Who’s The Expert? And Why?
“I don’t know Dawn personally but when I read about her work and her experience with breast cancer, I knew that I wanted to share her work with you all as I am often asked for referrals to nutritional therapists specialising in breast cancer. I think that Dawn is incredibly brave to work in this area and can tell that she has done the necessary extensive training and research to enable her to reach this stage in her profession. Please spread the word about her to those who may need it.” Amelia
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Dawn is a nutritional therapist and life coach with a special interest in helping people with prevention and recovery from breast cancer using a combination of nutritional therapy and life coaching.
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Where do you practice?
At home in Kent and on Skype/FaceTime.
Where did you train & what are your qualifications?
I originally trained at ION, graduating with distinction in 2004. I went on to be a tutor and lecturer there between 2005-2010, then I left to pursue full-time practice. Since then, I’ve also qualified as a life coach, and last year I completed a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in Personalised Nutrition with CNELM. Being a practitioner is a continuous learning curve and this year I’m focusing on improving my functional medicine skills with the Institute of Functional Medicine. I’m registered with BANT and CNHC and I’m a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine.
What inspired you to work in your area?
I was diagnosed with grade 3, stage 3, breast cancer at the age of 33. I was a young mum with a high-pressure career, and my prognosis was not good. I was worried that surgery, chemo- and radiotherapy would not be enough to restore me to health so I decided to radically overhaul my life, starting with my diet and stress levels. I ended up going back to college to study nutrition and starting a new career!
What do you specialize in?
I specialize in helping people with breast cancer prevention and recovery. This includes helping people with diabetes and obesity because I see them as pre-cancerous conditions.
What are the key problems that clients come to see you with?
Most of my clients find me via word of mouth following a diagnosis of breast cancer. Because functional medicine and nutritional therapy are all about treating the person and not the disease, we end up working on all sorts of diet and lifestyle issues. Most clients have metabolic and hormonal imbalances; stress, fatigue, and digestive problems are often part of the picture. My clients tend to be women juggling busy jobs and demanding families while struggling to find time to take care of themselves – so the coaching comes in handy too.
What has been your most memorable client success story?
In fourteen years of practice, there have been many memorable moments: watching a client’s energy and vitality return after grueling treatment is always exciting. With cancer, in particular, success is difficult to claim – there are so many factors involved, and so many dedicated people trying to help. I like to think I’m a positive piece of the jigsaw.
What would you say are the three biggest challenges faced by clients in your area of specialty?
That’s a hard one: cancer brings so many issues with it. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to hold onto your hope and determination in the face of a poor prognosis, or when you’re told there’s ‘nothing you can do’.
Secondly, there’s the big question that everyone asks: ‘Why me?’ which, when it’s asked in a spirit of curiosity rather than despair, can lead to healing and recovery.
Thirdly, I have found that cancer often sparks major life and relationship changes that can be both terrifying and rejuvenating.
How do you help clients to tackle those challenges?
A major part of my work is helping clients understand what they can do to improve their health and support their body’s innate healing mechanisms. I often point them in the direction of the radicalremission.com website to find inspiration.
My practice focuses on personalised nutrition, directly addressing the Why me? question by identifying environmental factors and individual biochemical and genetic ‘glitches’ that can be modified with nutrition and lifestyle changes. Adding coaching skills to my practice was an important part of offering an holistic service to help with the broader aspects of recovery, including relationship and career issues.
If you could give one piece of advice to everyone reading this interview, what would it be?
No one cares about your health as much as you do: trust your instincts, take charge of your recovery, identify your individual risk factors, and take time out to build a daily life that aligns with who you are, focuses on what you love, and respects your physiological and psychological limits.
What is your favourite meal?
It changes all the time! Currently it’s my latest recipe from my recipe blog, dinnerwithdawn.com: fish, fennel, olive and orange stew – but I think a really good organic roast chicken with a huge green salad takes a lot of beating!
What does your typical day look like?
I’ve yet to find out! There really isn’t one and I’m not a creature of habit.
How do you manage your work:life balance?
Good question! It’s a constant struggle because I’m a woman on a mission so my in tray is never empty. To be honest, I think poor work:life balance was a major factor in my diagnosis of cancer twenty years ago. It wasn’t so much that I used to work hard, but that I didn’t really enjoy my work. These days I work almost as hard, but the sense of reward and satisfaction is huge: even if I won the lottery I’d still run my clinic. That said, we all need lots of R&R and, after breast cancer, I became acutely aware of the joy of spending time with my husband and daughter, and creating rewarding and supportive relationships in my life.
Is there anything else that you think might be interesting for people to know about you or for anyone considering working with you?
Tailoring your diet and lifestyle to support your long-term health and happiness is best approached as a collaborative adventure between client and therapist, rather than a one-sided offer of advice. I encourage clients to opt for a support plan rather than a one-off appointment. It works well, and takes the sense of urgency out of things at a time when stress levels can be disruptive, allowing breathing space to try new things and build new habits.
Dawn Waldron, visit dawnwaldron.com