Friday 17th June 2016

What a Week! Again!

This week started off with a lovely family day at my sister’s – I love our family time together as it’s so important.

Phil and I have been married for 17 years! Happy Ann13350298_10208930923377995_2958531350566290452_oiversary husband – thank you for looking after me! We didn’t go out and celebrate or do anything special as we’re going to eat out somewhere nice in Cornwall instead as a family. Delayed celebrations!

Nathan and I went shopping and bought him a very smart prom suit. OMG he is so handsome in it! Watch out girls on 1st July!

Then Tuesday night Lewis’ finger began to swell again. Not good. He felt ok otherwise so we went to bed but early Wednesday morning (very early) he was in a lot of pain. Bless him, he didn’t want to worry us as he knew I had my next treatment but when needs must in an emergency you just have to deal with it. So Phil rushed him to Broomfield (Chelmsford hospital) early Wednesday morning. Nathan went off to his exam, Freya to school and I took myself to my Number 18 and last Herceptin!

Not too bad getting there. My blood pressure was high for me, which was amazing as usually it’s so low. I was so worried about Lewis. He may be taller than me but he’s still my little boy and I hated the fact that I was in Colchester hospital while he was being rushed to surgery in Chelmsford – they have the specialist plastics unit there. But Phil was with him, he was ok. I just needed to get done and home safely. It’s amazing what a bit of adrenaline does! My leg is painful for a while after my injection and hurts to walk but I had it in my right thigh so I could gear change with the left. I dosed up on Ibruprofen and got myself home. And thanks to my wonderful sister, Michelle, who then drove me to Chelmsford to be there for when Lewis woke up.

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He was rushed to surgery that day and they washed out his finger and hand – they found a thorn which had travelled into his hand! When Lewis is on the mend we are going to go back to where he caught his finger and find out what type of thorn! Some gory pics – he had to have the gauze pulled out which was really gruesome – we filmed it for his friends to see! Boys!

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He has been so brave and I am so proud of him.  But he’s going to be off school for a while – unfortunately the antibiotics are strong and are stripping his system so he’s feeling really drained.  I have lots of probiotics for him and salt and vinegar crisps! Just need to keep him hydrated.

Looking after Lewis has taken my mind of myself which has helped.  It’s also reminded me that I’m glad it’s me having to go through this cancer stuff and not any of my children.  Just makes you so grateful – the poor children that have to go through this and the poor parents feeling so helpless.

I have a love/hate relationship with Herceptin. I feel so relieved to have finished another part of the treatment and I hope I start to feel a little better without the side effects of this drug. But it’s also a bit scary not to have the safety net of it too. Now I have to rely on the hormone tablets (Exemestane) to keep the cancer away. I hope it’s done for good but in the back of my mind I also know that if the cancer comes back I’ll be back on it forever. But on the other hand it’s also good that I have this option if need be. Mixed feelings. I really hope I don’t need it again. I took sweeties in to say “goodbye and hope never to see them again” (except in Sainsbury’s or somewhere else) to the nurses.

Thank you Chris for my lovely peonies – I love them so much! and thank you to my brother Darren and Anne for my beautiful bouquet and chocolates to celebrate another milestone of my treatment. Flowers make me smile lots!

So having spent 3 days in hospital with Lewis has been totally exhausting but it has also made me rest after my treatment. Luckily, I have been signed off work by my doctor for the rest of the term (we finish end of June at college for the summer so it’s not too long luckily). Basically with the accumulative side effects from the treatment and on top of that a hurt shoulder – that I am still waiting for an ultrasound appointment to diagnose what it is exactly – it was just too much. My body has not been happy for a while! I have had to learn to except when I need to rest. At first I was annoyed with myself for letting everyone down but I’m ok with this now. I’ve been through a lot this past year or so and still have further to go and it’s scary actually looking back and thinking about how far I have come already. I was shiny bald this time last year and recovering from major surgery! I need to give myself a break!

So I am now embracing summer retirement! Yay! Except it’s raining. Again! Back to college in September, hopefully rested and feeling better.

So this means swimming and yoga as much as possible (can’t do much else because of the shoulder!), walking, sewing, baking, pottering in the garden, reading, and generally being retired! This is good for me – nothing manic, nice and chilled which is giving me time to rest.  And looks like I will have Nathan once his exams finish and Lewis (while he heals) to keep me company!

Of course I still have housework and family stuff to organise – including lots of hospital appointments for Lewis and myself to juggle.  But it’s all ok – I’m getting used to ignoring the dust around the house. I am learning to glaze over the less important stuff – it will get done, little by little and one day at a time. Me and Lewis are priorities now.  I think there could be some movie watching happening!

I think we may try out some new recipes and cooking as well.  I’m still eating relatively healthy.  And as you know I’ve ‘tweaked’ my foods for what my body needs for healing. Lots of people ask me if I’ve been doing anything different. For example:

Good fats: coconut oil (my friend, Clare has done a great blog explaining the benefits of coconuts – http://www.easypeasy-lemonsqueezy.co.uk), salmon (oily fish), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower etc), avocados. Meat and dairy products which are important for the B vitamins and fats but I don’t tend to eat a lot – also wholemeal breads, pasta, rice, beans, oats, fruit and veg for fibre and B vitamins – these are what I call my ‘maintenance foods’.

Immune system: I eat dark red fruits – pomegranates, raspberries, cranberries, black/red currants etc – I eat berries every single day in a breakfast smoothie– blackcurrants especially are high in vitamin C – and they are my absolute favourites.

e.g. My breakfast smoothie includes berries + coconut water + spinach/kale + banana (and sometimes I add oats or flaxseeds) – delicious! I have lots of tree fruit allergies so I’m a bit restricted with fruits and nuts).

I love lemons! First thing in the morning hot water with some lemon in is cleansing and hydrating and great with ginger for nausea too! Meant to help alkaline your body too – lots on the internet about alkaline foods but I’m not following this.

Hair and skin re-growth: vitamin A and beta-carotine (I think this has helped bring my tan on too! – I remember when Lewis was a baby he loved carrots so much that he actually went an orangey colour – bad mother moment!) So this includes foods like: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli (especially the stalks!)

Body and skin: When I was going through Radiotherapy I also used my aloe vera to cool and heal my skin. It worked so well! I grow the plants and give them to people who need them, so if anyone wants one then pop by! Check out my earlier post on aloe vera (Sunday 6th March 2016).

The more I read, the more I have been interested in experimenting in making my own natural beauty products – there is so much info on the internet – my favourite is just keeping it simple – coconut oil and shea butter whisked together with some essential oils (can add in some aloe too – again check out 6th March 2016 post) – great for body and hair. Freya and I will be making some teacher presents in the form of Bath Bombs! We are totally addicted to LUSH products now so will be trying to reproduce some ourselves – watch this space!

Blood health: throughout chemo I’ve focused on maintaining my blood cell counts – lots and lots of dark greenery – I am such a rabbit! Beetroots are fab too! I made some homemade beetroot, courgette and sweet potato crisps! Very nice! Just thinly slice and roast! But really best to eat raw to get the nutrients – simple salads or put into smoothies.

Bones: vitamin D! I make sure if the sun is shining I get half an hour without sun cream. Otherwise I always put on a factor 30 and foods like eggs, butter, oily fish etc. And of course calcium for bones!

Joint pain and inflammation: again green leafy veg, good fats and calcium! Believe me I eat a lot of dark greenery! I’ve also been using essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, clover) to massage into my joints every morning and evening.

And of course I also add in lots of spices and garlic! Scrambled eggs with turmeric, black pepper, spring onions and parsley (or coriander). Cook using coconut oil and serve with spinach and tomatoes on granary bread! Absolutely delicious and so filling and good for you!

So I’m sure you get the general idea of what I’ve been doing. Nothing special really – anyone can do this and you can tailor your food for what your body needs for healing. Good for keeping healthy if you’ve going through an illness or just for keeping a healthy weight. But remember that curves are good for reserves! Add in some exercise, cut down on the sugars and tweak recipes when needed! Simple. And if you want to eat chocolate biscuits then do, just don’t eat the whole packet!

The best book that I have that is geared towards nutrition for cancer patients is “The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook” – it has loads of information and recipe ideas and explains everything. There is so much information on the internet claiming super foods that heal everything – I am good at sifting through information but this could be really daunting for some people. This book has everything you need!

But for easy cooking I love easypeasy-lemonsqueezy.co.uk – I change lots of ingredients to suit me and my family with our allergies! Easy peasy! I am so excited as I am hoping Clare is going to expand into other areas soon – more clean eating recipes and vegetarian, homemade beauty and craft ideas too – we may help!

I believe our food is all about BALANCE.

Like everything in life – BALANCE!

I had the basics already being a reflexologist and holistic therapist and treating a person as a WHOLE and balancing the body, but it has been a real awakening and made me appreciate and think about everything else so much more – especially the foods we eat, what we do, how we think etc and I think the medical staff are beginning to realise they need to look at the whole picture now too.

I take more time for myself and prioritise time with my family now. You hold the precious people close to you and spend more time together as every moment counts. It has also made me more choosey who I spend time with and I hate to say it but I’m not so tolerant – I don’t waste my time and energy on things that don’t matter so much.

And unfortunately with all the tragedy this week in America and here in the UK it just reminds us yet again how precious our time is.

So what’s next for me? Lots of hospital appointments which I’ll update as I go.  Rest for the summer – let’s hope we get a summer – please tell me May wasn’t it!

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