Grit + Grace with Christine Handy

Updated: Jan 16

Joining the conversation this week is Best-selling Author of Walk Beside Me, Motivational Speaker, Model, Humanitarian, Mentor & Mother- Christine Handy.

Christine shares with us how her health battles, faith, and friendship reignited her purpose. We also discussed her book, "Walk Beside Me", and the exciting news of it being turned into a Feature Film called, Willow.

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📖 Walk Beside Me

Interview with Christine Handy

*Text has been edited for clarity

Calla: So I want to know first of all, did you have your walk today?

Christine Handy: I did. Um, yes, I did. I walked on the treadmill. But I did go for a walk.

Calla: Any insights, any downloads today on your walk?

Christine Handy: Oh, I listened to actually one of the interviews that I did about a week and a half ago. You know, when I first started to become a speaker and I started to get interviewed a lot about three years ago. Well, I became a speaker five years ago, but my story really became much more popular about three years ago. And I really didn't listen to any of the interviews for a long time. I just I knew I'd done my job and I just moved on. And now I listen to them because I think it helps me. Maybe just work out a little kinks.

Leanne: Like refine it a little bit. I could see that.

Christine Handy: Yeah. Look at the kitty!

Leanne: Oh, oh, yeah. Yeah, he he's my secretary. He'll be here all day.

Christine Handy: Okay, good. Yeah, listen, I lived in the perfectionist world for a long time I was a model for a while I'm still a model for 40 years. I don't do perfection anymore. So I'm not listening to my podcasts or my interviews or anything to be more or better, or different. I'm just listening to it. And whatever takeaway I get from it, and listen, I preach to myself, like literally I listen to my own interviews and go, whatever she said, you know, because I speak what I preach. And I preach what I say because I believe it. And so sometimes I have to remind myself of it. Listen, I read my own book over and over and over again. When I feel less courage in my life. I pick up my book, and I look at all the things that I've accomplished. I don't mean, my book, I'm talking about gone through cancer or gone through a bully doctor that destroyed my arm those things, then I get a little bit more courage.

Calla: I was finishing it yesterday on my treadmill walk actually, and I felt you like beside me. I was like, I've got to get through this. I can do it. Your story was absolutely incredible. And I enjoyed it. You know, from from cover to cover. I really did. It was fantastic.

Christine Handy: Well, interestingly enough, that's just what happened until 2014. There has been so much that has happened after that. So it's, it's actually crazy, but I wrote a sequel and I'm actually getting my master's degree at Harvard right now. So I'm kind of refining the sequel, because I'm, I'm now trained to be a writer versus when I wrote that book. I wasn't technically trained. And so my sequel is probably going to come out in about a year.

Calla: Oh, well, I'll be getting it.

Leanne: You can't tell me there's more health hardships in your sequel than you've already had.

Christine Handy: Girl. Let me let me share this, let me share this. So in 2020, March of 2020, when the horrible world had stopped over COVID, I felt a little itch in my left breast cavity. And now I had an implant. So I had mastectomy in 2012, I had another mastectomy in 2016 to take the other side off, just preventative. And so I liked my chest, meaning I would have preferred to keep my own. But that wasn't an option. So I had implants. And I liked the implants. And so and I live in Miami, like the the implants didn't move. And I was good with that. And, so in March of 2020, I feel kind of an itch in my left chest. And I'm like, you know, I've had so many reconstructions on that side, I'm sure it's fine. And so I just go back to my computer in about two hours later, the itch came, like a massive amount of bees. And I went into my closet, and I lifted up my shirt, and my entire left breast was a bright red look like a red, you know, those red delicious apples. And it was shocking. Only that breast. And so I texted a picture to my surgeon and to my oncologist. And they both immediately called me within like 30 seconds. And they said, get to the emergency room. Now. This is March of 2020, when nobody was going to the emergency room. Nobody. They weren't even, they wouldn't even let you get close to the emergency room. So I pull up, I drive myself, I pull up to the emergency room. And there's a person in a hazmat suit outside of the emergency room. And she was like, like, , What are you doing here? And I go, Well, my doctor told me to come. So let me in, he's in there, he was in there waiting for me. So I ended up spending four days in the hospital. On the seventh floor where there was three other patients, there was nobody in the hospital other than COVID patients, and there was one floor where they had four patients. And it was really confusing during that time, because I thought, Well, should I be worried that I'm gonna get COVID in here? And what's going on with this breast thing? And I mean, I've already been through breast cancer, like what could possibly be happening now? And they let me go with a PICC line in my arm. I don't know if you know what that is.

Leanne: I had one. Yeah. Yeah, it's the worst.

Christine Handy: I've had three now. Oh, my gosh, they're the worst. And so I had a PICC line for two weeks. Then my doctors, I had a checkup, they said I was fine. So now, fast forward to the end of April 2020. Still, nobody's going to the hospital. Nobody wants to get near the hospital. And the same thing happened. I go for my walk. I come back, I sit at my desk and I'm working. And I say I still have this itch. And I'm, I'm like, There's no way that this has happened to get Sure enough to go in my closet. Same thing happened. But this time, the redness was going up my chest like you could see it going up my chest. Go to the emergency room that keep me for five days, they send me home with antibiotics. They say I'm fine. I believe them. Like there's no redness on my breast. There's no swelling, there's no pain. So I believe them. Six weeks later, I'm flying home from going to see my son because I hadn't seen him since COVID. started and I'm getting off a plane into Miami and I don't feel good. And I'm I'm in the Uber and I'm not looking at my phone, which is really unlike me, because I'm usually like, I'm usually like trying to get emails done and and so I'm kind of like, my head's kind of laying on the the chair in the Uber and I get home and I'm trying to take off my shirt and trying to get in the shower because whenever I get off an airplane, I feel so dirty.

Leanne: Yeah.

Calla: Totally.

Christine Handy: That I just my first place to go is a shower. So I'm trying to walk to the shower, but I know I feel really bad and I just chalked it up to it. It was just a long day of travel. And by the time I got to my shower, I'm holding my shirt and my shirt is sticking to my body. And I get the shirt off and there is a hole in my breast. And green pus is oozing out of my chest.

Leanne: Oh my god.

Christine Handy: And I'm like, so I, I text a picture to my oncologist and my surgeon and my oncologist Facetime's me because she she wants to know now I realized this later she wants to see what I look like. Because when you have an infection, it's eaten away your skin through your body. There's a real problem. So I get to the emergency room and I had a MRSA infection because if you have a staph infection and the antibiotics and everything they're trying to do doesn't work, it becomes a worse infection. So mine turned into a MRSA infection which is deadly. And so within five hours, my breast cavity was excavated. No more implants, no more opportunity for an implant because now I've lost so much skin from the MRSA infection that now I have a concave chest. So yes since my book that happened.

Leanne: Can you catch a break?

Christine Handy: I mean, I know. And I'm still standing. I'm still smiling. I'm still preaching, I'm still serving because we've got to take all that pain, we got to take all that post-traumatic wisdom and we got to give it out like confetti, like candy, like Halloween, we have to help other people. Because there's so many times during my journey that when I felt hopeless, I don't want other people to feel hopeless. I want to equip them with with the tools that I didn't have. That's a gift.

Leanne: It is, it really is. But a lot of people don't get there. A lot of people get stuck in the why me? And I can't believe this is happening, especially over and over again. How do you keep picking yourself back up? After all these things keep happening to you?

Christine Handy: Well, I think for me, I had such a low self esteem for most of my life for 40 years. And it was just this constant comparison to society. I mean, I was I was a model I worked in Europe, I was a successful model, and the constant cutting me down. And I'm not saying the modeling industry isn't wonderful, it is. I still am in that industry. But it was a difficult industry, especially when you start at a very young age, to figure out who you are on the inside, because you're so focused on the outside. And so I was faced with these illness and chronic pain and suffering physical suffering and emotional suffering. I had to really look inside and do a lot of introspection. And I realized my self esteem was built on sand, I realized that my self esteem needed a lot of work. And so during 15 months of chemotherapy, instead of wallowing in my sorrow, which by the way I did in the beginning, instead of wallowing and staying in that, "why me?" space, I decided to figure out who I was. And I decided to ask the questions, why not me? What can I do with this pain? How can I help other people with all this suffering? And that turned into writing my book, which then turned into becoming a speaker, which then turned into doing what I do now. And I almost feel like the modeling part, being in front of a camera for so long was a platform to do what I do.

Calla: It was preparing you.

Christine Handy: Preparing me, yeah. And so I I rebuilt myself on faith, I rebuilt myself on unstoppable ground, meaning my self esteem is unshatterable. Because my measure is with God. My measure isn't likes, my measure isn't followers. My measure isn't accolades from society. My measure isn't a bigger, better modeling job. My measure isn't a bigger, better interview. Those things are nice, right? I'm walking in New York Fashion Week. That's a nice, that's a nice thing. But I don't get my worth from that. Right?

Leanne: Did it take the illness for you to get there? So it has not always been that way?

Christine Handy: Oh, no, no, no, I'm like a different person. I was very much wrapped up into materialism, I was very much wrapped up into false idols. Make no mistake about it, I loved who I was, but I'm a different person. I love who I am now. And I went from being very self involved in self serving, even though it was so insecure, to being, you know, very selfless and trying to serve other people. And now I'm so secure in who I am. And it's much easier to give out when you're very secure with who you are. And I don't want people to think that it's easy. Doing the self care and the self - love work is very hard, takes a lot of practice. It's like eliminating all the negativity in your life, which is hard because you have to eliminate people, you have to eliminate habits, you have to eliminate things that you're used to watching, voices you're listening to hearing, right. But if you take the time to do that, and you rebuild on, you know what's inside, you know, what really makes you tick. Like, really what really keeps you up at night, right? Those types of things. And you figure that out and you do the introspective work to do that. You know, you can really change your life and feel so much more joy. I live in chronic pain. And I was very happy in my previous life, right? But I feel joy now. And that comes from helping other people.

Leanne: Well, I just think when you are insecure, and you don't have much self worth, you can't help but be self serving because you're working from an emptiness. Like there's no room for helping other people. So it's almost like the confidence almost has to come first before you can, you know be more selfless. When you realized you were dependent on your appearance for so long, because I think I heard you were modeling since you were 11.

Christine Handy: Yes.

Leanne: That's your whole life.

Christine Handy: Yeah.

Leanne: When that kind of got ripped away from you. Can you walk us through like what you just said that whole experience of realizing like I need to focus on other things to help my self esteem.

Christine Handy: Yeah, I mean when I was when it was stripped away from me and I was really dependent on external things, not just external people, external accolades and of course, my physical dependency on my, what I look like, when that was stripped away from me, I felt total despair. I have never felt so low in my life, or I just didn't even want to live. And because I didn't know anything else, I was really caught up in the materialism, like you said, when we feel empty inside, we fill it with something. Some people fill it with alcohol, some people fill it with drugs, I was I was filling it with friends, I was filling it with false idols. I was filling it with bags, right, like going shopping. And it wasn't working. And so when I was faced with cancer after I just had a major illness, before that, I felt such despair. I didn't know how to move on. And I had a group of women in Dallas, who showed up for me. And when they started to show up for me, and they said to me, your value isn't about what you look like, we love you for who you are inside. And I thought they're bullshitting me. There's no way. They're just saying that because I'm sick. They're just trying to be nice to me. And it was this pride and ego that I had within myself, like, I'm not worthy, they're not going to keep showing up for me, I'm going to go through 15 months of chemo and cancer, they're going to forsake me. And I don't even know if I'm going to get through it. And I was focused on the outcome, right, I was focused on whether I was going to get through it. And when I was able to let go of the pride and able to let go of the ego and say to them and myself, I need help. I need you guys to show up. And you know, in this world, I think we're programmed as women to be so independent, and to take care of ourselves. And it's kind of a sign of weakness not to do that. It's actually not true. It's a sign of, it's a sign of courage to ask for help. And so when I started to ask for help, and people showed up for me, and they kept showing up for me, that nurtured my self esteem. So they were building the foundation, they were like a courage net for me. And then once that net was secure, they would say to me, once you're once you're done with chemo, and once you're off on your own, you now you are now on solid ground. And I believed that, and I believed in myself. And so there's tons of quiet moments when you're going through chemotherapy or when you're waiting for surgery. I mean, there are many days, I was just laying on my bathroom floor, I didn't get up for hours, because I was so ill. And it was during those times where I was like, Okay, who are you? Okay, what do you want to do with your life moving forward? If I get through this? What do I want to do? And how do I want to walk through this to show the people in my life? Like, do I want to show my kids here? Do I want to show my kids courage, it's our reaction to trauma that really matters. And so when people show up for you, and they have their like, the courage net, and then you start to feel good about yourself, and you start to rebuild from the inside out, then your life can really shift. Now, I know a lot of people who didn't do that, They got stuck in that paralysis of pain. You know, if you're in chronic pain, or if you are depleted from chronic illness and getting punched around in this world, which by the way, we all do on some level, right? Doesn't have to be cancer diagnosis, we all get pushed around. And so if you're not on solid ground, meaning you have a solid self esteem, and your life is built on something that can't be taken away, bags can be taken away, money can be taken away, friends can be taken away, taken away, your beauty can be taken away, and we're all going to age, right. So if we're not focused so much on that, and we focus on other things. For me, it's faith. I think it's too shaky. I don't think you can build your life on that I tried, it didn't work.

Calla: I recently heard that both fear and faith have the same heartbeat, but it's the lens in which you look out, you know, and that's how you attack things. And I thought it was just so beautiful. And then I had heard that right after I read "Walk Beside Me". And I was like, Well, okay, this makes a whole lot of sense. Right Now.

Leanne: Message Received.

Calla: Message Received. Definitely, definitely. And I love that. And as your perspective was shifting, and so what was your? If this is too personal? Don't Don't feel like you need to answer where you raised faith based? Spiritually, how did you start to lean into that?

Christine Handy: So I was raised Catholic, and I kind of I kind of walked away from Catholicism when I was in college. It didn't mean I walked away from God. But I didn't put a lot of time and effort into it. And it's interesting when I was right, might when I've young kids and my friends. I have really started these strong friendships in Dallas. My friends would say, "Hey, can you go to Bible study with me on Wednesday?" And I was like,"No, I've got a yoga class." And it was because the yoga was more important than the faith and I was building my life on that. Those are all choices, right? I chose to I chose to ignore that for a long time. It doesn't mean that I didn't have God in my heart and believe in that. I did. But I wasn't pouring into it. I wasn't meditating on that I was meditating on other things, which, by the way, were taken away from me.

Calla:Yeah, that's true. I didn't think of that aspect of it.

Christine Handy: Yeah. Like, you you read my book, like think about my arm, like yoga was an idol for me. Now, I can't even do yoga. You know, materialism, shopping was an idol for me. I can hardly carry a bag. I usually carry the ones that you know, go around your chest.

Leanne: Can you go into that part of your story about what happened with your arm and the doctor and everything.

Christine Handy: Yeah. So I think, let me start off with this. I think when you're insecure, you listen to other voices. You listen to negativity in your own mind, but you also listen to outside voices that maybe aren't really cheering you on. And so when I had a torn ligament, my right wrist, I went to see a doctor in Dallas, who happened to be a Stanford grad, who haven't beat the best clinic right? And, and so I trusted him. So he performed the surgery on my right wrist, and six weeks later, the cast came off. And the day after the cast came off, my arm literally ballooned, like I woke up the next morning, which is Sunday, and my arm looked like my thigh bone. It was grotesquely swollen, the pain was indescribable. And so I called the doctor that Sunday, which by the way, I was ashamed to do, because I thought, "Oh I'm putting him out, it's Sunday, I don't want to bother him." But I got up enough courage to call him and he told me that I over-iced it. Well, because I don't have a medical degree, I believed him. And the other thing about intense pain, which I now know, is when you are in intense pain, you cling to people of authority, and you don't remember things that are unimportant. So everything that he said to me was like Bible, okay, just tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do, because the pain was so intense. So a couple of days later, I said to my husband, will you please call the doctor, the pain is so horrific, I can't even get out of bed, I stopped eating and drinking anything. So I didn't have to go to the restroom. I carried my arm on my chest like a baby. And so I finally got into see my doctor. And he said, you have this condition called RSD. He did not take a blood test, which again, I didn't notice he did not do an x ray. And he said, you have this connection in your brain where your brain is telling your limb, which is in this case was my right arm, that there's pain and swelling, but it's a misfire, it's really a condition in your head. And I thought, okay, so I googled it, right? And I figured out, okay, I've got six months to get any movement in my right wrist because RSD what it can do, if you have RSD is it limits the motion. And whatever limit is, for instance, it was my right arm. So he then sends me to a pain management doctor who concurs with his diagnosis. So now I have two doctors who said I have this condition called RSD. So I believe them. So for several months, I go to physical therapy that he he gave, you know, prescribed for me at Parkland Hospital. So he wanted to get me away from his office, he didn't want me to do physical therapy in his office. Now, again, looking back, I have a greater view of what was going on. But I didn't realize at the time. So he sends me far away from his office, I do physical therapy four or five days a week, every week, because I'm trying my best to get some movement in my right wrist before it locks up. Months later, I have other people in my life going you got to get a second opinion. Things are getting worse, not better. And I was like, no, he's a Stanford grad. He's the guy. You know, when he and this other doctor said the same thing. I'm good. I'm good. Even though I wasn't good. My hair was thinning. I was losing weight. There were other signs that were going on. And so I was just so focused on getting some movement in my wrist that that's all I was meditating on. And so ultimately, I'm walking in the neighborhood doing my daily walk. And one of the parks and recreation guys comes over to me. And he goes, Hey, and like he knew me. And I said hi. And he said, You have a new cast on today. And I looked at him I go, What do you mean? He goes, Well, gosh, you've had so many casts over the last several months. You know, I see walking all the time. And I looked out at my arm and at that point I'd had like 13 or 14 cast. And I immediately said to myself, You got to have a second opinion. And so I called a friend and she got me into a doctor. And the next day, I was in emergency surgery to cut out as much infection because I had an infection the entire seven months. That was slowly eating away my arm everything, every bone in my wrist was broken. I had no cartilage left. And that doctor bullied me. He dismissed me. He called me hysterical, hysterical housewife. One day, I sent him a picture of this piece of metal that popped out of one of the openings from the original surgery. And he told me that I made that picture up. Now, I didn't even tell my husband, that he had said that because I felt such shame. When we are bullied, we feel shame. And we feel paralyzed. I had no self esteem, that man was making my self esteme worse. And I was believing him because I didn't have enough confidence in myself. Ultimately, that on top of breast cancer fueled me to change my life. Fueled me to figure out Wait, something's not right. Like I'm, I'm putting my value in things that are sinking, I need to change this. And so it was those extreme situations that really propelled me to change and shift in my life. And now I live in chronic pain, unfortunately. And I have a fused arm, which means I don't have a wrist. So I'm handicapped. I'm in chronic pain, and I just deal with it.

Leanne: Did you have any communication with that doctor after you found out what was actually going on? Because that's absurd.

Christine Handy: It's disgusting. What he did to me was disgusting. We actually sued him, because I needed I wanted him to not to do it to somebody else. And when we went into mediation, he he was on, he was sitting in a different room. But when I got up to go the bathroom and by the way, when I was suing him, I was going through chemotherapy. So I had no hair. I was still in a cast in my arm. I was still in a cast. I had no hair and no eyelashes. And so I walked by him, and he smiled and laughed at me.

Leanne: Oh, I just got chills.

Christine Handy: Like at the lowest point in my life, the guy laughed at me. And I was like, I you know, it took me a while to forgive him. But I did forgive him. And here's why. It was too much weight that I was carrying. I was giving him too much power in my life. I had to I had to take all the power that he had taken from me. And I was like, I can't let you have another thought in my head. So I don't even think about him. Never. I mean, people ask me about all the time because it's such a sad story. And it's funny because people read my book and they're like, like, kind of get the breast cancer but the arm like it was when-

Calla: You do, you get hung up on the arm, you get really hung up on the arm. I was mad. I was mad when I was reading it.

Christine Handy: Well, and that's the other thing about anger, like we I have righteous anger, you have righteous anger. But if we stay in that anger, that's a choice

Calla: It becomes us.

Christine Handy: We can't stay in that anger. Right?

Leanne: Do you have trouble trusting doctors after that experience?

Christine Handy: So I did, I was diagnosed with cancer, I had gone up to New York City to have my arm fused, obviously, to get a new doctor. And in a hotel room in New York City, about to go see a doctor who just sees my arm, I have my six-week post arm fusion checkup. So I'm going to pass or my fingertips to my shoulder, right? You can't even brush your hair. When you have a cast like that. You can't do anything. It's paralysis in and of itself. You're so dependent on other people just for the simplest basic things, I couldn't even get dressed without help. So I'm in the shower. And for the months that I had a cast on in Dallas, I just poured liquid soap over my shoulder and just let it wash down my body. That's how I wash my body. Because I have this big cast and it's outside of the shower, right? So I'm in New York City, and I've got this big cast. And I'm like reaching out of the shower, and I look in the shower, and I'm in a hotel and there's no liquid soap. And so I'm exhausted, like what am I going to do now? So I take this bar soap and I'm like, I'll try to I'll try to wash as much as I can. And I feel a lump in my breast. And I just think there's no way. There's no way I have breast cancer. I have no family history of breast cancer. I'm 41 I'm a self proclaimed athlete. I am allergic to sugar.I'm other than this arm deal. I'm healthy. Sure enough, five days later, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. So yeah, things got pretty crazy quickly. And interestingly enough, we had to postpone chemo for a month. So I go meet an oncologist, right? Here's the trust with a doctor and before I even walk into his office, I'm thinking to myself, I'm not doing what he says, I'm not going to trust him. You know, doctors are liars. And that was a false idol for me. And I walk into his office and he goes, Oh, so you're the girl with the arm. He completely like has compassion.

Calla: He read. He knew your story.

Christine Handy: He knew my story. He made me feel like a person. And so I was I was I bought in right then, you know, if we show people compassion and empathy, it changes the whole dynamic. If we don't hear people, if we don't listen to each other, if we don't acknowledge each other, our self esteem is destroyed just by those things. Like we have to show up for each other. It's a privilege. But I feel like in this world, we get we a lot of us feel put out by helping other people, friends, it's a privilege. Like every single day, we have an opportunity to help other people who wouldn't sign up for that.

Leanne: I wish we had more people that felt that way.

Christine Handy: I mean, it is a it's a choice for sure. But but here's the thing that comes back to you, you get joy. So in essence, it's a it's a two way street. You're helping other people and by them receiving it, and by them changing or feeling inspired. They're giving you courage to to do more.

Calla: How on the nose was your character Willow to your life? Was it pretty accurate was the story in tandem for the most part?

Christine Handy: Yeah, so it's really a fictional depiction of my life. We did change the names and things like that just to protect some people. My book is actually being made into a film called Willow the feature film

Calla: So excited.

Leanne: That is so cool.

Christine Handy: I am to they, they, they market it as kind of a cross between the movie Wild and Steel Magnolias. Like, we need a good chick flick. Right? This is gonna be it. I just know it. And so the most beautiful thing about the screenplay is that it really mirrors my book. A lot of times books are the adaptation of books to film don't quite mirror the book. They're similar, but they don't really mirror it. This the adaptation, the screenplay really mirrors my book. So it's on the big screen, it's gonna look very much like the book.

Calla: Oh, my gosh, that's so exciting. So the character Willow, and now clearly you she was alone a lot of the time through all of these health issues. Yeah. Do you feel like there was a purpose for that in your life that you had to go through a lot of this alone?

Christine Handy: Yeah, because I was really codependent. And I really thought that other people like my husband, he should be taking care of me. And when I was going through that, obviously very traumatic time, and there was a lot of alone time, I had to really realize that no, I was the captain of my ship, I was in charge of my destiny. I didn't have to rely on other people. Of course, I needed help. And we all need help. And I'm a big preacher about that we need to even the simplest things can help other people a text, a call, FaceTime. You know, dropping something small off, it doesn't have to be financially a burden for you. But I needed to realize that I was good enough alone, I was good enough on my own. And subsequently I am I'm going through divorce, and I'm okay. Like I'm okay with who I am. In fact, I love who I am. And I'm okay with the place I am in. But years ago, I would have never felt comfortable being alone. So I think there's always purpose in pain, we just have to choose to see it.

Calla: Your girlfriends or your angels were a big, a big, big part of your recovery, I would say in the people that really helped you get through. And I know for me in my life, I had a very hard time having female relationships for a very long time. And now that I have a group of women that I can count on, I know that it's like life changing for me, can you speak a little bit about them and what they meant to your life?

Christine Handy: Well, I think if I didn't have those women show up for me, I would never have built that confidence in myself. So sometimes, sometimes we have to have somebody start it. And it can have that chain, you know, that overall effect that kind of wave effect on us. But somebody has to start it. And if you can't start it yourself, for me, I couldn't start it myself. I was so used to feeling bad about myself, I was stuck. And so when they started to show up for me, thankfully, I picked good friends and I guess I was a good friend or they wouldn't have hung around. And again, I mean, we and I used to say to them, I said well, this is another illness. I mean, they had taken me to physical therapy for months already. So it was now this is the was the third illness and I said, Well, are you gonna? Are you going to still help me and they said, It's okay. All the seasons of our life aren't happy. And just because you've had three kind of bad ones doesn't mean we're gonna leave you. There's going to be many, many seasons of flourishing in your life, and we're going to be there for that too. And so that kind of confidence that they had in me, built up my confidence. And so yes, there was a lot of alone time and there was a lot of time for introspection, but these women, they they took charge of my life. And they taught me what to do and they taught me how to lead for myself by modeling that for me. And so right now if I can model for other people independence and strength and courage through a lot of pain, then maybe that Give somebody courage to do it themselves. Right?

Calla: That's beautiful. Thank you.

Leanne: I want to go back to the movie. I think that's so cool. Is it surreal? What is it like to have a movie made about your own life?

Christine Handy: You know, it is surreal. And I think that the only way that I feel about it is it has nothing to do with my name. It almost doesn't have anything to do with my story. But there needs to be a story about this, there needs to be a story about women championing each other. There needs to be a story about breast cancer, because it's everywhere, unfortunately. There needs to be a story of hope. And there needs to be a good chick flick. And so if it's my story, I'm very grateful for that. But I'm not caught up in all the other stuff about it. I have no pride in it. I have no ego in it. It's not like, I look at myself and go, Oh, you know what? Good job. You know what I mean? I don't get caught up in that. Because again, I don't get caught up in things that can be taken away. Like, what if it wasn't successful? When I feel bad about myself? No. Because my measures with God, it's not with a film. It's not with my success of my book.

Leanne: It's not with the success of my speaking. My measure is different than it used to be. Do you have any like roles or creative license in the making of it?

Christine Handy: Oh, so I had control over the script. So I had the first right of refusal. And so when the when the screenplay writer His name is Ziad Hamzeh. He's incredible. He's an Oscar award winning screenplay writer, and director. When he wrote the screenplay. We both had entertainment lawyers work with us. And I said, I just want to have the last right of refusal for the script. So even when it's being made into a film, I, if they tweak the script, I can come in there and go, No, I don't like that. Or I don't like this. It has to be, you know, whatever. And so that part I really love. I kind of have control over that. But I have no control over who plays me. I have no control over the care, you know, the casting, I'll be on set. It takes about 30 days to shoot a film. So I'll be on set the whole time.

Leanne: Thats it? 30 days?

Christine Handy: Yep.

Leanne: Holy cow.

Christine Handy: Yep, all films.

Calla: It's a system.

Christine Handy: It's a system! And they also gave me two walk on part. So I can pick two friends to have a walk on.

Leanne: Oh, so cool. We'll be there. I'm just kidding.

Christine Handy: I feel like we're gonna walk the red carpet, I really do feel like this film is going to be very successful, because I think we need it. Like I said, it's important.

Leanne: We will definitely see it for sure.

Calla: There is a part in the book as well. There's two parts really that that stood out for me as like, Okay, I really needed to hear that one. Was that the part of the psychiatrist office or with your sister, or Willows sister, I don't, I don't know.

Christine Handy: It's my sister. That happened.

Calla: I want to make sure I have it accurate. At this point you were contemplating suicide, and you told her that you just did not want to live anymore. And that whole dialogue? How impactful was that for you? And do you still find yourself in moments of distress thinking about that?

Christine Handy: I think it was a good teaching moment for me, because I really felt that kind of despair, I felt that low. And when you feel that despair, you don't make good choices. And you really do in those moments have to rely on people that really love you to help you through those moments. And it's not shameful to feel that way. In fact, it's powerful to be able to share that, you know, if we have enough courage to say, this is how I felt then think about all those people that contemplate suicide and they're alone in their thoughts. And they can see a success story. And so my sister, what she said was important for me because I needed to hear that. And then I had another friend expand on that. She sat me down and she said, you know, this can be a generational burden. This can turn into multi generational things happening and it affects of course, other people and and I just You just get so caught up in the your own pain. I wasn't thinking about the pain of other people. And you know, I I don't know it, my brain wasn't functioning in the right way. And so, my sister saying that my friend saying that all those things helped me overcome that despair. And interestingly enough, my son was supposed to come home. He was my older son was in boarding school. And he was supposed to come home from boarding school, the first weekend that I after I was diagnosed, and he got in trouble at school. And then he got in trouble the next weekend. And then he got in trouble a third weekend. So by the time and I was using that opportunity for him to come home to love on him and to say I love you, but I was going to take my life. And so by the time he actually came home, which was postponed by three weeks, I was all in to save my life. So I needed that postponement and that was God.

Calla: Yeah, that's a God thing.

Christine Handy: Yeah. That that was God. God's mercy is in God's grace, thankfully, right, I wouldn't be here telling you about my story.

Calla: Yeah. The second thing for me that really hit home was with the Halloween decorations. And obviously, we're like knee deep in that, you know, season right now and what your friends did and how they came to you and said, you know, what you're surrounded by is not life giving, you know, you're surrounded by death, even if you're doing it not think like, you know, unconsciously having it surrounding you. And I just thought that that was such a neat way that they showed up for you. Have you continued that?

Christine Handy: So when my I was diagnosed with cancer, and October 1, my first chemo was October 31. Halloween, and when my friends would come over, they look around my house, and there was skulls and goblins and things that didn't represent life, even my dog bowl had some skull and crossbones. And my friend said, we can't have that in your house, we have to bring in plants, we have to bring in life, you know, things that you can see that our life, I represent life. And so I never even thought about that. And so I went through, I was in my closet one day, during that time, and I saw this beautiful scarf that I had that had skull and crossbones on it, and I gave it to a friend, I was like, I can't even have the scarf anymore. Because I so believe in that. And it's true. Like, if you look around in your life, and you you see things that represent that you watch the news all the time, man, you're gonna feel very fearful. It's what we listen to. It's what we see who we surround ourselves with. I would I'm very careful about who I follow on social media. Because I don't want that negativity. I don't want that noise, right? I want I want to see things that are hopeful and life giving.

Leanne:That's so intuitive that they even thought that about Halloween decorations. Because you know if that thought about how you can absorb the things you listen to and the things you see, but even in terms of decorations I wouldn't have even taken it that far. But at that point in your life, that makes perfect sense.