So, I’ll pick up where I left off after the week I was diagnosed. I got back to London from Leeds and we had a week off from the tour. I was booked in for an MRI scan to have a closer look at the tumor. I arrived early at the X-ray department and ended up chatting to Simone who was also waiting for her scan. We made a lovely connection and discovered that we had a similar outlook on life, so it was a great way to pass the time. Simone was called for her scan and I was prepped for mine. I’ve never had an MRI so honestly didn’t know what to expect.
Simone came out, sat down quietly and I awaited my turn. The nurse called me in. I climbed onto the table and was instructed to lie face down with each breast resting in a cup in the table. Once I was settled into place the platform moved into the long tube-like tunnel. It was explained that I needed to keep absolutely still all the way through so they could get clear images. I was given a headset so I would be able to hear the instructions, but this meant I could also listen to the radio which would drown out the loud thumping noises produced by the machine.
The nurse communicated that at some point into the scan she would count me down before the liquid dye is injected. This is so they can get a clearer image. I meditated, listened to the radio and kept as still as possible. She gave me a clear countdown and I felt the cold flow of liquid go up my left arm. I carried on listening to the radio and the song to take me through the final few minutes of the scan was ‘Firework.’ I thought Katy Perry was a pretty good choice for company while I lay there motionless with my breasts cupped. Girl Power!!
Besides the MRI that was booked for that week, I also had an audition to prepare for and nursery rhymes to learn for an upcoming recording, before I packed for our week in Cardiff in Wales.
Monday consisted of my usual appointment at the hospital in the morning and my audition in the afternoon. I didn’t want to run late for my audition, so I prepped everything so I could go straight from the hospital to the audition. I dressed for comfort that day. After a long wait and a discussion with my doctor I was sent down for another ultrasound, 4 biopsies and more mammograms. The biopsies were messy that day and quite painful, but the nurse helped clean me up, I put on my white t shirt and she wished me well for my audition. I hopped on the bus, found somewhere to have lunch while I ran over my audition sides and song and then made my way to the audition venue.
I don’t dwell on things, but I did have a moment on the bus thinking how odd it felt to go from a messy biopsy at the hospital to an audition on the same day. It seemed surreal, but I had made the decision to carry on with life, so that’s what was happening.
Nick Winston, who had directed me in Annie in South Africa was on the audition panel, so I offered my left side for a gentle hug hello and was genuinely happy to see him and to be in the room. The team were great and I had fun and once I was done, my next focus was to get home and pack to leave for Cardiff in the morning.
I woke up early and I made my way to the station. I packed light again so as to avoid too much discomfort after the biopsies. From the station in Cardiff, I caught a cab to my digs and was greeted by my host who showed me to a delightful little bedroom that was to be the most comforting space for me that week. I adored it on sight! Next, I had to find the theatre, so I packed my bag and began my walk.
The Wales Millennium Centre is a rather impressive complex. This was one of the larger, more modern theatres on our tour and I have to say, as I stood on the stage looking out into the auditorium, I wondered how I would manage to fill that huge space with my energy. I was beginning to feel tired that week, for a number of reasons. I had undergone a complete change in my diet and had committed to a 24 hour water fast once a week which I’d started on the Friday in my week off so perhaps that’s why I was feeling drained. I was on a massive detox!
We finished our tech rehearsal and I went in search for food. I found the Wagamama which was a short walk from the theatre. I was on a mission with my diet and under no circumstances was willing to compromise on anything. I explained my situation to Christian, the manager of Wagamama and he immediately took charge. He compiled a menu that included 3 options, took me to meet the head chef so he knew the protocol and I left with a dry, alkaline based salad and freshly squeezed juices to see me through the first show. In the beginning, my diet basically consisted of only alkaline fruits and vegetables with no added extras of any kind. No caffeine, sugar, diary, wheat or soy, which may seem drastic, but it was the choice I made. The staff at Wagamama in Cardiff were incredible that week in supporting me and adjusting their menu.
Wagamama wasn’t the only thing supporting the changes I’d made. A few days before I left for Cardiff, I received two emails from friends introducing me to Chris Wark. He’s written a book called ‘Chris Beat Cancer.’
The email was about his ‘Square One Programme’ of 10 modules that he was releasing for free for 10 days. His first module went live the Tuesday evening that I arrived in Cardiff and his philosophy seemed aligned to mine so each night after the show, I watched the next module and took detailed notes. This meant late nights for me, but I was inspired so I continued with his modules and managed to get through the week without too much hassle.
When I look back on Cardiff, I realise how exhausted I was. My mood and energy levels were extremely low and having to find the motivation to play Stella with all of her loud and over the top craziness was a really big ask for me. On the up side, I was beginning to get on track with a slightly less radical diet, supported by the incredible research Chris had done through his journey with cancer and I felt that I was beginning to settle on the best way forward and was feeling really inspired about the change.
Here’s some food for thought and one of the lessons I’ve learned. Don’t wait for something to happen to you before you start living your best life. Chris says that a cancer diagnosis is sometimes a divine tap on the shoulder to say that you aren’t living your best life. It happens for various reasons, no doubt, but the one thing I had realized was that I certainly wasn’t looking after myself properly when it came to making the best choices with food. My commitment to healthy eating is a life-long commitment and as I’ve said over and over again, I’m probably the healthiest I have ever been.
“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” Unknown