graph_009_fikapodcastIn this episode we’re talking with Linda Makarov who experienced two life changing health issues at the age of 35 (stroke and cancer) – the same age her own mother had terminal brain cancer. We are sharing her happy outcome today.

Topics

  1. We might need tissues [00:41]
  2. How Linda ended up in the U.S. [01:46]
  3. Take us back to age 12 [05:14]
  4. Healthy + Active = stroke. Say what? [11:16]
  5. Signs of a stroke [21:27]
  6. Life ends between 35 and 40, right? [24:22]
  7. Seeing life through your mother’s eyes [37:39]
  8. Changing my story [45:16]

Links and Show Notes:

  • FAST is an acronym used as a mnemonic to help detect and enhance responsiveness to stroke victim needs. The acronym stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time.
  • Upcoming events for Studio Eriksdotter
  • Submit questions here or use #FIKApodcast on social media.


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FIKA PODCAST EPISODE 009: Facing Health Crises as a Young Mother

Erica Eriksdotter: Hi lovelies!  It’s time for FIKA!  The Swedish word that means bonding and connecting with friends over coffee or tea. This is the place to be for real talks and discussions about everything from healing, fine arts, motherhood and entrepreneurship to health and fitness. The focus is connecting the dots through consciousness and elevating how consciousness is directed through each guest’s career and life path. My name is Erica Eriksdotter, fine arts painter and owner of Studio Eriksdotter.  I’m a certified Intra-Dimensional Healer and PR and Social Media Strategist. I’m a modern woman, connected to Self who brings meaning to life through an earth centered truth.

[00:00:41] We might need tissues

Erica Eriksdotter: So, today we are having fika with Linda Makarov, a fellow Swede here in the Washington, DC area. We’re actually going to go a little heavy today.  Linda lost her mother to cancer at the age of 14 and then experienced the same disease herself at the age of only 36. Not only that, seemingly healthy, she had a stroke at 35 during one of our normal morning runs and then quick acts of her friends saved her life. So, let’s just dive in.  We’re hoping we won’t going to need any tissues today, but we probably will.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] We might.

Erica Eriksdotter: We might. So, I hope you guys hang in there with us. First off, Linda and I, we’ve been friends for several years.  She, as I said, is a fellow Swede, so we have been speaking Swedish to prepare for the podcast.  So, now we have to switch our brains to English.

Linda Makarov: Very Strange.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: We’re hoping that we’ll not confuse anyone.  But, that might be if we’re hung up on a word or something that might be why.  So, real quick, how did you end up in the U.S.?

[00:01:46] How Linda ended up in the U.S.

Linda Makarov: In 2002, all my friends, they did things, they traveled, they worked on a cruise ship for a year, they went on language trips and I did nothing. I had my full-time job, I had a boyfriend, we had the brand new car and talked kids and I was 24.  I was like, No, no, no.  I’m not 40, I’m 24! This is not right.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Linda Makarov: So, I told him, sorry we got to break up.  We got rid of the apartment.  I moved into my sister…

Erica Eriksdotter: Poor Guy.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] I just applied as an au pair.  You had to be less than 26, so I had two more years.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, okay.

Linda Makarov: So, I applied and I got in.  I quit my job.  Well, I took a year off.  I was supposed to go back. I just left.

Erica Eriksdotter: You just left and stayed in the US?

Linda Makarov: Yeah, I did.

Erica Eriksdotter: Where in the US were you an au pair? Here in the DC area?

Linda Makarov: In Great Falls.

Erica Eriksdotter: In Great Falls, here in Virginia.  Okay, cool.

Linda Makarov: So, I got here in 2002 in June.  I was supposed to be here for a year as an au pair. And after, I think it was in December, I met Paul.

Erica Eriksdotter: Your now husband?

Linda Makarov: Yes.  We were just hanging out.  I knew I was going home, but then I lost my job. Because, they called and said, ‘Linda, you don’t have job anymore because we’re out of business.’

Erica Eriksdotter: You mean…

Linda Makarov: In Sweden.

Erica Eriksdotter: In Sweden.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, they called and said you have nothing to come back to.  I was like, Oh?

Erica Eriksdotter: They held your job in Sweden?

Linda Makarov: Yeah for a year. In Sweden, your allowed to hold, you can leave for a year.

Erica Eriksdotter: What! Okay!

Linda Makarov: UM…

Erica Eriksdotter: Things I don’t know since I left earlier.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] Yes, so I panicked a little bit but Paul just said, ‘You know what? You never went to college in Sweden.  So, why don’t you come over here, stay with me and my grandma and my daughter and go to college?’

Erica Eriksdotter: Huh….

Linda Makarov: So, I just went home and applied for my visa and came back and since then I have been here. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: And, now you have two kids of your own together with Paul.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, you are, so it’s Mila and

Linda Makarov: Luke

Erica Eriksdotter: Luke.  I don’t know why I was blanking on his name.

Linda Makarov: That’s alright.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, they are?

Linda Makarov: Luke is almost and Mila almost 6.  We lived in a tiny apartment for a while, but now we finally have the big you know, family house.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, yeah.

Linda Makarov: Can enjoy just being regular family.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: It’s quite nice.

Erica Eriksdotter: Before you came over here, you were having a contractor chop down some trees.

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: You graduated from George Mason University?

Linda Makarov: Yes.  I studied, I have a Bachelor in Fine Arts. While I was a student, I got a job as a freelancer with National Geographic to design books and that is what I have done ever since, so for about 8 years.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, Linda, let’s dive in. That’s the happy part, right? [laughing]

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: That’s as happy we’re going to get today.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, we have some great information and I think it’s informative and I’m so grateful that you’re willing to share your story.

Linda Makarov: Sure.

Erica Eriksdotter: Because, it’s a very private story and a brave story.  Full of like a roller coaster ride.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

[00:05:14] Take us back to age 12

Erica Eriksdotter: So, it starts with, let’s start off with you being 12 and you finding out that your mom has brain cancer.

Linda Makarov: Yes, well, she was sick for a while before we knew what it was.  She had terrible headaches.  Her arms would go numb.  She would throw up.  The doctor just said, ‘No, it’s just migraines.  You know, it happens.  Take these pills, go home and relax.’ That went on for a while.  But, then she went to the bank one day and she couldn’t remember her own name, so they understood that something more is going on. So, her best friend, our neighbor, took her to the hospital because she worked there.  She said, ‘We’re not leaving until you do all the cat-scans and everything you can do to figure what is wrong.’

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: And, that’s when they find out that she had a brain tumor.  They said, ‘Ohh, maybe in two or three weeks you would have been dead if you didn’t come in.’

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh my god.

Linda Makarov: So, it was just surgery right away.  Everything, I don’t remember a lot, I think I kind of…

Erica Eriksdotter: Blocked it out?

Linda Makarov: Blocked it out.

Erica Eriksdotter: I mean, you can only take in so much.  You probably weren’t privy to all the information either…

Linda Makarov: Oh no, no, no

Erica Eriksdotter: Because you were so young…

Linda Makarov: Many times, I wanted to ask my Dad, ‘What do I not know?’.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: But, I still haven’t asked because maybe I don’t want to know. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah..

Linda Makarov: But, I remember you know those coming into the hospital and seeing her face after surgery.  Just, even fun moments, we would sit.  After she came home, she would sit at the table and she still had issues finding words and we would have fun with it.  She would play along to make it, I guess, make it easier for me and my sister.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah. And your sister is how old?

Linda Makarov: She’s 3 years older than I am.  So, we would, I think we did something with our hair and we would ask, you know, ‘What is this?’, and it would hold up a hairbrush.  And, she would think and think and she would say the wrong word and we would laugh, ‘No, this is a hairbrush!!’

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Linda Makarov: Which, I think made it easier…

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah…

Linda Makarov: That she allowed herself to do that with us.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah…

Linda Makarov: She was feeling okay for about 2 years.

Erica Eriksdotter: And then?

Linda Makarov: After that. And then it just came back.

Erica Eriksdotter: And then she passed away at the age of 14.

Linda Makarov: [quietly sobbing]

Erica Eriksdotter: So, we’re going to take a little bit of a break.

Erica Eriksdotter: We’re back.  Your mother has just passed away and you’re 14.

Linda Makarov: Yes, and she was 39.

Erica Eriksdotter: She was 39 and I don’t want to necessarily go into deep about that, because clearly that’s very emotional part.  But, I am interested in learning how at the age of 14 you were going to school and how in the Swedish culture and how you were supported or not supported by other kids. What, maybe some tips of how other people can learn from this if they have a friend who loses a parent.

Linda Makarov: Umm, I think I was a little bit shocked.  Because, people would pretend that I wasn’t there.  That nothing had happened.  If we leave her alone, then, we don’t have to bring up anything sad. She doesn’t have to, you know, sit and cry in school.  Umm, so they mostly left me alone.  Which was not a good thing for me because I needed to talk about it.  I needed to share my experience.  I needed to get it out of my system instead of just keeping it to myself.  Of course, I spoke to my sister and dad a lot, but they knew it all.  It was nothing new to them.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: They had the same experience, they would have to talk to someone else.  So, that was a big issue.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, your friends no only left you alone but they also didn’t talk, it’s like this never happened.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Even the teachers?

Linda Makarov: The first few days, the teachers were better but I think they just wanted to kept on going with class, this should not interrupt. I did go to the counselor in school.  So, they did help. But, you know, you are there for an hour now and then.  It’s not, you know, you don’t have your 5 best friends around you all the time just saying, how are you doing today?  You know, can I do anything?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Should we do anything just to celebrate?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: You know, life.  Do you just want to talk?  Even if they didn’t have any answers, just allowing someone to talk.

Erica Eriksdotter: Did anyone say, I’m sorry?

Linda Makarov: I think they did.  2 or 3 three days and then it was kind of over.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, of course it’s very hard as a 14-year-old to kind of learn how to support your friend.

Linda Makarov: I know it’s hard.  It’s very hard.

Erica Eriksdotter: We have no tools.

Linda Makarov: Maybe I would have done the same thing.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: But, yeah to my experience, if someone goes through something, talk to them.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: They’re not going to hate you.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Because you say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?  Do you need me?  Even if I can just sit there and listen to you and hug you?’

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: I think that’s the most important thing that someone who lost someone even if its just a dog or a cat, you know, you still mourn…

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah and of course you want to be seen and heard and validated.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, don’t ignore people that need support.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.  As a parent of a teenager or a child, who has a friend who has lost, that would be the advice you would give to that parent to tell their child to ask them.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: How they’re doing?

Linda Makarov: Definitely.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

[00:11:16] Healthy + Active = stroke. Say what?

Erica Eriksdotter: So, we’re fast forwarding a little bit to 2014 when you are seemingly very healthy.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: You were very active.

Linda Makarov: Yes, I was happy!

Erica Eriksdotter: You were happy.

Linda Makarov: I had my two kids. We had lived in the house for a year.

Erica Eriksdotter: Everything was just going your way.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, then you were out running and I think it’s winter time, right?

Linda Makarov: It’s March.

Erica Eriksdotter: It’s March.

Linda Makarov: Beginning of March.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, I had…

Linda Makarov: It was a nice March day; you know like we can have kind of a warm March.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you, me, our friend Sandra, who’s also Swedish and now lives in Sweden and Erica her neighbor.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter:  we had started running.  I think this is where I’m running with you…

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter:  And then I had dropped off..

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Because it became too much.  After like 7 miles, I was like F-this, I can’t handle it.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, you’re out running, it’s an early morning.

Linda Makarov: Yes. We left as a group.  They had been running longer than I had so I think they aimed for maybe eight miles. And, I think maybe I was up to six or seven.  We were just running on the trail.  We would just run there and back.  So, I said when I had, I think when they had, no half a mile left, then I turned around so they would keep going for another half a mile and kind of catch up with me because I was slower.

Erica Eriksdotter: This is an English mile.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, I can’t translate that into kilometers.

Linda Makarov: Well, about close to 7 miles is 10K.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Linda Makarov: Not really, but it’s close.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Linda Makarov: So, I turned around, so I was by myself and all of a sudden I had this, I don’t know, I got all this energy, I felt happy.  It was warm

Erica Eriksdotter: You’re like, I finally hit the runner’s high!!

Linda Makarov: Yeah! I have this adrenaline which I found afterwards came from the something was about to happen in my body.

Erica Eriksdotter: Ohh.

Linda Makarov: Because, I was like, man, I should have continued to go with them.  Because, this rocks! This is awesome and then all of a sudden I couldn’t stay on the road.  I just ran off to the side.

Erica Eriksdotter: All tiny little trails.

Linda Makarov: It’s just like a bike path in the middle of the woods through some little towns.  So, I was in between towns where there were just trees.  I ended up in the ditch.  I didn’t fall, but I just kind of stopped and thought goodness, what happened?  And, then I went back up and then back down in the ditch.  I was like, man, this is weird.

Erica Eriksdotter: It was like you were drunk?

Linda Makarov: You can’t really walk straight.  I kept trying over and over.  This is embarrassing.  There were a lot of people just walking back and forth.

Erica Eriksdotter: Because it is a busy trail…

Linda Makarov: Yeah…

Erica Eriksdotter: Even though it’s a..

Linda Makarov: It was an early Saturday or Sunday morning so people were just looking at me like what is she doing?  [laughing] She’s a little weird.

Erica Eriksdotter: Is she just coming home from last night?

Linda Makarov: [laughing] But, there were two very nice people that they passed me and then they turned around.  They came up to me and said, ‘Are you okay?’  And, I was like, ‘You know what?  I’m not sure.’ Something is really weird because I can’t walk straight.  But, I thought I was just tired. You know, it could have been something simple.  Anyways, so they took me to the side and we sat down.  I started to shake my head because I couldn’t see straight and by that time my friends were on their way back and they saw me.  Hey, Linda! Did you stop already?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah…

Linda Makarov: And, then they looked at me…

Erica Eriksdotter: Why are you talking to these people?

Linda Makarov: [laughing] Yeah! Sandra looked at me again and said, ‘Linda are you okay?’  I, um, no. No, but I’ll be fine, it’s fine.  I just need to sit here.  It’s fine.

Erica Eriksdotter: Are you speaking English or Swedish at this point?

Linda Makarov: English, I think because there were more people. So, I think I just kept speaking English.  But, I felt normal in my head.  I didn’t feel that something was happening.  It was just, I didn’t control my body.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh.

Linda Makarov: And, when you’re 35, you’re not supposed to have a stroke.  So, you never think about something like that could be wrong.  But, I think she could see on me that this is not, you know…

Erica Eriksdotter: And Sondra has known you also for many years…

Linda Makarov: For many years…yeah. So, thanks to her and the other guys, one of them called 911 and then they had to carry me to the ambulance because I couldn’t walk.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, wow, it had already gotten that bad?

Linda Makarov: Yeah. One of them, I think it was Erica, took my cell phone and called Paul right away and said, Linda’s not doing great.  We’re going to take her to the hospital.

Erica Eriksdotter: Luckily, Reston Hospital is 5 minutes away…

Linda Makarov: Was 5 minutes away..yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: They’re very quick in responding.

Linda Makarov: But, EMT when they met me too was like you just didn’t drink enough. You didn’t eat enough.  I was like, I know what I had.

Erica Eriksdotter: It’s early morning, you’re pushing your limits, you’re out for a seven mile run.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] I did eat, I did drink.

Erica Eriksdotter: It’s cold…

Linda Makarov: This is not how you feel.  But, I was just kind of, just lay down.  I’m just going to breathe.  I’m just going to breathe.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah. And EMT is…

Linda Makarov: EMT is the Emergency Medical, yeah. So, when we got to the hospital, Paul met us there.  He just drove straight there and met us.  It was not until I was in the hospital that I was losing control, you know, that I was paralyzed on one side of the body and that’s when they realized, Goodness, this is a stroke! You’re 35!

Erica Eriksdotter: And, that took a while for them…

Linda Makarov: It took a while…

Erica Eriksdotter: Even in the hospital you and you mentioned earlier before recording that this might be different for everyone.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, for you, it was 45 minutes before your facial features started slumping on one side.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.  I don’t think it was a lot, but I think that they noticed it doesn’t look right.

Erica Eriksdotter: Something is off.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Before that….

Linda Makarov: Then, I couldn’t move my right arm and leg properly.

Erica Eriksdotter: And before that, had you moved into just speaking Swedish at that point? Or, were you still going back and forth bilingual?

Linda Makarov: Before that, I’m not sure.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Linda Makarov: I don’t know if I really asked that.  I know my husband has told me that when it was really setting in, I would say these weird gibberish in Swedish about buying a car for Sondra’s daughter who’s 5.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh!

Linda Makarov: And, in my brain, I said something else.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh! So you were.

Linda Makarov: So, I would say something but would come out differently.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, basically you’re thinking you’re saying help me, I can’t feel my arm…

Linda Makarov: Yeah

Erica Eriksdotter: In fact, Paul is hearing something totally different.  He is hearing we need to buy a 5-year-old a brand new car.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] Yeah!

Erica Eriksdotter: That is absolutely fascinating.

Linda Makarov: He said after that, it was more like gibberish in Swedish.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.  Because he’s of course aware of Swedish.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: He doesn’t speak it but he understands a little bit.

Linda Makarov: Yeah and I’ve been reading that when you suffer something you go back to your first language. So, that’s probably just what my body did.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.  Your native language.  I think you do that when you’re older…

Linda Makarov: Yeah…

Erica Eriksdotter: Going to amnesia when your older as well.

Linda Makarov: Yeah…

Erica Eriksdotter: really old age.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, okay, so you get, they see it because of the responses from your friends, your quick acts of Sondra and Erica and the kind of women who stopped at the trail.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: You get to the hospital really quickly, like really quickly.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, even then, hmmm, you probably didn’t drink to much, blah, blah, blah.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, they do a hundred tests.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, then they see the face and the arm…

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, they are making the connection.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: Because you’re in so early.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, then they start acting on it.

Linda Makarov: Yes.  You have three hours pretty much from when the stroke sets in until you can take the medicine so that it will help.  That you won’t have complications in the future.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, your stroke happened right before, right after you had that adrenaline kick?

Linda Makarov: Yes. I don’t know if the three hours is before you start feeling something or when you’re having the really bad complications like being paralyzed.  I don’t know exactly what time frame it is.  Because some people can feel dizzy one day and the next day they are okay.  It can be a longer process.  So, I don’t know exactly when it is. Maybe it is when the stroke really sets in that you have three hours to get the medicine.  But, here’s the tricky part.  You have to order the medicine; hospitals just don’t have it.  Then they have to mix it.

Erica Eriksdotter: OHHHHHH.  At least here in the US.

Linda Makarov: Yes, here. So, I had to sign a paper that yes, you can give me this medicine and then they would go get the parts and mix it and give it to me.  So, you still have to have a little bit of time left to do all those things…

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, wow.

Linda Makarov: So, they gave me a piece of paper and said sign here.  I just looked at them, hmm, I can’t move my arm. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Linda Makarov: But, then I was stubborn. I said uh huh.  Because I couldn’t move my left arm, so I just kind of, no, stop, stop, I’m going to sign this.  So, I just sat there and stared at this pen and on my hand and it wouldn’t move.

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing]

Linda Makarov: It was, I did it.  It was probably just like a little squiggle, but I was like, NO! I’m going to do it myself.  I am here and in my head I am so clear.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: So, it would be so weird that someone would sign something, I am right here.

Erica Eriksdotter: I’m right here.  I’m like normal…

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: I just happen to not be able to move my arm. Okay. So, your friends running with you could tell because they’ve known you for a long time.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

[00:21:27] Signs of a stroke

Erica Eriksdotter: What are the signs that other people should look for or if you are not exhibiting those signs that you were, so, you know, walking into the ditch and you’re like, wait a minute, I’m trying to walk straight here. So, they recognize those things that that’s not normal for you.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, what can I look out for if I’m surrounded by people and somebody is having a first signs of stroke?

Linda Makarov: You should think about the word fast.  FAST.  You don’t know yourself, so someone else needs to do this for you.

Erica Eriksdotter: Needs to see the signs.

Linda Makarov: Yes. So, the first one is F, the face.  So, ask the person to smile. See if both sides look the same when they’re trying to smile or if one side goes up and the other one is not really going up.  The other one is arm for A.  Ask them to raise both arms and see if they will stay up or if one will slowly go down or maybe one doesn’t even go up at all with the other one.  One is off a little bit. S is for speech.  So ask them to say a normal sentence and see if they have issues putting the words together.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.  So, you’re not feeding them the sentence.  They have to tell you the sentence.

Linda Makarov: You can probably do either or.  Just say, I’m hungry or I have to go to the bathroom.  Just something really simple and see if they can handle something simple.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, hmm.

Linda Makarov: I guess if they can handle something simple, say something longer and see if they can do that.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: And then T is for Time.

Erica Eriksdotter: The three-hour window.

Linda Makarov: You have the three-hour window to get that medicine.  You will survive.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Maybe [laughing] even if you don’t get the medicine.  But, you might also be paralyzed.  I have a friend whose dad was paralyzed for many, many years and just sat there.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: So, I’m lucky.  I have no complications. There is nothing wrong because everything went so quickly.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah. It was so shocking for us, you know, your friends because it’s like, it was so out of nowhere.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Which of course, strokes are!

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: But, wait I didn’t think that you could get a stroke at age 35?

Linda Makarov: I think three-quarters of everyone who gets a stroke is over 65.

Erica Eriksdotter: Three-quarters?

Linda Makarov: So, that’s kind of 30 years more than I was.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah. Of course that’s significant but I am so glad that you don’t have any complications.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, me too.

[00:24:22]   Life ends between 35 and 40, right?

Erica Eriksdotter: Which it’s not like you had an easy ride after that.

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: At, No wait, 2 years later.

Linda Makarov:  No.

Erica Eriksdotter: One year later.

Linda Makarov: Not even a year later. [laughing] This happened in March so in November did my normal pap smear.

Erica Eriksdotter: 2014. At the gynecologist.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm. Which was just abnormal at first. But, then they called and said that I had to come back in to talk to them.  And, I know, if something is normal they call and say hey your test results are normal.  So, when they say you have to come in, you know this is not normal.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, let’s actually back up before we dive in…

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: Straight ahead.  From the age of 14 to age 35…

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: Had you dreaded that age 39 or 37 to 39 because that was when your mom was sick?  She had brain cancer.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, were you, even with the stroke, were you before that were you dreading it or like was this…

Linda Makarov: I’ve always been afraid of being between 35 and 40.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Linda Makarov: Because, that’s when you die.  [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: That’s when you’re really sick and die. It was actually, if we go back to the stroke when I was by myself on the way in to get my CAT scan & MRI’s and everything, I remember, okay, I have a brain tumor. But, I was at peace with that.  It’s so weird. So, maybe, when we’re so sick, we would go into that state, you know? It’s okay. I had a good life. You know. The kids are fine. They’re not hurt. [crying] [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: We’re going to take a break.  [crying] [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: We’re back.  I apologize.  I had a little bit of a break down there watching my friend being at peace.

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: At dying. So, yes, I interrupted you.  You were at peace, which was wonderful. Because you had already…

Linda Makarov: I was scared of death.

Erica Eriksdotter:  You’re scared of death and you just knew that between 35 and 40 you die.

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: That was your experience.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: And you were of course identifying with your mother.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: This is just something that you expected would happen.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: So then, as clockwork, on clockwork, your like, ‘Oh, I’m 35 and here I am, you thought you had brain cancer’. In fact, you didn’t have brain cancer.

Linda Makarov: I just had stroke.  [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: [laughing] You only, only thank god, had a major stroke.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Which you had come out of 100 percent recovery.

Linda Makarov: Yep.

Erica Eriksdotter: So, but, you had, so that was yeah, so then you had the pap smear…

Linda Makarov: Yes, so that was in November.

Erica Eriksdotter: Here we go again, six months later. And your like, well let’s just test my manifestation skills.

Linda Makarov:  Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Because I had manifested I was going to die between 35 and 40 so here we go again.

Linda Makarov: My head was with me this time. It was way more emotional and I just broke down right away. They said you can come in in 4 hours. 4 HOURS! [laughing] I’m going to sit her and wait for four hours. But, I went in and yes, I had a small tumor on my cervix. So, they didn’t do much then, they just said, ‘I’m going to call the oncologist and you’re just going to go see him.’

Erica Eriksdotter: That’s all?

Linda Makarov: Yeah, because they don’t have all the knowledge and skills about cancer.  So, I just, I think it was the same day or the day after that I just went in to talk to him. I guess since he sees it every day, shake hands and hi, how you doing?  Uh, not that great. [laughing] So, he just gave me the option to cut off some more of…

Erica Eriksdotter: Like a biopsy, you mean?

Linda Makarov: Well, first I did a LEEP procedure where they cut off a piece where they found the tumor and then he said we can cut off more because the piece they cut off didn’t have clear margins which means something could be…

Erica Eriksdotter: Still out there?

Linda Makarov: Still out here on my cervix.  So, he said we can cut off a piece more, that we could still have more kids or we can just do a hysterectomy and get rid of it all just in case something is hiding in there.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, hmm.

Linda Makarov: And, I’d always, not always, I had for a while been thinking about one more child. So, it was not an easy decision then.  And, he didn’t want me to make the decision then.  He said, ‘This is big. So, we have 6 weeks to just, you know, to make your decision and call me.’

Erica Eriksdotter: But, so the alternative was to cut off a little tiny piece, have another baby…

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, then maybe the cancer would have spread.

Linda Makarov: Maybe there would have been something in there.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay.

Linda Makarov: They can’t check your lymph nodes until they do the surgery.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh. okay.

Linda Makarov: I guess they could just go in and check the lymph nodes but I don’t know if they would.  So, I was thinking, ‘Well, I would just cut off another piece.  Decide if I would like to have another baby and then I could the hysterectomy later.’  Because, cervical cancer’s one of the slowest growing cancers.  So, I had time but I didn’t have time. But, when I told people about it, they just, ‘No, Linda. We want you here.  We don’t want to risk your life for someone who is not here.  You have two beautiful kids. Your job now is to care of them.’  I was like, Hmm, your kind of right. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: But, that was why it was so emotional. It wasn’t necessarily, clearly…

Linda Makarov: If I knew that I was totally done, then it would have been an easier decision. Yes, I think that’s where the emotions came in.  Because I love having kids.  I mean it’s really hard but it’s part of you. Something you made.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, hmm.

Linda Makarov: And, I’m still like man, because they find out there was no more cancer in there. It’s like, I should have had it out.  I should have just cut off another piece. [laughing] But, it started a lot of fear you know. Is there, they didn’t find anything in the lymph nodes but my body loves to grow cancer.  Is there cancer somewhere else?

Erica Eriksdotter: Why do you say my body loves growing cancer?

Linda Makarov: Because they have been growing it once. You know?

Erica Eriksdotter: Ahhh.

Linda Makarov: Why wouldn’t it come back somewhere else?

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm.

Linda Makarov: Because maybe my body is a great host.  It’s just those things…

Erica Eriksdotter: Those thoughts.

Linda Makarov: You think about.  You do research and you know, people die of cervical cancer. Just so many things that it spreads. So, it just started this process of how I can prevent having another type of cancer.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm.

Linda Makarov: Nothing do at 50/50 being good at taking care of myself.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, what have you done? So, this whole episode, I’m not trying to minimize it, but this cancer disease that you experienced.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: That was, so you had, you found it and then how long did it take for you take to have the hysterectomy?

Linda Makarov: About 2 months.

Erica Eriksdotter: 2 months. So, 2 months after and then you were, they of course, they check on you but you have been cancer free ever since.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah!

Linda Makarov: A year, in five days.

Erica Eriksdotter: In five days?

Linda Makarov: Yeah. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Congratulations.

Linda Makarov: Thanks.

Erica Eriksdotter: And stroke free as well.

Linda Makarov: Yeah! [laughing]

[00:32:47] Changing with Cancer and Finding a new normal

Erica Eriksdotter: So, how did you change after the cancer?

Linda Makarov: I did too much research.  Because you read a lot of good things but you also read a lot of scary things. So, I think maybe it started more fear than necessary. I also read so many good articles and studies that are not based on people making money off treatments and medicines and chemo, those kind of things.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah. Because in the United States it’s all tied to profit.

Linda Makarov: Yeah. And, so many books where people talk about having cancer and then they start eating a better diet. Cut out sugar and all of a sudden their cancer free. Many studies show that sugar feeds cancer. Cancer cell cannot survive if you don’t eat sugar. So, I cut sugar for a while. I mean, it’s hard for anyone and once I get past that being sad and stuff, I would have sugar but it’s always in the back of my mind how I should not eat sugar. And, right now I don’t eat sugar. I’m sure I’ll go back and eat some sugar and but then take a month or two months…

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, Hmm

Linda Makarov: Every now and then to kind of starve if I have a cancer cell I would starve those cells.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, so you can actually starve a cancer cell by not…clearly we’re not doctor’s, we’re not scientists.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] There are books that I’ve read by normal people that’s been doing this. They have been starving their cancer cells if you can say that.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm.

Linda Makarov: And, if they’ve had you know, a major tumor they made it very much smaller. So maybe they didn’t need so much treatment.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Because I mean if you have something big you have to do something drastic.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, Yeah.

Linda Makarov: You can’t just stop eating sugar.  But, if there’s something minor, I believe, that I just have to take care of my body. Be active and eat real food. No sugars.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, it’s not just limited to sugar. You actually went on a low-carb, high-fat diet for a while. You’re also very in tuned with what you’re eating. So, not just to lose weight and be healthy or active in helping you stay here on earth but actually to specifically for not getting cancer again.

Linda Makarov: Yes, because I feel that I’m in control.  I’m not leaving it up to doctors to fix me once I’m sick.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, hmm.

Linda Makarov: I’m doing what I can to not get sick, as far as I know.  You know, it might not help it all.  But, I believe that it helps.  I believe in taking some supplements that will strengthen your immune system.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: To help you develop something called ‘Killer cells’. Just, I think I’d rather do that than risk it and have to go through chemo or you know stuff like really makes people sick, maybe even sicker.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.  And, I would add to that since Collette Chase has been on the podcast for a few episodes and my other healer, Cherie Young will be featured as well eventually. Cancer is the symptom of an original cause and there are also in addition to treatments of the food and letting go of sugar and getting all the medical care that you need, there’s also energetically you can get, you can help yourself with self-healing by taking care of yourself energetically and psychically as well.

Linda Makarov: Yes, and one of the things I did before my surgery was to go to your friend Cherie for a healing session.

Erica Eriksdotter: You’re right, Yeah, you’re right.

Linda Makarov: To get some answers.  Which is helpful.  You can believe in it or you don’t have to believe in it.  Just sitting there and having someone else have an opinion and just talk to about everything and get your feelings out. Feel your energy.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, and it’s just it’s not her opinion, she’s talking through your guide.  She’s getting what you need to hear is what she will channel for you.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, I cried for two hours but it was awesome. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh trust me, I have been there many times.  Which is why I am now a healer because I am so passionate about it.  So, that is your path, this is a happy path.  Happy Ending. I believe you also mentioned that you stopped running which is really annoying to you but you stopped running on your own.

[00:37:39] Seeing life through your mother’s eyes

Linda Makarov: Yes. I think I stopped running because every time I got into really good shape, something would happen and knock me down. [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: Thought it was a bad omen.

Linda Makarov: I don’t want to start over and just. No, I’ll do something else.  So, this week I start getting very active at the gym and I am going to try to stay very active but I’m not going to go out on the trail [laughing] and scare myself with a stroke or anything.  I’m just going to…

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, and unfortunately we live very close together but I really don’t like running!

Linda Makarov: [laughing]

Erica Eriksdotter: I tried! I tried liking it.  I wanted to like it so badly, but..

Linda Makarov: I liked it when I get into it and could do six, seven miles but up until then, kind of no.

Erica Eriksdotter: Even six, seven miles I hated.  But, yeah. Otherwise I committed now, I’m going to start running with you.

Linda Makarov: No, No.

Erica Eriksdotter: Sorry, it’s not going to happen. So, tying it back together with your mom. So, now you experienced back then in the early ’90s you experience being a child and having a mother with cancer and unfortunately dying of cancer. Now, the other spectrum is that you were an adult, a mother, with cancer with two small children. They were not as old as you were.  They were not teenagers, so you were probably able to shelter them a little bit differently.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: But, how was that experience and what did you share with your children? Very young at the time.

Linda Makarov: I don’t think I shared anything with Luke because he was only 1 when I had the stroke. Then you know for him, I was just in the hospital.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm, hmm.

Linda Makarov: Mila had more questions and she’s been asking about having siblings. But, I didn’t want to say too much, made her scared since she knows that my mom died from cancer.  I didn’t want to say I had cancer and sure, many people survive from my cancer compared to my mother’s kind of cancer. But, I think just the word cancer.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Will make anyone scared.

Erica Eriksdotter: Absolutely.

Linda Makarov: So, I pretty much said that I had a boo-boo on the thing where the baby is growing in your tummy so I just took it out.

Erica Eriksdotter: Ohh, okay.

Linda Makarov: So, that’s why I was in the hospital. Because I just want to feel better. So, that’s all she knows.

Erica Eriksdotter: Wasn’t she a little bit interested in death also?  Like she wouldn’t…

Linda Makarov: She is scared of death and she will cry.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh, okay. So, unconsciously she probably picked up more than what maybe we think that she picked up.

Linda Makarov: Yeah. But, it might also be because I’ve been telling her about my mother and that she died.

Erica Eriksdotter: Hmmm.

Linda Makarov: So, she doesn’t want her mother to die.

Erica Eriksdotter: Mmm,hmm.

Linda Makarov: I think even for myself, wouldn’t say selfish, but when you’re that young you think about yourself. But, now afterwards when I was going through a similar thing, I just think, what did my mother think about.  She wouldn’t say to me, ‘I’m scared’ What can happen to you.  Just the thought of how scared she was or what she was thinking. When she was in the hospital and she couldn’t do much.  Could she think? Because, I only thought about me, you know.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: I went there every day and I held her hand.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Now, because I know how you feel yourself. What did she feel? Was she in peace? You know?

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah, yeah.

Linda Makarov: Another thing that I think is important that I am proud of me and my sister is that you still have one parent. And, that parent [crying] he needs to be allowed to live his life.

Erica Eriksdotter: What do you mean by that?

Linda Makarov: [crying] They have to move on. They have to be allowed to fall in love again.

Erica Eriksdotter: You mean after your mom died?

Linda Makarov: yes. We couldn’t say, you know, mom is dead, you can’t be with anyone.

Erica Eriksdotter: Oh.

Linda Makarov: But, he asked us about maybe a year afterwards, is it okay if I go on this date? And we just said yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: I find that extremely evolved of you and your sister.  My dad went out, died when I was 20 and I think had just turned 21 actually. I mean, I would have liked to tell my mom that she wasn’t allowed to date for a very long time.  She did date, for a little bit.  She has chosen whatever path she wants to choose.

Linda Makarov: Yeah, and their life is not over.

Erica Eriksdotter: That is very brave of you.

Linda Makarov: My dad was 42. In 5 years, I’m 42. My husband is dead; I’m not going to keep on living.

Erica Eriksdotter: I can’t imagine, that’s so young.

Linda Makarov: I think it’s so important to understand the other partner that, yes, life can move on. Don’t sit there. Don’t start drinking or smoking or sit at home and gain weight and get diabetes.  You can just grow into so many things.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: Just find happiness.

Erica Eriksdotter: How did your dad react to you having a stroke and cancer?  It must have been very difficult for him.  He was on the other side of the globe.

Linda Makarov: My whole family is over there.  I don’t know when I talked to my dad, how soon I told him.  I know my husband called, no he messaged my sister as soon as we find out. She pretty much dropped the phone and just called her husband, ‘AHHH come help me, somethings wrong.’ I think he kind of built up some strength before we talked.

Erica Eriksdotter: And you mentioned your sister, her reaction was pretty, you know, she felt as if it..

Linda Makarov: She has told me how hard it was. I mean, we never saw each other face to face. but, she was stronger when I had my cancer. That’s when my dad kind of lost it more.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yes, of course, that’s a different topic, much closer to home.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Same age as his wife.

Linda Makarov: [laughing] Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: Okay. So, we’re going to leave our listeners there. You are very healthy now and I hope this, by having you share your story people are inspired by, maybe aware of how it can go.

Linda Makarov: Mmm, hmm.

Erica Eriksdotter: The hope that the tips that you’ve given and but also inspired by your strength and bravery and is there anything you want to comment on, add to this before we wrap up.

[00:45:16] Changing my story

Linda Makarov: No, I think once we overcome anything hard, is just to focus on what is my job now. Instead of being sad, I just felt my job is to make sure that my kids have a happy, healthy life. I try not to think about the fears and just this is what I’m doing, is to make sure they don’t get sick.

Erica Eriksdotter: Yeah.

Linda Makarov: They stay healthy. Just focus on the positives on what you love.

Erica Eriksdotter: Then, knowing that you are also in control of your life.

Linda Makarov: Yeah.

Erica Eriksdotter: That just because something happened as a child it’s not going to necessarily, like you can change that.

Linda Makarov: Yes.

Erica Eriksdotter: And, not manifest it. So, if people would like to email you regarding any books you’ve read or share their stories, I suggest and I hope you’re okay with this, the best way is to submit your questions in the podcast forum and then I’ll just share that with you and then you can respond to them personally. You can find the link in the show notes and on the corresponding blog post for this episode.  Of course you can also use the hahstag #fikapodcast if you want to use social media to do a shout out. Alright, that’s it for this episode.  Thank you so much for joining me, Linda.

Linda Makarov: Thank you.

Erica Eriksdotter: I know this was a tough one, but I’m so proud of you for wanting to talk about this and wanting to share about such a intimate and personal health journey and life story.

Linda Makarov: Sure, thank you!

Erica Eriksdotter: The next episode will feature another guest.  You can find me, as I said, at erica@studioeriksdotter@com and please join my email list if you want to stay up to date.  You can access it at the bottom of my website. Don’t forget to subscribe to an iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. Thank you so much for listening.

Linda Makarov: Thank you.