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Rising Stars: Meet Nicolle D. Surratte

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicolle D. Surratte.

Hi Nicolle, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Health and wellness has been an imporant part of my life since high school. I never smoked or drank, monitored what I ate, and exercised regularly. These practices continued into adulthood as part of my lifestyle. I even decided to get certified as an aerobics instruction and completed two marathons as a racewalker. Imagine my surprise in June of 2011 when I heard two words that forever changed my life – “It’s cancer.”

I was surprised not only by the breast cancer diagnosis, but to learn later that it was an advanced stage. The call came as I was preparing to leave the office for the day. When I arrived home and walked through the door, the silence was so loud – “cancer.” As the tears began to fall, God got my attention. He reminded me that during the years I spent on “Separated Street” and “Divorce Drive,” He provided everything that my young children and I needed. Because God did all of that and more, I knew He could handle a cancer diagnosis. At this point, my goal became living – by any means necessary.

My first call was to my second mom. She knew a lot about health issues and suggested a cancer treatment center. I could not reach out to my biological mom because she was in a nursing home facility battling Alzheimer’s. The next call was to my third mom, my spiritual mom. In addition to needing a medical team, I knew my need for God would be greater than ever.

With a Stage 0-1 diagnosis, cancer treatment began the following month. The plan was simple – the tumor would be removed and radiation would be administered on the table. I was thrilled at the prospect of not having to undergo chemotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, that surgery revealed that the cancer spread beyond what the initial test results indicated. I went from Stage 0-1 to Stage 3C. This aggressive cancer would require aggressive treatment which would begin with chemotherapy.

I received a call about my mom as I waited for that first six plus hour chemo treatment. As her caregiver and power of attorney, my permission was needed for hospice care to begin. Trying to juggle everything by myself was extremely challenging. In addition to receiving cancer treatment, I was a single mom of two college students, working full-time and my family members lived hours away. Weeks later, I found myself planning Mom’s funeral.

Low white blood cell counts resulted in chemo treatments being delayed and then discontinued. A second surgery was now added to the treatment plan. That surgery was successful and chemo treatments resumed followed by weeks of radiation treatment. The low white blood cell count remained an issue.

Treatment that was supposed to last six months took a year and a half. This “Pink Sea Journey” is chronicled in my award-winning memoir, “The Voice of Victory in the Valley: Diary of a Breast Cancer Thriver.” The book is a behind the scenes look at the roller coaster ride of cancer. The curtain is pulled back to reveal how private pain in the valley can lead to a path of purpose, a purpose that cancer cannot kill.

From the beginning, I knew that there was purpose in my diagnosis. Cancer did not happen TO me. It happened FOR me. After leaving my job to finish treatment, it became apparent that I needed to be on a platform promoting health and wellness as a lifestyle. I began speaking professionally through my company NspireD, LLC. Stress became the focal point because I believed it played a huge role in my breast cancer diagnosis.

I also realized the need to help other women diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving the necessary training, I began speaking with women across the country to assist them on their cancer journey. I also worked with local and national breast cancer organizations as a patient advocate. This included creating community initiatives and speaking on Capitol Hill.

In addition to being an inspirational speaker, author and patient advocate, NspireD expanded in 2021. I went back to school to get certified as a health coach and started A Health Coach for Me. I help women reach the health goals that matter most to them with a focus on stress management, self-care and lifestyle changes. As a breast cancer “thriver,” I do not want a diagnosis of any type to be the wake-up call that forces women to pay attention to their health and wellness practices.

Through A Health Coach for Me, women are “NspireD” to make a change… one step at a time!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road was not always smooth or predictable. Some of my challenges included the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, the death of my mother, job loss and becoming a solopreneur. One of the most important lessons I learned is the connection between challenges and change. A challenge, literally and figuratively, includes change. Embedded within the word “challenge” is the word “change” (CHA-lle-NGE). Change is not easy or comfortable, and will not happen overnight. It is necessary for growth as well as development. And, failing to change can prove to be detrimental or worse yet, deadly.

As it relates to health and wellness, I believe women know they need to make change. However, they may be overwhelmed by the amount of change they need to make that they hit the default button and do nothing. The women with whom I work are “NspireD” to make change one step at a time. Small changes over time can result in huge improvements.

In addition to the external challenges, internal challenges existed too. As the “go to” person for family and friends when they needed various types of help, I needed help and was too proud to ask. It was equally important for me to change my inner dialogue. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of words. Then and now, I have to be mindful of the narrative I apply to my life experiences. Those stumbling blocks are really stepping stones, tests are testimonies, obstacles are opportunities, the messes are messages and every problem is a possibility.

During those most challenging times, I remembered the phrase I coined. “Every day is a good day ~ some are just better than others.”

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I believe women are modern-day Superwomen dealing with a modern-day kryptonite called stress. Stress is combatted with self-care. Self-care is not selfish, but essential to every aspect of health and well-being. Women are not being well when they take care of everyone and everything else except themselves. This topic is addressed in a chapter entitled, “When Superwoman Needs to Hang Up Her Cape.” I am a contributing author in Voices of the 21st Century: Conscious, Caring Women who Make a Difference, an Amazon International Bestseller featuring 50 women from around the world.

My approach to health is holistic in nature. The term “health” extends beyond the physical to include the mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, occupational and the relational. It is a mistake to view these areas in isolation when they are very much connected. When self-care is incorporated into one’s daily life, those with whom we live, work and play benefit as well.

I serve as an inspirational speaker for organizations and groups virtually and in-person. Additionally, one-on-one coaching and group detox programs are available for women. Through A Health Coach for Me, women are “NspireD” to make a change…one step at a time!

What sets me apart from other health coaches is that I have formal training as well as lived experience as a breast cancer “thriver.” With more than 25 years in the field of education, I use my understanding of learning styles when working with adults. My love of learning and desire to lead by example keeps me researching and expanding my knowledge base so that I can share information with others.

I am most proud of the accomplishments my clients have achieved to date. Clients have lowered A1C levels, decreased sugar cravings, increased water intake, and are engaged in more movement activities. They have also incorporated new habits such as mindfully eating, and getting more restorative and restful sleep. I enjoy helping clients make connections and providing them with a variety of strategies for their stress management toolkit.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
For new solopreneurs, I would encourage you to: – get a business mentor. A trusted advisor of this type can be extremely valuable in helping you see the big picture. Surround yourself with someone who believes in you and your vision.

  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Comparison is sure to kill confidence. Everyone solopreneur is not meant to run a six-figure business. Stay in your lane and serve the people you are meant to serve with a spirit of excellency.
  • Believe that where you are is where you are supposed to be. There is no need to be a second class someone else when you can be a first class you.
  • Be patient with yourself and the process. Being a business owner is not for the faint at heart. Know that you will probably work harder than you ever have before and that the payoffs will be greater than you ever imagined.
  • Celebrate each win. Acknowledge every victory regardless of its size or perceived value. The difference you make in the lives of others may not be seen immediately.

I started out wanting to change the world overnight and managed to spread myself too thin. As a result, I began to chase after every “shiny gold coin.” I started following too many people, all of whom had different ideas on how to best handle a certain component of by business. With these often opposing schools of thought, it was confusing and not a good use of time or money as I invested in too many programs (i.e. grow your email list, marketing that works). Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

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Pics By Nigel

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