Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Time has led to a certain complacency. I'm still here. Maybe it is just the tablets and implant that keep me well. Perhaps I can relax on the lifestyle challenges. But once the slip's made it's difficult to retrace back to the centre, back to the sweet spot where it's habit, or just how I live my life. I'm out at the edge - near my beginning - at the moment. Gained weight. Feeling stressed. Not focusing on my good health.
But it's just a phase. I touch bottom and then I'm off again on my journey.Back towards a clean and healthy body, back towards a calm and clear mind, back towards optimism and joy. The scan has shown no change and I'm washed with relief.
This is my dance, my journey, my challenge, and my adventure. I say to myself "keep your chin up. Look Up. Look Forwards. " It doesn't stop me seeing what my future may contain, but it does stop me from falling down entirely. I do keep my eyes on just the one step ahead. It's inevitable that sometimes you have to keep your focus small. But I do try to keep my eyes up and enjoy the view. It's the travelling that's important, not the destination. It's the view along the way. Not the final picture. It's the process more than the solution. Life's great tapestry is in the living now, not in the future which contains the ending. We don't read books and listen to stories to know the ending. We like the story. Otherwise books would be two pages long. The first page, and the last. Where's the fun in that ?
It'll soon be the holidays and I'm shocked at how the time has flown since last year. I'm very lucky to get another year. Another Christmas, another Autumn and Winter, another season in the garden. It's important for me to acknowledge this. Acknowledge all the positives in my life - and I do have a huge share of the great stuff in life ! It's important to stay grateful and amazed by what life offers. Don't take it for granted. That is my way back away from the fearful edges of life and back into the centre.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
I was quite anxious this time - partly due to having gained weight. I have been told things about what can happen in the future which make gaining weight around my tummy frightening. And losing weight can be equally frightening. A catch 22 of my mind. But as I have now been given more time and the reassurance that it's not the cancer growing I will take steps to lose the weight.
Did I mention I was anxious ? Of course I was. I think most people are anxious at scan time. I practice meditation, and I do it regularly. But I thought that it wasn't working and that perhaps I wasn't actually meditating. ( My memory went to pieces ! ) But last night - having had the results yesterday morning - I knew that I had been meditating, and that it had made a difference. I felt so much calmer last night. Clearly I had just become overwhelmed. I prepare myself for scans ahead of time. My oncologist asks me to remind him and request a scan when it's due. It ensures that I don't fall through any cracks. But on this occasion there was a breakdown in communication. I give him 3 weeks now to make arrangements. I don't like to give more in case I seem too eager, too demanding. But I've given less time in the past and I've had to wait longer. In itself that's not so bad, but I have worked out the timing so that scans don't fall around holiday times - summer and Christmas. Delays throw that careful management out of sync. This time my oncologist asked for a scan for three months hence. Horror ! I know logically that it means he's confident about me, but this 5 year mark has resonance with me. Add to that my weight gain ( I know most people think it's weight loss that's the problem. Perhaps I mean inches more than weight as I don't weigh myself ) and my diet slipping, and I got to a position where I wanted to know, and I wanted to know NOW !
It's a pity that I don't feel celebratory. I don't feel overjoyed, or lightened, or even happier. I can't at this point even say I truly feel relieved . I suppose that's because the scan confirms that the cancer is still there. But I don't feel numb. I don't feel pessimistic. I don't feel fatalistic. I feel calm. I feel quiet. I have peace of mind today. No fanfare. No drums. No celebration. Just a change in my ability to function, to look forward, to go about my business. And tremendous peace and calm after the turbulent and cacophonous internal storm of the past few weeks. It's been noisy in my mind. Full of apprehension and preparations for the worst.
I'm writing this so that next time I'll remember this anxiety and fear. So I'll know it's normal apprehension and not some internal "knowing" that some people think our bodies have access to ( like the idiot consultant at Harrogate for one !!! ) . One of the harder things about my cancer is knowing that I can't tell. That I won't be able to tell till things are pretty bad again. That there aren't telltale sensations in my body that can be picked up early. Though I suppose early is a relative term in cases of metastatic disease. And as there are so many forms that metastatic disease takes, my experience is different to anyone else's.
So today I am grateful. Grateful for the good news. Grateful for more time. Grateful for my health. Grateful that my life is still mine, that I can spend time with my family and friends. That I still have my Independence. That I can still enjoy the glorious days and this wonderful world. Grateful for everything that life implies - touch, taste, sight , smell, hearing, friendship and love, emotion and contentment. I am so just so grateful for time, for more time. Thank you Universe !!
Everyone in the house is affected by it. I'm stressed. They're stressed. It comes out in different ways. But it does come out. I'm emotional. I'm terrified. I can't think straight. I have no working memory to speak of. Each time it feels worse than ever. Is that right , or is it just that, like childbirth, I forget how bad it was before ? The answer's not important because if you live in the present moment it's as bad as it gets in that instant. And today it's fairly bad. I am very lucky to have survived to this point. And I'm grateful. Very grateful. Unfortunately, defining survival at this stage is about looking back. I've survived so long. That's in the bag. That's safe. But the future is uncertain. There are no guarantees. I ask if there are others like myself who are living with metastases. I sometimes get the affirmative. Sometimes I don't. One thing's for sure, there aren't so many out there that are making themselves known. That frightens me for some reason. Yes, there are some. But I am always told that all cancer's are different. I know this. But it's used as an apology for there being so comparatively few surviving with it. And I gather that there's very little research money going into finding anything to help those with metastatic disease. How comforting. Even more reason to get irritated with all those adds appealing to you to give money to cancer research to "save lives ". It's the metastatic stuff that kills you ! It's such an industry ! Going around Universities with my daughter I was struck by how many have cancer studies departments. This is a HUGE industry worth mega bucks, and not just in England, Britain, or North America, but worldwide. There's not going to be a cure anytime, anytime. Can you imagine what it would do to global economies if overnight so many people were made redundant and so many drugs were not sold, so many supplements, teas and potions were unnecessary, so many carers not needed , so many doctors and specialists no longer required. All that knowledge and experience obsolete. It would be devastating economically. It's just not going to happen. Clearly there's a very powerful disincentive to finding a cure for cancer ! God help us !!!!!
Anyway, just wanted to post about the fear - so that next time ( if I'm lucky enough to merely need another scan in a few months !! ) I'll remember that I'm terrified, petrified, paralysed, just not functioning - at all - like a rabbit in headlights. There aren't words for the gut wrenching distress that I feel at the prospect of my cancer awakening and the ordeal I will have to go through. All my meditation and mindfulness induced calm desert me. Or perhaps I'd really be in a twitching, gibbering, drooling, trembling and shaking state without them.
Fingers crossed for the result !!
Saturday, 2 July 2011
I have been worrying about all the plastics in my environment, and warning everyone I can about the hazards of plastics leeching into any foodstuff with oil. Why ? Because plastics create pseudo- oestrogens in our bodies, and my cancer is very sensitive to oestrogen. I don't want anyone I know to develop cancer because I failed to pass on my concerns. But it has struck me that I don't know what I'm talking about really. I just blanket all plastics together. And doing that makes for a lot of worry. I'm not saying those worries are unfounded, and I will continue to avoid it as much as possible , but it's impossible to eliminate it completely without leaving the planet earth, so I've done some research. Up to present, I've been overwhelmed by all the plastic that makes up my world and whilst I've known there are different types, it has been easiest for me to blanket them all together. But the time has come to face my fears and find out which are the better choices, and which are the worst. I can't do anything about their existence, or what they are used for. If I don't want my hummus wrapped in a little plastic pot from the supermarket I'll have to make it myself. But information is power and I'm going to arm myself as well as I can. Not all plastics are identifiable as anything other than plastic, or manmade material. But there are ways to identify some of them.
Hard plastic containers generally, though not always, have a code on the bottom - a number surrounded by a triangle of chasing arrows. This number is a resin identification number, and it's there due to consumer demand for some way of sorting the plastic waste for recycling. It was introduced in 1988 when the Society of Plastic Industry Inc. agreed to a voluntary coding system.
What the codes mean :-
1. POLYETHYLENE TEREPHHTHALATE (PET , PETE )
Designed for a single use only. Extended use increases the risk of leaching ( dissolves into whatever it contains ) and bacteria growth.
Uses - plastic bottles for soft drinks, water, juice, sports drinks, beer, mouthwash, salad dressings, vegetable oil and ketchup. food jars, ovenable film, microwaveable food trays, boil- in- the- bags, and oven safe food trays. cosmetic containers, textiles, monofilament, carpet strapping, and engineering mouldings.
It can be recycled and then be used for fibre, tote bags, clothing and polar fleece, food and drink containers, carpet, luggage, bean bags, rope, car bumpers, boat sails and furniture.
2. HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE ( HDPE )
Appears to be safe. More stable than PET and safer from hormone-like chemicals.
Uses - milk, water and juice containers, yoghurt and margarine pots and tubs, cosmetic containers, shampoo, household cleaners, and laundry detergent bottles, cereal box liners, grocery, rubbish and retail bags.
It can be recycled into liquid laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner bottles, motor oil bottles, pipe, buckets, crates, flower pots, garden edging, recycling bins, plastic lumber , floor tiles, fencing pens and white contamination suits.
3. VINYL (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE or PVC )
Avoid this plastic. It contains many dangerous toxins, and is nicknamed the poison plastic. Toxic additives and stabilizers such as lead and plasticisers contribute to the problem when they break down. Contains BPA and pthalates as well as DEHA (di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate) which is linked to liver cancer. DEHA in cling film leaches into oily foods on contact. It releases dioxins in manufacture and as it ages and weathers.
Uses - clear food and non-food packaging, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, medical tubing, blood bags, shampoo bottles, wire and cable insulation, construction products like pipes, fittings, windows, carpet backing, synthetic leather, shower curtains, dashboards, outdoor furniture and in plumbing.
this is the least recyclable plastic , but can be used in packaging, gutters, mud flaps, flooring, electrical boxes and cables , traffic cones, garden hose, and decking.
Recycling uses more energy than producing the new product. However, when used, products include rubbish bags and bins, compost bins, floor tiles, furniture, lumber and landscape timber, and shipping envelopes.
recycling rate - >1%
Appears to be safe.
Uses - yoghurt pots and margarine tubs, cereal box liners, straws, crisp bags, syrup and condiment squeeze bottles, takeout meal and deli food containers, medicine bottles, bottle caps and closures, automotive parts, packing tape, tupperware, and new BPA-free baby bottles. It has a high melting point which makes it good for containing hot liquids.
recycled products include brooms, brushes, ice scrapers, oil funnels, rakes, bike racks, car battery cases, battery cables, rakes, bins and pallets.
recycle rate - 3%
6. POLYSTYRENE ( PS )
In Conclusion, and on a personal note I really can't comprehend the amount of plastic that is polluting our environment. You can see from the figures above that much cannot be recycled, and that any is recycled acts in just the same way as any plastic when it gets old and unwanted. It's like some alien being, polluting and poisoning us, which just keeps reproducing - and like a cancer ( !!! ) - it doesn't die ! It doesn't break down. It has a different life cycle entirely. It's the stuff of science fiction and horror stories. Every time we buy the stuff we are voting with our wallets for more. Let us as buyers beware . Do we really want to be ingesting this stuff ? And do we honestly think there will be no consequences in putting inorganic substances into our organic bodies ? Would anyone honestly want to drink the petrol that we put in our cars in preference to the food we grow in our gardens ? Because in effect we are taking our meat and two veg with a side order of plastics and petroleum. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum .
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
I have read a lot about goal setting. There seems to be a lot of research on brain science going on at the moment and it's all fascinating stuff.There are numerous people writing books on the subject, and I have pulled out a few pointers that seem to be keys for me - newly found, or re-learnt ancient wisdom !
- Firstly, make the goals easily achievable. That means underestimate what you can achieve. It's easy whilst thinking about what you need to achieve to be lulled into the belief that you are motivated, energetic, and superman, and that you can meet your targets, all your targets, in no time flat.This is rarely the case and the best of us have bad days and setbacks. If you make your goal easily achievable then you have far fewer setbacks, far less sense of failure, and less demotivation. So my goals are ones that are easy to exceed, then I can give myself a pat on the back. I've not just achieved, I've surpassed myself. And I'm likely to sustain the effort past January 10Th !!
- Secondly, plan for the long term. That means that I'm not just trying to get from A to Z in the shortest time possible. A to Z is a long trip. Why overwhelm myself ? I'm going to take it one step at a time, and I will plan with a long time frame in mind. So it might take a few months - maybe years - but I'll get there and I'll enjoy the journey - I'll enjoy the scenery as I go. After all it's not the destination that's important, but the travelling and the sights and experiences on the way - the living of it. So I plan with a destination in mind, but not a destination that I'll never reach, and a time frame, but one that is long term and achievable.
- Some people suggest starting a project with a specific goal and where you want to be , and then decide on a target end date. The plan is to then break down the time between start and finish into steps - perhaps weekly, perhaps monthly - whatever suits - and determine what needs to be achieved by each step. Like stepping stones you eventually end up having achieved all that needs to be done in order to reach your end goal and Viola, you've got from A to Z . I've tried this before and I think that whilst it is appropriate for some goals, it's just not right for all goals. Certainly not with a health goal in mind. Having an end date for my project of health has burdened me in the past with expectations ( I wanted the tumours gone !! ), and not everything in life conforms to expectations. And disappointment is DEMOTIVATING !!! There's no room for demotivation in my quest for health, so I simply plan with an open ticket - a no fixed date termination. I suppose that's to do with the nature of my goal which is life and its enjoyment.
- Keep the goals simple. Life is complicated enough. My tick list is simplicity itself, and it is visual and easy to read.
- Concentrate on the positives and what you are achieving, and not on failure. After all, it's what you do consistently that matters, not the little blips. And I have found that concentrating on the negatives makes them bigger. You get more of what you concentrate on. It's something to do with how the brain works, and all those chemicals we are constantly shooting round our bodies. Don't ask me the specifics because it's a little complicated and time consuming ! Just trust me on this - from a girl who can see the glass half empty at least as easily as half full.
- Reward yourself with praise and acknowledgement of what you have achieved. Let's look at what we're doing well. And let's re-frame our difficulties and acknowledge them as challenges. And they are just part of the journey, part of the scenery, and they change over time. Things I thought I could NEVER do - like juicing and drinking six 250 ml bottles of vegetable juice daily ( just not presently ! ) did become part of my daily routine - and will be again. But when I first read about the Gerson Treatment I thought that there was never going to be any way to even attempt it because I struggled to make juice at all.
There's loads more I've read and learnt, but this post wasn't meant to be a manual on how to set goals. Suffice to say this is how I manage my goal-setting. This is what I do to keep myself on track.
So for the first week of the New Year, these are the items on my tick list
- DEEP BREATHING - ( THROUGH THE BONES )
- DRINK 1 TBSP ESSIAC TEA
- TAKE ARIMIDEX TABLET
- PLAN THE DAY
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER
- LAUGH AND HAVE FUN
- CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
- MEDITATE - ( PINK LIGHT )
At the bottom of the page are the following
- NO CAFFEINE
- NO DAIRY
- NO MEAT
These are easily achievable for me, and a good place to start. They are part of my daily routine, and it's good to have a row of ticks. It's also good not to have a bunch of other things on the list with no ticks at all ! It's a small list this week which I'm happy about. It's about a new beginning, and it's about keeping it simple. I'll go through and explain why and how I do these things in the next few posts, and rest assured I'll be adding in other things as time goes on. Join me if you feel up to it. Obviously not everything is appropriate for everyone else - you wouldn't be wanting to take Arimidex if you didn't have to, and Essiac Tea isn't essential ( it is sometimes recommended for cancer patients and it supports the liver, but there are other ways to do that and less expensive ways also ! ) I am documenting my own idiosyncratic health promoting lifestyle improvements, but most of them would benefit anyone. Who could argue with making laughter and fun a priority. Making love and connection a priority. And anyone who has cut out dairy, meat and/or caffeine will heartily endorse the health and energy benefits of doing so.
My list will end up a long one, but that's because I like a compelling reason to believe I have changed myself - my body chemistry - my circumstances. The definition of madness is to continue to do the same thing over again and expect different results. My tick list is visual proof that I have changed some fundamental circumstances. I'm hoping to step it up a notch this year, and I need all the encouragement I can get. My tick list has served that purpose in the past and I believe it will continue to do just that. So although it may seem daunting, it only takes moments to fill it in and I get a big kick out of all the gold stars I award myself, and the visual reference it gives me.
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
I don't know why others blog. Some do it to run in tandem with a business. I don't run a business and really wouldn't have the energy to try. Some blog to keep in touch and to let others know what's going on in their lives. Some blog , as I have , to keep an online journal and record of their progress toward some goal, or to pass on information. Some blog for amusement and fun. There must be hundreds of reasons for others to blog. I am only really interested at the moment in why I am blogging and the reasons are
- To act as a motivator to keep me on track toward my goal of health and enjoying life.
- To act as a memory saver - to remind me of what I've learned.
- To pass on any information I think might be useful to whoever may stumble serendipitously upon this blog
- To give myself a purpose - important in the healing process.
- To give myself some kudos. I was at a lunch just before Christmas chatting to my neighbour and was asked what I did. My immediate response was "Housewife " ! Not Homemaker, Not any of the numerous roles I fulfil in my life. Just lowly HOUSEWIFE . Wife to a house. And as that was a gut reaction - so fast I didn't have time to think - it's a cry from my unconscious. So I am a writer if I write a blog. And I'm published - around the world ! Maybe not read, but certainly published to my mind. So perhaps another reason to blog is for self respect. Whether my unconscious will take this on board is another matter !
- I think also that blogging gives a feeling of connection. Perhaps not to many individually - it is cyberspace after all, but it is a connection to the universe.
- Blogging helps me feel part of the culture. Not a total geriatric dinosaur. And I really don't want to picture myself as some old geezer who looks like something the cat dug up that should really have been left in the ground.
- I am not a great blogger, my writing style could be better, and I don't at the moment know how to put on photo's or videos. There's lots to learn. I believe there are two mental states my mind habituates and they are fear and growth. If I am learning something my mind is occupied, I am engaged, and I am positive in my outlook. If I am fearful, my mind is filled with dread, anxiety and thoughts of possible dire futures - not the present moment - and I am in a very negative frame of mind. I choose - as often as possible - to be in an open, engaged positive state of mind and I occupy that state while blogging.
- Lastly, I want to blog for amusement and fun. One of my targets for this year is to fill my life with fun and laughter. And I don't find it easy knowing where to start with that. So I'm watching comedians on TV; I'm watching romantic comedies on the DVD and funny videos on YouTube. I'm playing Monopoly with my family and connecting with friends who are fun. And I'm blogging.
These are my justifications for blogging. For taking the time to sit in front of a computer screen and write to myself. They're OK with me.
Monday, 3 January 2011
New Years can start at any time of the year, and on any day. They can be very personal. Mine often starts in September and follows the school year. It could just as soon start in February, on my birthday, or on the Chinese New Year. It could start in March with the start of the new growing season in the garden. It could start on the 21st of June - the longest day of the year, or midsummer's night. It could start in July when schools close and we start our summer holidays. New Years Day is , to me , quite an arbitrary day. I pick and choose it for myself. But the Western world follows a calender that decrees that New Years day is officially the first of January. And I'm going with that at the moment. But it's comforting to know that should I get discouraged and feel that I've not lived up to my potential and that I've lost my way I can always start again without having to wait for next January to roll around.
Thinking of when my New Year starts has set me thinking of when my week should start. Once again, it's quite arbitrary. My calender likes to think the week starts on Sunday. My diary starts the week on Monday. I have had calenders in the past that start the week on Saturday. But I don't have to follow the dictates of society at large. I can choose for myself when my week starts, and I have started to think that this decision will influence how the week goes. If I choose to start my week on a Monday , as I always have in the past, then the emphasis is on housework. What I have to get done between Monday and Friday so that I can enjoy the weekend work-free. I've spent a few years now spending Mondays gardening, but it is still on my list of "things to do and appointments to keep " . I could start my week on a Saturday. That would show that my priorities are with spending time with my family. But I would spend it waiting on my family - waiting for my husband to come back from golf, and waiting for my daughter to get out of bed. I can't say that I much relish the thought of starting my week in limbo. I could start the week on Sunday. I love Sundays. It's a family day. I spend Sunday morning with my husband and at some point after lunch my daughter joins us and we perhaps do something together. But I still spend time waiting for my daughter to get up. So I'm still feeling a little bit left on hold. I could start my week on Friday. I sometimes do a class in flower arranging on a Friday morning. So that would be doing something fun and creative and for the house. I then do laundry in the afternoon. Sometimes I shop for groceries if I'm disorganised, but I hate shopping in the supermarket on Fridays when it's full of the retired and elderly. Starting on a Friday gives me a build-up to the weekend which is my favourite part of the week when I spend it with my family. A Thursday start could also work. I would have Thursday to tidy the house and shop for groceries, Friday to prettify the house, and then spend the weekend with family. Or perhaps a Tuesday or a Wednesday would be good days to start as these are days that are largely free and I choose how I fill them. But they can be lonely and isolating days. It turns out that although I believe the day I start my week on will be influential in determining the mood of the week, it is not as simple to choose a day as I thought. I think I'll sleep on it and decide another time. I don't need to decide this week. My husband starts his week on Tuesday this week. My daughter starts hers on Wednesday. I may need a day or two later to get back into my routine and start my week again. My work-week. And that brings me back to Monday where I would be in sync with the rest of my culture. It's food for thought anyway, but food for another time I think.
I would just like to wish anyone reading this a very Happy New Year. One filled with joy and laughter, with family and friends, with comfort and peace, and with the best of health both physical and spiritual. May 2011 be a most auspicious and treasure filled year for us all.