picture from book cover

Every now and then a person comes into your life and changes how you perceive the world.  This happened to me two years ago at our very first Real Housewife Event. As the morning came to a close a lovely lady walked up to me and introduced herself and thanked me for a fabulous morning.  I knew right then that there was something very special about her and decided to give her a hug.  Yep I was right (hugs always help me decided).  Our causal conversation turned into a bit about her background, where she is from and how she came to Abu Dhabi.  And then she told me… “I was diagnosed with stage three terminal brain cancer and was given two years.”  I froze!  What do you say??? And then she continued; “…that was 10 years ago.”  I just hugged her!

Laurie Nelson is not just an extraordinary and optimistic lady but she is also unstoppable.  Through her dedication to cancer awareness world wide she has just published her personal journey in her new book: When Gray Becomes a Primary Color.  Here is my interview with Laurie:


What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?

I have found my greatest reward has been to write my first book. When Gray Becomes A Primary Color. This process has been deeply gratifying. It took several years for me to find a way to frame my story. I would have never thought that my name as an Author would be on the front of a book.

Do you have children and have they influenced your career?

I have one child and she is my anchor. She gave me the only reason to live and during this journey she was the only thing that made any kind of sense.

How do you stay connected through social media?

I check Facebook, and emails, daily. Like so many expats here it’s a way of staying connected to our other “Home Base”

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

I have had a blessed life. I built a carrier in retail banking in the states, I have managed Dental offices, I have owned my own business. I love helping and inspiring others. This life is right where I want to be.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

My husband explains me as “a ping pong ball in a hurricane.” I do meditation to reel me back in. I love to cook and learn new recipes. I am a huge fan of any kind of crafting, from card making to coloring.

What websites do you visit every day?

I have a website for my book, When Grey Becomes a Primary Color. I am currently looking for opportunities to build a unique kind of Cancer Survivor Life Coaching Group. I believe that Cancer is just a term; it doesn’t define who you are!

Who is your hero and how have they helped make you who you are today?

My husband Dave Nelson, he saved my life. He has given me the space to re-create myself during my journey and promised me years ago to show me the world and he has delivered in a huge way.

What are your top 3 favorite people/places/things in Abu Dhabi?

Saadiyat Beach is my favorite place to go. The turquoise water is something of a dream. It is so peaceful there especially early in the morning. I love the Heritage Village. I have made several friends there. Noor’ Glass is a perfect place to pick up unique gifts to take back to my family. The Sheik Zayed Bridge is special also because it is one of the projects that I remember watching being built in the UAE while I was healing. I was so excited when we made the move over here to the UAE, now I could see all of this in person with my own eyes.

What is your goal for retirement?

I don’t plan to retire. It’s an amazing time with ground breaking treatment in Cancer and I have a mission of sharing Hope and bringing out the brighter side of this disease.

Do you have any advice for women who would like to write a book?

I feel that every one of us has a story of some kind. No matter what you are going through or what you have gone through, you just might have the key to helping someone else. You just never know what opportunities will come up and what great people you will get to meet.

front copy of bookHow did you come up with your idea to write your book?

I started with a pen, paper and lots of tears. I took the idea of writing my book as healing for me on the inside. I wanted to tell my story. I Survived Cancer…. I had Stage Three BRAIN CANCER… it literally turned my world upside down.

How do you manage everyday challenges that come your way?

My journey left me self-conscious , and with a lack of self-confidence and wondering since I survived this, when I was told that I wouldn’t… Now What… I decided at some point I needed to get out of my own head. So I found my true self once again through Prayer, meditation, and daily affirmations.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

When I was told “You have Cancer” those were the scariest words I have ever heard. I have been blessed to survive it. In the states I had started a support group with another survivor. We did things a bit out of the box. Instead of the monthly meetings survivors would go to, we took on the travel. We came to you. Patients sometimes don’t feel like going anywhere, but they want company. They get to see their family and maybe the same friends all the time. I have seen at times a fresh face and a new topic of conversation brightens their day. Often times it also gives the caretaker a much needed break.

This disease in this area of the world is not openly talked about. I would love the opportunity to open up this conversation and have the ability to do something here.


If you would like more information, or would like to read about Laurie’s journey, please visit www.whengraybecomesaprimarycolor.com.