Blog

#Breast cancer? Why me?

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Its only unhealthy people who get sick?  Isn’t it?

I walk regularly, exercise and eat a healthy diet, surely not?

As I’ve recently found out, anyone can have cells in the body that become cancerous. 

Cancer doesn’t only pick unhealthy people. 

It’s more likely as you get older, but younger people can also develop cancerous cells. 

That’s why you should go for regular mammograms and check your breasts regularly, if you’re a woman. 

It’s also important to say here, that men can be at risk of developing cancerous cells in the chest.

If you’re worried about your likelihood of getting cancer, talk to your doctor, who can arrange further tests.

Don’t put it off, it could save your life.

My story starts here…

It began when I found a lump in my chest and went for tests. 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have started treatment. 

After my initial shock of finding out, a range of emotions went through my mind. 

Also questions…

What are my chances for the future?

Will I survive this?…Probably the most difficult thing to contemplate. 

If I complete all the suggested treatment my doctors recommend, I would have a 85% chance of the cancer not returning. 

Apparently, it’s never 100%, there’s always a chance it could come back.

Most importantly for me was the following question…

How will I get through all the treatments with fibromyalgia?

The answer to this question, I’ve spent a very long time thinking about…In short there is no easy answer. 

My personal opinion is; chemotherapy is brutal on the body and a body that fights every day to survive with fibromyalgia is going to be really stressed with chemotherapy.

What can I say to my friends and family?

How do I put into words my diagnosis?

It’s been hard to explain to others what’s happening.

Other people’s reactions can be difficult to predict when you tell them the news.  Most are really understanding and helpful. 

But I’ve found some to be well meaning and a bit thoughtless.

Saying…

‘You’re be OK, Lea and Viv had it much worse than you and they both survived.’

I reply,

‘Yes, thanks for that.’

In my head I think…

‘But they didn’t have fibromyalgia or any other chronic illness already. How do you know it was worse for them? Anyway; you’ve not had cancer.’

My best course of action I think is to turn it into a positive in some way with…

‘Great! I’ll have a new subject for my posts.’

In practice, it’s not that easy. Most things in life give you some degree of control but with cancer it’s very different.

So, as my treatment progresses my posts in the weeks ahead could get more sporadic. I’ll post as and when I’m able.

I wish all those battling cancer at the moment, strength and courage. With coronavirus our fight is twice as difficult; please stay safe and think of us when you’re social distancing.

If you’ve been affected by my news take a look at the Breast Cancer Now website https://breastcancernow.org for more information.

Picture by Spiral White

Blog, Meditation, Mindfulness

#Mindfulness for calm

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Our mental health has been under stress with the unfolding crisis of Covid-19. It’s been difficult to relax and focus on calming thoughts. I’ve found practicing meditation has helped me in the past and now at this time as we try to readjust to our future.

Why practice mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • lower stress levels
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • reduce anxiety
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
  • improve decision making

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind🐒

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.

“If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.”

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

stack of stones
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Thought watching

If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.

Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.

This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.

Mindfulness meditation

Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.

Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.

Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.