Never Say Die


I am in the business of awakening the human spirit: of enabling people to unleash their courage and creativity in response to the hand Life deals them; to expand in the face of seemingly insurmountable limitations; to evolve through everything that happens, up to and including your last breath. Never say die.

It’s not actually a job I can ever let go of, even though it seems that way since I stopped running workshops – a decision that brought great grief.  It’s a way of life.  It’s what I’m engaged in on this journey with terminal cancer, where the rubber really hit my vocational road.

This blog is part of my creative response to the hand Life dealt me.  I want to let cancer expand instead of defeat me.  I want to evolve because of, not in spite of, its presence.  I want it to awaken my spirit even if it destroys my body and claims my last breath.

Well, guess what?  Just when I thought it was over and beyond my physical reach, I ran a workshop again.  Two whole days, long hours, intensive content, and in partnership with a dear friend called David who was ready to take it forwards without me if I hit the wall half way through.  But I didn’t.  I wobbled occasionally, paused to rest when I needed to, but I stayed the course and together we landed the plane.

It was awesome. Full of awe. The group worked their butts off. David and I loved their butts off. We dared, we danced, we laughed, we cried, we savoured each other, we challenged each other and we all changed before each other’s eyes. I had to pinch myself a few times to check I was really there. Doing what I love. Again. Not exhausted. Energised.  Not scared. Serene.  Not at risk. Safe.  Not gone. Here. Fully f***ing here.

Will this time be the last time I get to do this? I don’t know. I just know I was given this perfect, unexpected, almost impossible moment and played it like a violin. I brought my cancer into the room and made it an instrument of my teaching. It made me better at what I do. It made me more Sophie. It took me by the hand and marched me, and everyone present, into the sunlight.

Afterwards, one participant fed back that “if Sophie can see the gift in her cancer I can see the gift in my mother/annoying person at work/heart disease and everything”. That was why I was there. And am here, writing this blog, for anyone and everyone who sees cancer as an enemy more than a teacher, a disease more than an opportunity to remember who you are.

Another participant emailed me to say:

I have never experienced and seen that number of gripping stories and challenging shares processed so deeply and effectively by a trainer (not even in a week, let alone 2 days)… You said you understood that you are a gift. I see that you have accepted this unasked-for mantle, and made it your destiny. Lucky us. It is one of those rare gifts that keeps on giving…

Over and over, you showed yourself, and revealed what it had taken, and was taking, to be with us, as you. I realise that I was seeing a noble self – your noble self – in action. You were for me a living demonstration and proof of the proposition that life invites us to live with the only kind of nobility I value.

Thank you for this priceless gift, Sophie.

I don’t share this to brag or show off my rosette. I share it because I want people to know how you can become your best self when the worst happens, how you can rise into your destiny precisely when you’re brought to your knees, how you never know when the next time is going to be the last time and why, even as you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, you should never ever say die.