I am so pleased to announce this week that I am officially in remission. I received the results from a recent PET scan and there was nothing to report from it. I won't lie, I was really quite stressed waiting for the results. I've been feeling so well and my energy has been improving week-by-week, but it's such a big thing that it's hard not to be concerned. And of course, the good news has been rewarded with a cold that I am now trying to shift - typical! But I won't let it get me down as I focus on my recovery in remission.
On the whole I am bright and well, which is nice for this new phase of life.
Throughout chemo, I walked as much as I could, and in the earlier days, I maintained flexibility and strength through yoga and gentle bodyweight exercises. The amount of which, all declined as my chemo continued. Without a doubt, my body fatigued more over time and I noticed my muscles weaken. However, I do think my overall wellness helped me in the early weeks of recovery.
If you've followed me for a while you'll know that I started teaching gentle yoga a fortnight after my last treatment. It was fun and more danced based rather than relying on my strength. It was good to test the waters and something fun with new people. But I've also been focused on fitness and nutrition for my recovery in remission.
Improving my fitness is an important part of my recovery journey. I want to feel strong in my body again. Also, where there's a perception that people lose a lot of weight during cancer, this isn't always the case. With the steroids, a more sedentary lifestyle, and eating to subside nausea (and boredom), I've put on a good stone (1.5 kilos). And so my recovery is about feeling strong and leaner whilst nourishing my body with the nutrition and rest it needs to stay strong and healthy.
Here's what I've been doing...
I've set my bike up on a static Turbo Trainer in my living room for cardio. I bought it in lockdown when we weren't allowed to go far and it's proven useful again before I feel strong and steady enough to take my bike out on the road. My bottom being ready for saddle sore is a completely different conversation.
Throughout October, I am raising funds for Cancer Research with their 100 skips a day challenge, which is interesting. It's going well, albeit I am walking the skips at the moment until my cold shifts to avoid stressing my body. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far. If you haven't yet and would like to, here's my fundraiser page.
I'm also working with a physiotherapist as I've developed trigger thumb. I have no doubt the cause is too much phone usage, but it's interesting that it kicked in when my body was at its weakest. The first thing I noticed was a general weakness in my hands, but tests with the physio showed that my whole left side is significantly weaker than my right. I now have daily exercises to build my functional strength, which are helping.
I also get out and about as often as I can, whether that's for a splash in the sea or a walk by the coast. And if I'm on the beach, I'm strong and stable enough to do a bit of bouldering, which assists hand-eye coordination and functional strength. I really do feel that you can't beat getting outside in the air. I regularly take myself on mini adventures as much as I can to feel a sense of freedom and to breathe it all in. And in my case, gentle first steps is what it's all about for my recovery in remission.
In the mornings I still make a green smoothie with my Ninja Slim Blender most days. The aim of which is to provide an alkaline start to the day. In addition to alkaline veg and fruit, I add a teaspoon of Sevenhills Organic Spirulina as its pH level is so high. I really felt switching to a high alkaline diet helped to counteract the acidity of the chemotherapy in my stomach during treatment. I can absolutely say that my stomach feels good now that it's all over.
I also alkalise my water with an Alkaline Water Jug and sometimes (when I remember) go for an extra dose of alkaline by adding Liquid Chlorophyll. This one contains spearmint and gives it a nice minty taste to your drink.
Now that the weather is cooling, and particularly in light of having a cold, I'm opting for porridge with locally sourced honey some mornings. As its a big nutritional shift, I'm going to start looking into the most nutritional warm breakfasts that lean towards a more alkaline ingredients list - wish me luck!
I do all of this because my immune system has taken a battering from chemotherapy. I focused on foods that supported my system throughout treatment, but I don't want to let that go now that it's finished. I love a visit to a farm shop for different inspiration and eating nutrient rich foods. But I also take supplements for additional support. I've opted mostly to buy from British Supplements as they're made in the UK and their focus is on clean processes.
Before I started my chemotherapy journey I also stopped drinking coffee as it was affecting my heart. A secondary benefit of this was that my stomach seemed to calm as well. Coffee is not only acidic but can be difficult for some of us to process. I feel so much better for switching to decaf or alternatives. My favourite alternative being cacao, but I'm also partial to a matcha or turmeric latte, all of which have their own benefits. Perhaps I'll do a future post on them.
So it's fair to say that my focus may be different to other people on the bright side of chemotherapy. Each person has their own journey and I've been so lucky (I feel) that I've had such good news and a relatively healthy start soon after treatment. This and my previous wellness experience are why I'd like this blog to become all about that; the balance on activity versus inactivity (rest) and how we can nourish our bodies, minds and souls. It's no different to my focus in the past, but it'll be interesting to see how I weave it this time since going through such a life altering health scare.
I hope the information is useful to you whether you find it of general use or because you are concerned about your health. Either way, some of the nuggets above may just kickstart something new for you or offer a different view of the things you're already doing.
Wishing you well,
If you liked this post, you might be interested in my earlier Tenacious post from when this blog first started. It might just provide the motivation you're looking for.