He got into the short list of an international competition for Russian language teachers abroad in the same year when doctors announced a terrible diagnosis – tongue cancer. Of course, the trip to the finals in Moscow was canceled. And the life into which a native of St. Petersburg – a brilliant linguist, author of textbooks and owner of a consulting firm – plunged into such rapture, having moved to London, was on a pause. It was five years ago. Today Ignatius Dyakov-Richmond – healthy lifestyle coach and Ayurveda consultant, young father and happy husband. We talked with him about why people are so afraid to talk about defeating cancer, what mistakes of the past can lead to a disappointing diagnosis, and what questions you shouldn’t ask yourself, even if it’s very scary.
– Ignatius, the Time of Troubles is forcing us to optimize costs, but at the same time the phrase “They don’t save on psychologists in a pandemic” has become a catchword. What metamorphoses have happened to your clients?
– Difficulties were in the first quarantine. Then people did not understand what was going to happen with their finances, so they began to give up what was not among their urgent needs. And they considered coaching to be one of such services. Now I cannot say that I have a large influx of new clients, but the problematic with which they now turn to me has certainly changed. The added stress created by the pandemic has not gone unnoticed.
Today, while working on lifestyle changes in general and correcting unhealthy habits, we still have to consider what to do every day to get rid of stress. Usually these are fairly simple solutions: reduce the number of news views, disconnect from social networks at least for a while. But it is important that a person comes to them himself, albeit with my help. Because coaches don’t give advice, although that’s often what is expected of us.
– I suppose that due to a misunderstanding of the coach’s functionality, your clients often do not themselves know how to formulate a request.
– Yes, and here is a classic example, which is repeated from time to time: a person has had cancer or is still undergoing treatment, but he already sees some horizon of life, but he does not know what to do with this life. And he comes to me with a request how to gain energy in order to return to that old life. And as a result, we, as a rule, come to the conclusion that life before that was not entirely fabulous, and perhaps, in part, it just led to such dire consequences. Accordingly, we begin to work on what and how to change in the usual existence.
– Usually, as a counterargument, they say that very positive people are going to die, including from cancer. But many people think: if you live in joy all the time, no illness will stick to you.
– Yes, this is really a common opinion, and here it is important to understand what it means to live in a positive way. It is one thing if it is an external manifestation, a kind of mask, and quite another is the sincere desire of people to enjoy life. Moreover, the second category will not always look happy, but nevertheless, such people feel comfortable enough in what they do, how they communicate with others. And the first category often tries with all its might to seem happy, and first of all to themselves, in the hope of the very misunderstood law of attraction of the good. And my task as a coach is to reveal whether that positive in a person before the disease was artificially created by him or his environment. Of course, it is impossible to say that as soon as we are fully tuned in to happiness, we will immediately become absolutely invincible. Yet no one canceled genetic factors. But positive emotions emanating from the inside definitely help to better endure even a serious illness and get out of it in the future.
– When you learned about your diagnosis, what questions did you ask in your search for causal relationships in the past?
– I was probably very lucky, because I did not ask myself the question: “For what?” I asked: “Why was this experience given to me, what can I learn from it if I get out, and what should I do after that?” I was not a coach then, but I took a coaching approach. And I’m not the only one to say that cancer helped change something in the past where it used to be bad. In my case, it was a change in career, place of residence, lifestyle. These are exactly the changes that I see I really needed five years ago when I got sick.
I was 31 years old, I did not smoke, did not drink and, it would seem, led a fairly healthy lifestyle. As now, naturally, I understand it was just an external picture. I lacked other things: movement, relaxation, the ability to deal with stress. And there was plenty of him in my life then.
I am a linguist by my first education. When he moved to England, he began to develop his own small business in the field of linguistic consulting – helping Western companies or individuals build relationships with Russian clients in London or enter the Russian market. The pace of life, a huge number of clients with different needs, political instability after Crimea – all this together gave a rather tense, stressful situation. But I understand this now, and five years ago I surprised the doctors by the atypicality of my diagnosis, which smokers mostly suffer from.
– Was there any fear or did you immediately mobilize and decided that you were able to control it?
– Most likely, it was not fear, but a kind of detachment. It seemed to me then that I was watching a movie about myself. That there is such Ignatius, who had an illness, and now he lives, and somewhere I look at all this from above. There was also an understanding that if something really bad happened there, I didn’t want to be disabled. And from the point of view of what I have achieved in life, it seemed to me at that moment that, in principle, it was possible to put an end to it. It’s not that I was ready for suicide, it just felt like I could draw a beautiful line. This is partly why now it is more difficult for me, because I understand that I have been given a second life, and in it I achieve again, I do something. My inner conversation is still going on.
– What was your first step after renunciation?
– When my treatment in London ended, I went for 45 days to travel around Europe in a camper van (from the English camper van, “motorhome”. – Approx. ed.) to regain strength. They didn’t understand me, of course – winter in a campervin without heating seemed like a strange idea. But for me it was an important stage – through the need to move and force myself to do something. You have to fold the bed every morning and turn it into a table, and then drive, walk … When you are in bed at home, it is more difficult for you to find a reason to even get out of it. But it was also a film about what Ignatius is doing on his journey through winter Europe. The film must have ended when I flew to India. Then I learned about Ayurveda, about Reiki. These are complementary therapies that allow you to cope with various ailments.
– Did you want to share your personal history with other people there?
– Perhaps, it was finally formed. Since teaching was part of my previous life and profession, the desire to share knowledge was no stranger to me. Also, when I asked the nurse at the hospital: “Sarah, what can I do for other patients?” she answered: “Most importantly, don’t be ashamed to say that you’ve had cancer! If people know that such a diagnosis can be overcome, it will help many “… And when I learned about various additional disciplines in the Himalayas, I realized that those who need it now should know about it!
– Why do you think people are afraid to say that they had oncology?
– It’s interesting to speculate. The first thought – we remember what happened to the weak members of the tribe in our ancestors: they were either killed or left under a tree. The second – it is a shame to admit his weakness, if suddenly a person decides that this is his fault.
– But not everyone achieves such awareness to admit: I myself have caused the disease by my way of life …
– Yes, in Russian the word “wine” has a lot of negative connotations. But one must understand that the emphasis can be made on “I am to blame”, or it can be on “I allowed.” Yes, I allowed some bad habits to become a part of my life, I allowed myself to forget who I am, and the environment began to shape me and bend me. Basically, this is what coaching is about – to realize, acknowledge (when appropriate) and continue to work on what to do about it.
– Psychosomatics explains quite accurately what each part of the body that fails is responsible. Have you ever thought that it was not by chance that the language was damaged?
– You very clearly noticed the course of my thoughts then. Although the disease is a very big risk to simplify the complex. Say: the tongue – because it talked a lot, and the neck – because it allowed everyone to sit on it. We must still look a little wider. Ayurveda does not separate body and spirit for a reason, everything is assessed as a complex.
Going back to my example – of course, I wondered why language. It is clear that if 35% of your language is cut off, it will be difficult to teach again, to conduct social activities. And, apparently, for me it was necessary to say: everything, the past is over, a new stage is beginning. Your new stage, where you cannot use the familiar skills, so think about how to get creative with it. Of course, I was lucky that I found a very good professor who was able to mold a new one from the remaining two-thirds of the language. But at the same time it was very scary: if I survived, how can I earn money now and continue living as an emigrant in London? Without language.
– And what helped to cope with this?
– My obstinacy, which made it possible to develop this, in fact, a new organ so that I could start speaking anew. After all, in the hospital I was provided only with a speech therapist, whose task is to activate the tongue as a muscle for food. The speech therapist was first of all interested in teaching me to eat porridge again. So I just started reading the books out loud. This simple exercise yielded results in 2-3 months – so I realized that it was impossible to stop.
– How did you decide to announce to the world that you are now in a new profession – a coach?
– In India I got the qualification of a Reiki Master. Back in England, he completed the first online coaching course, naturopathy course and received basic coaching education. I also completed my studies at the University of Warwick. I started by going back to the hospital where I was being treated and offered to help me as a volunteer. It was there that the organization was based, dealing specifically with complementary therapies that I studied in the East, and I began to help them. And then the stage came when I left London, deciding that I wanted to get to know England. I lived in different counties and at that time I could no longer help, coming to the hospital ward. Therefore, I began to offer services via Skype when they contacted me. Then he made a website, pages in social networks. This is how people learned about me and my story.
– At what point did you realize that you won the victory over the disease and further – only forward?
– And this moment has not yet come. Yes, according to formal criteria, it is believed that if after examination by a doctor five years after the diagnosis nothing was confirmed, then everything is in order. In reality, of course, the feeling that the disease can return is unlikely to leave a person. And I periodically have similar thoughts. Two months ago, my wife and I had a daughter, and it is clear that this issue worries a little more often. But life goes on, it is quite intense, not busy, but rather intense! So there is no time to plunge into doubts and worries.
– How did you meet your wife and why did you take her last name? This is not the most common story in England.
– (Smiles.) Yes, it is generally rare where. In our case, I was simply uncomfortable that the spouse had to change all her documents, her life and her name, but I didn’t. So we decided to level the playing field and chose a double surname. For which, probably, our daughter will not thank us, but nevertheless, it seems to me that this was the optimal fair decision for both parties.
– Did you meet already in your new life?
– Yes. We met on the Internet three years ago, when I already more or less understood what I wanted to do in this life. I continued to travel, but I could already explain to myself why I was doing this. That is, with the awareness of who I am, the moment came when you can look for a life partner. Which I did.
Interviewed by Maria Egorova