It really doesn’t feel like so long since I’ve written, yet a lot has happened. I’m now a month into official remission and it feels very strange not to have a treatment plan in place. Every week from January through to about September this year has involved a hospital visit or stay, but now I am more or less free bar the monthly appointment with Joe, which I suspect will become bi-monthly, then six-monthly. All a bit scary really. There is certain safety in being part of the system, even if I’m not a fully paid up member of the allopathic medicine club. However, I did see a consultant in a different department last week just for a change of pace and scenery; readers of early blogs will remember that my heart played up really badly during the chemo cycles, to the point where I was incapacitated for days on end when it kicked off. I was enrolled into the cardiac club at the time while they gamely tried to find a solution to the atrial fibrillation episodes, something I had completely forgotten until I received an appointment to visit them last week. I had asked Joe if I really needed to attend, as since the stem cell transplant my heart has been perfectly well behaved. He asked me to go along just to keep in with the cardiac club in case they are needed in the future. He is so lovely that I agreed, just for him :-).
I am so glad I did. The first surprise was that I went in to my appointment on time, and the second was that Rosie, the consultant, was utterly delightful. Not that I was expecting a grumpy person on the other side of the desk, but this was a bit of a non-appointment as far as I was concerned and I was ever so slightly worried it might involve being given more drugs for some reason, then having to fight my corner as usual. She asked me to fill her in on what had happened, so I told her that my heart was now as well-behaved as the next person’s and that I was feeling fit enough to be running again and working virtually full time. I said I was interested to know why the episodes of fibrillation had got so much worse in the months before diagnosis and then even worse during treatment, only to cease completely after the transplant. I had it in my mind that my new bionic body somehow didn’t include the genes that had made my heart jump about. She replied that cancer does odd things to hormones, which is very interesting. I was suffering very badly with my heart both before and during our visit to New Orleans (that was such a joyful trip!) and I assumed it was because I was so tired and run down and also due to going through the menopause, so I was partly right, but based on her comment, I was possibly already ill with the cancer at that point. Rosie also pointed out that the chemo drugs are known to upset heart rhythm; the upshot of all this is that with the cancer gone and no chemo drugs in sight, my heart has settled into a normal, peaceful rhythm. She took my blood pressure, which was fine, then said that I could probably stop taking the Slozem heart tablets at some point. In fact I could just take them every other day if I wanted to, then stop them altogether if I felt like it. I could hardly believe my ears! I don’t think I have ever had a doctor suggest reducing or cutting out a drug completely. I was delighted. I have a follow up with her in two years, by which time I will definitely have stopped taking them. What a lovely lady.
Being out of the treatment loop also means that I can now follow a preventative regime rather than a cancer-fighting one, which feels very different. However, there is one area where I am at a loss. My research into Mantle Cell Lymphoma has indicated that it is almost certainly caused by chemical toxins, one of which is almost certainly Roundup; this is still widely used despite concerns about its toxicity, as we know from recent publicity about those lovely Monsanto people. In the case of MCL, chromosomes 11 and 14 switch places, causing abnormally high expression of cyclin D1, a cell cycle regulator, in the nucleus of lymphoma cells. This causes an overgrowth of cells and – ta-dah! – cancer cells are born. Scientists have not yet found a way to reverse this swapping of chromosomes, which is why MCL is so hard to treat. The link with widely used toxins also explains why it is on the increase. So my question is, how do I protect myself against something which appears to now be in my genes? An obvious therapy would seem to be one that involves a reprogramming of old patterns, like Psych-K. I don’t know much about this apart from seeing a few Youtube clips, so Stephen and I are investigating further. I guess another aid could be Chestnut Bud from the Bach Flower remedies as this breaks old patterns.
Something else we are trying, on a different level, is earthing. I have been vaguely aware of this for a while, but when it came to my attention again I thought it was probably time to take notice. Pioneered by Clinton Ober, a cable engineer, it works on the basis that the human body, in itself an electrical device, is exposed to electro-magnetic fields through home appliances, mobile phones, and all the evils we hear about, and becomes toxic and unable to heal itself. Such exposure can cause inflammation, sleep disruption, stress, hormonal disturbances…the list goes on. Does that ring any bells? Yep – it did for me too. The best way to discharge this build-up is to walk barefoot on the ground. I have to say here that I hadn’t realised the earth is such a powerful source of natural healing energy. I’m reading ‘Earthing’ by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra and Martin Zucker, and it has made me realise just how disconnected I am from the earth’s energy. I never, ever, walk barefoot outside unless I am on a beach in the summer. Which is pretty rare and hasn’t happened at all this year due to unforeseen circumstances, up until a couple of weeks ago. As anyone who has spent time in England knows, it is likely to be pretty cold and uncomfortable to do so for about nine months of the year, but having read the book and a few other articles, we thought we would give it a go. We are very lucky in that we live near a lot of beaches; I love the sea and have always wanted to live by it. I obviously never realised when moving here all those years ago that it would play a big part in my healing, but our first experience of walking barefoot on the sand, out of season, was cold, but amazing. The local beaches are quite stony and even the patches of sand that appear smooth have some fearsomely sharp shells buried in them, but rather than ‘ooh’ and ‘ouch’ my way along the beach, I relaxed and enjoyed the experience as much as was possible considering the potential discomfort. Obviously on this kind of a beach one’s eyes are focused very much on avoiding the stones and shells – not really a romantic walk! See below for evidence. My feet became red not with cold, but because they are for once energised. It was incredible.
We need to access this energy on a more regular basis than the odd walk on the beach. It is fun, even in chilly weather like today, but not always possible, so we invested in an earthing mat. I am completely addicted. It plugs into a socket so it is earthed – no electricity required, so the socket isn’t even switched on – then you sit with your feet on it for a few minutes. Ten minutes is recommended in the beginning, and I have to say that I woke up in the middle of the first night absolutely buzzing, but after that I was fine and we both feel amazing after using it. I have to say that I can’t wait each day either to walk barefoot outside or to use the mat. Maybe I am becoming addicted to the earth’s energy. What a lovely thought. I hear tree hugging has the same effect :-)
The wonderful thing we have gained from this cancer experience is the freedom to act just how we want. There is a lovely and very large communal lawn at the back of our house, a converted mansion divided into ten apartments. It may be that the weather is too inclement for us to make it to the beach, in which case I will be wandering barefoot on the grass in driving wind and rain. No doubt the other residents will be looking down kindly on me thinking I have completely lost it. And do I care?……
Sending warm thoughts from a slightly chilly Bournemouth