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Female Disruptors: Cheryl Dowling Of The IVF Warrior On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Don’t compare your journey to others. — There’s a saying “comparison is the thief of joy”, I believe this holds true for so many different situations in life. Whether it’s comparing relationships, careers, finances, real estate, travel, or more. Comparing usually leaves you feeling really crappy and full of negative self-talk. It’s important to remember that everyone’s path is different and what you see from the outside, isn’t often the full story. Be kind to yourself and focus on you, it’s more productive.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cheryl Dowling.

Cheryl Dowling is a Certified Counselor, women’s health advocate, and founder of The IVF Warrior, a leading fertility health and wellness platform connecting people from all over the world who are struggling with fertility issues and navigating different paths to parenthood. On The IVF Warrior she provides support, resources, and empowerment across multiple social platforms to those struggling with infertility.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Absolutely! My background is in both mental health and business. Many years ago, I landed a position as a women’s mental health counselor. Focusing my career on women’s health and wellness wasn’t what I originally envisioned, but I can’t imagine having any other focus. It’s truly shaped who I am today. I’ve supported women struggling with mental health issues in many settings, and have had countless clients navigating infertility and loss too. This showed me how complex these issues are, and how misunderstood and isolating they can be.

Around this time, I started my own fertility journey. What came afterwards was an infertility diagnosis, multiple rounds of IVF, and recurrent pregnancy loss to build my family. I felt first-hand how emotional and isolating infertility, IVF, and loss were. This is when my current platform, The IVF Warrior was founded. I recognized while navigating my path to parenthood that support and resources for those experiencing fertility issues was very limited. I started sharing my story, as well as providing information for those trying to conceive or dealing with different health struggles while trying to grow their family. I’ve been able to combine my professional background in both counseling and business with my personal struggles. It’s not something many do, but I was able to take pain and struggles to create something meaningful and helpful to so many. It’s something I’m very passionate about.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

1 in 4 experience loss. 1 in 6 experience infertility. Statistics you never think you’ll be part of, but once you become part of them, you realize how common it is, yet no one talks about it. I knew that something had to be done to change this. No one should ever have to face the toughest battle of their life in silence.

The work I do is disruptive for many reasons including the fact that I talk about the things that are typically battled silently. I encourage others to share their story if their comfortable. I remind people that they don’t have to suffer in silence to make other people comfortable, and that no matter what you’re facing, you’re not alone. Infertility, mental health, and pregnancy loss are still so stigmatized and taboo. Many still believe that someone’s personal struggles should remain “personal”, and that talking about them is attention seeking or inappropriate. It’s been my mission to break down these walls so those struggling have a safe-space to access resources and much-needed support.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Not double-checking work! Posting social content with spelling errors is a hard lesson. I learned quickly to even triple check before posting content online, especially content that can’t be edited! People love to correct errors and call people out on mistakes — you see it daily on social media posts for various platforms. To this day, memes stating “I do my best editing after I press send”, still get me. It happens to the best of us, but I definitely had a few situations of having to take down graphics and/or other content to fix it. So, lesson learned, always check your work!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

There have been so many amazing people I’ve met throughout the years who’ve supported, guided, or coached me. People who have inspired me, believed in me, and encouraged me along the way. Two that come to mind are:

Erin Bulcao. She’s a close friend who I actually met on social media, and hit it off with instantly! She’s such a major source of support to me, always cheering me on, and inspiring me. She’s been there through the ups and downs, and always offers wisdom.

Dr. Roohi Jeelani. She’s an incredible fertility doctor and inspiration who has shown me that women can do anything they put their mind to. That following your dreams and passions despite what society or others deem acceptable, is important. She’s constantly taking on projects to do good in the world.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

It can definitely go both ways, and I think the intentions around “disrupting” is what make the difference.

Relating to what I do, disrupting an industry can be positive if a call for change is overdue and needed. Talking about issues openly, raising awareness, and changing the conversation about things like infertility, mental health, and pregnancy loss, can encourage companies to expand insurance health policies in workplaces to offer more family-building options. It can push companies to have more flexible book-off policies to accommodate someone going through infertility treatments. Talking about these important issues can not only help people feel less alone, but encourage companies to introduce things like mental health days, pregnancy loss leave, and flexible hours. These are good disruptions. They’re leading to more inclusivity and positive changes in the workplace and beyond.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Don’t compare your journey to others.

There’s a saying “comparison is the thief of joy”, I believe this holds true for so many different situations in life. Whether it’s comparing relationships, careers, finances, real estate, travel, or more. Comparing usually leaves you feeling really crappy and full of negative self-talk. It’s important to remember that everyone’s path is different and what you see from the outside, isn’t often the full story. Be kind to yourself and focus on you, it’s more productive.

You can never get back time.

This can mean a lot of things from don’t let other people waste your time twice, to learn to prioritize what’s important. For me, it’s also a good reminder that we live in a time where we often feel rushed to get to the next thing. The next job, the next goal, the next dream. It can really take away from what life is offering right now. Life is a series of events — both good and bad, but nothing lasts forever. Hold on during the bad, and embrace the good as it comes. There’s a lot of things in life you can gain back, but time is never one of them. Don’t take today for granted.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

This is an important one when you’re starting something new or already feeling like every obstacle is getting in your way, and you’ve become discouraged. What’s often seen online or from the outside, is the final result — success. Not the countless obstacles, failures, and journey it took someone to get there. It’s important to set out realistic expectations before getting started, so that you aren’t too hard on yourself, or setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

So much! The IVF Warrior is just getting started. There are around 48 million couples and 186 million individuals worldwide living with infertility. The hard conversations must continue. More support, tools, and awareness need to be shared. The IVF Warrior will continue to expand resources and support to reach more and do more for those struggling.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I feel like women disruptors get labelled a lot of things compared to men. Whether it’s emotional, dramatic, attention-seeking, extreme, wrong, or opinionated. People tend to have more opinions on women’s behaviors vs. men. It’s a sad reality that I see all the time. I also feel like a lot of the issues that women disruptors try to change are deemed insignificant, so women have to push harder to be seen and heard. Hopefully this changes.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I love The Papaya Podcast by Sarah from The Birds Papaya. It’s extremely raw, real, and relatable. I’m really drawn to platforms that normalize things. Sarah does such an amazing job talking about the hard stuff in life and bringing awareness to issues and topics that matter, but in a fun way. It’s so important to know you’re not alone, that perfectionism isn’t healthy or realistic, and to have these honest conversations with others and yourself.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Normalizing mental health including conversations around mental health, the different conditions people face, and treatments including therapy or medication. It should never be “attention seeking” or “shameful” to talk about mental health or any health condition. Mental health is as important as physical health, it’s time it was treated this way. It’s time we end the stigmas and labels. So many people suffer every single day in silence. This needs to change.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Never stop chasing rainbows. It’s a quote I fell in love with on my journey, and has stuck with me. It reminds me that no storm lasts forever, and that even if there’s a storm you’re currently living and navigating, beauty can come from it. This helped me throughout my infertility journey and while building a business too.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on:

Instagram: @the.ivf.warrior

Facebook: @theivfwarriorcanada

LinkedIn: The IVF Warrior

I’d love to connect with more of you there!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Female Disruptors: Cheryl Dowling Of The IVF Warrior On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.