gratitude, health, holistic health, kindness, ovarian cancer, positivity

Today I Rise Again

Today is a new day.

I rose today having felt what I was meant to feel, having seen what I was meant to see, having said what I was meant to say.

So many people ‘advised’ that I stop writing and that I focus on me. I know they meant this with the deepest kindness but writing ’is’ me focusing on me. It is my therapy, my release, my way of processing and feeling everything that is there to be felt.

I do not write for anyone else but myself – although, admittedly, it brings me so much joy to realise how my words have helped so many others.

I can’t help but wonder how different our world would be if someone had told Anne Frank to stop writing. I’m not suggesting I am anything like Anne Frank, a courageous young girl whom I have admired since first discovering her words when I myself too was only young, but I am suggesting that our stories are important, healing and essential. We must share our stories. We simply must.

I feel in a good place today, like I am emerging from something, like I am shedding an old version of myself and stepping forward into something new.

I sense change ahead, yes, but change isn’t necessarily bad and I find myself feeling a sense of excitement at this new adventure I find myself on.

I’ve been in worst places in the past four years since my diagnosis than I find myself in just now. There is, of course, one significant difference now. Now I don’t see chemotherapy as an option for me when the trial completely stops working (which it hasn’t, yet).

As I’ve written many times before, chemotherapy (and any treatment) is a very personal choice and I do not advocate for or against any options. But I do know that chemotherapy is not the right option for me. Not again. Not after 4 years ago. This is my inner guidance and I trust it profusely. Nothing and no one will ever change my mind.

So what are my options?

Just now, medically, it is to stay on the trial. It is to keep breathing in the gratitude that this wonderful cocktail of significantly less toxic drugs is doing something to slow down this disease (even if they can’t stop it completely).

But that is just the medical picture and, if I’ve learnt nothing else on this journey it is that the picture is bigger than what can and can’t be done in a hospital. There is so much more that can be done for my mind, body, spirit and soul.

So, yes, it is accurate when I say I am excited because I find myself wondering ‘what if there is another way?’

And that’s exactly what I intend to spend the next 16 weeks finding out.

Why 16 weeks? Because that is the length of time someone with ovarian cancer is on chemotherapy for…AND, more importantly, because 16 weeks today I plan to get my adventurous soul onto a plane to Bali where I plan to spend 4 weeks healing with my gorgeous husband…something that will only be possible if my lungs stay stable…so I’m excited…I have a focus, I have an aim and I have a shit load of passion.

It ain’t over and, as ever, I ain’t dead yet (motherf*ckers)

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer

The Necessary Grief of the Life Unlived

My cancer markers rose again.

Four months in a row.

Slowly rising, creeping upwards, no longer stable and far from dropping.

It’s not good news.

My treatment is no longer as effective. The trial I fought for is no longer holding things at bay. There is a crack in the dam. The dam is still there, yes, but it’s no longer as effective at holding the tide back from crushing me as it once was.

Was I naive to think that it would keep things at bay longer? Was I overly hopeful?

I thought I was realistic. I thought I had accepted and understood the odds, that I realised how lucky I was that it had worked for as long as it had. Yet my tears tonight tell a different story.

They show the hope that’s been lost, the fear, the anger, the sense of defeat in a battle I never even willingly engaged in.

And while it’s far from over (I am still on the trial treatment and it is still doing ‘something’ even if that isn’t as much as it once was) this rise marks a turn in events.

No longer do I feel like I have the upper hand. No longer do I feel in control. No longer do I feel like I have a grasp on what is coming next.

It’s the fear that hurts the most. The fear of more bad news, of more pain, of less options, of death.

It’s the fear of breaking other people’s hearts, of no longer being able to keep a brave face, of losing my sense of self to this insidious disease.

But most of all it’s the worry that I took the time I had for granted; so busy telling others to live like they are dying that I forgot to do it myself.

I’ve had many great adventures yes but did I love enough, did I laugh enough, did I open my heart to the deep vulnerability necessary for true connection?

I don’t know. But I plan to spend the rest of my days finding out and making sure.

Today marks a change, a shift. Tonight it feels painful. I feel deep sorrow and grief for the life I thought I was ‘supposed’ to have. Tomorrow I will welcome a new day, a new phase, a new beginning.

But, for now, I grieve.

health

A Letter to Fear

Dear Fear

It’s a funny old relationship we have, you and me.

Sometimes I think while you stop others from doing things, you propel me forward.

What am I afraid of? I don’t really know. I’ve faced so much pain I’m not sure there is anything left to fear.

Over the years, in the past, I’ve felt the fear of not being safe in my own home, my own body and my own life.

But, as a result, I don’t fear death, pain or grief. I’ve befriended so many of life’s enemies that invoke fear in my peers.

Yet I do still feel you. I feel you when I open up to being vulnerability, to authenticity, to truth. But I power on. I keep facing you and opening my heart because in doing so I am uncovering myself, I am growing and learning and truly feeling all that life has to offer.

I am so grateful for you, my dear friend named fear because when I feel you I know I am pushing myself to the edges of my boundaries and, in doing so, I know I am growing into the best version of myself.

Thank you for being my marker, my flag, my guide.

This is the kind of fear I crave – but none of that shitty life threatening fear please…I’ve had my fair share of that already!

Love, Fi xx

—–

Read more in my books

Listen to my groundbreaking podcast on all podcast apps – search for ‘Live Like You Are Dying’

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Book a place at one of my retreats.

—–

Fi is Currently:

Looking forward to a weekend of kayaking.

Resting after treatment yesterday.

Enjoying the imminent arrival of autumn.

Excited for Ewan’s birthday later this month!

health

A Letter to Grief

Dear Grief

I used to be so angry at you.

I used to want to fight you.

I hated you.

The pain and suffering I felt when I felt you was suffocating.

I thought it was you that had taken those I love.

I thought it was you that had brought the pain and suffering.

But I realise now that I was wrong.

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

I know now that you didn’t take them. You are them. You are the love I feel for them now they’ve gone transformed into another form, another name.

You are what my love for them became.

As my love transformed into grief it was that space in between that caused the pain and suffering.

It wasn’t you.

It was your shadow.

You are still, of course, often harder to carry than the love I used to know and feel for them.

That felt warm and soft and comforting.

You can feel cold and lonely.

But you are a reminder of how much love I felt for them.

I’ve found that carrying you gets easier with time. The weight of you doesn’t get less but perhaps I grow stronger. Perhaps I am able to carry you with greater ease as more time passes. Perhaps my muscles grow stronger.

Or perhaps you have become a part of me, a crack in my heart that shows I’ve felt love transform into grief, that I’ve loved someone through to the other side of my own pain and suffering.

I’m still figuring you out but I don’t hate you anymore. Instead, when I feel your presence I try to transform you back to love. I remove the pain and suffering and focus on the feeling of love. I focus on my heart.

I remember the love.

Perhaps this is what makes me able to carry you with greater ease over time; not the growing of muscles but instead the lightness that comes as you transform back to love.

Yes, I’m still figuring you out but I’m happy to sit with you now, as friends, not enemies as we figure it out together.

Love, Fi xxx

—–

Read more in my books

Listen to my groundbreaking podcast on all podcast apps – search for ‘Live Like You Are Dying’

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Book a place at one of my retreats.

—–

Fi is Currently:

Writing extracts for my ‘random act of kindness’ book.

Appreciating the imminent arrival of autumn.

Sitting in my summer house – my perfect writing sanctuary.

Listening to ‘The Highwomen’.

health

A Life Of Peace – Scan Results

This cancer ‘journey’ can be full of twists and turns and highs and lows.

Most of all, it can be full of surprises.

Recently I had the surprising news that my abdominal tumours had resolved and it ‘appeared’ that the only remaining tumours were two in my right lung. This opened up the potential for unexpected treatment options including lung surgery or SABR radiotherapy. It was exciting and terrifying and, to be honest, I wasn’t overly keen on either….I mean, my previous experience of cancer surgery was hardly ‘simple’.

However, before these treatment options could be confirmed as viable I had to have a PET scan.

Previously I had only ever had CT scans. During these you are injected with a contrast dye that is great at showing abnormalities in the body (such as tumours), but they don’t always show up everything and they also don’t show how ‘active’ the abnormalities are.

PET scans, however, work in a different way. For a PET scan you are injected with a radioactive glucose mixture. Beforehand you fast for 6 hours so that your ‘normal’ cells are forced to use other energy sources such as your fat. Cancer cells aren’t able to use other energy sources (they need glucose) and so when the mixture is injected it goes straight to any active cancer cells in the body. The radioactive part of the mixture then makes these cells ‘glow’ on the scan. It’s amazing eh?! This was helpfully explained to me by the radiographer doing the scan.

So I had my first PET scan a couple of weeks ago and then I waited, not so patiently.

Today I got the results.

I must admit, as soon as I was told I was getting the results I knew they were not going to be good news. I had this deep sinking feeling in my stomach that I’ve never had before.

‘You just want to get straight to the results don’t you?’ My oncologist asked, knowing me so well after 3.5 years of caring for me. I should highlight, again, that she is incredible. I mean I have never met another consultant so focused on person-centred care. She really is a joy and I feel so lucky. I know this isn’t the case for every cancer patient in the world.

Sorry…’just get to the point’…I’m sure you are muttering.

So the scan confirmed that yes the two lesions in my right lung are very active and growing…nothing surprising about that.

It also showed that the lesion above my heart that had been visible on the previous two CT scans is in fact active and not ‘dead’ as we had hoped. This means no lung surgery for me as it would be far too risky.

Also, it showed some activity in my lymph nodes including one under my right armpit and one in my upper abdomen. This is not good. Everyone with cancer knows that it being in your lymphatic system is more than a little shite.

And yet, still, I find myself oddly calm and at peace and here’s why…

Stay with me, things might get a little ‘woohoo’ for some…

When I bought my 1996 VW T4 Campervan recently (if you missed that news flash I have no idea how as I have posted a billion photos!…well at leats 4 or 5 haha) I wanted to give it a name.

While Ewan and I were on our test drive the name Alfonzo came to me. It sounded kinda cool and I thought to myself ‘OK, this is what the van wants to be called‘. Then, when I got home I looked up the meaning of Alfonzo and was surprised to discover that it means ‘ready for battle’.

Even better,’ I thought, ‘The perfect name for a warrior’s van.’

But then something weird happened when I was driving the van yesterday.

As you may already know I am training to be a shaman. This means that I work with the spirit of things, energy and intuition (amongst other ‘stuff’ I’ll save for a future post).

So, it wasn’t unusual for me that when I drove the van to hospital for my treatment yesterday that I got a sense that the van wanted to be called Winifred, not Alfonzo. Yes, you read that right, the van wanted it.

‘Winifred doesn’t sound anywhere near as cool as Alfonzo‘ I thought, ‘So that’s not happening.’

Well, when I left hospital the van wouldn’t start for me. I sat in that car park for over an hour trying to start it, only to have Ewan rescue me and it start first time.

OK, maybe you can be called Winifred‘ I thought.

So, here’s where it gets freaky – yes that wasn’t the freaky stuff.

When I looked up the meaning of ‘Winifred’ I was amazed to discover that it means ‘joy, peace and reconciliation’ – the exact opposite of what Alfonzo means! Crazy eh?!

Now, here’s the thing. I now think this was some kind of crazy, insight, instinct, message from the universe (call it what you will) that I just need to let go, slow down, be at peace and reconcile any pain, trauma or grief that I’ve been carrying around with me.

And that, my dear lovelies, is exactly what I’m going to do, because firstly, what is the alternative? I wallow and mope and waste the fact that, right now, I still feel surprisingly well (compared to most other stage four cancer patients, not compared to healthy people I hasten to add) and secondly, my precious instinct has served me well up until this point so who am I to ignore her wisdom now.

As I move forward through the uncertainty of living (yes LIVING) with stage four cancer, I will not fight it, I will not desperately look for ‘the magic cure’, I will not read book after book in search for the answer that may have been missed elsewhere and I will not be angry that this is happening to me (most of the time – sometimes I will shout ‘f*ck this‘ at whoever happens to be listening or in earshot).

No, instead I will use it as a catalyst to live my life, and what a beautiful life it is, filled with love and joy and adventure!…and now I will work at bringing peace and reconciliation into my life too…because it’s needed, boy o boy, is it needed!

Above all I will strive to live like I am dying, to practice what I preach and to find the good and the gratitude in each and every day because isn’t that all any of us can do in our pursuit of happiness and fulfilment; to live a life to it’s fullest and to focus on what we have rather on what we have lost?

My cancer may never my cured, but it is certainly the tool through which I am healing my life. And that feels pretty good to be honest. It’s certainly better than living the life I lived before, filled with drama, anger, stress and unfulfilment. No thank you! Life is too short for that nonsense!

Now, on a much more serious note, what on Earth am I going to name my campervan?

With love in my heart for you all for reading my words and sharing my story.

Thank you, Fi xx

Read more in my books

Visit me at one of my workshops.

Listen to my groundbreaking podcast on all podcast apps – search for ‘Live Like You Are Dying’

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Stay on one of my retreats.

—–

Fi is Currently:

Loving my precious life.

Feeling grateful to still be alive.

Sitting on our sofa wrapped in a blanket after a lovely afternoon on the beach with Ozzy.

 Waiting for Ewan to come home with a takeaway because who would cook on scan result day?

ovarian cancer

I refuse to ‘fight like a girl’

I don’t ‘fight‘ my cancer.
I’m not ‘suffering‘.

It’s not ‘devistating‘.

I’m not in a constant ‘battle‘.

I’m not at ‘war‘.

Instead…

I’m healing my mind, body and spirit through cancer.

Why?

To explain I need to start with a very basic biology lesson (I have simplified this as best as I can for the purpose of this post).

One thing that countless medical professionals, as well as many authors and researchers, all agree on is that every single person has cancer cells in their body at any given point.

Yes. Everyone. Even you!

A cancer cell is just a ‘normal’ cell that didn’t do what it was supposed to. It may have divided more than it should have for instance.

This error is happening every single day in each and every one of us.

In a healthy person their body detects this error and removes the cell or rectifies the error. This is done because they have a strong immune system that is doing its job at keeping their body healthy and their cells working effectively. Problem solved. 

The difference between me and someone who doesn’t have a ‘cancer diagnosis’ however is that my immune system didn’t notice the first error, or the second, or third and so on…

Instead, my little misbehaving cells were treated the same as my healthy cells. Instead of being removed they were fed and encouraged to grow. Not only that, they were then encouraged and helped to move around my body along wth my healthy cells.

As the number of these cells increased, my immune system further decreased as it became increasingly compromised by these misbehaving cells. As a result, my body became less and less able to detect these cells and, before I knew it, they had taken over my abdomen and chest cavity.

All because my body didn’t detect that first cell that got things wrong.

Facinating!

What does this all mean?

Firstly, it means that cancer is not an external source. It is created by our bodies. It is spread by our bodies. It is fed by our bodies.

It is part of our bodies!

To fight my cancer would be (in my eyes) the same as fighting myself.

What a horrible way to live my life!

So if I don’t fight what do I do?

Now, whilst cancer is not an external source I believe that the factor(s) that contributed to my lowered immune system that didn’t detect that first rouge cell is.

For some these may include, for example, smoking, alcohol, pesticides, toxins, stress, illness and so on.

In my case, as a non smoker, minimal drinker and healthy eater, I think my factors ran a lot deeper and included emotional stress and anxiety, environmental toxins, illness and pesticides.

So, since my diagnosis, instead of fighting – which would only create anger, stress and anxiety and further toxify my immune system – I have focused on rebuilding my health, boosting my immune system, looking after and nurturing my body, mind and spirit. 

What’s the result?

I feel amazing! Yes I’m tired and achy but that’s a result of my chemotherapy (which, incidentally, lowers your immune system!).

Aside from that though, considering my diagnosis and the major surgery I had four months ago I feel pretty darn good!

I love life!

How did I do this?

  • Daily yoga
  • Daily meditation
  • No alcohol
  • Building emotional health
  • 6 portions of veg a day (min)
  • 2 portions of fruit a day (max)
  • Daily ginger, garlic and turmeric
  • Homemade almond milk
  • No dairy
  • Minimal meat
  • Daily 3 mile walk
  • 2 hours outside every day
  • Reading*
  • 8 hours sleep
  • No preservatives
  • Organic food wherever possible
  • No sugar 
  • No processed food
  • Only natural cleaning products in our home
  • Soap nuts for clothes washing
  • Castile soup for hands, hair and body
  • Coconut oil for body moisturiser and make up remover
  • Natural makeup
  • And much more!

*this is to keep my brain active following chemotherapy to help rebuild my mental stamina for my return to work.

Conclusion

I don’t think ‘fighting’ is the right approach to healing from cancer. I want to stop the war on cancer and start the healing of cancer warrior’s minds, bodies and spirits.

Cancer is a result of so many little factors toxifying our bodies over time without notice until our immune system is too compromised to do its job. Trying to fight this with anger, resentment and hate only causes us to miss the point and value cancer can bring, if we’d only just stop, take a breath and listen.

Cancer can teach us how to heal our lives and live happier and healthier than ever before.

I’m not saying I think this approach will’cure’ cancer but it will certainly cure our bodies, minds and spirits of dis-ease.

I for one would rather live out my days (however many I may have) with this approach to life than by fighting with myself and my body.

In the words of Albert Einstein:-

We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Something to think about…

Love and light, Fi xxx

Find me on Facebook.

ovarian cancer

The Beginning of Side Affects: Chemo 4 – Day 4…

I made a commitment to blog each day of my fourth chemo so as to give people some sort of an insight into what a chemo cycle feels like but man did I forget how hard it is to get my brain to work in the days following a chemo dose so I’ll have to keep this brief…

 
…today started early with four steroid tablets, an anti sickness tablet, my usual morning omeprazol (to prevent the chemo damaging my stomach) and my new magnesium supplements I started yesterday.

Following this I commenced the important activity of drinking 3litres of water today to flush out the toxins that chemo is causing my body to remove. Do not underestimate the importance of this activity – I’ve proven to myself in previous chemo cycles that the less I drink in the two days that follow chemo the crappier and sicker I feel!

I also had a 2.5 hour long bath this morning. Although to be fair the last hour I was just trying to build the strength to make myself get out of the bath!…and instead I just kept running the tap to reheat it…there is something so mesmerising about the sound of running water when your brain has been numbed by chemo.

Water is like nirvana to me in the first two weeks following chemo. My whole body aches and my brain is numb and I’m fatigued beyond words but running water offers euphoric relief. I would happily sit under a running shower all day just to be distracted by the sound and the comfort it offers my aching bones and mind.

However I did prize myself away from the bathroom and into the kitchen for a breakfast of poached eggs, veg and fruit before crashing on the sofa to watch ‘Pitch Perfect 2’…man do I love song and music based films! And this was no exception! Awesome!

At this stage the chemo and steroids start their battle of making me want to eat everything and nothing all at the same time…of craving sugar on a scary level but knowing I should avoid it…of making me tired and emotional and grumpy (not my usual upbeat self at all). It’s a process I know will pass about 5 days after my chemo dose but it is horrible nevertheless and truly feels like your personality has been possessed!

I’m slowly learning to ignore the sugar cravings in these first few days following chemo (I failed miserably last cycle and ate sugar like it was Christmas and Easter and my birthday mixed together) and managed a healthy gluten, dairy and sugar free organic buckwheat salad that I’d prepared earlier in the week for lunch before napping for a few hours on the sofa. Food prep is so important the week of chemo – without having the right food prepped and ready to eat it’s far too easy to binge on the food I’m craving – sugar and dairy – and when I do it makes me so much more ill with stomach pains and sickness.

The rest of the day was spent napping although I did manage to embrace the notion that fresh air and exercise help combat the side affects of chemo and take my lovely rescue dog for a short walk. If nothing else it certainly made me feel happier and more alive breathing some good country air into my lungs…although also more knackered too!

  This evening I’ve planned a similarly healthy meal of home made chickpea falafels, sweet potato and salad before hopefully an uneventful night – so far chemo sickness hasn’t hit me and it appears that the side affects of this dose are to be fatigue, brain fuzz and bone ache. All of which I handle much better than sickness which I find awful as I am unable to eat and subsequently loose more weight – something I am desperately trying to avoid!

Before I finish this blog post I just want to write a brief piece on gratitude. Today I am grateful for the lovely messages of love and support I’ve received. And especially for videos I’ve received from dear friends of their precious children sending me ‘I love you FiFi’ messages. These fill my heart with love, joy and laughter – all emotions I strongly value whilst on my healing journey. It doesn’t cost anything to tell someone you love them but the effects are priceless.

 
  I’m also grateful for my dear husband who does everything he can to make my journey as comfortable and joyful as possible and for my ever loving and supportive family and friends, without whom I would be lost.

Love and light, Fi xx