For many women, loving themselves first does not come naturally. In fact, many women have to learn to love themselves because they have been socialized to believe that putting their own needs first is a selfish act. As a result, many women put everyone’s needs before they own, always talking about their dreams and desires in the future saying thighs like, “When the kids…
For many women “putting yourself first” does not come naturally. In fact, many women have been socialized to believe that putting themselves first is a selfish act, so they put everyone’s needs before they own, always talking about their dreams and desires in the future saying thighs like, “When the kids get older:” “When I get that promotion that ‘ve been working so hard for.” “When I have the time.” “That’s when I will travel, or follow my passion, or start that nonprofit organization.” The irony is that oftentimes, a life-altering medical diagnosis, like cancer, is often the catalyst that can throw them headlong into living the lives they had been planning for, as they face their own mortality.
In this episode Iselyn Hamilton Austin shares how her breast cancer diagnosis taught her to make herself not just “a” priority, but “the” priority! Iselyn describes her cancer diagnosis as “...like joining a sorority you never asked to be in.” You’ll want to hear how breast cancer became the catalyst for her work not only in the nonprofit space, but her work with other women who received similar diagnoses. According to Iselyn, she became the go-to person for these women, teaching them how to not just “survive” with cancer, but to “thrive”. Take a listen to this heart-warming story of not just someone who survived breast cancer but who is thriving, and exploring other avenues of creative expression. In fact, Iselyn is now the author of two children’s books.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc, 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. According to the Foundation, except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. When Iselyn Hamilton Austin received her cancer diagnosis, she made a decision to thrive and not just survive. Iselyn became a mentor to other breast cancer patients and she made a decision to put herself first. According to Iselyn, breast cancer taught her to make herself, “...not just a priority” …but … “the priority.”
Additionally, when her best friend succumbed to cancer, she said she learned some serious lessons. She says, “It was like a slap in the face,” to watch her friend’s husband remarry within three months of her death to someone he had met online. To Iselyn, that was an insult to their 35 years of marriage and all the dreams that her friend had delayed bringing to fruition, like traveling and pursuing higher education. Instead she said to Iselyn, “I ran out of time.” That’s when Iselyn said she made a vow to, “... not leave this earth and run out of time …” This decision got her started on her path to becoming a children’s book author.
Can Stress Actually Make You Sick
Get digital copies of Iselyn’s two children’s books by emailing Iselyn at:
Subject Line: Mommas Motivational Messages
Peggie Kirkland 0:04
Welcome to the Momma's Motivational Messages podcast, where women learn to stop putting themselves on the back burner, and start paying attention to caring for themselves first, so they can be better for everyone else in their lives. I know you'll be inspired by the stories of resiliency and starting over, of health and self-healing, of gaining clarity through journaling, of showing self-love through world travel, and the list goes on. I encourage you to relax and enjoy. I'm your host Peggie Kirkland PK.
Peggie Kirkland 0:46
Hi, ladies. How are you doing on the journey to making yourself a priority? Are you a beginner? Still feeling guilty when you do something awesome or just nice for yourself? Are you at the intermediate stage, where you still feel a bit of guilt when you put yourself first? Or are you a pro, where you're able to put yourself first unapologetically, if not all of the time, at least some of the time. Well, wherever you are in your journey, I'm here to motivate and encourage you to keep pressing on. I promise you that the more you do it, the easier it gets. And best of all, you'll be able to experience the benefits to your mind, body, and spirit.
Peggie Kirkland 1:41
In today's episode, you're going to hear from a woman who knows a thing or two about putting herself first. So I'm delighted to welcome Iselyn Hamilton Austin to share some of her life experiences with us. Iselyn has been in nursing for 43 years, and has been a family nurse practitioner for 21 years, specializing in nearly every area of maternal child care. Iselyn is also a 16-year breast cancer survivor, who is thriving in her life, to the point where she authored and self-published three children's books. She is the mother of two adult children, and the grandmother of two year-old twins. Iselyn spends her quiet time writing and reading. That's when she's not at a concert on the beach, or traveling. Welcome to the show Iselyn I'm delighted to have you with us today.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 2:47
Thank you, and thank you for inviting me.
Peggie Kirkland 2:51
Absolutely. So let's get started because I know you have a lot to share with our listeners, and I barely scratched the surface of your accomplishments. So I want to give you an opportunity to share some of your backstory with the audience. You know, tell us a little bit about where you grew up, your educational background. Was there some pivotal momenti childhood or some other part of your life that got you into nursing, that kind of thing.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 3:19
So as you said, my name is Iselyn Hamiltn Austin. I am a pediatric nurse practitioner, but I actually became a nurse from high school. I went to a high school for help professions, and I was a licensed practical nurse when I graduated from high school at 18 years old. So I worked as a licensed practical nurse for five years and then I went back to school and got my two-year RN degree and got married, had my kids moved to North Carolina. And then I went back to ... and then Tampa and I went back to school in Tampa to get my bachelor's degree and a master's degree. So I've always worked in maternal child. And then when I first got out of school, I worked in adult medicine, but I've always worked in maternal child, and children and women are my thing. So I always say that becoming a children's book author, was my passion led me to my purpose. And then I got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. And that propels me into starting a nonprofit organization that I did fundraisers for breast cancer for about, I think, eight years, six to eight years. And I also started an organization which I still have that one I'm active with today, called Duckling to Diva and it's a young women's empowerment organization.
Peggie Kirkland 4:44
Who did you say died from breast cancer?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 4:47
My really close friend passed away from breast cancer, Mother's Day last year. She got diagnosed I think when she passed away had been four years. So four years before that, and she had a four-year journey of doing everything to stay alive. But she lost that battle.
Peggie Kirkland 5:10
I'm so sorry to hear that. That must really have been a bit of a jolt. What is it that makes you so passionate about women and children,
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 5:23
I've always liked to be able to encourage women to take care of themselves. And you know, a lot of women have children. And I don't know, I've always liked the babies when I was younger, and my brothers and sisters had kids, before I had kids. I was the aunt that took them to puppet shows or the circus, like I had all those kids, it's just wonderful to be because it's just something I've always liked to do. And, you know, maternal child, I've always liked to encourage women, and then help them along the way. So I guess I kind of look at it as me having breast cancer was God's way of continuing that for me, because I just stepped right into the role of encouraging women with breast cancer to you know, so most times when people hear they have breast cancer, they feel like, Oh, um, the first thought is, I'm gonna die. And so the longer I came into my journey of survivorship, I tried to encourage them not to think about it that way. Like, if you start with, I'm going to be a thriver and a survivor, that that's actually what's gonna happen for you most of the time.
Peggie Kirkland 6:30
Now, you said that you started nursing, basically, in high school, because you went to a health professions high school, but how did you, how were you so clear in high school that that is what you wanted to do? And you stuck with it for all of these years?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 6:50
I don't really know. I don't know, as far as like, as long as I can ever remember, you know, when you're little and people lare ike, oh, I want to be a fireman, I want to be able to, I always want to be a nurse. I'm not even really sure when that first came about. I just could remember being a little girl taking my doll baby's temperature and wrapping her in a blanket. I just always wanted to be a nurse.
Peggie Kirkland 7:11
Anyone else in your family in the health care professions?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 7:15
I have one other aunt who's a nurse, but she became a nurse later on in life. So no, it just the two of us. No one else is.
Peggie Kirkland 7:24
That's interesting. Your path was laid out for you pretty early hmm.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 7:28
And I stuck with it. I did it. And I stuck with it.
Peggie Kirkland 7:31
That's awesome. Now is there a difference between a nurse practitioner and a physician's assistant
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 7:40
A nurse practitioners as far as I can, I can still say, we have a little bit more autonomy than physicians' assistants. So like the nurse practitioner is allowed to open her own practice, as long as she has a collaborative physician who will, as they say ... sign off on your charts. I don't, unless they change something in the past few years, I don't think PAs can do that. And a nurse practitioner, you have to be a nurse in order to be a nurse practitioner, you can't be a nurse practitioner without a nursing license. PAs can be somebody who's worked at McDonald's or decided they want to be a PA, they just go to PA school and complete that.
Peggie Kirkland 8:16
Okay, well, that provides some clarity for me as well, because quite honestly, I didn't know the difference. And I'm sure that for members of the audience, the listening audience who are not in the health care professions, I'm sure that's some new information for them as well. Now, you've described yourself, not just as a cancer survivor, but a cancer thriver. Can you unpack a little bit for us a little bit? What what does that really mean? How does that show up in your life to be a thriver?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 8:50
So thrivers, in my experience, are people who you don't, you don't continue to think that, okay, I have breast cancer, and I just survived it. You don't just survive it because to me having breast cancer is joining the sorority you never asked to be in; you didn't get a choice. So in order for you to have at least say, Okay, I'm gonna do this, and I'm gonna do it well, you got to thrive. You have to reach for the stars. You have to think of your life as whatever I ever wanted to do. I'm gonna do it. There's no excuses. There was no reasons why you have to thrive for that. So again, that's how I became a children's book author. Because, you know, at the back of your head, you always say One day, I want to buy the book, but what am I going to do this survivors think, oh, I want to do this. thrivers do it.
Peggie Kirkland 9:42
Wow, that 's said very powerfully, with a lot of verve and vigor as you might say, I could tell that you are living in that experience. How are you paying your own experiences forward to help other women?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 10:00
I am, I won't say unfortunately. But I have become the go to person in my circle of friends for breast cancer. So when they have anybody that gets diagnosed, they're always like, well, she doesn't care if you call her, you can call her. I'm like the formation booth for them. But I also even like women I met along the way, if it's a patient's mom or their grandmother, I always try to help them to be their own advocate. And encourage them because it's a hard journey, like that's a road, a long road to go. And it's scary. So I try to make myself available for people, if they just want to cry, if they just want to sit and talk, I have them feel what they feel in the moment without feeling bad about that. Because you know, women always think they have to take care of everybody, but they don't we don't take care of ourselves.
Peggie Kirkland 10:52
And so that makes me wonder, I mean, now you provide support to others. How did you get the support you needed when you were going through your situation?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 11:05
I have a very close circle of friends. And like, most of my friends live in Tampa, and I live in South Carolina now. But if I called them today, and was like, hey, I need you guys to be here. They're all here. So they all made sure I had food. If I needed to go to the doctor, whatever, whatever I needed, they were always there for me. So I you know, I had a close knit of friends and my family didn't live in Tampa. And I didn't want them to have to travel back and forth. So my friends were my family. And they still are.
Peggie Kirkland 11:38
I think that's awesome. And so it really speaks to the idea of how important it is to have your tribe or to find a tribe if you don't have one and to really nurture those relationships because you just never know, when you might need that extra support. Would you say that your cancer diagnosis taught you how to make yourself a priority? And was that something you did before?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 12:14
Absolutely! I didn't do it as much before as I do it now. And so it absolutely taught me to make myself not just a priority, the priority? Because I always before, if I had to do something for myself, and somebody called me and said, Oh, Iselyn I need so and so I'd be like, Okay, I put myself on the back burner. And I will always do what everybody else needed. But once I had breast cancer, I don't do that anymore. I don't apologize for things I don't want to do. And if I don't want to do it, I just don't do it. I'm sorry if you know, somebody gets offended, or they feel like well, I asked you to do this and you didn't And I'm like, those days are gone for me. I don't put myself behind anyone else again becsue you know, I could leave this earth tomorrow and all you're gonna do is find somebody else to do what you need.
Peggie Kirkland 13:03
Wow. So what did your friend's death teach you? Were there some lessons in that experience that also helped to cement your practice of making yourself a priority.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 13:24
My friend's death actually brought that full circle, like slapped me in the face again. It was because while I Oh, I had started practicing, you know, I'm gonna take care of myself, my friend was, I always say she was the most humble person I ever met in my life. And she gave up her entire life for her husband and her two sons. She was married for 35 years. And she always wanted to go to school to get a degree, a business degree. She wanted to travel. There's so many things in dreams she wanted to do. And she never did them. She didn't do any of them. She didn't go to school. She never traveled to one place she wanted to go because she always kept saying, Well, her husband was he was a professional student. He went to school until he got his Ph.D. He'd never asked her not you know, tell her you can't do this until I'm done. It was her choice. But in choosing that she spent her whole 55 years on this earth and did not do one thing that she dreamed of doing. And the last conversation I had with her. She said to me, I wanted to go to school, I wanted to get this degree. I wanted to travel and I didn't, and I ran out of time. And when she said that to me, I made a vow to myself that I would not leave this earth and run out of time from doing things I really wanted to do.
Peggie Kirkland 14:49
Wow and 55 is still young. Yeah, she was
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 14:53
And a beautiful, she was a beautiful soul. And you know the lesson to that was, her husband, she was dead for six months, and he got remarried to someone he met online. And then three months later they were married.
Peggie Kirkland 15:11
Well, I guess loneliness is quite a force. Huh.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 15:15
Yeah, well, that, you know, I'm a woman. So for me, I'm like, I was married to you for 35 years, and all I get is six months. I mean, you can look at it both ways. He's a man and he didn't want to be alone. But I don't know. I just felt like, she's only been dead six months. You married for 35years, like, you know, that's it? Like, it's okay. You don't want to be alone .... can't. I don't know, everybody mourns differently.
Peggie Kirkland 15:40
And as you said, she dedicated her life to her family, not doing the things that she wanted to do always talking about doing it later doing it later you know, and then later never really ever came.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 15:54
And so now he has his new wife doing all the things with the new wife that he wanted to do with her because his lesson was, I let my first wife put this off and put this off. And she never got to do it. I don't want to make that mistake again with the next wife.
Peggie Kirkland 16:09
Oh, boy. I don't know how to feel about that. But it's not for me to feel.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 16:12
Yeah, right. It is not for me either. But I feel like a part of me is like, I don't want him to sit there and be lonely and alone. But the other part of me is like, I would be lying if I wouldn't be saying, you know, I feel some type of way about this other chick, being able to enjoy all the things that she didn't get to enjoy when she gave up 35 years of her life to be married to him.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 16:20
In other words, you would have liked to have seen him grieving a little bit longer. J
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 16:40
Just a little bit.,
Peggie Kirkland 16:43
I feel you.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 16:44
I was like , Could she get a year? Could her 35 years equal a year? I don't know. So that was a catalyst for me, like, I'm gonna live my life. And I'm not gonna put anything I want to do on hold for anyone, I don't care who you are.
Peggie Kirkland 17:00
So, is that your message to the listening audience?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 17:03
Yes, my message is never say that you can't do something, never say I'm gonna wait to do something, figure it out. And do it. Like it's doable, if you may have to plan a year or whatever to do it. But I would never give up my dream or never put anything on hope that you bought waiting for someone else to do something you do what you have to do for you.
Peggie Kirkland 17:25
I think that that's such an important message. And it's the message that I try to get across to our listeners with every episode that is published because I think it's so critical. I watched my own mom, as I was growing up, always planning to and planning to, but there was always some other need in the home. You know, and and being you know, I would say growing up poor. As even though I didn't think so at the time and didn't know so really, you know, you're always trying to .. I watched my parents always trying to make ends meet, and my mom with all kinds of dreams and hopes and aspirations that never came to fruition. I think that's why I feel passionate about helping women to put themselves first because frankly, I too struggle with that sometimes because it's embedded in me from having grown up watching it. So for me, it's a journey that I undertake every day. And sometimes I win and sometimes I don't quite win, but I keep working at it.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 18:46
It's hard though because when you're when you're so many things to so many people, like I have my kids. And then I have my grandkids who think that my house is the playground pitstop there. I remember. Okay, I remember sitting my daughter a meme once because I all week long. I was like, Oh my gosh, I can't wait to Saturday. I'm so tired. I'm just gonna sleep all day. I'm gonna take the dog out for a walk and I'm going to sleep. Then my daughter sends me a text on Friday night, Mommy can you watch the kids tomorrow? I sent her a meme that said these are my dreams blown up in smoke of sleeping all day tomorrow. Poof
Peggie Kirkland 19:25
Whatwas her response? That's what you got.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 19:31
She just laughed laugh like, Okay, mom.
Peggie Kirkland 19:34
Being a grandma, I mean, but I'm sure you figured out how to balance that
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 19:40
I try. But you know, it's hard to say no to the grandkids when they're like I want to go to Mimi's house.
Peggie Kirkland 19:46
And it makes you feel good. And the good part is at the end of the period, you can send them back to mom and dad's
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 19:54
That's right.Snacks, bags and all
Peggie Kirkland 19:58
Yeah, So listen, we've talked about Iselyn, the health care professional. Let's talk about Iselyn, the author. You've written three children's books.
Peggie Kirkland 20:16
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 20:17
I wrote a book that I still have not published, which is hysterical. So I wrote this one book called Don't Forget the Parents. And it actually is a compilation of questions and things that parents always ask us when they bring in newborns into the office. So I did it from birth to five; there's a labor of love. i finished that book and then the night I finished the book, I couldn't sleep. And so for whatever reason, because my grandkids called me, Mimi. So that day, they had been over there and they were like, Mimi,Mimi, Mi.... So I just started writing this book series called Mimi and me. I don't even know I just wrote was writing because I couldn't sleep. And I ended up with Mimi and me, Christmas at Mimi. Potty-training with Mimi. Minding my manners with Mimi. And I just wrote them, like, I would write them in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. Or if I was sitting in my car at lunchtime, I'd write them. I havetwo more now that I have scribbled things on to do, Whatever, if, if I'm sitting somewhere and a thought comes to my head, I just write them down. And then I, I write the little template for them, and I finish them.
Peggie Kirkland 21:21
I like to call those moments when you're not expecting it, moments of divine downloads. You know, it's like, I don't know where it came from. But there it was, and I just had to had to act. You now...
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 21:35
it's funny, you should say that because I had, I finished the last book was just got published, like two, three weeks ago. And so I was trying to go ...
Peggie Kirkland 21:45
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 21:46
Thank you. I was sleeping, I woke up. And in my brain, this title came to me that says, hey, I can read for the next book. So I said, Okay, God, I know, you just dropped this into my brain, but I'm really tired. So I'm gonna write this down and go back to sleep. Thank you very much.
Peggie Kirkland 22:02
I see you have a close relationship.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 22:08
We're not staying up tonight, writing this book. But thank you for the thought.
Peggie Kirkland 22:12
I love it. I love it. That's how I tend to operate as well. I think that's awesome. And I believe you have an offer for a few lucky listeners today. Is that correct?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 22:26
And it's correct. So I have the first two books, I have a digital version of the books, They're called flip books. So if they contact me, I will send them a free digital version of both books.
Peggie Kirkland 22:38
Is that anyone who's listening that can send ? Or is...
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 22:43
Anybody who's listening, I can send them. So if they email me their email information, or if they email me, I can always I can send it back to them because you just do the digital book as a link. And then it comes it's a it's a book and it flips pages you turn to pages with your computer. It's a book on digital version.
Peggie Kirkland 23:02
Oh that's awesome. And what address can they contact you at?
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 23:08
They can send it to me at Iselyn actually do my Gator ... Gatormom, which is G A T O R M O Munderscore the number email@example.com.
Peggie Kirkland 23:23
And that information will be in the show notes. So you'll be able to see it and you won't you don't have to worry about writing it down. You might be driving or something right now. So don't worry, I will make sure you get that information. And that is very generous of you Iselyn. I totally appreciate that. And I thank you, on behalf of the listeners,
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 23:44
Just tell them to put Momma's motivational messages in the subject line. And then I'll know what the email what I need to do with the email.
Peggie Kirkland 23:53
That is wonderful. And I'm sure it's going to provide some motivation for anyone who might be thinking about doing this. And they'll see that it can be done, it has been done and Hello, get
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 24:10
I sel- published all three of them. So you can't do it.
Peggie Kirkland 24:13
Say that again.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 24:13
I self-published all three of them, so you can do it.
Peggie Kirkland 24:14
Oh,wow. So that's a whole other area we'll come back and talk about right, self-publishing your own books. That is Great. So Isleyn, I hate to say, but we're coming to the end of our interview.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 24:26
Peggie Kirkland 24:27
I know. That's the way I feel too. And you know, as we come to the end, I want to ask you, what is one thing you want to ensure that our listeners remember from this interview,
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 24:39
Just remember that life is to be lived and you need to live it happy, healthy, abundantly and on your terms.
Peggie Kirkland 24:49
Ah, I second that. That is absolutely wonderful. Iselyn thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
Iselyn Hamilton Austin 24:59
You as well. Thank you again for the invite. I really enjoyed this.
Peggie Kirkland 25:03
Peggie Kirkland 25:07
If you've been inspired and encouraged by the positive messages in today's show, please take a moment to rate and review the show on Apple podcast. This will help to keep the show alive. And remember, sharing is caring. So don't forget to share these gems with friends and family, strangers to if you like, let them know it's available wherever they listen to their podcasts. I'm counting on you to share the love. Until next time, this is PK sending you much light and a whole lot of love.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai