Before embarking on my adventures into this cancer jungle, I read so much about other peoples adventures because I thought knowing their experiences would help me guide my way while having my experiences.
Of course, the biggest thing that I learned right away that one person's experience with chemotherapy is completely unique to each person. I mean, there might be similarities but mostly every individual will go through chemotherapy with an experience that is completely different.
This last Wednesday, I had my 3rd chemo treatment of the infamous "red devil" and had gone in expecting to have a PICC line inserted which didn't happen as they didn't get the referral sorted before my arrival so I happily got to avoid any minor procedures. I also expected to have the same exhaustion, nausea and general pain that followed my 1st and 2nd chemo experiences but instead, I've been amazed by having energy and no nausea and even an appetite for the days following my 3rd chemo. Several things that I think have helped enormously are the fact that my medical team gave me a week extra rest from chemo so that I had 3 weeks to heal between my 2nd and 3rd treatments which certainly feels like an improvement!
Right before receiving my 3rd chemo, I was offered an unexpected and very welcomed reflexology treatment by a nurse who offered this complementary therapy while I was waiting to begin chemo. I think it relaxed me and perhaps added to managing upcoming nausea too which certainly was a plus. Of course, the biggest improvement to my health has been the arrival of my wonderful mother who arrived in England on the 18th of May and spent a week in a hotel in quarantine and now comes daily to cook for me. After not seeing my mum since January 2020 because of the pandemic, it has been such a relief to finally reunite and enjoy simple things like a good conversation over a beautiful meal or a quiet walk in the countryside - these basic delights have felt like a salve to my soul and I'm sure has a huge impact on why I've felt so much better this time around.
I'm so very grateful for having my mum here and enjoying her wonderful nourishing cooking and for being in such a loving environment. I do have quite a great deal to be grateful for and am suffering from a very overactive mind at night because of these feelings of gratitude. It seems that when I look up overactive minds on Google, all the articles are about trying to teach you to be less anxious and more peaceful. I wonder if I'm doing it all wrong because I've been positive and happy and not at all anxious since a little after my diagnosis. There have been the occasional tough days but for the most part, I've got a cheerful soul and have now been adapting my nightly meditations to try to calm my overly active gratitude mind so that sleep can happen. It's a work in progress but so far a new gratitude journal and a goodly amount of guided meditations from the amazing Marisa Peer and a few chanting sessions from Mingtong Gu are helping me slowly ease my mind to sleep at night.
*Side note: to all those I know who send me uplifting cards, sentiments, letters, emails, messages, comments - to have cancer and go through this healing experience doesn't mean I sit around all day being gloomy. I've always been a rather positive person and even this experience, though unpleasant and painful at times, hasn't dampened my spirits yet. I still wake up happy and peaceful and feel positive for my day ahead. As they say....this too shall pass!
So as my lovely mum is here in the UK with me for the duration of my healing journey, I'd like to point out that right before she arrived in the UK, she was able to become a part of an online exhibition that is beautifully presented on the website of Alan Barnes Fine Art which you can visit here: Juliette McCullough New Paintings.
I mention this exhibition because it's not just an exhibition for show only but with artwork that is very much for sale to anyone anywhere in the world. The biggest reason I mention this exhibition is that she's presented these artworks for sale with the deliberate intent to try to help fund her several months stay here in the UK while she helps me fight cancer so if she sells anything from this exhibition then it's a huge help to us both.
Also worth mentioning that while my mother is here for the summer months, she'll also be teaching online to her students in the US and to any of my students in the UK. Everything I learned about drawing and painting came from my wonderfully creative mum so keep your eyes open for upcoming online classes for mid to end of June and onwards into the summer if you're keen to take a fun online class from my mum, Juliette McCullough!