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Can You Help With My New Book?

MORNING CAMPERS!

I need your help…

So, as you may know, I plan to submit a book proposal to Hay House UK at the end of March!

Publishing a book with them is literally NUMBER ONE on my life to do list!

BUT it’s not easy and competition is tight…over 200 people will be submitting on the same day and only one of us will get signed!!

I soooo want to bring my new book to you and yes if I don’t publish with them I will self publish again BUT this is a stressful process and having a publisher would make my life A LOT easier…and make my dreams come true!

So how can you help?

  1. If you have purchased my previous book ‘HOW LONG HAVE I GOT?’ please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon…this will be checked by Hay House and will make a HUGE difference! Thank you! Link below.
  2. Something they told us that REALLY HELPS is selling 1000+ books in a month…so I have kept my kindle price at £1.99 (the lowest Amazon) will let me drop it to…if you could purchase a copy and help me reach this target in March I would be soooo grateful! I don’t get much money for this…self publishing means Amazon get nearly all the money…I make about 50p from kindle and £1.50 from paperback I think….but that’s not the point…I just want the messages out there in the world! Link below.
  3. You SMASHING people got my Instagram following over 5000 THANK YOU! But if it was over 10000 it would help me to get my page verified and enable the ‘swipe up’ feature. If you know anyone who wants to see my Instagram musings (and ramblings) please share my page…it’s crazy, yes, but social media numbers really make a difference in the modern book publishing world! Thank you! @fkmunro or https://www.instagram.com/fkmunro/
  4. Share this post…with everyone!
  5. Finally, I will be blogging extracts from my new book over the next few weeks…please let me know whether or not my words resonate…you are my HUGHLY VALUED READERS…without you my book doesn’t exist and my words don’t get read..your opinion matters to me so let me know in the comments on social media or my blog. Thank you xxx

I love you all and I’m so grateful for your support.

This book is as much yours as it is mine.

Let’s do this!!!

Fi xx

How Long Have I Got?: The Story of a ‘Terminal’ Cancer Patient https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1790572916/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_lK4vEbTHH8Q2B

health

It WILL be ok in the end…

…if it’s not ok then it’s not the end…

Don’t you just love when ‘weird shit’ happens…only it’s not weird because you are a shaman and somewhere along the way this has become your normal 🤣

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So yesterday in light of the news of ‘possible new disease in my abdomen’ (what the actual fuck?!) I ask my guides (as you do) to show me a sign that it will be ok… any sign at all…but just make sure it’s a clear one because I’ll be having a perpetual post chemo brain fart for the foreseeable!

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So then I waited…I’m going to be honest, the three hours in pain in the bath until the early hours was not the sign I was particularly after…but then…

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This morning, out of nowhere, one of my fav clients (yes I know we aren’t meant to have favs but come on fellow practitioners…you know the truth 😉) sends me a photo.

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She’s in India where she visits a lot. She knows I love it more than any other place on the planet…and I’ve traveled A LOT(!) so she wanted to send me some love from my fav place.

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But she doesn’t send me just any photo…She sends me a photo of Elephanta Island.

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It seems incentive enough….but unbeknown to her this place is VERY special to me.

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This is not only my fav place in India but it’s also where I had my first ever proper spiritual moment AND where I first had the feeling of ‘I’ve been here before’ …I literally knew what was around every corner…I was buzzing!

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While there Indian people kept coming up to me and stroking me and my hair and taking my photo…it was very odd…the o my time I’d experienced bed this before was in Malaysia when I did a @world_challenge when I was 16.

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I had no idea why and, in truth, was getting a little frustrated with the attention…I wanted to adventure!…but then an older Indian lady came to me and said ‘it’s because your hair is rare here…they think you are lucky and that you bring healing’.

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Not only that…but the date I was there was EXACTLY 10 years to the day since I restarted chemo!…now what are the chances!

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Well if ever there was a sign!!! To be sent this photo…of all photos…with so many powerful messages!…that even my post chemo melted brain can despiser!

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Thank you guides for not just any sign but a big fucking epic neon sign!!!

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I trust you. I trust the guidance. I trust the process.

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And I surrender to it all.

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Namaste, Fi xx

– Note how much black I was wearing…I don’t own any black clothes now! –

health

Turning The Corner

My heath suddenly changing on the 15th December was a massive shock to my system.

The past two months have been a brutal test of my physical and emotional strength.

Through deep reflection I’ve felt parts of myself die off as I’ve learnt things about myself I’d not looked at in the years previous to this sudden change.

Pain, vomiting, weakness, numbness, outbursts of anger, deep sadness, an inability to walk even up my own stairs, isolation…seemingly overnight I faced all of my worst fears.

However, I kept going. I kept moving forward. When I no longer had the strength to carry myself, those who love me most took the weight.

And, somehow, with the incredible support of my oncologist and medical team (and far more admissions than I care to remember) I turned a corner I no longer thought was there…

If you had told me even a week ago that this week I would be in London, making memories with people I love, eating what I want, adventuring, exploring, enjoying our annual ‘Secret Cinema’ event (pictured. More info: https://tickets.secretcinema.org/stranger-things/) I wouldn’t have believed it…it felt an unimaginable dream…

Fi with husband Ewan at Secret Cinema Stranger Things in London 16th February 2020

Yet here I am…filled with the deepest gratitude and love for each moment…now truly seeing have fragile and fleeting everting I had previously taken for granted really is…

Am I free from pain? From weakness? From struggle? No.

But have I adapted, surrendered and accepted? Yes.

Am I filled with love? With gratitude? With hope? Have I learnt how sacred and precious even a bite of solid food can be, after weeks of that feeling like an impossible task? Have I dropped to my knees in tears while walking Ozzy after weeks of my legs no longer carrying me? Have I laughed more deeply? Have I felt everything more fully? Have I thanked the universe for each day, each hour, each breath? YES. A million times yes!

I don’t know what tomorrow brings. But today, today I am alive, I am grateful and I am filled with hope not for a better tomorrow, but for a tomorrow I can live through.

I no longer want to change my reality. Instead, I ask to always have the strength to accept it, exactly as it is, with deep gratitude and love.

Today I am ‘meant’ to be having my second dose of chemo but I have asked for a week break for this London adventure. I restart chemo next week.

Meanwhile I will laugh, I will love and I will continue with my digital break…I’m not sure when I’ll be back online but please grant me the space to discover who I really am…

With love xxx

health

RECUPERATION

△ RECUPERATION △

“… to get something back that you have lost…”

I am taking some time…maybe a day…a week…a month…a year (can you imagine?!)…I don’t know how long…I’m not setting any limits or expectations…

I just know I need to take the time, however long or short that may be, to recuperate…to get back the energy, stamina, strength and health that I have lost…

That which I once had…

That which, unbeknown to me, I had (despite living with stage 4 cancer for 4 years) still unknowingly taken for granted…

How can it be that only weeks ago I was symptom free and yet now I find myself unable to do so much?

I remind myself that I have been through worse…oh my goodness that’s the biggest understatement isn’t it?

Chemo, multiple organ removal, lung and abdominal drains, operations…

But somehow the suddenness of this feels harder…the shock…the rug pulled so quickly from my seemingly stable feet.

I was not ready.

I did not see it coming and it is the shock, not the reality, that is hitting me hardest.

So I am taking some time to reflect, to learn to love and accept this new body I find myself in and to heal that which I can’t cure…

Know that if there is an update needed that it will be given, always.

Aside from patience while I recuperate I ask for these two things:

1. Appreciate your life. Every moment of it. You don’t know how previous it is until it all changes.

2. Do not send me healing, but rather SEE ME WELL. This is the shamanic way. Sending healing perpetuates the need for healing…see me as already well whenever you think of me. See me filled with energy, laughing, enjoying nature, eating, smiling, filled with joy. See me well.

Thank you all for your holding, your love, your kindness and your support…now I ask you for your patience.

Seeing you all well, happy and filled with vitality today and always.

All my love xx

health

Is this not the life I asked for?

I’m away on a course for five days just now and just channeled these words and had to share them with you. With love, always.

-/-/-/-

Knowing all that I do about myself now, do I not know it to be true that this is the life I would have asked for?

Do I not know that, given the chance to choose my life, that I would have chosen this exact one again and again and again?

Do I not know it to be true that I would have fallen to my knees in front of the stars and begged them to show me it all?

 

“Show me the suffering and the pain.

Show me the loss and the gain.

The love and the grief.

The joy and the sorrow.

 

Please, show me it all.

 

Let my heart beat with every human emotion.

 

Let me leave this life having experienced everything that is real and true.

Let me live this life knowing that I have felt everything, truly everything possible, right to my core.

 

Let me have no doubt that the human experience has been mine, that it has touched my heart, that it has guided the unravelling of my soul and enabled me the great gift of personal growth at a human level.

 

Please, I beg you, do not let me live a mediocre life.

Do not let me numb the emotions of the human experience.

Let me feel it.

Let me feel it all.

 

Let my heart sing and soar and dive and shriek.

In pleasure.

In pain.

In loss.

In gain.”

 

Is this not exactly what I would have asked for?

 

For the pain and for the suffering but also for the deep love and connection.

For the guidance and holding, for the daily unravelling of who I am at my core as I get to meet the very essence of my true self hidden under all of these layers of conditions of worth.

 

And so, who am I now, to say that this is not what I wanted?

That this is not the life I chose.

The life I craved.

The life I needed.

 

Who am I to say no?

No thank you, I choose differently now.

This is too hard.

 

“Give me the growth but without the suffering.

Give me the love without the loss.

Give me the joy without the sorrow.

Give me hope having never experienced despair.”

 

But I know it does not work like that.

I cannot choose to only experience the good.

I cannot choose to avoid the heartache, the loss, the fear or the pain.

 

I would not know joy if I had not received sorrow.

I would not know what it was to lose someone if I had not known what it was to love them first.

I would not know the power of hope if I had not become so well acquainted with fear.

 

So, give me this life.

Every time.

Time and time again.

Let me feel all of it.

 

Let me know the depths of despair so that when hope gently caresses my cheek I will recognise her tender touch.

 

And in doing so, let my soul unravel.

Let me meet who I was born to be.

Let me fall to my knees in front of the stars and thank them time and time again for this unravelling, this reawakening.

 

No, I did not, I would not, I could not ever have asked for a mediocre or easy life through which I flowed without suffering.

I asked for this life.

And it is my deepest calling to live and embrace all of it.

 

Even when, perhaps especially when, that feels impossible.

 

Fi Munro, 23rd January 2020

 

health

“You Have Terminal Cancer” – Four Years On

Today is a special day.

Well I believe that all days are special, but today is particularly so.

Today is the four year anniversary of me hearing the words “you have cancer”. And not just any cancer. Stage four, terminal, incurable and inoperable non genetic high grade serous ovarian cancer. When we are talking about the shittiest types of cancer to get at age 30, or any age for that matter, this one would be very near the top of the list!

Fi Munro 2020When I was diagnosed I was told that I was terminal. That there was a possibility that I wouldn’t survive a year and that, if I did, the statistics said that I had a 17% chance of making it to 5 years. “What about after that?” I’d asked at the time. “There are no statistics beyond 5 years.” I’d been told.

This puts my statistical odds of surviving the next year at just 17%…less really if we take into account my current health situation (more on this and my latest scan results later in this post…)

And yet here I am. Very much alive, albeit suffering physically and emotionally in the wake of recent bad scan results but I certainly don’t feel like I am about to die anytime soon.

In my favourite ‘cancer book’ and the one I most actively recommend (aside from the one I wrote of course!) “Radical Remissions” by Dr Kelly Turner, she writes that a Radical Remission is any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected…and occurs whenever:

  • a person’s cancer goes away without using any conventional medicine; or
  • a cancer patient tries conventional medicine, but the cancer does not go into remission, so he or she switches to alternative methods of healing, which do lead to a remission; or
  • a cancer patient uses conventional medicine and alternative healing methods at the same time in order to outlive a statistically dire prognosis (i.e., cancer with less than 20 percent chance of five-year survival).

img_2290I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that my aim after reading this book following my diagnosis in 2016 (in part due to my background as a PhD researcher and in part due to my stubbornness and joy of proving statistics wrong),  has always been to be a radical remission.

So I find myself musing over the fact that if I survive the next year, the next 365 precious days, then I will have achieved my aim. I will be “a cancer patient [who] uses conventional medicine and alternative healing methods at the same time in order to outlive a statistically dire prognosis (i.e., cancer with less than 20 percent chance of five-year survival).” EDIT: my brother in law has just reminded me it’s a leap year so it’s 366 days…for fucks sake…365 felt hard enough! Haha!

That feels pretty monumental and, I may be stretching my imagination a little far, but it also feels entirely possible – despite my current health situation. I mean it’s just 365 days right? How hard can it be? (I am only jesting in part here). So that’s my aim moving forward. At the very least, I want to survive the next 366 days (and more please!) and play a part in changing the statistics around late stage cancer.

Thinking about this as a possibility and reflecting on everything that’s happened in the past four years I can’t help but have my mind blown.

Four years of living with terminal cancer has completely changed me as a person. Not only has my life changed beyond recognition but I have experience and achieved so much more than my wildest dreams could ever have imagined. I have published two books, won countless awards, trained as yoga teacher and launched may own yoga business, trained as a shaman (graduating in March this year), raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity, spoken at Westminster, received personal letters from both the Prime Minister (at the time Teresa May) and Prince Charles thanking me for my work raising awareness of ovarian cancer, been in two BBC documentaries, spoken at many amazing events, been in so many newspaper articles I’ve lost count, been interviewed by some incredible people and interviewed some even more incredible people myself too and so much more amazing crazy shit!

But it isn’t these aspects of my story over the past four years that are what matters most to me. No, when I reflect on the past four years I find myself realising how incredibly lucky I am to have LIVED those four years. I have seen my sister bring her forth child into the world and watched him grow into a crazy 3 year old, I have watched my niece flourish from a chatty 3 year old into an inquisitive 7 year old, I have watched her start school and seen her thrive as she questions the world around her, I have watched one of my nephews change from a young 6 year old to an incredible 10 year old with a passion for animals met only by Sir David Attenborough himself (he also shares my passion for food which is pretty cool!), I have watched my eldest nephew mature into a young man of 12, watching him start high school, having been only 8 when I was first diagnosed. It is because of him that I do my random acts of kindness and I have had the pleasure of sharing these stories with him over the past few years and watching as they make his heart and mind shine. I have watched my sister and her husband raise these incredible children that I love with all of my heart and it has been one of the greatest gifts of these past four years. To imagine I could have missed even a second of what I have had the privilege of witnessing is unbearable. I feel immense gratitude not only to have been here but also for the insight cancer gave me so that I have actually appreciated how precious this honour has been and continues to be!

Fi Munro Sisters

I have watched my other sister and her boyfriend develop their relationship to become engaged and then married. I never thought I’d make their wedding day but I did and it was one of my happiest moments in the past four years – witnessing the love and happiness between them. Tomorrow, if you can believe it, is their one year wedding anniversary and I’m still here watching their relationship and love grow.

Fi Munro Sister's Wedding

I have watched my own marriage change and grow and felt the deep connection of love between myself and Ewan flourish as we became not just better partners but also best friends. I can’t imagine anyone I would rather have by my side as I go through this – not just through the bad times but also through the good times too! What an incredible man I have been blessed with and I am so grateful that I am able to see and recognise that!

Fi Munro and Husband Dec 2019There have been hard times too of course, I have lost friends, some to cancer and some to the changes that have taken place within my heart and soul. When cancer touches us, in particular late stage cancer, it can’t help but change us at our core and some relationships have not survived the change. I used to feel sad about this but I no longer do. Instead I simply send them love and light whenever I think about them and know that we are too different now. Losing friends to cancer, however, is always hard. I’ve lost too many now. It’s the hardest part of my cancer story but I wouldn’t change it. It has been my deep honour to know and connect with and love those that I have lost. Even in death it is those that I have lost that continue to be my greatest teachers and my greatest motivators to get myself off my arse and live another day, if not for me, then for them because they are no longer able to.

I have, of course, gained new friends too. Some so incredible that I can’t believe they haven’t been in my life for all of my days. There is a difference in the connections I chose to make now. I don’t want superficial, drama based relationships. If you are in my life and I’m going to spend time with you then I want a deep soul connection, I want conversations that move me, I want to learn and grow with you BUT I also want to laugh until my belly hurts and tears stream uncontrollably down my face. It also ALWAYS helps if you swear as much as I do or, at the very least, have a sick and twisted and dark sense of humour. I no longer hold back my personality or play small in relationships and the result has been building some of the most beautiful – no THE most beautiful – connections of my whole life.

I have also learnt to love and accept myself and to be happy with who I am. I continue to learn on a daily basis. Sometimes I fuck up. Sometimes I get angry with someone when I shouldn’t, sometimes I say things I regret but, on the whole, I am learning to accept myself. This is all through the story of my cancer. Through the ‘journey’ (for want of a better word) that it has taken me on.

In my four years with cancer I have also had so many medical interventions to keep me alive and I have supported these with so much deep inner work, yoga, diet changes, supplements, therapy, energy healing, breath work, meditation and more. Our bodies, I believe, need a whole system approach to healing.

In terms of ‘medical interventions’ I have had chemo (carbo/taxol) alongside Avastin for 6 doses Feb-July 2016 alongside a major operation to remove…are you ready for the list you undoubtably have read a million times in my posts before…my womb, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, spleen, appendix, omentum, part of my bowel (I have a colostomy bag), part of my diaphragm, part of my pancreas, part of my liver and multiple abdominal lymph nodes…and breathe! This was all despite being told that I was ‘inoperable’ at the start. A reminder that everything can change…even the options available to you.

Fi Munro Surgery 2016 Ovarian Cancer

I had a period of 18 months where my cancer was in remission July 2016 – December 2017 where I was just on Avastin every three weeks for maintenance. This just feels insane to think about now. I remember how so many people thought I was ‘cured’ and I was just silently terrified about when and where it would come back! Remission, for me, felt scarier in many ways than actually having cancer! Looking back I wish I’d enjoyed that time more. I wish I’d celebrated. If I could go back to ‘past Fi’ I would tell her to throw a massive party and live a little. But back then I was still taking everything too seriously!

And then in December 2017 it did come back, in my right lung. My lung collapsed due to 2.5 litres of cancerous fluid. Despite my fear for 18 months, nothing had prepared me for that news! Going against the grain I turned down conventional treatment – namely chemo. This worked for a few months and by April 2018 by lungs were clear BUT by then I had multiple tumours in my abdomen and so I used GoFundMe to raise money for private maintenance treatment. Thank you again to everyone who helped during this time, since and now. You literally helped to save my life.

Then in September 2018, after weeks of vomiting, I had to stop this treatment and faced the decision of more surgery and chemo or “risking an immunotherapy trial” that no one else in the UK was on. I took the risk and it paid off. Within three months all my abdominal tumours had resolved. HOWEVER, four months later in January 2019 we discovered a tumour in my right lung. Despite this we made the decision to keep me on the trial and I am so glad we did.

Now, a whole year later (can you believe I’ve been living with lung tumours for a whole year?? I bloody can’t!) I am in a different situation again. We had to stop the trial on New Year’s Eve because I now have four tumours in my right lung and a few around my heart. I still have nothing showing in my abdomen but I do have a lot of abdominal pains and frequent vomiting and, in the last month, I’ve lost a whole stone in weight. I only weigh about 50kg now which is pretty tiny even when you are 5’5″! (Regular updates are on Facebook incase you’ve missed any and this is all a bit of a shock for you – sorry).

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So now on the eve of my fifth year, this monumental year that means more to me than all of the others (because I am bloody DETERMINED to become a radical remission if I do nothing else!) I am facing new and challenging decisions. My oncologist wants me back on chemotherapy. I am not keen but I am also aware that it has been a bloody miracle that I have been off chemo for 3.5 years!! I mean seriously…let’s take a moment to appreciate how epic that is when most ovarian cancer patients are on it every 6-12 months!

I want it all just to go away. I want a magic wand and a break from this shit but, to date, unfortunately, no magic wand has appeared and instead I am left with the deep frustration and annoyance that when you have stage four cancer it is never ‘over’, there is no rest or respite, instead you are constantly doing all that you can to keep the disease at bay just enough to keep you alive and with minimal (ideally no) side affects. This is the hardest part of the past four years. Not the surgery or the chemo or the trial or the scans or the highs and lows of results but just the constant role of being a ‘cancer patient’, not just even in the hospital but in every decision that I make…the stress I have in my life, how I spend my time, my diet, my energy levels and so on and so on.

As I said in my book ‘How Long Have I Got?’…

“This is the reality of living with late stage cancer. There is no ‘recovery’. There is no ‘end of treatment’. There is only getting through one day after another and hoping that the side affects aren’t too bad while navigating the loss of those you’ve met since your diagnosis who haven’t made it.”

But would I change any of it? Would I give any of it up and revert back to how life was before cancer, to how I was before cancer? No. Never. Not even in the face of new challenges and not even how I am feeling now, after bad scan results and after four emergency admissions in three weeks. I still wouldn’t change any of it because it has changed me to my core in a way that nothing else would.

Fi munro Dec 2019I appreciate life and the gift it truly is now. Nothing else would have made this change for me. I know that. As hard as it is, I know that I needed this lesson, this path, to enable me to show up in the world and in my life as I do. This is my soul’s purpose, I know that. Even though it is hard – increasingly so of late.

So, although I’ve never done it before, tonight I will be celebrating the four year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis (well not my diagnosis but rather the fact that I am still alive). I literally messaged friends with 48 hours notice and asked them if they were free to join me and do you know what, because my pals are bloody amazing, they either said ‘fuck yeah’ or, where they were unable to due to kiddies, made plans for a separate celebration…this is the kinda people I want in my life!

So tonight, with 10 pals I will be raising a glass (of water because I haven’t drunk alcohol since I was diagnosed!) to life, to love, to laughter and to those I have lost. Above all though, I will be welcoming in the first day of my fifth year with love and hope in my heart for what is to come because I know, I truly know, that I am not done for yet. And although I may have to take the chemo I don’t want, I am breathing into the combined process of conventional and ‘alternative’ methods of healing to support me through this next step. I believe anything is possible. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. I know it to be true.

But, for now, I will start with getting through today. And then tomorrow I will deal with tomorrow. And I will do the same thing for the next 366 days (and beyond). And I will become that radical remission I long to be because I have never failed to achieve anything I’ve set my mind to. Ever!

I invite you to walk with me my lovelies. It’s going to be an adventure.

With love and gratitude for your unwavering love and support always, Fi xx

Ps. If you would like to support my healing endeavours you can donate here.

Pps. I have had to cease working at this time as I focus on my healing and so I’ve lost my income. If you would like to support my ‘passive income’ you can purchase my books on Amazon.

I am working, when I am able to, on a third book for you all my lovelies which I am very excited about and I hope to pitch to Hay House…as you all know…my dream is to become a Hay House author…and to be interviewed by Oprah…and Ellen….and to go to a Royal Garden Party….and do a TED talk….but, for now, let’s focus on goal number one…surviving and thriving for at least the next 365 days.

I love you xx

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health

Why Do I Insist on Suffering?

Why Do I Insist on Suffering?

In the early hours of yesterday evening I found myself in Glasgow city centre having to collect two ridiculously heavy packages. These two bags, which would have been considered ‘ridiculously heavy’ at the best of times, not least after weeks of illness, became a symbol of all that I chose to carry now in life, in illness and in pain.

Despite the fact that I have experienced weeks of late stage cancer induced sickness and pain, that my weight has dropped significantly and that neither my health, stamina nor strength are anywhere near what they were just a few short, although seemingly long, weeks ago, I decided in my albeit stubborn wisdom that this was ‘a good idea’.

When collecting them the man noted the excessive weight and offered for me to drive my car to the door.

“No, no,” I said. “I can manage. It is just a short walk.”

The walk, by the way, on the best of days in full health and without said heavy packages is at least 10-15 minutes long.

As I turned to leave one of the bags broke. “Are you sure you don’t want to bring your car?” he asked again.

“No, no, I’ll be fine,” I said as he helped me move the items to another bag.

As I left, I had walked only a few meters when the new bag broke too. (These bags, by the way, we’re heavy duty fabric bags, not plastic bags…just to give you an idea of the weight…)

I now had two heavy bags, one with a broken handle, and a long walk ahead of me through a dark and stormy city.

Still I persisted, only now I was dragging one of the bags.

People passed. No one noticed. Or, if they did, they didn’t engage. “Avoid the person in struggle,” their darting eyes seemed to say.

A man walked passed with a dog off a lead. I was struck by their connection. This dog wondering through the city listening so obediently to his owner, his owner joyfully going about his evening.

He turned back towards me. “Would you like some help?”

“No, no,” I said. “I’m fine.” Both statements were a lie. I desperately wanted and needed help and I was far from fine. I was breathless, exhausted and suffering. Fortunately this kind stranger knew this better than I did myself.

“No, I realise that if I was struggling like you then I would want some help. Let me help you.”

“Ok, but just carry one of the bags to next corner.”

Why oh why was I so desperate not to be helped? Here was someone willing to help and here was me setting conditions on this help despite my desperate need for it, despite my suffering and despite the fact that it was clearly having a negative impact on my health and wellbeing in every sense of the word. You have lung metastases for fucks sake Fi, let the man help you when you can hardly breath!

Regardless, I only let his help be administered on my terms and only moments later he was dutifully placing the bag he’d carry on the corner I had instructed before disappearing into the night of the city with his dog following behind.

Not two steps later, having turned down a dark and isolated side street, did the other bag break.

Suddenly I found myself stranded, on a side street, away from the crowds and any possibility of help and with not one but two heaving bags now impossible to carry because I had sent my only offer of help away. What was wrong with me? What had I been thinking? Do I not preach kindness? Why had I not just let this dear sweet fellow human help me the whole way? Why had that acceptance of the offer of help been so impossible, so painful, to accept?

I could have cried, I wanted to cry. I felt weak and broken and desperate. But had I not put myself in this situation? Had I not declined the first offer of help, the anticipatory kindness of the first man who knew that this was too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. Had I not then sent the next offer of help away after dictating the terms I was willing to accept his help?

I did not cry, however. Instead I started to laugh, perhaps a little manically, but laughter is what flowed all the same. I placed one of my feet under each bag and I used my feet to half kick, half lift these heavy, handless bags down the street. The pain in my legs and arms was like needles. I felt knives stabbing into my chest. My abdomen felt like it was going to shatter like glass but still I persisted. Still I pushed on. Desperate. Isolated. Broken.

I passed people. Some looked and offered a sympathetic smile but none stopped. My struggle was palpable. Their smiles did not offer the comfort they had anticipated. Instead I felt this deep feeling of being seen in all of my suffering and being left to suffer. Is this not worse than not seeing that someone is suffering at all? Is it not worse to acknowledge someone’s suffering, to say in no uncertain terms, I see you and I see your pain and then to do nothing?

But don’t we do this all the time in life? Haven’t I done this? Don’t I still do this. Don’t I say to friends I see you, I hear you, I know you are struggling and then do nothing to help carry the load of their pain because I am struggling to carry my own? Do I not look at and acknowledge the bags of struggle and burden and worry and suffering that they carry and continue to watch them kick them down the street without offering to carry one of them, if only for a few steps, if only together to lighten the load for a moment so that they can catch their breath?

Suddenly I heard a voice. “Do you want some help?” A man was running towards me. Not waking. Not avoiding. He was running to help.

“Yes! Yes, please help me. Thank you so much!”

He lifted one of the bags and we walked the remaining 5-10 minutes to my car. Then, after offloading the bags he disappeared just as quickly as he had appeared. Vanishing into the wintery darkness of the city.

Why had it taken me to the point of complete desperation to accept help? Why had I not accepted help when it was first offered? Why had I not avoided the unnecessary, and yet blatantly obvious, anticipation of suffering.

I knew those bags were too heavy to carry even before the bags had broken and yet I had turned down the offer of moving my car. I knew that I needed help the whole journey when the first bag broke and yet I had turned down the help of someone carrying one of the bags for me the whole way. Only when it had reached the point of impossibility did I accept help. Only when I had become so desperate that I could hardly find the strength to take another step on my own did I accept help. Only at the point where I would have willingly left those packages on the street, surrendering them to the throws of the night rather than take another step in pain did I finally accept help.

Why?

Why must I burden myself with unnecessary suffering? Why must I refuse to let the love and support in? Why do I add to my burden in this way? Why do any of us? Why do we struggle on when we can say “excuse me, please can you help me carry this load, just for a few steps, I need help, I need to catch my breath, this has become too much for me, I am struggling, I know you have struggled too and I know you can see my pain, please carry my load with me, if just for a little while…”

But instead we persevere, instead I persevere, I battle on.

And worse still is the reflection of this notion of us seeing one another’s loads and not helping. Of acknowledging the pain and suffering of others but being so caught up in our own that we can’t carry another person’s burdens with them.

But what if we all just helped each other?

What if we all came together with our burdens and put them on a huge fucking trolley and pushed that fucker through the city streets together laughing and joking and jesting at the ease at which this trolley moves when we work together and not try to kick our bags of burdens down the streets on our own without the acceptance of help or love or support?

What would life be like then if I could look at another human and say “I know you are struggling, I am struggling too, shall we help each other carry our bags together? If only for a little while. If only for a few steps, so that we know we are not alone, so that we know we are supported, so that we know we are not only seen but we are also deeply cared for.”

Kindness is the greatest gift we have to give to the word. Being kind (and my ‘random acts of kindness’) have been my greatest teacher. But so too is the willingness to accept kindness. So too is the willingness to surrender to the need for love and support from our fellow humans.

In a world where we have the great permission to be anything and anyone we want, I chose to be the person who will run down the street to help someone but I also now chose to be the person who will gracefully accept that help when it is placed before me and know that it is a great act of love and compassion and not an indication that I am weak or that even if it is that this is not necessarily a bad thing because I deeply accept that struggle is a necessary part of the human experience and if I want to live a human life then this is what I asked for.

In ‘Eat Pray Love’ Liz Gilbert says to her friend (something along the lines of and I am sorry I am indeed paraphrasing because I do not have the text to hand…) ‘But do you feel my love? Do you feel me being there for you?’ and I wonder now, do the people in my life feel my love, my support, my wiliness to carry the load with them? Do they feel my love or do they see me seeing them in pain and not offering to carry the load because I am too scared that my offer will give them permission to help carry my load too and that notion terrifies me?

I am still reflecting but, meanwhile, I now know two things to be true.

Firstly, when in the depth of struggle, when I feel I can’t go on, when the burden is too much to carry alone I can chose to cry or I can chose to laugh.

And, secondly, there is no weakness in accepting kindness, love or support, there is only strength and connection.

That is what I want most from life just now. I deep willingness to let people in and a deep ability to go to others, to see them in their strength and vulnerability and to extend my hand and say, “let me take that bag for you, if only for a few steps until you get round this corner and, if you need it, I will carry the bag with you all the way home as we laugh and we joke and we look up at stars wondering why we would ever try to carry this load alone in the first place.”

With immense love and gratitude, Fi xx

health

Inwards and Onwards

My lovelies. Yesterday (NYE) I had my scan – pelvis, abdomen and thorax.

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The results brought unexpected news on many levels.

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I’m processing.

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I’ll be processing for a while.

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The universe has been showing me subtle signs that this is a time for focusing on my healing.

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First I saw this quote “you can’t run a marathon with a broken leg” and it resonated with me on such a deep level because in 2015, after been knocked down by a car, having hip surgery and extended time on crutches I still tried to train for London marathon…in agony.

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I thought I had grown. I thought I had changed. But here I found myself, still trying to do the race before I had allowed myself time and space to heal.

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Then another whisper. I heard the quote “recovery first, then rescue”.

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I’d spent so much time since my diagnosis trying to help others while forgetting that I need to help myself first.

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So, now I must go and rest and heal and recover – emotionally, mentally, physically.

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I won’t be online for a while. I will be focusing on myself. I will be focusing on my healing.

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I will still be writing yes. It is a key factor to my healing. But I may not share it for a few weeks or more.

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I need this time.

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I’ll be back…before you know it.

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Meanwhile, stay loving, stay kind, stay hopeful.

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I love you.

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Always.

health

I Realised I Can’t Do This Alone

In my bid to ‘do things different this time’ I have realised that something I need to change is my aversion to asking for help.

No longer am I going to be the cancer patient (or woman for that matter) who thinks that she has to and/or can do everything herself.

Not only is this ridiculously unsustainable but I have people literally begging for ways that they can support me (and Ewan).

But what to ask for help with? I’m still fully able to move about so I don’t need anyone walking my dog (in fact that’s my daily therapy) or cooking for me. Yes, that might change if (big if) I decide to have chemo but, right now, I’m exactly the same as I was a few weeks ago when I was running a yoga retreat…ie more active than your average person.

So, I was thinking of practical stuff I need help with and suddenly I realised…

I need help gathering all of the information I can about my options for treatment and ways to support my body through treatment and, as the majority of my friends are either researchers, healthcare workers or practitioners, I have the perfect team to help right at my fingertips.

Sorted. Except, where to begin? And how to navigate who would do what?

Step in Dr Kelly Turner…not literally (although that would be so cool btw!) but, into my thoughts…

Kelly Turner specialises in integrative oncology. During her PhD work, she studied spontaneous healing from late stage cancer, which she calls “radical remission”.

Her book, “Radical Remission, The Nine Key Factors That Can Make a Real Difference”, is a summary of the findings of her research (buy it, it’s amazing – I bought all my family a copy!). It outlines the nine key factors that all of the 1000s of radical remission patients she interviewed had in common.

Dr Turner defines “radical remission” as any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected. This can occur when;

* a cancer goes away without any conventional treatment;

* a patient begins with conventional treatment, then abandons this for alternative;

* or a patient uses both conventional and alternative at the same time.

Her book outlines these 9 factors associated with almost all accounts of radical remission:

1. Changing your diet*

2. Taking control of your health

3. Following your intuition

4. Using herbs and supplements

5. Releasing suppressed emotions

6. Increasing positive emotions

7. Embracing social support

8. Deepening your spiritual connection

9. Having strong reasons for living

*the majority of people Dr Turner studied greatly reduced or eliminated sugar, meat, dairy, and refined foods, and greatly increased fruit and vegetable intake, choose organic food, and drink filtered water.

So, I ask friends I thought would be interested to each pick one topic each that was of the most interest/relevance to them anyway and conduct research and/or support me to implement relevant changes in my life.

For instance, I have a herbalist pal who is now helping me with factors 1 and 4, a research pal helping me with factor 6; a psychotherapist pal helping me with factor 5 and so on…

And the best part???…everyone else can help my health by supporting me with factor 7 ‘embracing social support’…they now know that by simply being there they are helping my health. Amazing!

I think this is one of the best decisions I’ve made: I feel supported, friends are empowered to help and those who don’t work in a relevant field now know they are helping just by being part of my tribe.

Also, I now have access to far more information than I could have gathered by myself and because I’m being supported by experts I am more easily able to wade through and differentiate between the information that is relevant and that which is quackery.

I’ll keep you posted on what unfolds!

With Love and gratitude today and always, Fi xx

► I’ve set up a GoFundMe page to (hopefully) enable me access private treatment. If you are able to please donate and/or share it. Thank you. ◄

♡ If you like my writing please check out my books on amazon.

♡ If you like my words please check out my podcast.

♡ If you want to know more about me please follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

health

It’s OK to Feel Scared

When I was first diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2016 and then when my cancer returned in 2017 and when I was told it spread in 2018 and this week when I was told it had spread again, felt anxiety, I felt fear and I felt sadness.

Understandable right?!

However, while feeling these emotions I thought they were because of my cancer and I was wrong…well, kinda wrong.

You see, I thought these emotions were directly related to my disease. But what I didn’t realise was they were actually related to how I thought my disease would affect other people and their perception of me.

I’m a recovering ‘people pleaser’ and ‘perfectionist’ after all.

My fear and anxiety was coming from having to tell people bad news again. It was coming from the massive weight of having to ‘keep it together’ for family and friends – I mean, I couldn’t possibly show I was upset about this terror filled news…if I was upset then they might get upset and I’d have to comfort them and they’d have to comfort me and then where would we be but in never ending cycle of uncomfortable fear and anxiety…

What utter bullshit though, right?

I mean if I’ve learnt one thing through all of this shit it’s that showing vulnerability is literally the strongest and most badass thing you can do.

Take a moment to just imagine saying ‘I’m struggling’, ‘I’m suffering’, ‘I’m sad’, ‘I’m scared’, ‘I feel alone’…out loud, to another human.

See. Vulnerability is badass as fuck.

So, this time, I decided to do things differently.

After letting my family and closest friends know my most recent news I sent them all a message explaining how I was feeling. It was basically the same message to each of them but the one my family got had slightly less swears in it – only slightly less…they do read my blog after all and so are not in total denial about my excessive use of profanities.

In this message, which I’ve shared below, I was the most honest I’ve ever been about how my cancer professing again makes me feel.

It was terrifying. I felt sick to my stomach.

But then something magical happened. One by one my loved ones started to reply with the most beautiful and supportive messages. I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt held.

And I realised, these are my people, this is my tribe. They’ve got my back. They are in this shit with me. And, like magic, all the fear and anxiety disappeared.

I no longer needed to be scared or anxious because I was not alone. I had shown my vulnerability. I had expressed my pain. I had opened up and asked for help – oft now that was a hard one for me – and they had all let me know that they were going to be there.

My biggest fears, my deepest anxieties, weren’t around my cancer. They were around my cancer making me vulnerable and powerless and once I took that into my own hands, I took back my power and I felt in control.

I’ve learnt that sometimes the thing we think we fear most is not what it seems and that facing this fear is often never as scary as our imagination would have us believe.

Below is the message that I shared with friends…although, now, I feel so empowered and held by the conversations that followed after this message was sent that it almost feels irrelevant…and that, my lovelies, is the magic of vulnerability, honesty and compassion.

“I’m sharing this with the special people in my life (you)…because I need to…

I’m really struggling to let people in. I’m trying to be vulnerable but it’s so fucking hard.

I’ve spent my life being the ‘tough one’ or the ‘strong one’ or the ‘one who copes so well’.

But I really need to be vulnerable now and I really need people who will support that. I can’t be strong for everyone else anymore. I need people to be strong for me.

This is so hard for me to write (it feels vulnerable as fuck) but it’s what I know I need so, in the spirit of bravery, I’m putting it out there.

I will no doubt in coming weeks/months say I am fine, that I don’t need help or support. But it will all be lies so please ignore it.

In reality I am facing two options…end of life treatment or chemo and both are shite.

Chemo would be palliative, to manage symptoms with a vague hope of reducing or removing cancer for a period of time. I had a miracle the first time…4 years when they expected less than 1…maybe I’ll get lucky again but, in reality, maybe I won’t.

I’m not giving up. I will still do everything I can to support my health. But I feel so fucking battered by this disease now, emotionally and physically, and I’m not as strong as I was before.

I feel really scared, terrified in fact. The reality is just un-fucking-bareable.

So, in short, I’m broken, scared as fuck and feeling totally alone.

With love xx

► I’ve set up a GoFundMe page to (hopefully) enable me access private treatment. If you are able to please donate and/or share it. Thank you. ◄

♡ If you like my writing please check out my books on amazon.

♡ If you like my words please check out my podcast.

♡ If you want to know more about me please follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.