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June 9, 2021 | Loreta Grytiene

Cancer hasn’t stopped me

Our latest blog is from Loreta Grytiene. A keen businesswoman running a highly regarded business, life decided to make her stop and think. We know her story will make you stop and think too.

My story I hope will inspire others where England is not their country of birth, who want to become businesswomen but then life throws something at you and you learn to adjust and recover.  Some 25 years ago I was diagnosed with a lifelong illness, Rheumatoid Arthritis. In my country of birth (Lithuania) although medicines are not always up to date like the rest of Europe, aftercare is probably more important in recovery and healing.  Health Spas and regular massage are a key part of this service.

Having learned the benefits of this for myself and for many, many other conditions I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Therapy, helping others and most of all helping people feel good about themselves.  So, in the UK I became a strictly professional, fully qualified massage therapist.  I worked in a health centre which catered for high profile people and celebrities and appeared on a TV programme!  But I wanted to do more and so decided to set up a business for myself in Eastbourne using purely natural remedies used the world over for centuries with a range of quality beautiful lotions and oils.  I got business advice, joined the Chamber of Commerce and things were starting to grow.  It was hard work but I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to giving it my full time, having resigned from the centre.

Then the universe decided to play a trick on me and I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 3C.  I had to put my business on hold, a wonderful supportive partner ran a crowdfunding campaign so that we could continue paying the rent for three months whilst I had treatment.  It was a bitter blow but I’m someone who always looks for the positive and decided I need something to keep my mind occupied.

Having enjoyed drawing as a child I decided to create a book of drawings and story for my Grandson.

That was it! I was hooked and distracted from my condition.   I have always loved nature and decided to go wherever my art took me.   Being a lover of flowers I started simple with roses and flowers and then expanded to wherever my mind took me.  I often asked friends and family what they liked and experimented with paintings based on their favourite flower or scene.   I painted card, canvasses and most materials.   I would do abstract art too and people started to buy my paintings.

I discovered a new part of me and something that not only would help me as a therapy, but also could generate a small income so I could still feel independent and have something to look forward to.  When I was feeling at my lowest during the treatment I would think about my art and that would make me feel better.

I love learning and am now experimenting with flowing acrylics on furniture; coffee tables mostly, tiles and place mats and it makes me so happy when people praise what I do.  My cancer treatment continues and my therapy business is still on hold – I still want to return to that – but the art is helping me stay positive and who knows, it might take me even further – I could one day have my work shown at an exhibition!

I have given donations to the Sarah Lee Trust, to cancer organisations and Friends of Eastbourne Hospital and although I’m starting my second round of chemotherapy, I also have a life outside of my illness.  I do yoga, love gardening and swimming, seeing friends and, when covid allows, travel and visit the cinema and theatres.  I know that there are wonderful people out there, business people who could have been seen as competitors but in my hour of need have stepped up and helped me.  Perhaps that’s the greatest lesson to take, that when given the chance to help, people will.  Be generous in your dealings with people and you will get that back a thousand fold.

It’s time to let others be part of my journey and wherever that takes me next…….

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