don’t forget your self-care

i met annabel years ago at sangam. (well actually, we first met on email because she won a scholarship to come to a sangam event!) annabel is a long time supporter of girl guiding and girl scouting, both local and global. over the years, the guiding world has brought us together in several locations: india, uganda, madagascar. most recently, we were at sangam together in april. working on the archive, having fun at easter with all of the sangam local staff and exploring good restaurants in pune!

a few weeks ago, annabel’s doctors discovered she has stage 4 ovarian cancer. today she is having round 2 of chemo.

when you hear ‘stage 4,’ you think, surely there must have been signs? but that’s the tricky thing about ovarian cancer. she was just feeling tired after work, but shrugged it off (as many of us do). but then the bloating started and, as a nurse, annabel knew she couldn’t shrug this off. the doctors did an ultrasound to find 5.1 litres (1.4 gallons) of fluid. that fluid revealed the ovarian cancer.

annabel’s life has completely changed, but things are looking up!

what you can do!

even if you don’t know annabel, the first thing that goes through your mind is ‘oh my goodness, what can i do to support her?’ well that is a very good question and one that annabel has some answers to!

“there is nothing people can do for me – support is wonderful and much appreciated but this is my battle.”


i know this quote from annabel sounds a bit harsh when you first read it. you instinctively say, well that’s not true. of course i can support and help annabel! but as you ponder it, you realize that in fact, we can’t do anything for annabel. we are (probably) not her doctors. we can’t do the chemo treatments for her. we can’t keep her hair from falling out. we all want to support and help annabel, but this is her personal battle.


annabel has a few suggestions of changes and actions we can do in our everyday lives that will make her journey and battle have an even stronger purpose.

step 1: listen to your body

we all know when our body is talking to us. sometimes it’s good (wow! thanks for that yoga practice, i feel incredible!). and sometimes it’s warning us (hey christa, stop eating all this oily food because you are making that gallstone bigger!). we feel those aches and pains. but do you take a moment to reflect upon what those aches and pains mean?

do you need to go to a doctor? do you need to exercise? do you need to eat a healthy meal?

annabel has been sharing her story and struggles with cancer in hopes that this will encourage at least ONE other person in this world to listen to their bodies and get checked out.

when was the last time you went for a physical? when was the last time you got that pap smear? when was the last time that you got that mammogram?

preventative medicine can go a long way, so don’t delay! if you have been procrastinating that check up, just GO!

“this is why i think, as a nurse and a guide leader, i’m in a position to try and help women stop and think about themselves and to get checked out. maybe this will stop someone else going through this trauma.”


step 2: support kusafiri

“i’ve lost a lot through this diagnosis – work, being a guide leader, my flat and my independence. but i refuse to allow cancer to remove my passion for travel and world experiences.”


annabel is an incredible advocate for kusafiri world centre (the world association of girl guides and girl scouts’ world centre in the africa region). and cancer is not stopping that! it’s time to step it up! let’s all become friends of kusafiri to support annabel!

you can become a friend of kusafiri with a simple, one-time donation of GBP40/US$50. the time to donate is now! because there is an anonymous, generous friend out there in the world who is going to match donations up to US$10,000!!!!!!!!!

ready to donate? follow this link and you’ll learn everything you need to know!

so remember…

  • let’s all support annabel by getting our regular check ups
  • take time for your self-care routine
  • encourage a friend to take time for their self-care routine
  • and let’s ensure that annabel’s passion for travel and world experiences stays strong and resilient – become a friend of kusafiri!

#arts4change, kusafiri in madagascar

I was planning a trip to Africa and knew that Jen was also going to be there. I initially didn’t think I was going to be there at the same time, but decided to change my plans so I could be. And she then asked me if I could be a part of the Planning Team for #Arts4Change, Kusafiri in Madagascar. And I said, why not?!

As a member of the Planning Team, I’ve been supporting with event prep, logistics and coordinating social media.

We have engaged followers by having a competition to name the event mascot, the very cute lemur that you see in the event logo above. We started a brand new twitter account so we can grow reach of not only this event, but Kusafiri World Centre as a whole.

Like and Follow Kusafiri World Centre for the amazing content we created!

Shop Rite

3 days in Ghana and I’ve stepped back into the surreal world of Africa!

The training centre where we are staying is absolutely fantastic. They are just finishing up the upgrade and the place is new and clean and very comfortable. I have my own room and my own bathroom!

The first day, no electricity. Fine, no worries, I’m used to it (although it was a bit annoying that we couldn’t just put the generator on). Second day, no water. Still waiting for that to come back. But I do have a working air conditioner and internet that appears to be faster than the fast line at Sangam.

Needless to say, I’ve been keeping myself busy on the world wide web.

This morning we went out to Shop Rite at the mall. I was with Gloria, one of the young ladies who is looking after us, and Marie-Paule, the Fifth World Centre Project Manager. What a trip it was.

First, it was the nicest Shop Rite I have ever been in. There also wasn’t many people, despite being in Accra’s biggest mall. I suppose everything looks empty when you are coming from India.

As I walked through the aisles, it was strange not to be buying a ton of things to stock up on and haul back to the village. When I walked past the Yum Yum peanut butter, I didn’t automatically put 3 bottles in the cart and contemplate a 4th. When I walked past the cream crackers though? I couldn’t resist and bought a pack. Shop Rite still has the same crazy plastic toys and even the same hair brush I bought when I lived in Zambia. Apparently, Shop Rite doesn’t change.

We walked around a bit more and I bought a Strawberry Fanta from Game. I can’t even remember the last time I had a deliciously fantastic Strawberry Fanta. Probably sometime in Zambia!!

The tiny bit I have seen of Accra shows a much more developed country than I was expecting. The roads are huge and I haven’t seen sign of a pot hole yet, granted I’ve only been on one road so far. There are a lot more foreigners around and most of them are businessmen in suits.

Today is a bit of a day off for us. Yesterday we had a big meeting with a few of the ladies from Ghana Girl Guides Association and we gave them a lot to think about. Tomorrow we’ll get back into working on preparation for the meeting and hopefully they’ll ask for assistance.