The problem with the NHS is that while hospital procedures are of a good standard, the minute you leave it all goes to pot. There is no home support. Gone are the days of the District Nurse, and when I go to the hospital for my 15 minute ‘physio’ this entails bending my leg in all directions and measuring the angle of movement, and comparing it to the last. Tick the box. Continue reading →
This is what microsurgery looks like! The one on the far right is plugged in to the sciatic nerve!
I should have been alerted by the big black needle. ‘I am doing microsurgery today,’ announces Dr Ang. ‘In America they have at least one nurse to help,’ he giggles. ‘But no need in Chinese Medicine if you have a good doctor.’ Continue reading →
I have been having a very health conscious couple of weeks – more acupuncture (agony this time) for the shoulder which six months on is still not better. I am also aware that my 18 month check is due, and my bad leg has also been twinging – whether I banged it diving or, as Mrs Ang (Prof’s wife) says as she gaily sticks more needles into it to kick start the system (the old ‘No pain, no gain’ mantra ringing in my ears), my circulation is not good enough, I don’t know. Whatever…
So I decided to look at the healing properties of coconut, which I published first on my http://www.healthylivingwithcancer.co site. My findings have excited me so much that I am sharing them with you all.
I can see you all rolling your eyes and thinking this is just another crackpot health claim. I thought so too until I read the book, Coconut Cures by Brice Fife, that a kind dinner guest gave me recently. Now I have substituted coconut oil for all others in my cooking (and changed all the recipes on this site accordingly!), am adding 2 tsp to my daily granola and fruit, and dressing my lunchtime salad with it (plus balsamic and lime). Soon I daresay I shall be rubbing it in to my scalp where I have pre-cancerous sun damage which freezing has failed to cure and using it as sun tan oil instead of Nivea or Ambre Solaire.
So here we are, four years on, and I need a new challenge.
Writing the book about my mother and her war (Love and War in the WRNS, to be published in June) – one of the best periods of her life of which she was justly extremely proud – provided solace and therapy after all the bereavements and stress we have suffered over the past few years: the deaths of my mother, father and Louise, plus both Ross and I being diagnosed with cancer. Continue reading →
It’s Chinese New Year next week – these jolly mandarins are everywhere; a taxi driver gave me the big one!
Have spent the past few days making the long-awaited photo book for Louise. I felt compelled after reading my friend Sarah Helm’s harrowing account of the Ravensbrück women’s death camp, If This Is a Woman. It’s one of the real horror stories of the Second World War and was buried behind the Iron Curtain, with the Communists only commemorating their own, and not the thousands – maybe as many as 60,000 (not only Jews, but French, Czechs, Germans -asocials – Poles, English and American SOE agents) – who were murdered there. There was a strong link between the two camps to Auschwitz where all my Czech family, apart from my father, his mother, two uncles and two cousins (who were kindertransport) perished. I will never buy a Siemens product again. You’ll have to read the book to find out why. Continue reading →
I was visiting a dear friend who has just been diagnosed with leukaemia and was chatting to him about why some people get cancer and some don’t. I expounded my theory that I am convinced that both Ross and I both became ill after the great grief we experienced when we lost our darling Louise. My friend was also trying to make sense of his illness, coming hot on the heels of his wife’s breast cancer (as couples we are members of our special cancer couples club, but we won’t invite you to join it, it’s terribly exclusive) and was able to contextualise their respective illnesses within a bereavement framework. It was he who pointed me in the direction of Prof Janet Lord’s research on how age alters our immune response to bereavement.
The change of pace has been noticeable. Whisked away from London in some style on BA ( a windfall trip first class), I find Singapore surprisingly cool and pleasant. There’s a stiff breeze on our 11th floor balcony, and my plants are swishing and swooshing while the sunbirds chirp a merry greeting several times a day. The orchids have sprouted great long flower stems and I can admire them as I sit on my chaise longue, reading my friend Sarah Helm’s harrowing story of Ravensbruck death camp, If This Is A Woman. At times I weep from the gratuitous cruelty of this untold story. Continue reading →
Please follow and, more importantly, spread the word amongst any friends and family you think it might help – it’s all about the power of positive thinking to help you recover from cancer. For foodies there are loads of new recipes, all extremely healthy. There’s even some proper scientific back-up for this holistic approach, with periodic blogs by ‘the doc’.
My recently re-acquired routine – exercise, writing, physio, acupuncture – has been rudely shattered by yet another health scare. Can you believe it? Only a week after seeing my lovely Singapore GP, Dr Foong, about routine things, like B12 jabs, next scan dates, HRT etc – she is surprised to find me back again. Continue reading →
Cupping and acupuncture can be done together, if you look carefully you can see the needles on my neck
News flash: ONLY 7 SESSIONS LEFT!
Third appointment with the good doctor. This time I have TWO rounds of cupping: the first over my needles, and then, because not strong enough, another lot…plus more acupuncture. Again painful. But, she says, looking at my tongue, I am making good progress, kidney yin much improved. I admit to transgressions over the weekend but some honour is restored during my rigourous treatments!. I ask about the energy pills and discover they are the caterpillar fungus that we came across in Bhutan: so rare that the Prime Minister told us he had started an annual auction to prevent smuggling and to regulate the market. These, however, are farmed.
When I get home, I look at my back – it looks like my Orla Kiely bedcover. Three layers of fading cupping marks…
Orla Kiely eat your heart out!
Left alone for long periods today…half-heard conversations with other patients fascinating: the male artist has lost 5-6 kgs since xmas and we have long descriptions of his bowel movements (think he has back problems); then there’s the woman who talks about ‘weeing’ and is keeping a chart…cystitis perhaps? It keeps me occupied as I lie in vague pain and stiffness waiting for the channels to clear.
It is true that, even after so much time in discomfort, I come home and feel invigorated. Mandy, and Hilary, who has come to visit, both notice.
No alcohol passes my lips, two days now…buy an organic apple juice with ginger, which is rather refreshing. Think I could get used to this – but see later!.
A new Japanese dish which combines chicken with dashi, a Japanese fish and seaweed stock. surprisingly delicious
Only 8 more sessions left, but this morning as I rush to dry myself after my post-yoga shower, I feel a searing pain on my shin: look down and it is bleeding! Overnight the dreaded radiotherapy rash has appeared. When I present to the radiographers they are surprised it hasn’t done so before, but comment that my skin is very good, and I ‘look after’ myself well. The problem is the final sessions are much more concentrated.
Later, I see Dr Miah, who is not worried; she tells me to keep up with the aqueous cream but make sure it doesn’t go in any of the raw areas. She thanks me for telling her about Servan Schrieber’s Anti-Cancer book; she now has something to recommend to her patients when they ask her for advice. I confess my forays into TCM but she is fascinated and now wants to read the blog!
Back at the TCM surgery, pony-tail boy whispers, ‘I don’t know how you can drink that tea’, as I leave after my fourth session of acupuncture and cupping. Dr Deng, though, is pleased with my progress, and the cupping marks are decreasing in their intensity. She tells me that my stagnating blood is finally on the move again, and she places needles around my rash in order to feed it with blood to help it heal quicker.
The needles concentrated around my kidneys
My kidney pulse/yin is much better now, and my tongue is a good colour. The alkaline diet is beginning to work. However the terrible tea gives me noxious wind and the energising caterpillar fungus pills keep me awake! She adjusts the tea, and lessens the dose of the pills, while increasing the frequency of Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, also known as Rehmannia 6 or 6 Flavour Tea-pills, the classic TCM remedy for restoring the kidney yin. Also known for increasing libido, menopause symptoms (ladies please note!) and boosting the immune system. Worth a go, three times a day!
The perfect lunch: miso soup with shitake and tofu; pumpernickel avocado salad sandwich and veg juice
I have been reading up about the kidney yin and TCM in general. In TCM the kidney really governs the well-being of the whole body:
Western physiology and anatomy limits its description of the kidney to the actual organ itself, TCM assigns such profound, broad significance that it is obvious that the Chinese concept of `kidney’, as the home of the `ancestral chi’ (inherent constitution) and the root of yin and yang for the entire body refers to a much vaster terrain. Dr Michael Tierra
Thus the health of the kidney is critical to restore the correct ph balance (7.4) in the body and discourages the growth of cancer cells. When the blood is alkalized, it is able to contain more oxygen, absorbing up to 100 times more than a body with a high acid content. People with cancer often have bodies, which contain too much acid, thus eating right is critical. Further, in relation to cancer, TCM pinpoints possible causes of blood stagnation, which seem pertinent in my case:
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that cancerous tumors are the result of blood stasis or phlegm accumulation or both. Qi activates and governs blood circulation. Deficiency of qi may cause blood stasis. Stagnation of qi, which is usually due to an emotional upset or affection by exopathogens, is another common factor that impedes the normal flow of blood and results in blood stasis and eventually tumor formation. A Practical English-Chinese Library of Traditional Chinese Medicine by Prof. Dr. Enqin Zhang (Engin CAN)
Many may think it is mumbo jumbo, but it has worked for over 5000 years, and I am just hoping it works for me!
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The weekend finds me in Wales with old friends, Anthony and Carrie, chauffeur driven by another chum, Tara. They are the most perfect hosts – great cooks and lots of laughter; I feel a right spoil-sport as I decline various of my favourite foods – smelly cheeses, home-made chicken-liver pate; and more than a bit naughty as I accept a glass of champagne and then a glass of red wine – surely a girl must have some time off for good behaviour? Nevertheless, I have taken the precaution of boiling up two days’ worth of tea – partly out of deference to my hosts as the smell is so disgusting, but partly to ensure that I safeguard my progress and don’t find an excuse not to take the medicine! Just hope that my yin will be back in shape by the time I see the good Doctor Deng on Tuesday!
Carrie enjoying the sunshine
Anthony with the wild ponies: we went on a walk, at least a mile
Nor forgetting beautiful Crumble who was determined to give me a friendly paw on the leg