Tuesday, March 29, 2011

inspirational people

I have always thought I was a paragon of virtue 'cos I exercised throughout chemo. Lol! I did low-energy exercises, the type which could even be done from a bed, a programme I got from the biokineticist I was seeing for a sore knee at the time: lots of leg stretches using a theraband; lifting my leg 20cm off the ground and holding, then releasing it slowly, that type of thing; interspersed with a few therapeutic/restorative Iyengar yoga poses. What a joke. Listen to what Joanna of Colarado in the US did: she played tennis throughout chemo for breast cancer, stopping only for four days after each treatment, Life has its ups and downs - about playing tennis throughout chemo.
Ok, my excuse is I was banned from the gym (ie exercise) from BEFORE I started any treatment for my breast cancer but really, looking back now, I battled to walk to the mall from the office, which is about a 5 minute walk, so I don't think I could have managed gym. And when I did go back to gym, halfway through my radiation treatment, the first time I walked s-l-o-w-l-y on the treadmill for three minutes - and was wrecked. And then it took a while before I went back to yoga. So the idea of tennis and all the energy involved in that.... bravo!

Monday, March 28, 2011

all going well

So chuffed to report that my weight is going down. Was down a kilo this morning. Didn't eat my lunch today - I forgot, something which never happens - and didn't binge to make up for it and so feel I am on my way to losing the weight. Well, only 0.4kg to get back to normal, and then start the slow descent to losing 10kg....
My arm, however, is not feeling so great. But otherwise I am feeling fine. Loving gym with my new increased energy allowance (does that make sense? what I mean is that I am allowed to do more cardio now) and generally having fun.
Went to a brilliant book launch tonight - Women - South Africans of Indian Origin by Devi Moodley Rajab with portraits by Ranjith Kally. A real celebration of these strong women - "The spirit of questioning and refusal to submit still burns bright"... is an extract which introduces the "emergent voices" section of the book.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hopping on and off that damn scale

Having a weight hassle. Have been so so chuffed that despite the damn tamoxifen which made me gain about 5-6kg without eating more, I had managed to lose most of it by going to this dietician and cutting down severly on what I eat, mostly far less protein. That way, I was down to 1.4kg above the weight I was when diagnosed, and the only reason I know that is cos The Tango Man kept telling me! Ja I know I wasn't thin when I got diagnosed, but at least I wasn't that fat and those extra kilograms had made me miserable.
Well, all was well until this week. Went out with my friend Carlos and we had a big out. All fine and well. We ate lotsa ribs and a baked potato each... all fine and well.... usually, these days, when I have a pig out, just one day of normal eating and I am fine. But not this time. Have actually gained more weight since Thursday's meal and yesterday was so miserable that I went on a binge - ate crisps, a frozen yoghurt and then was easily talked into having a cream pasta for dinner.... oh and just remembered had two slices of cheese focaccio during bookclub....
Ok. Back to a super-strict regime cos of course am getting worried about my arm. It felt dreadful last night... well, what I mean is that my shrug - is that a commonly used word worldwide for a wrap-over tie-in-front cardigan-type thing? - felt a little tight at the upper arm.
Sjoe! Feel much better having written all that down. Can see it in perspective now. And maybe, just maybe, will stop hopping on and off that scale in case it's been a misreading!!
Otherwise, am well. Just shitty, drizzly weather here in Joburg. Which might mess up the Francophone Day at the Alliance Francaise I was planning to go to. Will still probably go - it's an annual event and fab - but looking at that grey sky...
Meanwhile, marvelling that Joanna played tennis throughout chemo and radiation... read her blog life has its ups and downs and be inspired..... love such positive stories!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Visiting The Lymph Lady

Visiting The Lymph Lady is now a weekly occurence. Find some of what I see and hear quite horrifying. Today there was this woman, thin, particularly thin, who had had her arm bandaged. "Three days into chemo,' said The Lymph Lady when I enquired about it, "and she got lymphedema. Yes, chemo can set if off, if you're prone to it," she explained, saying the woman had metastatic cancer so had had initial treatment which had set her at risk quite a while back. Today was her first visit.

About a month or so back The Lymph Lady told me about her patient whom she had first treated a few years back, then she went camping/into the bush, got bitten by some insect and voila! instant lymphedema. While visiting The Lymph Lady she said she had red bumps and according to the Internet that could be leukemia and that her husband had laughed at her, telling her not to diagnose herself from the internet.
When I next enquired about the patient, The Lymph Lady told me she had died three weeks later, from leukemia.

Feeling a bit down. Not all the time. Just a little frustrated, I guess. Not too serious.

Oh been thinking: is there anyone else out there who is high risk for lymphedema? Would love to hear from you and how you manage it and deal with the anxiety and so on. Ja, my arm was up today but apparently within range.

Monday, March 21, 2011

all the fuss re potential radiation leaks & iodine & cancer

Been fascinated to find out what the fuss is re potential radiation leaks in Japan and the rush to take iodine tablets to prevent cancer. Well, trust Mary Shomon's thyroid site to have the clearest info about it. Best of all is the FDA's (US Food & Drug Administration's) 10 FAQs re potassium iodide

Most interesting is this: Potassium iodide ( KI) works only to prevent the thyroid from uptaking radioactive iodine. It is not a general radioprotective agent.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

really getting into yoga

Went to yoga tonight and, not for the first time, thought about how it's become one of the highlights of my week.
Not quite sure how I got into it, but think it was from listening to The Yoga Man and my friend Aubrey from London talk about it - they are both Iyengar yoga teachers. Now I was into tai chi - used to go to about five classes a week and do a pose or two every morning. Ja, well, no fine, did the poses all wrong and hurt my damn knee, well kneecap, which went out of alignment from extending my knees over my toes when in a squatting position.
Anyway, no soft tissue or cartilage damage - had one of those dreaded MRIs (my absolute worst, well, coupled with the Z-sampler or whatever the endometrial cancer test is).
Anyway, started going to yoga and did both until my knee gave way. Then I got sick and when I asked The Tango Man if I could do yoga, he said yes, but really, people have no idea of how much energy is involved. There was no ways I could do yoga while having chemo although I did do restorative yoga.
Went back to gym long before I went back to yoga (when I was halfway through radiation) and now I go religiously once a week (there isn't another beginner class in the evening with my teacher).
Part of why I have to be so disciplined about it is that it is good for my arm, which is high risk for lymphedema. But have to admit, if I wasn't doing at least 50 minutes manual lymph drainage massage every day, would do some yoga at home too. But with early gym three times a week, work every day, and going out almost every night, adding yoga to the mix would feel a little insane.
But now I really love yoga. Although admittedly I was hungry this evening and spent a fair amount of the class planning what I was going to make for supper afterwards (and I didn't cook the mushrooms after all but instead baked hake and ate last night's roast veggies). I go and let the teacher's words control me as I do the asanas as directed. Wonderful!!
And my arm is ok. Well, it's up again but as The Lymph Lady said today: it's not about going up, it's the trend and so far the trend is fine cos if it goes up, it also goes down the next week. Plus I ate like a pig this weekend (went away to Lesotho) and so temporarily gained a kilo.....
To get back to yoga, I always remember how in my first class post-cancer, I told the teacher how I might have limited mobility in my left arm because of the radiation. Well, I am chuffed to report that everything is fine mobilility-wise, cos have been doing arm exercises from when I was having radiotherapy... and now, turning down all Tuesday invites has been well worth it - yoga makes me feel great: energetic and enthused.

Friday, March 11, 2011

great website

"I believe that none of us should be limited by our disease, our treatment, or our survival."
This is a line from Julie Goodale's revamped website Life-Cise
Read it, watch her brief introductory video, read some of her links under "cancer and fitness" at the bottom - the one on lymphedema is great, for example - and sign up for her newsletter. I did.
By the way, Julie lives in New York, is a musician (viola player who studied at Julliard), is a specialist cancer exercise guru with all the relevant qualifications, and writes one of the best blogs - fitnessforsurvivors.
Read more about Julie Goodale.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

this blog helps me

When someone remarked in my yoga class: "Did I have oedema?" (she knew I had had cancer and was referring to my not doing a pose which required body weight rather than what my arm looks like), I immediately wanted to chat .... and then realised that although I say I am fine, and grateful all is ok, I actually have a desperate need to talk about what happened. Which is probably why I have this blog. It was just something I knew, the day I got diagnosed. I, who until then had hated all blogs, knew I wanted to start a blog. So here it is. I am pretty sure I am boring everyone cos I seem to have less readers - guess my major health obsession is now my arm and its borderline lymphedema - but it helps me a lot and hopefully, sometimes helps others too.
Which reminds me: is there anyone out there doing manual lymph drainage massage? I am very keen to know how often you do it, how it impacts on your life, how often you see an expert and anything else you wish to share.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What a celebration!

Ever since I read her latest posting on her blog last night, I cannot stop thinking about Julie Goodale's wonderful way in which she is going to celebrate her 10th year of surviving breast cancer.
As she puts it, "So, on May 7, I'll be running a race to celebrate 10 years of not being dead." But being Julie, she of the indominatable spirit and determination, she is doing a 50-mile race, an ultramarathon.
"Run, Julie, Run - The Next Big Thing" is what she calls her posting on her blog fitnessforsurvivors.blogspot.com.
Read it. The exhiliration of what I feel about what she is doing goes beyond cancer-schmancer; it is about celebrating life, it is about overcoming any adversity and what a change from those who slump around feeling sorry for themselves. It is about how we deal with things that is important.
Meanwhile, I still have to do my manual lymph drainage massage and then get ready to go off to work. But work up this morning and thought: wow, Julie, you are something else.
By the way, Julie is a musician (viola player) who lives in New York and is also a qualified cancer exercise musician. Only know her from her blog, but what a gal! She speaks to me! Run, Julie, run!!!! I will be there in spirit supporting you all the way. Do it for yourself, do it for all of us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not diabetic

Relief. Not diabetic. Can still taste the glucose in my mouth from the glass of 75% concentrate that I had to drink for it.
Am very glad I am not diabetic. Had enough illness in my life, what with overactive thyroid which was totally debilitating and messed up my life for five and a half months during which I lived in a blur, and messed up my eyes big-time with thyroid eye disease, and then breast cancer.
So very relieved.
But still have oral thrush..... wonder why.