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What does ‘sugar free’ mean?

The trouble with being a researcher with a cancer diagnosis is that I want to read everything I can to create a holistic treatment plan.

Something of a controversy in the literature is opposing views on sugar consumption following a cancer diagnosis.

The literature all confirms that being overweight increases your likeliness of getting cancer but what if you were a healthy weight when you got diagnosed?…could limiting your sugar consumption aid your treatment and reduce your chance a relapse?

Well the answers aren’t that straight forward.


The books I’ve read all agree that limiting sugar consumption should be a lifelong commitment following a cancer diagnosis. In particular ‘radical remissions‘, ‘anti-cancer‘ and the ‘cancer whisperer‘ all talk about this at length as do many academic articles. However, Macmillan and Cancer Research UK both state that there is not enough evidence to support the need to limit sugar consumption and that during treatment cancer patients should eat whatever they want to maintain strength and weight.

Sugar in your diet doesn’t directly increase the risk of cancer, or encourage it to grow. But sugar contains no useful nutrients, apart from energy, and we can get all the energy we need from healthier sources. So it’s best to limit the amount of sugar in your diet. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/

However when cancer patients are given a PET scan they are injected with a glucose based radioactive dye because it goes to the cancer cells first, thus highlighting them on the scan results. This is because, whilst all cells require glucose, cancerous cells ‘feed’ on glucose faster than ‘normal’ cells.

So there lies the controversy. On the one hand we are told that sugar is of no harm to someone with cancer and, often, encouraged to eat it in order to gain or maintain weight. However, on the other hand, research shows that cancerous cells will feed on sugar faster than other cells.

So what’s my conclusion?

I know that whilst recovering from surgery, when I ate sugar I felt more pain in the following hours than I did on a normal basis.

I know I craved sugar on a ridiculous level in the months before my diagnosis – we are talking a couple of bars of chocolate, a can of fizzy juice, a bag of sweets AND several large spoonfuls of Nutella each day! This is a common factor in most cancer journeys, with people often reporting similar abnormal sugar cravings prior to their diagnosis.

Finally I know that my CA125 levels reduced the most rapidly during the chemo cycles I consumed the least sugar.

So, whether it’s a placebo affect or not, I still made the decision to cease all sugar consumption and I tell you what – I feeling awesome for it!

But what about ‘natural’ sugars?

Now…let’s get one thing straight…all food we consume is turned into glucose for our cells. When I say I’ve cut out sugar I’m talking refined, processed sugar and ‘white’ foods.

Fruit

I still consume fruit – yes it contains fructose but it is in a form that my body has to work to convert it. Also the nutrients it provides are essential to maintaining a healthy immune system – this is essential during chemotherapy treatment. I do however ensure I eat a larger amount of vegetables that fruit: about a 80-20% ratio.

Also, I very rarely juice…that’s a whole other story!…

Honey

I rarely eat honey. It is essentially glucose and has the same effect as eating sugar. When I do use it it’s just a teaspoon in a cup of hot water when I feel a cold coming as it usually stops it in its tracks.

Agave syrup v agave nectar

If you are in a particular need of something sweet you can use agave nectar which can be bought in most health food shops. A word of warning though…agave nectar is not to be confused with agave syrup which is made in the same way as processed corn syrup and just as bad for your health.

Personally I don’t use either as I now find them too sweet.

White bread, flour, rice and potatoes

I have a gluten allergy and so haven’t eaten white bread or flour for years however now I am also limiting my intake of white potatoes (favouring sweet potatoes) and white rice (favouring brown or red rice or lentils).

Dark chocolate

I thought dark chocolate was a ‘safe’ option but many of the packs I’ve looked at contain at least 25g of sugar per 100g. That means they are made up of a quarter of sugar! Just picture that! I even found one that was 42g of sugar!

Instead I now use raw cacao chips which are 100% sugar free and taste great. I like them over sliced pear with some grated ginger. Amazing!

Satisfying my sweet tooth

There is still lots(!) of puddings available once you’ve gone sugar free. “I quit sugar” is a great place to start.  Here I’ve learnt how to make sugar free Nutella, sugar free ginger biscuits and sugar free avocado and chocolate mouse. They all tasted amazing and were super quick and easy to make!

A word of warning…
Cutting out refined sugar is hard. It’s one of the most addictive substances we consume. However, the less of it you eat, the less of it you crave. Also your taste buds change…you start to find that other natural food tastes much sweeter than before.

A final note…

All of this could be nonsense in terms of helping my body to heal from cancer. I could stand just as good a chance whilst eating cake every day. I just don’t know.

What I do now is that I come through my chemo reasonably well compared to some other people. My cancer markers are down. I no longer take painkillers. I was diagnosed with stage four cancer and yet just seven months later I was told I was in remission and today, all things considered, I’m very well!

All that really matters is that you eat what feels right for you and your treatment plan.

Love and light, Fi xx

I originally published this post on 29th April 2016 x 

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RAK Number One – what happened next

It’s been less than a week since my first Random Act of Kindness and it’s amazing how much has happened off the back of one little envelope.

To start with, one of the ladies managed to find me on Facebook and sent me a friend request. She had posted about receiving the envelope publically on her profile and so I knew who this ‘random request’ was from straight away! I was excited – how lovely that she had connected!


We exchanged some messages and I thought that was it – I’d made a new Facebook friend and she was happy. Success! However very quickly I realised it was much more than that…

By the following morning her original post had been shared over 500 times. It appears people love a happy story! 💕🦄  My blog was getting a lot of views – in fact over 16000 people have now visited the site – and I was being flooded by Twitter and Facebook messages from people telling me how touched they were by my act and my story. It was so much fun reading all of the messages – the kind of stuff that gives you a lovely warm fuzzy feeling.

During this all I connected with the other recipient and the three of us started talking. The ladies decided they wanted to raise money for Macmillan after seeing how much the chairs means to me. I assured them that they didn’t have to but they insisted. To my great surprise they then decided to do a bungee jump! Crazy and amazing in equal measures I know! They are doing this in just a few weeks to raise money for Macmillan Nurses. If you are able, please show them your support.

Now you would think that was more than enough, right? Well not for these ladies! They then went on to make three Random Act of Kindness envelopes of their own to pass on. This was far exceeding my greatest expectations! I’d just wanted to make them smile.

They have already delivered one of their envelopes and their chosen recipient decided to pay it forward too and donated the gift to Mary’s Meals, a local charity. Amazing!


Now, as if this wasn’t all  wonderful enough, it doesn’t stop there.

The three of us were then interviewed by a journalist for an online article and a full page article in a local newspaper about the act of kindness and my blog.


And it doesn’t stop there either! I’ve also been invited to talk on two radio stations AND to be featured in a national magazine. Wow! All this from giving two ladies a £20 random act of kindness.

Finally, a man I’ve never met who runs a local charity called United for All has donated hospitality for 8 at a Dundee United game as an auction prize for the charity ball my sister is organising. His reason? He was so touched by the random act of kindness he wanted to pay it forward too! So so wonderful!

Aren’t the ripples beautiful! I do love the butterfly effect.

I’m so excited that I get to keep giving out envelopes…I’ve got 22 left! Although there is, of course, no pressure on future recipients to do as these ladies have done – I’m just happy if I make someone smile and they maybe share my blog to help raise more awareness.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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RAK – number three

Yay! Tonight I delivered my third envelope!…I’m still getting super excited about doing this!!

I was going out for an early dinner with one of my friends. I picked her up from work (which happens to be the hospital I get treatment – and also my old place of work!) and drove into town to park in a car park near the restaurant she’d booked. 

I went to the parking meter to pay and was just about to put my money in (£2 for the half an hour I needed to take me to 6pm!) when a man shouted at me to stop and that he would give me his ticket as he was leaving the car park and had paid for the day. How lovely is that?! He was with his wife and baby who started getting into the car as he went and got me his parking ticket. I said thanks and walked away to put the ticket on my car and then I started to think…

Here was a couple who could have went about their business, they could have ignored the fact that I was about to pay for parking when they had a ticket, but they didn’t. Instead, they had just given me a random act of kindness. I wanted them to know how good that made me feel. So I decided to give them a random act of kindness in return. After all, shouldn’t we encourage selfless acts of kindness whenever we see them? I approached their car again and handed the woman one of my RAK envelopes. Her response? Sheer delight, happiness and gratitude. Oooh I do love how it feels to do this!

We could all learn a lot from this couple. There is always, always time to be kind.

To the couple – thank you for giving me, a stranger, an act of kindness. The world needs more people like you 💕🦄💕

Love and light, Fi xxx


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Raising Awareness – Woman’s Health

During my recent hospital admission ‘Woman’s Health’ – a website dedicated to providing women advice on a range of female health issues, picked up one of my blog posts featured on Ovarian Cancer Action and published it for their readers (in their own words).

Why Ovarian Cancer Remains Difficult to Diagnose

Together we will raise more awareness about Ovarian Cancer.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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Did you know smear tests DO NOT screen for Ovarian Cancer?

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The Joys of an Oncology Ward

You may expect an oncology ward to be a sad place. A place of suffering and tears. Pain and death. A place where people have lost hope and with it their spirit, their vibrancy taken by the many drugs, treatments and procedures.

You’d be wrong…

I remember at the start of the film ‘Love Actually’, Hugh Grant describes the love you see in an airport; people greeting one another with hugs and kisses and happy stories of fun and laughter. I liken this to an oncology ward.

You see here there are no arguments, no stress, no hatred. There is only room for love.

The patients have a certain appreciation of life that comes with a cancer diagnosis. They laugh and joke together and quickly bond. They have a connection they don’t share with their friends and family. They know the pain they each feel, the daily struggle they each face and they see through it, sharing stories of how far they have come, supporting those at an earlier stage in their journey and learning from those who have been walking this road for many years. It is truely inspiring to watch. I am so touched by the strength of my fellow warriors.

Likewise the visitors, the friends, the family members don’t bring stress or drama or judgement. They bring hugs, photos, stories and laughter. They bring hope and a reminder of life outside the hospital walls. Most importantly they always, always bring love.

I am most inspired by the partners [mine most definitely included of course]. They are pillars of strength for the person they love. They comfort and sooth. They bring smiles and laughter to faces stained with tears. Then partner no longer looks the same and yet they look beyond it. They show the importance of loving a soul and not a body.

There, of course, is a sadness too in their eyes. Sometimes they cry with their loved one. Sometimes they just hold them, offering a comfort that no one else on this earth could match. It’s a real test of a relationship to witness. While their partner goes through treatment they have to take on every role in the family home, whilst also caring for an incredibly sick loved one and emotionally dealing with the implications of their diagnosis. Some of these relationships have children and they are called on to care for and reassure them also. I struggle to find the words about how beautiful and wonderful these relationships are to witness but the words ‘soul mates’ comes to mind, after all, once cancer strips your identity and everything you’d expected in your life together what else is left apart from two connected souls.

The same can be said of the staff. In an oncology ward there is time to get to know your patients, what makes them laugh and cry, what they are feeling, who they are as a person when you look beyond their diagnosis. Many of their patients have been on the ward more than once and, almost always, for extended periods of time. Watching the nurses as they laugh and joke and comfort the people in their care it is sometimes hard to remember the pain these caring souls also deal with too. They connect with their patients on a long and challenging journey then, all to often, are at their side when they pass. Yet despite this they smile, offering strength and courage, hope and determination to those in the greatest of need. In minutes they can go from hearing a patient be told they will soon pass to making jokes with another patient whose soul needs to be enlightened with positivity once more. These are true angels at work and I am so blessed to have witnessed them. I have so many stories of the support each of my oncology angels gave me whilst in hospital. We’ve shared hugs, jokes, tears and laughter. They have been true blessings on a challenging journey. I send so much love to them all.

I once again reflect on the gifts cancer has given me, most importantly the gift of seeing true love in the everyday. We truly live in a wonderful world filled with hope and possibility and love – you just need to know where to look.

Love and light, Fi xxx 

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Making Progress with Baby Steps

Since my post about feeling broken I’ve come on so far in my journey to recovery.

After breaking down over the needles on Saturday the medical team worked together to make things more comfortable for me. In fact their response and speed was second to none and what a difference they made! Within an hour they had made the decision that I didn’t need to receive fluids anymore as my blood tests showed that my levels were stable. They also switched all but one of my antibiotics to oral tablets. This meant that I instantly went from being attacked to an IV drip 24/7 to needing it only 3 hours twice daily. This meant that in the afternoons I was now able to be drip free! After so long this felt like a massive step in the right direction!

More importantly, this meant that I was now free to leave the hospital between lunch and dinner – if aided by my husband.

Instantly I went from a sobbing lost soul to my old self. That afternoon my husband brought my rescue dog to visit me and I’m not sure who was more pleased to see one another!

Pets really are an instant mood changer!

Together we went for a slow(!) walk in the woodlands on the hospital grounds.

It was magical! I felt so free. I was me again, walking my dog with the man I love. I still had my syringe driver and drain attached, I was still weak, I was still in pain, but I was happy and really, when it comes down to it, what more can we really ask for from life?
The following day (Sunday) my husband took me to the local Botanic Gardens in a wheelchair. 

Oh the buzz I got from being in nature again was just indescribable. The grass never greener. The flowers never more fragment. The sky never bluer. Slowly my soul was healing. Isn’t nature so powerful and wonderful.

Monday brought more positivity. I was visited by my consultant; a wonderful woman, who treats me rather than my diagnosis. She agreed that I would heal faster at home and that our focus needed to be to get me detached from all the machines/equipment. First step was to speak to the lab about the samples of sepsis taken from my body and what antibiotics would best treat it. Their response enabled me to be switched to just one antibiotic – rather than four! Best of all it was an oral antibiotic! I was disconnected from the drip completely and the painful venflon removed from my arm! Cue mini celebration!!!

Tuesday I was sent for an ultrasound scan to see if my drain could be removed. This would be dependent on all the sepsis having drained. I was so anxious. So desperate for good news, knowing that this would determine how much longer I needed to remain in hospital.

The scan, of course, was painless but they could see that a small (15ml) pocket of fluid remained. I was disheartened but I remained positive. I reminded myself that this was a tiny amount. I reminded myself how far I’d come. And I was right to, because the ward made the decision to remove the drain! They also made the decision to remove my syringe driver and try me back on oral pain relief and to stop my anti sickness medication. It was a lot of fast changes but it was positive. I was making progress. I was moving onwards in my journey and, more importantly, in the right direction.

My drain wasn’t removed until this morning but wow what a feeling! Suddenly I was free from attachments. I felt able to straighten my aching body again. Able to move more freely. I’d regained a sense of self. Today when I showered I wasn’t coordinating my usual juggling act of medical equipment. It was just me, standing under the healing water. Oh what bliss. The little things in life we take for granted really are all that matter in the bigger picture. They are wherein lies the joy.

As I write this I am dressed, no longer living in my pjs. I am free from equipment and my scars and bruises are fading. The cancer patient I faced in the mirror just days ago is fading. My sense of self is returning. This was only possible because of an exceptional medical team treating the person and understanding that health care goes beyond pharmaceutical drugs. This is person centred care. I am so grateful.

I’m not going home yet. But soon. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright. I’ve made it through another phase in my journey. It was tough. Tougher than tough. I saw darkness​, I felt pain, I faced fear, but it didn’t break me. I feel stronger for knowing the experiences I faced. Better for the people I’ve met. Inspired and encouraged by the human spirit and the love and care in the world.

I write this because I know many other beautiful souls will go to the dark places I went to in their own journeys. Please remember that where there is darkness there comes light. There is a way through. Never give up, least of all on yourself. You have the power to do this. You are enough.

Love and light, a very happy Fi xxx

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Feeling Broken…Remaining Strong

Today marks four weeks since my operation and, aside from three nights of inhumane pain at home (and a miraculous trip to see Nina Conti  – it still baffles me how I managed it!), I have been in hospital since 6th May and it’s become the most challenging part of my journey.

I try my hardest to remind myself how far I’ve come. I was in a high dependency unit just four short weeks ago. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t wash myself. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t eat. I’ve been to hell and back again countless times. Each day I’m physically improving but it doesn’t make an ounce of difference to my emotional recovery. Emotionally I am broken.

I feel caged and isolated; separated from a world I was so familiar with. I watch as everyone’s lives continue whilst mine stands still. I struggle with tasks I took for granted just weeks ago. I no longer know the body I find myself with. For the first time in my journey I see a cancer patient looking at me from inside the mirror. Her eyes are sunken, her skin grey. She has fluffy dark hair. Her bones stick out at all angels. Her legs are the size and shape of a child’s because she has lost the muscle acquired from years of running. Her body is marked with too many scars to count. Her arms and legs black and blue from daily blood tests, injections and cannula sites. There is no sparkle in her eyes, no smile on her face. She is a stranger. I don’t want to know her. She is not welcome. She is sick. She is vulnerable. She has stage four cancer. She is not who I am.

Each day there are improvements of course. I have come miles physically. I know this in my heart and I try to reflect on it, but my spirit remains crushed. I cry. I sit and I sob, not caring who sees or hears. I sob for the loss of the life I had. I sob for the life the people closest to me have lost, knowing all too well how deeply my suffering affects them. I sob for others on their own cancer journeyy; both those I know and those I don’t. 

One of the hardest parts for me is the needles. I didn’t have an issue with needles before, I was a blood donor for many years, but now it’s a different story. My already delicate vines have been shrunken by chemotherapy. A venflon (the needle an IV drip runs through) should last 4 days. In me it lasts just one before the site swells and it needs to be removed. Replacing it takes several attempts, usually involving more than more person. As a result I require up to 5 needles going into my arms and hands each day just for my drip, on top of this I require twice daily blood tests. Again these take several attempts each time. Finally, I require daily anti-blood clotting injections in my thighs and I’ve also had a number of vaccinations as a result of my splenectomy. Adding this up, I’ve calculated that I’ve had over 250 needles in my arms and legs over the past four weeks.

My veins are swollen and raw. My skin varying shades of blues, purples and green. I find the sight of a member of my medical team coming towards me with their white tray of needles unbearable. Two days ago I broke down on the third attempt for a blood sample from my hands. I had tried for so long to remain strong but the emotional strain was now reflecting in physical pain. I was broken. 

Each day my spirit is lifting. The medical team understand how fiercely independent I was before my operation and support me to build my strength and confidence with little trips outside (more on this in a later post). They treat me as a person, not a patient. They laugh and joke and tease me, offering a  reminder that the person I know I am is still there, still slightly out of reach but closer with each passing day.

I underestimated how emotionally challenging I’d find this stage in my journey. Being in hospital for so long, relying on support, everything I do being constantly monitored and scrutinised by others is emotionally exhausting. I so desperately want home. I so desperately want my life back.

I remind myself I’ll get there. I remind myself how far I’ve come, that this is just a mountain I have to climb and that the view at the top will be worth it. In the meantime I remain brave and strong and broken.

Love and light to all those walking a cancer journey, whether their own or a loved ones.

Fi xxx

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Getting to the route of the problem…

Warning…this post (and photos) may be too graphic for some…

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Since my last post 5 days ago the plan changed slightly.

On Friday I was taken to see an intervention radiologist in theatre to have my infection drained. I was to be awake for the procedure and the radiologist was to use an ultrasound and X-rays to guide the drainage. Now, I’m particularly anxious of drains after a bad experience earlier in the year where a Dr took several painful attempts to drain my abdomen; each time cutting through my skin, fat and muscle with no success…only pain! For this reason I’d asked if I could be sedated for the procedure. The Drs, thankfully, agreed and I was given an oral sedative on the ward before I was taken down to theatre on my hospital bed. However(!) en route we were told of a delay and I was taken back to the ward. Happy and relaxed I ate a wee protein seed bar while I waited. This was a mistake!…

Half an hour later I was back on my way down to theatre and met by the medical team who would be controlling my pain. They offered me the same IV sedation I’d had for my biopsies earlier in the year which had been very effective – I’d be awake but not ‘with it’ shall we say. Fantastic! Until they asked when I’d last eaten… Turns out I’d needed to be fasted for 6 hours prior! So they were no longer able to offer me sedation and instead could only offer IV pain relief. I was gutted!

Accepting this was just how it would have to be, I was wheeled on my bed into the theatre room. It was fascinating! Because I was awake and not sedated, I was able to watch the team getting ready. I was moved onto an X-ray table whilst they put on their X-ray proof vests and theatre aprons. They then scrubbed their hands and gloved up before placing theatre sheets over my body.

Next the radiologist used an ultrasound and X-ray machine to locate the abscess that had shown on my earlier CT scan. Once located he injected local anaesthetic into the area whilst a nurse started to administrater IV pain relief. The radiologist then began cutting through the layers on my abdomen and, initially, all I could feel was pressure. Suddenly I was hit with stabbing pain and I admit I screamed. He reassured me and injected more local anaesthetic whilst I was simultaneously given more IV pain relief. Once I was comfortable enough to proceed he went ahead with the final cut. It was excruciating! I burst into tears. He again reassured me and explained that he had been unable to numb the abscess wall and that’s why I had experienced pain.

His next step was to insert a tube into the abscess and then to drain some samples for the lab. Following this a drain bag was attached and the tube was stitched and tapped in place. I was then lifted back onto my hospital bed and changed into a new gown as mine was now stained with blood.

The team were exceptional. They explained everything, comforted me and even had music playing! I felt very well supported and entirely in safe hands.

I was taken back to the ward on my hospital bed and advised to remain lying down for a few hours. I was exhausted and unable to stay awake for long – a happy side affect of the pain relief.

What drained from the abscess over the next wee while was disgusting! A thick brown lumpy liquid that you definitely wouldn’t want hanging about in your body, least of all around your liver!

Although I’d been told it could be up to 5 days before the lab were able to determine if what was being drained was an infection, just a few hours following the procedure the ward received a phone call to say that the lab were already growing things from the samples. This confirmed that I did indeed have a form of sepsis. No wonder I’d been so unwell!

All I can say is I’m so glad to have access to medical treatment for this, however unpleasant it may be, and especially for the intervention radiologist allowing for treatment without the need for another general anesthetiser and operation!

Here’s to onward healing.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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Day 5 ‘inside’ and counting…

Well I’m still in hospital…

After my readmission on Friday night/Saturday morning the weekend was spent trying to get my symptoms under control. I continued to get antibiotics and fluids continuously via IV alongside morphine and anti-sickness through a syringe driver. Sickness continued to be an issue and eating a challenge I never thought I’d face – I mean did you see how much I ate at The Kitchin the week pre surgery!?! However, one or two mouthfuls and I was still being sick. I asked to be weighed and was horrified to discover I’d lost 1.5 stone in the last 2 weeks!! I didn’t even think that was possible! Weighing in at just 54kg now I became determined this was to be my main challenge to overcome.

I remember when I got diagnosed someone said to me…“you just need to eat, drink and go to the toilet, let the medical team take care of everything else.” I didn’t understand what they meant at the time, but I do no. I can’t control the drugs and medical interventions. The Drs can’t control my eating and drinking. Together we can work towards recovery…but apart…well that’s when things start to breakdown.

Step one was getting the medical help to get my sickness under control – so the anti sickness medication in my syringe driver was doubled. Now it was up to me to retrain myself to eat after three weeks of not being able to. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Very quickly your body builds negative associations. If, for example, every time you touched a door handle it gave you an electric shock you would soon learn not to touch the door handle! The same is the case if for three weeks, three times a day, every time you eat, you throw up. You no longer associate food wth pleasure, fuel or nourishment. You associate it with pain, anxiety and fear.

But, I’m a stubborn little buggar and this was not going to defeat me. Baby steps. Day by day. Bit by bit. It wasn’t easy and, as crazy as it sounds, retraining myself to eat was one of the hardest challenges I’ve had so far on this journey. Yesterday was actually the first day I managed to eat three full meals. And I tell you what…I feeling a great deal better for it! To overcome this I used meditation. I realised that whilst I had been very conscious of my emotional health prior to surgery, since my op I had gone on a downward spiral, completely disregarding my emotional health…which is probably what had gotten me into this whole cancer situation in the first place…I guess old habits die hard. Anyway, reflecting on how great I’d felt prior to surgery, for the past two days I have been meditating and I think I’m getting there now. I’m now going to lie though, the threat of artificial feeding may have also played a role! 

Monday brought with it the usual ward rounds and, with it, my oncologist, my Macmillan nurse and the local gynaecology surgical team; all of whom I have gotten to know really well throughout my journey and whom I feel all truely get who I am as a person and my outlook to life. It was comforting to see familiar and friendly faces and, once again, I felt assured I was in the best possible hands.

For example, my oncologist is wonderfully understanding and knows how important being outside and independent is to me and so actively encourages and supports me to make it outside for 15 minutes each day – these little things make a massive difference to your overall recovery and already I feel a million miles from how I did when I was first admitted.

However, despite this, I’ve been told to ‘bed down’ until at least next week. Whilst I may be over the worst of it (fingers crossed!!!) I am far from fighting fit. Over the last couple of days I’ve had three blood transfusions alongside a continuous cocktail of antibiotics and fluids. This has involved an IV in each arm and two drip stands, either side of my bed. I’m sure you can imagine the comedy of me trying to make my way to the toilet!…but I guess, at least, the fact that I can joke about it must be a sign that I’m getting better.

The plan now is to keep me on fluids and antibiotics and to repeat the CT scan later this week. If the ‘collection’ is decreasing then the antibiotics are having an affect and it is an infection. This could mean it may need to be drained, under sedation, using a CT for guidance. If it isn’t decreasing, however, then that would indicate that it is just a collection of fluid or blood and, ultimately, not an issue and that the pain and sickness was caused by something else. I guess time will tell. Until then I am making myself at home, making friends with my fellow ward mates and adjusting to life with ‘sound proof’ hospital curtains.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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Going Home

After my trip to the beach on Friday I had a really rough weekend. I mean REALLY rough. I didn’t think it was possible to feel that much pain. Saturday was fairly manageable but Sunday?…holy hell…I felt what it’s like to be on the brink of giving up or going on. I didn’t know it was possible to feel suffering like that. However, with the help and support of an incredible medical team and a husband that I now swear is a superhero, I got through it.

In fact, not only did I get through it, but, 16 days after my admission, my surgeon agreed that I’d settle more quickly out of a hospital environment and agreed to let me return home. Oh my goodness what a feeling! I’m not usually the sappy type, and would never have labelled myself a ‘home bird’, instead always loving to travel, but I have never been so grateful to see my house, sleep in my bed, stroke my pets, walk through my garden. Life felt good again.

I on the other hand felt knackered and so went to bed soon after I arrived, smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

The next day was hard. Whilst still over the moon to be at home, I had completely underestimated the pain the two hour journey would cause my body. I’d also completely underestimated how little I would be able to do and how much I would have to rely on my husband. I mean, literally, he suddenly had to take on the role of an entire medical team, including administering nearly 30 tablets a day, whilst simultaneously looking after the house and our ‘zoo’ of pets. He is my hero!

Just hours into our first day I was lying on the floor screaming in pain, unable to cope with the reality of the situation either physically or emotionally. In too much pain to move I was unable to take the breakthrough morphine I’d been provided for this situation and instead lay surrounded in cushions on our kitchen floor until I found the strength. Again I faced that choice – the choice of quit of continue. This one felt harder than whilst I’d been in hospital. I saw the pain in my husband’s eyes and knew I was the cause. I also knew there would be more days like this. More pain to come. But I saw something else. I saw the love in his eyes behind his pain and helplessness. Together we made it through to the sofa. I managed the tablets and I slept.

The following two days showed gradual improvement: although I woke several times through the night in pain, I took breakthrough morphine as soon as I needed it; I was still being sick sometimes but I was also managing to eat small mouthfuls; district nurses were making daily visits; and suddenly the light at the end of the recovery tunnel began to shine a little brighter. On one of these days my wonderful GP came round and upped my daily morphine dose. She agreed the dose was tiny and the reason for my sleepless nights and screaming. I felt supported and listened to – it’s made a huge difference to me that she has cared for me since before ‘cancer’ and still talks of my personality and approach rather than my condition.

Things were hard yes, but things were also beginning to look up. For the first time since my operation, I began to feel that things could truely slowly improve, bit by bit, day by day.

Love and light, Fi xx