Thursday, January 14, 2016

Feeling Better

For the first time in almost two years I didn't cringe the other day when a friend asked me how I was feeling.  I noticed it right there on the spot!  I was happy to honestly answer "I'm feeling pretty good actually!" and it was a refreshing change.  My west-coast Uncle also sent me a nice text saying "I'm glad you're feeling better."  Being as we haven't spoken in a bit I again was surprised (at myself) that he said that, but I was happy he did.  I guess I am projecting it?  All the way to BC?!  Yay me  :-)

Yes, thank you, I am feeling a bit better these days.  Can it really be?  My quarterly CT scans have been clear, my Christmas holidays were busy but great, my liver seems to be recovering well from all the celebrations, my kids are motivated in all things responsible, my dog is loving the walks... dare I say: life is good.   

Perhaps I am over the hump; maybe all those shitty months of constant physical and mental fight against melanoma are going to give me a break.  

I am still experiencing severe gastrointestinal distress, but that may be a permanent side-effect of the lengthy ipilimumab treatment, only time will tell.  My medical oncologist is considering forcing me to take a dose of prednisone/steroids to help with my tummy, but I am fighting that all the way.  
My imodium and I are still comfortable to hang out close to home and give my body more time to figure out whether or not it will ever get back to normal.  I am back on the weekly parole calls to monitor it, mainly because I neglected to report to Sunnybrook a particularly bad bout of bathroom time I had before the holidays.  Ah well.  This is what I signed up for!

I exited the holiday season with a renewed attitude toward the new year and what I want to accomplish in it.

First off, I want to feel better.  
Second, I want to help others feel better, my kids #1, and then others who face the life sentence of malignant melanoma.  (please notice I said life sentence, not death sentence. Big difference, from where I stand)
Third, I want to write my book.  I have forever said that I will write a book someday.  The time has come.  I am spending a good portion of my recuperation time with pen (and keyboard) in hand.   

I am deeply grateful for the position in which I am in my life, able to use my time for whatever purpose I choose... relatively speaking.  It was a helluva trade-off, this melanoma shit, but I am making my lemons into lemonade and sipping it quietly while I recuperate. 
I am embracing recovery and rehabilitation not only from the physical assaults my body has encountered since April 2014, but also the emotional and mental pain my family and I have endured.  It will take time, and I am finally relaxing about that.  A bit.  

All that said, here is some news from around here:
  • Due to snowy weather I postponed my oncology follow-up at RVH this week, will try again in a few weeks.

  • I have begun drinking a health-potion of apple cider vinegar/lemon juice/cinnamon daily to help detox and heal organs such as liver and digestive system.  I also read that apple cider vinegar may assist in relief of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis I am experiencing, plus it is said to create an alkaline body system the likes of cancer's arch enemy.  It is time for me to gradually introduce the alternative approach I have been craving since signing up for clinical trial.

  • Green smoothies also, the girls and I have been experimenting with spinach- or kale-based smoothies most mornings.  I have never been a big smoothie fan but frozen mango seems to be the key to success. 

  • I still have to take hefty calcium and vitamin D supplements due to loss of parathyroid, and I have been dutifully chewing a daily B12 tablet to try to bring up my levels.  The tablets are pretty much tasteless but I find them much easier to take since my family physician told me I can chew them as opposed to letting them dissolve under the tongue (BLECH!)

I have begun with the classic Oregano, earthy Rosemary, and my long-time favourite, Bergamot.  Rosemary is found to have many of the healing properties I am seeking: analgesic, antibacterial, anticancer, anti-catarrhal (diarrhea), anti-infection, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant.  Oregano also for detox - last night before bed I mixed a few drops with coconut oil and rubbed it on the soles of my feet... felt good but according to Cass I smelled like "a lot of spaghetti" LOL!

  • Dandelion tea, and lots of it!  I love this roasted dandelion tea so this is an easy one to increase in my diet for aid in detox and improve liver function as well as decrease fluid retention, especially for the benefit of my lymphedema leg. 

  • Rest and relaxation, I have found I am truly enjoying some rest time.  I'm not so cranky about the chronic fatigue, I am resting for a bigger purpose: to recuperate. And I am feeling much less guilty about it.  The song lyrics "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone...I can see all obstacles in my way.." just floated into my mind... 
  • Yesterday (snow day) the girls and I worked on capturing a new "profile picture" for me, as well as a little video clip for the I'm Living Proof website by Save Your Skin Foundation.  I am the LEAST photogenic person ever born (either that or I really look like that!?! YIKES) but we managed to settle on a couple.  I wouldn't do it but for the desire to connect with other melanoma patients/victims/warriors/survivors - more to come on that when I find out if my video made the cut.
  • Very much looking forward to the launch of the video project I participated in last month, I even have a shiny new instagram account I am building up for the purpose of spreading the word.  It is a fun addition to my social media repertoire, so far so good!  LOL This is me: 
Also have a LinkedIn account now woohoo.  I am building these now in addition to blog as it will help when book promotion time comes along.   

That about sums it up for today, I have plenty of pots cooking and it feels pretty good.  I have been sleeping better and getting out more.  Hard to not want to walk the pooch when I have this to enjoy:

 #meaford #meafordharbour #melanomaawareness 

#ohwowI'mTalkingInHashtagsNow??   :-)

Article & Photos © Natalie Richardson 2016

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