No One Should Walk Alone

Cancer is lonely

No matter how much support you have around you

No matter how many people offer you help

You always feel lonely

You try to keep strong for everyone else around you. For your family, for your friends and especially for your children

You try to hold it all together

You tell people that you are fine

But you are not!

Family and friends love you, they offer help and visit you when they can

But they do not understand how lonely cancer can be

I cry

I cry when I am alone, in fact I sob

I have no control over the tears, they sometimes just roll down my cheeks and I have no control over them

I am jealous of others and their future

Why me?

I Live in fear every second, every hour of every day

Of what the future holds for me

Your emotions are all over the place

Like a rollercoaster, they are up and down

No one understands

How can they?

Words go in but you are not listening

Your mind wanders

Having Cancer you feel isolated

The treatment is gruelling and tiring

You have a good support network but they can not go through your emotions and treatment with you

You alone are in the radiotherapy machine

You alone are laying on the bed waiting for surgery

You alone are recovering from surgery

You alone feel the pain, the tiredness, the sickness and the fatigue

Cancer is a lonely path

No one should walk alone, but Cancer has a way of making you feel lonely

Cutting down on sugar in your diet

Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet isn’t just for losing weight but it’s also very healthy on your body.  Sugar fuels inflammation and has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels. It is highly addictive, even more than cocaine and cause you to binge eat.

As a family for the past year or so we have continually been cutting down on our refined sugar intake in the foods that we eat. We have been sticking to the natural sugars that you find in fruit. We have done lots of research over the months on what is best for our bodies and although we are still learning we can see a difference in our health. Cutting down on refined sugar was really for the children health at first, I want them to lose that yearning for sweetness. Not only is it good for their health but also their teeth and skin. It became a big part of my diet when I received my cancer diagnosis. It is known that Cancer cells thrive a lot more on the bad sugar in our bodies. It can also help with our emotional and mental health.

You don’t have to cut out the white stuff completely but cutting down on it will improve your health. You just have to make simple changes in the way that you eat. Take a gradual process and try reducing your sugar intake daily.

Cutting down on refined sugar means taking the processed foods out of your daily diet. You will be surprised on how many products contain sugar. It is becoming easier now to shop for sugar-free products, especially with health shops popping up all over and there are so many online shops that sell sugar-free too. Supermarkets are jumping onto the bandwagon now and have a good selection of sugar-free foods.

Here are some ideas that we put into place to cut down on the sugar intake

  • Swap fruit juices for flavoured water. Add fresh fruit into your water to flavour it up. I like sliced lemons and limes. Try cucumber and mint, lemon and lime, ginger and organic honey. We have a water dispenser that we bought from Dunelm Mill. We fill up with filtered water, ice and add in the fruits in the morning then it is already to be poured out by all the family throughout the day. We also have a soda machine for the times that we fancy a carbonated drink, we add fruit to this too.
  • Eat more fruit, fresh preferably. If you do buy canned try to stay away from the fruits that are in syrup and only buy tins that have fruit in water.
  • Read through the list of ingredients on processed food. Sugar has many different names, normally ending in’ose’ like maltose and sucrose.
  • Fructose and lactose are natural occurring sugars
  • Try adding fruit to your cereal to get that sweetness. Bananas are ideal or strawberries.
  • Don’t keep sugary drinks in the house, if they are not there then there will be no temptation. The same as chocolate and sweets
  • Cut down on using sauces and condiments at dinner time, they are full of sugar especially sweet chilli sauce. You could try making your own or try to buy bottles that are sugar free.
  • Snack on nuts, oatcakes, corn cakes, fruit and houmous.
  • Buy dark chocolate the darker the better for that chocolate fix. I use cacao nibs and powder. We add the nibs into breakfast or cakes and the powder for smoothies and hot chocolate
  • Avoid adding sugar to your meals by using spices and herbs instead.
  • Substitute cakes with sugar-free jelly
  • Replace the refined sugar in your cupboard with coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • Make up your own treats for the children by using dates, oats and bananas, Try our raw date snack bars here

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  • Reduce or skip our using condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings. Try making them yourselves.
  • Introduce more greens into your diet either by eating or drinking them. Green vegetables alkalizes your body and detoxes it of unwanted toxins. They are full of minerals and nutrients. Juice up your vegetables for a healthy alternative to a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Buy wholefoods like nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, legumes, brown rice, quinoa and beans.
  • Cut down on white bread and bagels.

Sugar Free Breakfast

Breakfast is an essential meal of the day and should not be missed. It provides protein and carbohydrates which are important for growth and energy, especially for children. Cereal doesn’t have to be the only option in the morning for breakfast, yes it is quicker just an extra 5 minutes for breakfast will do

  • Eggs are packed with protein and ideal for breakfast. They are quick to make and can be made in many different variations, scrambled, poached, omelette and boiled. You can add so many things into to like avocado and salmon.
  • Swap honey and sugar to maple syrup and agave nectar
  • Mix up a smoothie. Experiment with the ingredients, there are so many different recipes to try. We like strawberry and coconut

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  • A fruit salad made up from a selection of fruit.
  • Organic porridge oats instead of eating cereal from a box that has added sugar in them.
  • Make up some breakfast pots made up from Natural organic yoghurt with oats, dates, agave nectar, flaxseed and chia seeds. These can be made the night before and stored in the fridge or taken into work with you.
  • Coconut is a good alternative to refined sugar. We use coconut sugar and coconut flakes.
  • After time you will feel the benefits of cutting down on sugar. Your taste buds will change and you will no longer crave the sweetness of food, instead you will choose healthier foods instead of junk. Your teeth will feel so much more cleaner, run your tongue over your teeth and feel how smooth they are, you won’t feel a build up or tartar.

You don’t need to stop baking either, just find a good replacement that suits your taste. Sugar replacement can be expensive. Sugar gives cakes the crumbly texture and it also prolongs the shelf life so when taking the sugar away remember to cover the cake in cling film to stop it from drying out. Replace the sugar content with:

  • Fruits, especially banana. Apple puree, dates and pineapple
  • A good sugar substitute for the cupboard is xylitol and stevia. They both have fewer calories. Both are produced from extracts of tree and plant leaves. When using stevia you don’t have to use as much as refined sugar as it is very sweet. Both do not cause tooth decay and both do not impact on your blood sugar levels
  • Coconut Sugar and Agave Nectar. These are popular in my cupboard. In fact we use them in most of our cooking. We even use coconut oil for our cooking and making our own chocolate. Here is our recipe

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  • Try using sweet potato or pureed applesauce in recipes, you will get the sweetness with out the sugar rush

Since cutting down on sugar we have seen a big impact on the children’s behaviour and our own mental states. Our teeth are much cleaner and our general health is so much better. I find that cooking with organic fresh foods is an ideal way of cutting down on refined sugar. That way you know what ingredients are in your meals. We always have an ever flowing bowl of fruit and lots of raw and organic snack bars.

Are you ready to cut down on refined sugar?

Adjusting to life with a Colostomy Bag

As you may well know, If you follow me on social media or on the blog, that at the end of last year I underwent surgery to have a tumour removed from my bowel. Because of the site of the tumour I had to have my rectum removed which results in me having a bag for life. Now out of hospital I am adjusting to living with a colostomy bag.

I haven’t made too many public appearances yet as I am still weak and recovering from the surgeries that I had. I have had a little walk around the local supermarket and I did have a little mishap of wind but As I was layered up with clothing the sound was muffled and it was probably just me that noticed the noise.

The stoma at the moment is very noisy and can be very embarrassing. It sounds like a balloon that has been deflated and let off. The boys have got used to it now but still find it hilarious that Mummy has a bottom on her tummy and that I poo in a bag.

I am conscious of it being seen under my clothing as I my tummy is quite swollen at the moment and sticks out a bit. It can be seen if it isn’t tucked into the trousers and does make a rustling sound against my clothing as I am wearing loose tops. I am worried about others noticing it and the comments that will come. Some people can be blunt with their words and not think of your feelings. Some people can be damn right nasty and make jokes of wearing a colostomy bag. Yes, I am embarrassed but on the other hand I know that it has possibly given me a life.

The results of the tumour and lymph nodes biopsy, once taken from me, has come back negative. No cancer cells left behind. That’s not to say that they haven’t escaped to else where in the body and I will not know this until I have a full body scan. I am extremely worried about this and on one hand I don’t want to find out. I don’t want to go through it all again. I had a shit 2016, especially the last 6 months. My family and my life has been put on hold. We have had to cancel plans, holidays, days out and adjusted to life with Cancer. During my treatment, I spent weeks laying on the bed due to the skin breaking and becoming sore. The last two months I have been in hospital. It all seems to be a dream, a nasty dream.

The only way now is not to dwell on what could have been but what can be.

I need to get some more confidence in myself and say ‘Sod you’ I need to be comfortable with my body in order to go about life as I was before.

I have already began to think about what type of clothes would be ideal to wear with the colostomy. I have bought a few items of clothing in the sales, a few long cardigans, over sized jumpers and loose-fitting tops. I am fully aware, constantly, of the bag and am hoping that once I become more confident with it then it will just become part of me and once in a routine it will become an everyday routine that won’t stop me from having an active, social lifestyle.

It has taken a while for the bowel to fully function properly and is still finding its place in the abdomen after being prodded and poked about with during surgery. Certain foods are giving me wind, which is very uncomfortable and painful. I have no control no more of my bowel habits, when it happens it happens. I am concerned that it will happen when I am out amongst other people who do not know my situation. I am scared of the reaction from people. I am aware that the bag can be seen through clothes and I am anxious of the stares, the glares, the pointing and the comments that will come. I know I can’t be in the comfort of my home for ever, I have to return to work and I have a life with the boys to get on with and I have friends to be social and enjoy company with. I am hoping with time that I will become less conscious and more confident. After all it is still early days, I only had the surgery on the 9th November and have only been home for 2 weeks now. With the support of my family and friends I know I can do this and that I will get my life back on track.

A Cancer Diagnosis

The house phone rang, I didn’t want to answer it, but I did . You see, I was expecting a call from the hospital. I had been waiting for my results from a biopsy that I had two weeks previously. I had also had a MRI and CT scan, within the two weeks.

I had found a lump and although my doctor had treated the lump as hemorrhoids, the lump hadn’t gone in fact I think it had actually grown.

I was a little worried and I had done the googling my symptoms, as you do, I wasn’t sure what I was thinking but as the words popped up onto my screen and I read over them, I knew. I knew deep down that I had cancer.

The big C word.

The word that scares the shit out of everyone.

The Nurse on the other end of the phone asked me to come in to the hospital the following day. She asked me if I was going to be accompanied by anyone. I took that as a negative. I didn’t sleep that night, too many things going over in my head.

The next day I went into work as normal and left at lunch time to get to the hospital. As I waited with my Mum, Sister and partner, I tried to clear my head, to be positive. We were all called into a room. Three chairs were laid out in a row facing one other chair. The doctor sat down with a file in his hand. He explained the biopsy procedure and then the words came out “The tumour is cancer”

No tears came.

I remember holding onto my Mum’s hand and squeezing it. I just kept thinking what is going through my Mum’s head, how hard it must be for her to listen to a doctor telling her daughter that she has cancer.

Still, No tears came.

We asked questions, like how big the tumour is and what the next step was.

I was told that i would need 6 weeks of radiotherapy followed by a short burst of chemotherapy and then a bowel removal surgery. Having my bowel removed doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I just want the lump to be deceased from my body as soon as possible.

No tears came.

I felt numb. I remember feeling like it was happening to someone else, it wasn’t me he was talking to. I remember hearing my voice and thinking “Why am I answering”

We drove home in silence. We couldn’t talk much at home as the boys had just got in from school. They played in the garden whilst we tried to come to turns with what had just been thrown into our life.

I remember a sharp pain in my chest, not being able to breathe. It felt like I was having a outerbody experience, like I was watching this happen to someone else. My throat was dry but I still couldn’t cry.

The tears came the next day. I tried so hard not to let the boys see me upset.

I had two weeks to wait before treatment started, within those two weeks I had a colonoscopy and a CT scan on my glands in my groin. Each result came back negative, no more tumours.

The waiting was the worse. I cried. I sobbed. I didn’t sleep. I googled everything. I cried more. I was angry. I was fuming. I hated my body. I hated everyone around me living a normal healthy life. I couldn’t understand why my life had become a standstill and everyone else was getting on with theirs.

I was measured up for radiotherapy, received my tattoo for life, my little present from cancer. Three little dots were placed around my pelvis area, one on either hip and one above my pelvis. I was given a start date. My first session was to be half way through half term. At last i felt like something was happening, something to help me beat this.

I was told that I would not be able to have any more children as the treatment would bring on an early menopause. I was offered to store some of my eggs but how could I possibly have another child with this horrible disease hanging over my head.

I didn’t know what to expect from my radiotherapy sessions nor from the chemo tablets that i was to take. I just took every day as it came. I was told that I may become sick, tired, fatigued, suffer from blisters in the mouth, sore throat and that my skin would become sore.

I tried to carry on as normal. Shopping. School. Housework. Children.

The first week went by with no side effects. The radiotherapy sessions seemed to take forever. I had to drink 500ml of water 45 minutes prior to going in the machine. I’ve always thought that I had a strong bladder but I haven’t. I struggled every day to hold it in for so long. As a pelvis patient you are advised to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. I only drank mineral water of a ph level above 7.

The second week was pretty much the same, although I was becoming a little tired.

The third week, we had been booked onto competing in a mile race around St Pauls Cathedral, The City Mile. I wasn’t going to let the C stop me from running alongside my boys. It was a lovely day out and the sun was shining. The third week was also when some of the side effects came. I suffered from diarrhea and fatigue. My skin was becoming a little sore.

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The fourth week we had a weekend booked in Wales so that we could go up Mount Snowdon. I had booked it before the diagnosis and the boys were looking forward to hiking up the mountain. I managed to walk a quarter of the way and had to come back down as I was getting tired. The rest of the family carried on without me, I waited in the car for them to come back down. By now the skin was really sore and beginning to peel.

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I used to talk to the machine as It went around my pelvis zapping my body. The screen looked like it was a monster. I used to tell it not to miss anything.

The fifth week saw my skin that sore that I couldn’t sit down on my bottom, I had to sit with my legs to one side. I became very tired. I was a pretty awful mother as i couldn’t take care of my boys, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was too sore to stand and walk. I was given some cream to apply to the skin. I was told to expect it to get worse.

By the time my treatment had finished, the skin was cracking, bleeding and weeped. I couldn’t even pass urine without crying in pain. I lost weight and became weak.

I spent the week after my treatment finished in my bed, only getting up to go to the toilet.

My eldest son was my rock. He had grown into a gentleman within the last couple of months. Looking after his brothers. Cooking dinners. Cleaning. He didn’t argue he just did it. I ordered Gousto boxes for him to use. He followed the recipes and cooked up meals that you would pay good money for. He looked after me, making sure that I was comfortable, bringing me water to drink and food to eat. He sat on my bed and talked to me about his day at school or about his swimming. He is a true gent. He knows what is happening but he doesn’t talk to me about it. It’s hard for the children to understand what is happening, although I have tried to explain so that they will understand what is going to happen. But they see that Mummy is at home and don’t see the seriousness of it all. They know that I will be having an operation

I am now 1 month after my last chemo and radio session and I am much stronger. The skin has heeled, although I still feel sore inside. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve changed my diet, juicing daily and cutting out red meat and dairy products. We were already cutting out sugar as a family before the diagnosis but now we check the sugar content on packaged food. I eat fresh vegetables and fruit and only drink water.

It’s hard staying positive when all I’m doing is waiting around. It feels like nothing is happening. Like I’ve been left to deal with it by myself. I have no idea if the cancer has gone. I have no idea if the tumour is shrinking, not until my next scan which is in 5 months time. I’m feeling strong, I am not ill, never was! I just have a pesky lump that wants my body but I WILL NOT allow it to take over.

#thisgirlwill

No No No!

Since being a new born baby Oliver has had a problem with constipation, it was firstly down to the medication he was on for his reflux which i took him off of it because of the toilet problems he was having when he was 5 months old.

One day his stools will be soft and the next they will be hard, we have tried baby massage, orange juice and lots of fruit but still he has problems.

There are days when he is ok but then he can have a bad day where he will run around the house shouting “No No No!” and crying in pain, he will hold onto my legs screaming and then run off and hide in a cupboard or behind the sofa. I know when he does this it means that he is getting the feeling to release his bowels and he tries his best to stop himself from going. If I can get him to lay down, I try to bend his legs but he is so strong and adamant that it takes all my strength to bend them at the knees. I try to move them in a bicycle motion, up and down but he won’t have any of it! I have given him warm baths and massaged his tummy and lower back.

There are times when he will sit on his potty and hold onto the sides crying out for me and screaming No but he does manage to go, he is obviously in pain and I try my best to help him.

I recently took him to the doctors as I started to see blood in his stools. The first time I saw this I felt terrible, it  was horrible, I cried and held him tight, holding him close. The blood had come out in a soft stool so Oliver hadn’t torn himself from trying to go, it must have been there from before.

Every time he gets the feeling he fears it and yet what can I do? I feel worthless! My son is in pain and there is nothing I can do to help him.

He has a varied diet which he eats fish, plenty of fruit and drinks lots of juice. He is an active boy with lots of energy and gets lots of rest as he loves his sleep. He has two bottles a day of formula growing up milk and yet he still suffers from constipation.

He has his second appointment tomorrow with the doctor as the blood is still coming out when he goes to the toilet and the cream that he was given on the first appointment has not helped.

Jak my eldest was given a bowel stretch when he was 2 years old as he suffered with the same symptoms and since having the minor op he hasn’t suffered since.

I am at my wits end with Oliver’s suffering and just want to ease his pain.

If anyone can offer some advice I would love to hear it, please!

 

 

My Health Test Review with Patient.co.uk

How healthy are you?

Would you like to know how healthy you really are and set goals to get into better shape this year? Patient.co.uk have  introduced a great FREE health questionnaire which does just that.

MyHealth is a clinically backed medical questionnaire which compares you with others, helping you to understand the impact your lifestyle is having on your health now – and the steps you can take for a healthier new you! The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to take with all of the questions being multiple ones. The test helps you to understand how healthy you are by putting you in an imaginary queue of 100 people that are just like you. The higher up the queue you are the less risk there is to you and your health. Once you are given your place in the queue you are then given your results including help and advice from a professionally tailored healthcoach who can help you make simple decisions which will really influence your score and help you tick off your goals along the way! The questionnaire is highly respected and widely used in the NHS by clinicians and by focusing on the small changes you can take to improve your results it is also designed to be less intimidating by keeping away from the ‘STOP’ what you’re doing and Change everything now! prompts.

First you sign up to the website which is simple enough giving your self a nickname and a password and leaving your email address. Once confirmed you can then take the questionnaire which includes questions on yourself, medical and family history, lifestyle, biometrics, diet and stress all of which play a vital statistic in how healthy you are. It is important to answer these questions honestly to get a more personal result.

So what was my results? Well my score was really not what i was expecting, it was actually quite low. My score in the queue is 57 which is medium risk and 3 below the general healthy limit score of 60. Looking at my lifestyle factors the results show me where i can improve my health, priority one being my diet! I believe myself to have a very well-balanced diet, i eat my 5 a day in fruit and veg, fish once a week, don’t use added salt into my meals when preparing them and i tend to stay away from foods that are high in fats but where i didn’t score very well was not drinking enough water (I admit, I don’t!) and not eating enough fibre and my next priority is my weight, I am actually underweight. A healthy BMI is 18.5 but mine is below this! I am not sure how i could put any more weight on as i do eat like a horse although i am very physical where i walk everywhere and having three young boys keeps me on my toes from the moment i wake up til the moment i go to sleep (Even writing this post i am running round the house mid sentences chasing the baby).

Once i read through my lifestyle factors i could then set myself some goals which are to gain some more weight and to make some minor improvements in my diet although i don’t think i can change my intake of alcohol, i don’t drink too much but every woman needs a glass or two, Don’t we girls? If i succeed this will push my patient Q score to 89! WoW I have given myself 2 months to improve my health.

I found the questionnaire easy to follow with questions that were not too hard to complete, like answering the question about what my blood pressure was, a simple ‘I don’t Know’ got me through to the next question. I liked reading through my factors and finding out what parts of my lifestyle let down my health. I am looking forward to checking back in a months time to see if i have improved my health.

If you want to take the test too click on the link here

I have been paid for the purpose of this review but all views through my own experience of taking the test are of my own.