When I had my first spinal radiation treatment I realized I might be a tiny bit claustrophobic. Having a plastic mask molded to your face and chest and then clipped on tight so that you don’t move a millimetre can feel incredibly restrictive.They do it because they need to you stay perfectly still and be able to mark exactly where the beam goes. I get it. The mask is important, but it still took some getting used to.
The first time they clamped me in I started getting anxious and could feel my heart racing. It was uncomfortable and felt like the longest 20 min in my life. Afterwards I had a headache and was tired and just felt awful – mostly I think from the stress surrounding it. I had 9 more days of it so I needed to find a better way to get through .
The next session I started to panic again and then I decided to start deep breathing. Things started to calm down. Then I added a mantra ‘Sat Nam’. I started repeating it on each inhale and exhale. It was a mantra I knew but didn’t fully know what it meant. Wow did it work. My entire body felt at calm and peaceful within minutes. My heart stopped racing and my jaw relaxed. The 20 min session seemed to pass in what felt like 2 min. It was amazing. Meditation was my salvation during this incredibly uncomfortable and stressful situation. It worked on the spot, right away, just like that.
That night I went home and looked up the meaning of Sat Nam. There were many interpretations and they all shared the theme of ’truth’
Truth within – I am the truth – My true self – Universal truth – Bowing to the truth – Be your authentic self – We are all one
It reminded me of who I really am at my core. It gave me strength to look straight at the truth of the moment and accept it. It made me feel connected to my life and to the universe.
Two years ago I had radiation for breast cancer and afterwards my skin was pretty tender but overall recovery was not too bad. So I walked into this round thinking it would be the same. I was wrong. They told me I might have fatigue, get a sore throat and some back soreness. In my case that was an understatement.
A more true description would be:
‘Your throat will swell up so much and feel so burnt, kinda like swallowing shards of glass, knives and fire all at once. You will be unable to eat any solid foods for 16 days, and barely squeeze down liquids. You will lose 10 pounds, be unable to sleep from discomfort and basically lose your mind temporarily from hunger and exhaustion. Oh and you will do that while on medication that is putting you into menopause, with a sore neck from surgery all while being a mother to two little girls.’
It was not fun.
I got a little desperate by about day nine as the pain, hunger and lack of sleep took over. There were many tears, and then I thought of my mantra ‘Sat Nam’ . I tried my best to sneak in meditation whenever I could. It didn’t make the pain go away but it relaxed the rest of me and reminded me that I could do this.
I can now eat solid foods again and have started sleeping again too! Food has never tasted so good and my body is getting stronger again. Things are looking up. It just took a little longer than I expected.
In addition to meditation here are a few other quick tips for getting through radiation:
- rest when you need too
- take good care of your skin
- eat well when you have an appetite and whatever you can get down when you don’t
- tell your rads team if you have any pain or weird symptoms so they can try and help you – keep asking until you get some kind of help
- if you can’t swallow solid foods try smoothies, green juices, protein shakes and yogurt
- once you are done radiation both calendula cream and pure aloe vera are soothing and help the skin heal
- protect that delicate skin from the sun at all times – cover up
- find someone you can talk to, either a friend or a counsellor. Someone you can talk to about how you are feeling both – being heard is very healing.
- be patient ( this was a tough one for me) your skin will heal up and your energy will come back
When I heard the name of this tea I was intrigued. It had so many things that I liked just in the name – apple, ginger and mint. Yumm! So I had to give it a try. It is soft and subtle but with a great mint and fruit flavour. There is just the right amount of ginger to not make it too ‘gingery’ but still give it a bit of a kick. I wish I could add a scratch and sniff button the blog so you could smell it!
This tea has some great healing properties too.
I like to have it after a meal because the peppermint, chamomile and ginger are all known to aid in digestion and calm the stomach. Chamomile is also a great flower for soothing stress so you might want to try this one in the evening as well – or whenever you get a chance to take a little moment for yourself.
The ingredients in this lovely blend are:
Spearmint, peppermint, rosebuds, hibiscus petal,osmanthus petals, chamomile, apple pieces, honey-bush and organic ginger.
If you have tried any other teas from the Steeped Tea collection let me know in the comments below. I am always looking for feedback on great tea!
You can find Apple Ginger Mint and lots of other delish tea combos on my Tea Page under the shop button.
Ok so it officially feels like winter has been here too long. I don’t like to complain about the snow and cold because I live in Canada – hello – it’s not like it’s a surprise that the winter is freezing! But still after a while it starts to wear you down. The stomach flu ran through our house this weekend adding even more fun to being stuck inside.
So what is one to do to beat the winter blues and try and pass through the next 2 months with a little shred of hope, happiness and faith that spring will come…eventually?
Try some of these:
1. Get outside – skiing, skating, snowshoeing, tobboganing, tubing, making the biggest snowman you can – whatever works for you!
2. Add citrus to you diet – a little burst of sunshine and added Vitamin C
3. Essential oils – orange , tangerine, lemon, peppermint, lime - add a few drops to your body lotion, bath , or a room diffuser to help give you a boost physically and emotionally
4. Enjoy the warmth of comfort foods – what are your faves?
5. Indulge in winter naps under a cozy blanket – even better share a nap with your favourite person
6. Read – good time to get caught up on your fave books or learn something totally new with an online course
7. Bust out the board games – the cheesier the better!!
8. Take a day trip to a therapeutic waters spa to detox and improve your circulation. If you can’t take an entire day just book yourself in for a massage or facial. A little ‘you time’ can go a long way in lifting your spirits.
9. Lastly – my tried and true fave to kick up a morning when you are feeling blah – KITCHEN DANCE PARTY – put on a song that really makes you move then dance like no one is watching – even if you feel silly keep going eventually you will feel GOOD!
I’m sure each of you have some of you own little tricks to make winter seem sweeter and more enjoyable. Please share your best ways to beat the blahs in the comment section below. You will be helping us all!
I was trying to think of a way to recap this past month and capture what it was like for us. The best way that I could think of was to list all the things I am thankful for. Now I know that might sound strange coming from someone who was just diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her bones but trust me when I really think about it , the list is long…..
I AM THANKFUL for my radiation oncologist who looked at my scans and thought that surgery was needed asap before any radiation was done AND for the amazing neurosurgeon who repaired my fractured spine so I no longer had to worry about the potential of paralysis from the bone mets.
I AM THANKFUL for all the different drug options that exist for women with breast cancer that has metastasized to the bones. I am thankful that I have team of nurses and doctors who will do their best to make sure that everything that should be done is.
I AM THANKFUL for the wonderful nurses who took care of me at the hospital in the early days right after my 7 hour spinal surgery. You are very good at what you do.
I AM GRATEFUL for my superstar, knight in shining armour, best friend of a husband who is always by my side and who spent his birthday sleeping in a chair next to my hospital bed so I wouldn’t be alone the night after my surgery. Then he went home to take care of our daughters and try to keep some sort of normal for them even though I’m sure normal was not was he was feeling inside.
I AM GRATEFUL for my best friends who showed up with food, magazines, laptops loaded with smutty TV and movies,hugs and tissue to wipe away my tears of anxiety as I told them my fears and worries in the hours and days after surgery.
I AM THANKFUL for the meal train my friends organized for us. So many delicious dinners, made with love and dropped off at our door each night so my hubby didn’t have to stress about what we would eat while I was totally out of commission.
I AM THANKFUL for my incredible family who showered us with so much love and support even though many of them are going through their own battles.
I AM GRATEFUL for the flowers, treats, magazines and gifts for the us and the kids that kept showing up at our door. Wow were we spoiled!
I AM HAPPY for the painkillers I take. Even though they haven’t totally got rid of my pain I have a feeling things would be way more painful without them.
I AM THANKFUL for the phenomenal Naturopathic Doctor I was introduced to who specializes in oncology and cancer treatment. She has been a strong source of knowledge, piece of mind and hope.
I AM GRATEFUL for the simple fact that I can CHOOSE how I am am going to perceive and react to everything that is happening to us.
I AM THANKFUL for my mother who taught me how to be strong and to never give up. I know she is always with me in spirit.
I AM SO VERY BLESSED to have my angels on earth. My two giggling, curious, sometimes driving each other and us crazy, loving, funny, sweet baby girls. My rainbows, sunshine and magic all packaged up in two little people.
AND I AM MOST THANKFUL for all the LOVE. LOVE that comes in all shapes, sizes, ways, words, actions, thoughts and deeds from all our friends and family.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t cry or have bad days or wish this never happened because I do! but within all the bad I CHOOSE to see some good. So I move forward into 2014 ready to take it on and whenever I feel like it’s getting tough I will remind myself of all that I am thankful for. The list is long….
Happy New Year full of health, laughter, joy and new adventures to you all!
What will you be thankful for in 2014?
So when I thought I was done fighting cancer for good it turns out I was wrong. Apparently I still have some ass to kick. We just found out this week that the pain I have been having in my back for several months is actually cancer related. It looks like the breast cancer has metastasized to my spine and is wreaking some havoc on my bones. So this week I am going to have major spinal surgery followed by whatever treatment is needed to get rid of the rogue cells that are causing trouble in my spine. Honestly we are all still in shock and wondering what the heck just hit us?!
In the meantime we move forward one day at a time to navigate our way through this surreal experience. I will be offline for a while post surgery but will post updates as soon as I can. Thanks for all the love and support.
I’ll be back in a few weeks.
The Deva Life
I am Jasmin Fiore, a yoga teacher, aromatherapist, reiki master, mother and young breast cancer patient interested in all things that keep us happy and healthy. Please join us for weekly insights and info as we explore ways to create a brilliant,healthy, love filled deva life.
Deva - a sanskrit word for celestial or shining – a powerful connection to nature, the universe, and the ability to connect with the divine.
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