Hello reader, it’s been a long time since my last blog. Some of you have popped me messages asking for another blog, or to check if I’m ok. So, here I am celebrating the sunshine today, on the 5th anniversary of my first cancer surgery. Happy Surgersary to me!
As you may be aware, 5 years ago, on Tuesday 12th April 2016, I was given my bowel cancer diagnosis. A week later on Tuesday 19th April I was being taken down for, my first, surgery, to remove the 1 x 2 x 7 cm tumour in my ascending colon.
I feel this 5-year anniversary needs some reflection, as I am still here, 5 years on, when doctors are amazed that I am still alive. You see, statistics for bowel cancer patients surviving 5 years is not great, especially if you’re diagnosed with stage 4 BRAF V600E mutation! Fortunately, my treatment has continued throughout COVID lockdown and my latest scan in March, revealed that I am still stable!
Instead of looking back on the hardships of the past 5 years, I would like to highlight and introduce to others, my new approaches to life since diagnosis. These enlightening and encouraging factors are largely due to holistic therapy via community help from family, friends, groups, other individuals, books and charities. I am so grateful that I was introduced to them and so I write them here, in the hope that they help others – you, perhaps – find a piece of calm in your own storm.
Firstly, if you’re feeling down about a cancer diagnosis, whether it’s for you, or a loved one, I recommend reading either ‘Radical Remission’ or ‘Radical Hope’ both written by Kelly A. Turner PhD. She also has a website https://radicalremission.com/ and a course, if you’re interested in her research on how to achieve remission. I, personally, recommend these books even if you haven’t got cancer, as they are such a breath of fresh air and positivity. These books are a guide to practical and inspirational help to promote well-being mentally, physically and emotionally, and introduces hope for your future, by improving your lifestyle and diet that may lead to a spontaneous remission and a better quality of life.
Similarly, I recommend following the inspirational Sophie Sabbage, whose books ‘The Cancer Whisperer’ and ‘Lifeshocks’ may help you face your inner fears and not feel so alone. www.sophiesabbage.com and https://www.cancerwhispering.com/ I was fortunate to attend a self-development course from the organisation ‘More To Life’ with Sophie leading the weekend, in February 2020. Her passion for life and compassion for others is awe-inspiring. https://moretolife.org/
Another self-development organisation I attended was with a company called ‘Outlook’, and likewise, the people from there want to make personal changes to improve their way of living. Or should I say, approach to living? https://www.anewoutlook.com/
The power and importance of the mind is gaining more credence and recognition. I, for one, believe the power of the mind over the body is not to be underestimated. Just ask Dr David Hamilton PhD, author of ‘How the mind can heal the body’. His book definitely opened me up to the possibility that I can influence my own cells through visualisation and meditation. https://drdavidhamilton.com/
It was when I was looking for a talk by David Hamilton, that I came across Trewfields – The World’s First Cancer Awareness & Holistic Health Festival. A concept created by Sophie Trew, who was diagnosed with blood cancer at the young age of 23, and after achieving remission through holistic approaches and research, wanted to share her knowledge of how to overcome a cancer diagnosis, by bringing together inspirational speakers for a weekend of hope to patients and loved ones. https://trewfields.com/
Another hugely important aspect of my support system has been through charities. I found help and advice from several, some nationwide, some local, all valuable. I thoroughly recommend you approach even just one, and see if it can help you too. Here are charities that have helped me: Macmillan Cancer Support, Bowel Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK, Yes To Life, Shine, Ellie’s Friends, Maggie’s Centre, Penny Brohn and The Nightingale Cancer Support Centre at Enfield. There are many more charities and organisations out there that provide help, I encourage you to find one that speaks to you.
These last 5 years have introduced me to reiki (with https://www.mel-reiki.com/ ), gong baths (with https://slavo-mir.com/ ), meditation and yoga, and more specifically the deeper meaning of yoga: connection. I have definitely become more spiritual and have embarked on a personal challenge of a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training course this year with my local pilates and yoga studio online from https://thespace2be.co.uk/ , https://www.shininglotusyoga.co.uk/
And lastly, as most people have discovered this year, there is an energy and joy to be found in nature. I have definitely benefited from walking in the woods, parks and membership-run outdoor spaces, such as the National Trust, English Heritage and the Royal Horticultural Society, which is where I went today.
I have been so very moved by the kindnesses shown me by others. Some of whom our paths have crossed just fleetingly; some walked with me for a while and then moved on, and returned still further along the path, and others who inevitably, are my constant companions. All of them – all of you – have made a difference for good in my life. I thank all of you for inspiring me, for challenging me, and for making your presence felt with your love and support. I wish you all the best. May you be happy and full of love. xx