This July – despite many of us enduring lockdowns and the many restrictions and stresses that come with being stuck at home – over 38,000 Australians gave up alcohol as part of Dry July, to raise funds for people affected by cancer.
Although going dry to step up for those affected by cancer, those who participated were also stepping up for their own health – perhaps without even realising it.
Taking this short break from alcohol or even just reducing your consumption, has proven to not only improve mood, sleep and energy levels, it can also reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, including at least 7 different types of cancer.
For Kathryn, who celebrated 2 years of being alcohol-free this July, giving it up has given her more than she imagined.
Kathryn’s journey to alcohol-free
Kathryn stopped drinking alcohol in 2019, a decision she says was a long time coming.
“I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to stop drinking. It was a slow burn. During the past 10 years I’d really started feeling uncomfortable about my binge drinking patterns, which started when I was a teenager.”
In July, at the age of 46, after a succession of ‘blowouts’ despite her desire to stop, Kathryn decided to take the leap and have an extended break from drinking.
Finding support and community online from others struggling with alcohol use, Kathryn says this month transformed her perspective on alcohol and its role in her life, launching her into a new – sober – chapter.
“It was during this month that I had a huge mindset shift.”
“I took willpower out of the equation and saw it as an opportunity to be curious. Instead of focusing on what I was missing out on I decided to focus on the things I would gain – more energy, better quality sleep, ability to save money to name a few.”
This mindset shift led to her remaining alcohol-free throughout August, when she was thrown a curveball – the discovery of a large lump in her right breast whilst getting dressed for work. Two days later, Kathryn was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I had never been through a traumatic time in my life without drinking and part of me wanted to numb out and lose myself in alcohol again. But an even greater part of me held strong knowing that alcohol wasn’t going to help me heal from cancer, so I continued to focus on each day and decided not to drink. “
This resolve carried Kathryn through the emotionally challenging time following diagnosis and throughout treatment. Taking this time to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually, she found alcohol had no place in her life anymore.
Now two years alcohol-free and celebrating a recent cancer-free MRI, Kathryn says that her decision to stop drinking has transformed her life and opened her up to more positive experiences.
“I don’t feel like I’m restricting myself or having to avoid alcohol. I don’t drink because my life without it is so much more expansive. I am more creative. My quality of sleep is better. I enjoy my own company and feel a deep grounding with who I am.”
“My relationships with my husband and children are more connected and honest and I experience a larger spectrum of emotions more deeply than ever before.”
“One of my greatest fears of giving up drinking was that life would be boring, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Never have I felt so active and engaged in my life.”
For more information on the link between alcohol and cancer and tips to help you reduce your drinking, visit our Limit Alcohol webpage.