmed that the cancer had not spread. We were in the middle of a house move at the time, and I remember the nurse calling me to say: “I just want to let you know, it is good news. The cancer has not spread, so go ahead and get on with your move and don’t worry about things for now.” It’s hard to explain, but I remember feeling so incredibly happy about this result, it actually felt like a small victory. Over the next couple of weeks, I had some further tests done. Surgery to remove the tumour by a keyhole procedure, was scheduled for the following month.

September arrived, after what seemed like months of waiting, rather than a few weeks. I had keyhole surgery at the Royal United Hospital in Bath with the wonderful surgeon Mr Williamson. The procedure went well. I had been warned prior to surgery that I may need a stoma, a bag on my tummy which would replace my bowels, but that this was unlikely. Luckily for me, I woke up without one and was home and back on my legs within four days.

I decided early on to take a proactive approach to healing cancer and my treatment was a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, healthy eating, supplements and exercise. Almost daily I hear from people who have got a little lost during treatment and they find my recipes, food and lifestyle posts, and my positivity, helpful during their own health journeys. Some of my readers have told me that I should write a cookbook and this is definitely on the cards, together with some local Cooking for Health demonstrations in my local community. My husband and I have our own company called Your Chiropractor Limited. One day I hope to be able to offer some of my support within our clinics, either as a health coach, naturopath or similar but this is still just an idea at present and will require me to study further.

My advice to anyone who has recently been diagnosed, try not to read too much into statistics as everyone’s situation and treatment experience and journey is completely different. I would also recommend to take a proactive role throughout your treatment and healing journey. I found that this made me feel somewhat in control of the situation. Above all, my main piece of advice is to find your own Why? The reason why you will get through this and why you want to live. Mine was my kids and my rock of a husband. They kept me going every single day.

I am currently in remission and I feel pretty strong most days. I am exercising regularly and I’m trying to keep on top of my clean eating and my supplements. I am determined to live my life to the maximum and I won’t let what I’ve been through define me.

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