Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Muddy waters

As I face the New Year, I feel I’m ready for a new beginning. I know that each new day is a new beginning, but, with what’s gone by this past year or two, I’m thinking that a Big new start is in order. I want to reconnect with all my friends I’ve neglected in my year-long slump and infuse energy into my work and play. This involves a lot of deep work for me. One thing that keeps popping up is the subject of forgiveness. I’m fairly sure there are a slew of people needing to forgive me for wrongs and perceived wrongs. I hope they’ll have the courage to confront me, so that I can apologise and make amends. From my side, there is one huge forgiveness challenge that I know is going to hold me back, but I don’t know if I’m big enough to let it go. Yes, I know forgiveness isn’t about approving of someone’s behaviour, but I’m afraid that forgiving will open me up to more of what the person is capable of handing out.

Jurgis was very involved in doing family research in Lithuania while we were volunteering in Ireland. This was costly, but he considered it well worthwhile. The payback for us was huge and life-changing, but it was also done for other close relatives who had asked for the information. Jurgis, at the time, was desperately trying to rebuild bridges with the relatives in question, as we hadn’t had contact for so many years. One day, he broached the subject of all the bureaucratic costs relating to the research he was doing and suggested the relatives contribute to those costs, as they were also benefitting and we weren’t earning at the time. One relative replied scathingly calling Jurgis a beggar and many other nasty things. Anyone who knew him, knew he’d give the shirt off his back for you. He was heartbroken and confused at her words. My feisty, caring daughter took up defense of her father and got a similar tongue lashing from this relative. I still have those messages saved. Yes… I know…. I shouldn’t, but I do. My suggestion to my little family unit at the time was that we just distance ourselves, which we did, though Jurgis still made weekly international calls to his relative. No one ever called him.

Jurgis died. Funny how death affects people. It wasn’t long after his death when the relative that slung abuse at him added me on Facebook. I have spent this past year ignoring that add. As I’m facing my New Beginning, I’m having to face forgiveness, but I don’t know if I can forgive. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’m clearly a holder of grudges - not happy to admit that! Oh what to do… what to do?? I know what to do, but am I big enough?

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Monday, 04 May 2015

Moving forward

At least, in one area of my life.

I know that there are many out there who will be thrilled (ok, that’s perhaps a rather strong word) to hear that I’ve made the decision to go for my radical mastectomy. It’s a huge thing for me, so I’ve planned it for the start of June, which gives me time to prepare physically, mentally, emotionally, and practically.

Physically, I need to work up fitness, particularly in my chest and arms. I’m also preparing myself for the possibility of lymphedema, the most frightening part of this whole deal and the main reason I’ve put surgery off for so long. Right now, I’m learning as much as I can about the prevention and management of that ghastly, incurable disease (yes, there are worse things than cancer - at least, in my book). Practically, I need to gather a front-buttoning, comfortable wardrobe. My shirts and blouses are all pullover. Not that I really need much encouragement to go shopping lately. Shopping, for me, is very much out of character. I’ve always been the Scrooge, thinking twice before spending a penny. This brings me to the mental and emotional part of all this.

This past month has been awful on so many levels. My first lone wedding anniversary was one of the toughest times I’ve had to go through. For many years, we didn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmases as a family. Our wedding anniversary was the Big Event of the year. Much was made of it. Tat and I did our level best to be out there and busy on that day, but it was still rough. The nights are the worst. I rarely sleep more than two hours at a stretch. My scans not long after Jurgis died showed a substantial shrinkage of the tumour. No surprise there. I was militant about my protocol, following it to the nth degree and he helped me, continually encouraging me in my weaker moments. After he died, I seemed to have lost all will. My protocol slid and became erratic. This has shown itself in my scan results. First there was no shrinkage. The last lot showed growth and the tumour isn’t looking ‘healthy’ anymore, so yes, I’m giving up, though not altogether…

The plan is this: Aside from my wardrobe issues, which are really minor - the joys of working in a charity shop are that clothes are easy and inexpensive to come by - there are a few more practical plans to make. I want to make pouches for the drains that I may have to wear for a couple of weeks. I’ve seen examples of these in US and Australian stores. I’ve not seen anything here, but am not worried, as I can make them. It will give me something to do during those long, sleepless nights anyway. After surgery, I’ll stay home for about two weeks before phasing in going back to work. I plan to go back to my anti-cancer protocol after the surgery, though I’ll probably cut back on the number of supplements. I do need to go back to a cleaner diet *sigh* That’s been the biggest factor in my health changes.

It's rather hard to find a non-gory image to illustrate the surgical incision and the drain bags I plan to make holders for. The holders are to prevent them pulling out of the surgical area when sleeping or going out.

I’m sorry I disappeared. I’m sorry I shut my friends out this month. I could barely deal with myself, never mind actually having to make meaningful conversation. At work, it’s easy. Simple customer service and possible chat about the weather. My evenings and nights have been a long marathon of watching TV series and online shopping (a rather troublesome side effect of my emotional state). Having said that, I do now have a couple of purchases that give me immense delight like the little fan I bought to help cope with the brutal hot flushes at night. It’s a bright, sunny yellow and just totally cool, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Onward and upward. It’s a long road, but I’m used to long roads by now, right?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Near perfect

I’ve reached a point now where I can lift my head occasionally and see something truly beautiful, perhaps even laugh a little. Here I sit at the close of a truly wonderful weekend with new, very precious memories to start filling the next chapter of my life…

On Friday, I packed my carrot juice - in retrospect, a really bad move, as it leaked all over my bag, coat and gloves - we loaded up the car and headed out to Freshfield forest following the advice of a good friend. On my trip back to Hemel Hempstead, I had something of a revelation. I realised that the one thing I was missing was my time in the woods. I needed to recharge. I love this place where hills, forest and beach meet and are within easy reach!

I saw my first ever red squirrel!! Sadly, my camera didn’t meet expectations, so I just have a blur that blended with the background, but it was there and terribly cute! Apparently they’re shy critters, but you’d never have guessed from watching this one. I suspect he was too busy taunting the crow to be bothered by our presence.

Freshfield 1
‘Dogs on leads’ is, of course, optional… It was pure doggy paradise!
freshfield 2
Cure for melancholy prescribed by an old friend… Go take a walk in the woods!
freshfield 3
This camera isn’t the best, but for capturing the day, it suffices. I loved the gnarled, weather-beaten woods.
freshfield 4
Windy grasses. It was a glorious day!
freshfield 5
… with random asparagus. Apparently these lands used to be asparagus farms. Ideal soil for it.
freshfield 6
Beautiful wood carvings were to be seen at regular intervals
freshfield 7
Where forest meets beach
freshfield 8
Three guesses as to which way the wind blows
freshfield 9
freshfield 91
Even the snails were huddled together to keep warm. The sun may have been shining, but it was very chilly!
freshfield 92
We ended at a lovely pub for dinner. Thank you to Ste and Tat for making a day with very special memories for me :)


Yesterday, I took myself off for a treat and had a hour long reiki session, something I’ve promised myself for years. It was pleasant. If it did nothing else, it gave me an hour of much needed nothingness, a time out of the inside of my head.

Today was a day of relaxing and just doing whatever my whim leads me to, which included a box of coloured pencils, a very special and rather spectacular colouring in book, enjoying a feast cooked by the amazing Ste and cooking up a traditional Tomatie Bredie for the kids to enjoy tomorrow.

I have a lot of very important and life-altering decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. I’m grateful for the gift of this weekend.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Traitorous actions

I feel like a traitor…. to myself and all I believe in. While I’m not comfortable with my latest actions, I’ve made my peace with them - for now. On Friday, two days after my visit to a very persuasive surgeon, I caved and took my first Tamoxifen. I was not struck by lightning. Neither did I break out in hives.


I do, however, feel as though I’ve crossed to ‘the dark side’.

Mr C, my surgeon, spent a lot of impassioned time telling me that I was taking grave risks with my health. He said that if I were to agree, he’d have me on the cutting table by the next morning. He wanted to know if I was seeing some other practitioner. I knew what he meant by ‘practitioner’ and that he was imagining voodoo just by the way he said it. I came very close to telling him I was seeing a witch doctor just to see his reaction. Two things here… first, I’m not in the care of a witch doctor (I just know someone’s going to assume that not knowing my warped sense of humour) and second, I’ve learnt that surgeons don’t have a funny bone, so I quietly snickered to myself and kept my peace. The only way he was going to let me walk out of that hospital with my records was if I agreed to take Tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen is a drug that blocks oestrogen. Oestrogen is the hormone that feeds my cancer. You can read more about it here. I’m not a fan, not even slightly. It is, however, the least ghastly of my ‘conventional’ choices. If Tamoxifen works the way the surgeon wants it to, the cancer will, at the very least, stop growing - something I believe it’s done anyway. The side effects scare me, not the menopause one, but the others. There’s the risk of a blood clot and the risk of the cancer going ‘yippee’ and making the Tamoxifen create the very oestrogen problem it’s trying to resolve, which will mean an even more aggressive cancer. Then there’s the risk of a very aggressive cancer of the uterus in 5 years, which is directly caused by Tamoxifen. This information, by the way, doesn’t come from an ‘alternative’ website, but from the Tamoxifen itself.

So while I’m not happy taking Tamoxifen, I’m only giving it a tiny corner of my life. The rest is dedicated to health-building, nourishing and healing foods, drinks and supplements. I have more supplements now than I care to count, but we’re hitting this thing with All we’ve got. Perhaps, with my will to be healthy, Tamoxifen will only do good and maybe, just maybe, it will do what it’s meant to do and fix at least one part of the complexity that is this cancer.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What’s wrong with you?

great love

I saw an article on Twitter on loving your cancer: http://omtimes.com/2014/08/loving-cancer-good-health/ My knee-jerk reaction was, “Are you crazy??” Love… I mean… Love something that has the potential to kill me or at the very least cause me a whole lot of misery? Love? Ok, so I read the article and it was good. More thoughts on that later.

My nightly research, wandering, link-hopping led me on a further path that had this love theme coming up regularly. My dear friend, Michelle, gave me the link to some music, which took me to Youtube and, being the compulsive link-clicker I am, I was soon going on to other related music. One link led to another and I found myself revisiting Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and love. There is a lot to it, but, in short, it is a prayer you recite with healing intention:

I’m sorry
I love you
Please forgive me
Thank you

This prayer can be directed at any one or any thing. At no time does it mean you condone the ‘wrong’ that’s been done. This is also no pat, meaningless apology, just heartfelt love and a letting go of all negative emotions relating to the person, event, thing - or yourself. Yes, you could say it to yourself or parts of yourself.

I’ve used this prayer before, though very rarely. To be honest, I usually forget it exists. Once, I had a confrontation with a colleague at work. The next day, I dreaded going to work fully expecting a continuation of the confrontation - I don’t do confrontation very well - as the situation hadn’t been resolved the day before. In my flurry of tension over the situation, I decided to do some Ho’oponopono. I, rather dramatically, held my hand over my heart, focussed on the colleague and recited the prayer a few times. Arriving at work, the colleague couldn’t have been nicer. She apologised! She also explained why she’d acted the way she had. Now I don’t know if what happened was a result of the Ho’oponopono or just co-incidence. I’m going to choose to believe my little forgiveness ritual had its desired effect. I’ve used it since on other situations and had good effect. It may well just be because of my own mental state being altered. That’s also good.

Going through my mailbox a little later, a sentence jumped out at me, “What’s wrong with you?” It’s what we’re asked when something’s out of place. Or simply a “What’s wrong?” There’s so much negativity and fear in those words. It’s something that’s been brought home to me over and over with this cancer deal. Fear. Negativity. The doctor’s tone dropped to indicate severity. It was all over his voice and body language long before he got the words out, which were also negative, “I’m afraid I have to give you the news…” Why afraid? Why all the fear around cancer? Oh I can understand the fear! I can understand the anger, nay, the rage. I can understand the upset. But that’s the whole problem with sickness in our society. It’s wrapped up in fear because we aren’t in control of our bodies. We’ve handed that control over to the medical institutions and the supermarkets.

Today, I choose to take back control. I choose to love this thing that’s teaching me so much - ok, I’ll at least try. I choose to forgive my body for betraying me and this tumour for turning my life upside down. I choose to love my body and give it what it needs, treating it well. I choose to make mindful choices with what I put into my body. It’s my home, after all, and the vessel I will live in for many years to come. In moving into a home, I like to paint it a bright colour and make it beautiful, choosing my furnishings carefully. Why not with my body?

So, to this cancer I say…

I’m sorry
I love you
Please forgive me
Thank you

Monday, 22 September 2014

A moment of weakness

struggleI really need to take some photos instead of using random bits from the web.

I’m tired. Truly tired. I’ve just realised why I love working so much. It takes me out of myself and gives me a break from the incessant thoughts that are running havoc through my mind. I’m so tired of looking at it and trying to decide if it looks better or worse than yesterday. I’m tired of the constant research, looking for the next ‘magic pill’ or having to decide whether x is good for me or bad for me or only good under certain circumstances or measured quantities.

Heading to the kitchen for another lunch of sweet potato and broccoli - thank goodness I love eating those - I broke down. It’s moments like these when I almost want to go to the doctors and just let them do their thing. At least all the decision-making and responsibility will be taken out of my hands. I know that is why people do it. It’s just so much easier to let someone take over. Oh to have someone who can do that… a bit like the motherly neighbour who bustles in with a “Never mind love, let me do it.”  The trouble with that is that I’d then feel guilty and, you know, guilt is another sick-creator. Positive is healing. Negative is a downward spiral that ends in hospital wards.

Not to worry. I’ll be over this soon, the mood, that is. The rest? I don’t know.

“The more you ask how far you have to go, the longer your journey seems”

which reminds me of a blog I wrote a time ago and a lesson learnt on a hot walk in Mossel Bay. I can’t find the blog now and more’s the pity. I could do with that lesson. In a nutshell, I was carrying a number of bags on a long walk and the woman with me (who was carrying far more) said that the faster we walk, the quicker we’d get there and be able to rest. It was far more profound and memorable than the way I’ve managed to put it here, but you get the idea.

I did, however, while hunting for the blog I was after, find this…

"We're a quarter of the way through the year. I'm pretty much half-way through my life. In terms of my dreams and goals, the clock is ticking - very loudly. My life so far has been one of revving engines, tyres spinning in mud, occasionally moving a few inches ahead, even more occasionally moving ahead by a couple of feet - very often just sinking further into the mire.

My tendency to find humour in life has been a survival tactic. If I don't, the misery and, yes, bitterness may just swallow me up. Like many take a pill against what ails them, I take smiles, laughter and positive snippets daily, sometimes hourly. It's my 'silver bullet' against melancholy."

It seems, though my life has changed beyond recognition… there are some things that never change :)

I’m no optimist

A dear friend, in fact, a few friends, called me an optimist. The lady overseeing my case at the hospital also ‘admired’ my optimism. Here’s the crunch though… I’m not an optimist. Jurgis will tell you that. I’m often the one that sees where the problem in something may be. I’m definitely not a pessimist though. I consider myself to be a realist. I’ll see where the problems are and choose to look at the solutions. That, I think, is the important part, the choices I make and where they lead me. Yes, they do lead me to come across as an optimist because my “On the bright side…” outlook is a Choice.

After my diagnosis, I set about working on complete mind/body healing. You’ve by now seen my previous blog on the nutritional changes I made. This part isn’t so much a case of ‘changes’, as it’s mostly stuff I’ve been doing all along, as a case of intensifying that work.

As an introduction, if you have 20 minutes to spare, do watch this video. Dr Lissa Rankin puts it much better than I ever can…. the mind/body connection and our innate ability to heal ourselves. It was that intuition I listened to when I told them I would prefer not to have surgery or chemo.

Here are some of the modalities I’ve used in the past and am now using to heal my mind and my body…

Affirmations: Every night, as I go to sleep - in fact, this is what I did while undergoing the bone and CT scans - I recite affirmations. Back in Brazil, I recorded one and I play this to myself on my phone whenever I need to stop and take a ‘breath’. “All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am well. I am healed and healthy. I am happy.” There is more. This is just a snippet. I go from that into a number of gratitude affirmations.

EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique - you can read more about it here: I practice EFT on my way to work every day. EFT helped me with the sheer emotional overwhelm that came with the cancer diagnosis and helped me work on the emotional issues that led up to my getting cancer when there is no apparent family history of cancer. I don’t need to tell you that our emotions and our health are linked very closely. Each day, whenever I thought of it, I’d tap on my weak immune system and the safe and painless flushing of toxins from my body. I’d also tap on any other issues I had as they came up.

One night, shortly after my diagnosis, I revisited an old therapy I’d used before, TAT. Click here to learn more. TAT seems very simplistic, but it’s very powerful (just like EFT). The idea behind TAT, as with EFT, is to clear the past (even historical) events and/or traumas relating to a condition. Either way, I used TAT on the cancer. Like many, I had a huge number of fears around the word and a few traumatic experiences where I’d been exposed to close friends who’ve died of the disease. After doing TAT, I went to sleep as normal, but had a dream. On waking up from that dream, I knew, with absolute certainty, that I’d be clear of cancer in 3 months. It wasn’t a belief, but a knowledge.

After the TAT and my initial rounds of EFT, I found that all the emotional charge related to the word ‘cancer’ was completely gone. When hearing or saying the word, I may as well have been talking about an annoying pimple. It’s still like that. When people react to my diagnosis with alarm, I find myself wondering… what is this drama you speak of and wanting to comfort them, as they seem so upset by it.

Every night, if I shower (no, no…. get that thought out of your head… of course I bathe daily!), I listen to grounding music. I have a few meditations that ‘ground’ me to the healing powers our our Earth. It makes visualising the healing energy that is around me doing its work. If I bath, I have meditations that allow me to heal as I’m lying there in my bicarbonate of soda (‘baking soda’ to my American friends) and breathing exercises that help oxygenate my body and cells.

Another practice that I don’t do nearly often enough, is Qigong. It’s best described as “the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi)”.

Back in Brazil, Jurgis developed a large mole on the side of his head. This mole grew very rapidly and got very much darker. It went from a tiny spot to a large area almost an inch in length. I was worried enough to photograph it to see how it was changing. If it changed any further, we’d agreed that he needed to see doctor to get it cut out. When I next checked his mole, it was gone… not even a trace. I now have before and after photos. Jurgis just decided that it wasn’t welcome and he told the mole just that. Then, he put it out of his mind and went about his life. The mole vanished.

Such is the power of the mind. Such is the power that I am using on this cancer.

Not so simple


I’d love to say “I did this and was healed”, but, for a start, I’m still at the start of a very long healing process and, secondly, what I’m doing towards that healing is multi-faceted and not as simple as the explanation I gave at the hospital. I’ll try to sum it up in one blog, then explain more in further blogs. My apologies for taking so long to get this out, but I’ve been plagued by a nasty headache, which has rendered me unwilling to do more than is absolutely necessary.

First and foremost has been a healing of the mind. One of the biggest factors in causing cancer is stress. For me, this has meant working really hard on my mindset, not just believing, but knowing the cancer is beaten. I’ll blog more on this separately, as there was a lot involved. Some have labelled me as optimistic. I want to take this moment to say that I am most definitely not a ‘glass half full’ type of person, but a realist who will see the glass is half full and make conscious plans to fill it!

Before the official diagnosis came through, I started planning my regime. The first step I took was to cut out ALL sugar and sugar-related products. For someone who loves chocolate, this was rather traumatic, but necessary, as sugar feeds cancer. See more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJsqpg4JpeY - I selected this video because it’s short and sweet, but there’s plenty to be found online about the sugar/cancer fiasco. This led directly to my next step, to alkalise my body. Sugar, for one, is highly acidic and yes, I had far too much of it in my system. Cutting out acidic food was part of the deal, but to actively alkalise my body, I started drinking lemon water (one lemon squeezed into a litre of water) with the aim of drinking two bottles a day. For those who will ask, lemon converts to alkaline in your body, so yes, it is acid, but doesn’t stay that way. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t. Switching to high alkaline foods came with that particular package deal.

I switched back to goat’s milk, as goat’s milk isn’t acidic like cow’s milk. It helps that I think that goat’s milk is awesome on so many levels. Cow’s milk (throw all beef products into that category) is loaded with hormones too and hormones are a huge no-no (my cancer is oestrogen positive), not just for me right now, but for everyone! There’s a huge belief in Croatia about the cancer-healing properties of goat’s milk as well. I can live with that. My only cheese is a slice of goat’s milk cheese too. Regular cheese now has me rolling in agonies of acid reflux within seconds. Who would have thought it? I’ve been a huge cheese fan for so long!

VEG! Good thing I love my veggies. I’ve pretty much eliminated meat products, only occasionally treating myself to a bit of chicken, salmon or… as we’re having tonight, venison. The whole hormone thing comes into play here. I’m being very selective and this is my treat. My usual meal, if I have one at all after juicing and smoothies, is pictured at the start of the blog. What you see there is a salad with rocket (yum!!), tomato and goat’s cheese, with a dressing of yoghurt (more on that in a minute), flaxseed oil, hemp oil and a little rock salt… then some veggies. The brassica family are particularly good.

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal though. I’m on the Budwig protocol: http://www.budwigcenter.com/the-budwig-diet.php. I don’t use quark, but organic yoghurt with live cultures. Breakfast is (aside from juicing) a bowl of meusli with yoghurt, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, ground flaxseed, a little honey and a handful of blueberries.

Strictly speaking, I’m meant to be juicing all day, but, practically speaking, that isn’t possible with work. At work, for lunch, I eat cold (avoid microwave like the plague!) sweet potato. It’s alkalising and gives me energy in my high-activity job. I nibble on brazil nuts too. Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is a mineral that stops cancer growth in its tracks.

On the subject of minerals and such, the next part is supplements. At the beginning, I was on garlic, hawthorn and olive leave extract - garlic and olive leaf have anti-cancer properties. Hawthorn strengthens the cardiovascular system, which means all that precious oxygen will get around better. Cancer hates oxygen. Oxygenating my body has become a life-mission. Another supplement is turmeric, or more specifically, curcumin. I have some pineapple first, as the bromelian in pineapple weakens the cell walls, so all the micro-nutrients I’m consuming can get in. Before taking my turmeric, I also take black pepper, so the piperine can increase the bio-availability of the curcumin - ie. increase absorption by the body.

More recently, I’ve added chaga mushroom extract to my regimen. This could be a blog on its own. Basically, in Siberia where the mushroom is harvested, there is no cancer! This is because the locals there drink chaga mushroom tea in place of coffee. There’s a heap of information on the subject online, so I won’t go on about it here. I also take grapeseed extract, my own precious supply of Japanese knotweed tincture and periodically also feverfew tincture. Each of these are valuable in the fight against cancer. Japanese knotweed and feverfew can’t be taken continuously though, so I give myself a few doses on a weekly basis.

I want to do a whole blog on the mind/emotion treatment, which is, to me, the most vital part of my ‘fight’ against cancer, so keep an eye out for the next blog. There’s enough in here to chew on in the meantime, don’t you think? I’m open to any and all questions, though I hope to be doing follow up blogs explaining various parts of this regimen. For the most part, there’s a ton of information online. All I can add is knowledge gleaned from my database and the books I have on hand.

Augh… there’s so much here! I think I’ll leave it at this for now. I can’t say which part is doing the healing work - my bet is on the mind/emotional part that I still have to write about - but it’s working and I’m healing! EDIT: I neglected to go into the juicing. I juice at least 5lb of carrots daily, often with celery, cucumber and spinach added. That's a LOT of juice!