Monthly Archives: August 2011
As I alluded to yesterday, my mom and I hit the road on Wednesday for a mini adventure!
One thing that cancer introduces you to, is the big world of alternative medicine. I have so far ignored this because Hodgkins Lymphoma can actually be cured through traditional medicine. I don’t want to stray from the tried and true methods with something as serious as cancer. With that said, I have been slightly interested in complementing my chemo with safe methods to gently help it along. I’ll try anything to make sure I’m in that 80% of people that are cured!
My mom, the former microbiologist, is a big proponent of reiki. It’s something that my great-grandmother did (and did successfully) before it came known to people as Japanese energy healing. Put simply, someone performs reiki on another person by using the energy around them to heal or calm the recipient’s body. This can be done through gentle touch, or moving their hands over the body.
When my mom made an appointment for me to get reiki in Sussex, I figured what the hell. I can’t do massage or acupuncture in my current state, so a gentle therapy sounded like the next best thing.
I arrived not really knowing what to expect. The Reiki Master first asked me a bunch of questions, then laid me down on a massage table. He began by going through the reflexology points on my feet. He pushed on various areas and I told him when one hurt more than the other. This part was the most interesting, because the areas I picked out as being tender were those areas I have the most troubles with – inner ear, sciatic nerve, lymph glands, ovaries, and pancreas. He taught me how to work these areas on my feet to help ease these spots.
After that, he began the whole-body therapy. He began by gently touching my feet and went up through the whole body. I closed my eyes and tried to relax, but it was hard not to get distracted. The Reiki Master spent a lot of time moving his hands quickly over my heart (where the most active part of the cancer is) and I could feel the air whistling down my body as he pushed the energy towards my feet.
When we were all done, he taught me how to meditate, which I am SO thankful for. I’ve been trying and failing to meditate for over a year now. I will definitely give his method a try.
Overall, I don’t really have many deep thoughts on the experience. I think I was too preoccupied when I walked in the door to get a deeper experience out of it. I’ve been having pain in my skeleton all week as a drug side-effect and was very wrapped up in that. The reiki did help temporarily ease the pain because it helped me relax and take my mind off it. If anything, I just hope the reiki helped reduce the inflammation in my body, and maybe help the chemo kill those cancer cells.
The other part of the mini adventure included the out-of town trip!
Sussex, New Brunswick is a small town surrounded by dairy farms and home to about a gajillion murals.
Mom knew just the place for lunch – Broadway Cafe.
A cute little place that doubles as a cafe-restaurant during the day, and a place for drinks at night.
They had an extensive sandwich menu. I went with one of my favourites – smoked pastrami with mustard and pickles. I ordered this right after the Reiki Master told me not to mix my meat and starches. I’m working on it!!
A+ on the meat, A+ on the bread, but together the bread got soggy. My mom and I discussed how this is a combination Montreal has managed to perfect.
Side salad was delicious. Called a “Red Head Salad” it had red cabbage, apples, carrots, cucumbers, raisins, walnuts, and a creamy herbed dressing.
With our bellies full, Mom and I wandered the streets of Sussex, enjoying being tourists for a day.
We poked our heads in all the knick-knack shops. I love antiques! Actually, I don’t think these are even technically antiques. “Old junk” may be more appropriate.
I can’t wait until the day I have a house to fill with my own cool junk :)
Everyone has been asking me if reiki is something I will do again, and I think my answer would be “yes.” But not right away. I think I will let the chemo do its thing first and perhaps explore more alternative medicine when the poisons are out of my body and I can focus more on making sure the cancer never comes back. One treatment at a time I think.
There was a time when, at the start of every month, I would set a list of goals to accomplish over the course of the following 30 days. As a personal trainer, I know how important it is to establish things you want to finish, write them down, and then work hard at following them through.
But then my life went to shit.
Somewhere between shattering my arm and getting cancer, the idea of making nifty little goals every month seemed like too much of an extra burden. Some days are hard enough to get through without the additional demands we put on ourselves, so I stopped making these somewhat trivial goals. “It’s okay if I didn’t read more books this month, today I just want to survive.”
With that said, I do think goals have their place. Without them, I probably wouldn’t strive to do better in my every day life. I would coast along comfortably and not challenge myself. If life is all about living, why not set out to actually do some things?
After yesterday’s depressing blog post, I realized that in order to see myself through to the end of this cancer ordeal, I have to actually look into the future. I know it’s important to be present, but the ability to even think about a future is a luxury I think many of us often forget.
It’s hard to set “micro” goals when I honestly can’t predict what kind of physical and mental shape I’ll be in tomorrow. But I think it is very much within my scope of reason to set “macro” goals for myself. In other words, things I would like to do over the next year while I receive treatment and enter remission. It will be something to work on, something to look forward to as I go through the motions of getting better. Now is a good time to think about it too, as we put the lazy days of summer behind us and enter the fall months.
1. Write an outline for a book.
This is hard, because as much as I love to write, you can’t write without a stellar idea. This is something I need to chip away at rather than just waiting for it to smack me over the head.
2. Travel somewhere in North America.
I can’t fly until I’m done treatment, but as soon as I’m in remission I’m cashing in my flight credits and hopping on a flight somewhere.
3. Bake croissants and bagels.
I’m already scared.
4. Get a dog.
Permitting everything falls into place!
Preferably without a huge cancerous mass in my chest. That would be awesome. I can jog while on treatment, but not safely until the mass shrinks around my heart.
So there ya go, five things to look forward to, not to mention a mini-adventure I am taking with my mom today. But that is a post for another day…
What are your “macro goals” for the next year? They have to be fun!
My friend shared this comic on Twitter yesterday and I thought it did a good job of describing of my perceptions of cancer pre and post diagnosis.
I mean, it’s all hunky dory to have a “curable cancer,” until you learn the chances that it will be cured. Even if it is cured, you live your life in fear that it will return. Because let’s face it, a lot of the time when cancer comes back, it’s with a vengeance.
It’s with these thoughts that I, along with the rest of Canada, digest the news of the passing of Jack Layton. For those foreign readers who don’t follow Canadian politics in their spare time, he was the leader of the federal New Democratic Party. He was one of the “good guys” of politics. He and his party have always been the underdogs, but still led them to become Parliament’s official opposition in the face of the mighty Conservatives.
Layton was one of those people who practiced what he preached, meant even more by the importance of what he was preaching. He was incredibly energetic, persistent, and hopeful until the end. A vibrant personality, who until yesterday, I thought was vibrant enough to keep away from the final clutches of cancer.
When he stepped down as leader of the NDP last month because he was struck with cancer for a second time, I was devastated. Having just been discharged from the hospital, I knew all too well the look of a person being overcome by cancer. Even though I’ve never met Layton, it hit me hard. I lived in his riding in Toronto, saw him out at events, and was continually inspired by his dedication to other people. Why does cancer always go after the good guys?
For those like me, who find themselves particularly affected by his passing, I think it says a lot about cancer as a disease itself. It reminds me, as a cancer patient, that the disease does not discriminate. That it doesn’t matter how hard you want to live, and how much good you want to do, it can still cut your intentions short. It reminds those who’ve lost loved ones of a scenario they know all too well.
It is really hard to stay positive when I hear of people dying of cancer every day. I am always certain I will come out on the other side, but the “what ifs” start to litter my head when I hear of other patients passing.
If there is one thing I want to use this post to say, it’s that no one “loses their battle with cancer.” That implies that someone dying from the disease wasn’t a good enough fighter to win. And if there’s one thing I know, Jack Layton was a man who fought and fought hard. He didn’t lose anything to cancer, because he lived his life despite it.
I know it is imperative to keep my own hope and optimism as I travel this road, because being dragged down by the “what ifs” are far too much. If anything, I am happy to still have a road to walk on, and will do it with as much vigour as those, like Jack, who walked it before me.