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An Interview With Kathryn White – Certified Holistic Cancer Coach And Cancer Survivor

Kathryn White is a Cancer Coach with a passion for serving others. In 2015 Kathryn was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Almost 7 years later she is living a happy and healthy life which she attributes to her amazing medical team, her belief in her ability to rise above her diagnosis, significant lifestyle changes, and the love of her family.

Kathryn merges her experience with cancer with her former profession as a public school teacher to coach others living with cancer and cancer survivors on how to reclaim their health and happiness. At the heart of her coaching is the belief that we are not our diagnosis and that with support it is possible to navigate a life with cancer.

As a trained teacher, Certified Nutrition Educator, 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and Certified Holistic Cancer Coach, Kathryn integrates nutrition, movement, mindfulness, and other healing modalities into her coaching. The integration of these modalities truly makes Kathryn's Cancer Coaching a body, mind, and spirit focused process.

Kathryn has taken her experience and knowledge and shared it with others through workshops and speaking events, where she strives to inspire others to make lifestyle changes that can build health and prevent dis-ease in the body. She is the host of The Living to Thrive Podcast, which is focused on educating people on how to be more health-full and stress-less. Kathryn has built her life with cancer around the mantra: Live to Thrive.

Kathryn White, Certified Holistic Cancer Coach And Cancer Survivor

Meet Kathryn

Kathryn White is a Certified Holistic Cancer Coach who works with people living with cancer to take back control of their health and happiness. Kathryn is herself a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer in early 2015.

Through personal determination, the love and encouragement of her family and friends, and a deep belief that she could beat cancer, Kathryn overcame the statistical odds of survival and is living her best life 7 years after her original diagnosis. Her diagnosis led Kathryn to retire from public education at the age of 43 and find her passion for helping others in various business models that have led her to create Kathryn White Wellness, a space that integrates her own experiences with her passion for teaching. Kathryn’s life after cancer included a deep dive into not ‘why’ she got cancer, but ‘what’ she could do to prevent a recurrence and to build her happiest and healthiest life. This led Kathryn to earn certifications as a Nutrition Educator in 2017, a Registered Yoga Teacher in 2019, and a Certified Holistic Cancer Coach in 2021.

Kathryn brings in her passion for helping others into her private and group coaching programs. Here she integrates nutrition, movement, mindfulness and more to help other cancer champions as they experience life with and after cancer. Kathryn is a strong and passionate advocate for lifestyle change to prevent disease. She shares her story of overcoming her diagnosis and thriving in life to help inspire others to make changes for disease prevention and recovery. She has been published in her local community magazine, has been the survivor speaker at her local Relay for Life Cancer Fundraiser, has created and launched an online course for building healthy lifestyle habits, and is the voice behind the podcast Living to Thrive. As a Cancer Coach, Kathryn offers opportunities for her clients to share, learn, and embrace life with cancer so that they can live their happiest and healthiest lives in the moment. She is married to her best friend of 27 years, John, and together they have 2 amazing adult sons, Jackson and Joshua.

If you could give 3 of your best life after cancer pieces of advice, what would those be?

The first would be to live life to the fullest. There are a few things around this idea. The first is that cancer doesn’t get to define who you are and what you do. As a cancer survivor you get to do that. This is going to look different for everybody depending on the extent of your cancer and treatment, the impact on your physical, mental and emotional health, and even survivor’s guilt. Every story is different but at the end of the day it is your story so live life out loud, love (yourself and others) passionately and deeply, do the things you want to do, nurture your relationships and build new ones, and don’t let anybody tell you that you have to live a certain way because you have or had cancer.

The second piece is to make the lifestyle changes. Cancer happens for a variety of reasons with the root often being related to lifestyle choices. There are things that cannot be changed in our personal histories, but there are many things that can be changed as you write your new story. Nutrition, mindset, movement, and stress management are key parts of the dis-ease building process but they are also part of the healing process.

To that, making change can be difficult and can be limited by the narratives we tell ourselves. I encourage cancer survivors to seek out support to make the changes they want to make and to have someone as a guide through the parts that can’t really be navigated alone. There are a lot of complex moving parts to cancer – physical recovery, mindset shift, and even self-love – that can be done but don’t have to be done alone. This is what I do as a Cancer Coach: support, guide, encourage and listen.

Where does your motto “Living to Thrive“ come from?

From the beginning, my husband and I made the decision not to get the statistics around my stage 4 diagnosis. I knew that those numbers would impact my mindset and so instead I decided that every day was a 100% chance of surviving. From here I realized that being a survivor starts in the moment of the diagnosis, not after the treatments are done. I didn’t want to sit at home and feel sorry for myself or spend my time hoping that I would get healthy so I could live my life. I embraced the diagnosis as an opportunity to live my life out loud in the moment. So I did the things I wanted to do like attend as many live concerts as I could, travel to Europe, go to my high school reunion, get outside even on the hardest days, I even encouraged my husband to buy a motorcycle so we could ride in the country and find spots to stop and have picnics. Thriving in life is a gift that cancer brought me and I continue to live this way even now, 7 years after my diagnosis.

Is there something special that keeps you motivated to help other people with cancer?

Yes! Life keeps me motivated. Knowing that on any given day you can find something to be grateful for and to enjoy reminds me that it isn’t always easy to see the possibilities when you are faced with adversity. But, I know that if you can reframe how you see things, including life with cancer, and embrace a healthy lifestyle and mindset you can thrive. The people that I work with all have different experiences but at the heart of it all each of them wants to be healthy and happy. They are the most amazing people. They come to our time together wholly and completely vulnerable and willing to open their hearts and minds to hope – it is truly beautiful to be present with them and watch them learn more about themselves and what they are truly capable of.

When you speak with cancer survivors, is there a common challenge that many of them face? How are you helping them to face this challenge?

A cancer diagnosis has so many moving parts to it. The first challenge is to receive and accept the diagnosis. Hearing the word cancer can really strike fear into your heart. After that initial shock it becomes a process of navigating all of the medical pieces including appointments, surgeries, and treatments. After that, the most common challenge is learning how to live with cancer. In my 6 month coaching program we spend a lot of time working through key healing factors that can support the health of the individual physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. This is where I integrate my nutrition training, my yoga training, and my personal life experience into a whole health model. Addressing the trauma and gathering the tools to navigate cancer is really a whole person experience. There is no one single magic solution. The individual has to do the work and I am there to provide guidance and support throughout the whole process and beyond.

In your coaching you’re working with people who have had a very traumatic experience. How do coaching and your methods work, and why does your coaching transform lives?

There is no doubt that a cancer diagnosis can induce trauma. I have personally lived the experience of overwhelm, fear, anxiety, and sadness. It is a really difficult place to be in and to move forward from. That is where coaching can be so valuable. It is important to distinguish that coaching is not therapy. Coaching is the creation of a safe space for the individuals living with cancer to come and be themselves. There is a lot of sharing that happens in our sessions. When a client shares or asks a question it provides an opportunity to go deeper into the thoughts and emotions that are coming up. The difference here is that as a coach I don’t provide answers, instead I guide the client to look inside of themselves to find their own answer that they don’t even know exists. A lot of times it just takes some questions and encouragement for people to believe that the answers lie within themselves. Reframing thoughts is so powerful and has allowed some of my clients to successfully navigate things like surgery, fear of tests, and the daily work that has to be done to create a positive mindset around the whole cancer process. The transformation comes when the individual can see that there are things they can do to support themselves outside of the medical process. When they begin adopting lifestyle changes and new ways of thinking it can make all the difference in helping them to see that they can live a happy life even with cancer.

What keeps you inspired, what drives your passion to help others? What’s the next big goal or project for Kathryn White?

My inspiration comes from the amazing and beautiful cancer survivors that I meet and have the privilege to talk with. Their will to live and their willingness to do what it takes to survive is truly beautiful. It is so inspiring to see someone facing their greatest fear head on and being willing to be vulnerable on so many levels. My source of inspiration for my own life with cancer comes from my husband and sons. They are my greatest joy and my reason to live. Having that reason to live reminds me every day that I need to continue to do my own healing work, even 7 years after my initial diagnosis.

As for goals, my biggest goal is to reach as many people as I can with my message that you are not your diagnosis and that there are things you can bring into your life when you have been given a cancer diagnosis that will make a difference. I truly believe, as I live it every day, that having support and knowing that there are things you can do to support your healing process is a critical piece of life with cancer.

I am currently working on a 6 Month Hybrid Group Coaching Program that I am really excited about. It is an opportunity for cancer survivors to learn my strategies for building healthy lifestyle practices that can support them if they are in treatment or if they are trying to move forward in their life after cancer. It is a combination of self-directed learning through online lessons and weekly live group coaching. I am planning to have this ready to launch in May 2022.

I am also running a Free 5 day workshop, Thrive in Life: enjoy post-cancer happiness, once a month so that people can access my strategies and get to know me and get some insight into what working with a cancer coach looks like. It is open to anyone who wants support. You can register for the workshop here.

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