Katie Ruane doesn’t do anything the ‘normal’ way, from her diagnosis of ‘old man’s cancer’ when she was 22, to training as a Naturopath as a mature student. Katie’s drive is to do the best she can each day. Life is too short not to be, so having a career in something that she loves is so important; and she does. Katie is a daughter, sister, friend, auntie, Naturopath and charity trustee first and foremost. If Katie can have a positive impact on someone whether it’s helping them with their health so they feel better, by being part of an NHS cancer focus group to make someone else’s diagnosis and treatment better, or by looking after her niece’s, then that’s a life worth living.
You were diagnosed with cancer aged 22, but you haven’t let it define or stop you. You’ve set up a business, completed two degrees and even ran the London Half Marathon and Great North Run twice. Where do you get your motivation and drive from?
In my third year at university, aged 22, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer: Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. It’s rare because I am young and female, and most people diagnosed with it are male and between 40 – 60 years old.
This type of cancer was first diagnosed in the 1950s, so they’ve been able to treat it at a genetic level for a long time. Because of this, I was told I was ‘lucky’ – I wouldn’t die, I could take these pills and my life would be better than ever – and so it set my mindset as positive. I was diagnosed at such a formative time and I didn’t let it define me because at that point I didn’t know who I was going to be without cancer anyway! So of course, I carried on.
I am also the product of two very driven parents and my siblings are very motivated too. I’m incredibly competitive, but only with myself, so I’m constantly trying to outdo myself!
Is your willingness to try new things an inherent trait?
Yes: I always think ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ I have a different approach to life to most of my peers. Life is short and you only have one go, so why not try? I just get out of bed and try to do the best I can. I’ve always been a glass half full kind of person!
You moved to London to start your career. Did you always have clear professional goals?
When I moved to London, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. My first job was as a Personal Assistant, which didn’t really work out for me. So, I thought long and hard about what I really cared about, what I was passionate about and decided I would go back to University. I spent 4 years studying science and became a Naturopath.
Where did your passion for Naturopathy begin?
I worked out what mattered to me and what I cared about. I knew I liked helping people and I love food. And what you eat has a huge impact on your health. I know we won’t fix everything with food, but medicine is finally acknowledging that it does help.
Naturopathy ticked all the boxes – it’s a mix of nutrition and other therapies. I chose this career path because I knew I didn’t want to be miserable at work with a job I didn’t care about. I knew I had to do something I was passionate about.