My life has been touched by some uber amazing women whose passion for life and the way they choose to live it have really inspired me. A few years ago, I started the She’s So Inspiring series to showcase these amazing stories because I knew that they would inspire others. Some of these inspiring women are bloggers, some are not, their lives are all different and they are all incredibly special. I am so honoured that they are sharing their stories and sprinkling a little bit of their awesome right here. May you be wom-inspired!
Meet Talya Goding.
Talya is here by popular demand, because not only did I want her to be part of this series, she’s the peoples’ choice! Readers emailed me to let me know they wanted her to be part of of the series and I’m glad they did. Although, Talya is one of the youngest women to feature in the series, she’s certainly put her time to good use. She’s started and run a successful business, she’s built her own home (not with her own bare hands, but almost…) and she has a successful blog and ezine. It’s hard to believe that Talya is only 26 and that she has achieved all these things and more, while facing life limiting health issues and a terminal cancer diagnosis. Tayla is living proof that it’s not the days in your life that count, it’s the life in your days. Nothing can keep this woman down. She’s just so inspiring.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a blogger, an editor and a badass (or so I like to believe anyway). I live on the beautiful coast of NSW just near Coffs Harbour with my husband Russell of 7 years and our gorgeous fur baby Dusty a gorgeous Ragdoll kitten!
I am a 26-year- old believer of the magic all around us and a lover of all things purple, pop culture, geek chic, quirky, handmade, Netflix, magical, whimsical and being creative. I am also an ostomate who is terminal with cancer – so when I am not busy living and loving life or ticking off my bucket list, I can be found in bed cuddling my beautiful kitten or sitting out in my garden enjoying my pond and fish.
A year ago I was told that all my treatment options were exhausted and that I was entering palliative care and that I had just 12 months roughly to live… so I realised that I had so much that I wanted to do and achieve and was not ready to stop living. A year ago I realised that I hadn’t really been living and was determined to spend everyday as if it were my last!
Each day I do wake, I do a fist pump in the air and thank the universe for another chance to live. I started having a newfound appreciation 12 months ago for life, and I love finding the beauty in the world surrounding me. The world can be such a beautiful place
Tell us 3 things you are and 3 things you’re not.
– A person who puts others first by caring and being thoughtful;
– A very bubbly person who is always optimistic or ostomistic (a word I made up to be optimistic with an ostomy);
– A badass warrior fighter chick who doesn’t give up and believes in finding the opportunities in life all around me!
I am not:
– My illness/prognosis (although some days it is hard to feel otherwise when everything reminds me of it);
– Going to be told what I can or can’t do with what time I have left;
– Someone who is negative, ungrateful/unappreciative, angry, a quitter or someone who loses hope easily.
Complete this sentence, ____________________ changed my life. How and why?
My Wheelchair changed my life! When I entered palliative care last year, they asked me what things I miss doing or what could they do to help me live life and get out more.
They offered me a wheelchair but I declined, purely out of being worried about how other’s would perceive me or that it would be a burden. After a few weeks they offered again and I accepted it.
It became the best part of the year that was and I feel that it gave me the ability to live and experience life.
My wheelchair allowed me to go for walks with my husband which was something we hadn’t done in years, I remember the happiness and pure joy felt when we went shopping in Kmart for the first time in a long time. We have been on so many outings and day trips such as going to Sydney and meeting the Dixie chicks!
It feels like the past year has flown by, but I realised how much life I had missed out on so much because I couldn’t walk or stand and my wheelchair gave me my life back! I never imagined a wheelchair could bring me so much freedom and joy.
What has been life’s greatest lesson?
That you never know what tomorrow will bring. I always try to look for the positive and opportunities in my day and I knew the world was beautiful but a year a go I really started noticing just how much. I love seeing the beauty all around me and that makes me feel happy.
But the biggest lesson for me, was learning that life is one big learning curve. My dad taught me to be self sufficient from an early age, so I found it difficult to ask for help, so learning to accept help and other’s kindness was a massive thing for me to learn. I was raised in a very stoic family where you don’t ask for help and if you do it is considered a sign of weakness. But I have learned it takes great strength to indeed ask for help.
What is your biggest achievement?
It is hard to narrow down the biggest, I have done a lot in my life and achieved many things including founding a successful business, building my own house (during chemo) and establishing a blog and magazine that has added value and given support to people across the globe.
However, I would say that my ability to learn to really live and love life would be my stand out achievement. 12 months ago I had this newfound desire to really make the most out of my day and my life. I have lived so much in the last year that I feel exhausted. I have really pushed myself and my limits to try and live the best version of my life that I can.
I’ve learned the importance of stopping to smell the roses, and in pausing at moments and truly taking in what is going on around me and the beauty of the world made and in so doing, I’ve discovered who I am. It might sound weird but it took being sick and dying to realise I didn’t really know who I was and struggled massively with my self worth. I have learned I am strong, I am badass, I am a fighter, I am quirky, I am a lover and I am just a girl who is really loving her life!
What has been your toughest obstacle and how have you overcome it?
Where do I even begin on my adversities faced and how I overcame them. Honestly, if you read a book about my life you would honestly think it were hyperbole or a bunch of fiction.
I could talk about pain and how hard it has been or it’s impact on my ability to live, or talk about dealing with an array of co-morbid illnesses including severe endometriosis and juggling multiple mental health issues, or talking about living with a problematic stoma and how it has made me essentially housebound with some days having 20 leaks a day!
But I think one of the hardest things for me has been relationships and learning to deal with the social side of things when you’re chronically and terminally sick and how people react. I do have some wonderful family and friends who do go out of their way to support me but you would be surprised how lonely and isolating it can be when you’re sick. People who were close friends just up and walk out of your life because it was too hard for them to be friends withyou because they didn’t know how to be friends with a sick person or just didn’t have the compassion to want to learn how.
I stopped being invited to things because it got too hard to try and accommodate me, such as choosing accessible friendly places or somewhere that I wouldn’t be required to walk further than I am physically able to, or choosing a day when my husband wasn’t working so he could take me (and push me around in my wheelchair). It was just easier to stop inviting me as I became too much of a burden.
I may not be able to find the energy to ring every person everyday, text is sometimes easier (when my nerves in my fingers aren’t numb and tingly) talking and socialising can be rather difficult when you have very little energy or focus. Nothing personal, but people do take it personally, just my priorities are always for myself to rest if I need it.
Social media has been good for me in some ways as it has meant that I can keep up to date with friends and family and follow along with what is happening in their lives or chat to them. It also helped me to make some of the best friends that I have, being chronically sick or with an ostomy themselves it is just great being able to talk to someone who really gets it!
Viktor Frankl says “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.” Everyone needs a purpose, what’s yours?
My whole life I always believed that my purpose in life was to help others, even if it were just helping to make a difference in one person’s life! I trained to be a nurse before my health took it’s toll and then I changed track slightly and wanted to be a social worker/counsellor.
Then when I was 21 my dad died from Bowel cancer and I was diagnosed with early stages of bowel cancer. I needed surgery to remove my entire large colon and live the rest of my life with a permanent ileostomy. I didn’t know what a stoma/ostomy was and I was terrified! I had so many questions about life as a young female with a stoma and what life would be like going forward. Despite having a really lovely stoma nurse and surgeon, they struggled to answer my questions I had so they handed me resources. But all the resources were aimed at people in their Golden Years and I struggled to find relatable material on line too. So I felt so alone, I felt isolated and I felt scared.
Then I had this thought, “if I were struggling and felt alone what if other’s were too?”. So I decided that maybe my purpose was to start a blog called Feeling Ostomistic and try and help/inspire/empower other young ostomates to live the life they want with an ostomy in tow.
I documented life with a stoma and any tips and advice that I found or learned along the way. Earlier this year I launched an online magazine called ‘The ostomistic life’, which is targeted at helping younger ostomates (those under 40) to navigate life with an ostomy. I edited and designed the whole thing, and had articles from other bloggers or health professionals as well as some articles from myself. It has been excitedly and well received by people all around the globe, in the first 24 hours something like 2500 had read it!
It was a challenge for sure as some days I struggle to get to the bathroom let alone manage to sit at the computer and alert for hours at a time. So while my health continued to change, so too was what I was writing about. I talked about my thyroid cancer, about having biopsies and being diagnosed, I blogged about chemo and what I learned and tips I found to help me such as how chemo affected my stoma, I blog about end of life planning and helping others to feel empowered to talk or plan thing and I still talk about ostomy life and tips.
I know how lonely it can be, so I try and help to inspire others everyday – especially those who are young (or older) and are sick or terminally ill. I still hope to empower and encourage people to live and love life. I do a lot of day to day type blogging or microblogging on facebook and instagram. I try and keep it real by sharing authentically what life is like, the good and the bad. I hope that I can continue to inspire and empower people long after I have passed, so I am hoping my blog and magazine become my legacy.
Who knows I might finish my book (a memoir tell all) too!
What are your words to live by?
“No matter what happens today, the sun will always come up tomorrow” was something my Dad instilled in me everyday. But I also love “when someone bursts your bubble, mix up some more soap” I interpret it as meaning that in life there will be times that something doesn’t go to plan or someone might not agree with you but that you shouldn’t give up and should keep on trying – learn from failures and mistakes and believe in yourself, if you get knocked down get back up and try again.
If you could have any mentor, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
I would choose my dad, he was such a great guy and we were best friends. Dad died in 2012, he was 41 and died from Bowel Cancer.
It has been hard these past 5 years without his guidance and support, especially when it came to medical issues. He was always there for my brain surgeries, my colonoscopies/gastroscopies and if I were upset about what was happening in my life. I have struggled not being able to call on him for help and guidance, but at my lowest points I always felt this sense of strength to pick me up and carry me on… I like to think that it was my dad helping to pick me back up.
I try everyday to live a life my dad would be proud of and I hope that he is proud of me. I have tried so hard to do my best by his standards and it has been so hard to suddenly not have his hand to guide me. I wonder all the time if he were still alive and if his cancer was detected early enough if we would be twinning it with having a stoma.
If you could play hookie for a day what would be on your list to do?
Where could I even begin? If I could do anything for a day I would like to hike to the top of a mountain and watch the sunrise, or trek through the rain forests to see a waterfall and go swimming. I would love to go on a cruise or a flight to Italy and travel the world for a day. Or eat a lamington, corn/corn on the cob, or even have a beautiful salad, or even eat hawaiian pizza! Oh the fun I could have if health weren’t an obstacle. Or sky-dive! Oh this list could go on and on! I
could even go and donate blood, something I haven’t been allowed to for a while.
You give so much to others, what do you do to take care of yourself?
I am a big believer in self care and maintaining one’s own happiness. I find doing things that make me happy helps me to feel better about myself, ironically one of those ways is by doing something selfless for others or volunteering where my health allows me. I love to have ‘me time’ days where I treat myself to a fresh hair cut and colour, get my eyebrows waxed, sometimes having a facial or mani/pedi,going out to lunch on my own somewhere nice where I haven’t been before, enjoying a mango smoothie, or sitting up at the headland watching the waves crash on the shore or whale watching. I love going for long walks with Russ and playing Pokemon Go in the wheelchair or find if we are doing something off my bucket list I feel this rush of excitement and happiness. I also love watching netflix and treating myself to chocolate. I also have a beautiful koi pond that I like to sit at and if it is around dusk the fish like to eat, I could sit there all day and watch them swim about. It is my happy place!
Thank you for sharing, Talya.
Let inspire you a little bit more…
on the blog
and on twitter