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.

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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!

Sharing What’s Inspired Me!

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What inspires me to blog is a desire to express myself and share with others what I’ve learnt and am learning. It’s also a desire to assist and support others. The sharing of information, experiences and ideas connects us.

Often I think I need to know exactly what I’m going to say before I write. This has been stopping me from blogging for the past few months. Now I know what I want to write about, but I don’t know what I want to say, so I’m letting my pen and the excellent books I’ve read lately do the talking. They’re:

Embracing the Warrior, An Essential Guide for Women by Dr Karen Coates and Vincent Perry;

Beat Cancer, The 10-step plan to help you overcome and prevent cancer (also subtitled How to Regain Control of Your Health and Your Llife) written by leading cancer experts, Prof. Mustafa Djamgoz and Prof. Jane Plant; and

Feminine Lost, Why Most Women are Male by Jennifer Granger, an intuitive transformational coach and author.

All of the books are about getting to know – with different approaches – what makes us well, whole and fulfilled human beings.

I met Karen Coates at Gwingana Lifestyle Retreat earlier this year at a Women’s Discovery programme, which I did with my cousin, who has also had breast cancer. I was inspired by Karen and concerned by what she had to say about how the amount of stress we experience daily and weekly over an extended period, without relief or release, can build the levels of cortisol and adrenalin to a point where we can become sick. What we eat each day and the products we use on our bodies, our clothes and in our homes can also affect our health.

embracingthewarrior1Embracing the Warrior gives a simple and exact instruction on managing the health challenges of the modern world… without resorting to pharmaceutical drugs. Part of the book concentrates on some of the major health issues confronting people today: dealing with stress, managing and preventing osteoporosis, understanding depression and lowering cholesterol. The chapter, Pharmaceutical Dominoes – The Compounding Effect of Drugs, is particularly enlightening. Karen also talks about ‘gut’ health and how important this is to remaining well.

Beat CancerBeat Cancer provides guidance to help you beat cancer. The authors cutting-edge plan covers every aspect, including:

  • The latest essential information about cancer – what it is, what causes it and how to prevent it
  • A thorough review of all the conventional complementary treatments available
  • The lifestyle changes you can make to defend your body.

My best friend, who was a little concerned when I took an integrated approach to my health, bought me the book after hearing Jane Plant interviewed. Jane has lived nearly half her adult life with breast cancer. She now is convinced that an approach that integrates the best of conventional medicine with a good diet and lifestyle is essential to beating cancer. (p11-12)

I believe my friend now understands the approach I have taken to my health. She has introduced some dietary changes into her own life after a period of feeling unwell. These have significantly improved her vitality and feeling of wellbeing.

Feminine LostFeminine Lost explores the premise that all human beings are constructed of two energies, one masculine and one feminine. With the rise of the feminist movement, she says many women have migrated to their masculine side, some to the extent of losing access to their feminine side altogether. Could this be contributing to the increase in breast cancer, I ask?

It’s now 2 years since I concluded chemotherapy treatment. I feel as though the ‘chemo brain’ has finally left and I am fully restored to my former passionate fit self, however with a great deal more wisdom, love and care for myself and others.

I’m ready to return to work and my life as an entrepreneur.

Healthy CookingI’ve teamed with Naturopathic Nutritionist and Chef, Emma Ellice-Flint, to start a new business, The Vital You, as a result of my health travels. It’s designed to relax and revitalize with a weekend of workshops where participants learn how to source, cook and enjoy easy, fresh, delicious, healthy, nourishing food. They’ll also experience some de-stressing techniques with mindfulness, meditation and yoga. We’ll be providing a practical ‘recipe for good health’.

The experiential workshops are designed to provide you with vitality every day and a lifelong, healthy mind and body. If you’d like to find out more about our programme and the November weekend visit www.thevitalyou.com.au.