FeForte: Conversation with Sarah Williams-Gardener

Dr Jacqui Leaman Grey and Georgina Gorman had the pleasure and privilege to speak with the wonderful Sarah Williams-Gardener. Sarah gives us an interesting insight into her career, the obstacles
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FeForte: Conversation with Sarah Williams-Gardener

Dr Jacqui Leaman Grey and Georgina Gorman had the pleasure and privilege to speak with the wonderful Sarah Williams-Gardener. Sarah gives us an interesting insight into her career, the obstacles she has overcome and how she has found resilience in tough moments. As a warning, we discuss cancer and specifically breast cancer during the conversation.

As an experienced businesswoman, Sarah spent 17 years at IBM, latterly as Government Affairs Director. Across Government relations, communication, stakeholder and client management where Sarah led successful teams. These succeeded in lobbying for change as well as winning significant commercial deals and implementing significant innovation programmes. Sarah was a member of the founding team at Starling Bank a challenger start-up which succeeded in obtaining a full UK banking license, gaining market traction with over 1 million account holders both retail and business. Since leaving Starling in June 2019, Sarah held an 8 months interim CEO role at Hope for Children (Charity), then recently led the market, consumer insights and product design team at Fair 4 All Finance. A farmer’s wife and mother of two busy boys Sarah has amazing juggling skills!

My advice to anybody, and especially through Breast Cancer Awareness month, is make sure you book your check-ups’

Sarah Williams-Gardener

Full transcript:

Georgina: Hi everyone, I’m Georgina Gorman and welcome to FeForte. Our mission is to build female resilience using science and philosophy. One of our key principles at FeForte to help build resilience is to share knowledge, and today’s conversation is one of the ways that we do that.

We hold these conversations regularly and cover many topics, and they’ll either be recorded sessions or live events. You’ll hear personal stories of challenge and resilience, hear from women in particular roles or industries who can share their advice and wisdom, and you’ll also hear from scientists and experts about the ways that we can build resilience and flourish. Make sure to sign up to our mailing list or follow us on social media to be the first to know about upcoming events.

Our other key principles to build resilience are to create community and to change habits. To create community, we have established a group where women of all backgrounds and experiences can come together, where members network, support and mentor each other. Finally, we build resilience through changing habits, and you’ll learn three key habits for resilience on any of our training courses. Check out our website to learn more.

Without further delay, welcome to today’s conversation with Sarah Williams-Gardener. Sarah gives us an interesting insight into her career, the obstacles she has overcome and how she has found resilience in tough moments. As a warning, we will be discussing cancer and specifically breast cancer during today’s conversation. I’ll hand over to Jacqui to introduce and tell us more.

Jacqui: Welcome everybody, I’d like to introduce you to today’s speaker. Her name is Sarah Williams-Gardener who I met many years ago and has become a great friend and colleague. When I first met her she was Government Affairs Director at IBM having had a successful career there for many years. One of her great strengths is combining commerciality with relationships and she’s really got an experience of the sharp end of business but she is also going to be talking to us today about a personal experience that was quite a hard one. There’s a really interesting dimension between work and personal experience and really how that makes you feel…A personal journey.

We met through Opportunity Now, part of Business in the Community where Sarah took a sabbatical* from IBM and became CEO, and that was quite a journey too. She’s a founding member of Starling Bank which is doing really well I believe, and she lives in Hertfordshire and Swansea, she co-locates between the two with her lovely husband Richard, they have a farm and she has two almost grown up boys, one of whom is at university. We also both share a love of gun dogs and have, or have had, dogs called Digby. So without more ado I’m going to ask Sarah to tell us a little about her personal journey.

Sarah: Jacqui, thank you.

It is a huge privilege and as you quite rightly say we’ve known each other for many years now, 10/15 years, and you have been a great work colleague, a great challenge, and also become a good friend so it’s a privilege to have this conversation with you today because you have been through some of my journey with me.

My story starts really when I left school at a tender old age of 17, having retaken what were then O- Levels. I wasn’t massively academic, and I know you’ll always tell me off for being negative, but in hindsight and later on, I realised that my understanding at school, or my ability to engage, was due to dyslexia. Something that having had my own children diagnosed I realised that I was blessed with myself and I say that because I do think dyslexia is a gift. And dyslexia in the world that we are living in is absolutely a gift, because it gives you the ability to problem-solve, be creative and imaginative and I do think it builds on my resilience.

So my story starts having left school very early and getting many different experiences in lots of different places and after about 10-15 years, just as the dot com era started, I went into the world of tech. The world of tech for somebody like myself was just so exciting. It was the early days, Amazon had just launched in, sort of, the early 90s. We hadn’t yet got the inventions of what we later build on with the smart phone and I will come onto the importance of that in my career.

So I worked for organisations that supported retailers, they supported them with the point of sale systems and it was in the early days of when we started to build loyalty with customers and understand customer journeys, understand customers buying habits. And that led me to working with IBM and then I was recruited by IBM when they built their software business and spent 17 extremely happy years of my life and career at IBM and I thank them for the education, for the challenges, for the opportunities. No year was the same. And the one thing that IBM teaches you is to embrace change. And I really believe in embracing change. And as Jacqui eluded, IBM gave me the opportunity, the seconded me as opposed to a sabbatical, so they seconded me in to Business in the Community. I had the massive privilege of working with Julia Cleverden who is… amazing. If you haven’t heard her Desert Island Disks, listen to it. She is a super lady and during my time there, which was really tough, it was just as we hit the banking collapse in 2008. So the financial crisis was hitting, my job was to navigate us through the new equality bill which was being debated at the time and it was to ensure the representation of women and gender equality was absolutely kept to the fore. And as Jacqui says, that’s where the two of us had the privilege of meeting and have worked together and kept in contact with each other since.

Once I left, finished my secondment with Opportunity Now I went back to IBM and I went back to IBM in the role of Corporate Affairs Director – Government Affairs. That was a phenomenal opportunity for me to represent IBM with the UK government to work with the bigger parts of IBM across the globe and actually work on policies that were important to us and to our people and to our customers. It was at that time that I was privileged to have private healthcare and took an annual health check. And in 2011 I dutifully went off for my annual check-up and I vividly remember being in the middle of a sales call and when they said that there was a waiting time to have my mammogram, I almost didn’t do it. And to this day I really thank myself for thinking, ‘No, you can be late for some things in this world, and your colleagues and your customers will understand.’ I did do that mammogram, I got the results of it a couple of weeks later and being the type of character that I am, I slightly put off going to do the follow-up, which was necessary. They explained to me there had been a slight problem with the machine and they needed to redo the mammogram. That was possibly their way of saying they thought there was something there and they wanted me to go back.

I went back and had the results. In 2011, December 2011, 19th of December, a day that I will never, ever forget. Was the day that I got the Christmas present I didn’t put on my Christmas list and I was diagnosed with Stage 3/4 breast cancer. There was no time to wait. This was a time when, end of year, which is, anyone who has worked in IBM will know that December 30th/31st are the busiest times of our calendar year. That had to wait. So off I duly went, saw an oncologist and before I knew it I was in the system. The speed was enormous, the shock was really, really stark. I started chemotherapy before, almost before I knew it. Thankfully I had the most amazing oncologist, a lady called Dr Marcia Hall, and the two of us had the most frank conversation. We were just coming up to Christmas, I also have a birthday in between Christmas and New Year and she very much wanted to get me on to a chemotherapy regime very quickly. So we agreed the days that I didn’t want to be feeling rubbish, i.e. ideally on my birthday and also the day that I was taking my Mother and my Mother-in-Law to the carols at the Albert Hall. So the two of us started a very good, open and honest relationship about what needed to be done and also how we were going to manage through this together. I did start chemotherapy within a week of having my diagnosis. Initially that was something that I was able to hide, and I say hide because we did not want to share this news with our family over Christmas at all. I had two very young children , they were 9 and 10. It’ll make me feel slightly emotional actually. So the other thing that was really important to me, a lot of this was happening whilst the boys were on Christmas holidays. And I thought very long and hard about how I could protect my children, and the most important thing to me was to take control of the narrative.

And I was very fortunate that I had the experience, the business experience, the ability to communicate. And so over that Christmas holiday I crafted a, it would be wrong to say ‘press release’, but a very clear communication that I sent to everybody I knew and some people I didn’t know that well i.e. parents at school. And I explained to them exactly what I was going through, I also explained to them what I wanted them to be saying when their children came home and said, you know, ‘William’s Mummy, James’ Mummy, isn’t very well’, that I was going to get better. It was really important to me that my children believed I was going to get better, and the reason that I say that is that I believed it. I really believed it. And subsequently, I have actually been phoned by mothers from school and from friends who have said ‘Can I have a copy of that, because I was really impressed when you sent it out, it really helped us understand’. And I think the point that I’m making here is that communication is really, really important and that what we need to appreciate, and it was actually a story I heard from a really good friend of mine who sadly I lost many years ago to Leukaemia, and I can remember when he was going through the process he said to me, ‘Sarah, it’s not me that’s necessarily suffering, it’s the people around me. Because I can go to the treatments and I can take the decisions, the people around me who love me, and rely on me, are the people who are suffering.’ So that was something I took into my diagnosis and I did the very best that I could to communicate to people what was going on. I went through 2012, which might have been an Olympic year in the UK and it was very exciting but it was not the best year in my life. I did get to the Olympics, I took my children to see the ‘Super Saturday’ with Mo Farrah and Jessica (Ennis Hill? Can’t remember) and it was a fabulous, fabulous day out. But that morning I’d had radiotherapy and I was feeling a bit knackered, but it’s amazing the, sort of, happiness and the upbeat-ness you can get from doing things with family, and family were the most important thing to me. My children and my husband were the people who got me through it, and bizarrely, my Labrador, Digby. Every day I walked with him and every day he used to lie on the end of my bed. So these things were really important to getting me through.

I did get through 2012 by which time I had had 8 doses of chemo, I’d had a double mastectomy. It was an elective double mastectomy, I had needed to have one, and again I was very, very fortunate in the medical team that I had around me who said I was able to make that decision to go for a double mastectomy. It was the right thing for me. It was supported by my medical team. So we did that, and at the same time we again coming back to where I started working with my oncologist and working with my surgeon and later my reconstructive surgeon, we built it around things that were really important to me. I had the opportunity through 2013 to go to South Africa where one of my boys was playing cricket and that was really important to me to go to that, I didn’t want to miss these opportunities that my children had. Through all of this, I retained my job at IBM. They are a huge and very supportive employer, whilst I didn’t take huge amounts of time off work, every time that I did need to take time off they were massively supportive and to the bosses that I worked with I am forever grateful. And also to my IBM family, some of which are dear friends and some of which were colleagues they were massively supportive, and I will always be grateful for that support.

2013 was a really positive year for me because it was a year of reconstruction. It was the year I met a guy called David Crawford, who is a phenomenal surgeon, and I will never forget the day… I had been extremely fortunate of being chosen to be a model at the Breast Cancer Care Fashion Show.

Jacqui: I remember

Sarah: And I think Jacqui, you may have come along and supported me

Jacqui: I did!

Sarah: Absolutely fabulous. And I’ll never forget saying to David, ‘David, this is really important this surgery, because I am going to be on the catwalk and your work is going to be on, pretty much on display.’ So he was fantastic. I had my reconstructive surgery, rebuilt myself. I did take a lot of interest and care in what I was eating, again it was part of what I could control. I am a firm believer in introducing juicing and healthy eating. I completely gave up sugar during this time and felt an awful lot better for it. Partly because it was good for my health but partly because it was something that I could control, in a time where there were a lot of things that were outside my control

2013 and October 2013, strutting my stuff down that catwalk was the pinnacle to my recovery, and it was fabulous because it was a room full of amazing support even people who you don’t know, everybody, you knew was everybody was willing you well. And none of us knew what we were doing, we were just as likely to trip over.

Jacqui: You were fabulous!

Sarah: That’s very kind of you and maybe that’s the photo that I will share with you. [Photo in video]. But it was the purpose of Breast Cancer Care and the fashion show, and having had the opportunity to be a part of that community for several years following taking part in it, it’s about building confidence and it’s about showing people that, you know, there is, there is, life after this.  And Jacqui will know that I have said this on many occasions, and I’m sharing this with you, but I’ve got a better figure now than I had before… I love my new boobs. They are fabulous, and I’m a believer in looking at the positives. I sort of have a 20-year-old chest in a 54-year-old woman. So that’s a blessing.

But that was a real rebuild for me and 2014 was then all about, what do I do now. I have beaten this thing. I did say at the time, it picked the wrong body, it picked the wrong person. I know that many people through their journey with Breast Cancer will have vastly different experiences. I’ve had friends who’ve gone through Breast Cancer. A dear friend of mine, Miriam, was a brilliant support to me. She had been through it a few years before me and was kind enough to share some of the intimate details which I won’t share with you. But it’s almost, what I found really important, and I liken it to when I had my children, the importance of an Ante-Natal group is the time and the place, and so having friends around who are able to support you because they have physically been through it, was a huge privilege to me and I will always be grateful for that. But most importantly to my family and friends and I think whether it’s dealing with Cancer, whether it’s dealing with any rocks that life throws at us, having a strong family and friends network, you know. I have the most amazing husband, he is my rock. I have two brilliant children. And I have a fantastic network of close girlfriends. And I, through all sorts of different times that’s what been really important to me.

And I did beat this thing and then come 2014 decided that I would retire, and I took early retirement from IBM and they were very supportive to that and they completely understood why I wanted to do that, I wanted to spend more time with my children. That didn’t last very long, I got bored quite quickly. I had a dabble with started my own business which was about food and healthy living and thoroughly enjoyed it, but also realised that that wasn’t really going to be enough for what I wanted to do. And then fortunately I reconnected with somebody that I had met, and I come back to the network, the network is such a strong thing to have. I reconnected with someone that I had met through my days with Opportunity Now and the rest they say as far as my career is possibly history. I decided that having the opportunity to be a Founding Member of a new bank would be a really exciting thing to do. There were four of us around a coffee table at the time that I made that decision. It was a decision that was very exciting. I look back on it now, it was the time when it was really untrendy to be a banker. So I had the privilege of working with an amazing team of people, led by a lady called Anne Boden, and we built Starling Bank. And I was there for the first 4 and a half years of its journey. And it plays to some real, strong values of mine and that is fair access to financial management for all. And my value for fairness is really important and it doesn’t matter what it is but I do believe everybody should have the access to be able to, in this case manage their money, or with other experiences the ability to access the right healthcare. So we spent 4 and a half years building a phenomenal proposition, putting the power of managing your money in the palm of your hand. And the invention of the smartphone which was around 2010 really had come into its own come 2015-16 with the development of apps. Starling Bank is a completely App-based, phone-based bank. It is your bank in your pocket, it is a new way of banking. It keeps you in contact with your money and in control of your finances and therefore helps you to manage the stress levels that we all have when we are dealing with finances. I’ve retired from Starling Bank, I seem to be the person who retires quite frequently. I retired just over a year ago and I’ve done a couple of really, really interesting things since then. I’ve had the opportunity to be an interim CEO for an international development charity which was taking funding and providing education to children suffering greatly in Uganda and Sri Lanka and that was a huge privilege and having completed on that contract I worked alongside, again, an amazing woman. Actually I think I keep referring to lots of amazing women. An amazing woman called Sacha Romanovitch, who is leading something called Fair 4 All Finance which is providing access and sustainable funding to affordable credit. There are millions of people in the UK who are unable to get a standard bank account and Fair 4 All Finance is looking to provide fair access to affordable credit for people who otherwise would have been subject to loan sharks. So I had the absolute privilege of doing that for 5 or 6 months over the summer through lockdown, and having completed that contract I’ve taken some time just to think about ‘what next’. And ‘what next’ looks to be building into a really exciting opportunity for me, so we’ll leave on that cliff-hanger. That is my story.

Georgina: First of all thank you Sarah, that was wonderful to hear your, the passion around your experience as well as the crucible of experience itself and how you dealt with that was wonderful and inspiring to hear. I think there were a few things for me, I think you touched on them already. But what would you say to someone, you mentioned you thought about putting it off when you were in that sales call, what would you say to someone who is perhaps listening that is in that situation where they are thinking ‘I have noticed something’ or potentially a test result has come back and they are putting it off. Is there anything specific that you would say to them?


Sarah: I would, and that is ‘don’t’. You know I was still massively fortunate because I had a private health check-up on an annual basis and because I had religiously taken that, I had historical information that could be compared with. So I knew in 2010 I didn’t have this, I didn’t have Breast Cancer. By 2011 I did and therefore that gave us the opportunity to understand more about how long I’d had it, how fast it had grown etc. But my advice to anybody and especially through Breast Cancer Awareness month, is make sure you book your check-ups. By the way, I do have my check-up booked, I do it every October and will religiously do it every October. Because I am now almost 9 years post my diagnosis, I don’t come under the National Health System but I think its worth every penny to get a private check-up if you can afford to do so. So I always recommend that people do do that. Especially as we get into our 50s. I mean I was diagnosed when I was 46 so it was still quite early. It was before the NHS standard checks, which I believe come in at age 50. So I was fortunate. I just encourage anyone that if they recognise anything that is different. I didn’t. I didn’t have any of the signs that anything was wrong. I was just massively fortunate it was spotted, and it was spotted early, and that I worked with the medical team that just literally whipped through the process to recovery. So yeah, I would always say to people, go get checked. 

Jacqui: Yeah. You said that you were diagnosed straight away with Stage 3/Stage 4 which, if it, it was obviously a very fast growing problem because, if you’d been checked the year before and you didn’t have it at all, and suddenly its stage 3/Stage 4. Can you talk a bit to your fears at getting that sort of level of diagnosis straight off? It must have hit you like a truck I would imagine.

Sarah: It did hit me very hard but that’s why I believe I was fortunate with the medical team I had. The recommendation was to start chemotherapy very quickly, intravenous chemotherapy. I mean I went through all the things you would expect, as much as I tried to use the cold cap system, was unbelievably excruciatingly painful, it didn’t work. I did lose my hair. Which for women is a really tough thing to go through.

When you are called back and you have the second mammogram and then you go straight away to have ultrasound, and before you know it you are having biopsies. It’s so quick. It is like being run over by a truck. It’s a very quick, for me it was a very quick decision and it was, of course it’s something that none of us want. Did I ever in my life think that it might hit me at some stage? I think I was completely in denial. My Mother had Breast Cancer so there was a high chance, there was a high chance of me having it. I never had any BRACA genes testing. But again coming back to, I was diagnosed relatively early, and relatively young in the grand scheme of things, so it just wasn’t, my life was too full. I wasn’t expecting any of this. I certainly wasn’t expecting the diagnosis that I got on that day. But for me, the power and my resilience sort of kicked in in what I could do about it. In the recommendations that were given to me and the team that I had around me. I mean they were just fantastic. They allowed me and encouraged me to talk about what I wanted and what I needed, and for me, for that Christmas I needed normality and as much as I did have my first chemo on I think the 27th of December, it was something I went off and did with the absolute support of my husband who kept the kids busy and my in-laws who also sort of kept the kids busy. But nobody actually knew where I was going, and that was important to me. So I was still processing it myself and I think it took me a couple of weeks to process it and it was just something that with myself and my husband, we came to terms with and it wasn’t until the new year that we shared any of that with anybody. We really didn’t want to dampen anybody’s Christmas or anyone’s new year. And for us 2012 was a new year and it was the year we were going to beat it. We’d had a couple of weeks to work that out and a couple of weeks to come to terms with it, so we came out fighting. And that’s just my style. I know it doesn’t work for everybody, but I am a ‘cup half full’ and I do believe in positive thinking. I know that doesn’t work for everybody.

Jacqui: Did you do anything like that? Did you do mindfulness training or get CBT or some sort of counselling? Anything like that, or did you use your family and friends?

Sarah: I used my own time and walked miles with my dog. We are fortunate, you eluded to before, we live in the countryside, my husband is a farmer, we have space and countryside. So being outside and being able to think, if that’s referred to as being mindful then yes, but I would take myself off into my own space and process my own thoughts by pounding the footpaths of Hertfordshire.

Jacqui: How did you manage communicating not just to people who you knew, sort of your children’s friend’s parents and your friends and family but your interface with work? I have a very strong memory; I can remember when you told me I think we were going to an event in London and obviously you couldn’t make it, I don’t know, but you told me. I was getting out of a taxi and it was pouring with rain, and I remember it was like ‘Aren’t you coming?’ and you told me. And you said I don’t want anyone to know right now. So I imagine it was a Christmas event or something, I don’t know. But you said I don’t want loads of phone calls from all the people that know me through my work, I just want to handle this privately first, and then sort of explain it later. Can you remember anything, not about our conversation, but can you remember what that was about? What was going on in your head then?

Sarah: Yeah, it comes back to I think something I said earlier, which was I wanted to take control of the narrative. And the one thing that can be really draining is having to keep updating people. I didn’t want to be known as, in my work capacity or my personal capacity, as someone who had Breast Cancer, I want to be known as a great Mother, a great friend and a great colleague. So it was important to me to protect myself. The family at IBM is a really close family. People call themselves IBMers for a reason. And I knew lots of people would be wishing me well, but with the very best will in the world, all the energy that I had needed to be focused on fighting it. And supporting my own immediate children and husband. So it wasn’t until I needed to take time off work for surgery which was the, sort of, the February of 2012 that I explained to people why I was taking time off. And I did the same, or took the same approach, which was I crafted something, I mean email is a great thing. I crafted an email and I explained to people exactly what was happening and just said to them that I would be off the radar. It is just taking control of that narrative and just realising where you need to focus your energy. And I needed to focus my energy on beating it.

Jacqui: I remember you sort of cascaded information. I don’t know if you did that in all aspects but you kind of, as I recall, you decided to put out regular updates to certain people, so I was one of them. And you said can you tell all the others and tell them I don’t want loads of phone calls. Did you do that, did you work out a communication cascade or was it just completely random?

Sarah: I think having been in a role where communication is quite important it most probably was a little bit more planned, than random. 

Jacqui: Yeah, it felt like that. That you were in control

Sarah: It comes back to something that I think I mentioned before, that was my point of control and for me that was really important. Really important. So there was some planning behind it. Just simply going back to the comment that a friend of mine had made to me, it’s not easy for those of us going through it but when we are going through it we know what’s happening. And the people around us, some like to know, some need to know, so the more you can share that in an efficient way that protects your energy, was something that was at the forefront of my thinking when I was going through this. Simply because I didn’t have a lot of energy and as much as loads of people want to be massively supportive, and they were, there were times when you just hole up, and you just need to be off the grid. And you are doing to that to make sure that you are building your buckets of resilience in the ways that you can. The fact that you are giving yourself, we talk about having a healthy mind, so those things were important to me and those things were things I did for myself. I just tried to control how much energy was needed. It was about focus, and I suppose my career which has been commercial, commercially based, sales targets based, quarterly based, has allowed me to appreciate the value of focus, and during this time the focus was on beating it.

Georgina: Sarah I think you again eluded to it just then as well, it sounds like your support network were very, you gave them a lot of instruction in terms of what, information, what you wanted and how to support you, is there anything that people did that was particularly helpful in that time? You mentioned talking to people that had experienced it already, but if you haven’t had that experience, how can people help someone that may have just got a diagnosis or may be going through this themselves?

Sarah: People that had been through it and were willing to tell their story I did find really helpful, and I was blessed that I had people in my close network that were able to do that for me, so there were people I already knew, so I will always be grateful for that. I will always be grateful for a small little army of local Mummies who used to just drop off lasagne on the doorstep, and they will know who they are. They weren’t people who…they were genuinely…it was a genuine help. It meant that even when I didn’t have the energy, I could put something in the oven and feed my children. So those, sort of, very discreet acts of kindness were absolutely invaluable. Totally invaluable. And something that hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to pay back someone in a similar way. Thankfully I haven’t known anybody directly myself since having this, that has been through it. Random acts of kindness are just priceless. 

Jacqui: Thank you so much for the honesty and the openness and being willing to share this.

Sarah: And I just, you know there were times when I had to, sort of, swallow a bit. I still find it quite hard. I still find it quite hard… not for me… but the fear that… I might have missed my children growing up.

Jacqui: Bless you.

Georgina: Thank goodness that everything… clearly the universe has great plans for you Sarah and thank goodness that everything happened the way it did. You know things could have been so different so as you say the things to be grateful for now are going to be even more special. Thank you so much. Honestly it is such a powerful story and it was so wonderful to hear you speak it through. You mentioned about repaying the favour to others, I think for other people hearing this, you have already repaid the favour.

Sarah: I really do believe in all of what we do, I think women in business its so important that we pay it forward. And it works with your health, it works with lots of other things, where you can just reach out and provide a little bit of support for somebody. It’s a huge privilege to be able to do that for someone, so I think we pay it forward it whatever we do and whatever experience we have got, we can share. I think it’s really important.

Jacqui: Definitely. Well thank you!

Sarah: Hopefully its helpful!

Georgina: Thank you, thank you so much for your time Sarah!

Jacqui: Bye!

Georgina: Take care!

Georgina: Thank you so much for listening to our conversation with Sarah Williams-Gardener. We hope you found it interesting, Jacqui and I certainly did!

Whilst there are many takeaways to be had from Sarah’s story, we hope that everyone listening will be inspired to regularly check your boobs if you don’t already. Around 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, and the sooner it is found the better the survival rate. It’s also rare amongst men but it can still happen. Make an ‘If-Then’ plan to prompt you to do it, like ‘If I am in the shower, then I will check my breasts’ and if something doesn’t seem normal then don’t put it off, visit a medical professional as soon as you can.

Another wonderful lesson from Sarah for any stressful situation is to focus on what you can control. Feeling out of control is one of our core existential fears, and can be a trigger for us. Like with Sarah’s communication plan, when you are feeling stressed or overcoming challenges, focus on the areas that you can control. And be kind to yourself, Sarah mentioned keeping her body and mind healthy, and using those long walks with her lovely dog Digby to restore her buckets of resilience.

To learn more about If-Then plans, your core existential fears and how to overcome them, and how to keep your brain in tip-top condition ready to overcome challenges, please join us on our next training program. We’d love to meet you!

Thank you again for joining us today, we hope to see you again very soon!

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