17. Changes Afoot

It has been a strange and soul-searching week-and-a-bit, hence no blog. Readers of previous blogs will know that my good friend Lyn has been a massive and constant support to me in general, but especially on hospital visits, where she lights up the whole waiting room and has us all chuckling. Since the last post she has been in hospital herself, seriously ill with a neural aneurysm – and needed brain surgery to save her life. She is home now and I will see her tomorrow for the first time, but I would be grateful if you could send thoughts for her continued progress and recovery.

You might have also noticed there have been no posts from hospital or accounts of exciting encounters with Dot. After a recent blood test which showed just how healthy my bone marrow is, I had a kind of awakening. The objective of this particular chemo is to destroy almost every cell in my body (a few cancer cells, but generally also a lot of very good quality ones), then replace them with cells grown outside (stem cell transplant) with the hope that my body rebuilds itself. I came out of the appointment wondering why on earth I was doing this. The quiet whisper has become a roar and I can no longer avoid it. The shock and speed of my diagnosis left me no time to explore other options, and, fearful and panicked as I was, I leapt almost whole-heartedly (but to be truthful, with a lot of apprehension) into the treatment regime that appears to be my only hope. I might be pink and bouncy when I am in hospital, but underneath all that I have extreme doubts about this treatment and especially the side effects. We’re not just talking hair loss and nausea. The possible side effects are included on the consent form I had to sign before treatment started, and the registrar apologised that he had run out of space but I could have a further booklet to enlighten me if I wanted to know more. Included in those that did fit on were heart failure, arrhythmia (like I need more?!), sudden death, liver failure, kidney failure, permanent brain damage, liver/lung changes – oh, and failure of treatment. So I could go through all that and still not be well. My instinct that this poison was, well, poisoning me, was absolutely spot on. I haven’t looked at the statistics of the people suffering from side effects, but I have never been much of a gambler; if there is a chance I could get any one of those things I would rather not throw the chips down, thank you very much, so the whole scenario has been very much on my mind.

This whole episode was also heightened by several people mentioning the possible use of medicinal cannabis for the nausea I was complaining about. Of course cannabis is illegal just about everywhere in the world, and not because a very small percentage of people get off their heads on wacky baccy. Oh no. Cannabis is illegal just about everywhere because it poses such a massive threat to several massive industries including Big Pharma. There are literally hundreds of case histories showing how cannabis oil has treated cancer, but you have to do a lot of illegal things to be able to use it, which isn’t my particular strength. I get stopped going through Customs with just hand luggage, so I’m not about to get into anything even slightly illegal as they will come here first. Plus we have a policeman living just over the way, and nice as he is, I think he would probably want to investigate the source of the sweet smell emitting from our apartment. Go Google Rick Simpson if you are interested to know more. This started to get me ever so slightly frustrated. The truth is I have such a rare and aggressive form of cancer that they don’t have a neat regime like in other cancers. I know there are countless people alive today who are grateful for their treatment, but basically treating me is a work in progress which has lots of caveats and a fair amount of crossed fingers.

Thinking about the cannabis oil led me to other alternative therapies. My mum fought breast cancer for a second time with alternative therapy after an horrific encounter with radiotherapy when she first had the disease. That was 27 years ago and she survived longer than most women on conventional treatment at the time although, sadly like them, she did eventually succumb. In fact yesterday was the 20th anniversary of her death. Hi Mum! So I do know a bit about it, and it has definitely played a part in my health choices ever since. A contact of Stephen’s sent a lovely email wishing us both well and suggested some herbs that might help me as well as details of a medical herbalist we could talk to. By this time my chemo appointment was drawing close and I was feeling more and more strongly that I needed some thinking space. At my pre-chemo appointment on Weds I said that I needed to delay the treatment until next week due to work commitments (partly true). There was no struggle but it was a hard thing for me to do as although inside I am quite a rebel, on the outside I am a real scaredy-cat. Anyway I managed it, and on Friday we were on our way to see an Ayurvedic medical herbalist. Apart from the glorious sunny weather, driving through one of the prettiest parts of England was a balm to my soul and we had a very useful appointment with her. She suggested an intensive 3 week treatment that would be taken in India called panchakarma shodhana. We’re not talking Indian Spa here – it is a seriously uncomfortable treatment that is designed to force the toxins from your system. I am still investigating the possibility of going to India, but I have already started on the slow version here. I left with my bag of disgusting tasting herbs and tinctures. I am following a 75% green veg no fruit diet (cancer cells love sugar), so basically any plateful must have 75% greens. So I am having really odd breakfasts like poached egg on steamed spinach and poached haddock on spinach and curly kale and I have just started fruit-free green shakes. I’ll report back on that one! Curly kale of course being the latest big fad since spinach. Did you know that spinach isn’t any better for you than any other greens? The scientist apparently got his decimal point in the wrong place and for decades we were duped into thinking spinach was especially excellent. See…never trust the science :-)

I haven’t yet decided which route I am going to take. Astrologers amongst you will know that it is Mercury Retrograde at the moment. For the uninitiated that means it is a very bad time to make decisions. It is a time of research and investigation and of pondering. We have a meeting with the consultant on Tuesday in which I am going to suggest I take a 3 month break from chemo to investigate other methods of healing and discuss with him my very deep seated concerns about the treatment. I will have Stephen there to help back up the scaredy-cat, don’t-want-to-upset-people side of my nature. What does seem wrong though is that I should even worry about bucking the system. You could say, and no doubt many will, that I am considering refusing something that science proves works. The reality is that very big money funds the science with a vested interest to show that it works, which is absolutely not always the case. Anything ever so slightly threatening to these organisations has been stamped out by the 1939 Cancer Act. Read the inspiring but truly horrific case history that is going on as I write, to discover what we are up against http://sallyrobertsourstory.wordpress.com/sally-roberts-story/

I started this blog many posts back saying that I wasn’t angry and that for me it was all about acceptance and surrender. I have found in the last week that I am actually becoming very angry; I am angry that I am being shoe-horned into a treatment that may not be in my best interests, and that options that may work better for me have been hounded out of town so they can’t compete. I am also angry that I have to put a huge amount of effort into doing all this when all I really want to do is get on with life. To this end I am becoming increasingly enamoured with Thich Nhat Hanh and the way he teaches mindfulness. I am reading his book ‘Fear’ (see Book Blog for more info) because of course I am afraid. I face a very uncertain future and that is very scary. In ‘Fear’, he teaches that we have to come back to the ‘here and now’ as this is the only moment in which we can be fully present. The past has gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, but I am here now. The poem I want to leave you with is one from the book that I have just started working with to help me understand and dispel this anger. Anger and cancer are not good bedfellows. So we end up back at acceptance. Sometimes I astound even myself :-)

I have arrived, I am home.

In the here, in the now.

I am solid, I am free,

In the ultimate I dwell.

Be well,

Margaret xx


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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10 Responses to 17. Changes Afoot

  1. Ronnie Smith says:

    I am so so sorry – I too have had a traumatic week – was told I wouldnt see consultant til 5 April – my throat is closing up rapidly so spoke to my nurse, Dr Boot’s secretary and my GP and now they have brought it forward to 15th March so I am relieved. I just hope my throat will stay open to take the liquid drinks and soups I am on till then – I am frightened – chemo makes you sick but I cant be sick from my stomach only from my thoat. Anyway enough from me – I will keep you and your friend in my prayers – I am here for you if you wany to talk Margaret – take care and God bless xxxx


    • Hi Ronnie,
      So sorry to hear what you are going through. The worst thing about the chemo, to be honest, was the feeling of the toxins going into my body because i never usually take any drugs at all. It was only after the second treatment that I felt really sick and I was only actually sick once. Don’t worry – especially in your case they will make you as comfortable as they possibly can and you are given anti-nausea treatment along with the chemo. The staff do absolutely everything to look after you and are constantly asking if you are OK. My cancer might be aggressive but I am not suffering as you are. My tonsils went down after the first treatment so I am sure the swelling in your throat will do the same, then you will feel much better and less frightened. You are going to the best place and they will really look after you. If I can help in any way, just email me. Big hugs, Margaret x x


      • Ronnie Smith says:

        Thank you Margaret – it was great to see you and talk to you this afternoon. We have missed you at dancing but understand when you dont attend. I am trying to stay strong and do all the things I did before this cancer reared its ungly head. Bill and my daughter are my rock and also my two sisters in law, so I am so lucky to have them. I am seeing one of Bill’s friends tomorrow – a spiritual healer – I just hope she will be able to help me til I start treatment. Anyway enough of me – am cooking Bill’s dinner and my soup – take care and you are in my prayers. God Bless xxxxx


  2. Dolores. says:

    Dear Margaret
    I hope this new alternative treatment will help you as it helped your mum. I’m due to fly to Ireland on monday to stay with my friend Herbie Brennan and his wife until the 9th. But will keep on with the prayers and thoughts for both you and Lyn.IT has been a hectic week.. Mondays seem to be followed by Saturdays.. without any days in between. I cannot believe we have moved into the third month of the new year already… Your strength and courage continues to amze me.. much love deay, keep your spirits high even tho’ sometimes it seems too hard to do. We all love you and wish you well.



    • Hi Dolores,
      Thank you so much for your good wishes- I love your chatty comments :-) Indeed, the time is gallopping by and we will be changing the clocks next week. When did that happen?! I hope you have a nice relaxing time in Ireland and return renewed and regenerated ready for spring!
      Big hugs
      Margaret xx


  3. Dear Margaret,

    Here too is a poem. It might amuse you. I can’t remember when I wrote it.



    I know you, Cancer Monster
    I know your spoor
    I’ve seen you padding through the jungle
    on my trail

    I’ve even laid traps for you
    dug holes in the undergrowth
    shat on punji sticks
    to fillet you with

    die, Cancer Monster
    helicopter down
    through the tangled canopy
    I have prepared

    bite the dust
    eat crow
    take my flak
    become John Doe

    I don’t care anymore
    if I hurt your feelings
    to hell with our friendship
    and the cosy past

    I want to divorce you
    and keep the children
    split our house longways
    like a rotten log

    I don’t want counselling
    or cold turkey
    communal therapy
    or the talking cure

    take the air
    and not my sun
    I want you gone
    or sucking on the barrel of my gun


  4. Bob Makransky says:

    Hi Margaret,

    A technique which employs automatic writing (SIMPLE!! to learn) is used to talk to your own body and ask its advice on what to do (for healing) is based on Carl Jung’s Active Imagination technique. Here is an excerpt from my book Thought Forms:

    There are lots of ways of channeling thought forms directly. Normal thinking can be considered to be a form of channeling thought forms, but it tends to be mindless: in normal thinking our thought forms are doing all the talking, and we’re just sitting there dumbly. To interact with our thought forms we need a more active imagination than normal thinking affords. Jung’s method utilizes artwork, modeling, dance and other creative activities to interact with our unconscious thought forms. But perhaps the easiest way for the beginner to communicate with his or her own thought forms is by automatic writing.

    Now, automatic writing is as simple and straightforward as its name implies; there is no trick to it whatsoever. If they had taught it to you in seventh grade (as perhaps they should have) you’d have been doing it all this time and not giving it a second thought. Rest assured that anybody who really wants to do it can do it. There’s nothing to it, although it does seem to work best when you have a strong need for information about problems you are facing, rather than when you’re just idly curious.

    Choose a time when you are relaxed, alert, calm, and will not be interrupted. If you are an astrologer, you can use a lunar planetary hour; but this is merely a help, not a necessity. Either lie or sit down, as you prefer, with a pen and notebook in hand (though it can also be done on a typewriter or word processor). Writing down both your questions and the replies as they come, “ask” if there is any thought form who wishes to address you [n.b. – in your case ask your body thought form to talk to you]. If you don’t feel an impulse to write, then coax the thought form to appear: “Please come and talk to me. I am really trying to be open right now, I have this problem that I’d really like some information on, and I want to hear what you, my thought forms, have to tell me.” Etc. Use your own words and sentiments, mean (feel) what you are saying, but don’t stop writing until you start feeling an answer coming.

    Needless to say, this exercise won’t work unless you do it in good faith, i.e., have an open mind and heart about it, and truly want it to work. If you are harboring some idea such as, “This is the bunk!” or if you are afraid of hearing what your thought forms might tell you (which usually involves facing up to a lot of shame), then obviously you’re not going to be able to do automatic writing.

    Usually in automatic writing a few words or phrases spring into your mind at a time, a little faster than you can write them down, so that you often don’t quite grasp the gist of what it is you’re writing until you go back and reread it. Sometimes you get whole blocks or paragraphs at a time. You may also feel the feeling you felt when you created the thought form (get a feeling of its personality). You might see memory pictures pop up before your mind’s eye, or get flashes of dream-like scenes as you write. Note all of that stuff down, because it’s all relevant. It may not make sense at the moment, but it will eventually if you keep a written record of it.

    If nothing comes to mind in response to your entreaties; or if all that comes to mind is gibberish, it means that you are blocking – your conscious mind is too fearful to yield control of your writing thought forms to your subconscious mind. Your conscious mind might say, “This isn’t working; I’m not doing this right; there must be some trick to this!” in its effort to subvert the process. Don’t fall for this ploy! Keep trying, keep on writing, even if all it is, is gibberish. Whatever is written down is valid, so believe in it and trust in it no matter how much nonsense it appears to be. Sometimes rereading “gibberish” a day or week later reveals that it wasn’t as nonsensical as you believed at the time. In other words, don’t judge yourself: you get enough of that from other people – you don’t have to do it to yourself.

    Only trust can open you enough to write automatically; otherwise you tangle yourself up with doubt. Doubt is the enemy of all magic, and it can completely tear down automatic writing at the outset. Faith is the key to success here as elsewhere, and a strong curiosity is a valuable asset also. Bear in mind, too, that the fact that you are even willing to try to do active imagination shows that you’ve got thought forms in there who are just busting to communicate with you. It often helps, if you find yourself blocking, to switch to your non-dominant hand. Just keep on writing, don’t stop, and at a given moment your conscious mind will relax its grip and you’ll start writing automatically. Then, just write down what the thought form has to say, asking any questions you like along the way. ….

    … Another very important thought form you should talk to is your body. Just as everyone’s body is different, so too does everyone’s body thought form have different advice to give. Some people are intrinsically libertine, and others are intrinsically ascetic; some people should follow a high-protein, meat-based diet, whereas others should be vegetarians. The specific information which each of our body thought forms has to share with us is quite different and individually tailored – there is no one correct diet or universal standard of sexual conduct [n.b., nor cancer cure], for example.

    Not only is the body a thought form, but all of its parts are thought forms also, and it is quite possible to call upon them for information about health matters. Here is an example of active imagination done by a woman who was experiencing bleeding in the second month of her pregnancy:
    Woman: My body, can you help me get in touch with the thought form who controls my uterus?
    Body: Yes. You will be having bleeding all through your first trimester, but it does not mean that there is anything wrong with your baby at all, or for that matter that you have placenta previa. It is your body’s way of expressing unhappiness. I know it seems very weird to you and that you’ve never heard of anything like it before, but you are not the first woman to have this complaint. In fact, if you would like to talk to your uterus, I suggest you do so right now. You might be surprised.
    Woman: Uterus, would you please talk to me?
    Uterus: Yes, I will be happy to. You can hardly believe the incredible work that I am being called on to do. I know you take it all for granted – like the most normal thing in the world to do. Doesn’t every woman have a baby? But it still doesn’t change the fact that I am being forced to do a lot of extra work with which you, frankly, are not helping me. For example, I could use more herbal teas. I know you don’t like them, but I do. Make an alfalfa-raspberry mixture every day and drink three cups.

    Also, eat meat or drink that iron tonic for these first three months. I just need more physical help in what I’m doing. You should be eating the chard that is wasting in the garden. Right now make the children eat what you want, not what they want. Drink more water. Put brewer’s yeast in your yogurt. And rest. I just need it, that’s all, and you’ve got to accept it. Rest at least two hours during the day. If you feel ashamed of this (which you do), too bad; I don’t, and I’m the one who is doing all the work. Otherwise I get overtired; I just do. Maybe other women don’t need two hours of rest, but you do. For your gestation you need oodles and oodles of meditation and dream experiences. Do you think that the Virgin Mary ran around all day long? No, she contemplated the stars and the moon – just as you should do.
    So if you’re too stupid to know what you should be doing, I’m not; and I talk with blood whenever you get out of line and think that this thing of gestating a child is done on some sort of automatic pilot while you go merrily off to play. I need your conscious support and awareness. You help me and I’ll help you.

    you might also start drinking the jorobte – it won’t hurt any other treatments you are doing. And if there’s any way you can do the earth burials, I know they would be incredible helpful.

    all the best,


    • Hi Bob,
      This is brilliant, thank you. I tried automatic writing years ago and was really disappointed that nothing happened- but I didn’t have a good reason to be doing it and neither did I have as good instructions as you have given so that is hardly surprising! I will re-read them and try tomorrow. I did try the tea and found it very difficult to take. Not so much that it tasted bad-I am used to foul tasting herbal preparations-more like my body was rejecting it. I did muscle testing on it and got a very strong ‘no’, so I didn’t make it again. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that. I have been on the 75% diet for 3 days now as well as all the herbs I was given and I have to say I have more energy and feel better than I have for months, even before the diagnosis. It is almost like this is what my body has been waiting for, so I can’t help but feel I am on the right road. Many thanks for all the time you took to send that comment, I really appreciate it. Warmest wishes, Margaret.


  5. Barnaby Roberts says:

    Sobering stuff

    I am so pleased you are exploring
    That’s you


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