Chioma Onyuike is a Certified Leadership Trainer, Speaker, and strengths Coach and a mum of three beautiful boys. I recently discovered that this lovely woman overcame a rare form of cancer years ago and in the process emerged renewed and full of drive and purpose. The Lord gave her ‘beauty for ashes’ and she is fully empowered to help others on their journey of self-discovery.
Hello Chioma, please tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Switzerland, in a small town called Uster in the year 1981. I spent a huge part of my growing up years in Lagos from the age of 7 where I went to live with my Mum’s sister and her family.
I studied law and became a lawyer in 2007. I started off my legal career in Udo Udoma and Belo Osagie. In 2009, I decided to leave and do some soul searching on my next career move. I spent a few years being a home maker and caring for my kids who were young at the time. I also spent a lot of time in quiet reflection, contemplation and prayer seeking direction and more clarity on my next move.
As a result of that, and life’s experiences I explored coaching. I’m now a leadership and strengths empowerment coach. I guide individuals towards living authentically, passionately and purposefully by empowering them to discover and unlock their innate gifts and talents so that they can live fulfilled while impacting their world.
You mentioned living with you Aunt and I know you come from a large extended family how did that impact who you are today ?
Well my experiences and character has been formed as a result of the nurture as well as the values that have somehow shaped who I am, and has given me an identity as I come into my own – having gone through the journey of self discovery.
You are survivor! Please tell us about the moment you were diagnosed with cancer and how you overcame the disease.
Yes and I will forever be thankful for the experience, for the pruning and refining in the moments of adversity.
I was diagnosed in the year 2008 after a series of tests to figure out what was wrong. It started with feeling bloated ever so often. Although initially I did not give it much thought as I was pursuing my career with such fervent and passion, a few people would ask whether I was pregnant. I decided to take it seriously when I would feel like I had eaten an enormous meal when in fact I had only had a handful.
I went for a series of tests and it was discovered I had ovarian cancer. I travelled to the UK for treatment after I was referred to an oncologist who I would say was orchestrated by God. It turns out that oncologist was one of a few in England who had dealt with my own specific cancer as it was rare. I went through chemotherapy and my first course of chemo sent me to a coma as my body did not respond to it. I spent about 2 days and came around and another course of chemo with a different compilation of drugs was offered. This I was told was much toxic and my husband was made to sign a consent for.
As I begin the new course my blood counts began to show some improvement and the cancer cells began to diminish. Over the course of 4 months I was given the all clear but had to return back every 6 months for a follow up.
The initial shock and pity party and the questions gradually turned into hope and faith as I sought God at the time. Before my ordeal I never really had the experience of a living relationship with God. To say the least my experience of God was that of some divine being who was far away and that was all there was to it.
God revealed Himself and His love to me in ways that I never imagined and that had a huge impact in my attitude and disposition knowing that I would get the better from this moreso in my character and spiritual growth than my physical outlook. I would not have traded this experience because it catapulted me into my purpose.
In what other ways did the experience impact your life?
It brought home the brevity of life and the fact that we are here not to live on out own terms but to complete an assignment that has been delegated to us.
Having passed this through this ordeal made me a more compassionate and empathetic person and embrace the fact that injustice, poverty and oppression affects us all and we must not sit on the sidelines and become elusive to the pains and cries of others.
I also came to realise that my ordeal however unpleasant was a divine invitation to gain clarity concerning my true identity and purpose.
You are a John Maxwell certified life coach tell us a little about this.
Yes, John Maxwell is currently recognized as the No.1 expert on Leadership and personal development, so it was a no brainer for me to be part of this phenomenal team. I am privileged to be mentored by him and his team.
As a John Maxwell coach utilising the John Maxwell materials to help individuals, small and medium sized businesses to develop their middle managers and their high potentials in order to help their organisations grow.
I am also a strengths empowerment coach guiding and inspiring people to discover, unlock and call forth their strengths to live authentically, purposefully and passionately while impacting their world.
I remember you as a quiet almost reticent young lady how have you been able to put away “shyness” to embrace your purpose and passion.
I am naturally a quiet and introverted person but over the years I have learned to do it afraid even with the butterflies in the pit of my stomach and the nervousness. Being shy does seem less harsh than fear. They are however synonymous. I have learned that fear is only a mental construct that we fuel with thoughts that destroys our greatness.
You are also a mum and wife,how are you able to combine your busy life as a life coach with running a family?
Yes I am with 3 really active boys! How I’m able to cope is truly beyond me. I attribute it to God’s ever abounding grace and relying completely on his strength in my times of weakness.
What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
Being in tune with nature brings to life my creative side and enables me to reflect and reevaluate and re-calibrate. I give my good old self some pampering at the spa at the very least once a month. It is part of my vital self-care to rejuvenate me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I believe self care is very essential because when it comes to achieving results I have got to be in the right state of mind and state of being. Our thoughts are what contributes to calling forth that which we desire as well as our attitude to life.
On a final note what advice do you have for young women struggling to find their passion and align themselves with it?
There is not a one size fits all approach to finding your passion. However, our innate gifts leave clues as to what our passion is. It all starts with discovering and calling forth our gifts and talents in response to the needs of our greater whole.
One thing I ask people in their quest to discover their passion is to figure out the one or few things that they do that repeatedly brings success. Its important to note that finding your passion is not an overnight discovery rather it’s a process of actively and gently experimenting, testing different directions and being sensitive to circumstances, until you find yourself gaining momentum and in flow, you will know that you are on the right path.
Thanks for talking to us Chioma