Exercise has always been an integral part of Angela Ardington’s life, from being a highly passionate and competitive squash player to becoming a longstanding member of Elixr. A cancer diagnosis in 2017 set her on a path of treatment and ultimately recovery, and she now values life and her community of family and friends more than ever. She shares her inspiring story with us here.
You've been an Elixr member for 15 years (wow!). What have been some of the highlights of your journey thus far?
Elixr is very special and it has THE BEST instructors, which is to be expected with Richard at the helm. He tolerates only the highest professional standards, which is an ethos I truly value and benefit from. The entire team – from the instructors and reception staff to the behind-the-scenes staff and the members – form a unique and special community. One that is enthusiastic, enlightened, friendly and caring. Hence my 15-year commitment, and hopefully another 15 to come!
What are your favourite classes and why do you love them?
It’s very difficult to pick a favourite as it depends on how I'm feeling, but yoga wall is right up there. I love the inversions!
You've been a lecturer at the University of Sydney. What have been the most interesting aspects of your job?
I've recently retired (well, semi-retired) from an engaging career as lecturer in linguistics at the University of Sydney. It’s very stimulating being around young active minds. Overseas conference trips were a distinct bonus too.
You were diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year – can you share some of your story with us?
2017 began very much like any other year, and I enjoyed a fabulous trip to Myanmar in February. Things changed drastically in May though, when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a massive shock. Fortunately, the cancer was diagnosed at a very early stage, but it was aggressive. Typically, ovarian cancer presents at an advanced stage, as there are few symptoms and currently no screening programs available, unlike some other forms of cancer. There was little time for reflection – I had radical surgery within three days, which was followed by chemotherapy. My life started to take on a surreal quality. This was definitely NOT on the bucket list!
What are some of the things that gave you strength during your treatment and recovery?
Life is full of unexpected events and these challenges only serve to make us stronger and more appreciative of every precious day. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such loving kindness. That extends from my family to an extensive 'family' of friends, many of whom I've met through Elixr, and who have shown such generosity. You have all been wonderfully understanding, sensitive and supportive during this challenging time. Thank you all for being there; I couldn't have made it without you.
How has this experience changed your outlook – on life, health, and happiness?
It has highlighted the fragility of life and human vulnerability. It has taught me to value each precious day; to try to be kinder, more patient and tolerant. It has also taught me to seize the day; this is not a practice run!
You're a yoga enthusiast – what benefits has yoga added to your life, physically and mentally?
I have been practicing various types of yoga (Iyengar, hatha, restorative and yoga wall classes) and they’ve added tremendous benefits to my life. Through the practice of yoga, you become stronger and more flexible. You also become intimately connected or attuned to your body. This heightened awareness enabled me to notice even small physical changes. I truly believe that my yoga practice was extremely valuable and helpful in prompting me to take early action and seek medical advice, and probably helped to save my life. Those insights developed through yoga, coupled with the advanced medical care and expertise we are fortunate to have here in Sydney, make me feel very thankful.
What's the best part of your day and why?
Mornings are good – there's a whole new day ahead!
What's your best health habit? And your worst?
My best is getting out into the fresh air and into the ocean, usually after an Elixr workout. My worst is watching too much Nordic Noir.
What are some of your favourite spots in Sydney?
• Nielsen Park beach, an oasis of peace, particularly out of peak summer.
• Sculpture by the Sea in November along the Bondi–Bronte coastal walk.
• The Art Gallery of NSW, which is always interesting.
If you could have dinner with anyone (past or present), who would it be?
That's a tough one – probably Barack Obama.
You've mentioned that falling ill was definitely not on your bucket list. What experience or goal is on your bucket list?
I'm a huge fan of the TV series The Bridge – I would love to drive a khaki Porsche over the Malmo Bridge from Denmark to Sweden.
Do you have a favourite quote or life motto?
The last time I was in lockdown was in 1969, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, because racial riots broke out...