Lately, I am obsessed with Dolly Partons song “Eagle When She Flies.” In a day, I listen to this song countless times.


I identify with this song in so many ways. It is a reminder of the woman I am. The woman I should be. The woman my mother is.

Allow me to share some of the lyrics with you. I understand that many people are not in my age bracket, meaning not everyone knows who Dolly Parton is. (Wah! I never thought I’d ever had to admit that I am old…)
She’s been there, God knows

she’s been there
She has seen and done it all

She’s a woman, she knows how to
 Dish it out or take it all

Her heart’s as soft as feathers

Still, she weathers stormy skies

And she’s a sparrow when she’s broken

But she’s an eagle when she flies

Besides the song reminding me of my abilities, sometimes I listen to it and I want to cry because it speaks to my truth.

Just the other day, I felt an itch on my right breast.


From Left Carolyne Ng’ang’a(HELD), Lillian Ng’ang’a (Machakos 1st Lady) & Emma Ngutu (Nation)

It took me back to four years ago when tears were all I could offer, when I couldn’t utter a word of prayer, when nothing on this world mattered, when I thought I’d never pick myself up.

Yeah, that time when I would be in a crowd yet feel so alone.

When I was battling cervical cancer, I thought it was the end. I thought I was done.

I am glad to have friends who walk with me through it all. Sometimes, affirmation is all you need.

I had to share this bit of story with you so you know that yes, once in a while I get these scares.

That’s the truth of so many people who have walked the journey with cancer.

Some people come to me afraid. It reminds me of the first day I felt the lump and itchy nipple.

It was a nerve-wracking, tumultuous journey. But the Eagle in me couldn’t just sit there and give up.

I had to lift myself up and move, breath harder, pray harder and believe, even when I had no faith left.

When my friend asked me for a favour, I expected her to ask for vegetables, herbs, spices, or any healthy stuff that I am always talking about, always planting and selling to someone but instead, she wrote;

“Can you write for me a piece on what you learnt from your journey with cancer. Life lessons.”

Here I am sharing from the deepest part of my heart the lessons I learnt from my journey in battling cancer at the prime of my life;

God above all. My journey brought me closer to God. It helped me get to know an easy, loving and caring God who I had never known before, yet I claimed to know Him.

It wasn’t, rather, it hasn’t been all rosy, there are days I wake up and ask God, “Really God? Really?” There are days I wake up and tell Him, you know what Daddy, I am done. I am done pretending I am okay with your ‘silence’ I want you to speak…. (Am I the only one who throws tantrums on God?)

Anyway, I learnt how to totally rely on this God. I learnt that He is the author of my life and He is all that I need for me to pull through it.

Appreciate the little things.

You know those little things we take for granted?

The hugs, the moment spent in a swimming pool just floating (for those of us who can float.), the silly laughter with self or with some crazy friends who make your life a living hell or heaven depending on their mood, the sound naps that you take in a mat, the lazy, aimless walks you take alone, the deep breaths, the moment you stare at a naked you in the mirror for hours, the sweet feeling that comes to you when you listen to the music that you love, the moonlight, the stars.

The list is endless.

I however want you to note that when I say the little things, I did not write things you can buy, things you must have company to do or appreciate.

These are the small things we take for granted.

I remember how hard it was for me to just listen and hear the words in a song. I remember how tasteless food was.

I remember how I craved for a tight, warm hug. Just a hug. I took aimless strolls but they were empty.

Appreciate the small things that life offers at no fee and you cannot buy them.

It is never that serious.

Yeah, I said that. Before my diagnosis, I was mean to myself. I pushed myself too much. To impress me and others.

I had set so many standards. I was very rigid. I never forgave myself. I was bitter with God knows what.

I was just an angry, ugly woman who used to carefully cover all the wrath with a beautiful smile.

Today, I do not give a damn!!! It’s not my business what you think about me. I laugh out loud, I cry out loud and just anywhere. I forgive, I let go so easily, I fart out loud, I scream in the car (You should ask Davie and Mr Man….Lol!) I am a free spirit.

I take things easy, I am less hard on myself and to others.

One Day at a time.

These words are used by so many people but few comprehend the intensity.

I used them a lot before the diagnosis but they were just empty words then. Today, I live by these words.

I literary, honestly live for now and now alone. I do not worry about the next minute. I know it might never be mine so I seize each moment I have. I love like I will never love again.

I let go like a ‘fool’- just like that. I actually forget. I eat what I feel like eating, I go for random, unplanned holidays.

I take crazy trips to nowhere. I experiment in the kitchen. I live like I will not be there tomorrow.

This applies to self-giving. I give my services, wit, love, resources, time, hugs etc like I have no tomorrow to give.

In short, I live like there is no tomorrow. This has helped me to live by number 2. I have also stopped fearing death.

I live a full life. No regrets. Yesterday is gone so if I messed up, I try to not do the same today but I won’t dwell in yesterday, I live today. Tomorrow belongs to God. If He grants me the day, I will rejoice and be glad in it.
‘Other’ is made of five letters while ‘I’ is made of one. I know I will use a paradox here so be alert. I must come first but Other is bigger than I. Does it make sense? Let me try and explain further. I have learnt that you can only give that which you have.

You must love yourself first in order to be able to love others. Invest in you. You are your greatest investment.

Make healthy life choices, invest your me time, feed your soul, mind and body with all the right things. Love You.
I have also learnt that life is bigger than I, the hand that gives is the hand that receives & service to man is service to God.

All these things I am saying here used to be cliché before I went through a phase that refined me, moulded me to a better human being.

For you to fill the world with happiness, you must be happy. Do what makes you happy, learn to say no if it is a no and a yes if it’s a yes. Stop living for other people (refer to number 4.) leave those toxic relationships and habits, define your own happiness, draw your happiness from God.


Stop trying to live to a point of forgetting to live. Live. Do the things that scare you. Love. Take risks. Do something crazy every once in a while. Make new friends. Smile at strangers. Sing out loud, yeah, just live. Refer to number 3 & 4.

You Deserve It.

Yes, you deserve all the good things that life has to offer. Stop stopping yourself from embracing them and being embraced by these good things and people. You deserve that spa treatment. You deserve that girl/boy who loves you the right way, you deserve great gifts. You are deserving of a good life. Embrace it.
Go ye and LIVE. Make the best out of it!

I am an eagle and so are you!!!!!

By Carolyne Ng’ang’a
Founder, Held Sister