“Choosing to smile” – a testimony to three women’s courage in the face of major adversity

“Choosing to smile” is the title of one of the most moving and inspiring books I have been privileged to read in a long time.

The book is about three ‘ordinary’ women, Glenda, Michelle and Julie; three friends who at some stage in their life had to deal with major adversity. Each of these amazing and courageous women was diagnosed with cancer, and each chose to deal[1] with the illness in way that we can all draw inspiration from.

In the book, Glenda, Michelle and Julie each share their life’s journey with us, taking us through their childhood, teens and adulthood, their high’s  – love and marriage, birth of their children, small and big successes – and their low’s – their experience with cancer and other adversities like loss of family members and friends. The book took me on emotional rollercoaster. I was laughing and crying with Glenda, Michelle and Julie, who openly and honestly share their emotional journeys before and after being diagnosed with cancer.

Glenda despite losing a leg to cancer, went on to become a sought after public speaker; Michelle after beating Hodgkin’s disease went back to school, got a degree and travelled all over the wold; Julie survived incurable cancer for much, much longer than anyone had ever thought possible. Recently, Glenda and Michelle were awarded the “WOMAN OF COURAGE AWARD” at the Global Woman Summit in Washington DC.

So what makes these three ordinary women different?

For me, there were three main life principles that  Glenda, Michelle and Julie applied throughout their lives:

1.       Choosing to smile

Despite the cards that life dealt them, these three women made a choice. Instead of becoming victims, being unhappy, depressed and complaining, they chose to smile! They chose to find happiness every day and appreciate all that life has to offer. They chose to live every day to the fullest, and build on their own inner resources. Glenda, Michelle and Julie show us that there is always something we can do, no matter how major the adversity. We can always choose to smile.

2.       Focussing on what you can control

When we are in grip of adversity we often feel at the mercy of what is happening to us. And we forget that there are lots of things we can control and evolve the adverse situation. These wonderfully courageous women are role models to us all, and especially those of us who are about to give thinking there is nothing we can do. Glenda, Michelle and Julie made a choice to be survivors (and not victims) and be in control of what they could control, their own mental and emotional state, how they spent their time and what did they did with their lives.

3.       Building a nurturing support network

Not only did these three women support each other, they also had and built up a strong support network of family members and friends who they could reply on to give strength, encouragement and inspiration when they needed it most.  They also freely and generatively supported others who had been diagnosed with cancer, and helped them to ‘smile’.

I believe we often underestimate how important it is for each us to have people close to and around us who remind us of our inner strength and reinforce our positive intentions when we are losing faith or want to give up.

This book is a gift and inspirational resource to anyone who feels a victim of circumstance, who feels held back by a glass ceiling outside their control or someone who needs a healthy dose of inspiration or a reminder of what choosing to smile can do.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Do check it out at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

Thank you, Michelle, for sending me a copy of your amazing book. And thank you all three of you, Glenda, Michelle and Julie, for so courageously and openly sharing your inspiring stories with me through your book.

Related links and articles


[1] I am not commenting here on the choice of medical treatment and procedures but on the way the three women dealt with disease emotionally and how they chose to live their lives post-diagnosis

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2 responses to ““Choosing to smile” – a testimony to three women’s courage in the face of major adversity

  1. Dear Bettina

    What a stunning write up – you brought these three inspirational ladies, Glenda, Michelle and Julie, right into my life, up close and personal.
    Whilst you’ve spoken to me about the book and being invited to do the review, it really is in reading your share, that I’m moved to want to read it myself.

    I’d like to honour Glenda, MIchelle and Julie for your courageous and non-defeatist attitudes, for taking the stand to live life to the max, despite your very really challenges. And for being such JUICY SWEET Role Models for those of us who need the gifts of those who’ve gone before.
    Love, Gratitude and continued Support Bettina and to my 3 new soon-to-be friends – Nyali

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