Such a lot has happened since my last blog post. Now is not the time to explore it. Despite my numerous promises (and sincere intention to follow through), I’m just not quite ready to reveal what happened in Bali although I have copious photos and even a video series. The reality is that I haven’t fully integrated the experience. What is happening now is not separate from it. It’s simply a continuation.
But in a nutshell, once I started eating again, the cancer took off. I filled up with fluid and by Christmas, I looked nearly 42 weeks pregnant and things were grim. There were small improvements from time to time, but nothing sustainable. In the end, if I was to live, I had to open my heart and my mind to what conventional medicine had to offer.
And it’s working. Everything I’m doing, and done, is giving me an excellent response.
So here I am half-way through treatment … again. It feels a little strange. It’s exactly 4 years since I started this blog. And I was half way through treatment then too. There’s some synergy there.
Happy birthday to Essentially Being (on 13 April)!
While I’m just being again.
The real joy is that I am actually inspired to write. After writing prolifically for 3 years, it was devastating last year to have all inspiration just wash out of my body. I’ve tried to write but it just wouldn’t happen.
Anyway, here we are. And today, I’m going to share my chemotherapy survival kit. Why? Because the other day I walked into my haematologist’s room and he said that my bloods had gone up “even with chemo“.
Which means my body is doing something right. Actually, lots right.
The things I’ve listed below are helping but I also believe that nothing is wasted by the Universe. My body has been prepared for healing by the fasting I did last year. It has been cleaned out and my immune system generally has been rebooted.
The treatment I’m having is known as R-CHOP, a standard treatment for follicular lymphoma. Nothing novel this time. No trials. In fact, I have recently found out that things went terribly wrong on the trial I was on previously and I was very lucky I withdrew – my intuition was incredibly clear that I didn’t want that drug anymore (post here).
R-CHOP is administered in 3-weekly cycles. As I write, I’m 1 week away from the next round. And yes, this time I’ve lost hair. Not all of it – I have plenty to spare – but enough for scarves, hats and a wig.
Here are the essential items in my chemo-survival kit:
* Love – your prayers and meditations and messages of support are the cornerstone of my healing. Thank you. And apologies if I never responded. Believe me when I say I just couldn’t. But they brought much love to my heart.
And I can’t begin to describe the physical assistance I’ve been given. My husband and so many family members and friends, doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself while I slept.
I’m also loving myself. To ensure I keep my messages to me supportive, uplifting and encouraging, I listen to Louise Hay and Abraham-Hicks while I’m out walking or at night if I can’t sleep.
(Can I just say that it was somewhat confronting to see how nastily I could speak to myself, when I most needed my own compassion? May that never happen again!)
* Fresh or frozen ginger juice – even though I have been given about 4 different anti-nausea medications (all with the requisite side-effects), ginger is ultimately the best thing for nausea (even according to one of the doctors) so I drink as much of it as possible. Making ice cubes of it means that I can throw 4 or 5 into a jar and take it to chemo with me to sip on during the day.
* Icy poles made of fresh juice – along with chemo comes a burning sensation – mouth, fingers, toes are all affected. I didn’t have this last time so it’s new to me. The hospital offers lemonade icy poles but all that processed sugar can’t be good for someone with cancer. I would rather have the natural sugars of my fruit and vegetables. If you don’t believe there is a difference between refined or processed sugars and natural sugars, check out this recent blog post by Ian Gawler here.
* Slippery elm powder and/or aloe vera juice – Because chemo basically rips apart all the intestinal lining, eating solid food can hurt. I had terrible pain digesting food after the first round of treatment and a very wise woman suggested these. I alternate between the two but take one, half an hour before I eat. No pain.
* Pancreatic enzymes – as we age, most of us find digesting food gets harder and harder because we produce less hydrochloride acid to help break foods down. We also don’t produce as many enzymes. So I take enzymes with most meals these days. I wouldn’t recommend it if I was well. But again, these guys have saved my life. I have minimal discomfort when eating.
* Fruit – each day, I break my fast with fresh fruit. The berries lately have been amazing. I find fruit the easiest food to digest and to help get things moving.
* Plant-based diet – I’m eating lots of plants. I have days when I crave bowls of steamed silver beet or chard or broccoli (with garlic and lemon juice) – high in protein and iron. It’s time for me to make a confession. Many people have been surprised at how enthusiastically I embraced the principles of a plant-based lifestyle. And this is why.
In the two years leading up to my original diagnosis (see this post), I gave up sugar and fell for the “eat fat and protein” push. So all processed sugar was gone but in its place, I increased my intake of animal products particularly dairy (full fat) and red meat (protein). In the first 3 months, I lost 10 kg. The rest of my excess weight stayed. At the end of that 2 year period, I had stage 4 cancer. Now, that might not speak to you but it speaks volumes to me.
While I’ve had the odd egg or piece of calves’ liver to give me a boost, I remain a very firm advocate for a plant strong diet with lots of fiber and antioxidants. And we know that most of us don’t consume the daily recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables (see the numbers in this post). Nowhere near it! If you want to know more, I wrote about transitioning to a plant-based diet and the reasons that meat and dairy are not so good for us, here. I’ve also just seen the film What the Health which confirms the science and the inherent conflicts in the food industry.
If you are worried about getting enough protein, just check in with a cow, elephant, gorilla or giraffe and ask them where they get their protein (from plants) or read this here.
* Exercise – there is just so much research out there that shows that exercise helps overcome the fatigue associated with chemo and helps to rebuild the immune system. Weights can be great although they are not for me or the cancer I have. I’m walking for at least 30 minutes a day (since I’ve been able to walk again which I wasn’t when I started treatment) and doing some gentle yoga a few times a week. I’m also rebounding which is great for the lymphatic system. I’ve written about that before here.
* High-dose Vitamin C – each week I’ve been having high-dose infusions of Vitamin C, up to 60 grams a go. A gene test I had last year confirmed that the Vitamin C is cytotoxic against the cancer to an efficiency of about 45%.
And after I have the infusion, I watch the mass in my belly go down. Literally.
What I have been told is that Vitamin C attacks the cancer cells from a different angle to the chemo. And recent research here confirms that not only might it help to reduce disease load, but also assist in the recovery from treatment. Unfortunately, if we digest high doses, our bodies respond with diarrhoea so it has to be administered intravenously.
IV Vitamin C is not recommended by my treating doctors but is an approach advocated by nutritional specialists. As long as I don’t have it in the 48 hour window before and after chemo, the cancer doctors don’t have an opinion (although it might be “interesting”).
* Meditation – it goes without saying. Why? I wrote about it in this post here. We can’t heal when the stress response is on. Only when we’ve activated the relaxation response. And I use imagery to see myself as well and the various substances working to clear my body of cancer and create new healthy cells. Don’t forget to sign up for this blog and you’ll get a free relaxation download.
* Coffee enemas – yes, I’m still doing them. In a recent interview, Ian Gawler was asked about coffee enemas. He said that he found it frustrating that people always want to know about them but no one seems to take them seriously enough for research purposes. The bottom line is that I feel better when I do them. I’ve found they reduce fatigue, nausea and pain as effectively as other things. And they help detox the chemo. For an explanation of why and how, go here.
My energy levels are not great but they are much better than they were before I started treatment. I was sleeping more than half each day.
So I’d better finish up here. To summarise, I’m going really well considering all things and I’m patiently biding my time to see what the long-term picture may or may not look like. Could be good. Could be bad. We’ll see.
Just incredibly grateful for everything that has brought me here and to be alive.
Here’s to perfect health for us all.
Be happy. Be well.
And so be it.