Confidence, Catheters, Clothes and cancer

square me

Just over 4 years ago I was what you might call a “complete” woman.

Now, in the summer of 2014, I have had various bits of me taken away and some others added!

First of all I had a mastectomy and also some bone cement put in my vertebrae

Then there was a bit of a break until I had an Oopherectomy to remove my ovaries.

I developed Lymphodema  – not in the arm as can happen with breast surgery  – but in my left leg which goes through periods of being swollen and uncomfortable. For this I use a special taping method called “kineseotape” or I have a tight stocking on the leg.

When I got very poorly late last year with kidney and liver problems I gained a catheter to measure the amount of liquid that was going in and out of me and to make sure that my bladder was always draining.

Me Uncovered

 

All of these things mean that I have to consider what I am wearing!

I was lucky and just adapted to not wearing the  skinny jeans with t-shirts that  I had got used to with my anti-cancer diet.  (I was and still am a constant size 10 (UK)

However from conversations with  my nurses I am aware that this is not the case for everyone. So I want to show you what goes on under the clothes and what clothes I wear to distract the eye from my “additions”.

Recently I was talking to a lady called Kat, who was waxing my legs, about this post and she mentioned that her Mum wears a Stoma due to Crohns Disease. As a consequence she was wearing baggy unflattering clothes that were several sizes too big for her. Kat decided to take her Mum shopping and make her realise that she didn’t need to be “baggy” any more. And now her Mum has the confidence to wear stylish outfits that fit her properly.

I’m hoping that this post might give more catheter wearers the confidence to try other outfits than the baggy ones!

After talking with various nurses I realised that maybe not everyone deals with these challenges quite as I have done. So I thought I would “bare all” so to speak and show you what goes on with my wardrobe.

I think the general rule of thumb is to wear figure fitting clothes on top or bottom with something flowing for the other. So for instance there is a photo of me wearing Jeggings with a Flowery flowing crepe top or my ¾ length white trousers with a figure hugging white and blue top. The theme is mirrored in the various outfits you can see below.

When I get dressed in the morning I like to feel comfortable, bright and hopefully stylish!

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So, for me that has meant bright colours and fairly smart – which makes me feel confident.

Several years ago I had my colours “done” by a friend who was working for “House of Colour” and low and behold (and as I had always felt) Black wasn’t the colour for me, for me black is draining

I am a “cool summer”! Lots of lovely Sweetpea colours for me!

Ironically at the age of 40 its probably easier for me to get dressed now that I have all these “restrictions” as the outfits are clear to me in their combinations.

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Even though I had  a few “challenges” when getting dressed I quickly adapted my wardrobe to deal with this and can safely say it’s actually easier to get dressed and feel confident now.

So that’s why I asked my husband to take a few pictures of the outfits I wear.

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I’m really grateful to the talented professional photographer Lyndsey James http://www.lyndsey-james.co.uk/   http://www.photocraft.org/running-inspiration/  for hints and tips as David is more used to photographing wildlife! Also thank you to my gorgeous, talented friend Nicola http://mrswisesturt.com/ for helping me out with the graphics on this post.

Kineseotape for Lymphadema http://www.kinesiotaping.co.uk/lymphoedema/whatislymphoedema.jsp

Any comments or more tips? Post them below and lets help more people

 

Me & my daughter

 

Verityslifestyle isn’t just about food and drinks, I have a real life too! Over the next few months there are going to be a mixture of posts, recipes and food information but also more information about having and dealing with cancer, particularly Stage IV. I hope you like the additions at Verityslifestyle. If there is anything else you’d like to see go to www.facebook.com/Veritylifestyle and leave a comment or tweet me @Verityslife.

Todays post is a very personal one….

My daughter was just about to turn one when my Stage IV breast cancer was diagnosed. When we found out it had also collapsed two of my vertebrae David and I realised that I had had my cancer at least one year before when I was still pregnant with India.

Verity after mastectomy with India

I had had a “bad back” according to doctors whilst I was pregnant, when our baby was born I was unable to pick up this tiny girl and my Dad came to the rescue, helping me everyday David was at work. He helped carry her to be changed, carried her to me to feed her and walked her for miles in her pram. I struggled to breast feed India especially my left breast – guess what? this was the one with the cancer in!

From day one with our daughter things were different from most families, as usual I don’t conform to the norm.

Once I was diagnosed with cancer I was in hospital having a mastectomy then fairly soon afterwards chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a vertebraplasty (bone cement in my spine) so I was in hospital or in bed a lot rather than being what I thought a Mum should be.

Over the past 4 ½ years I have felt a lot of guilt that I couldn’t fulfil what I perceived to be the role of a Mum.

Just to reign my Mummy role in even more at the beginning of 2013 I was diagnosed with Brain metastases which meant I couldn’t drive. That knocked me for six, I couldn’t have that special time just India and I, listening to music, chatting, listening to her French CD. Or just being quiet. We are quite a noisy family so that quiet drive with India was extremely precious. It was lost. I was lost.

There have been times when I could tailor what I did with India, she loves books so that’s an easy one to do with her. I had this vision of doing crafts, painting and cooking with her, just like my amazing Mum did with me. I feel I have sort of half fulfilled this but usually my back stops play or being in hospital does.

Up until last September when I was admitted to hospital once again we were doing some baking together which I really enjoy but not really much else.

I came home from hospital just before Christmas very weak physically so felt even more guilt that I couldn’t do the things that David, Mum and Dad were doing with her.

About a week ago Mum and I had a “discussion” (we have a lot of “discussions” in our family, its the way we work, good or bad) about me not being involved with India. I was almost pushing India away, she has a great Dad, her Nanna and Pa live just 15 minutes away and are all exceptional with her. I was pleased but sad and jealous at times, if I didn’t survive (which I nearly didn’t in the Summer – another story) I wanted her to be more reliant on the rest of the family, not me. Yes I know that is ridiculous but as Justine says below you feel like a failure that you may not be around to see your child grow up.

On reflection afterwards I did realise that all I was doing with India was raising my voice, I thought I couldn’t get close because I wasn’t physically able. It was a really big turning point and since then I have given a lot of thought to what I can do with her and my general attitude toward being a Mum.

 mummy-and-daughter

I didn’t really have to do anything for things between India and I to change, I think it was just my attitude. We are much more cuddly, we talk without me getting annoyed and we “play” in whatever way I can, if I can’t manage it I explain that to her.

I have finally realised that our relationship is what I make it and it can be as close, exciting, rewarding and loving as I thought it could be just with a few adjustments and realising once again that I don’t conform to the norm and neither should you.

My good friend Justine on having cancer and a small child:

“My main feeling was one of guilt. All the attention should have been on my lovely daughter, who was just 15-months-old when I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but instead I became the focus of concern. I was very sick with chemotherapy, then surgery and radiotherapy, and trying to fit being a good mum in between all of those stresses was so difficult. There were times when I was confined to bed, vomiting and semi-delirious, with no energy for my small child. So much guilt – how can a mother be like that?! In the end we had to send her to nursery during the day, so that I could get some rest, while she received the attention and stimulation she deserved. Of course, the other great concern was that I would not live to support my child growing up. There can be few worse feelings of failure than that.
There was one silver lining, however. Her dad took an increasing role in looking after her during her early and toddler years. Now, aged 14, my daughter and her father are inseparable – there’s is such a strong bond. I don’t know if that would have happened if they hadn’t been forced together during those difficult times.”

Please let me and Justine know what you have felt emotionally having cancer and small children in the comments below. Your experiences can help other people.

Coming soon on Verityslifestyle: “How we talk to our daughter about me being ill.”

“Why I haven’t been posting recipes for a while”

“My essential kitchen equipment guide”

More healthy Anti-cancer Food, Juice and Smoothie recipes

Breast Cancer, Stage 4, Healed with Natural Therapies

This story is so inspirational and struck me as I have been following the same protocols since my diagnosis, my family and friends have also been reinvigorated by Doris’s story.
PLEASE let me know in the comments below what you think and share this with everybody – it’s fantastic!

 

“A healthy body with a healthy immune system will automatically reject any foreign materials such as cancer from the body’s system.” Ruth Sackman, from the documentary Rethinking Cancer

Back in 1975, at the age of 38, Doris Sokosh was on her death bed. Her doctors had diagnosed her with breast cancer in 1971, and now they told her there was nothing more that could be done.

For her treatments, Sokosh had endured 7 operations including a radical mastectomy, the removal of her uterus, and several skin grafts which left her leg looking like a patchwork quilt after several attempts were made to relocate skin from her leg up to her chest. Sokosh said. “The skin was unreal, the way they took the skin from my leg and it would burn and at the same time my chest would bleed and I was in such pain. I lived on pills that helped with the pain.” She also had radiation, but she was not prescribed chemotherapy because her doctors said she was too sick to be treated with it.

Several months later Doris felt a small lump in her neck that was painful and then several lumps on the right side of her abdomen were discovered. Because of this, her doctor decided to put her back into the hospital for a gastro-intestinal series. She reports that these tests were more difficult than all the previous operations, and left her very weak. In the following months her weight dropped from 135 pounds down to only 80 pounds and she became so sickly that she was unable to walk, speak or even recognize her loved ones. “I couldn’t swallow; I couldn’t urinate,” she said. “My whole body was closing down.” Norma Forcellina, Sokosh’s sister, remembers Sokosh as fragile as glass. “She couldn’t move; you couldn’t touch her,” Forcellina said. “And she wouldn’t eat. All she wanted was coffee — coffee and her pain pills.”

The cancer had now spread throughout her body, and her family was told to make the necessary funeral arrangements and prepare to say their goodbyes. But Sokosh’s husband made one last attempt to nurse his wife back to health. He had found out about an organization called the Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy, which was a nonprofit organization founded by Ruth Sackman, and dedicated to providing information to the public about the use of nutrition and detoxification-based methods to treat cancer rather than using the standard protocols of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery which can often harm the body.

Following the FACT guidelines, Sokosh’s husband began to make a fresh juice blend from carrots, apple and celery to nourish her body. She says that he spoon-fed her the juice until she was able to drink it using a straw. After a month of drinking the juices she became more coherent. She says that her eyes got stronger, and she began gaining weight again, and she was able to come off of all medications.

One year after sticking to a strict all-natural diet and detoxification therapies which included enemas, she tested negative for cancer. She adds that it was about two years before she could handle doing her normal routines again. Now, 37 years later, Sokosh is still healthy and remains cancer-free. “When I first told my doctors, they couldn’t believe I was still alive,” she said. “They said to me, you should have died. I can’t believe you’re still here.” She also says that one of her doctors had been diagnosed with cancer and began asking her for information about the program.

Sokosh attributes her health to her supportive family and friends, her strong faith, and the nourishment of her diet. Recently, Sokosh wrote a book titled, Triumph Over Cancer-My Recipes for Recovery, which is a compilation of recipes based on the nourishment plan that helped to cure her body of cancer. Sokosh said that she wrote the book for cancer patients and for people who are interested in cancer prevention. The cookbook contains recipes and preparation techniques that Sokosh discovered when she regained her strength and was able to cook for herself. She says that putting the good stuff into your body, like natural foods and juices, and keeping out the bad like stress and foods with additives, is the best way to help your body fend off disease.

She says that the idea for the book came about while hosting a dinner for FACT founder Ruth Sackman at her home in New Canaan, CT. She says that “Ruth loved the meal that she was served and insisted that I had to write this cookbook and she encouraged me throughout the process.”

dorisDoris in 2013

Ruth Sackman’s work with alternative therapies began when her daughter Arlene was diagnosed with acute leukemia. One year after her diagnosis, Arlene died after undergoing traditional chemotherapy. The loss of her daughter set Sackman on a lifelong quest to find effective, non-toxic alternative methods to treat cancer. Sackman and her husband Leon co-founded the organization together back in 1971, from their home in New York. Though she was not medically trained, she worked with thousands of cancer patients, and investigated and consulted with hundreds of practitioners and medical clinics around the globe. Sackman’s non-toxic, biological therapies have helped numerous cancer patients overcome serious illnesses like cancer and Lyme disease.

(Ruth Sackman passed away in 2008 at the age of 93.)

F.A.C.T. Diet and Therapies

The recommended diet- the rebuilding blocks begin with raw, (preferably) organic vegetables and fruits, which are taken in forms such as carrot, beet and celery juices as well as vegetable soups and salads. High quality proteins are the body’s major cell-building materials and should be uncontaminated by chemical additives, hormones or antibiotics. The diet includes proteins available from nuts, sprouts, legumes and avocados as well as animal proteins from minimally processed, organic meats, fish, poached or soft-boiled eggs. The diet also includes fermented foods like whole yogurt and raw cheese, homemade nut cheese and sauerkraut. Grains are considered a rich source of vital, nutrients and are consumed in whole, unprocessed, uncooked forms, these include rye, brown rice, barley, millet and more. An excellent method of preparing these grains is the “thermos cooking process.” Spouts such as alfalfa and radishes are one of the finest sources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as is glucose, in forms such as unprocessed raw honey and maple syrup. Select vitamin supplements can also play a role in the rebuilding process.

Detoxification-  All of us, without exception, are exposed to toxins from the day we are born, in food additives, drugs, household chemicals, cosmetics, x-ray exposure and a host of environmental pollutants. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 85% of cancers are environmentally produced, the product of such exposure. To utilize biological therapies to reverse illness, it is imperative to assist the body in the removal of toxins to restore the immune system, which is known to play an active role in preventing and fighting cancer. The FACT advocated protocol works to restore and strengthen function of the colon, kidney and liver, the prime organs of toxic elimination via the use of colonics, roughage and other detoxification procedures. The largest and most overlooked organ of elimination, the skin, is also cared for with body brushing and warm baths in Epsom salts. Also included are techniques to optimize function of the lungs and lymphatic system as well as fasting, such as the Water and Juice Fast.

Psychological healing-  There is no doubt that a patient’s psychological attitude plays a profound role in the recovery program. The FACT approach advocates a host of techniques to establish the psychological framework to support healing, including stress management, meditation, biofeedback along with counseling to optimize the patient-family/caregiver relationship

Physical -The goal is to strengthen host resistance. Attention must be paid to normalize, as much as possible, all of the systems of the body – endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic, nerve, etc. – as well as to correct hormonal imbalances. The physical state of the body plays a great role in facilitating the healing process. Practitioners who are involved with biological therapies are aware that a misaligned spine can greatly impede bio-repair, as various organs and systems such as bowel movements, circulation and the endocrine system are signaled into activity by means of the nerve network.  Physical exercise, breathing exercises, light therapy and proper rest are also considerations in the implementation of an effective bio-repair protocol.

Therapies- Over the years, FACT has had considerable experience with cancer patients who have utilized a number of supplementary procedures and substances to help battle disease and restore and strengthen their immune system. These include Immunotherapy, Whole-Body Hyperthermia (Fever Therapy), Cellular and Stem Cell Therapy and Botanicals, such as Hoxsey Herbal Therapy and Essiac Tea an old herbal formula discovered by Canadian nurse Rene Caisse which includes four primary herbs (slippery elm inner bark, burdock root, sheep sorrel and Indian rhubarb root) which can aid in re-balancing the body chemistry and in the elimination of toxins.

Article posted with permission from Cancer Compass – “an alternative route”

Should you wish to do the same please contact Connie at the above website as unauthorized publication will be removed – thank you!

Please share on Facebook and Tweet if you will!

Inspiration from YouTube ?

 

I very rarely watch YouTube videos apart from when I am trying to find out how to do something! However sometimes something makes you press play on an email link or Facebook share from a friend.

There are three videos that I would like to share with you that I find in one way or another totally mind-blowing inspirational .

This first one is a TED-x talk by a superwoman called Janine.

I call her a superwoman because of the intense physical difficulties she found herself in after an accident – she nearly died and was told she would NEVER walk again. Serious stuff hey?

She is such an inspiration to me and her strength of character and determination are to be aspired to – I certainly do.

When people ask me how I have such a determined attitude to cancer, my reply is often “because there is no other way, no other option” “there’s only one alternative and I’m simply not entertaining it”

I’d like to think Janine thinks the same.

Let me know your reaction to this video, mine was pride, tears, hope and inspiration

you can find out more about Janine at http://www.janineshepherd.com/

Quick Breakfast Muffins

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I’m always looking for something different to make for breakfast, especially for our little daughter, who, understandably gets a bit fed up with the same thing day after day.
Actually it’s not that boring, she might have boiled eggs, chocolate porridge (with raw cacao and carob),
“Pukkolla” or blueberry & banana pancakes (at the weekend)
But she’s nearly four, knows her own mind and likes variation!
We all loved these carrot & oat muffins which made more than we needed for one breakfast so I’ve frozen the rest for another day.
I made them the night before then warmed them up for 5 minutes the next morning.
David and our daughter had goats butter and my mums marmalade on theirs, I had just butter. Coconut oil would also work well.
They took me 15 minutes to get them in the oven and 20 minutes to cook. I think that’s quick enough to do in the evening whilst waiting for supper to cook, what do you think?
Original recipe from www.kitchentreaty.com/hearty-spiced-muffins

Organic ingredients where possible please!

1 cup of Spelt flour
1 cup of whole grain self-raising flour
1 cup of large rolled oats
2 tsps baking powder
Pinch Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup of milk – almond milk or oat milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large apple grated
2 cups grated carrot (this was approx 3 medium carrots for me)

1/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, gojiberries etc)

12 muffin cases
Muffin tray

Oven temp 160

Whisk the egg, milk and oil in a small bowl.
In a large bowl mix the flours, oats, baking powder, salt, spices
Add in the grated carrot and apple.
Stir in the egg mixture.
Add the cranberries and mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.

Spoon into the muffin cases (in muffin tray)
I found about two dessert spoons in each case worked out right for the amount of mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes (or until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean)

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Love is in the air

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What does the 14th February mean to you?
To me, the most important meaning is my Mum’s birthday
To most it’s about celebrating love, but as I have learnt from my best friend it can be celebrating the love with anyone, your sister, friend, son, daughter……
To Kris Carr it will be about celebrating still being around after 10 years since her diagnosis of an incurable cancer
Or will it?
I was thinking about my own diagnosis anniversary (which is in August) this year it will be 3 years
Sometimes it feels like a whole lot longer, I’ve been through so much, also achieved so much.
Now, instead of thinking “I must get to 3 years, 5 years, 20 years” it’s about what you make of the time.

So, I’m not perfect and I do get annoyed with my 3 year old when she won’t get dressed on time for us to get to preschool (although I know that it’s our fault for not getting starting earlier)
Anyone who knows me well will know that I can be , let’s say a little fiery at time (I’m am a Leo !)
But over the past three years I’ve learnt ever so slowly to be more present and not get so frustrated so quickly , it is working , honest Mum!!

Last week saw many people, including me, say goodbye to a beautiful soul in Australia, she was my age with a daughter a little older than mine. This is what came to mind “it’s not the length of the journey that matters, it’s how many lives you touch and wondrous sites you see along the way”
I read some amazing comments on her Facebook wall and was totally taken aback by the love from all over the world , love also to her partner and young daughter.

Perhaps you could think of giving yourself some love? That could take the form of a candlelit bath, a fresh green juice, a walk in nature, basically whatever floats your boat and just involves you
Just for an hour or two take other people’s needs into consideration, something us females can struggle with especially when there’s a partner and or kids to think about.

What I’d love to know is how you will celebrate Valentines Day, and what brings you back to the here and now, is it love, gratitude? Please let me know in the comments below….

You can read about Kris Carr here