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

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social?

Recently I took the plunge of deactivating my person facebook page. I didn’t think much about it…I just knew I was using it too much and decided a break could be of benefit to my health.

Wow, was I surprised my the reactions I got.

  • “Are you ok?”
  • “How are you feeling emotionally?”
  • “What’s the matter with you?”
  • “Why don’t you want to talk to people any more?”

These are just some of the comments I received to my very personal decision and it got me thinking: when did social media start to define how social we are?; and when did our use of social media become an indication of our mental health?

In fact, if anything, it could be said that social media not only makes us less social but also negatively affects our mental health as we get sucked into the ‘comparison mentality’. There are increasing studies that show it negatively affects our stress levels, sleep patterns and anxiety (to name a few aspects).

After a week of no facebook I realised that I – the person who previously had used it like a drug – actually didn’t miss it at all. So I deleted my account completely (as much as facebook will allow anyway…those terms and conditions are ‘interesting’). Then, a week later I went on holiday with my hubby and didn’t take my phone, instead leaving it in our house.

I made the decision to be completely offline. For three weeks!

It.was.incredible!

While I appreciate the prospect of not having a phone for three weeks will have made many of you gasp in horror, I want to share with you some of the wonderful lessons I learned and some tips for you to take this learning Ito your own lives – don’t worry, at no point do I suggest you bin your phone.

What I Gained When I Went Offline For Three Week’s

  1. I Fell Back in Love With My Husband – Now of course I have always loved my husband – he is an angel! However, I had forgotten what it was like to truly connect with him like when we first started dating. Primarily I had forgotten how f*cking hilarious he is and how much I enjoy his company. It is so easy when you have been in a relationship for a number of years for your life together to become habit, for each day to be the same as the one before and to not really connect. Add in a life-threatening illness like mine and it is easy for what made you fall in love in the first place to move to the bottom of the pile. Talk of work, hospital tests and mindless chat about social media can very quickly and easily take over. When I stepped back from this I realised that perhaps we were not as connected as I might have thought. For instance, I spend most evenings with Ewan, however many are spent watching a film or both of us on our phones. Now, in many ways we have always recognised this and we consciously make time every week for adventures, walks and days out together yet still, in the day-to-day, screen time can take over from face-to-face communication. What I realised when we were away together was that we were interacting with one another; we were laughing; connecting and stimulating each other’s conversation constantly. It was like setting the reset button on our relationship. After all, can you imagine a first date with someone who just sat looking at their phone?…
  2. Mental Clarity and Improved Memory – My mind become much clearer and more focused. Each day I would journal ideas for my second book and rather than my thoughts being stunted or blocked, they flowed freely. A surprising addition to this was old memories started coming back to me. A traumatic relationship in my twenties has meant that I struggle with memories in my school and university years. This was worsened by six doses of chemotherapy in 2016. However, I found that as my mental clarity improved, so did my memory and, as a result, many happy memories that had stayed just out of my mental reach for years, started to return. It’s as if my mind began to completely let go and relax and my inner knowing/guide/intuition/soul (whatever you want to call it) was no longer being silenced by the constant stream of information on social media.
  3. Time and Productivity – It was so insightful to me how much time I would normally spend on my phone looking at various apps. As soon as my phone was no longer part of my life I suddenly gained a ridiculous amount of time to do things that really matter to me (ideas for you to try are listed later in this post).
  4. A Sense of Calm – I am an inherently anxious, a-type personality who always has to be ‘doing’. However, the longer I was without my phone the more calm I began to feel. I no longer felt like I had to ‘do’ all of the time and instead found myself day dreaming, wondering and reflecting in ways I don’t remember doing since I was a child. The result was a deep sense of peace and calm. I hadn’t realised how much the constraint stream of information had influenced my anxiety levels.
  5. Better Connections – it’s ironic really that not using your phone would make you feel more connected, but it’s true. When you don’t have a phone, you spend more quality time with the people you are actually with because you aren’t constantly being distracted by conversations with other people through your phones.

How My Relationship With Technology Changed

Of course, I did miss some aspects of having a phone. For instance, I greatly missed being able to speak to the people in my life that I love dearly. However, I have noticed that as a result of this personal experience, my relationship with technology has changed – in particular my tolerance and patience.

  1. Group Chats – I am in many group chats. Some are where my family connects and shares as a group. Some are with friends who are stimulating, funny and supportive. Other are, well, not. The constant buzz of conversation that is mindless and not adding anything to my life suddenly felt suffocating and toxic. Having gained insight into how draining social media can be, and having a life-threatening illness has made me realise how important it is that all of the social interactions we have, whether face-to-face or online, need add value. Fortunately some apps allow you to mute groups.
  2. Multiple Conversations – social media allows you to be engaged in multiple conversations simultaneously, across various platforms. How can you truly connect with what a person is saying if you are having a conversation with 10 other people at the same time? The answer is, you can’t. As a result, it is very hard to have a deep and meaningful conversation with people through text on a screen. I should know, after all, I am the person who sent the message “it’s f*cking cancer” to several people simultaneous the day after I was diagnosed. What ever happened to picking up the phone? (I ask myself as much as I ask you).
  3. Society pressure – It is really hard to step away from social media because nearly everyone is on it. This creates a ‘sheep mentality’ meaning that if you decide to be the one who doesn’t follow the flock you can feel like you are missing out. Fortunately I have some amazing friends who send me the photos of their children that they would ordinarily just post on social media – this makes me feel extra special as I know they want me to specifically see them, and not just their whole friends list (I don’t doubt they think I’m a pain in the arse).

Things to Do Instead of Mindlessly Checking Social Media

Now you may be wondering, if I’m not on social media how am I meant to relax/connect/veg-out/and so on? Well, don’t worry, I’ve got your back…

1. Dance – dancing to a song that makes you happy not only stretches out your body but it also helps to lower your stress hormones and allows you to move from a state of ‘fight or flight’ to a healthier state of ‘rest and digest’. The same can be said for yoga.

2. Go For a Walk – even if it is just for a short walk around your neighbourhood, going outside and breathing in fresh air reduces feelings of depression; burns calories and improves your cardiovascular health.

3. Create – when was the last time you did something creative? Creativity is a form of meditation and mindful living and allows your mind to wonder and your brain to rest. Take some time to draw, doodle, colour or write.

4. Take Some Me Time – busy has become a badge people are proud to wear. Instead of constantly stimulating your mind, allow it to rest and relax with a bath (with you phone left in the hall!), massage, reiki, sauna, meditation or anything else that takes your fancy…

5. Phone Someone – how many of us send mindless messages to people without picking up the phone and having an actual conversation? I just had a two hour phone call with a friend in London and it was so stimulating for my soul (and hopefully hers). Take some time to have an actual conversation with someone you care about, rather than sending the ‘how you doing?’ message.

6. Speak to the Person/People You Live With – you’ve had a busy day at work and the last thing you want to do is speak to another person. It is so much ‘easier’ to mindlessly look at your phone and start scrolling. How about instead, you pause, take yourself to a quiet place (I have a friend with three children who’s ‘quiet place’ is meditating on her bathroom floor – so no excuses!) and when you feel ready, start actually speaking to the people in your home, rather than reading the text on your phone.

7. Journal – I had heard of journaling and I didn’t really ‘get it’, thinking it was for ‘other people’. However, I spent a lot of my trip journaling and it was mind opening. Simply sitting down with a notebook and a pen and taking a few moments to yourself (or longer if you have the time – which you do if you aren’t on social media) to write down your thoughts is very illuminating. You can even search online for some ‘journal questions’ to give you some things to contemplate if you are struggling. I’ve learned more about myself, my values and my thoughts since I started journaling than I ever have in the past. Now I know why the people I know who have journaled for a while are so interesting, self-aware and enlightening to be around.

8. Read a Book – In those first two weeks I didn’t have facebook (before I went completely without my phone) I read two books without making any extra time for reading. I simply always carried a book with me and whenever I had a moment where I would have previously reached for my phone, I instead reached for my book. I even bought a new handbag that fits a book in it (any excuse for a shopping trip). Stop making the excuse ‘I never have time to read’.

9. Have a Nap – who doesn’t like a 10 minute nap…enough said.

But We Live In A ‘Digital Age’…I hear you cry

Of course, since I came home there has been a need for me to use social media and technology. For instance, I run a business that relies, in part, on social media and me being contactable by phone. The difference now, however, is that I engage with social media in a mindful manner:

  • My business facebook is run by a facebook account which I don’t have any friends on and I still don’t have a personal facebook (it’s been over 2 months now).
  • I check twitter once a week – my blogs are set to automatically post there.
  • I check instagram once a month.
  • I only check my business facebook during working hours.
  • I only check emails during working hours.
  • I don’t have any social media apps on my phone…no business facebook, no twitter, no instagram, no emails. This means that I have to go on a computer to check these. This takes away the mindless habit…it is a lot more effort to go into my office just to scroll through social media.

By taking some simple steps to mindfully reduce your use of technology you will begin to notice dramatic changes in your life. Maybe you will even take a compete break as I did – if you do, I’d love to hear your reflections (once you are back online of course).

I believe it’s time for us to unplug from mindless online activity and instead plug into our souls, our hearts and our intuition.

Love and light, Fi xxx

health, ovarian cancer, yoga

Raw Food for Post Cancer Holistic Health – Day One

Hello and happy Tuesday!
I’ve been thinking over my health lately and realised that it’s not quite where I want it to be…it’s been nearly 18months since I was diagnosed with stage four cancer and after months of being sugar free, vegan (except for occasional fish) and not eating processed food (plus 8 years of being gluten free) I still feel my diet isn’t optimal.

This weekend I went away with my family and found myself slipping easily into old habits of sugar and processed food. Not where I want to be at all!

The result? Today I woke feeling sluggish, tired and all in all a bit ‘meh’. And my skin has broken out again too! Eeek!

So what to do?

Well, after months of researching I’ve decided to embrace a raw food diet under the belief that live food is best for our health.

Now, let’s get one things clear, I’m not doing this for weight loss! I am a happy and healthy size 10/12 and I walk/practice yoga/run ever day. This is about achieving optimal health and helping my body to heal from the inside out.

So, today begins my journey with raw food. I’m under no illusions that it will be easy but hey, it can’t be as bad as high dose chemotherapy and major surgery can it?

I’m a complete novice so I’ve decided to share my story with you all in a ‘video diary’. If you have any advice or tips please let me know!

Here goes!

Love and light, Fi xx
Follow me on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

⭐️VOTING IS NOW OPEN!⭐️

I’ve been shortlisted for ‘The Health Blogger of the Year’. It would be super awesome if you could head here and vote to help me win.

You don’t need to provide any details (not even your name!), you just have to tick a box!

The winner receives a prize of £600 and if I win then I pledge to use it all for my random act of kindness to help spread more joy and raise awareness for ovarian cancer!
With your help I can reach more people and help to spread awareness of ovarian cancer; living with stage four cancer; invisible disabilities and so much more! 💜💜💜

New to my page? In Jan 2016 , at the age of just 30, I was diagnosed with non-genetic, stage four ovarian cancer. There is no stage five. Since then I’ve been campaigning to raise awareness of ovarian cancer in the hope that my diagnosis will help save lives. I have been handing out random acts of kindness to strangers as envelopes containing £20 and a card with the symptoms of ovarian cancer. I do this in the hope of spreading kindness and joy whilst also helping to get people to take about ovarian cancer! 💜⭐️🌈

In August 2017 I published a book entitled “Love, Light and Mermaid Tails” about my story and how I strive to live an incredible life with ‘terminal’ cancer. Get it here.

ovarian cancer

Reaching the Other Side of the Doors

Today I approached a set of automatic doors that I’ve passed through many times before. As I strode through their entrance I was greeted with mental images of the woman I had been before, weak and afraid as she made her way to her first chemo; I saw the woman I became, weaker still with no hair, her body frail from muscle loss; I felt the memory of the ambulance gurney, hard beneath my body as I was wheeled through those doors only months ago; I felt the memory of every time these doors had opened before me; I felt the changes I’d been through, some physical and some emotional and, with a smile, I acknowledged the many friendships I’d made on the other side of those doors.I suddenly realised how much I had changed. I’d had the honour and blessing of being reborn and, in that moment, none of those previous moments mattered anymore because today I was striding, my head was held high, my back was straight and I felt incredible, healthy and happy.

I don’t know how long my new life will be but I do know that I intend to cherish every single moment with gratitude for the people on the other side of those doors for their support, kindness and care 💜💕

How lucky I am to be here. Thank you 🙏🏻⭐️🌈

Love and light, Fi xx

Please vote here. You don’t need to provide any details, just a few clicks.

ovarian cancer

Chase Your Dreams 

I could have missed my run today. I could have looked at the bad weather and thought ‘nah I’ll stay in tonight’.

But instead I remembered the old me, the me lying in a hospital bed after surgery to remove half my organs. The me with stage four cancer fighting for her life. The me that would have given anything to be able to walk across the room unaided.

So I got into my running gear and I went for a run.

Was it tough? Absolutely!

But was it worth it realising how incredible my body is, how wonderfully well it has healed and how powerful it is to not only recover from cancer but to be able to run in the rain? Hell yeah!

I used to run to burn calories. I used to run to lose weight. I used to run to beat my personal best. Now I run for the old me. I run for my fellow warriors to show them that anything is possible. I run for health. I run for my future self! I run so that when I next see my oncologist I can tell her how amazing I feel!

I don’t know how far I ran. I don’t know how fast I ran. I don’t know how many calories I burnt. And I don’t care! What I do know is that I did something I once thought I’d never be able to do and that is the best feeling in the world!

Tonight I will be celebrating with a curry at a friend’s house – not because I ‘earned it’ but because life is too short to worry how many calories you eat as long as you are eating the right food! The main word being ‘food’ – not highly processed or ‘low fat’ bullsh*t!

Have a great weekend everyone! Go and do something you once only dreamed of!

Love and light, Fi xx

—-

You can now buy my new book on Amazon – “Love, Light and Mermaid Tails”

ovarian cancer

My Book is Now Available to Buy

It’s been an exciting week! I’ve finally achieved my life long dream of becoming an author and published my first book!

It is currently available to buy on Amazon in the UK, USA and Europe!

‘Using her values as a compass Fi shares a message of hope, not fear, about how you can heal your life even if you can’t be cured. A powerful message for us all.’ Lesley Howells, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Centre Head, Maggie’s

I’m giving away a free signed book over the weekend 🌈🦄💕🙏🏻 Please just visit my Facebook page for more info 🦄

Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement. I couldn’t have done this without you!

I hope you enjoy the book!

Love and light, Fi xxx

—-

“Fi Munro was diagnosed with non-genetic stage four ovarian cancer. In that moment, after months of pain, tests and assurances that it was ‘nothing to worry about’, her instincts were proved right and her worst fears were realised.

In the months that followed, understanding her diagnosis, recovery and health became her full time job.

Using her expertise as a researcher she dedicated her time to understanding everything she could about her diagnosis and subsequent prognosis.

In this honest, open and often tear-jerking account of her journey back to wholeness, Fi openly shares her story from diagnosis with stage four ‘terminal’ cancer to living an incredible, healthy life full of joy and laughter.

This book is a guide for anyone, not just those with cancer, who wants to embrace a happier, healthier and more caring approach to their life.

May it bring you peace, courage and, above all, hope.”

“Fi Munro (PhD) is a multi award winning researcher, author and public speaker recognised internationally for her presentations and articles on her journey and holistic health. She has been featured in two BBC documentaries, in TV and radio shows, and in newspaper and magazine articles across the globe.”

ovarian cancer, yoga

Follow Your Bliss

Today I achieved one of my life long dreams I couldn’t be more proud.


As many of you know, in May 2016 I underwent major surgery for stage four ovarian cancer during which I had multiple organs removed. The recovery was tough and involved a week in a high dependency unit and almost two months in hospital whilst I regained enough strength to walk, recovered from sepsis in my liver and adjusted to life with a colostomy bag.


At the time I was told it could be several months before I was even able to walk up stairs or bend down and my husband moved our bedroom downstairs into our dinning room in preparation for my return home.

Not one to be defeated I, perhaps crazily, decided this was the time to pursue my dream of becoming a yoga teaching and so, with the support of my oncologist, I approached a yoga training school.

Just weeks later I was sat in a cafe having an interview with the course leader. I was convinced she would be put off by my medical situation and turn me away however, miraculously, she took a chance on me and in early September 2016 I started a 12 month training course. 

I had a PhD by the age of 26 so I am not shy of a little hard work but what followed was, at times, the hardest education journey of my life. Physically weak from surgery, emotionally and mentally drained from chemo, I constantly struggled to keep up with my wonderful classmates. Each month we would have coursework to complete, postures and adjustments to learn and, of course, hours of yoga practice. We not only studied yoga but also pranayama (breathing), chakras, meditation, nutrition, yoga philosophy and so much more! 

Each weekend of training left me exhausted and requiring often days to recover but I loved every single second. My monthly yoga training weekends became key milestones for me. Getting through two days of training reminded me how alive I was and how incredibly well I was doing despite everything my body had been through.


My physical, emotional and spiritual health responded and my holistically health drastically improved as a result. Now, a war after finishing chemo my cancer markers are low and stable and I have never felt more alive.

Today after what could have been the worst year of my life I completed my yoga training and received my full qualification.

I have never been more proud of myself and hope that my story will inspire others to never give up on their dreams because if you just believe in yourself and you keep taking tiny steps in the right direction then anything is possible!

If I can train as a yoga instructor whilst living with and being treated for stage four ovarian cancer then just think what you can achieve.

Follow your bliss and magic happens!


With special thanks to the wonderful, inspiring and supportive people who trained alongside me; to the course leaders and trainers who took a chance on me and to everyone who has supported my yoga business. You have all played a massive part in making my dreams come true and I am forever grateful.

Love and light, Fi xxx

Find Fi on Facebook.

ovarian cancer

Where are the real role models?

I haven’t grown to love my scars. In fact, I loved them from the very first day I had them. I wasn’t ashamed of them. Instead I knew that they had given me life. Similarly I embraced my bald head whilst going through chemotherapy – I saw a warrior when I looked in the mirror. I never saw a victim. I love my colostomy bag and everything it stands for; advances in medical science and ultimately life-saving surgery.

Yet if I were to believe what society and the media have told me then I would be feeling I very different way. I would view my scars as ugly and hide them from the world. My colostomy bag would be disgusting and I would feel ashamed. When I was bald I would have felt less of a woman.
Eh, hold on a minute. I don’t think so!


I have never felt more wonderful than I do today. I’ve never felt more proud of my body for all of the incredible things it can do and the fact that, most importantly, it is providing me with life. My body is incredible, and so is yours!

So, why does society tell us otherwise? Why do we feel we need to be a certain weight, not to be healthy but to be attractive? Why do we feel less than ourselves unless we look a certain way?

Where are all the role models telling us that our gorgeous ‘imperfections’ make us perfect?
When I was a little girl growing up every female  role model looked a certain way. She had her pretty dress and her long perfect hair. She was beautiful and slim. The dolls I payed with, the cartoon characters I admired…they were all the same.

Nothing changed when I became a teenager, or even when I became an adult. Everywhere I looked I was told that ‘beauty’ and ‘perfection’ looks a certain way.

Well, today I am wondering where are the cartoon characters with a little (or a lot) of curves on their hips? Where are the dolls rocking a short hairstyle, or no hair at all for that matter? Where are the models with scars? Where are the actors or actresses with colostomy bags?

Ultimately, where are the people teaching the next generation that being a warrior, being ‘different’ and ‘imprerfect’ is much more sexy than being ‘perfect’.

On my journey with stage four cancer, and now teaching yoga to children and adults, I always aspire to be the person I needed when I was growing up and so today I am wanting to challenge soiety’s perception of ‘perfect’ and encourage us all to embrace our beautiful bodies. 

It took cancer, chemotherapy and MASSIVE surgery before I appreciated my body and learnt to love it without bashing it every time I looked in the mirror or tried on new clothes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation just unashamedly loved themselves for who they are.

I want to see role models that real people can relate to. There needs to be a change and it starts with you the next time you look in the mirror and recognise how incredibly gorgeous, sexy and wonderful you are just as you.

You don’t need to look a certain way or weigh a certain weight. You don’t have to fit into a certain dress size or wear ‘the latest fashion’. You, just as you are, right now, are perfect. That breath you just took, that pulse in your veins, that is your body doing wonderful things to keep you alive.  Isn’t that the most beautiful, magical and incredible thing ever? Wow how lucky we are to have such amazing bodies.

Love and light, Fi xx

Find me on Facebook.

ovarian cancer

“Everybody Poos…”

but not every body poos in the same way…

This is probably my hardest post to write so far…but it might also be my most important…

I feel I have a responsibility to other warriors to break down barriers by sharing my story…

Ovarian cancer. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Hair loss. Wheelchair. Intensive care. Terminal. Incurable. Remission.

So many words and phrases have entered my world this year. Some have been easier to deal with than others. But one word stands out because I’d never beard it before.

Colostomy.

I didn’t even know what a colostomy was… No one in my life had ever mentioned this word before.

After some questioning and research I discovered ‘colostomy’ meant life changing surgery. One end of my colon (large intestine) was going to be diverted through an opening in my tummy. This new opening is called a stoma and would be covered by a removable bag that is disposed of when full…but more on this later.

I was so confused. Why would I need this surgery?

I didn’t have bowel cancer. I had ovarian cancer…

Turns out however that ovarian cancer doesn’t much like to hang around in just the ovaries. It likes to spread to other organs and, in my case, it was now sitting on the surface of my bowel and would need cut away.

In the days that followed my approval for this surgery I had many appointments seeing stoma nurses. I was handed leaflets I couldn’t bring myself to read. I had conversations I didn’t listen to. My abdomen was marked for the ‘exit site’. I was in complete denial. This couldn’t be happening. Hadn’t cancer already done enough?

In the days following surgery I faced an 18 inch scar. Drain sites. Drips. Syringe drivers AND a stoma…another alien addition to my ever changing body.


As the days turned to weeks slowly these additions deminished. The drains were removed. The scars started to heal. The drips were wheeled away. But one thing remained. The colostomy wasn’t going anywhere. It was a permanent feature.

It was hard to come to terms with. It felt like the final shred of dignity I had left had been removed. I no longer had control over my bodily functions. In a ‘normal’ body you are able to control when you poo using the muscles in your anus. Your colon, however, doesn’t have muscles that you can consciously control. So if you have a stoma your body excretes waste whenever it wants. Any time. Any place. No warning. No control. Great!

So I learned that I’d now need to carry spare ‘colostomy bags’ with me wherever I went so that if my bag filled I could change it. I’d also have to carry wipes and bags to dispose the waste in. No more small handbag for me!


I was given a special card stating that I had a medical condition that allowed me to access any toilet anywhere – one small perk.


And also a special ‘radar key’ that allowed me to unlock any public toilet 24 hours a day 7 days a week – OK another small perk.


I was taught that I could no longer wear button up jeans as they cut off the bag and prevent it from working and would instead have to wear high wasted jeans or jeggings. I also couldn’t wear tight fitting dresses. Wait, you mean I have an excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe. No questions asked. Things were starting to look up!


Whilst it was hard to come to terms with at first, I began to realise that this was a result of life enhancing surgery. Would I, if given the chance, turn back time and say ‘no wait actually could you just leave that cancer in my bowel I’d rather not have a stoma’? Hell no!

Of course there are still hard times!

Like when I go to use a disabled toilet and I’m judged by observers because I don’t ‘look’ disabled.

Or when I use a toilet and there is no bin. No one wants a bag of poo left on the toilet floor!

Having an upset tummy is the worst! Usually when you have an upset tummy you give you enough time (hopefully) to get to a toilet. Not with a stoma. With no warning – that waste is making an exit whether you like it or not! If your bag sticks in place great. If not then all hell is breaking loose wherever you are! I’m not going to lie – I’ve had to bin a few outfits as a result of what one of my nurses affectionally refers to as a ‘code 20’. I’ve learned that having a dark sense of humour helps.

What also helps is people sharing their story about their colostomies. Did you know 1 in 500 people in the UK have a colostomy. And not just because of cancer. Sometimes because of Crohn’s disease or even from child birth!

With this in mind I’m pretty sure you know someone else with a colostomy bag! But there is still so much stigma attached to  discussing ‘poo’.

So what can we do?

We can celebrate the differences in our bodies.

We can stop being embarrassed by our bodies and what they do.

We can stop body shaming.

And, most importantly, we can stop taking everything so seriously…after all everybody poos just some of us are lucky enough to be able to do it ‘on the go’. See, I told you a sense of humour helps.


Love and light, Fi xx

ovarian cancer

Questions for your surgeon 

On 9th May 2016 I had a major operation. It lasted over 11 hours, during which they removed my spleen, appendix, omentum, womb, Fallopian tube, cervix, ovarian, part of my bowel, part of my liver, part of my diaphragm and part of my pancreas.

Prior to the operation I had a long list of questions which I compiled with the help of loved ones. I was fortunate t meet my surgeon and have the opportunity to discuss these questions at length before signing a consent form allowing her to conduct the surgery.

I’ve shared these here in the hope that they may be of use and/or gudence to anyone else undergoing ‘debunking ‘ surgery for cancer.

General

  • Can you confirm I am stage four?
  • Am I able to view my scan images?

Specific

  • What is the operation being recommended?
  • Will you remove my omentum?
  • Will you remove part or all of my Peritoneum?
  • Will you remove any lymph nodes? How many?
  • Will you take tissue samples?
  • Do you believe you will manage to debulk? (ie remove all viable cancer)
  • Will you remove part of my bowel?
  • Will you remove part of my bladder?
  • At the time of my diagnosis I was informed I may be inoperable due to cancerous fluid in my lung, a this no longer a concern?
  • Can you provide an overview of the operation?
  • How long can I expect to be in hospital?
  • What would intensive care look like for me?
  • What pain management would be planned?
  • What is my recovery time once home?
  • Will I need additional support once home?
  • What do you expect to achieve from surgery?
  • How will surgery affect my prognosis?
  • How will surgery affect my quality of life?
  • How long will it take me to get back to normal after my surgery?
  • When can I take up my usual activities again?
  • Would you have surgery?
  • If I have surgery to remove part of my bowel would I require an Ileostomy or colostomy bag? How will this affect my quality of life?
  • Food is very important to me. Would a stoma bag affect what I ate? Would the colostomy be reversible at a later date?
  • I know I require a complete surgical hysterectomy. Will I have more menopausal symptoms after my surgery?What is your view on my taking HRT?
  • How can I deal with menopausal symptoms if I don’t take HRT?
  • What are the risks involved in my surgery?
  • What are the implications if I decide not to have surgery?
  • Have you completed an operation this extensive previously?
  • Who will be involved in the operation? (ie what does the team consist of)
  • Would you have the operation?

Please feel free to comment with additional questions you may have asked.

Love and light, Fi xxx