Balancing the Grind with Thu Le, Director & Founder of Hearty Center

Thu Le is the director and founder of Hearty Center, a holistic cancer retreat in the Blue Mountains.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My career background and my own personal cancer story are intertwined. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, shortly after the birth of my second son. It was my first ever diagnosis and I did not know what to do.

I was offered chemotherapy but decided it was not the right choice for me and instead went on high-dose antibiotics, dramatically changed my diet and started practicing meditation daily to help me cope with the overwhelming thoughts and feelings I was experiencing. 

By the end of 2014 after being given the all-clear, I moved to Australia and started a construction business. Not long after moving however, I found lumps in my thyroid and eventually discovered I was at the first stage of thyroid and uterus cancer. It was incredibly exhausting after all the years of working so hard to beat the disease. 

In order to face the problem head-on, I found a naturopath and learned more about nutritional medicine in Australia. I began a degree in Nutritional Medicine and Western Herbal Medicine, as well as Oncology Nutrition with the Oncology Nutrition Institute in the US. 

This was the beginning of Hearty Center and my philosophy of holistic care in cancer support and recovery. A combination of oncology nutrition, meditation, spectrophotometry, massage, and herbal medicine provides our guests with the highest standard of care. An in-depth DNA nutrition test can reveal which foods to avoid, what to eat more of, and how best to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Since 2019, I have helped more than 200 cancer patients, over 100 patients with nephrotic syndrome and more than 250 patients with chronic disease to help manage their recovery and side effects. My passion in life is to help people become “happy, healthy and hearty.”

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My daily life is simple as I follow a routine that applies to every single day whether it be a weekend or a holiday. My schedule looks something like this. From 5:00am to 6:00am, I wake up and meditate.  

Then I walk around my house or the park, if the weather is good, for around 30 – 45 minutes. After that, I have breakfast for 20 minutes. Once that’s done, I prepare food for my youngest son to go to school with, and the school run is finished by 9:00am. 

From then until midday, I spend time with my patients, and I would have a 20-minute morning snack in between. I have my lunch until around 12:30pm and I rest for half an hour afterwards.

From 1:00pm to 3:00pm, I spend more time with my patients. After that, I spend time with my sons until 4:00pm where I take about an hour studying and researching information to further assist my patients. 

I would have dinner with my family from around 5:00pm until 6:00pm. After dinner, this is my spare time to deal with urgent tasks or anything unexpected that has happened outside of my usual schedule or any issues relating to friends and family.

If there is nothing to deal with then I just relax and read a book. At 8:00pm, I practice self-care by meditating for an hour and I go to sleep shortly afterwards.  

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Yes, I am currently providing telehealth consultations to clients who are unable to come to my clinic. Remote working has helped make the Hearty Center more accessible to a wider audience, especially during COVID-19. 

The consultations will start with a questionnaire of their daily routine, health conditions and current problems. During the consultation, I take the time to listen and understand my patients and explain to them their nutritional needs, as well as advising them of any necessary dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Afterwards, I deliver the prescribed supplements and herbs to my patients’ doorsteps (where possible) followed by continuous check-ups to ensure that the treatments offered are appropriate and effective. Although most of these consultations do happen outside my specified work hours, I always save time to spend with my family and do self-care before having a good night’s sleep. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

My work-life balance is a bit different to the average person. Normally, they would work and then have a holiday for a week or more to recharge. As for me, I work, relax and self-care every day so I never get to the point where I ‘need a holiday’. 

This is also something I encourage my patients to do when they come to me seeking a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I find that the majority of my patients and people in general tend to overestimate their health and ignore what is good and what is bad for them. 

To me, a work-life balance is the moment of self-reflection and achieving a state of equilibrium across the three most fundamental aspects of ourselves – mind, body and spirit. To nurture my mind, I read various books, a stress-reducing activity that opens myself to more opportunities and increases my vocabulary, memory, and empathetic skills. 

As for the body, I ensure I get my nutritional needs, stay hydrated throughout the day, am physically active and get enough quality sleep to allow for effective repair and recovery.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial for brain development. Lastly, to nourish my wellbeing, I focus on my spirit through daily meditations as it helps me achieve a state of calmness and tranquillity.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

In the past 12 months, my routines are still the same as there is nothing to rush in my life. I need to keep my time fixed and live healthily since it allows me to help people more effectively. If I cannot take care of myself then I cannot take care of others. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I don’t really listen to podcasts or newsletters too much but I am an avid reader of books and some of my recommendations include:

  • What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You by Ray D. Strand M.D.
  • The Breast Cancer Cookbook by Mohammed Keshtgar
  • The Only Answer to Cancer: Defeating the Root Cause of All Disease by Dr. Leonard Coldwell
  • How Not to Die by Michael Greger M.D.
  • Eat to Beat Disease by William W. Li M.D.
  • Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer by Donald R. Yance Jr. C.N. M.H. A.H.G.
  • How to Starve Cancer by Jane McLelland
  • Naturopathic Oncology by Dr. Neil McKinney BSc. M.D.
  • Oncological Functional Nutrition by Maira Rubi Segura Campos
  • Tripping Over the Truth by Travis Christofferson M.S.
  • The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem
  • The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters
  • Cancer Free with Food by Liana Werner-Gray
  • The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Not at all. But I cannot live without meditation. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

It would be Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Always listen to your body. Live a balanced life by concentrating on nourishing the body, mind and spirit.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.