One of the first people I spoke to on receiving my breast cancer news was my friend Clare. Clare is a ball of energy, always positive and vibrant. She drove up to see me immediately, and boosted my spirits, not only giving me the confidence that I would get through this, but also talked to me about changes I needed to make in my life. Her Mum Catriona sadly lost her husband to cancer, and has since become and expert on alternative medicine, and the importance of diet. She is just like her daughter, full of energy, and a real inspiration.
Catriona sent me lots of information on supporting the body, one of which was Oxygen drops. The theory behind it is that in our industrialised societies, our bodies are receiving less and less oxygen, which is making it harder for the cells to repair themselves thus creating illnesses such as cancer. As I already live in the countryside, I decided not to take them, but it did reinforce the importance of exercise during this period.
During chemo I felt pretty dreadful most of the time, but I was by no means bed-bound, just lacking in energy, coupled with rather dark thoughts, as the chemo coursed through my body. One of the other side effects, especially towards the end was little pains in my thighs and hip area. I forced myself to go out walking every day, or on my bicycle if the weather wasn’t too grim. I was especially buoyed on by my sister, who always has lots of energy, and if she wasn’t with me, I would still make sure I took the dog out, for thirty minutes or so. Not only did it take the pains away in my thighs, but for the first time I consciously breathed in the oxygen into my lungs, and I really felt its benefits. I would return home with colour in my face, a little more tired, but less depressed that I had been staying in the house.
I’m also bringing meditation into my daily routine, being conscious of my breath, in order to reduce my stress levels as well as clear my head. I’d neglected this in my pre-cancer life, and think it’s important going forward. I’d also read quite a lot about breathing into my belly – this is where your emotions are stored so breathing in (four counts in, six counts out) is a really good way of relaxing.
I don’t want to sound like Mr Motivator, as at the time it was really hard, and still is, but on reflection, I am really glad I managed to do it, most days at least, and I think it’s helping my body to recover now as I go through radiotherapy – physically and mentally.