Chemosabe Six – Finding An Old Rhythm!

Everything in the Infusion Suite ran as well as it always does.  I’m still in constant amazement at how the nurses negotiate their way around so much responsibility and they carry it all with such care and grace. Thursday was a chemo and Herceptin day and Alison took brilliant care of me while patients breezed in and out. I’m in a routine now with everything so it all runs like clockwork and Netflix has become a great companion as I work my way through all that’s on offer. I’ve had some great suggestions from Sophie and Sivan so if you need any recommendations, I’m your girl 🙂

I popped in to say hello to Fortune on my way out and decided to walk the journey home. As I left the hospital, an older lady with a walking stick turned back as if to say something to me. I asked if she was ok, but I think she was actually talking to herself. Anyway, once I’d made contact, we were locked into a conversation. She moved at a very, very slow pace, but this actually suited me fine as I wasn’t about to run a marathon myself. We chatted all the way up to the main road and I saw her to her bus stop. I generally love talking to people and have always enjoyed interactions with elderly folk in particular. She was a dear, dear lady. We said goodbye and I set off for home.

On the way back, I stopped into a bicycle shop to have a browse and see what was on offer. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, it was just a spontaneous decision. I’ve always loved riding and had a bike throughout my childhood. My sister and I used to ride to school and around the neighbourhood growing up in Zimbabwe. I remember staying very close to her as we crossed Samora Machel Avenue together. She was my safety and my guide. I’m not sure why I went inside to look. Perhaps to break the monotony of the walk home from the hospital, who knows?

I got in and Jono and Baz were home, so I told them about the bikes and we had a quick catch up chat. Jono was about to spend some time on his drum kit practicing. He’s a professional drummer who does loads of gigs and teaches kids to play drums. I’ve been to one of his gigs with Jen and he’s incredible to watch. I had asked him a while ago if he would mind taking me for a few lessons when he has a gap, which he rarely does and he had agreed. He offered up the time and I accepted 🙂

I played drums for five years in high school which wasn’t exactly yesterday.  My sister Heidi was the lead drummer, but when she left school, they’d need a replacement so I had been trained up to take her place. We had an incredible time being a part of the school band. We had band practice before assembly most mornings and often times in the evenings. We even traveled a little with the band for concerts and competitions. It’s definitely a happy memory for me and something I’d always thought I’d like to pick up again at some point, purely for the pleasure of it.

I sat behind the kit, picked up a set of sticks and Jono took me through some of what I’d forgotten and slowly, it started to come back and make sense. We worked through a song, then another and then a couple more. I felt nervous and unsure of myself, but I carried on making the connection with each drum beat, hoping it would all come back. I have a way to go, but it’s at least a start.  It lifted my spirits like I can’t explain and took me back to when I was a young girl in a brown school uniform sitting at the back of the orchestra, behind a drum kit playing with all the confidence in the world. Thank you Jono!!!

I couldn’t wait to tell people what had just happened. I was beyond excited. I’d forgotten it had been a day at the hospital. There was one more thing to do that I had been neglecting for a while. I opened my laptop, found the information I needed and sent an email inquiry about attending a ballet class at a church just down the road from me. Jen had kindly saved the info for me and will hopefully tiptoe into class with me one day soon. Yay Jen!! I went to sleep with a really happy heart 🙂

Friday came with a few health challenges, but I got some help from my GP and basically slept most of Friday. Saturday was much the same and Sunday seemed like I was off to a good start until, midway through making breakfast, I found myself suddenly doubled over in abdominal pain and about to pass out. Jen and Jono were both on gigs, but they have incredible friends who live a few doors down. Judy and Rowan arrived in no time and took over the breakfast duty which was a huge relief to me as I really needed food. Eggs, broccoli, marmite and spinach (Popeye had the right idea), got me back up and running thanks to Judy and Rowan. You are both lifesavers, thank you!!

Still struggling with anemia, so I didn’t make my ballet class unfortunately, but I know it’s there when I’m feeling stronger which I’m sure I will. It’s really one day at a time, so it will happen when the time is right. I did have a quiet day today working on a concept that I’d like to test out when all this is over, so the day was productive despite the disappointment of missing ballet.

Right now I’m listening to the faint drum beats of one of Jono’s pupils who is having a drum lesson downstairs and Jen is practicing piano for an upcoming recording. Dynamic duo!! I live in a beautiful, bustling house of music, laughter and general good vibes 🙂

“What we play is life” – Louis Armstrong

Chemosabe Five – A Slow Walk Downhill!

It feels like I’m in a glass cage with many different faces looking in, each with a question or concern or a need to get something from me, mostly blood.

Sounds a little dramatic and I rarely indulge in drama. Trying to work out why my body is reacting the way it is, has injected a little drama into my life of late. I won’t mention all the details as it’s deeply personal. Is it the chemo? Is it hormonal, or both? Could it be something else relating to something else, relating to, I don’t know?

My body has no idea what it is meant to do or not meant to do at the moment. I think what it does want, or mentally, what I need, is time out. I don’t know if I can handle another conversation about what may or what may not be functioning as it used to. It’s all getting a little intrusive, but that’s nobody’s fault.

Last week, the only day I had away from a hospital was Tuesday and even though my experiences at the hospitals are positive, I am feeling like I’m completely over it at the moment. To the nurses in the Infusion Suite who are now following my blog, I will always look forward to seeing you!!

I had mentioned before that my haemoglobin count had been jumping around since last week and after being told that it had dropped even lower, it was recommended that I have a blood transfusion, which I agreed to have last Friday. We still can’t get it to settle, but fingers crossed that it does 🙂

The transfusion itself was straight forward and the whole experience was very pleasant. I was at a different hospital and was looked after by Om and Anthea who were both completely brilliant and caring. As the first bag was set up, I directed my thoughts towards the fact that I was receiving life blood from some lovely soul out there. I’ve always given blood, but now I was on the other side. I felt deeply grateful.

The first bag took 3 hours. I was mostly on my phone responding to messages coming in from various sources so I was very distracted, but feeling fairly upbeat. The time went by in a flash. Anthea hung up the second bag which would take another 2 hours. Again, I inwardly expressed my gratitude. Anthea remarked that my cheeks were starting to look rosier which was music to my ears, but I wasn’t feeling any different. The second bag emptied as quickly as the first so I packed up, said thank you and wished everyone a good day and made my way slowly out the building and down the road to find the closest station to get a train home.

For most of last week, my steps felt laboured, my breathing shallow and overall, I wasn’t my usual quick paced self. It took a while to get to the station, but once I was on the train I just sat. I got off at my stop, had some stairs to climb and walked back to the house like someone I didn’t recognise.

For the entire weekend I felt like I was sitting with someone I didn’t know. My thoughts and curiosity escalated and I began to wonder about who had given me their blood and what it may mean to have someone else’s DNA flowing through my body. I know it seems unkind, but I actually felt like there was an imposter in my body. I know that’s unfair and extreme, but it unhinged me a little. I honestly wasn’t feeling like myself and all I was able to do was sleep. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ve stopped over thinking it at least and I’m sure things will improve.

I have received so much love and support since the transfusion and over the past few days, but that too has been clouded by a feeling of not being able to communicate with anyone, especially to discuss anything relating to my bodily functions. Friends are checking in to see if I’m dancing yet. I can assure you, I’m NOT dancing.

My journey feels like it’s reached the “messy stage” and I suppose that happens for most people going through chemo. I’m not attaching too much power to that statement or even submitting to the idea that things will now get harder. I am also incredibly cognisant of the fact that there are stories and situations out there that are far more severe than mine, so what feels messy to me may be a walk in the park for someone else, but you can’t make comparisons with something like this and it’s wise not to.

I’m chewing on something new this week. I haven’t been connecting to the things that I normally do that have helped me get through so far. I’ve reached for chocolate and ice cream and have done a fair amount of venting, which I know my friends may secretly like, but isn’t usually something I do.

I made a statement a while ago that my body now belongs to medicine. While I was lying down doing some visualisations yesterday, I was reminded that we are not our bodies. All of these emotional reactions in the last week, although justified are not the fullest expression of me. My deepest “knowing” is on a soul level. That’s where the answers lie, and the unconditional love and comfort is and the clear realisation that everything is ok in my world regardless of what is happening or not happening with my body. I was glad for the reminder.

To those in my inner circle who embraced me and my tears, called at the right time with perfect advice, or let me vent and then gave me space, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I won’t mention names as I’d worry that I miss someone out, but you know who you are.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but I do feel slightly recalibrated by all of this so let’s see what unfolds in the second phase of my treatment. You can’t have any expectations with this can you? That would be a huge mistake to make.

Tomorrow is my sixth chemo treatment and third Herceptin injection.  Long way still to go with Herceptin, but half way there with the chemo!

I’m not my usual happy, energetic self, but high five anyway 🙂

How Kindness And Community Have Inspired Me To Push Through!

With my haemoglobin count being low last weekend, I was asked to have extra blood tests this week, so on Monday I set off slowly to the hospital. I wouldn’t say I felt ill, but I was definitely low on energy, short of breath, had aching muscles all over which had kept me awake a little the night before, my face was starting to resemble that of a teenager starting puberty and my hair was coming out all over the place.

Yay!!!!! Good morning world and a great start to the week 🙂

I made my Green Smoothie, took loads of supplements and set off uphill to the bus stop. I felt like I was dragging myself along or as one of the nurses, Alison calls it, walking through porridge, but it’s not a long walk. Once the bus stops at the main road it’s another 13 minute walk to the hospital and on that stretch I was wondering if I should cancel my afternoon plans. Sophie and I were scheduled to buy a wig, so I had one ready in case things escalated. I fancied the idea of getting into bed rather, as every move felt like such an effort, but I immediately told myself to push through.

At the hospital, the nurse took bloods, did a picc line dressing change and while she was busy we chatted about her dog Woody and hair loss. Dee advised me to perhaps not act too prematurely in case it stops falling out and as it’s falling out evenly, you can’t see a difference. There is just no way of telling how things may go. She gave me perfect advice.

I actually had a wonderful hairdresser of Jens on standby to either give me a pixie cut or the shave this week, so I contacted Fraser to tell him that he was off the hook, for now.

I sent Sophie a message to check on our plans, but her day had changed so we rescheduled, which meant I had the afternoon free.

I decided to pop into Natural Health North Finchley, which is the health shop that I’ve been going to since my diagnosis. It’s a great store filled with so much goodness, including the people who run it. It’s a beautiful thing to connect with people, especially like-minded people. I walked into the shop and we all greeted one another with big smiles. I haven’t seen them since I started chemo. Jay has been following my blog which is really awesome of him. We had a catch up about a few things while I was browsing around collecting supplies. Whenever I’ve needed any input about supplements, body products or foods, Jay and Erdi have bent over backwards to provide the best advice to support my own research and choices. I’ve learned so much from them both and really appreciate their generosity of spirit and support. I feel like I’m a part of a little community of people here in London, all looking out for one another, which really makes me feel taken care of and inspired to be here.

I had a few other things I needed to get and Jay had told me that I should pop over the road and go through a little alleyway that I hadn’t seen before, to get one of the items on my list. I left Natural Health and walked slowly through the alleyway. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to discover something wonderful!

I’d been looking for the right gift for someone very dear to me and as I opened the door I knew I was about to find it. Marissa greeted me straight away and wasted no time in explaining the lay-out of her magical treasure trove called ‘Recycled Inspirations.’ I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick browse, as everything I laid my eyes on was calling for my attention. I had nowhere else to be, so I put my backpack down in a corner and continued walking around the shop, with Marissa as my tour guide. She was aware that I was looking for something specific and led me to the perfect display cabinet, so once I’d chosen each item carefully we continued bonding. She asked if I was South African and as it turns out, she was born in Johannesburg. What a lovely realization and what an incredibly special lady she is. She even gave me beautiful healing crystal as a gift. I left on a high with an even stronger sense of community that was growing by the second 🙂

Tuesday arrived and I was expecting a delivery from a very special friend who had messaged me on Friday offering support if I needed it. Specifically, she wanted to send me some meals to “make things easier for me”, she had said. How incredible!! I sometimes marvel at the timing of things because this wonderful gesture came in the week that I would be at the house alone, which meant I wouldn’t have the luxury of home cooking thanks to Jen or Jono. It also came in the week where I was actually feeling quite vulnerable and exhausted so I accepted the help. Lara’s message to me mentioned sending a “little parcel”, but what arrived were several parcels which included healthy vegan pastas, organic soups, fresh juices and she’d even thrown in a tub of organic vanilla ice cream, organic biscuits and Green & Black’s Organic dark chocolate collection!! I felt like a giggling child as I unpacked it all and lay it out on the kitchen counter. I called her straight away to thank her. Lara Bunting, you are an absolute angel to have spoiled me this week with your thoughtfulness and care and your request for me to “lean in” if I needed any help. I certainly did need help this week and I am so grateful for you.

Tuesday was definitely the highlight of the week. After the food delivery, Sophie and I had a lovely catch up and browse around ‘Crisis’ which is an awesome charity shop across from the wig place. We went to collect the wig we’d chosen weeks ago only to discover it wasn’t in stock, but clever Sophie spotted an even better one from across the room, so now I have a gorgeous brunette wig, thanks to you Sophie. See you now now!!

Back at the hospital this morning (Wednesday) for more blood tests to see how I’m doing before chemo tomorrow and the possibility of a blood transfusion is still being mentioned as I’m probably at my lowest in terms of symptoms and the haemoglobin count is climbing very slowly. Despite the fatigue, I decided to walk the entire trip back to the house and leave the bus altogether. I honestly think it’s the best idea to challenge yourself and push through, even when you feel you may be at your lowest. The walk home was invigorating.

I am now resting in bed and the plan for the day involves good eating, thanks to Lara, maybe a nap and hopefully lots of writing. I’m trying to keep momentum with these blogs, but sometimes the day takes me in the opposite direction.

Let’s see what the rest of the week holds, but so far, this week has surpassed my expectations and increased my sense of “belonging.”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

Chemosabe Four – New Faces And Perspectives!

I was contacted the day before my chemo treatment this week which is usually on a Thursday, to ask if I would mind having my treatment of Friday. The nurse explained that the pharmacy that makes my chemo shuts down once a month and my mixture hadn’t been made on time before the shut down. I was so happy to know that I’d be able to have the treatment, it didn’t make any difference what day it was.

Of course going into the Infusion Suite on a different day means new faces and it didn’t take long to get to know the lovely people around me that day. Sophie had offered me a few Netflix recommendations for the hours I’d need to be entertained, but I didn’t really need them as the room was quite chatty and I actually love the nurses in the ward and have such admiration for what they do, so I sometimes just sit and watch and take it all in. They don’t stop!

I arrived with a few concerns. Without going into too much detail and embarrassing anyone who isn’t comfortable, this chemo was timed in the same week as my monthly womanly “stuff”, should we say. I explained to the nurses that I was experiencing a rather different and demanding few days and so once my bloods were taken, they sent an extra sample off to check my haemoglobin levels.

I quickly got into the routine of waiting for the cold cap machine to warm up, observations were done, then I wet my hair to get ready for the cap and half an hour into the cap, my chemo began its hour long drip.

Conversations flew around the room and I slowly got to know the predicament of the other patients around me. Some were back for a fourth round of chemo, some were terminal, but in general, their spirits were incredibly high and I found being around them to be incredibly inspiring and insightful. There was even  a birthday celebration for one of the patients, so we heard the nurses singing in the room next door. It felt quite special.

As is often the case at the hospitals, they also have a wonderful person offering massages to patients. I remember after my second surgery a young girl came into our ward and massaged my feet and legs. It was heavenly. On Friday, Carina, who has massaged me before, very kindly took care of my neck and back, which often needs some TLC and then my feet. We had a lovely discussion about all sorts of things. Just a beautiful energy she has!!

Before I knew it, the chemo bag was empty and all that was left was another hour of the cold cap. Another hour!!!! Shew, I was actually finding that quite daunting on Friday I have to say. I was shivering for the first time, so a nurse brought me two blankets and helped me wrap my bedspread/scarf around my neck to try and keep me warm. Such kindness and care from all of the nurses there. I really am in such awe of what they do!

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that during my last hair wash which was on Tuesday this week, quite a bit of hair has begun to come out. I called Jen upstairs to show her and presented it to her like a surprise birthday cake. Funny how you think you may have an issue with something and it’s just not how you react when it actually happens. I watched with intrigue as the basin got fuller and fuller with my lovely brown locks. It was strangely exciting to me!

Now you’re all really going to think I’m a nutcase, but that’s honestly my reaction. Perhaps I struggled with the cold cap as a result of some hair loss?

Who knows? And who knows what the end result will be, but either way, I think I’m up for the adventure and change. It’s coming out evenly with no bald patches so you actually wouldn’t even notice a difference as I do have quite a bit of hair to begin with. Watch this space 🙂

So just before I left the hospital, we got the results of my haemoglobin tests and I was told that they were 8.5. A normal count is 11 so I was told to contact my GP to get an emergency appointment, which I managed to do. I left the hospital, went back to the house for a quick green smoothie and then made my way to the clinic down the road just before closing time. This was turning into a rather long day. I met my lovely GP who did various tests and we chatted about everything. He explained that if my haemoglobin count was 8, I would need a blood transfusion and told me what to look out for over the weekend. He gave me medication to begin straight away and so I went directly to the pharmacy for the supplies and home for supper. I’d been out since early that morning and made it back in the dark. Not a bad chemo day…

Besides taking the medication, I did a massive juice that night and did more juicing today (Saturday). I juiced an entire broccoli, besides loads of other fruits and vegetables. I’ve had a pretty chilled day writing at home which I’ve enjoyed and am actually feeling quite good!

I AM NOT GOING TO A & E THIS WEEKEND FOR A BLOOD TRANSFUSION!!!!

My haemoglobin levels are rising as we speak!!!

Got it? Good 🙂

Healthy, Happy Food That Heals!

What began as a very stringent diet plan has evolved and softened over the past months, according to how I feel from day to day and what I think my body needs. More than ever, I am very connected and in tune with myself so if I feel like cheating, then I allow myself a small indulgence, but for the most part I remain very committed to making the best decisions for my overall health and recovery. Healing is my first priority 🙂

“Every bite you eat has the potential to promote health in your body or disease, depending on choices.” – Author Unknown    

Most of what I’ll share here is research provided by Chris Wark, who survived his own cancer diagnosis and has written a book called ‘Chris Beat Cancer.’ I highly recommend that you find his website or follow him on Facebook. He’s very passionate about all of this and prevention is everything when it comes to cancer, so he will be the best source of information and will show you the way.

From my perspective, the first thing I wanted to do was detox my body and cut out anything that would cause the cancer to grow.

I loved my coffee as most people do, but quitting caffeine was something I was prepared to do. Coffee and sugar go together for me so there was no question that I would let them both go and it’s a known fact that sugar feeds cancer. Sugar just doesn’t feature anywhere in my diet, unless it’s coconut sugar which is an ingredient in my organic dark chocolate.

Dairy and wheat were also tossed out and meat was never a part of my diet to begin with. I have been vegetarian for many years.

Raw organic fruit and vegetables were the best options and because I wanted a really strong detox, I researched what was acidic and what was alkaline, tossed out the acidic stuff and my new diet in the first couple of weeks was all alkaline foods only. Added to this was a 24 hour water fast once a week. Water fasts become easier the more you do them and I felt incredible the day after a fast. I highly recommend them. Paramahansa Yogananda says fasting recalibrates the body and therefore the mind.

I’ve made a list of some of the foods Chris recommends, but his recommendations are probably more thoroughly laid out in his book.

Garlic – most powerful anti cancer vegetable. It stops cancer growth

Leeks, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage are all powerful anti cancer vegetables

Broccoli sprouts  and oregano are potent for cancer

Mushrooms – significant anti cancer effects especially for breast cancer

Carrots – inhibits cancer growth

Celery, parsnips, parsley, coriander, cilantro, ginseng – all have anti cancer properties

Beets – high in antioxidants and carotenoids which protect from cancer

Ginger- powerful anti oxidant which shrinks tumors and blocks the formation of tumor blood vessels

Turmeric is one of the best anticancer spices

Curcumin has the ability to block every stage of cancer development

Cayenne pepper and hot spicy food is good for cancer

Bananas and grapefruit cut cancer growth by 40%

Red grapes, strawberries, lemons, cranberries and apples are also potent

These were from the notes I made while I was on tour. I hope they are accurate. The list goes on and on so I would suggest that you find Chris online or buy his book.

“Eat fruits and vegetables. Food from the earth. No meat, wheat, sweets or anything that comes from a teat.” – Chris Wark

Here is the basic diet I’ve been following. I have adapted it here and there according to how I’m feeling and what I’m able to put together. Most of my fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, powders and oils are organic.

My Green Smoothie (you need a blender for this)

Banana, strawberries, blueberries, apple, ginger, organic oats, linseeds, chai and hemp seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, olive oil, organic protein powder, turmeric, chaga mushroom and chlorella powder. I add half water and half almond milk and top it off with watercress and spinach. 

It’s delicious and filling! I have this every day if I can.

Juicing

This is so beneficial and besides Chris recommending it, there is a lot of research and support out there for juicing. I was lucky enough to receive the best juicer on the market as a gift from someone very special. Thank you Ben!!

I juice, carrots, cucumber, ginger, celery, apple, pear, beetroot, oranges, kale, spinach, broccoli, red cabbage or pineapple. You can juice anything really. I choose a different combination each time and add olive oil into the mixture afterwards and I try to do this at least 3 times a week or more.

Chris has his Square One Juice Formula which you can probably find on line and of course there is also the Gerson Green Juice Formula and the Breuss Juice Formula.

My Salad is a basic green salad adding in avocado, olives, kimchi, sauerkraut, garlic, leeks, nuts, seeds and chickpeas. I drown it in olive oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil or avocado oil and often add hummus into it. I make a massive salad 🙂

For dinner I would steam or cook a wide variety of vegetables and add quinoa, organic brown rice or lentils and lots of turmeric, hummus and olive oil into the mix.

Chris recommends his Giant Cancer Fighting Salad every day for lunch and dinner. He also says you can blend your salad and make a soup for variation.

In terms of alternatives, I use coconut and almond milk instead of milk. I don’t have any dairy.

My coffee alternative is Mindfuel which is basically roasted chicory root and maitake mushrooms which is naturally caffeine free and looks just like coffee.

I drink a variety of herbal teas, particularly Rooibos which has great healing properties and most importantly, I drink lots of water.

I allow myself a cheat every now and then. My idea of cheating is a decaf flat white with coconut milk and a piece of dark chocolate:)

As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to my body and go with the flow of everything so if I feel like a Spag Bowl, then that’s what I have  … and it just so happens, that’s exactly what Jen’s making for us for dinner tonight. Thanks Jen!!

Happy place 🙂

I Hope I’m Not In The Way, But Please Could You Pass The Packet Of Chocolate Digestives!

Before you read further, I am in no way saying that my poor eating habits are the cause of me getting cancer. It’s firmly in the family genes and as I’ve said before, there are many reasons behind a cancer diagnosis.

I was recently asked if I would be prepared to share my current diet. I’m happy to share more than my diet as I think that there is such a psychology behind food and how we nurture ourselves with it or choose not to.

For me it’s not only the food choices that you make, it’s also about how you connect mentally to the food you prepare and eat that makes all the difference, or so I’ve discovered.

When I lived on my own in my little apartment in South Africa, food was never an issue for me. Besides having a massive sweet tooth and easily finishing a packet of sweets or a slab of chocolate in one sitting, I was on a good innings when it came to planning healthy meals each day. When I gave up my home to travel on tour for nearly three years with The Sound of Music, things changed. Perhaps that’s when the cycle began. I was fortunate enough to stay with family and friends in between tours and so I got the benefit of home cooking for a couple of weeks before I set off on the road again. A huge thank you to my aunt Lynndy who makes the tastiest meals, Ricky and her mom Ina for their incredible food and all the laughter we had in the kitchen together, my JenBen in Cape Town – I miss our rusks and coffee in the morning  and anyone else who cooked a delicious meal for me over that time. Thanks for the spoils 🙂

Moving to London definitely escalated the problem. I was in survival mode in the first year, so nurturing my body wasn’t exactly a priority. I was more focused on getting through the day and spending as little money as possible, as I wasn’t earning very much.

I was also sleeping in the living room, on a sleeper couch in a gorgeous little flat, with my brother Ash and his girlfriend Cazz, who is now his wife and my sister. Yay!!! Cazz makes delicious vegetarian food and can turn anything into a meal from the Gods. They would often, very generously invite me to eat with them and sometimes I would.  Mostly, I didn’t want them to feel the need to include me in their dinners and I wanted them to have quality time for one another at the end of a long day at work.

Another concern was taking up space in their fridge.  None of these issues were theirs, I was the problem 🙂 Love you both millions for taking such good care of me in those first 6 months.

This is a big part of my realization since my diagnosis. I don’t feel comfortable taking up space in someone else’s home. I don’t want to be in the way and often find myself apologizing in case I am. This is a longstanding and rather deep layer from my childhood which has taken a while to work through, but I’m peeling back those layers thankfully.

With all this in mind, I would grab sandwiches or pastries after work and because my job as a telephone fundraiser was rather depressing, I drank one cup of coffee after another. It was one sugar with every cup of coffee and on tough days I could knock back at least 5 cups or more. Then I’d get home and have tea and chocolate digestive biscuits and there was sometimes no end to that cycle.

I’m sure you get the picture.

The reason I’ve chosen to include all of this and not just give an outline of my diet is because I have undergone such a massive turnaround as a result of a cancer diagnosis and the end result is extremely positive and healing for me, physically, mentally and emotionally.

As I’ve mentioned before in my writing, I live with a wonderful family who have shown such support and generosity. I take up space in their kitchen. I have my own drawer in the fridge, which, if you can believe it, I asked for. That alone is a miracle and a sign of growth. I have my own shelf in the cupboard and even though I still ask most days if I’m in someone’s way, it’s out of politeness and not because I’m feeling guilty for being there. Jen very kindly asked if I would like to eat with the family at dinner times which was extremely helpful after my surgeries and now, while I’m going through chemo, is one less stress for me. I said yes to that too! Yay!

I have always been fiercely independent in how I manage my life so these changes are all a part of me learning to let go and receive. Being grateful is an understatement.

What was supposed to be a short explanation and introduction to sharing my diet has now turned into over 800 words, so we’ll talk ‘pomegranates’ on the next blog 🙂

Make good food choices today…and every other day! You won’t regret it!

Chemosabe Three…And Me!

I can’t say I’m in the most inspiring space and perhaps my writing will reflect the same, but as is normally the case with me, I’m determined to carry on regardless so I won’t apologize or throw myself a pity party in the corner of the room.

It is what it is and I’m still smiling.

Since my first surgery on the 18th of October last year to the second on the 12th of December to now, there is a slight monotony to my life that I have accepted and cooperated with because I understand that this phase of my life is ultimately about healing and in order to heal, you need to allow things to happen without trying to force an outcome. Otherwise you may miss some important steps in the healing process or even regress and cause your body a disharmony if you insist that it happens in your time. Acceptance is key!

I’ve no doubt that the viral infection set me back a little and the lack of sleep certainly made things more challenging in terms of fighting it off. One thing I’m hugely grateful for is that since I had my third chemo treatment all I’ve wanted to do is sleep and nothing has stood in my way. I have slept and slept and it has been glorious 🙂

I decided to be alone for my third treatment. Sivan and Sophie offered to come and sit with me, but I actually wasn’t feeling like I wanted the company at all. The day felt a little heavier, as it was the first time I would have chemo and the Herceptin injection together on the same day and because both have side effects, I suppose it’s normal to wonder how you’ll manage. I sat by the window in the Infusion Suite which has a lovely view, unpacked my iPad and a few other things I’d need and waited for the nurse to come around and start the usual routine. We began with the Herceptin injection. Good to get that out the way.

Things unfolded rather slowly from there, but I was already stuck into the movie I’d started watching on Netflix, so besides having to break away from that to wet my hair for the cold cap, I hardly looked up and didn’t even notice that the chemo had already started to drip into my system. Tea and a sandwich came around and I carried on watching ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ which was recommended by Fortune, who works at the Costa Coffee at the hospital. He’s also from Zimbabwe and we have struck up a lovely friendship over the last few weeks. I sometimes go in for my decaf flat white with coconut milk after my treatment and we have a quick catch up.

The film is directed and written by Chiwetel Ejiofor and he also plays Trywell Kamkwamba. It’s based on a true story and is a film I’d highly recommend.

I was actually lucky enough to meet Chiwetel a few years ago when I was singing at a jazz club called Katzy’s. I was on a break and went for a walk to the hotel and bumped into a well known SA actor accompanied by Chiwetel. I’ve never forgotten his face. Anyway I digress.

If chemo and Herceptin happened that day, I was hardly aware of it. I was completely absorbed in other things. I was actually quite grateful to have recovered from the virus so I could jump back into the treatment and not delay it any further. I’m sure most patients feel like they just want to get on with it and not have any setbacks. I certainly feel that way! I packed up, thanked the nurses and then went to say hello to Fortune. I told him how much I appreciated his film recommendation and left with my decaf cappuccino (he’s been trying to convert me.)

So, Chemosabe Three, no trips to the A&E this weekend.  No extreme temperatures or long frustrating nights feeling out of sorts and worried about Sepsis. All that was on the menu for this weekend was hours and hours of long overdue sleep and deliciously good food, thanks to Jen and Jono’s wonderful cooking. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness!!

I feel like I’m in a very quiet, neutral space with no pressures or demands. It feels like I’m working through something important, but I’m not going to spend too much time thinking about it. Think I’ll just listen to the rain and go back to sleep…