Positive People: Grace Quantock

After a range of life-changing health diagnoses, Grace Quantock searched desperately for a cure. But, as she tells Annie Makoff, the remedy was within her all along

Grace Quantock is the ambitious founder of Healing-boxes.com, an enterprising company that sends tailor-made gifts to people in hospital. In addition to managing this successful non-profit business, Grace also runs online workshops and seminars about wellness and is currently in the throes of publishing her first book, From Sick Chick to Trailblazer: Reclaiming Your World.

As the title of her writing debut suggests, Grace has achieved some extraordinary feats while living with chronic illness and several disabilities, but hers is not a clichéd tale of triumph in the face of adversity; it is instead a victorious biography of her stubborn desire to help others, while living life to the fullest.

Grace was diagnosed with a cocktail of health problems in her late teens – endometriosis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and ME – but pushed herself through university with the help of husband Linus, who did everything he could to ensure she gained her BA in History.

“Getting diagnosed was a relief in some ways,” Grace recalls. “Finally, we had something concrete that validated all I had been through, but on the other hand, it made us realise that there wasn’t going to ever be a miracle cure.”

Nevertheless, Grace was determined that her illnesses wouldn’t stop her doing what she wanted to do. “It wasn’t the diagnosis that changed my dreams, it was what happened after that,” she says. “In the early days, I desperately wanted a cure. I spent hours searching online. I had this fear that it would be the one website I didn’t read that would be the one that would have a cure.”

After much soul-searching, Grace and her husband eventually decided it was time to take a new approach, one which Grace refers to as “living well with illness” and which has proven to be life-changing not just for her, but for others too.

Grace researched as much as she could about healing and healthy living. “I took six months out to heal,” she explains. “But that six months has turned into three years, two businesses and a global movement.”

As her businesses and online profile grew, fellow chronic pain sufferers began to contact Grace for advice and support, and soon Grace was teaching people from all over the world about living well with illness. Her knowledge turned into online conferences and seminars, and after a cancer scare, Grace decided it was time to follow her dreams and start her Healing Boxes businesses, as well as officially set up as a wellness coach and motivational speaker.

“There are around 10 million people in Britain living with chronic illness,” Grace explains. “If I can cheer people by sending them gifts while they are in hospital or teach them about living well with their illness, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do.”

She adds: “Becoming ill and getting diagnosed can feel a bit like being Alice down the rabbit hole – the world you thought you knew just seems to fall away. My work is about reclaiming that world. It’s not about a cure, it’s about acceptance. It’s a life choice that’s really worked, not just for me, but thousands of others.”