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’

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Stay on one of my retreats.

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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

What if there was a stage five to cancer?…and it was positive…

I havn’t been blogging recently, instead I’ve been focusing on writing my book and so I’ve been saving my updates to just my Facebook page. However, whilst away in Europe just now I had an experience that I had to share with you all…Hubby and I had booked a last minute train journey from Scotland to London and then on to Paris. Instead of micro planning the trip like we would have previously, we just booked return tickets and our first two nights in Parirs. After that, we decided to leave our holiday to chance by arriving in Gare De Loyn (Paris’s international train station) and booking on to the next train….with no plans of where we would end up, no accommodation booked, a true adventure to say the least.

Anyway, I’m digressing, as usual. On our first day in Paris we stumbled upon one of those beautiful serinipidous moments that I hope you will enjoy hearing about. At the very least, I hope I do it justice in my writing because, for me, it was utterly magical.
We had spent the day wondering the city. I’d been telling hubby that Paula Cohelo (my favourite author) frequently mentions in his books that to ‘know’ a city is not to do all the tourist attractions but to ‘get lost and discover it for yourslef’. With this in mind we hadn’t joined the crazy long queues to climb the Eifle Tower, instead we had marvelled at it from the ground below before wondering through the streets, lanes and local parks. In fact we wondered so far that by the end of the day a background app on my phone recorded 5.5 miles – the furthest I’ve walked in one day since my diagnosis.

Walking through a park whilst searching for somewhere for dinner I was struck that everyone around us was busy taking ‘selfies’ and not enjoying the moment. Now, don’t get me wrong, those who know me know I’m guilty of more than a few selfies so no judgement from me, I was just struck that it was what everyone was doing. No one was actually talking to one another – so busy where they trying to capture the perfect moment that they were forgetting to actually live it. I recalled a conversation I’d had with one of the documentary makers last year. They’d explained that there had been a study done that you remember experiences differently if you look at them through your phone taking photos of videos. In short they were saying to live the moment rather than capture it to show an ‘airbrushed’ version of your life on social media.

Again I’m digressing, but it is relevant I promise…

As we were walking, surrounded by people on their phones, something caught my eye. Just past everyone else there stood a very smartly dressed man standing away from the crowd feeding the birds. As I watched I noticed a large animal near his feet. “Is that an otter?” I asked my hubby. “Where?” He declared, no doubt confused by my random question about a water mammal whilst in the middle of a busy city. However, I pointed and managed to convince him that we needed to explore further.

So, we made our way over to the man, who appeared embarrassed by our presence, giving the sense that we were intruding on a private event. What we witnessed was beautiful and I feel both blessed and humbled to have been a part of it.

The man had a large bag of bread from which he was feeding a range of birds, including two groups of newly hatched ducklings. However, he was also taking his time to carefully peel and slice pieces of carrot to hand feed a large water vole. By large I mean the size of an adult Tom cat. The interaction between them was awe inspiring. This man, in his no doubt designer suit was not just feeding these animals but he was doing so with love and care. These were his pets, his friends, his family. Each time he fed the water vole, just a rodent to many, he knelt down and whispered to it in French before it gently took the carrot from his hands. Standing close to the man, I also had the pleasure of this beautiful wild animal coming up to me.

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“Do you speak English?” I asked the man in French.

“A little,” he shyly replied.

“Do you come every day?”

The excitement was evident in his reply, “oh yes, every day, I live just there, ” he pointed nearby.

We continued to watch the interaction and I’m glad we did because the magic increased. The man bent down again and handed the water vole a large piece of bread. Taking it with the same care it had the carrot it wondered to the water edge where it placed the bread in the water. Confused we watched as a group of large fish came to the surface to eat the bread.

“Did it just intentionally feed the fish?” Hubby and I asked one another. ‘That can’t be.”

However, as we watched the man carefully cut another piece of carrot for the water vole which it again accepted with care and ate in front of the man. Next the man gave him another piece of bread and, amazingly, again it carried it to the water edge to feed the fish.

Isn’t that incredible?

With love, care and daily patience this man had created a bond so strong with this wild animal that they were now working together to feed other animals. In harmony their kindness was creating ripples.

Two things struck me in that moment: The first, of course was the beautiful connection that can come between the love of a human and an animal. It’s something I’ve experienced many times myself with pets and wild animals alike and it is always a privilege and a joy. The love this man was expressing was a pleasure to witness and the joy it gave him was evident – I am sure he would have many stories to share over a coffee.

The second realisation was that not one other person in the park that day had noticed this interaction. Too busy taking selfies alongside tourist attractions like thousands of people before them, they hadn’t experienced the magic and wonder in that very place that you wouldn’t find in any tourist guides. I finally understood what Paulo had meant in his books. 

I said at the start of this blog post that I hoped I could do this encounter justice and I doubt that I have. In reality I think this moment had a profound meaning on my life so deep that I wouldn’t be able to express it through the simple action of documenting words. You see it relates to a conversation I had recently with someone I care about. They had explained to me that they had stopped following my public Facebook page because it was too focused on cancer. “That’s just not you.” They’d declared.

It had left me thinking….what was me?

Yes in March my Facebook page had, admittedly, taken a huge focus on cancer in recognition of ‘Ovarian Cnacer Awareness Month’. However, it was also the month that my health had suffered most since the end of treatment with my magnesium levels dropping radidly again. Coincidence? I think not. I am a strong believing in attracting what you think about. I mean I am the girl who I for no genetic reason had convinced herself that she’d be diagnosis with ovarian cancer at the age of 30 and lo and behold look what happened…

Their simple words had touched me deeply and I realised they were right, I am not about cancer. Whilst I like to raise awareness I do not ‘suffer’ from my diagnosis. I am not a ‘victim’ and don’t even get me started on ‘fighting cancer’ – I loath that term!

“So, what am I about?” I was left wondering.

This encounter gave me my answer, It reminded me exactly what makes my heart sing.

I am about love. I am about light. I am about healing. I am about joy. I am about LIVING – truly, madly, deeply!

What if cancer has a stage five after stage four? What if Stage Five is finding out what you are about. What if Stage Five is about LIVING?

My wish for you…enjoy the moment. Get lost and discover the hidden joys in your life – trust me they are everywhere when you start to look! Above all, if you have a late stage cancer diagnosis, may you embrace stage five and start to LIVE with the same love and care as the man I met in Paris.

Love and light always, Fi xx 

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CT Scan…finding the cancer

Following the news I had cancer my consultant asked me to come to hospital the next day and be admitted as an inpatient. This was so I could get a CT scan, some medication to manage the pain and sickness and a drip to manage my dehydration.

I was told to arrive at 10am and, because I didn’t know how long I’d be in for and because I love an excuse for some nature time, I went for an early morning walk with my husband. Isn’t there something magical about the cold winter air when you are feeling down and crapy?!

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It was a beautiful day and really helped to give us some perspective, and time away from our constantly buzzing phones(!), to just be alone together and talk about what was going to be happening over the next year.

When we arrived at the hospital I was put on a drip as planned – cue a million attempts at getting a cannula in my hand!…hard to believe I used to be a blood donor with the hopeless veins I know have!

I was told I’d been booked in for my CT scan at 2pm so in the meantime I sat and chatted with my husband and two sisters playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’ – if you’ve not played it before I can only warn you that it is not for the faint hearted(!!) and probably sums up my dry sense of humour entirely! It is a great laugh!

There was almost a sense of relief in going for my CT scan – it may sound crazy but I knew it was taking me one step closer to my recovery and although I knew it was likely to uncover news I didn’t want to hear, it was all part of the necessary process. However, once I was in the CT room I had what we will call my first ‘moment’. They had to put dye in the cannula in my hand and it was so painful! I am pretty good on the old pain threshold side of things but wow was that a sore one! I cried and think I may of actually screamed at one point as the poor nurse injected the dye and rubbed my hand for comfort.  On reflection, this was the first time I had been alone since my diagnosis and I think what actually caused this reaction wasn’t the pain but the reality of a long journey in which often only medical staff would be able to hold my hand.

The CT scan only lasted about 10 minutes and then I was able to go back to my bed on the ward. I was exhausted – it is amazing how much cancer (and not being able to eat because of cancer) exhausts you!

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That evening my husband and I met with two oncologists and were told the early results of the CT scan. They explained that they review the suspected primary sites first (in my case my ovaries) and then your vital organs (head, liver and lungs) and then the rest. Whilst we knew we would get the full results the following day following their multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting they wanted to let us know that it had been confirmed that I had cancer in my ovaries and that my head and liver were clear – well thank f%&k for that…some monumental good news in a sea of crazy!

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That night I didn’t sleep well – a result of having a bed next to the nurses station and the anxiety of waiting for the full results the next day.

love and light, Fi xx