The Cancer Road – Smoothing the bumps & avoiding the potholes.

‘Six year breasty graduate’ – that’s me, and the adventure keeps giving.

Life has many twists and turns; most come from left field and well off our radar. It continues to amaze me how the most challenging of times can create such wonderful opportunities for change and growth. Albeit only seen clearly in hindsight.

Being a regular attendee at cancer groups to share a few tips and tricks of my adventure, I value the opportunity to make the cancer journey a little easier for others.  Mostly it’s how to manage your head, minimise the side effects of cancer treatments and reduce the risk of reoccurrence. Now, I don’t have a PHD, nor am I a therapist – I’m just a girl who’s been through it, is always focused on a proactive approach and accepts total accountability for my state of mind.

There are always moments, in and out of the cancer journey, when your vibe is low and your head is whispering nothing but negative things. Once you acknowledge that you’re in a dark place, the question is how do you get yourself out of it?  The top 3 ways I used to change my vibration and switch my glass half empty thoughts to a glass half full were:

Do what makes you happy.

For me it was strapping on my Nike running shoes, sliding into my lycra, running cap, iPod and even the sunnies on my head. Onto my indoor treadmill and off I’d shuffle at .08km/hr. That’s right, 0.08. The vision in my head was vastly different to realty but by the time I’d managed a 3km jog while pumping out the tunes to the latest hit song, it was happy days.

Grateful & Reframing

This is the easy one. How do you view your diagnosis, your treatment, your day? You can  always find something bad but what are you grateful for? I was grateful that the cancer diagnosis got me off the corporate treadmill, it gave me the opportunity to go blonde and I had the best Brazilian ever for 9 months. There were many things to be grateful for that helped to change my focus.

We control our thoughts, so if we are thinking negatively, how do we change them? The easiest way is to just think the opposite. Say the negative thought to yourself or out loud, then repeat the thought replacing the negative words with the opposite positive words. Just switch it around so it’s a positive sentence. ‘I’m very sad’ to ‘I’m very happy’. ‘I’m in pain’ to ‘I’m pain free today’. It’s easy and the difference is amazing.

And remember that sometimes when we sit staring into the abyss, it’s the perfect thing to do. I don’t believe we always have to pull ourselves out of the low spot – sometimes it’s ok just ‘to be’ (but not forever). I found it helpful to accept everything and judge nothing.

Be the observer

I have to thank Eckhart Toll, the spiritual guru, for this one.  He taught me how to emotionally detach from my thoughts. There are times when hearing or watching something may trigger an internal conversation of negative chatter. And that could be a slippery slope.  Eckhart Toll teaches you to BE THE OBSERVER and not engage. There is power in saying to yourself “isn’t that interesting that I am thinking like that/ about that” and observe your thoughts, which breaks the emotion that we start to attach to those thoughts.

Now there was a cheeky 4th method but you will have to hear that one from me in the flesh as it’s a tad naughty for print

Treatment protocols and their side effects are different for everyone who goes through a cancer treatment. No two people are the same so it’s difficult to predict what you need to get though your treatment plan, whatever the plan is. However I found a few generic approaches that helped the road to be less bumpy.

Focus on ‘WHAT YOU KNOW’

It’s so easy to get caught in the ‘What If’s’ when you have a tonne of questions and no answers. The waiting game is excruciating. Although you have to address the ‘What Ifs’ it’s important not to dwell on them and to remain focused on what you know. Slowly the ‘What You Knows’ get bigger then the ‘What Ifs’.

Protect your energy from others.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis or not, we all know there are people that can energise or drain us. When we are well we can manage those who drain us but when we are physically, mentally or emotionally challenged, it’s wise to keep those encounters with the ‘drainers’ short and sweet or not existent.  Put yourself first and pick your close support group wisely.

Supplementation

If you are undergoing cancer treatment there is a good chance you have been asked not to take any supplements. That didn’t sit right with me, so I worked with my brother who is an acupuncturist, to identify the side effects of each treatment phase, then plan supplementation to support my body to reduce the side effects of the treatments. I had some interesting conversations with the oncologist but we negotiated that I could take all my supplements  as long as I stopped them three days before treatment and waited for three days post treatment before I started again. I learned that if you truly believe you need to do something then it’s worth having an open and honest conversation and finding a suitable solution. It was an intimidating conversation to have but it’s your body and you have to live with it when treatment is over!

After I was finished treatment, I realised there was a big gap in information about supplementation through cancer treatment. I connected with a couple of integrated naturopathic physicians in the USA who work in integrative oncology whose  jobs were to manage the side effects of their cancer patients using natural supplements. The USA was streets ahead of Australia in integrative oncology. Together we wrote a book ‘WHAT”S YOUR PLAN – Manage Side Effect of of Cancer Treatment with Natural Supplements – Evidenced Based’.

The book explains cancer in basic terms, provides an insight into the role of diet and mind body medicine in healing and lists more than 90 natural supplements with their relevant clinical studies that are all currently being used in integrative oncology

The book is available as an e-book and paperback on www.managesideeffectsofchemo.com

SCENAR- Eastern Medicine meets Western Technology

I was introduced to SCENAR after surgery and I used it to assist my body’s ability to heal. I was so impressed with it that I bought one. It’s my first aid kit and usually by my side everywhere I go, still. Think of it as a 10th generation TENS machine. I don’t claim to understand how it technically works, I just know it does. It saved me on many occasions – infections, sore throats, getting me off sleeping tablets, used through radiation to minimise blistering and risk of lympheodema, and recently saved a tooth from a root canal/extraction. They are available from www.biocircuitry.com.au

Manage risk of Lymphoedema

Having survived surgery without Lymphoedema, I new I was at risk as I approached radiation treatment. I’d been seeing Tania Shaw for lymphatic and oncology massages, so together we nutted out a plan for the eight weeks of radiation.

  • Lymphatic massage 2x weekly
  • Scenar meridian points daily
  • Self massage (Tania taught me) which I did multiple times through the day pending on my degree of swelling and comfort levels

Pleased to say I remained lymphoedema free! Tania and I then videoed the self-massage technique she taught me and we uploaded it to YouTube  – 70K hits later it was obvious there were many people searching for this information.  So we thought we would give it to them and set about making videos and instruction manuals, LymphDIY was born.

For instruction guides email tania@oncologymassagetraining.com.au

Thermography

Given all I have read I am hesitant to have mammograms and to be honest, the thought of placing what is left of my breast into a mammogram machine is nothing short of torture. I now use thermography to track my body’s state of inflammation. I was using thermography prior to the diagnosis and am confident it highlights areas of concern that I will follow up with appropriate methods if required. Below are my thermography images prior to and post cancer treatment. Each year my left breast gets greener and greener.

If you are interested in Thermography contact Deb or Steve from Revival in Noosa on (07) 5455 5655

Many folks return to life as it was prior to a cancer diagnosis. Knowing that my body had the ability to support the growth of cancer I was not comfortable to do that so embarked on a 2 fold mission.

  • To ensure my body had the elements it needed to kill cancer cells and
  • To minimise the bad stuff that contributes to cancer and disease.

My health plan is now centred around the following :

  • Building my immune system, alkalising and gut health
  • Balancing my hormone levels
  • Managing stress levels
  • Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Enhancing my bodies ability to detox

Prevention – Immune

The above are all interlaced. The list of foods, herbs and potions that can strengthen your immunity is endless and also supports hormone, stress management and detoxing.

I have a few core foods and supplements but then rotate through other products just to mix it up and keep it all exciting. To go into detail I’d need a few more pages so here is an inkling of what I do.

My morning regulars; apple cider vinegar (ACV) and warm water drink, Boneset, Astragals or a mushroom mix, followed with a green juice or smoothie. Typically adding banana, berries, nuts, detoxing greens such as kale, chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass, broccoli sprout powder from Super Sprout, colostrum, protein powder, a few squirts of iodine and selenium, MSM, a packet of Percy’s Powder mineral supplement and a good dosing of chai seeds for a boost of omega 3.

I eat clean, organic, fermented foods, cook with garlic, ginger, turmeric and other cancer fighting herbs and drink mostly tulsi tea and green matcha tea and kombucha. (Ok, the odd wine and G&T appear as well.)

I avoid sugar, processed foods laden with chemicals, preservatives and artificial stuff. In a nut shell foods either help or harm – when you ask the question it easier to avoid them.

Hormones

Identifying that oestrogen dominance contributes to a number of cancers, I now keep my oestrogen in check. Progesterone (not the synthetic progestin) is a daily for me. Tulsi (Holy Basil) and other adaptogens that manage the stress hormone Cortisol and balance the body are staples in my cupboard.

Toxic Chemicals – Detox

Having experienced a hormone induced cancer, the more I became aware of xenoestrogens, (a category of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) that enter our body and act as oestrogen, the more passionate I became about avoiding them. Problem is, they are everywhere.

Frightfully the more I read about the toxic chemicals in our everyday environment, products and services and the growing evidence linking them to disease, the more I knew I had to find non toxic alternatives across all aspects of my life. Cleaners, dentists, dry cleaners, hairdressers and the list went on.

Little did I know then that 3 years down that track, this realisation would have become my life’s mission. My 24/7, The Chemical Free Community was born.

You don’t know what you don’t know until someone takes the time to tell you. Once you realise the impact of these nasty chemicals on us and our family’s health, and that over 300,000 chemicals that are mostly untested for human safety are approved every year for use in our everyday foods and products, you start looking for safer alternatives for you and your kids.

www.chemfreecom.com is an aggregator of information – services – products and events that inform and support those who choose to live in a ‘Chemical Free State of Mind’ where every product you buy or service you use is one that is the least toxic.

The Chemical Free Community is out to prove that it’s not hard to be less toxic. There’s a tonne of safer alternatives available on-line and in your own backyard. We are taking sustainability to the next level – let’s save us first and by default we will save the planet

For me, the cancer adventure has led to many opportunities for personal and professional growth, providing the possibility for me to contribute in a small way to cancer prevention.

Chemical Free Community supports those wishing to avoid toxic chemicals in their food & environment, to lessen the symptoms of existing diseases & lower the risk of developing them in the first place.

Jillian Exton – Founder Chemical Free Community.