Hello beautiful readers!
Wow! It’s been a busy and healing couple of weeks and while I have focused on my healing I have had to step back (just a little bit) from social media and blogging…however, today I am back (not quite in an Arnold Schwarzenegger kinda way) to share what’s been happening. But first(!) thank you all SO MUCH for your continued generous support and donations which is enabling me to pursue a holistic health route as I work on healing* from stage four ovarian cancer.
Many of you will have seen that when I went to have my lungs checked on Friday that the cancerous fluid had REDUCED (just a little bit) so something is clearly working…but what? Personally, I don’t think there is a straight forward answer but rather that it is a sum of many parts and for that reason I will endeavour to share with you ALL of the changes I am making. However, please remember that we are all wonderfully unique and so what works for me may not work for you, or indeed someone you love. Always, always, ALWAYS follow your instinct when making any choices in life.
Now, before I start recounting the last two weeks, I want to give you a mental image of my ‘office’ today. I am currently sitting on a train to London en route to Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Charles this evening for a Macmillan event I’ve been invited to…its both super exciting (and terrifying). However don’t let all that glamor give you a false impression of me…I just knocked my herbal tea over the laptop of the suited man sitting opposite me. Thankfully he was kind and understanding, although I’m pretty sure he hopes I won’t be regularly frequenting his ‘mobile office’ (aka commuter train). Also my train is delayed by a few hours so I am currently concerned I won’t even make it to my royal invitation! Eeekkk!
Anyway…did I digress again?!…how unlike me…hahaha…
I’ve now had three acupuncture sessions and I think they are AMAZING! I didn’t know what to expect as I’d never had acupuncture before but I have been intuitively drawn to Chinese medicine and, in particular, acupuncture since I was diagnosed so I thought now was the time. The doctor is very thorough and understanding and explains everything…I ask A LOT of questions and she never hesitates to give me full and comprehensive answers. She even lends me books so I can read more!
During the first session I was a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that she planned to put needles in my arms and legs so I wore shorts and a tshirt under my winter clothes (I recommend this if you wish to save your modesty). She gently placed three needles in each arm, one in each hand, several in each leg and one in each of my ears. Then she left me for 30 minutes and I instantly fell asleep. I was out cold!
When she returned she removed the needles and then gave me a Chinese head massage which is completely different to an Indian head massage (in case you were wondering).
She recommended that I rest after my first session so I went home and lay on our sofa reading. After a few hours of complete rest, I had an overwhelming sense of mental clarity. My mind has been more than a little ‘foggy’ since compelling chemotherapy in July 2016 and it was like the fog had been lifted. In fact I started writing my business plan and the outline of my second book without pause or hesitation. Then, after my evening meal, I went for a 30minute walk with my hubby and went straight to bed. However, from about 3am I was wide awake as my head was still buzzing!
I explained this to the acupuncturist at my next session and she adjusted the needles accordingly. After each session I feel my mental clarity improve further and I am also able to relax much easier. My resting heart rate which is normally 64 but which went up to the high 90s over the festivities is working its way down again and is now a healthier 65.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chinese Medicine, the doctor also reads your pulse – using their hands to feel each wrist they are not counting the beats but rather noting the pattern and using this to diagnose any underlying issues. It is currently over my head how they do this but I hope with further reading I’ll be able to explain this better in future posts.
They also check your tongue…my tongue and pulse are both indicating an improvement…I can certainly notice the difference in my tongue in the mirror (I’ll save you from a photo!)
This is definitely a therapy I will be continuing as I am noticing the mental and physical benefits.
Also, I trust the doctor who not only spends 90 minutes with me at each appointment but also does research on my behalf and sends me information.
Cost per 90minutes: £35 (I go twice a week)
Infrared Sauna – update and verdict
I’ve been using my infrared Sauna blanket nearly every day since I bought it and it is amazing! Not only is it super relaxing but it is now also causing me to sweat out toxins – it took about 5 sessions before I started to sweat during a session. Also, there is LOADS of research available online about the benefits of using an Infrared Sauna when you have cancer.
I set the temperature to 55deg C and the timer to 25 mins then I strip off (you’re welcome for that mental image!) and lie in it while meditating or reading each morning before I have a shower. I always make sure I drink plenty of fluids before and after each sessions….speaking of which…I am much thirstier than usual just now. In fact, I am drinking about 2.5 litres of water a day, in particular on acupuncture days….clearly my body is cleansing itself.
Reiki and Reflexology (and theta healing)
I have fortnightly reiki and reflexology (at the same time – bliss!). I have done this for over a year now and I love it! I go to Natural Balance in Dundee and the two therapist work together during a 60minute session.
Now, whether you believe in the physical benefits of reiki or not, you cannot dispute the mental benefits as it enables you to relax and for your body to move from a state of ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and repair’. This allows your heart rate to slow and your nervous system to relax, meaning that your body is producing less stress hormones and more endorphins which are scientifically proven to help your body to heal. So, when we embrace the mind body connection you can see that you are giving your body the opportunity to do what it does best – heal and repair. Personally, I rate reiki very highly (it’s why I’ve recently trained as a practitioner) and I definitely notice that I feel better in both body and mind after a session. This of course is helped by the wonders of the simultaneous reflexology I receive.
Now, one of the practitioners is also trained in theta healing and so will often utilise his knowledge and experience in this field during a session. I don’t know a lot about this and in fact plan to interview him in a ‘therapist video’ soon so he can explain it himself. In the meantime I suggest you turn to ‘google’ if you are interested to find out more.
COST: £30 per 60 minutes
Shamanism (and BodyTalk)
Some of you may remember that I was previously seeing a ‘Body Talk’ practitioner and that I interviewed her so she could explain what she does.
I stopped seeing her as I could no longer afford the treatment, however I am now using some of the money raised so that I can see her again as I definitely feel the benefit of her sessions. As well as using Body Talk she is also a shamanic healer. This may be more than a little ‘out there’ for some of you – it certainly would have been for me a few years ago, but now I find it fascinating and informative. In a similar vine to reiki, the sessions put me into a state of deeper relaxation which is proven to enable my body to heal. Also, the sessions offer guidance for me moving forward with my health plan and give me avenues of further thought and reflection. As I am an avid learner this suits my needs perfectly. I am struggling to explain it beyond this and think watching the video and letting Roberta explain her trade would be more beneficial for your understanding.
COST: £50 per 60 minutes
Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in India and, as a result, I’d heard a lot about it through my yoga training and was instinctively drawn to it.
I am yet to discover a practitioner in my local area (recommendations invited for trained practitioners in Perthshire or Tayside, please). However, I have been in touch with a therapist who lives in England. He very kindly gave me a free telephone consultation as, like the Chinese Medicine Doctor he needs to ‘read’ my pulse and so didn’t want to prescribe over the phone, instead he was offering general guidance.
His advice was twofold.
Firstly, he discussed the Ayurvedic diet. This depends on your Ayurvedic type – you are either Pitta, Vata or Kapha. For instance, I am Pitta (firey) whilst my hubby is Kapha. There are many online tests you can use to see which you are – these look into your skin type, personality, hair, body competition and so much more.
Once you have established your type, the suitable Ayurvedic treatment is established. There are also general guidelines that are suitable for everyone.
Interestingly, before I was diagnosed I hated tomatoes, now I eat them at least once a day, often more. I literally crave them. However, Ayurveda principles suggest they are aggravating for my competition and Chinese medicine indicates they are dampening (obviously not ideal if you have fluid on one of your lungs!)
Also worthy of noting is that, again, both the Ayurveda practitioner and Chinese Medicine Doctor strongly cautioned me again me eating raw food. This is based on my ‘type’ in both cultures and also because I live in the northern hemisphere. Well thank f*ck for that because eating raw is bloody hard.
So my diet has been tweaked again; I am still gluten free, meat free, dairy free and sugar free. I am also still plant based but I am eating a little more fish and occasionally some organic eggs. I have also reduced the amount of chilli I eat, favouring curry powder, ginger , garlic and turmeric instead and, of course, I am not eating raw. Hurray!
Secondly, he affectionately told me that the herbs and supplements etc don’t matter on their own if I’m not prepared to do internal, emotional work.
He said that, from a holistic point of view, cancer is a manifestation of when our boundaries have been crossed and when we do not express ourself authentically. It’s like an identity crisis on a deeper level. This is something I can relate to and agree with wholeheartedly…doesn’t it resonate exactly with my post about cancer being your body’s last attempt to live?
He said I needed to do some ‘messy emotional’ work and ask ‘where did I go off my path?’ ; ‘what is not resonating with me?’; ‘what in my life doesn’t speak my truth?’ Important questions we should all be asking ourselves don’t you think?
He went on to explain it’s like your soul has a purpose and I’m not quite living it and it’s crying out for attention so I wake up and start doing it. He said it may mean I need to make radical changes but if that’s what my soul wants then that’s what I do. My priority, he went on, is to spend some time working through this so I can do what and be who I came here to be.
I told him it sounds very exciting but also very hard work. He said ‘yes, the other stuff you do is easy in comparison.’
But, you know what, everything he said resonated with me and felt right! Like my soul was shouting ‘here we go, she’s finally gonna do the work’. So, remember when I said I had that overwhelming sense of mental clarity after my first acupuncture session?…well I used that to do some deep soul searching so to speak.
‘So, Fi what is your soul’s purpose?’ I hear you ask. Well, to summarise my pages(!) of notes, I realise I want to focus less on my ‘story’ and instead use my experience and insight to help others; I want to run workshops and talks to help people resolve problems (emotional); heal from traumas; set boundaries; find their own soul purpose; and live their true calling. That’s doable while healing from cancer myself right?!
I also want to write a second book called ‘*****’ (I nearly over shared there!) AND run a couple of healing retreats a year that will have yoga and reiki etc and healthy food and some of the aforementioned workshops (although I’d run these on their own too).
Is this nuts? Probably. But it feels so right…like it’s not even work….in fact…like it really is my soul’s purpose…my reason for being AND the reason why I have cancer (again)….so I can help and serve all of you lovelies!
Nothing like a long and ambitious list when facing cancer round two…hahaha…says the girl who trained as a yoga teacher, wrote a book AND set up her own business while recovering from chemotherapy and major surgery…here we go!
Taking Time to Heal
Now, with all of these changes you may be asking ‘but Fi what is the number one change I need to make?’
Rest assured that the answer is straightforward. Whatever healing route you take for yourself (a very personal choice indeed) the best, number one, and most important thing you can do is this: GIVE YOURSELF THE TIME AND SPACE TO HEAL.
Since my recurrence so many people are asking to meet up with me, for that long over due catch up that has slipped past. However, my answer is simple and consistent. I’m busy. BUT I’m not busy in the socially standard way. I’m busy healing; I’m busy resting; I’m busy soul searching; most importantly I’m busy putting my needs first – not easy when you are a people pleaser (albeit an opinionated and unfiltered one).
I realised that when I was on chemotherapy people knew I needed space to recover. During the weeks I received chemo everyone gave me the space to recover and regain strength. However, not many people offer alternative therapies the same respect and, actually, if I am going down this route of treatment then I need MORE space so that I can (hopefully) avoid chemotherapy. I’m not asking for people to stop asking to see me, I would feel very unloved, but rather that when I say no that they understand why with the same compassion they would if I was receiving chemotherapy and/or surgery. Thank you xxx
Before I sign off – this has been a looonnngg post – I wanted to let you know that I am currently in discussion about some conventional drugs that I am considering using. Mainly this is Avastin (which I had alongside my chemotherapy in 2016). My rational for this is it would help to stabilise my condition until I can (hopefully) receive immunotherapy later in the year. However, as I’ve had Avastin through the NHS previously, I’d now have to pay for it which would cost about £1200-£2400 per month depending on dosages. I will keep you posted.
As ever, may my journey help to inform you in a way that empowers you to guide your own healing.
Love, light and healing, Fi xxx
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DISCLAIMER – please always speak to a specialist practitioner before making any changes to your treatment plan. I am not a trained medical professional and this blog serves only to share my personal experiences.
*”The Difference Between Being Healed and Being Cured
Many cancer warriors, in particular those with late stage or incurable cancer, spend precious time in desperate search of the ‘cure’; the perfect protocol that will make their cancer disappear. I can, of course, relate to this desperation. However, I have also found great peace in letting it go. I now raise the question ‘what if it is more important that we seek to be healed rather than cured?’ Now, you may be asking ‘what is the difference?’ Well, in my opinion, the difference is huge.
To be healed is to return to wholeness. It is to look deeply at every aspect of our lives and see where dis-ease lingers. It is to ask what environmental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual imbalances led to an accumulation of this dis-ease manifesting as cancer (or any other modern illness) within our physical body.
To be cured, on the other hand, is to remove the cancer from our body and hope that it doesn’t return. Of course a cure would be wonderful but not at the expense of healing. All too often cancer warriors (and other patients) can get caught up on being cured without using it as a platform to explore and improve their lives.
I don’t know if embracing an integrated approach to health will ever cure my cancer but one thing is for sure; it healed my fear of cancer and taught me how to live again. Perhaps that is more important.”
© fkmunro 2016-2018 | all rights reserved
This quote is an extract from my first book “Love, Light and Mermaid Tails; One Woman’s Journey Back to Wholeness Through Stage Four Cancer”. exciting news…my second book is currently underway and will be published later this year…please join my mailing list or follow me on Facebook for updates.