FiMunro

love, light and mermaid tails


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What Would You Wish For?

“What Would You Wish For?”

This morning I woke from a very vivid dream with tears in my eyes.

In my dream, someone had stood before me and said ‘I can take it all away, I can make it so you never had stage four cancer.’ I remained silent as they went on ‘You would never have had the chemotherapy; your hair would still be intact and you never would have suffered the distress it had caused you. Your surgery wouldn’t have happened; your scar would vanish, your colostomy wouldn’t exist and the trauma you experienced would disappear from your mind.’
In my dream I silently stared at them as they spoke and finally muttered ‘would I remember the lessons?’

‘Only if you wanted to’ they replied.

‘Would I be teaching yoga?’ I asked, slightly bewildered.

‘No, you would still be in your previous job.’

Then, somewhere between the dream and awakening I began to think about what this would mean….

I would never have taught a single child yoga and, as a result, I would never have witnessed the magic that happens when a child is gifted the ability to self sooth, or the wonder in their eyes when they learn about chakras, or the softening of their spirit as I teach them the mantra of ‘I am kind, I am loved, I am safe, I am enough….’

I would have never made the friends I have through cancer and, as a result, so many people I cherish deeply would still be strangers.

I, of course, also never would have lost the dear friends that I parted ways with during my journey (some through death and some through anger), but perhaps our story together was over and that, as painful as it was, is OK. The memories we shared will always be carried in my heart.

I never would have written my book or personally had the honour of connecting with hundreds of people as they go through their own cancer journey or who are supporting a loved one with cancer. I never would have shared the tears and felt the connection when people wrote to me about a loved one passing away from cancer, or the joy when someone survived against all the odds.

I wouldn’t have known what it’s like to have everything I thought was ‘me’ stripped away to leave the raw reality upon which I could rebuild the person I have become….no, the warrior I have become!

I never would have met, nor witnessed, the incredible medical staff who I have had the absolute privilgde of receiving care from. My oncologist, my surgeons, the nurses (oh the wonderful nurses), the porter, the cleaning staff, the volunteers and the doctors would all remain strangers and I would never know what it is like to witness, nor recieve, the passionate, person-centred care that they offer.

I wouldn’t place the value I do on time away with my hubby, on days with my family or on adventures with friends. Instead, perhaps I would have kept working long days and commuting long hours, unaware that my precious life was slipping past me in a blur.

I wouldn’t have handed out a single random act of kindness and, sadly, I wouldn’t have connected with the lives and stories of so many beautiful strangers, some of whom have become dear friends and, all of whom, have taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life.

And I realised something; I wouldn’t trade a single second of my diagnosis, of my treatment, of my surgery or of my recovery if it meant that I would miss out on any of the wonderful gifts it had brought me.

In that moment I knew that, while my cancer may never be cured, I can say now, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that I am completely ‘healed’ in every sense of the word and that is the greatest gift of all.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, neither do any of us, but I do know that because of (not in spite of) my cancer, that I will be living my life with kindness, with gratitude and, above all, with love.

Look for the beauty, embrace the gifts and I promise you cancer can heal us all.

Love and light, Fi xxx

‘Health Blogger of the Year 2017’

Author of ‘Love, Light and Mermaid Tails: One Woman’s Healing Journey Back to Wholeness Through Stage Four Cancer’

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Every Encounter is an Opportunity to be Kind

“Every Encounter is an Opportunity to be Kind”

This weekend, rather than get caught up in the madness that is ‘Black Friday’ my hubby and I went away for an amazing weekend break, involving great food, open fires, spa treatments, an outdoor hot tub and sauna and all in a small dog friendly hotel. It was bliss.

Of course I had some of my random act of kindness envelopes with me and this weekend they went to two very special beings…


Those of you familiar with my story, know that I hand out RAOK when someone catches my eye and touches my heart. Well, this weekend was no exception. 

We were sitting on one of the sofas in the fire lit lounge in the hotel when a couple arrived carrying two gorgeous dogs. Their light filled the room and soon we were having a relaxed chat about travel – one of my all time favourite conversations.

The warmth of this couple struck me instantly, there was just ‘something’ about them. Had our encounter been fleeting, I would have given them an envelope instantly, however I knew that we were staying in a very small hotel together for the next few days and, as surprising as it may be, I always get embarrassed handing out my envelopes. So, I put the thought to the side and concentrated on relaxing.

The following day, my hubby and I were sitting in a different room of the hotel waiting for a day of pampering in the spa – this was a rare edulgent weekend of relaxation – when the couple arrived for their breakfast with their two gorgeous dogs. Well, I am a sucker for fur babies so, of course, within seconds my hubby and I were giving the dogs cuddles. One even ended up sitting on my hubby’s knee while the couple ate their food – again chatting away to us.

In fact, at every encounter with the couple two things were clearly evident: firstly, they had an immense love for one another that shone out into the world in rays of kindness towards all whole encountered them – seriously you could almost ‘touch’ their positive energy. It was contagious in all the best ways. Secondly, they adored their two dogs. This is something I can relate to as my two ‘fur babies’ are a huge part of my life (trust me, if they weren’t cats I’d take them on holiday too!) Also, my parents are exactly the same as this couple with their two dogs.

I couldn’t get the thought of giving them an envelope out of my mind; if ever I’d met two people that represented all I hope for this world this couple was surly them. However, I decided to do something a bit different this time. Instead of giving them an envelope I took one of the envelopes I was carrying and addressed it to their two dogs, Crystal and Sparkle (I told you this couple were right up my street – how awesome are those names!) When we were checking out of the hotel I gave the envelope to the staff member and asked her to pass it on which, I’m pleased to say, she did. 

Why did I pick the dogs and not the owners? Quite simply because I knew that the couple would appreciate the act of kindness being extended to their furbabies much more than they would have if I’d addressed it to them. In a way, I was hoping that this gesture would add to the kindness.

I was right to think so as we arrived home to this lovely message from the couple and, of course, lots of photos of their dogs.

Hi Fi wow what an inspiration u are. We feel truly honoured to have met you and after everything you have been thru puts everything in perspective! What a kind thing to do with the envelope and so thoughtful. The dogs appreciate this and will be treated! They luved u and Ewan! What a wonderful hotel and so friendly. I do hope u had a wonderful time and felt relaxed. I can’t imagine what you have been thru but u r a very brave lady indeed with a determination to live and life to the full!! We really enjoyed meeting you both. Will keep following your journey. Wishing you both a wonderful time in Brussels and a Happy Anniversary. Keep fighting Fi. You deserve to have a wonderful life. Wish there were more people like you. Stay in touch. Best wishes and thank u again love Jane, Mark, Sparkle and Crystal xxxx

Sparkle and Crystal – shared with permission from their ‘mummy’

We can all learn a lot from this wonderful couple; love completely and spread kindness. The key to living a happy life is that simple. I am grateful for meeting them. They honestly brightened our trip and I thank them deeply for them being just the way they are.

Of course, we can also learn from the recipients of the envelope – Sparkle and Crystal.

  • Always run to meet the people you love.
  • Enjoy time in nature.
  • End the day with a cozy cuddle.
  • Take time every day to have fun.

On our way home from the hotel we stopped by our local organic farm to buy some food for the week ahead. While there we paused for lunch. The cafe was unusually busy, it turned out we weren’t the only people avoiding Block Friday. Sitting at a table diagnoly from us was a family. The dad had long hair in a pony tail and his young daughter was insisting on playing with it. Rather than dismissing her he embraced this whole heartedly, even when she tied it into a mini ponytail on top of his head so that their hairstyle matched. I caught his eye and smiled.

Here was a man caught in a moment with his daughter making a beautiful memory, I felt honoured to be witnessing it as I ate my lunch. On our way out I approached them and gave them an envelope in recognition of the joy and love that they were radiating towards one another.

Kindness doesn’t have to cost anything. It is found in the simple acts of love we do each day for the people we love, but it can also be found in the joy we offer to complete strangers. It’s amazing what difference a smile or a friendly word can make in someone else’s life, and in ours when this gesture is returned.

What can you do to spread kindness to those around you?

Love and light, Fi xx

Health Blogger of the Year 2017

Author of ‘Love, Light and Mermaid Tails’


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My Body is Incredible, Sexy and Wonderful and so is Yours!

My Body is Incredible, Sexy and Wonderful and so is Yours!

Like many people, I was never a huge fan of what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I’d excercise daily, watch what I ate and still I wasn’t happy – despite the fact I was a healthy, and muscly, size 10 I always found ‘faults’ with my frame. The thought of leaving the house without makeup terrified me and my hair had to be styled ‘perfectly’ before I was happy to go on a night out…

That is, until I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in January 2016 when I was just 30 years old…

Suddenly everything I identified as me slipped through my fingers.

In a matter of weeks I was skin and bone; unable to weight train or run like I had before. I cut my long blonde hair and donated it to be made into a wig for a child with cancer; the hair that remained was soon falling out in clumps as chemotherapy took affect.

Then, less than 4 months after my diagnosis I had a massive operation, during which I had several of my abdominal organs removed. In fact, I had one of the largest operations performed on a stage four cancer patient having my womb, tubes, ovaries, cervix, spleen, appendix and omentum completely removed, as well as part of my liver, diaphram, pancreas and bowel. The result was an 18 inch scar, a colostomy bag and a body I had to relearn how to use.

Standing in front of the mirror a few weeks after my surgery, I didn’t recognise the woman in front of me. Her skin was grey, her eyes were sunken, her face was creased with pain. She had no hair, she weighed just 42kg, her tummy was lined with scars, her back hunched over and she had a colostomy bag stuck to her tummy. I recall turning to my nurse and declaring “I look just like a cancer patient.” She laughed gently and took my hand as she said with kindness “that’s because you are one.”

It was in that moment, and each moment since that I realised how incredible my body is. It doesn’t need to look a certain way to be awesome. The fact that it is keeping me alive is pretty, freaking amazing in itself, don’t you think?!

Moving forward I began to appreciate how blessed I am that my body keeps me alive despite the fact it is missing so many parts. With time and patience I learnt how to use my body again and I even trained as yoga teacher so that I can help others to learn to love and respect their bodies too. However, something was missing…

While I had learned how incredible my body is, it seemed that society was still lagging behind…

All around me were people ashamed of their scars, stretch marks and curves.  I began to question why we had this view of what ‘perfect’ and ‘sexy’ should look like. As I pondered this I realised that society is sadly lacking models, actors and other role models that can lead the way and show us that you don’t have to look a certain way in order to be ‘perfect’. I even wrote a whole blog post asking why we don’t see more actors, actresses, models (and so on) with scars, colostomy bags and other ‘imperfect’ marks left by life.

Much to my suprise, just a few months later I was invited by Molke to model some of their underwear in a photo shoot…

Two years ago, if I had been asked to pose for photos in underwear I would have freaked out. Thoughts like ‘I’m too fat…I’m not good enough…I’m not attractive enough…I’m not toned enough…etc etc’ would have filled my mind and I would have either said a resounding ‘NO’ or spent all my time in the gym.

Not now though!

Instead, I squealed with delight at the opportunity to show off the scars that line my tummy. A tummy that will never be toned because its wonderful muscles have been cut through during life saving surgery. I thought of being alongside women gifted in the breast department as I thought of my own non existent chest and instead of feeling inadequate I embraced it with laughter and joy.

For those of you that don’t know, Molke specialise in funky (and super practical) undies for breastfeeding mums…so it was an absolute pleasure to take part in the modelling as I certainly don’t fit into the ‘ideal’ category…not only am I not a breastfeeding mum but I am not a mum of any kind and, because of my surgery for stage four ovarian cancer and an ectopic pregnancy, I never will be….and that’s ok….the universe obviously had different plans for me.

HOWEVER!….what I am is a fierce and confident woman with surgical scars that line my tummy, a colostomy bag that saved my life and a passion for encouraging people to love and embrace their bodies.

It is WONDERFUL that there are businesses out there that support all of this…In fact, it was especially wonderful when I asked the owner and founder if she minded that she could see my colostomy bag during the photo shoot to which she replied confidently with “No! I love it!” How awesome and lovely is that!

A massive thank you and congratulations to Molke for embracing women of all shapes, sizes and needs and encouraging us to love our bodies. Perhaps other clothing brands will learn to do the same and, with time, more people with learn to love their bodies just as they are. 

It took stage four ovarian cancer, chemotherapy and massive surgery before I appreciated my body…I want YOU to realise that your body is already incredible, sexy and wonderful just as it is. After all, the word ‘imperfect’ really just means “I’M PERFECT” so go out into the world loving your body and valuing it for all it enables you to do.

Love and light, Fi xxx

www.fkmunro.com

Health Blogger of the Year 2017

Author of “Love, Light and Mermaid Tails: One Woman’s Healing Journey Back to Wholeness Through Stage Four Cancer


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What the Fuck Can I Eat?

For the purpose of this post I would like to define myself under three important points; 1. I am a PhD researcher with an unwavering curiosity; 2. I live with stage four ovarian cancer; 3. I LOVE food – it is quite possibly one of my favourite things. Together, these three defining factors create a woman with a passionate interest in how the food we put into our bodies affects us physically (and emotionally). However, in my search for the ‘optimal diet’ I’ve discovered that it is not as straightforward as we might like.
Let me explain.

I have a gluten allergy and chemo has left me intolerant to diary so these food groups are obviously off of the menu (for me anyway).

Meat

Extensive researching led me to the conclusion that meat is bad for you. In particular, if you have or have had cancer, there are many studies that show that the hormones in non organic meat can increase the rate at which cancer spreads. The same can be said about eating a diet high in protein. However (and it’s a big ‘however’) the’Paleo Diet’ encourages that we eat a diet close to that which would have been eaten by cave men. It advocates a diet high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, oils AND meat. So is it healthy to eat meat or not?

The confusion doesn’t end there either. Many people thriving with cancer, or seeking to reach the point where they can thrive, advocate ‘bone broth’ as a way of boosting their immune system and gut health. What is bone broth? It is, basically, animal bones boiled with vegetables and the resulting liquid is drunk as a ‘broth’. It is what our grandmothers did instinctively for years when they were making a soup or gravy.

Confused? I’m sorry to say that this is just the start in our quest for the ‘perfect’ diet.

Sugar

Let’s take a minute now to think about sugar. We all know it’s bad right? I’ve written a whole other blog post about why I don’t eat sugar and it is featured as a whole section in my book. However, what do we mean when we say ‘sugar’? Do we mean the white stuff we may add to our tea or coffee? Or does it go beyond this?  Can we eat fresh fruit? What about dried fruit? What about fruit juice? Do these negatively impact our bodies in the same way as table sugar?

Well, again, it’s not a straightforward answer. Firstly, let’s get something clear – everything you eat is converted to glucose by your body when you eat it. Yes, everything. This is not an issue. It is, of course, a natural and healthy response. However, refined sugar doesn’t need to go through this process and has no nutritional value, hence the poor health implications when we indulge. However, many sugar free diets advocate no dried fruit or dried sweet vegetables, no fruit juice and only a couple of pieces of whole fruit a day due to their high fructose content.

That seems straightforward enough, but hang on a moment. Let’s look at the raw food diet. It advocates eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables (and greens) and has a particular focus (if you are to believe raw ‘cook’ books) on raw snacks containing dried fruit and vegetables. Even if we are not to go completely raw, and instead want to add smoothies and juices to our diet, we will find that most recipients are high in fruit so that they are more palatable to someone used to a westernised, high sugar diet. So are these not as healthy as we are led to believe? Is drinking a juice or smoothie with several pieces of fruit as ‘bad’ for your body as drinking a can of fizzy juice? Well, if we were to look only at the sugar (namely the retrospective fructose and glucose contents) then the answer would be yes. These, ‘healthy’ drinks would likely have a higher sugar content. However, it can also be argued that a can of fizzy juice has no nutritional value, whereas a fruit juice or smoothie is high in nutrients. 

The list of controversies goes on.

Fat

We are often told to eat a low fat diet. Without the right information this can lead us to turn to food labelled as ‘low fat’. These, however, are extremely high in sugar. Also, nuts and oils are amongst some of the most nutritious foods we can eat and yet they also have the highest fat contents. Sweeping statements like ‘eat low fat’ fail to recognise not only the difference between different types of fat in our food but also that the fat we eat doesn’t make us fat. Yes, you read that right, fat doesn’t make us fat; sugar does.

So what the fuck can I eat?

The confusion doesn’t end here. In fact, I could probably right another book dedicated solely to food and, who knows, maybe one day I will. However, in the meantime, the brief exploration above may leave you questioning “what the fuck can I eat?” If this sums up how you feel then rest assured, you are not alone.

In the past two years since my diagnosis I have played around with my diet in my quest for the optimal diet for my body. I have gone from a high protein diet to a vegan. I have gone from a sugar junkie to avoiding the white stuff. I’ve consumed green smoothies high in fruit and I’ve also had weeks where I’ve avoided fruit altogether. I’ve gone from cooking a different meal each night to eating 100% raw for nearly two months. I’ve studied a range of diets and I’ve used myself as a test subject. I’ve also had ‘blow out’ weekends were I’ve eaten whatever I want – from meat to sugar and back to salads again.

This is what I’ve learned:

Guiding Principles

  • Each of our bodies are uniquely wonderful and special. There is no ‘one size fits all’ diet. Whilst there are some guiding principles, ultimately, we should learn to listen to our bodies.
  • Eat the rainbow – ensure your plate is always filled with a range of colours.

Avoid

  • Processed foods.
  • Anything labelled low in fat.Whenever you read these words, replace them with the phrase ‘chemical shit storm’. Low fat products will do you no good, ever.
  • Foods with a long list of ingredients (in particular any that you can’t pronounce).

Focus on

  • Whole foods
  • Organic foods (wherever possible)
  • Variety

Indulge In

  • Greens. Salad, kale, hard, herbs, sprouts etc are all incredibly nutritious foods and essential in your daily diet if you are seeking optimal health.
  • Vegetables

Include

  • Fruit. Favour fresh fruit and always eat more vegetables than fruit.
  • Nuts, seeds and oils.

Some things to think about

  • If you want to eat meat try to ensure that it is lean cuts and that it is organic. Also, try not to have meat every day.
  • If you want a sweet treat, favour a home made cake over a processed bar of chocolate. Also keep it as a treat, rather than a daily ritual. Ideally, learn how to make some sugar free treats.
  • Favour smoothies over juices.
  • Favour organic dairy wherever possible.
  • Reduce (or illuminate) your consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

A Parting Thought

In our quest for health it is very easy to get obsessive about the food we eat. I know, I’ve been there. However, ultimately if you eat an organic, unprocessed and varied diet then you are doing great. Don’t punish yourself if you want to eat a piece of cake one day. Simply enjoy the cake and move on. Life is far to short to punish ourselves for the food we do and don’t eat.

For me, my diet looks like this:

  • I’m mainly vegan – sometimes however I enjoy a pouched egg, fish or even (on rare occasions) a steak.
  • I’m mainly sugar free – sometimes however I indulge in a piece of cake.
  • I’m 100% gluten free (allergy)
  • I’m 100% dairy free (intolerance)
  • I’m 80% raw – I tried 100% raw and I felt great, however, my love of curry and baked potatoes (and my realisation that life is short) was too strong.
  • I eat a variety of greens daily
  • I eat at least 8 different vegetables every day
  • I eat no more than 2 pieces of whole fruit every day
  • I eat a lot of nuts, seeds and oils
  • I avoid processed foods, choosing whole foods.
  • I make food using fresh, organic ingredients.
  • I make a smoothie everyday and avoid juice. However, I also sometimes enjoy a glass of apple juice as a treat.
  • I never drink alcohol, fizzy juice or caffeine.
  • I use spices, herbs, garlic and ginger every day.

Ultimately I enjoy food and I fuel my body without punishment.

I encourage you to do the same. Stop punishing yourself and embrace your diet. Make small changes to including more nutritious food and stop judging yourself for wherever you may be in your food journey. No one is ‘perfect’. I’ve just been awarded ‘health blogger of the year 2017′ and even I like cake on occasion.

Love and light, Fi xxx


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The Innate Ability to be Kind

Today I met my Uncle for a cuppa and he gave me this beautiful teal dream catcher.

When I got back to my car I noticed that the car in front had a parking fine on their windscreen. We’ve all been there – it’s the worse feeling coming back to your car to an unexpected bill to add to the list. I felt for the person and wondered about their reaction. Whilst doing so I noted that they had not ‘just’ missed the end of their paid time by a few moments. Their parking had been up for nearly three hours!

As I sat in my own car I began to wonder why someone would be so late for their car. I knew immediately what I had to do. I reached for something in my bag, leapt out of my car and slipped one of my blue envelopes under their windscreen wiper. Inside was a random act of kindness. At least now they now have some money to help with the bill 💖

Doing these random acts of kindness never fails to brighten my day. The simple gesture of touching a stranger’s life in a beautiful way with no expectation of their reaction is one of the most beautiful things we can all do. It doesn’t have to cost a penny. A smile costs nothing and yet it can make a huge difference to someone’s life.

How lucky we are to all have this innate gift to help others.

Love and light, Fi xxx

You can read more about my random acts of kindness and where the money comes from.


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Sprouting For Joy – Raw Food Day 6

Sprouting For Joy – Raw Food Day 6Wow it’s already 6 days since I started eating 100% raw and I am feeling AMAZING!

Today’s video is all about sprouts! No not the kind you avoid at Christmas but sprouted nuts, seeds and lentils and why they are a must in a raw food diet. Actually why they are a must in everyone’s diet!

These are super tasty, super healthy and, best of all, super easy to prepare!

I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired to ‘sprout for joy’ too!

Love and light, Fi xx

New to my page? In Jan 2016 , at the age of just 30, I was diagnosed with non-genetic, stage four ovarian cancer. There is no stage five. Since then I’ve quit my job as a researcher and retrained as a yoga instructor. I’ve launched my own yoga business and spend my time teaching and practicing yoga and ensuring I have optimal nutritional, physical and emotional health. I also recently wrote a book about my journey back to wholeness.

I’ve been shortlisted for ‘The Health Blogger of the Year’.

It would be super awesome if you could head here and vote to help me win.

You don’t need to provide any details (not even your name!), you just have to tick a box!

Namaste!


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Support – Raw Food Day 5

Over the past 21 months I have received unwavering support from both friends and family, for which I am eternally grateful.

Despite my positive outlook and the fact that my cancer miraculously went into remission last year this does not mean I am ‘cured’.

In reality, statistically the chances of me dying from my cancer in the next three years are 83%* (these odds are increased further due to my lack of a spleen). This is not the odds of a recurrence, these are the odds of death.

Now, as a researcher, (and as a generally stubborn individual) the only reason I like statistics is so that I can disprove them. For this reason, many of you have witnessed me making radical (and perhaps sometimes crazy) lifestyle changes.

I am now embarking on a journey of eating 100% raw food. This is not because I think it will ‘cure’ my cancer, but rather because it is my strong, personal belief that this will give my body the best chance of surviving in spite of cancer.

So, why am I spending a Saturday morning telling you this? Simply because I need your support. I don’t expect anyone else to switch to a raw food diet (not even my lovely hubby), I love you all just as you are. However, I do need your encouragement. Whilst you can eat whatever you like in front of me (yes even steak!), please don’t offer it to me. Instead, please support my food choices. Please don’t pass judgement over what I eat either. There is nothing worse than when someone says “I feel bad that you can’t eat this.” When you make these comments what I actually hear is “I feel bad that you have stage four cancer and I don’t.”

In reality, I don’t mind not eating what you eat, ever! 

Most importantly don’t feel that we can’t go out for meals or eat together. I will always find a way of eating something raw when we are out and I LOVE food.

So, in short. Please encourage and support me as I make this change in my life. It will not always be easy for me and I really need your help. It is what I need to do for me** in order to give my body the best chance of survival. At the very least it will enable me to say “at least I tried.”

Love and light, Fi xx

*I prefer to look at it as 17% chance of surviving 💜 

**I wish to highlight that I don’t think everyone with cancer (or any disease for that matter) should switch to a similar diet, nor do I pass judgement on any one else’s diet choices. Rather, this is what I instinctively feel is right for me at this moment xxx