Recovery mode, 16 months in the making

So here we are again.  So much has happened since my last blog post nearly two years ago.  Why oh why did I leave it so long?!  That I can’t answer I’m afraid.  I had every intention in continuing to blog and every intention to post each time I sat down and added “just a bit more” but for some reason I never did.  I’ve been feeling quite motivated lately to get it up finally.  So here it is.  I talk a lot about my recovery from breast cancer treatment and discoveries I’ve made along the way about my physical and mental health.  In some ways this has been just as difficult as treatment itself – I suppose because I’ve had such high expectations of myself and healing this crazy body of mine (yes it’s crazy but it’s mine, although I am not just my body).  I can’t quite believe it’s been nearly two years since I finished the bulk of my treatment and my body is still not in great shape (nor is my mind some days!)  I do feel much more empowered now than I did back then though and also when I was first diagnosed.  I have so much more knowledge about my body and why it’s done some of the things it’s done over the years.  When I was first diagnosed I felt like I was handing my body over to the medical profession – to feel so powerless about ones body is truly one of the worst things I’ve ever had to endure.  So I guess the last two years + have been me taking my body back, it is mine after all and no one else should ever have the right take that power from someone (although no one can really take your power unless you let them, which I guess I did initially as I was just too vulnerable to do anything else).

And I must admit that one of the reasons I’m studying Naturopathy (more on that below), is so that I’m in a much better position to keep my power with whatever comes my way in future.  I do feel cancer treatment needs to be both conventional and complementary in a very holistic way and I hope to be able to contribute to a model such as that in the future.

Okay, so this is very looooonnnnnnnggggggg blog post, 9333 words and counting!  I really hope there’s something of use to someone in here though.  I do write for myself first and foremost but I also write for others in the hope that my story will be of some help, in some way.  Sending lots of love to everyone who’s supported me over the last two years while I continue on my healing journey.

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July 2014

I’ve decided to come back to blogging after a bit of a hiatus. It may be one blog post, it may be more, I’m not sure yet. I have missed writing down my thoughts and feelings and sharing them with you. I’ve found journalling quite helpful but I must admit my efforts are quite sporadic. I definitely needed the break from both blogging and social media. This outside world was too much of a distraction for me and I knew if I was going to do what I set out to do then I needed to focus inwards a lot more.

This year has been a strange one. I finished my last IV treatment for breast cancer on 2 January and had my portacath removed on 9 January. I felt a real freedom after having the port removed. I was hoping and kind of expecting to be feeling a lot better once treatment stopped, at least within 6 weeks of the last IV treatment. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case. At the start of this year I vowed it to be my year of health or year of healing. And even though I haven’t been sharing as much with you all as I did throughout my treatment, there’s definitely been a lot of healing going on, both physical and emotional. Physically, right now, today, I definitely feel a hell of a lot better than I did earlier this year. It’s been just over 6 months since my treatment finished (apart from Tamoxifen) and I can finally say I don’t feel dreadfully tired every single day. The fatigue dragged on and on for months and it’s really only the last month that I’ve noticed how much better I feel in the mornings and throughout the day. Hallelujah! I still have my down days but am so thankful that it’s not every day anymore.

There’s lots I’ve been doing to help heal myself physically. You may remember I went on a detox in January. That was quite an experience and something I’m glad I did. Did it make me feel a lot better physically? No, unfortunately it didn’t. I had this expectation that I would bound out of the detox retreat with double the energy levels. To be honest, I felt more drained in the few weeks afterward than I did going in. I enjoyed experimenting with different foods as I needed to be eating a gluten free, vegan diet going into the detox and also slowing reintroduce foods afterwards. The detox consisted of drinking juices, smoothies and broths over the course of 6 days with some light meals introduced on the last full day. I actually handled that side of things extremely well surprisingly. My detox naturopath said I did better than any patients she’d had previously and it was all down to the prep I’d done before arriving at the retreat. Thank goodness I did as she suggested because some of the side effects from detoxing if you aren’t prepared sound pretty horrible. I still experienced some things like headaches, kidney aches, all over body aches, diarrhea, light headedness and lethargy. Over the course of the week I had four colonics. Now that’s something you don’t experience every day! Nor would you want to! I did feel it was a vital part of the detox though and it was actually very helpful in not only removing toxins from my body that could have been there for years, but also helping me release some emotional blockages. I remember laying there during my second colonic and just crying and crying and crying. I was told that colonics can help release emotional blockages and even though I was expecting it, it was still a surprise when I felt my physical body give way to my emotional body in the way that it did. Very powerful stuff and I would actually recommend doing a detox with colonics if you have some emotional baggage you’re needing to clear (in a safe, supported environment of course). Bit of icky information: Did you know that our colons can be holding 6kg of faeces at any given time and there can be stuff up there over 6 years old! Gross! Cleaning out the colon with colonics helps the liver to detoxify and basically means the liver will do a better job at processes which are essential for good health, such as clearing excess hormones like oestrogen from the body. It’s likely that my liver wasn’t doing a good job at this and when it’s not removing excess oestrogen from the body as it’s meant to, it’s recycling it back into the blood and this form of recycled oestrogen can be very dangerous to our bodies if this cycle continues. Don’t I know that! If you don’t remember, my breast cancer was fueled by oestrogen, the excess oestrogen in my body helped it to grow.

It was really good for me to have the week away from my day to day responsibilities and to be able to process my previous 18 months. I nearly filled a journal with my thoughts about the past plus my desires for the future. It was an essential part of my healing journey and one I’d like to do again in the future. A yearly emotional and physical detox would be great! Since then I’ve seen a naturopath and am currently seeing an integrative medical practitioner (integrating conventional and complementary medicine). Both said to me they felt I needed more nourishing (with warm foods) rather than detoxing and I’d have to agree with them. Still, I do feel that the detox helped me a lot emotionally so it was worthwhile just for the progress I was able to make in that regard.

The naturopath I was seeing wasn’t a great fit for me and I felt there was too much guess work in which supplements to give me. I started seeing my current Dr in May (the integrative Dr) and the process we’re going through together seems to be helping. After a 2.5 hour appointment and some blood tests, we found that I was lacking in iron and zinc (as she suspected even prior to my bloods being done). So now I head down to her clinic on the Gold Coast every 3 weeks for vitamin infusions via IV of zinc, vitamin C and B. I’m due for more blood tests in a couple of weeks to see how my levels are going. Once the zinc levels are at an acceptable level we’ll do a test for Pyrrole disorder (Pyroluria) which is a genetic disorder that my Dr is convinced I have. It has to do with how the body takes up (or doesn’t take up) zinc and B6 on offer. If you have pyrrole disorder you excrete the zinc and B6 via your urine without your body getting the nutritional benefits from them – the pyrrole molecules (which are a byproduct of hemoglobin) bind to the zinc and B6. It’ll be interesting to see if I do have pyrrole disorder, it would certainly explain a few things over my life. There are some studies out there that talk about lack of zinc in breast cancer patients. It’s strange being hooked up to the IV again surrounded by other cancer patients, especially because I don’t really consider myself a cancer patient anymore!

September 2014

Look at that, back to my old habits of starting a blog post and not finishing it for months! Life just happens and I spend most of my spare time reading health and nutrition books and websites. I am absolutely obsessed I tell you! I am certainly learning a lot about the human body and mind, setting myself up for study next year. I’m really excited to start studying but know that I have a long way to go in healing myself before I can bite that bullet. At this stage I’ll be starting mid next year studying Nutritional Medicine at Endeavour College of Natural Health here in Brisbane. It would be great to start first Semester but Rosie starts prep next year and I know that she’ll need me to help her transition. Plus I still have a lot of mental and emotional baggage to sort through before complicating my life with study. I do feel impatient at times but I know it’s for the best. Hopefully all of the reading I’m doing prior to starting helps me in some way once I do start.

The effects of the vitamin infusions plateaued after a little while and then I started feeling fatigued again. My Integrative Dr has been away for a couple of months (and isn’t back until the end of the year) so I couldn’t see her to talk through my concerns even though I was still attending the clinic for infusions. I did see another Dr there but I didn’t feel as comfortable with him so I made the decision to see another Dr I’d been told about who actually specialises in genes and gut health. She was a geneticist or genomist before becoming a nutritionist (after having two boys with autism) – she’s a Nutrigenomist. I find out at the end of September which genes are behaving badly and which genes are being good little genes. It’s exciting but scary at the same time. We then go about turning these genes on and off with the right nutritional diet for me (and supplements), it’s all very individualised. It’s called Epigenetics. Genes can be turned on or off depending on the environment they’re living in and the lifestyle of the person carrying these genes. Genes are changeable, which is not what scientists thought initially. We can’t use the excuse that we have heart disease or mental health in the family therefore we’re bound to get it at some stage. Look after yourself and there’s a very good chance you won’t get heart disease or mental illness – you’ve turned those genes off by living a healthy life.

A few months ago I learned about a genetic disorder that my integrative Dr was convinced I had – Pyrrole Disorder (mentioned above). When seeing the Nutrigenomist she also said she was convinced I had Pyrrole Disorder. My integrative Dr had suggested waiting to do the test until my zinc levels were higher because low zinc levels can throw a false negative. The Nutrigenomist convinced me to do the test and my results came back borderline. We’re treating me anyway and I’ve noticed a change in energy levels since being on the right supplements for this disorder. Rosie’s came back negative so she doesn’t have it (I was convinced she did!)

I’ve not only been trying to heal myself physically but also mentally and emotionally. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I have a lot of baggage! Not just from the last couple of years, but my whole bloody life. It seems I have abandonment issues, surprise, surprise (I haven’t seen or been in touch with my birth father since I was 4). I’m slowly chipping away at this and the detox earlier in the year definitely opened the door for me in that regard. I’ve never been a religious person but I can definitely say now that I am a spiritual one. It’s a lovely place to be. Honestly, my spiritual awakening has been the biggest part of this year. I’m still a spiritual newbie but I love getting in touch with this side of myself when feeling anxious, nervous, worn down, desperate, scared, feed up etc etc. I feel I know myself a lot better than I used to, the real me. I probably have the cancer to thank for this! I’m seeing a spiritual counsellor and she’s helping me peel back the layers, like an onion. She’s awesome. I’ve also joined a spiritual enhancement group and the women are lovely. If you’re thinking of exploring spirituality yourself, I can recommend anything by Wayne Dyer, The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle and Journey of Souls by Michael Newton. Another worth mentioning is a book called Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani where she writes about her near death experience after battling cancer for many years.

Earlier this year I was regularly going to Pilates and Qi Gong classes but I stopped going and hibernated for the winter, like a bear. I’m keen to get back into exercise now that spring has sprung, it’s definitely an area that I feel I could put more effort into and I know the benefits would be great both physically, mentally and emotionally. I love swimming so hope to start that again soon. I also really enjoyed Qi Gong so will get back into that again plus some yoga and stretching in the mornings at home before the girls wake up (although this will prove difficult as they seem to be waking around 6 these days and 6 is probably the earliest I could wake seeing as I’m a bit of a night owl). I found that impossible over winter seeing as it’s bloody freezing in the mornings!

For the first time since my surgery and the removal of all of my lymph nodes on the left side, I’ve had some swelling in my left arm. It freaked me out at first but I knew what the culprit was. Carrying Polly around when she was sick for a week about a couple of months ago. The static holding was the problem my breast oncology physio tells me. I must wear my compression garment and go back again for treatment and massage. I was actually getting monthly massages with a musculoskeletal therapist but had to skip one due to sick children. I fear the stiffness and tightness on my chest, shoulder and back on my left side will never go away. I know I should do exercises for it daily but it’s hard to prioritise absolutely everything I SHOULD be doing to help my body recover from being mangled just over two years ago. And talking about mangled bodies, I’ve made the decision, at this stage, not to mangle my poor body any more. Earlier in the year I went to see a plastic surgeon about having a reconstruction. The verdict – the only way I could have a reconstruction with a nice look and feel, would be implants with my lats (yes, the large back muscles) pulled around from the back to the front while still connected to their blood supply and placed over top of the silicone implants. Other women have the option of taking fat from their tummies and even though I’ve put back on a few kilos after losing too many, there still isn’t any fat there to be moved up in the world and become breasts. Maybe when I’m 50! Haha, but seriously, I just have to accept that this is my body now and there’s no changing it. I also want to set a good example for Rosie and Polly. The last thing I would want is them thinking it’s ok to have plastic surgery just because they’re not happy with their bodies, after all, Mum did. I would rather set the example that there are more important things in life than making drastic changes to their bodies and to accept and be happy with who they are and how they look. I like to think I’m setting that example right now. I just hope I can continue to do that into their teenage years.

October 2014

Back again. I’ve had my genetic results back from my Dr and it was a bit of a shock to go through them with her (and we’ve only really gone through half of the report, going through the second half at my next appointment in a couple of weeks). Even though I’ve already had cancer, it was tough to hear that my body is quite genetically predisposed to cancer. I’m at high risk due to a number of factors, some way to technical to go into here. I’m also at high risk of heart disease and high cholesterol but I do feel that with the lifestyle changes I’ve made over the last couple of years that this won’t be a problem as long as I continue on my current path so I’m not concerned about this in the slightest, even though there’s heart disease in my family (remember, epigenetics!). The cancer high risk factors are harder to swallow though. It really put the fear back into me (actually it probably never left, it was just hiding deep down waiting to come out again to shake things up). It just scares the shit out of me that it may come back for a second go at me. And fear is a very unhelpful emotion that can eat you up from the inside out. Ok fear is good and necessary in certain situations, it can help you recognise when you’re in danger and push you into action (unless you freeze with fear!) It’s the fear that is there on a daily basis that can wreck havoc on your hormones and in turn the rest of your body. Talking about hormones, a book I’d highly recommend all women reading is Beauty From The Inside Out by Dr Libby Weaver. It’s an awesome book that every woman would benefit from reading to learn more about their hormones and bodies in general. Back to my dodgy genes, one of my fears is which of my dodgy genes have I passed onto my girls?! As I mentioned above, you can turn your genes on and off with diet and lifestyle so I’ll continue on my current path and make sure to teach the girls everything I can about living a healthy lifestyle and try not to worry about it too much. There is the option of having their genes tested but I think that’s something they can decide on when they’re older. Derek’s having his done as well.

So some of the changes I’ve made to my diet have been to start eating more paleo, so no dairy, gluten/grains or legumes and at the moment I’m also not eating nuts and seeds as they can be inflammatory to the gut. I’m eating a lot of fermented foods and also homemade treats containing gelatin from grass fed cows plus my homemade bone broth. The fermented and gelatin containing foods are very healing to the gut. One of the reasons I’m eating such a restrictive diet at the moment is to make sure I heal any issues in the gut so that I can try to reintroduce eggs back into my diet. My Dr feels it’s a histamine issue so healing the gut should help. The girls eat a lot of this stuff with me but they still organic dairy and gluten containing foods (but rarely anything containing wheat – I use spelt flour and buy spelt sourdough instead of normal bread). We still eat a diet extremely low in preservatives, pesticides and sugar and rarely do I feel I’m missing out. I still love experimenting so my fridge is always full of yummy food to eat. I’ve been to three fermentation workshops this year and am totally hooked. I make kombucha, coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut, other fermented vegetables, beet kvass. Using the probiotic coconut yoghurt I make chocolate mousse (with avocadoes), puddings (using good quality gelatin too), guacamole or added to smoothies. Anyway, I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen but it’s all worthwhile. Going to get myself a Thermomix one of these days as that would sure make it all that much easier and quicker! My weekly trip to the organic Northey St Markets at Windsor fills my heart with joy as I speak directly to the farmers and fill our fridge with good quality, healthy, real food. Lucky for me I’ve always had a keen interest in food so spending so much time thinking about it, preparing it or eating it is something that makes me happy (most of the time). It’s hard to eat like this when out and about in need of a quick fix. I normally pack my own food but a few times I’ve been caught short and have had to buy sushi (with rice which I’m not eating at the moment) or something with nuts or seeds in it just to get me through until I get home. I don’t stress about this, just make sure I’m better prepared next time. I’m really keen to be able to eat eggs again so that’s my main motivator!

The girls are both going well. Polly is as cheeky as ever and loves a cuddle. She’s pretty funny and takes great pleasure in dress ups and imaginative play. She’s high energy. Rosie starts prep next year at Brisbane Independent School (BIS) and we’re all excited for the next adventure. She’s quite bright so we have great confidence she’ll do really well and she’s already getting used to the place as we go for playgroup on a Wednesday sometimes plus one of her friends from kindy last year will be in her class so that should help with the transition. The school is also very community based so I’m looking forward to getting involved and meeting other BIS families. It’s quite an alternative school that has the resources to be able to teach each child individually and one of the biggest factors is supporting the child emotionally. There are three classes from prep to grade 6 and the kids move up to the next class for certain subjects when they’re ready both academically and emotionally. Rosie is quite advanced academically with her reading, writing, maths and overall comprehension so the principal says she may even move up to the second class for some subjects in her first year if she’s ready emotionally. This is something that happens at the child’s own pace 100% which is comforting. We’re all very excited about this next stage of Rosie’s young life.

Derek is now working in Ipswich. He changed jobs when the project he was on up in Rocky finished up. It’s great to have him so close to home after him travelling away for work so much since moving down to Brisbane. The first half of this year was extremely difficult for me as I was on my own for half the week, feeling very fatigued and also very emotional. It was such a relief for all of us when he stopped travelling. He’s only 15-20 minutes to work and is home by 5:30 most days. He’s also there in the mornings to say goodbye to us girls which we love. He often cooks the girls bacon and eggs (from our very own chooks). Derek has been extremely busy in the yard since we moved here just over a year ago. I’m so proud of his efforts. The difference is amazing and I’m really excited about the next stage which will be a greenhouse and veggie patch. A lot of trial and error I’m sure as neither of us have undertaken a project like this before. Derek’s the gardener but once the greenhouse has been built, the veggie garden will be my domain. A bit scary seeing as I normally kill plants and herbs as I forget to water them. We had an Oktoberfest party on the weekend just gone and Derek was able to show off his hard work to friends and family. He’d like to make this an annual shindig so if you didn’t make it this year then pencil it in for next year.

December 2014

So we’ve reached the end of the year already. It’s flown by! My year of good health is coming to a close and I’ve decided to make it my lifetime of good health. I can’t turn back now with everything I’ve learnt. I’m excited to help others in the future make real change to their diets and lifestyle. The plan is still to start study from mid 2015. I’m considering naturopathy now instead of nutritional medicine for a couple of reasons. 1. The naturopathy degree encompasses most of the nutritional medicine degree plus I’d be learning the added benefits of other natural healing modalities like herbs and botanicals, not just food and supplements. 2. My patients can claim with their private health fund when seeing a naturopath whereas, at this point in time, they wouldn’t be able to if I was solely a nutritionist. The other option is to study nutritional medicine at Endeavour College and then do dietetics at university but I’m wary of studying any nutritional courses at university as they’d be teaching information that I feel is outdated, such as those that see us with our current health guidelines which are backwards in my opinion. I do like the idea of keeping my education fully holistic and Endeavour College is more in line with what I value so this is the path I’m likely to take. I’ll attend another open day there in January and find out more about the naturopathy course.

I’ve since been back to see my nutrigenomist to find out the rest of my results from my gene testing. No more surprises and my energy levels are still pretty good, compared to earlier in the year. I’m going to see a naturopath who specialises in hormones in the new year, recommended by my nutrigenomist. I’m excited to see what she can do for me as ideally I’d love to go off the tamoxifen. I don’t really want to stay on it for 5-10 years as the side effects are just too unpleasant and I’m concerned about what it’ll do to my body over the long term (higher risk of endometrial cancer). If I can make sure my hormones are balanced naturally I’d feel confident that I’m doing everything I can to make sure my hormones aren’t an issue in relation to cancer and I’d be happy to then stop taking the tamoxifen. Hormones have always been an issue for me and seeing as I can’t turn back time and never go on the pill or other hormonal contraception, I’ll just have to do what I can from this point. Stopping the tamoxifen is not a decision I’d take lightly. There will be a hell of a lot of research looking at both sides of the coin. As my oncologist has always said about any form of treatment, “you have to weigh up the benefits with the side effects and risks plus take quality of life into account”. If I was to go off the tamoxifen then she’d recommend me having my ovaries out and going on another type of drug which causes joint pain plus I’d be in full on menopause. Neither option is really appealing but then neither is dying so that’s why I want to research this properly before coming to a final decision.

June 2015

Wow! Six months has passed and so much has happened. Reading over my last year in this one blog post is kind of strange. One of my main focuses over the last six months has definitely been Rosie. She started prep this year and it wasn’t smooth sailing unfortunately. Separating in the mornings was a real issue and it definitely got worse before it got better. In her third week at school she had her fingers accidentally slammed in the hinge side of a toilet door and had to have surgery to have them cleaned up. Bones were crushed and fractured and her poor little fingers were a mangled mess. They’re much better now but the whole experience was quite stressful for both of us. It’s taken two terms for her to be really settled at school. About a month ago I took her to see a transformational kinesiologist for three sessions and then I also went along for a session of my own to help sort through my own stuff but mainly to help Rosie as the kinesiologist felt it would really help Rosie if some of my own blockages were cleared. After Rosie’s sessions she was settling much better in the mornings at school with only the occasional half hearted cry. Then after my session she stopped completely and would run off with a half hearted kiss and hug. Hurray! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for kisses and cuddles in the morning at school drop off but I’m willing to forgo them if Rosie is happy and separates well. The thing is the school is more than happy for parents to hang around if the child needs it but whenever I did that (as I thought it would help) she became more upset and would regress. Rosie would throw tantrums and cry and scream and generally be unhappy. She wasn’t like that when I wasn’t there so the decision was made (in consultations with her teacher) that I wouldn’t stay and we’d do a quick drop off in the morning and they’d find some way to distract her from me leaving. Sometimes that worked but most of the time it didn’t. It was really us both seeing the kinesiologist that made such a huge difference.

You’re probably wondering “what is a kinesiologist?” And maybe you know what kinesiologists do but what is a transformational kinesiologist? Okay, so here it goes, a kinesiologist is an alternative practitioner who bypasses the mind and asks the body questions by muscle testing and asking it what it needs in that moment in relation to certain problems or concerns. The practitioner then is able to help in the process of clearing emotional blockages in the body or address physical concerns. This can be done a number of ways and the process is different for every single person and can be different for that same person during different sessions. To be honest, I don’t fully understand it. But hey, it works and I was totally amazed not only by the changes I saw in Rosie but also the changes I felt within myself after my one session. I’m going back for another one ASAP! It was truly transformational. During my own session we talked for a while then got straight into the kinesiology side of things. By the end of the nearly 3 hour session I was actually in a euphoric state. For a week or so afterwards I felt calm, the calmest I think I’ve ever felt. Nothing the girls did could change my calm state of being. One afternoon they were yelling and screaming in the car and being real little shits but I just drove home calmly and didn’t even feel anxious. Normally in that situation I would join in the yelling and screaming and the frustration and anxiety would reach boiling point. My general state during the whole evening routine is often a mixture of anxiety, angst, anger and frustration. This one session has changed how I deal with things. My frustration has returned on occasion and is probably happening more often the further I get away from my session but I’m quicker to return to calm and know the tools that help me to do this. Soft music on the radio, diffusing some essential oils or popping them on my body, taking some deep breaths, talking myself around from the anger or frustration back to calm but at the same time acknowledging what’s caused the anger or frustration in the first place and whether that’s a fair response or not. It’s something I’ve wanted to be able to do for a long time, have more of a handle on my outbursts and emotions. I can’t remember if I’ve talked much about my anger in past posts but since being diagnosed and having treatment there’s been bursts of anger that seem to come out of nowhere. I feel it rising up inside of me and just bursting forth, needing to be released. It’s actually quiet scary, not just for me but also for Rosie and Polly if they happen to be around at the time or even in the firing path. I know as mums we can lose our cool but this felt really out of my control and I didn’t like it. My spiritual counsellor has really helped me with it over the last year. We had a session earlier this year that really got the ball rolling on releasing this pent up anger that was obviously layers deep within me. Not just from my whole experience with cancer but also from my childhood (here come those abandonment issues again!) Whacking the bed with a pool noodle or even better a leather belt while really verbalising what you’re so angry about is extremely therapeutic. I’d recommend giving it a go but maybe when you’re home alone so you don’t scare your loved ones (because for it to really work you have to really let loose, let go of all inhibitions and belt the crap out of the bed). I actually ended up in a ball on the bed crying afterwards. The crying was also a great release and I felt extremely light for days afterwards. A lot of anger and anxiety had shifted and moved away. I did this with my spiritual counsellor and I don’t feel I would have gotten the same result had she not have been there. She really pushed me, to the edge and then over which is exactly what I needed. You’re probably thinking “you pay money for that?” Well, yes, I did! And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s these type of sessions that really help peel the layers of emotional baggage away. I feel like I’ve come such a long way in such a short amount of time and it’s because of these lovely ladies who give their lives to helping others reach their full potential. They’ve helped me peeled back some of my layers and shown me how I can change my mindset to live a more enjoyable life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of layers to be peeled away (probably always will be), I’ve got a long way to go before I’m living the life I aspire to but at the same time I’m really happy with where I’m at today.

So this year there’s been a shift in what I feel is most important in my healing journey. I always felt it was food and nutrition (and these things are definitely still extremely important to me and always will be) but I’ve come to realise that it’s actually my emotional and mental health that will get me through in the end. During my treatment I did speak about my mental health being so important. Looking back however, I definitely feel I could have done more in this area to help support myself through such a difficult time. But then I could also say I could have done more from a food and nutrition standpoint as well. It wasn’t until after chemo and radiation had finished that I really started to make changes in this area. I did the best I could with the energy and resources available to me at the time. I suppose I’m reflecting on this because it’s good to look back and see what you could have done differently (without getting too wrapped up in it of course). I’d also like to think that going forward, when I’m helping others who may find themselves in a similar situation to me, that I can help guide and support them with resources that would have been useful to me at the time. During this reflection I am aware that it probably wasn’t the right time for me to be doing such intense emotional exploration, I just needed to get through it. I’m not sure… It’s a process isn’t it, the same as the kinesiology, a process we all must go through at some point in our lives and what we need and how we deal with it will almost always be different to everyone else. We’re all doing the best we can at any given time, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

So this year I’ve started studying Naturopathy at Endeavour College of Natural Health. I’m still on the enabling courses (Maths, Chemistry and Biology) at this stage but in the next couple of months I’ll be starting an online subject called History of Healing. I’m really looking forward to it. The enabling course I’m currently doing (Maths) is a bit boring to be honest and it isn’t great at holding my attention for long. I’ll be starting on campus next year. After the difficult start at school for Rosie I decided to put the on campus stuff off until next year, when she’s more settled. I’ve also done my Reiki Level 1 which was great. I’m doing self reiki on myself and also on Derek and the girls. It’s a great calming tool, especially if the girls are worked up in the evening or upset during the night. I’ve also started using essential oils on the whole family. I’ve signed up as a doTERRA Wellness Advocate which will be a great addition to my health and wellness practice, as will the reiki! It feels awesome that I’m adding to my toolkit before I even start studying properly. It’s filling the gap that was meant to be study this year.

The essential oils are supporting us both emotionally and physically. They’ve been great when we’ve had colds this winter and other physical ailments but where I’m finding they’re doing their best work is emotionally. I’m feeling a lot more balanced and I think the girls are too. Rosie was having a bit of a meltdown out the other day so I pulled some oils out of my bag, we used them on her and she immediately was able to calm down, we did this in conjunction with breathing work. It was amazing to watch! I just feel happier when using them on myself and the girls. Rosie and Polly will often choose the ones they want to use and it’s often just what they need at the time. They’re using their intuition to pick the ones they need which is pretty awesome. I’m going to be hosting some oil classes with the help of my friend Olga who’s introduced me to the oils (her blog is Peaceful Mothering with Olga Dossi and I highly recommend it to all mothers out there). If anyone is interested in these amazing oils just get in touch or register your interest to attend a class. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll leave smelling great and feeling relaxed, invigorated, joyful or [insert desired emotion here](depending on the oils you’ve used that day). I’ve also signed up for some training in AromaTouch therapy. This means I’ll be able to give people a lovely massage using essential oils to help them relax and rejuvenate.

This year I’ve been to a few events that are good for the soul. I saw the Dalai Lama give his public talk in Brisbane. When he walked out onto the stage I was overcome with emotion. I had goosebumps and felt choked up. My reaction was a total surprise. I did not expect to feel that way at all. I also went to the Women Leading Change seminar with my friend Karla (a kindy mum from Rosie’s class last year who’s also studying at Endeavour), who was given two free tickets. It was such an inspiring day which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the speakers were Sean Corn (yogi and activist), Tara Moss (author and advocate for women the world over, especially those who can’t protect themselves) and Clare Bowditch (singer/songwriter and actor from Offspring) – she was my favourite, she has a lot of spunk and had us up singing and harmonising. I also managed to get two free tickets to see Marianne Williamson (spiritual teacher who gives it to you straight) for her recent tour on love and relationships. Derek and I went and I think we now have a better understanding of each other’s needs and where the other may be coming from.

So what’s ahead? I’m attending a Hay House writer’s workshop in August which I’m really looking forward to. I feel I’ve got a book in me and want some guidance as to how to get it out! Hay House are publishers of many of my favourite self help and spiritual authors including Wayne Dyer. Wayne Dyer will also be in Brisbane with Anita Moorjani the weekend before the course. Tickets are sold out at this stage but I plan on going so hopefully I can conjure up a ticket or two! I’ve done it before so I’m sure I can do it again. I really wanted to take Derek to see Marianne Williamson and we couldn’t afford tickets so I put it into our calendars that we were going and applied for a scholarship for free tickets. I wasn’t at all surprised when I received an email to say I’d been successful in my application for free tickets. So I’m confident I can find a way to get tickets to see Wayne Dyer. Maybe I’ll send him an email.

November 2015

Okay, this is the last bit I’ll add before finally getting this blog post up! I’ve had a few people lately ask me about my blog and if I’m going to keep adding to it so I thought it would be good to actually do it. I’m pretty busy right now. I’ve started study officially with my first subject, History of Healing, online. It’s an enjoyable subject but I’m a little behind due to illness and life generally getting in the way. It’s an easy subject though so I do feel confident I’ll be able to catch up and finish with good marks. I start on campus with Biology and another two lighter subjects in February. Exciting but scary!

I’ve just been to see a new Integrative Dr here in Brisbane. The Nutrigenomist has been very helpful but wasn’t able to help me in balancing my hormones so I’ve decided to go to this new Dr who can oversee all of my more serious ongoing health concerns, not like a GP but much more holistic (and expensive unfortunately!) The other reason I’ve decided not to stick with the Nutrigenomist is because she was supplementing me purely based on my high risk gene abnormalities and didn’t do many tests to see if these high risk genes were actually expresses themselves (epigenetics). I’ve been taking the supplements from her for over a year and they were great for just over six months but I’ve plateaued over winter and even now feel like I’m becoming more fatigued again. That could also be because I’m not really exercising at the moment and I have other things going on that zap my energy. Like a very busy social life lately! I really need to make sure that I’m still taking time to rest and rejuvenate. Anyway, with the new Dr I’ll be having a lot of tests done to really get to the bottom of a number of issues I continue to have. Low immunity, hormonal issues, fatigue, food intolerences, anxiety etc. She already feels from my first consult that I most likely have gut dysbiosis and am not absorbing my nutrients, especially protein. So I’m eating all this great healthy food and it’s not even helping! Back to the drawing board. I’m extremely underweight. I weighed three kilos less than I thought I did and when you weigh as little as I do, that’s not a good thing and three kilos is quite significant. She’s warned me that low weight can cause problems down the line but that I already knew. She feels fixing the gut will help me put on the weight that I need to in order to be healthier. I really hope she can help me with that.

As mentioned above I have Pyrrole Disorder and the supps I was on initially were great but this new Dr feels I need something more individualised now. Rosie was also tested when I was but she came back negative and I was so surprised at the time, especially as it’s a genetic disorder and she presents with a lot of the symptoms (anxiety being one of them). My new Dr reminded me that if zinc is extremely low then the Pyrrole test can throw a false negative. Rosie seems to have my constitution, always catching colds, prone to anxiety, possible food intolerances. It’s probable she has at least some of my dodgy genes so to avoid health problems in the future (minor and major) I’m going to take her in to see this new Dr and make sure she’s a healthy little butterfly, and if she’s not, well we can sort her out now rather than waiting for health concerns to arise like they have with me. I’m learning in my studies that we get many small warning signs before the alarm bells start ringing. I’d say my body was giving me plenty of warning signs over the years and I just wasn’t aware that’s what they were or I chose to ignore them.

My mental health is still extremely important and I do feel it’s been suffering lately. October was an extremely full month which was difficult for me. I really need to make sure I schedule in down time otherwise I get overwhelmed by it all. I’ve been sick a lot over winter too with colds and possibly the flu. This has affected my mental health for sure. Also, going to see the new Dr has made me realise I’m not actually doing as well physically as I thought I was. This is a blow. Being back on the medical merry-go-round isn’t actually the place I want to be right now but I do feel I need to be so I’m going to have to push ahead and have a good talk to myself to help get me through it. I suppose I’d rather be on the natural health merry-go-round than the cancer rollercoaster. It’s actually empowering to be able to do this as a measure of prevention (in preventing the cancer from returning). Anyway, we’re all still seeing our kinesiologist and I’m thinking a session before Christmas will help get me through the silly season. We’re heading to Agnes Water for a week with Toby and Jo (Derek’s brother and his wife) over Christmas so that should actually be quite fun and relaxing, then we’re heading up to my parents near Mackay and also Derek’s parents near Yeppoon. The difficult thing will be sticking to a food plan if I’m on a specialised one again by then (and even harder if Rosie is also on one!)

I went to the Hay House Writer’s Workshop in August and found it very helpful. And by the way, I did see Wayne Dyer as I said I would above! Okay, I didn’t attend his full weekend workshop but he did come and talk at the Hay House Writer’s Workshop. The Universe works in funny ways. Maybe I should have been more specific about where I wanted to see him 😉 He’s actually passed on now, not long after I saw him, so I was glad to have been able to see him talk live at least once. His works have been important in my spiritual “blooming”. I’m hoping to put in a book proposal before Christmas with Hay House. You’ve got to be in it to win it! And the prize is a book publishing deal. Maybe my story will appeal to them… Maybe it won’t.  Maybe it’s not the right time just yet. My lovely friend Olga and I (and her friend Mariana) are holding an essential oils and yoga day this weekend. We’re very excited about it but I’m a bit nervous as I’m giving a food demonstration on the day which is something I’ve never done before but what I see myself doing as a Naturopath/Nutritionist in the future so it’s great practice for me. Hopefully it’s just the first of many fun days like this.

The girls are going well although Rosie still struggles with separating at school in the mornings. Polly is a little girl who knows exactly what she wants and goes about getting it! She starts kindy next year and is already at the centre where she’ll be going (Indooroopilly Montessori, same as where Rosie went). Polly is the type of little girl who loves dressing up in my clothes and shoes and changes her outfit numerous times a day. She loves jewellery, shoes and handbags and sparkly clothes – very much a girly girl, unlike Rosie who pulls out whatever clothes are on top in the shelf and puts them on. There’s many a power struggle with Polly and I have to pick my battles otherwise we’d have a very unhappy household! Rosie is enjoying school, even with the separation anxiety, and seems to be a bit of a leader in the classroom. She leads games like Word Bingo with the other kids and likes to have responsibility within the classroom. She’ll be starting to transition up to the next group this year. Rosie does extremely well academically but needs some extra support socially and emotionally. I feel that the Penguins classroom will suit her organised and quiet nature more than the sometimes chaotic Big Cats classroom (although I know she’s also capable of adding to the chaos!)

After a tough start to the year for Rosie with her fingers getting slammed in the door at school, she started up her piano lessons a couple of months later and is going great guns. She’s a natural! She can read the music and also seems to have an ear for it which will see her go far if she wants to. I love listening to her practice and I rarely have to remind her to do so as she just takes herself off and plays regularly, she enjoys it that much.  Polly on the other hand seems to have a knack for tennis and other ball sports.

We’ve made a tough decision this year and that’s to sell our house, the one we live in. I’m quite torn as I love this house and in particular living in the trees. Unfortunately we have some blocks up in the Yeppoon area that just aren’t selling which we had expected them to when we bought this house. Add to that less money in the bank, my ongoing health and wellness expenses plus private school and it means something’s got to give. This house 😦 I can still feel myself resisting this change though and I wonder if that’s why the house hasn’t sold yet (it’s been on the market since May from memory). I definitely need to do some more psychological work in this area to help me move past this resistance and just accept the change. It’s difficult though!

I had my 20 year high school reunion in Yeppoon last weekend. It was so much fun! Great to catch up with everyone who attended. Three days later and I’m still feeling the effects. I certainly can’t party like I used to! Not great for my body but awesome for the soul to have so much fun and catch up with friends. It’s about finding that balance but in saying that I would never start drinking, especially binge drinking, on a regular basis again. It just doesn’t agree with me physically or even emotionally. My come down over the last couple of days has not been very nice to have to deal with. Thinking back I do remember feeling similar when having huge weekends in my 20s. As I’ve said before, my mental health is even more important to me than my physical wellbeing. I do feel that if you’re in a good place mentally you can deal with any physical issues much better and the benefits from good mental health will transpire in the physical body. But then poor physical health can feed back to more poor mental health, they’re so linked together and I believe that one can’t be treated without the other.  This is the holistic view of a complementary practitioner in the making 😉

I’ll just add a couple more things. I received the results for my first assignment since high school and I got 18/20! I’m pretty proud of myself. Also on the weekend just gone we had our Essentially Nurtured workshop which included a food demo and yoga with essential oils. It was such a lovely day and I managed to overcome my fear of having the attention all on me for the food demo. I’m not much of a public speaker and even though it was quite a small group, I was still very nervous leading up to the event, sick to the stomach. It’s a great feeling though to overcome the thing you’re afraid of and come out the other side. The yoga was also amazing. It was a style of yoga called Dru Yoga that I hadn’t tried before. I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s very similar to Qi Gong which I’ve done in the past and have always enjoyed. It’s my type of exercise! Flowing and heart centered.

I’m going to leave it there. This is a ridiculously huge blog post! I hope you’ve actually made it to the end 🙂

I’m getting in a bit early but Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Can I say that in November?!




3 thoughts on “Recovery mode, 16 months in the making

  1. Beautiful Cass, loved reading it, there is so much in there that rings true for me – especially the way I can blow up at my girls over the littlest thing! Definitely contemplating the colonic too! Good on you for posting, I loved reading it. Lots of love to you all xxx Love Dell, Tim, Isabella and Eva xx

    • Thanks Dell! If you do decide to do a colonic I’d recommend changing your diet a bit in the lead up, it’ll be easier to “shift” things.

      Being a mother is seriously the toughest gig in the world! We’re so emotionally invested and on call 24/7. It’s no wonder we go cuckoo sometimes!

      Sending lots of love. Hope to catch you guys again soon. Minus the vomiting bug please! Hehe

  2. Happy New Year Cas. I have finally found time to sit down to your blog. You were right. It was a long one 🙂 I have enjoyed the read. You inspire me to continue to be aware of and work on my spiritual, and emotional needs. Attending your essentially nurtured workshop was also a great step in this direction. I look forward to reading your published works. All the biggest kisses sweetie xx

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