My tenth week of Chemotherapy


9th March–15th March

My tenth week of Chemotherapy.

I feel really happy and invincible as I wonder at the tenacity I feel. In the face of such challenge I have found more of myself. I feel stronger; more robust. I feel an intense willingness to be alive, as if I have thrown all of my chips onto the ‘I choose this life’ square. In the past I have had intense feelings of injustice, both in the micro and macro! In the latter, the way the world is run: the ridiculous imbalance of wealth and power, and the apparent inability of politicians to think long term and protect and/nurture our planet. I do not watch television or follow the news. It is too disturbing. I save my energy for what I can affect.

Micro, in my personal world, I had a deeply affecting experience early on as a seven year old, when I was abused by our window cleaner. It created and left a complex web of confusion, pain and what seemed unfathomable feelings of injustice. It has taken the last 4 years of breathwork to unravel the subsequent trail of disaster, and heal.

And now, having cancer a second time, its consequences – losing my breasts, my hair, undergoing a severe chemical onslaught to my body – which could be perceived as an injustice, have become a choice. To choose fear and injustice or love? I have chosen love: time to nurture myself, and have received so much love from others who have been so quick and willing to give.

I am also appreciating that there is such a diverse mix of holistic healing available. As I look back at all the different forms that I have experienced, they have all contributed to the healing experience. In a time of such challenge, the motivation has been there to meet each onslaught to the fabric of my being.

Osho says ‘Every suffering is a Buddha seed. Because it compels us to seek wisdom’. The body and mind being the field, and suffering being the seed. Wisdom is the sprout that comes directly from the seed of suffering.

I have had crazy big packets of seeds and feel like the sprouting payback is happening in the form of a simple joy, ease and freedom. Something has shifted and is still shifting and I am feeling very different.

Physically I am back in the swing of 5 rhythms dance and hot yoga (the latter was great for my chest, still tight and aggravated from the infection).

It has been a good week physically preparing for the last clearing. And now for the last round, I do believe I have found the right balance of steroids for me!

Monday 9th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 20
I had an appointment with Julia the Herbalist. She has given me more tincture for sleep and a tincture to take before meals which contains a whole concoction of goodies to help with the lingering chest infection. While my chest is a lot better, it is still feeling tight and aggravated at times. I had a full body massage which was sublime. It felt exceptionally good for me! Back home on the day bed I was fast asleep for the whole afternoon and early evening. I woke half an hour into my scheduled Monday evening Nia dance class! I still need healing time.

Tuesday 10th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 21
This would have been my clearing day, but it is postponed for one more week and I am so grateful and relieved to have the time to recover more. It is a good decision.

I make the 7am Hot yoga class. It has been a long time and I have really missed it. I walk out feeling in a different body.

I take a birthday pic-nic to my friend Leigh for lunch. It is safer than eating out. It is belly and soul nourishing.

I have an appointment with Niki Bilton, a brilliant acupuncturist who is training a group of practitioners. I am the guinea pig and I get a first class session from David Bennet my acupuncturist under her guidance. She asked insightful questions and has the energy of a true master.

Wednesday 11th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 22
I start the day on my allotment, taking a flask of tea and sitting sipping, look at all the work we did last year. I decide to have a ‘pottering’ phase of recovery where the re-entry back to normal life is really easy. As the last cycle is in sight, it is both a relief and slightly overwhelming?

I walk over the hill to Ann Coxhead, my osteopath who works wonders on my back and signs me off. Not sleeping on the sofa with its camber has helped enormously.

Cousin Annabel comes in the afternoon and gives me some hands on healing and I am unable to move or sound intelligible to say goodbye! I rest so well.

I have just read this interesting article from Hove stressbusters!

“A number of controlled studies have shown that Reiki and the related clinical practices called the Healing Touch and the Therapeutic Touch have significant positive effects on mood (particularly anxiety) and the physiological stress response in healthy individuals as well as in clinical populations. In particular, a lot of research has been conducted with cancer patients and, in addition to the positive effects on mood and stress levels, one showed that Reiki helps preserve immune function which is usually suppressed by chemotherapy.”

In the evening we go to 5 rhythms dance. It is 2 hours of blissful freedom, moving to the music in the present moment with no mind, just connecting to the rhythm and allowing my body its full expression. How it wants to move and what that feels like, physically and emotionally, intrigues me. I am still mapping the movement of my upper body which still feels strange after my bilateral mastectomy in October.

Thursday 12th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 23
I start the day early in the allotment and love sowing a whole bed of green manure seeds.

Mark is working away for 2 days, and I spend the evening in my breathwork room: a marathon 3 hours of a breathing session, followed by a bite to eat at 11pm and a face book catch up, then a dead sea salts bath. My evening seemed so deliciously indulgent. I drifted into bed for a very good night’s sleep!

Friday 13th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 24
I am really happy. Another morning start in the garden. I am loving the spring sowing of seeds.
My sister comes for a breathing session. I was so looking forward to it! I have not worked much in the last 6 months, with only a very few friends/family being the exception. With such a distance from it, I am learning how I have changed and seeing/feeling the difference in the way that I am working now. I feel more courageous and so utterly convinced by this powerful breathing tool at my disposal.

Saturday 14th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 25
My daughter Eleanor arrives and we have a day of rest and relaxation. I am hoping to nurture my chest back to full health before Monday and my last cycle of clearing. My blood test in hospital showed I was anaemic, so we made organic lamb stew to build me up. The vegan diet is proving difficult to sustain and I am craving a bit of meat!

Sunday 15th March
Week 10, Cycle 3
Day 26
It is mothers day and Eleanor, my blog editor, and I spend some time catching up with the latest week to post. We were upstairs all cosy when the doorbell rang. A wonderful surprise: it was my daughter Harriet with a big bunch of mothers day flowers, all the way from London!

I marvel at how my girls have really gone above and beyond in the support that they have given us over the last 8 months since my cancer diagnosis. It has been a very precious time to feel and experience the depths of love we have found.

I prepare for my last clearing tomorrow and start my 3 days of steroids. At breakfast and lunch I take 2 tablets, half the prescribed dose, to see how I feel. In the last cycle I was far too revved up taking the prescribed 4.

I sleep OK.

Next week’s blog

Next week it’s the final clearing treatment and experiencing the extreme emotional highs and physical lows.

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