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What is Person Centred Care?

I’ve spent the vast majority of my working life talking about person centred health care. About putting ‘the patient’ first and adapting services to meet their needs. I thought that’s what it was all about. I thought that’s what pateint’s wanted.

I was wrong.

Having just spent two weeks in hospital I’ve realised that person centred care isn’t just about creating individually tailored care packages – although, of course, that’s important.

Person centred care is actually much simpler. It’s just about seeing the person behind the condition.


For me during my stay in hospital there were many examples of person centred care, each aiding my recovering in magical ways:-

  • It was the woman who cleaned my hospital room sitting with me every day, holding my hand and asking me about my home and my pets.
  • It was the same woman crying with me when I was in too much pain to get out of bed; telling me she couldn’t sleep for thinking about me; kneeling beside my bed, rubbing my arm and telling me she loves me and wants me to get better.
  • It was the auxiliary nurse who sat with me for over an hour in the middle of the night talking about her grandchildren and showing me pictures to keep me company because I coudn’t sleep.
  • It was every member of my care team who asked what my job was, what my hobbies were, if I had pets or children or basically anything about me and not my condition or diagnosis.
  • It was the other woman who cleaned my room seeing a pile of photos by my bed of my beautiful neice and nephews and putting them on the wall for me without being asked.
  • It was then every person who asked about the smiling children in the photos on display.
  • It was the Dr who talked to me about what had been happening in a shared favourite TV show while she took a heart trace which involved her seeing me naked, rather than making the situation unnecessarily awkward.
  • It was the nurse who told me she thought I was beautiful when she saw the framed wedding photo in my room, rather than just seeing the far from attractive ‘cancer patient’ lying in front of her.
  • It was the nurse who sat with me during her breaks, even when she was working on a different ward because she had supported me through an anxiety attack soon after my surgery and now knew me as a person.
  • It was the surgeon who released me from hospital for a couple of hours to visit the beach to help me feel less anxious.
  • It was every person who took the time to know me…

This is quality care.

This is what makes a difference.

This is what I’ll remember during my recovery and always.

I’ve learnt that when at your lowest, lower than you thought humanly possible, this is all that matters – the compassion of one human to another. The care, the time and the consideration to show love to another spirit.

How blessed I am to have seen this on my journey.

I can only hope that more people will realise that this is the care that gets people through hard recovery times. Yes, I’m not going to lie, of course the drugs help(!!) but it’s compassion and love that give you something to live for.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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Meeting Nina Conti

Well I am just the happiest person in the whole wide world!

Just 3 days after after coming home from hospital and only 17 days after an operation during which all of my reproductive organs plus 3 other organs were completely removed and 4 other organs were partially removed, with the help of my amazing(!!) Macmilan Nurse I not only made it see my favourite comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti tonight…but…I was also invited to meet her backstage! I am on cloud nine!


I had bought front row seats for her show in Perth Concert Hall for my husband, a friend and I in the hope that I would be well enough to go. I explained to my Macmillan Nurse that I wanted to go and she agreed that it would be a good thing to aim for. Not only that but she phoned Perth Concert Hall to explain the situation and ask for their help – once again demonstrating the wonderful impact and support Macmillan can offer in every aspect of care. Perth Concert Hall not only took on board what she had explained to them but from the moment we arrived at the venue they treated us like VIP guests. We were escorted to our seats before everyone else (me in a wheel chair from the British Red Cross), they were on hand throughout and explained that if we needed anything at any point that they would be there for us. During the interval they checked we were OK and explained that Nina would like to meet us after the show. Again they escorted us there and I felt safe and supported throughout the whole experience.

The show itself was incredible! If you don’t know who Nina is then you seriously have to look her up on YouTube…I promise she won’t disappoint! If you do know who she is then you will understand my excitement at the fact that not only did the show include Monkey and her usual masks for the audience, but Granny also made a surprise appearance, making the evening even more special!

Nina is my absolute favourite comedian and also, I’m now pleased to say, a really lovely person. This is a moment I will cherish always, particularly in the challenging days ahead.
With a million thank yous to Macmillan, Perth Concert Hall and Nina Conti for making this happen.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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Post Surgery Update – 10 days on…

So here I am. I made it through my operation for stage four ovarian cancer.

My surgery, which was already going to be quite racial, ended up being even more extensive than originally planned, with all of my reproductive organs being removed plus three other organs completely removed and 4 partially removed.

No… I didn’t realise you could have so much removed at once either!


I went down to theatre at 9.30am on Monday 9th May 2016, where I was taken straight in to have my epidural. Due to the requirement for me to be put to sleep immediately afterwards, my husband was unable to join me for this part and so I had been feaking out about this all morning but the anesthetist team were exceptional. Recognising I was anxious they took their time talking to me and reassuring me. As it turns out my anaesthetist and I have a shared favourite Indian restaurant so I was comforted talking to him about the place as he did his work – I’m easily distracted by the talk of South Indian food!

Following the epidural, the team lay me down and got me ready to be put to sleep. I thought I’d still be anxious at this point but they were very kind and kept talking to me until I drifted off.

I don’t remember much of being in the recovery room following surgery but I’m told I was in there for a few hours. All I do really remember is a lot of people around my bed,  beeping machines and falling in and out of consciousness.

I also don’t remember being taken to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) but I do remember my husband being there.

    I know my parents and sisters came in to see me shortly afterwards too (I’m told it was about 1am by the time they were allowed in) but I don’t remember much else thanks to a wonderful cocktail of drugs and the epidural being left in.

    When I woke on Tuesday 10th I was in a whole new world. I slipped into sleep quickly and easily and I wasn’t ever really aware of the time, just the many different medical and surgical staff coming to see me for checks and medication. At some point my surgeon came in to explain what had happened during surgery:

    • My operation had lasted 11 hours.
    • They had conducted a complete hysterectomy – removing my cervix, womb, ovaries and right fallopian tube (I only had one prior to surgery due to a previous operation)
    • They had removed my omentum
    • They had removed my appendix
    • They had removed my spleen
    • They had removed part of my colon
    • They had removed part of my liver
    • They had removed part of my diaphragm
    • They had removed part of my pancreas 

    But, most importantly:

    • They had removed all visible disease!!

    This is certainly no small achievement with a stage four cancer patient! And, although I’m still only part way through my journey, it was exceptionally great news to hear (I’ll receive further, detailed updates over the next few weeks).

    I spent the rest of the week in HDU receiving oxygen and although I tried to remember everything (after being told that people often forget their time in HDU) I remember only snippets. But I did ask my husband to take a daily photograph which he kindly obliged to do. It frightens me to look at how ill I appeared at that stage so soon after my surgery but it also allows me to see the progress I am making now.

    My epidural was left in for a few days, however it only worked on my right hand side so, although my pain was manageable I struggled to move and I felt nauseated all of the time. In order for the nurses to check where the epidural was working they would rub a piece of ice over different parts of my abdomen and legs every couple of hours – an oddly settling sensation when you are lying in bed for days burning with heat. Having the epidural in for the first few days meant that I was unable to get out of bed and so the nurses had to change my bed with me still in it!…a tricky task involving plastic pull sheets and discomfort! 

    The feeling of constant pain is hard to describe. It’s never easy to get someone to understand what someone else is feeling, but I think the main factor with the pain was the frustration it caused me. I was suddenly unable to do so many things I’d taken for granted previously. I couldn’t sit up or roll over. I couldn’t wash myself or brush my teeth. I couldn’t eat or drink due to the need for my colon to recover post surgery. The list goes on and, at that stage, was seemingly endless and the light at the end of the tunnel still very dim.

    A turning point for me was when two physios managed to help me do a 60m walk using them and my drip for balance. Although I was knackered the following day I began to realise that I was slowly overcoming all of the things I couldn’t do and starting to build up the list of things I could. Taking advice from someone I deeply respect who has had to overcome similar physical challenges, I started to make a note every time I achieve something I hadn’t before: the first time I brushed my teeth unaided in bed; my first mouthful of food; the first time I manged to wipe my own face; the first time I managed to sit beside my bed rather than in it. Baby steps yes, but each hugely significant in my recovery journey.

    One of the things I thought I would find most challenging was the nurses helping me to wash me whilst I was still bed – something that I thought would be awful and degrading but was always done in a manner to ensure my utmost modesty and comfort. And, let’s be honest, when you are in that much need of care and support you are beyon caring about such trivial things as how you are washed, so long as you are comfortable. That said, the first day I was able to wash my own arms and face while they just washed my legs and back was utter heaven!

    This week I’ve been back on the normal ward but I’m now struggling with new daily physical and emotional battles:

    • I feel nauseated all of the time and so don’t eat much which, as anyone who knows me will confirm, is completely out of character and hugely frustrating for me.
    • I am completely exhausted. I still fall asleep often and struggle to converse due to breathlessness.
    • I am always in pain. Whilst I’m certainly not in the pain you would expect from this much surgery, thanks to so so many drugs, I am still obviously sore. This upsets me emotionally, rather than physically. In just 10 days I’ve gone from walking 3 miles a day to struggling to get out of bed unaided.
    • I’m struggling to come to terms with the extend of what my surgey involved. Every time I think about it I feel sick. When I typed it out in detail above I was actually physically sick. It is certainly a lot to take in and come to terms with.
    • I frequently brake down, hysterical from the emotional and physical burdens surgery has left me with. One night I was sedated just so I could settle for a couple of hours while me incredible(!) husband sat by my side until the early hours of the morning, holding my hand silently in the darkness.
    • I feel a lot of anger and frustration all of the time. This is mainly around not being able to do simple things like self care but also because I have a throat infection and breathlessness and find it challenging to converse.

    However, I’m also seeing progress with things I couldn’t do during my time in HDU:

    • I am now able to lie on my side
    • I can now have a shower without even the aid of a seat
    • I can dress myself
    • I can manage small bits of soft, cold food with the help of a range of anti-sickness tablets
    • I can walk unaided, albeit over very short distances and slower than a tortuise in treacle
    • I can brush my teeth at a sink unaided
    • I made it to the front door of the hospital in a wheel chair and saw outside for the first time in 10 days.


    Despite recognising my physical progress I continue to struggle emotionally much more than I had expected. You would anticipate such major surgery to be a physical battle but I think the emotional struggle is playing a much more significant role. Many aspects of my life will change as a result of my surgery and it will take time to learn how to adjust to and live with my new world. It is mostly so challenging to go through something that your nearest and dearest could never relate to – and you deeply hope they will never have to experience. It can feel lonely and frightening. Even the medical staff don’t know how you ‘feel’. At this time I find myself so grateful again for fellow warriors holding my hand on this journey, from which I hope great friendships will emerge.

    My recovery will obviously take a number of months. During that time I’ll be learning to take each day as it comes and trying to regain my old positive sense of self.

    I know my journey is long.

    I know my journey is challenging. 

    Most importantly though, I know my journey is possible.

    For now I just need to keep making daily progress and focus on getting home – hopefully soon!

    Love and light, Fi xxx

    —-

    I know people will have many questions but, at this stage, please respect that I am currently too weak to reply to messages and have shared all that I am comfortable sharing just now in the blog post above.

    Comments of support and positivity below are very welcome – and indeed never more necessary! – but I am going through a lot of recovery and, with the best will in the world, do not have the strength to reply to loads of messages.

    Just now it’s about me getting through the next phase so that I can begin to regain my strength.

    I’ll write again soon xxx

     

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    Meeting my Anesthetist (video)

    I’ve spent the day in hospital today waiting for my surgery tomorrow. It’s been a pretty uneventful day as my blood tests this morning showed that my platelets and white bloods cells are at the right levels for surgery meaning I didn’t need a transfusion – hurray!

    I got to meet my anesthetist this evening and he was very reassuring. He talked me through all the various forms of pain relief and monitoring he we will be using on me and I  now actually feel very relaxed about my big op tomorrow!


    Aside from that I’ve spent the evening having some quiet time to myself relaxing and keeping calm with some adult colouring which, in my opinion, is a wonderful tool to keep my mind off the next few days.


    I’m feeling the calmest I’ve felt since I heard what my operation would involve and this is down to the medical team at the hospital I’m in and the lovely messages I’ve received from my friends and family ( I love you all!). It’s also, without doubt, due to the messages I’ve received from women around the world who have had the same or a similar operation to what I have planned. These messages have come from women whom I’ve never met, each discussing their treatment, operation and recovery in a way that has comforted and reassured me that I am not alone. I am so grateful to each and every one of you for being part of my journey.

    Thank you!

    I also made a new friend ‘Steven’ this afternoon who has ensured I’ve kept smiling…after causing me to nearly fall out of bed when he flew at my window!


    With love and light, Fi xx  

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    Fellow Warriors

    When on a life changing journey you meet people who, well quite simply, change your life. They change the way you see the world and the way you see yourself.

    On my journey I have been blessed to meet many new people. Some are health care professionals, some are volunteers and some are fellow warriors. We walk this journey together – each playing a role in shaping each other’s lives.

    Cancer can be lonely. Your friends and family and loved ones are all there supporting you and cheering you on but, fortunately/hopefully, none know what you are going through. None feel your pain. None see your worry as your worst fears crowd your mind. Instead they can just hold your hand, tell you they love you and watch (and cheer) from the sidelines.

    Fellow cancer warriors are different. They have felt your pain. They have breathed your fears. They know the pain of telling loved ones their diagnosis. Of hearing a medical professional put a timeframe on their lives. Of having their lives change forever in a single breath. They are on the same journey.

    I am blessed to have met many fellow warriors at different stages in my journey, with each playing a different and equally precious role.

    This week one of my warrior friends slipped away. She, like me, did not fight her cancer but instead graceful lived her life with love and courage right until the end. She was truely a special person and, although I have only known her a short time, she played a massive role in my life and in my story. I feel honoured to say I have known her.

    Thank you for the memories.

    Sleep tight, Fi xxx

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    Surgery Plans – Update (Video)

    I met with my surgical team a week ago and they provided me with an update of what my surgery next week will involve.

    It’s a little bit scary as they are doing lots during a ten hour operation so I thought the best way to share this with everyone would be through a video of me explaining it in summary…enjoy…and please don’t judge my drawing too harshly.


    Love and light, Fi xx

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    Cancer Care – Detoxing Your Environment

    Since my diagnosis I’ve been thinking (and reading) a lot about all the toxics we are exposed to as part of our day to day living. These range from pesticides in food; chemicals in cleaning products and parabens in beauty products.I started looking into this after becoming increasingly aware that cancer is caused by a lowered immune system, often associated with ‘toxic’ life style choices. As a regular excerciser, who ate healthy, had never smoked and rarely drank alcohol I began to question what other toxins I’d been exposed to that I hadn’t even considered.

    Well, all I can say is that I’m shocked! I had no idea how many harmful toxins are common place in the modern household. The more I researched the more shocked I became until a few months ago I reached tipping point and went round my house with a cardboard box and filled it with every cleaning and beauty product. These ranged from kitchen sprays to shampoos (not that I need them now anyway!) to foundation to washing up liquid.

    Next I used my research and new found knowledge to buy natural alternatives. Here I’ve tried to provide you with an overview of some of the swaps I made and my verdict.

    Household cleaners

    I removed so many cleaning products from my home – furniture polish, bleach, kitchen spray, bathroom spray, washing up liquid, antibacterial spray, floor cleaner…the list goes on.

    Now I only use ecover products. They are all natural and also non toxic to the environment. They can be a bit pricey so I bulk purchased their multi purpose spray, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner and floor cleaner on Amazon to save done cash. My verdict – they are all brilliant! In particular the multipurpose spray which can, for example, be used on everything from the cookerhood to polishing furniture and mirrors!

    Shower & Bath 

    At first I started using cowshed shower gel but I was still concerned about the long list of ingredients..most of which I didn’t recognise the names of. Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs whatever comes into contact with it so I wanted something more natural. Basically my now view is that if I can’t ingest it then I shouldn’t be covering my skin with it!

    So I now make my own shower gel using organic liquid Castile soap and essential oils. My preference are peppermint oil and frankensense oil so I’ve made up one of each by adding the oil straight to the soap. For this you want to use about 6 drops of essential oil per 30ml of soap.

    These shower gels smell great and lather just like any ‘normal’ product. They also work great in the bath – just add one capful under the running water.

    Washing Powder & Fabric Softener

    As with the household cleaners, I switched my clothes wash to ecover products. These worked brilliantly and my clothes smelt amazing, however the products were pricey…although you do need to use much less than other more conventional brands so they do last longer.

    About a week ago we started to explore the idea of using eco eggs vs soap nuts – two products I’d heard a lot of good things about but had never used. As luck would have it, whilst still doing my research, a friend bought me soap nuts for my birthday and I am a total convert! They work amazingly, our clothes smell fresh and the soap nuts are 100% natural! Also you don’t need to use fabric softener! Bonus!

    My husband has eczema and sensitive skin and they have caused no ill effects proving just how gentle they are! I can’t recommend them highly enough.

    Body Moisturiser 

    Similarly to shower and bath gel I wanted to use a natural moisturiser. Also, because chemotherapy makes your skin very dry I wanted to use a really nourishing moisturiser.

    A friend recommended coconut oil and I started to do some research. I’d used it in cooking but was still to be convinced of its moisturising ability! However there is loads(!) of information available online listing all of the possible beauty uses of coconut oil! So, I thought I’d give it a go…and you know what?…I am a total convert! I mean this stuff is actually amazing!

    I now have four jars on the go…

    • one for cooking
    • one I’ve added frankensense oil to
    • one I’ve added peppermint oil to
    • one I’ve left ‘natural’

    Coconut oil is solid at room temperature so to add essential oils I let the jar of oil float in the bath until the oil has melted and then add the appropriate amount of essential oil – again you want about 6 drops of essential oil per 30ml of coconut oil. The oil will solidify again at room temperature, only now it has the added benefits of your chosen essential oil. When using it I either take a lump from the jar – it melts when rubbed on your skin – or I run the jar under the tap to melt the oil before applying it to my skin.

    Make Up Remover & Skin Cream

    Coconut oil is also an incredible make up remover – it even removes waterproof mascara! It also makes a great face cream – even under makeup! This is what I keep the ‘natural’ jar mentioned above for. This is because essential oils can be too harsh for the sensitive skin on your facw and, in particular, around your eyes.

    To use it on your face just take a lump of solid oil and rub it all over, then wipe it off with a cotton wool pad. Alternatively you can melt the oil, again my running the jar under a hot tap, dip in a cotton wool pad and rub over your face and eyes.

    Makeup

    This is a hard one for me. I LOVE makeup and, let’s be honest, chemotherapy doesn’t make you look the most attractive so it’s now an essential part if my routine if I am to leave the house! However, I didn’t realise that a lot of make up products contained parabens, or the associated health risks, until I read about it in ‘cancer is my teacher‘[anither excellent cancer book I recommend]. This is especially important to women with oestrogen dependent cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. So, in short, I needed to find natural makeup alternatives fast! 

    Fortunately I have a friend who is a rep for Tropic Skincare and after doing some research I decided that this was as natural as I was going to get when it came to makeup. I bought a range of products and I’m very pleased with my purchase – they are way to apply, revise great coverage and so far are offering great value for money.

    Perfume & Deodorant 

    I don’t use either perfume or deodorant now. After considerable reading, I decided these are just unnecessary, harmful chemicals being sprayed directly onto my skin. Instead I rely on the use of essential oils and, I hope, I don’t smell like a gym locker! My husband habit said anything anyway!

    Toothpaste

    I have stopped using fluoride toothpaste and now use an organic, natural collendula toothpaste. Although it tastes great, it is very different from my old toothpaste, with a weird texture that doesn’t foam. This is one change I am yet to be convinced on but I continue to use it to see if I can get used to it.

    Candles

    There is a mixed debate on candles. Many reports view them as carcinogens, whilst others say that natural candles, such as those made with bees wax, are fine to use. I love candles so, in compromise and because I have loads of candles(!), I now only use them I n the garden as it is well ventilated and it means that I can still enjoy them.

    Instead, in the house, I use an aromatherapy oil defuser which uses just water and oil to fill our home with a relaxing aroma. It also has a lovely LED light which gives a nice glow, similar to that of a candle.

    I can imagine all of these changes may seem a little overwhelming to many and I’m not suggesting that they are for everyone by any means. They are, however, right for me. Chemotherapy is a toxin and cancer is, in part, caused by environmental toxins and so I believe that making these changes will help to support my body during my treatment and afterwards. Also I feel, and hopefully look, a lot healthier since switching to these products and although some are more expensive than what I used to buy, some are also much cheaper and so, on the whole, it’s not costing us any more money.

    If I were to recommend just one change it would be the use of coconut oil. It is a great all round beauty product, it smells amazing and it’s easy to find and use. Even Aldi sell organic coconut oil now!

    As with my post about quitting sugar, I hope this post inspires readers to make small changes in detoxing their environment and body.

    Love and light, Fi xx

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    Emotionally preparing for surgery: Chemo 4 – Day 21

    Well I did it – I blogged every day for a complete chemo cycle. 21 days of insight into my life with cancer. Tomorrow I should be going for my pre-assessments for chemo 5 but as I’m heading for surgery soon I’m not able to have another chemo at this stage (until after I’ve recovered from surgery) because it will weaken my immune system too much. Instead I am walking into the unknown…

    I’m not sure what the next two weeks will feel like without chemo and many questions and, also, many doubts are running through my head…

    • Will I feel my ‘cancer’ symptoms return because I’m not receiving chemo?
    • Will I continue to feel tired?
    • Will my pain return?
    • Will my abdominal fluid return?
    • Is surgery the best, or indeed only, option?
    • Do my questions come from a place of fear or a place of knowledge..from extensive (and also often contradictory) research?…

    The list goes on and I’m sure it’s normal to have these questions but I can’t help but think that they should have been addressed. I know that the answer to these questions are obvious to the people providing my healthcare…but they are not obvious to me. Instead they only serve to cause unnecessary fear and stress – both of which are known factors for creating a cancer thriving environment. Ironic…

    I wish I’d asked these questions when I last saw my oncologist.

    I also wish the answers were just given to me, without the need to ask.

    Or that the answers were easily accessible…

    This reminds me of the need to take more of an active role in my healthcare plan and, as a result, I am doing my research and putting together an extensive list of questions to ask my surgeon. This, I feel, will allow me to take back some control in a journey which is often hard to navigate but one which I hope to do so as a valued member of a collaborative team.

    Love and light, Fi xx

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    “The Cancer Whisperer”: Chemo 4 – Day 20

    Today I was feeling much more tired than normal…a sacrifice I’d made after some early birthday celebrations with friends last night. Which, as a side note, was a lovely evening and exactly what I needed. The restaurant even surprised me with a birthday cake and balloons 💜

    Anyway….I digress…

    As a result I wasn’t up to doing much today and so spent most of the day reading a new book that I’d bought under the recommendation of a friend – “The Cancer Whisperer” by Sophie Sabbage.

    Well, the book is incredible…I’m already nearly half way through it!

    Since my diagnosis I’ve read lots of books about cancer. These range from books written by Drs or researchers or even survivors. This book was different though. It was the first time I’ve read a book by a person who still has cancer. A person who, like me, is living with stage four cancer and is aware that, medically speaking, her cancer is ‘incurable’.

    More importantly, however, despite this (or perhaps because of this…) she shares my positive outlook on life.

    It was so inspiring for me to read her story and her approach to her diagnosis. I felt every word on the page spoke to my soul. Whilst reading her words, I was no longer the ‘unique case’ my oncologist and surgeon describe, but instead I felt like I was reading the words of a kindred spirit.

    There is so much comfort in knowing that there is someone else in the world with stage four cancer who isn’t giving in to nor fighting (a term I loath!) the disease but is instead letting it allow her to grow as a person whilst healing her life. I am sure (or at least hope) that there are many others who share our outlook but, whilst I have read the positive outlooks of people who have recovered from stage 1, 2 or 3 cancer, stage 4 cancer patients don’t often appear to share this outlook…or indeed share their story…with others.

    The thing that resonated with me most in her book is the emphasis she places on taking control of your disease and taking ownership of the decisions being made. This is also encouraged by Kelly A Turner in her book “Radical Remission”  and something I do without thought – I mean why wouldn’t I want to know everything there is to know about my illness whilst also being involved in the decisions about my treatment and care. However, I am becoming increasingly aware that this is not something I share with all cancer patients and this unsettles me. How can people be expected to heal without all the information? Sometimes people don’t even want to know what stage their cancer is – I can’t relate to this at all. I want to know everything…I mean everything!… about my illness and possible treatment. However, when I recently asked one of the surgeons if I could see my scan results I was told that I was the first person ever to ask. Ever?!

    I’ve found that whilst my Drs are initially surprised by my calm and rational (and often emotionally detached) questioning, they also appear refreshed by the opportunity to talk openly about my illness with me in a way in which I am made to feel welcomed as a contributor rather than a bystander. However, I still have the impression that they hold back, perhaps unsure if my ’emotional detachment’ is denial or a front – it is in fact neither and merely an ability I hold to detach myself and reserve dealing with the information emotionally at a later stage (usually once I am home and talking through the facts with my husband). I hope that as I progress through my journey that my Drs become more comfortable with sharing information about me with me (ironic really when you think about it).

    I truely feel that one of the most valuable lessons from my journey is to take total ownership of my health. I can only hope that in the future integrated, person-centred treatment of cancer patients will have become the norm in cancer care.

    Love and light, Fi xx 

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    Why I’m Grateful for my Cancer: Chemo 4 – Day 19

    Three months ago I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer at the age of 30.

    I often describe my cancer diagnosis as a gift…yes I know that sounds a little crazy but let me explain…

      We’re all guilty of going through life with the mind set that we will achieve happiness at some specific point…when we get the ideal job, when we get married, when we finish the house, when we earn a certain amount, when the kids are a certain age…the list goes on and on… but what if we don’t reach that point? What if tomorrow really never comes? Does that mean we are destined to be unhappy? Destined to not lead a fulfilling life?

    Certainly not!

    When the words ‘stage four cancer’ entered my life everything changed…
    …but for the better!

    I’m now living the best days of my life. I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been because cancer has taught me to let gratitude, positivity and joy be the only goals in my life

    You see, what a cancer diagnosis does is really highlight your mortality. It makes you aware that tomorrow really isn’t guaranteed. Yes we’ve all read the many inspiration quotes about living for today but how many of us actually do? Well a cancer diagnosis (especially a late stage one!) is a constant reminder that today really is all we have.

    Many people ask how I remain so positive and I think Charlie Brown and Snoopy sum it up perfectly in the following dialogue:

    Charlie Brown: “Some day, we will all die Snoopy!’

    Snoopy: “True but on all the other days, we will not.”

    In truth none of us know when we will die, or indeed what will cause our death, but until then we are living and so we should enjoy each and every day.

    There are days when I feel so ill from treatment that I want to just lie on the sofa, but I still force myself to get up and dressed and take our lovely rescue dog for a walk because it is so important that there is joy (and nature!) in every day. 

    I no longer take anything for granted. Least of all the wonderful people in my life or the time I have with them.

    Cancer is a gift because it wakes you up to a life half lived and makes you see the beauty in every moment. It makes you savor every second. I am grateful for my cancer diagnosis because I am not sure all the motivational quotes in the word would have allowed me to see life, or the privilege it is to be alive, in the same way that I do now.

    Abraham Lincoln summed this up best we he said…

    “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

    So today, if you do nothing else, be sure to laugh a little louder, smile a little longer and hug a little closer.

    Oh, and please tell someone you love them.

    Love and light, Fi xx