Completely Well

I’m well, completely well. I had my second anniversary appointment with my oncologist in mid-November and came away with a good report. ‘You’re clear”, she said. “What are you doing to keep yourself that way.” “Exercising regularly – walking most days, doing Pilates twice a week, and yoga at least once a week. I’m also eating healthily, meditating when I can and staying calm.”

I did tell her that I am osteopeonic. What’s that, you may ask? It’s where bone mineral density (BMD) is lower than normal peak BMD, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. To keep from becoming osteoporotic, I have increased my strength and balance training and am taking Vitamin D, Vitamin K and calcium daily. All prescribed by my integrative doctor. I’ll need to take the supplements until I have another bone density test in 12 months time.

osteopenia-and-osteoporosis-the-difference

As time goes by I have almost forgotten that I had a brush with cancer. Up until the two-year anniversary of completing chemotherapy, I had joint pain in my feet and ankles, especially after sitting in the car or driving. That has now completely gone, even after a long trip. I get out of the car and can move freely again. Wonderful!

The only reminder now is ongoing mild lymphedema and that really isn’t bothering me too much. I have started to manage this so that it doesn’t interfere with my day. Sometimes I feel I am a walking beacon that I’ve had breast cancer. Even though I’m not embarrassed about it, I don’t want to advertise it every day and that’s certainly how I feel when wearing a compression sleeve with a short-sleeved top. I wear it when it works for me and manages my condition. I’ve found a fantastic website, Better Health Channel, established by the Victorian Government, which has excellent information on lymphoedema and fluid retention.

I’m now turning my mind to getting myself back into the business world with the aim of contributing something of what I’ve learnt to others. I’ve started a new business, called The Vital You, presenting a series of experiential cooking workshop weekends, which are designed to give vitality and keep people well.

In the process of setting up the workshops, I’m realising that looking after my health and wellbeing is a daily job.

It’s so easy to slip ‘off the wagon’ – to not meditate because we have people staying or we’re travelling or I get up too late and need to get on with my day. I can feel the affect of not meditating regularly. I’m not as present, centred or calm and I have a tendency to worry about things. Whilst I’m not a new year’s resolution person, I will be returning to my practice as I welcome 2015.

With all the partying and getting together that goes on in December, I’ve found it’s so easy to eat too much, have a regular ‘special treat’, drink alcohol each day, eat out often and to let go of some of the discipline I have had around healthy eating and limiting my alcohol intake. Actually there’ll definitely need to be a new year’s resolution this year!

Healthy Alcohol Consumption

community-salad-recipes-from-arthur-street-kitchenI feel the need to get back to challenging walking and a diet of salads and lots of vegetables. My body is demanding it and so is my mind. Here’s to a mindful, healthy new year with mornings of meditation, walking and yoga as well as a return to my beautiful kitchen to prepare some of the delicious healthy salads I’ve found in my new recipe book, Community, Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen. Yum!

Nutrition Nouse

Does assessing and monitoring what you eat assist when you have cancer? There are varying opinions on this. I firmly believe in the old addage, “we are what we eat”.

As soon as I was diagnosed with early breast cancer, I went to see my nutritionist to see whether there was anything I should change in my diet. She recommended a number of things, especially if I was to go onto chemotherapy which affects the immune system and gastrointestinal tract. This is what I did and do.

  • gave up dairy except for butter which has different properties. Goats and sheeps cheese occasionally is good. I have replaced dairy with high calcium vegetables such as broccoli and spinach and added an ‘essential greens’ supplement to my daily diet.
  • took on making my own muesli adding almonds, flax seeds, chia and sesame seeds to it. I used the ‘Liver Cleansing Diet’ recipe.
  • significantly reduced wheat consumption and replaced it with other grains such as quinoa, rice, oats.
  • increased colourful fruit and vegetables, especially anti-oxcidants such as blueberries, oranges and leafy greens. Wherever possible I buy organic.
  • deleted sugar. She suggested replacing it with stevia. If I need something sweet to eat I choose quality dark chocolate and counteract the sugar with a few raw almonds. A good 4.00pm snack is 3-4 medjool dates and brazil nuts.
  • juice each day. I make a carrot, beetroot, celery, orange and ginger detox juice every morning
  • reduce meat consumption and only eat grassfed meats. Lamb is good in this regard. My husband and I breed grassfed beef, so we generally eat our own. We know what they’ve eaten. We only eat organic chicken.
  • consume more fish. However, I have avoided large deep sea fish and shell fish as they can have a high mercury content which is a hormone receptor and I have needed to reduce the mercury in my body.
  • Avoid fried foods. I did this religiously when I was on chemotherapy. I cooked with oils such as organic coconut oil and macademia nut oil when I needed to. These have a lower flash point.

I have supported the above diet with a number of supplements which have aided my immune system and gastrointestinal tract during chemo and in the rejuvenation of my body post it. These supplements were recommended and prescribed by my integrated doctor and, I believe, have made an enormous difference to my feeling of wellbeing and recovery. Don’t self-prescribe. Ask a nutritionist or doctor who knows.