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Case Studies // Overcoming Enormous Adversity ...

Overcoming Enormous Adversity Changed My Life Forever

This story is about…

Female entrepreneur: Tracey Barraclough

Location: UK

Industry: Inspirational Speaker & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business…

Overcoming enormous adversity changed my life forever and for the better…..!

I am an Inspirational Speaker, Single Mum, Athlete and Clinical Hypnotherapist all summed up in my Branding “The Tracey Barraclough Experience – How to be Fabulous”!

To be “fabulous” lies within us all and is as individual and unique as you are. My “fabulous” is being fearless and determined, facing problems head-on, and taking control of change rather than letting change control me.

When my Mum was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer at the extremely young age of 51 and told she only had 6 months to live, alarm bells began ringing very loudly. You see, her Mum before her – my beloved Nana – and her Mum too – my great grandma – had both died from ovarian cancer and both at the age of 52. My Mum actually went on to live another 7 years which summed her up. The sheer determination, bloody-mindedness and positivity I’ve never seen the likes of but that’s another story!!

It was by now very obvious that there was a strong family history and indeed Geneticists at St James’ Hospital in Leeds who we were fortunate enough to get an appointment with, confirmed that this was very likely. It was heartbreaking when 10 months after my Mum died I received a letter from the hospital saying how sorry they were my poor Mum had indeed tested positive for a faulty gene known as BRCA1. I felt so sorry for her and on top of still grieving for her I found it really difficult to get my head around the fact that she had been born with her fate already mapped out… The letter also went on to say that in 6 months time if I wanted I could also now be tested. Too right I wanted to be tested I wanted to know what I was up against thank you very much!

Sadly, when I went to get the test results I had also tested positive. So what did this all mean? It meant that I had up to an 85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to a 60% risk of developing ovarian cancer! I was totally devastated.

So here I was beginning a fight for my own life and yet I was perfectly fit and healthy! And then began the loneliest journey I had ever made….you see I had a choice which was far more than any of my family had….I could elect for radical surgery and have a prophylactic (preventative) oophorectomy, hysterectomy and bi-lateral mastectomy. Making this choice was agonising and totally incomprehensible but I then realised just how much I wanted to LIVE! I had a 3 year-old son Josh and I wanted to live for my little boy, I didn’t want MY little boy growing up without a Mum and nor did I want my little boy to see his Mum suffer the way I saw my Mum suffer and so – and there is no nice way of putting this – I chose to have perfectly healthy parts of my body amputated. The very parts that define me as a woman. There was NOTHING whatsoever wrong with those parts of my body. That was the bizarre thing.

After the surgery I felt so relieved and free as if a big black cloud of death and doom had been lifted from me. I felt totally liberated and once I’d come to terms with everything physically and emotionally I also realised that there was far more to being a woman than a pair of boobs!

All this changed the way I lived my life and although I was fit and healthy and went to the gym I decided that I wanted to be even fitter and I started running as well. I also worked out a way of raising funds for Cancer Research UK which meant I was getting fitter and putting something back too – bonus. I did their Race for Life Series and loved it! The following year my ‘story’ had hit the media and so Cancer Research made me their Ambassador for 2002 and in 2003 I also had the privilege of starting one of their races with my inspiration that was Jane Tomlinson. She even mentioned me in her first book ‘The Luxury of Time’.

Following this I then undertook numerous 10k races, 7 half marathons and in 2008 I did the big one the London Marathon at the age of 48.

After the London marathon I started wondering ‘now what’? I like a challenge, it keeps me focused and I only ever see myself as improving no matter what my age – in fact I think that’s totally irrelevant!

I then had a ‘light bulb’ moment and decided to enter a body-building competition. Some of my friends thought I was mad and asked me why on earth I wanted to do a body building competition but most people who know me said to go for it! I knew exactly why. I wanted to show that age and a double mastectomy was no match for true Yorkshire grit let me tell you! Once I’d made the decision I was also very excited that the BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ programme had approached me and said that they wanted to follow my body building journey. The pressure of dieting and pushing my body to the absolute max with very few carbs was unbelievable and even included weighing lettuce – in fact I once binged on it and confess to shoving it in my mouth like there was no tomorrow because it tasted truly delicious!

So on 31 October 2009 at almost 50 and weighing 7st 6lbs with 6% body fat, I entered my first body building competition and although I didn’t get placed – I was marked down for being ‘over lean’ and ‘cut’ – I couldn’t have cared less it was another massive achievement for me and just shows what is possible when you have the determination, desire, dedication and commitment.

I am now an Inspirational Speaker and a Clinical Hypnotherapist and most importantly I have seen my son Josh grow up to be a fine healthy young man – he’s 17 and I’ve been a single Mum to him since he was 6.

What was your main motivation behind starting your business?

My Dad was an entrepreneur in the real sense of the word and he was also a male chauvinist who encouraged my two brothers to be part of the business whilst I got a little pat on the head and was encouraged to get a job in an office. However when he began a massive new project developing land that he owned which included a 9-hole golf course – he asked me to join him and my brother and become a Co-Director. I accepted straight away but my brother didn’t want me in the business and said so to my face from day 1 and then my Dad became ill and subsequently died. Then we were on the verge of bankruptcy although we managed to sell in the nick of time! It was then I saw an advert to train as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and as I’d benefited from it myself I thought that’s ‘it’! When I qualified I was in no doubt whatsoever in my mind that I would turn it in to a business. Being a Co-Director had made me realise what I’d known all along – there was SO MUCH MORE to me than working in an office! My speaking business found me I didn’t find it although when I realised that this was what I wanted to do I never realised how driven I was!

What’s a day in the life of you like?

Absolutely mad! I’m a single Mum and like lots of women nowadays juggling far too many balls and also because there are 3 facets to my business, the Speaking, Private Hypnotherapy Clients and plus I lecture in Hypnotherapy too. Also I train at least 4 times a week and so I’m constantly changing hats and heads AND I’m writing a book at the moment too! I also regularly feature on BBC Radio Leeds as part of a newspaper review panel. Phew!

What challenges have you faced?

Where do I start! There have been many challenges on the way too numerous to mention and of course some of my main challenges have brought me to where I am now as a speaker. The biggest challenges have been building up my speaking business whilst bringing up my son and running a home, training, Hypnotherapy clients and lecturing. I’m not afraid to say that one of THE biggest challenges has been the financial aspect. I’ve not found the speaking world the easiest place to be either because it’s a very male dominated arena and as much as I love the men there are a lot of egos in the business!

How have you overcome the challenges?

Simply by digging deep and staying positive – I’m not my mother’s daughter for nothing and keeping going no matter what! Exercise has helped massively and keeps me sane(ish!). Also I’ve become very adept at prioritising. Juggling so many balls has meant that some areas of my life have had to be organised with military precision!

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Apart from my son Josh there have been many achievements so it’s almost impossible to name just one. If I had to narrow it down I’d probably say my achievements of the last 3 years: Becoming an Inspirational Speaker, and a regular on BBC Radio Leeds all done through my own marketing and PR and incessant networking including the social media sites.

How do you balance work with relaxation?

Never easy especially as my mind is on the go all the time but I make sure that relaxation is as high on my list as anything else. I regularly use self hypnosis which is a great stress management tool. It’s imperative to relax and I never make a major decision after 7pm – the term ‘sleep on it’ is there for a reason and sometimes, no matter how much there is to do, I will have a power nap which works wonders for the mind and body!

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I turn to my friends and in particular the ones who totally back me and believe in me. I also focus on the feedback I get from others after I have done talks and I remind myself how far I’ve come and how much I’ve achieved so far. I am clear about my goals and visualise them all the time. I also remind myself of what I’ve overcome already and that I can definitely handle whatever may come my way!

Who inspires you?

My son. He is my complete and utter inspiration and my rock.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Be prepared to take a risk. You have to have ‘balls’ to be in business but know the difference between taking a risk and being reckless. NEVER give up. Invest in YOURSELF as much as you do your business. Be clear about, write down, and visualise goals but understand that more than one road leads to Rome. It’s important to know and believe that anything is possible and even through the hardest times there is always hope. Oh and a firm handshake please!

What’s your favourite quote?

“There’s a way round everything” – Malcolm Barraclough (my Dad)

Do you have a business philosophy?

Be authentic and be true to yourself, trust your instincts and I definitely believe in paying things forward if we can help each other out along the way then that’s what it’s all about. I don’t buy in to the belief that you have to be hard-nosed and ruthless in business to succeed, it is warmth that people remember and connect with and you can still be strong and do good business by keeping it real, saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

What’s your goal for the next year?

My goal for the next year is to finish my book and me being me my head is already on the 2nd and 3rd before I’ve finished the 1st! Also I’m looking for an Agent as I need help with taking my speaking business to the next level.


Website: www.traceybarraclough.org.uk

Twitter: iamicaniwill

 

 

 

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