Sunday, 8 July 2012

Actions speak louder ....

While writing my latest blogs and wallowing in therapy of writing poetry and blogging on themes such as anger, love, laughter and sunshine, I have realised that I have only given snippets away of where I am now in my life and my cancer journey. 

In some ways I feel very much that I am on an on-going spiritual quest, reconnecting with life - but I have soon found out that making a commitment to meet people, accepting social invitations, promising to do something and then not being able to do it, and making plans for a day is still not a good idea.  The saying is “energy begets energy” and I know this true but still wanting to run before I can walk I find my energy is all spent and I back to square one!  I need to go more slowly.
It’s just over four months since my last radiation treatment, and just under six months since chemo finished – the assumption of many people is that I should now be well on my way to recovery but as so aptly described "disease-free, but not free of your disease”  this is not the case.  

I can still get tired just at a drop of a hat, and in fact last Saturday I spent the morning looking at carpets, lunch with a friend,  the afternoon watching the town’s carnival and listening to live music in the park in the early evening.  It was a lovely day but “knocked me for six” and the Sunday was a write-off and had to take time off work on the Monday as well!

Focusing is a real problem; I still can’t read the books I used to read, just simple “chit lit” book reading is best at the moment - although I have tackled reading more serious short stories – and completing a crossword is an absolute impossibility.  It’s worse now I have started back at work – being a secretary and having trouble focusing is frustrating for both me and my employer! Organisation of paperwork at home, keeping up with the bills etc. is another worry.  

I am also having hot flushes during the day and night and aches in my shoulders that keep me awake. This is not helping my focus as I think I am also starting to going through the menopause which have all of the symptoms described above so figuring out what is reactions to treatment and medication and what are the normal symptoms for a women going through the menopause is not easy.

Mouth soreness has recently suddenly started reminding me of how I felt through chemo treatment, my toes nails are still falling off and my skin is so much dryer - let alone still doing exercises to carry on recovery from my broken ankle earlier in the year and on my arm to prevent lymphoma!

It might sound as if I am a bit of a hypochondriac but a real fear at the back of the minds of most cancer survivors (still not sure if I like that word!) is that the cancer will come back somewhere or in the same place in our bodies so each symptom cannot just be dismissed - we have to consider, examine and stress about it before visiting our doctors and specialist to calm our worried minds. I had my first mammogram after a year a couple of weeks ago, with the results coming back within the next four to six weeks – I am assuming no news is good news! 

 LOL you may laugh I did wonder how they were going to do a mammogram on my left breast which is no longer there – correct (!) they only did the right breast.  My next scan is in October so a little while longer to wait yet for some reassurance (I hope).  

There is really no point getting frustrated or upset when I cannot do something I want to do, and what do I expect? My body has been poisoned, experienced trauma – and it can take up to a year (and longer in some cases) to feel better, stronger and more able to lead a “normal” life. 
So I have come up with a plan for over the coming months, and yes, before you point it out to me, quitting smoking is not there, and some of it I should be doing anyway – I know! “Old habits die hard” and I seemed to have hit some them again with a vengeance after treatment stopped especially with regard to food!

  • Take a half hour walk per day especially when the sun comes out and more stretching exercises, moving on to cycling and swimming (although a bit self-conscious about swimming with just one boob!)
  • Do things that I really enjoy, choosing how I spend my time more wisely and learning to say no or realising I just can’t do this yet!
  • Bin it, file it, action it and try to take action almost immediately rather than sitting on issues that get worse rather than better, or frankly on paperwork that just clutter up the place!

  •  Stick to a routine trying to go to bed and waking up at the same time and sleeping in a cool room, wearing clothes that let my skin breathe
  • Start experimenting with different relaxation techniques
  • Keep a notebook/diary with me at all times and actually using it!
  •  Ensuring I am having my five a day of fruits and vegetables (and more) and eating on time to regulate my sugars better.
  • Visit the dentist!!!!!!!!
  • Drinking more water and chewing gum (but not obviously – I hate that!)
  • Using affirmations and a grateful diary and carry on my spiritual path
  • Getting less stressed with my teenage son pinching the computer for his new gaming network, playing x-box, answering back, having subjective hearing and realising that his brain is geared in another way for a  few more years yet!
  • Finding a support group or setting up one of my own!
  •  A bit more pampering, a good skincare routine, and more effort on my appearance including colouring my hair!
I suppose it’s not “rocket science” - it is the case of not just using the words but actually doing something about it - “actions speak louder than words”!  In one way or another we do all know how to look after our health to some degree, some of us ignore advice or just pick out bits and pieces that we want to do, some of us go to extremes, some just have no choice in the matter and others just don’t care – it’s hard to find a balance between pleasure and health.  None of this new – and is one reason why I love quotes – the ancients, and people of yesteryear had  more or less the same advice as we do now!

Don’t get me wrong things are so much better now - I have joined a poetry group and the people there enjoyed my poetry (such a confidence booster) and I hope to do some poetry slams later this year; I am more active in my Source group; my twitter follows have gone up (#BelFedCol) and people are now reading my blogs more and more across the world. I have been asked to guest blog on My Name Is Not Cancer – MNINC – which is a great honour as it is such a good organisation and great site for all people suffering from cancer ( and can be found on Facebook as well ) –  this should also help to discipline, hone and develop my writing skills.  

A friend is running the “Race for Life” next week with my name on her t-shirt and I will be there supporting her come rain or shine all decked out in pink – watch this space for a video my son has promised to do! 

We watched the Olympic Flame go through town on Friday getting up extremely early (well for me anyway) and despite the rain the atmosphere and community spirit was fantastic (my son did a great video of the event of which I am very proud of and can be found on - please excuse the MW3 and Mine craft vids if you decide to investigate and you are not a gamer!) and realised what a great town, community and country I live in. Although not watching any of the Olympic sports in the stadium and despite the money the country has spent on the games which we can ill-afford, and the tremendous corporate spin on them I do hope to make it to the marathon and visit the Olympic Park to soak in some of the atmosphere – I am just hoping the rain will stop by then! After the wettest June on record, and July going the same way, two weeks of sun and no rain will be bliss! 

Finally although I haven’t been back to work for that long I am looking forward to a week’s holiday at the end of July in North Devon to see my father – it’s been nearly two years since I last made that trip and several years actually going somewhere on holiday!
I am spending more quality time with my son – admiring and taking an interest in the videos he is creating and doing this going a long way to maintaining a good relationship (although I have absolutely no interest in WM3 or Mine Craft and so takes an effort) – just need some more work to encourage him to be more active in doing those little handy jobs around the flat - things like putting the pictures up on the walls that have been just sitting there since we moved in (April)!   

We now have two cats with lovely strong loving personalities – one is a 15 week old kitten (Jellybean) and the other is a 20 month rescue cat (Dave) - they help me manage my stress levels by the entertainment they provide, the calmness of a cat purring on your lap and worrying instead about something more than how I am going to pay a bill, if my insurance claim will come in so I will be able to afford to get carpets for the flat before winter sets in, a new TV as ours in on its way out – the fridge freezer looks as if it may go kaput any day now too, those new trainers my son needs and getting my washing dry!  

I still know that I have so much compared to so many around the world and am so grateful to the free National Health that we have in our country (although taxes do go some way in paying for it), how good the cancer treatment was that I received and has made me realise just how lucky I am in this regard and here in the UK we should both support and protect the NHS rather than moaning about it all the time! It has also made think what cancer treatment is available to those poorer countries in the world.

For those with cancer reading this - how are you coping in your recovery period - like cancer treatment itself reactions and our journeys are different yet many issues stay the same.

 “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”. Emile Coue

“Live in rooms full of light
Avoid heavy food
Be moderate in the drinking of wine
Take massage, baths, exercise, and gymnastics
Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water
Change surroundings and take long journeys
Strictly avoid frightening ideas
Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements
Listen to music.”
~A. Cornelius Celsus (25 BC)

“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
  Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

 “When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no "I'll start tomorrow."  Tomorrow is disease.”  Terri Guillemets

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd druther not”  Mark Twain 

“Sleep, riches, and health to be truly enjoyed must be interrupted.” - Johann Paul Friedrich Richter

No comments:

Post a Comment