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

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Making Progress with Baby Steps

Since my post about feeling broken I’ve come on so far in my journey to recovery.

After breaking down over the needles on Saturday the medical team worked together to make things more comfortable for me. In fact their response and speed was second to none and what a difference they made! Within an hour they had made the decision that I didn’t need to receive fluids anymore as my blood tests showed that my levels were stable. They also switched all but one of my antibiotics to oral tablets. This meant that I instantly went from being attacked to an IV drip 24/7 to needing it only 3 hours twice daily. This meant that in the afternoons I was now able to be drip free! After so long this felt like a massive step in the right direction!

More importantly, this meant that I was now free to leave the hospital between lunch and dinner – if aided by my husband.

Instantly I went from a sobbing lost soul to my old self. That afternoon my husband brought my rescue dog to visit me and I’m not sure who was more pleased to see one another!

Pets really are an instant mood changer!

Together we went for a slow(!) walk in the woodlands on the hospital grounds.

It was magical! I felt so free. I was me again, walking my dog with the man I love. I still had my syringe driver and drain attached, I was still weak, I was still in pain, but I was happy and really, when it comes down to it, what more can we really ask for from life?
The following day (Sunday) my husband took me to the local Botanic Gardens in a wheelchair. 

Oh the buzz I got from being in nature again was just indescribable. The grass never greener. The flowers never more fragment. The sky never bluer. Slowly my soul was healing. Isn’t nature so powerful and wonderful.

Monday brought more positivity. I was visited by my consultant; a wonderful woman, who treats me rather than my diagnosis. She agreed that I would heal faster at home and that our focus needed to be to get me detached from all the machines/equipment. First step was to speak to the lab about the samples of sepsis taken from my body and what antibiotics would best treat it. Their response enabled me to be switched to just one antibiotic – rather than four! Best of all it was an oral antibiotic! I was disconnected from the drip completely and the painful venflon removed from my arm! Cue mini celebration!!!

Tuesday I was sent for an ultrasound scan to see if my drain could be removed. This would be dependent on all the sepsis having drained. I was so anxious. So desperate for good news, knowing that this would determine how much longer I needed to remain in hospital.

The scan, of course, was painless but they could see that a small (15ml) pocket of fluid remained. I was disheartened but I remained positive. I reminded myself that this was a tiny amount. I reminded myself how far I’d come. And I was right to, because the ward made the decision to remove the drain! They also made the decision to remove my syringe driver and try me back on oral pain relief and to stop my anti sickness medication. It was a lot of fast changes but it was positive. I was making progress. I was moving onwards in my journey and, more importantly, in the right direction.

My drain wasn’t removed until this morning but wow what a feeling! Suddenly I was free from attachments. I felt able to straighten my aching body again. Able to move more freely. I’d regained a sense of self. Today when I showered I wasn’t coordinating my usual juggling act of medical equipment. It was just me, standing under the healing water. Oh what bliss. The little things in life we take for granted really are all that matter in the bigger picture. They are wherein lies the joy.

As I write this I am dressed, no longer living in my pjs. I am free from equipment and my scars and bruises are fading. The cancer patient I faced in the mirror just days ago is fading. My sense of self is returning. This was only possible because of an exceptional medical team treating the person and understanding that health care goes beyond pharmaceutical drugs. This is person centred care. I am so grateful.

I’m not going home yet. But soon. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright. I’ve made it through another phase in my journey. It was tough. Tougher than tough. I saw darkness​, I felt pain, I faced fear, but it didn’t break me. I feel stronger for knowing the experiences I faced. Better for the people I’ve met. Inspired and encouraged by the human spirit and the love and care in the world.

I write this because I know many other beautiful souls will go to the dark places I went to in their own journeys. Please remember that where there is darkness there comes light. There is a way through. Never give up, least of all on yourself. You have the power to do this. You are enough.

Love and light, a very happy Fi xxx