Finding Purpose In The Pain: Interview with Carol Taylor

Finding Purpose In The Pain: Interview with Carol Taylor
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Time to Rise – Ask the Author Series

I’m always impressed when someone goes through a dramatic health challenge, and they are able to come out the other side stronger.

Carol Taylor did just that. This is why I was so keen to have her share her journey in Time to Rise, our collective effort with 29 authors in total.

Carol joined me from her home in Canada to answer a few burning questions about finding strength and even purpose in the pain of her battle with cancer.

Dr. Andrea – So I understand that your journey as a writer began around the same time as your diagnosis, right? Can you tell us about how it all began for you?

Carol – I didn’t really plan on writing my last book, it just kind of happened. It began as me writing just for myself, to help me mentally. I began writing about the positives in my life, really to get myself in a good headspace so I didn’t scare my boys.

After I’d finished writing, my boys said that they’d love to remember me this way, with the positivity rather than this period of time being “the cancer years”. But they had trouble with my “scribbly” handwriting, so there was more work to be done!

So I typed it up and let a few family and close friends read it. They all said this needed to go further. I agreed, but only for as long as it was fun. So I kept writing, and it has kept being fun ever since! It has been such as blessing.

Dr. Andrea – I’m sure it was therapeutic, and great for your boys too. And this was your first book, Smiling single Mom; It’s ALL RIGHT. So you emphasized your desire to focus on the positives. Which leads me to ask, at the time, did you think you might not have much longer to live?

Carol – Yeah! When the doctors don’t have answers for you, things get flipped right around and your whole perspective changes. You really don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.

Dr. Andrea – And how old were your boys?

Carol – They were in grade 4 and grade 9 at the time.

Dr. Andrea – And after publishing Smiling Single Mom, you also began raising money for a local cancer charity too?

Carol – Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary was where I had my treatment. I opted out of radiation and Tamoxifen, I decided not to do that, but I had the chemotherapy there.

I was going through this as a single mom. I couldn’t work as I had to focus on my health. So I had to bite my cheek and ask for help, and they were very supportive. They helped pay for gas to get us there and home, they even gave us presents at Christmas time – they really helped in every way they possibly could!

I decided I would give back however I could. So a dollar from each sale of my book goes to the center. So far I have delivered a check for $400 and I hope to do more.

Dr. Andrea – So tell me how you got to this point today, where you can share the positive side of your struggle with the world? How did you come to be sharing your story in Time to Rise, and what’s the underlying philosophy?

Carol – Like we were saying, when you get hit with news such as a cancer diagnosis, your whole perspective changes in an instant. I straight away had these words in my mind, “It’s going to be okay, it’s all right”.

All right, to me means that everything that happens is right, it’s okay, and it’s just part of the journey to be experienced. Once you relax, accept and go with it, things can transpire the way they need to. For me, it was a big lesson in releasing control and resistance.

Dr. Andrea – Oh yes, the idea of surrender! We are all so well trained to always be on the lookout for things that are wrong. It would be so difficult to accept illness when you are a single mom who just “can’t get ill”. But I think it’s really profound whenever I see somebody who is able to just BE in that space and live with their circumstances.

In Time to Rise you describe your experience with cancer as a journey. So I’m curious, has it made you more spiritual? Do you look at life differently now?

Carol – Oh yes! Old friends of mine have commented that I’m not the same person that I was 6 years ago. And I agree, I’m definitely not! A lot has changed and it really has grown me as a person.

Dr. Andrea – And from your story I know that you are just at the start of a “3-year cycle” – can you tell us what this is?

Carol – I’ve had this 3-year pattern happening in my life for a while now. I had a divorce that took 3 years to finalize. The day that my divorce papers were stamped was the same day my cancer was diagnosed. Then there was a 3-year period of healing, growing and learning.

It was during this period that I realized my “bucket” was totally empty and I needed to look after myself. I reasoned that this was probably why I had become unwell in the first place – so that was a big breakthrough.

Then there was the 3-year process of writing, publishing and marketing my book! So according to this pattern, my next 3-year cycle will begin in August. I’m really excited to see what unfolds for me next.

Dr. Andrea – So what do you think will be coming up in the next 3 years? Another book perhaps?

Carol – I’m not sure, but I’m considering re-writing my first book to see if I can improve upon it. I do want to focus on enjoying being a mom while my youngest is still in school. And he has 3 years left to go! I really want to enjoy this time to its fullest.

Doors keep opening, and when they do I love to walk through them. So I am excited to see what happens next.

Dr. Andrea – You mentioned “filling your bucket”, and I think that is so important. Any parent can relate to that, but especially a single mom, I know!

When you are going through cancer treatment you pretty much have to make that shift to put yourself first. But for other people who worry that filling their bucket is selfish – what would you advise them?

Carol – I came to the huge realization that I was sick and everything was falling apart because I hadn’t been taking care of me. And not everybody needs to be hit on the face with something like cancer to get this message. My wish is for people to be able to realize something is off before everything collapses around them.

It’s okay to love yourself. It’s okay to take care of yourself. And most importantly, if you don’t, then you are no good to anybody around you.

It is much like the airplane safety announcement – where they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first in the event of an emergency. Then you can take care of other people.

The first time I heard that, my reaction was “no way”! I’d take care of my babies first. But then afterwards, I thought about it, and that first reaction was wrong. You have to take care of yourself, or you really can’t help others.

If you would like to learn more about Carol, visit her website at

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