A Leeds entrepreneur who lost everything whilst supporting her sister though terminal cancer hopes to inspire others by revealing how she rebuilt her life.
January 2021 marks the second New Year anniversary for Lia Zorzou, 46, without her sister. She is now on a mission to help other business owners to reclaim their own identity.
"When we first received the cancer diagnosis, my mother turned to me and said: 'Thank God your sister has you to help her. Where would we be without you right now" said Lia. "I felt I had all the responsibility in the world to save my sister from this monster of a disease. I took charge of the situation on behalf of all our family and friends - accompanying Mary to every appointment and throughout every surgery. At night, I obsessively researched the best treatments and clinics in the world to try to save her."
By the time her sister had a team of doctors and a treatment plan in place, Lia says she was left stressed, anxious and depressed. She had lost her award-winning tech start-up company; was experiencing marital difficulties; and felt unable to care for her son.
"I had reached rock bottom," admitted Lia, who is originally from Greece. "For the first time in my life, I reached out and asked for help. My mentor said to me: "Lia, you can now decide who you want to be - what you like, what you don't like and how you want to behave - always firstly taking care of you. Only you can save yourself; no one else can.' I felt for the first time in my life that I was given pure gold in my hands…this realisation took so much weight from my shoulders and I suddenly felt free. I decided to make this transformation; then help others to do the same."
Having joined a specialist support group, Lia learned how to manage the roles and expectations placed upon her since childhood - using a method, which she now credits with saving her life.
"I learned to be a true sister to Mary - not her saviour," said Lia. "By the time she passed, we had connected more deeply and authentically than at any other time in our lives. That experience left me with the passion to want to help other business owners to improve their own family relationships and to also find their true selves. Having completed two years of intensive training, I am now helping other business owners from all over the world to claim their own amazing selves and build their dream businesses and lives."