“To Burn Or Not To Burn” – That is the question!

I feel like I have a battle going on in my mind and I don’t think it’s going to be a win win situation!

I had my appointment with my Oncologist on 20th May but all the days leading to the appointment that I didn’t have to attend the Hospital for one thing or another was easy – No to Radiation… I look fine, I look well, and I can do this without putting myself and my body through more toxicity.  However, the day of my appointment, I fell to pieces. I had a whole host of questions revolving around the Radiation issue, but what it boils down to it would seem, are statistics.  The likelihood of getting a local recurrence is very high in the next couple of years (according to their studies) and if it does come back locally, then there is a 50% chance that it will have also spread to another organ. Of course when you hear statistics like that, it scares you.  The facts are, that it is impossible to say one way or another whether there are still active cancer cells in my body.  So I have to make a decision without knowing the full facts (and believe me that is difficult for me!).

Who would want to put themselves through having Radiation if they didn’t have any remaining active cancer cells in their body?  I know most people will go through this and do everything that they are advised to do, but for me I struggle.  I read too much, I question a lot, I look into things from every angle, I talk to lots of different people with and without experience of going through Cancer, I don’t have a ‘gut’ feeling on anything anymore because it is all getting too much.  Can I have the confidence in my own mind to turn down Radiation and continue to do what I can to support my system and keep me well, or will I constantly worry more about recurrence? Even if I have Radiation, I know that I will be thinking about the Cancer returning – most people I am sure do, and that’s another issue that I will have to try and deal with in this process.  So it’s a catch 22 situation – I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t!  Do I go through with the Radiation and therefore I have ticked all the boxes in the conventional treatment protocol.  I can then say I have done all that has been recommended from the NHS.

My mind is in overdrive constantly every day and I don’t know what to do for the best.  Time is not on my side with the radiation as they recommend that you have the treatment within 12 weeks, and no longer than 6 months of surgery. The longer it is left the less effective it could be.  So I have signed the consent form and I have been to Addenbrookes for another CT scan for the measurements and I have been tattooed. Yes, I have got to my mid forties without being ‘inked’ and now I have 3 ‘tatts’!  They may only be small dots, but hey – that’s beside the point – I am allowed to elaborate a little! I have also received my letter with all my treatment dates starting on 30th June.  15 days of Radiation that takes me to the 20th July.  My birthday is the penultimate treatment.  I just hope I’m not suffering from any side effects and am well enough to celebrate.  So basically the days are passing quickly and I am still not convinced – I doubt I will be even if I go through it. I am probably worrying myself silly but I tend to look at all the worst possible outcomes first and foremost.  It doesn’t help that I went through the chemotherapy and that didn’t have any positive effect on the tumour – what’s to say Radiation is going to work?  Realistically we won’t really know, as no one can be sure if any active cancer cells remain!  It doesn’t inspire me to put my body under more strain and long-term damage unnecessarily.

I am armed and prepared, and will do the necessary to counteract the effects of the radiation and so I have my herbal tinctures made up, my radiation protection remedy and my burn cream – I’m just concerned about the effects within my body that you can’t see and what damage it does both short and long term.

If anyone is going through Radiation, I have been doing some ‘homework’ and have a few tips on improving the radiation experience: –

Diet is obviously important in radiotherapy as is detoxing – drink lots of clean water, eat a rainbow of colours within your diet and include lemon, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, parsley, beets, avocado, coconut oil, garlic, onions, spirulina, wheatgrass, chlorella and seaweed salad to name but a few. Flaxseed could reduce harm and even repair tissues after damage.  Drink green tea – it has a protective effect on healthy cells and enhances the radiotherapy’s success with cancer cells.  Essiac, astragalus, cat’s claw, Echinacea, grape seed extract will all boost and regenerate your immune system.  Curcumin (turmeric) can reduce damage to your body.

Also Vitamin D – if we get some sunshine that is, otherwise supplement each day.  Magnesium helps to strengthen the liver and milk thistle helps reduce the accumulation of dead cells, toxins and other side effects of the liver.  Dandelion tea also helps eliminate toxins from the liver as does Epsom salts (I have bought a 5kg tub!!).

Latest research does say that it is advantageous to keep taking all the supplements.  Cancer cells lose their ability to regulate uptake of antioxidants and the antioxidants and the radiotherapy work together to kill more cancer cells, whilst simultaneously the supplements protect the healthy cells.  If fatigue is a problem consider taking the supplement Carnitine.  Keep your liver strong – detox regularly after radiotherapy.

I think I have bored you enough about Radiotherapy and my concerns!

Some other useful bits of information that I have found recently on this journey – The Hospice run Wellness days on a regular basis and I went along to one of the afternoons at the beginning of June.  It was lovely to chat to other ladies and you had the opportunity of experiencing some complimentary therapy taster sessions.  You could have a manicure, some reflexology, reiki or an Indian head massage.  I had a taster of reiki and an Indian head massage.  I had to laugh when the therapist commented that I had a lovely shaped head!  As we both said, that isn’t something that has been said to me at all! Still doesn’t inspire me to go out without any of my headgear on just yet!

I attended a Health and Wellbeing event run by the Macmillan Unit earlier in the month where they held short workshops on Emotional Wellbeing, Financial & Benefits Advice, Diet & Nutrition and Exercise.  It’s worth going along to these events as you will always pick up some useful information and meet some lovely people.  I spoke to a couple of ladies that have been reading my articles and I had a tear in my eye from the lovely comments I received.

Another thought I had last week was t of my evening dresses and smart daytime dresses.  I have acquired far too many dresses over the years for the various events that I used to attend, and barely we it’s about time that I sorted out my wardrobes and created some space (hopefully not for more clothes!).  I have been in touch with the Macmillan Unit and have said that I will donate the proceeds to them.

On Sunday, 28th June I will be spending my afternoon at Nowton Park at the Race for Life.  My friend Ellen will be running for me in the 10k event on that day so I want to be there to cheer her on.  I did tell her I couldn’t run a bath let alone 10k!

I forgot to mention Tillie in my last article.  She is doing well, 9 months old now and grown!  I have started to leave her out the front a little more to get to know the neighbourhood cats, one of which chases her every time and she runs straight indoors to me, one she seems happy enough to be around and another one she isn’t too sure about!  Am still desperately trying to get her trained to use the cat flap! We have progressed to her using it the flap is held open by some string tied to the door handle (and only when I am not there). She will not use it with the flap down!   As for coaxing her indoors of a night time – that is a little game that we now play where I spend at least 5 minutes chasing her round the garden to get her in.  At least when I do catch her she has worn herself out from running up and down and trying to hide in my flowers!

It’s been quite some time since I last had a good laugh, but one of the films showing at the Cinema called “Spy” is definitely worth a watch!  I actually cried with laughter at the end.  However, it’s quite sad to realise that you haven’t laughed in some time.  Hopefully the ability to laugh more will return as well as my own dry sense of humour…I do miss myself sometimes!

By next month’s article I will have completed the Radiation (or will I …?) and hopefully be able to write my article without falling asleep at the laptop, which I am doing now!

“Understanding the challenges you face with your illness and then planning a life despite them may be one of the healthiest decisions you ever make.” – Lisa Copen.

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.” – Elbert Hubbard