My first week of Chemotherapy = ‘Clearing’
I am euphoric … I have made it to the end of my first week of chemotherapy and it has been quite a journey of big downs and a few ups and periods of numbness staring straight into the relentless unfolding moment!
It is the most extraordinary experience I have ever approached. Writing a diary is really helpful for me, (I forget so quickly!) and I decided to share here ‘the first day and night’ experience and some excerpts, highlights and summarising bits.
Everyone responds differently to chemotherapy and timescales are diverse. SO some of the elements that I write about may not be of interest, so I will make it as clear as possible and headline different areas. Just skip the bits that don’t float your boat!
A hard first day and night of my ‘clearing’ experience
6th Jan 2015
Week 1, Cycle 1
What a bizarre day. The beginning of 3 months of treatment!
After my 1st cup of herb T I drank my linseed tea – it feels like a hug in a mug, so comforting –- and had an epsom salts bath with lovely essential oils and gave myself a linseed enema. (I will share the joy of enema’s and how easy they are to do at home later!)
Warmed from the bath I yoga stretched and enjoyed a bit of crazy dancing, fabulous music from 1 Giant Leap, movement and breathing session for 20 mins and released a whole lot of tension from my body. I so love moving and shaking!
I set too, juicing. Beetroot, carrot, cucumber and pear. I had my vitamins – C and zinc – D – Acidophilus, omega 3’s and a good swig of aloe juice with freshly squeezed orange juice. I felt pumped to the brim with goodness.
In preparation for the cancer centre I packed up:
• Lots of filtered water.
• Coconut water
• A big bottle of my mornings home juicing.
• A very big book
• My headphones and music
We arrived to what looked like an environment out of a Sci fi movie, (where a race of people run around outside getting stressed and toxic then come in for a treatment of more toxicity to deal with it). Each section has a big armchair with leg rest and a drip at the side. An occasional table has a polystyrene head to rest a wig on. It was just so weird and alien.
First I had my Herceptin injection as I was to wait 6 hours afterwards to make sure I didn’t have an adverse reaction. I was then hooked up to a drip, with the chemicals running into the vein in my left hand.
I imagined all the possible stray cancer cells being cleared away and a light shining through my body, no dark recesses for hiding. I relaxed, put my feet up and accepted what was happening.
We left the hospital at 4.15pm. The nursing staff were all wonderful and so very helpful and caring, but it was such a relief to leave the fluorescent lights and the airless environment of the place.
The evening and night was a big challenge. What a bad head and so queasy, I felt that my body was unravelling and I had no control and no idea how it was all going to unfold.
For my stomach I mixed some slippery elm and that was wonderfully settling. 2 teaspoons in a bit of water and some more aloe vera. I was told to expect a sore mouth so swished and gargled aloe vera for a few minutes. I have been given mouthwash to take 4 times a day but have decided to skip the chemical concoction and see if I can get away with it.
Dinner was a dish of potato and an avocado. It was all I felt like, but the potato seemed to get stuck in my throat. My whole digestive tract felt most odd.
I put a castor oil pack on my liver for a couple of hours with a hot electric blanket wrapped round and imagined the toxins fast tracking out.
That night in bed I felt wired and my legs were so annoyingly twitchy and I was awake most of the night. On and off I listened on shuffle to Osho / Ekhart Tolle and whatever random tracks came up they seemed to be apt and what I needed to hear … about the mind and control over thoughts. The value of meditating. But being in the present moment seemed like an eternity when my physical senses were so compromised. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin. So challenging for me! SO, I made it really simple and connected my breath, with no pauses, I breathed in for a count of 2 and exhaled for a count of 1. I went really slowly through every part of my body, starting with my toes, first observing, then relaxing, and sending each part of my body a loving healing breath on the inhale and let go of any tension and relaxed it on the exhale. It kept me occupied for hours and was quite a feet of concentration! I have never before had the time to give my body so much attention and love. It so deserved and needed it!
It took me to 8th Jan – day 3 by 4pm I felt almost back to myself again and over the worst. It felt pretty damn good, such a relief and it was an ‘I’m invincible’ high moment!
From then on I felt on the whole better every day but still a bit wobbly up and down and vulnerable with a vaguely bad head and a funny metallic taste in my mouth.
Summarising my first week of chemotherapy
What was most challenging?
I felt emotionally so vulnerable, not quite knowing what to expect physically. I had a mad thirst most of the time. My intestines were super sensitive! I was all set with the juicer and a mass of raw veggies, but all I felt like was eating potatoes, avocados and banana smoothies. I needed soups and slow cooked lentil casseroles.
I am essentially eating a vegan diet, no wheat or processed sugar. For my sweet hit, I soak dried fruit and add raw cacow and banana in a smoothie. I did enjoy some scrambled eggs on pumpernickel toast on day 5 just to get a bit more protein in, I’m told I’m looking too thin.
I didn’t feel like listening to anything. Normally at night if I can’t sleep I listen to someones dulcet tones on my head phones, (Ekhart Tolle, A New Earth or Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited, they send me to sleep beautifully. I love these men!). But I craved silence and no data entry, just listening to my breathing and clearing my mind was important for me.
During the day I found myself just sitting in silence for long periods of time and looking at the trees outside my window. I needed so much rest with nothing going on in my head.
I usually love skin brushing after a bath (apparently 2 minutes has the same value for the lymph system as 30 minutes exercise … works for me and feels great) but it was only until day 5 that I felt up for skin brushing.
What really worked for me and made a difference?
Naturopathy – Lucy Hill offered me guidance – she is a trainee Naturopathic nutritionist. She said one of the biggest ‘must have’s’ is … Hydration.
Cucumber water – I drink so much! Just a few slices in my jug makes a difference.
Nut milks – I soak almonds and raw cashews overnight to make milk that is nourishing, hydrating and easily absorbed.
Broccoli sprouts – Scientifically proven “Three-day-old broccoli sprouts consistently contain 20 to 50 times the amount of chemoprotective compounds found in mature broccoli heads” and my scientist brother sent me a whole big bag to encourage me to get sprouting. They are like cress, very easy to do!
Enemas – These are brilliant. And very easy once you get to grips with it!! I had a coffee enema for the first 3 mornings after treatment and one evening when I felt particularly de hydrated I added linseed tea. Enemas are VERY easy to do at home. When I first tried it, I lay on the bathroom floor, with the bag hanging on the back of the door … I even managed a shoulder stand! But now I multi task and I relax in a bath. (No need for plumped up pillows). A feet on the taps manoeuvre is sufficient for the hips to raise up and get the flow up the decending colon. It is VERY worth while getting a rectal catheter instead of the prescribed ones that come in the pack. They ARE MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE and cost about 96p so worth getting as many as you need as disposable ones. No boiling up for 5 minutes palava!
These two go together and are what I use:
Coconut oil – this I lashed on my body as it was so dry. Every other day I had either an epsom salts bath with essential oils or mixed melted coconut oil and epsom salts which when hardened makes a great block to scrub the body.
I use very little soap, it’s too drying on the skin. Seagulls are cleaned with oil when they are covered from oil leakages. Works for me too. Hot moist body out of bath, oil massaged in then skin brushing, if it feels right… good to go
Castor Oil packs – on the liver at night works really well in combination with the morning enema for fast tracking the detoxing of the liver.
Herb T – I made milk thistle tea to support my liver and mixed it with fresh rosemary and sage. It is January so I am missing my full back door herb selection, but pukka cleanse is proving to be a good bought one. Peppermint/fennel and nettle. I have also been experimenting with broccoli sprouts in tea … add rosemary, very delicious.
Exercise – I got out for a walk every day that I could, even when I had what seemed like a niggling sore throat threatening, it was gone after 30 minutes of fresh air.
My Bikram yoga (Hot yoga) This is my favourite bodywork! AND I found that in the first two weeks it was too challenging. I tried a session on day 3 and day 9. It really took it out of me and was not a great idea going from hot to cold outside. It is very dehydrating with the sweat and it was challenging to hydrate fast enough. (I can add that in the last week of the cycle – and I am writing this ahead of myself – it has been a life saver, really good to prepare whole body and mind for the next cycle, read on re yoga!).
Gentle yoga – on my mat at home warmed after a bath was a perfect start to the day. ( I still have mastectomy scars to keep supple).
Inspirational Breathing – I used my Breathwork to help calm me at night and also everyday after my bath to help clear anything emotional or physical that needed some attention. I found my physical body, once given the opportunity, was very good at knowing what it needed to release, unblock, connect to.
At night I would start by feeling connected to the whole of my body, relaxed and very present in the moment, I focus on breathing in through my mouth with a relaxed jaw – breathing in for a count of two and breathing out for a count of one with a relaxed sigh. Very often the soft and rhythmic sound of my breath would lull me to sleep. (There is an audio for you to listen to, see free audio tab!)
During the day after a bath, I put on music and stretch, dance, squirm, flail and jump up and down, gently increase my heart rate and observe my breathing and what is going on in my physical body as a result. I see it as physical playtime, where my mind is switched off and my body’s natural intelligence is allowed full rein to explore.
When I feel ready, I lie down and breathe with the ratio of 2:1 – two counts on the inhale and one count on the exhale. It is here that I find myself crying, often I with no idea why, although there are plenty of reasons, my mind still blank. I allow any sobbing to run its course, with no judgement. I always feel better and calm afterwards. At the end of a session, I have some time that is quiet music, and I relax under a blanket. Connected to my highest consciousness I receive any inspiration or guidance from a very special place of what feels to me like divinity. My husband Mark is so used to me coming out of my breathing room, ecstatic and full of ideas and new inspiration with the absolute knowing that all is going to be well. I always feel and trust that it will be.
Slippery elm is effectively used as a mucilaginous herb, internally to coat and soothe mucous membranes while also absorbing toxins. I found it invaluable for stomach sickness. A heaped teaspoon of slippery elm to a half cup of water mixed up and immediately eaten. I made it into a paste with water to heal mouth sores. I would sleep with a thick wadge of it moulded into my mouth where it was needed. A sleep saver!
Sharing the ideas
I love sharing ideas and different approaches. Sharing this makes some sort of sense of this whole ‘crazy down the rabbit hole’ experience, so thank you for reading and being a part of it… and please do pass this onto anyone that you think may benefit, with or without cancer, suffering any healing crisis. I am not a natural writer, especially with a foggy clearing/chemo head, but I think this is the best format to present this info in. So please feel free to comment and give feedback AND share your own experience and ideas too. I really want it to be useful!
I will share the outcome of hiring a green cleaner and the tricks of their trade, taking the toxicity out of the home. I also have a really extraordinary healing modality that is proving so intriguingly effective, but I just need to trial it more and find out how it really works!!