health, holistic health, ovarian cancer, positivity, yoga

Do You ‘Self-Destruct’?

Have you ever slipped into ‘self-destruction’ mode when what you really needed was ‘self-care’?

I certainly have…and more recently than you might think!

Lately I’ve found myself making all kinds of excuses for this – ‘I’ve lost a lot of weight I should eat high calorie processed food to regain it’ – ‘my body is tired, it’s ok to eat sugar’ – ‘I’m too exhausted to go out in nature today’ – and you should see my Amazon purchases after a hospital admission!…yes all books but no definitely not ones I needed!

All of these were excuses for not supporting my body, mind and spirit to properly recover. Instead I was giving myself a hard time, not acknowledging reality and, in fact, making my situation worse through self-judgment rather than much needed self-love.

Realisation, finally, hit me yesterday when I said to my nurse “I’m just too tired to do anything” – now, firstly, dramatic statements like this (in my experience) are usually just excuses and secondly, her reply was the wake up all I needed.

She reminded me what I’ve been through lately: 9 weeks of vomiting; 10 days in and out of hospital; two stone weight loss; an abdominal drain of malignant fluid; being told my cancer had spread (again); an IV of two broad spectrum antibiotics for a week; unable to eat for over a month; starting an immunotherapy trial…need I go on?

I realised that despite all of this happening, what I hadn’t done was give myself the necessary time to properly understand the effect this has had on my emotional and spiritual health.

Yes I’d started lots of self care practices – yoga, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, Body Stress Release etc but I had done so with the frustrated mentality of ‘why isn’t it fixed yet?!’

What I’d needed to do instead was to treat the wounded parts of myself with care and compassion (like you would a small child – a friend recently suggested)

So yesterday I embraced what these parts needed (in particular after a long day in hospital getting dose two of my immunotherapy) – an afternoon cuddling my hubby in the sofa with Ozzy watching comedies…tick!

Then today I did the same. I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn like usual but instead had a lazy morning getting up only in time for my medication; then I sat about in my pjs eating a leisurely breakfast while watching Ted talks before me and Ozzy set out for a long walk in nature just the two of us – allowing me some valuable alone time in nature.

It feels so refreshing to be giving myself ‘permission’ to acknowledge that I am wounded rather than fighting this reality with frustration. In doing so, I am allowing myself the time it takes to truly heal and become whole again.

I wonder if you’ve acknowledged the wounds you’ve gained recently or in the past and if you’ve given yourself permission to take the time and space you need(ed) to heal?

Or perhaps you can relate to being in the ‘self-destruct’ mode through diet, exercise, indulgent or impulsive shopping, self judgement or anything else?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Love and light, Fi xxx

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The benefits of exercise… 

After years of doing research and writing research papers I’ve now been given the opportunity to be in one…Macmillan are doing a national study to look at the affects of exercise on cancer treatment and prognosis.

To do this they have employed and trained personal trainers across the UK to work with cancer patients to develop a specialist program of exercise. In Scotland they are working in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and the Borders. Patients involved in the study will be given 12 free sessions and then unlimited sessions for a low fee each month for the rest of their lives. In exchange their fitness, response to treatment and side affects to cancer and treatment will be monitored every three months. The results of the study will be published by Macmillan later next year. It is hoped that the evidence will demonstrate that exercise has a positive impact on all aspects of a cancer patient’s care, their response to treatment, and whether or not they relapse. If proven effective, this scheme will be spread across other areas.

I feel both honoured and privileged to have been asked to be a part of this study. Not only will it allow me to bring back one of the joys in my life but it also gives me an opportunity to play an active part in the growing research in the importance of providing holistic patient care. More importantly it enables me to be a part of shaping what holistic cancer care may look like in the future.

I am really excited about this opportunity and hope to see some good results in recovering my fitness, strength and lung capacity.

Watch this space…

love and light, Fi xx

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Always be an inspiration…

It must be about time for another overly long post about life with cancer…here goes…xxx

…on the first day of my chemo I found out that my cancer is stage four – not stage three as originally thought.

This news wasn’t entirely unexpected – we’d been told from day one that they thought this was the case but needed to do more biopsies before they could be sure. These show that I have cancer in my ovaries, my peritoneum (the membrane that surrounds and keeps my internal organs in place) and my omentum (the fatty membrane that covers the front of my intestines) and now on, not in, (there’s a huge difference apparently) my right lung.

So how does this change things? Well for one even my positivity took a wee blow with this news. I’m a runner. Exercise is my one and only hobby. All I could think was ‘but I need good lungs to exercise…’

It wasn’t so much the ‘cancer’ news that hurt but the news that a part of my body that I very much value above most other parts was now damaged.

But that all changed when I had an inspirational conversation with a near stranger who knows about my love of exercise and heard my cancer story on the radio.

They said to me – “what you need to do every day is put on your running clothes and go for a walk at the time you used to run.”

I thought this was crazy – I’d already packed my running gear away thinking I wouldn’t need it again.

But they went on, suggesting that the psychology of these actions have positive associations for me and that by doing this routine I would be doing something positive for myself.

Then they said the best piece of advice I’ve heard since my diagnosis: “If you walk in your running clothes every day, one day you may manage a 30 second run or one day you may even manage longer. But you know what? You won’t ever manage to run sitting in your house.” So simple. So true.

So since then, every morning, I’ve put on my running clothes and I’ve gone for a walk round the block and although it’s tiring it’s also the highlight of my day. It’s the moment I feel most alive. It’s the moment I’m not a cancer patient.

I realise now that I am not fighting cancer. I am living with cancer.

And you know what? That’s ok.

Two things to take from this:

  • Each day you have the opportunity to inspire and help someone, maybe even a stranger. Take the opportunity.
  • There is nothing you cannot do.

love and light, Fi xx

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