Sunday, 24 January 2010

One man’s ....

OK ... I am a bit late with my blog ... and you may be thinking that I have gone away for a few days ... I wish. In fact it is the opposite, since Christmas, which I can’t believe is already a month ago, I have been in self imposed exile. I can count the number of days I have left the house on one hand – and on two of those occasions it was to see a GP and another was to go to the hospital for what was hopefully my last Killer Chemo.

I want to go away. I love holidays and travelling. I am still really miffed that the discovery of the Yukky Lump meant that I had to cancel my trip down to the south of France, way back in August. So where do I want to go? Well ... anywhere really. You could blind fold me, whizz me round and ask me to put a pin into a globe and I would pack my bags accordingly ... except one place ...

I have these friends. Almost-life-long friends. And I guess that we are almost-life-long friends as we have quite a lot in common. We have comparable backgrounds, share similar interests, values and beliefs. We can sit for hours ... putting the world to rights over a leisurely meal, washed down with wine ... here or in France ... yes, they are one of the couples from the Pigeon Poo story. But despite all this ... there is one thing that we just don’t agree on ...

Many years ago, before kids, my almost-life-long-friends use to go to Disneyland. They went three or four times and loved it. And, over the last decade, have talked about returning, once their children were old enough ... and have tried to persuade me and my family to go along too. Now, I joked in my very first blog that I don’t like roller coasters ... and it is true. Literally. I have never been to a theme park in this country. I have not been to Alton Towers ... or Thorpe Park ... it is just not me.   So I ain't the least bit inclined to get on a plane and fly thousands of miles half way around the world to visit one.  Lots of people, not just my almost-life-long friends, have said I should give Disney a go. Some have said that they didn’t think they would like it ... but the Disney magic is just irresistible ... that it would win me over if I gave it a chance.  But I am digging my little red heels in ... and accepting that me and my almost-life-long friends are similar ... but not the same. And ... in a few months time they will be off on their much talked about and longed for holiday ... with some friends ... but it ain’t me. I obviously hope that they have really lovely and enjoyable time. But if it was a toss up between going to Disney and having surgery then obviously Mickey would win. But only just.

I have just finished a book – Anticancer: A New Way of Life  – written by Dr David Servan-Schreiber, who does quite literally believe that “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

David Servan-Schreiber is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is in a position to talk about cancer because he has had it. Twice. He was diagnosed the first time sixteen years ago, finding out by accident. He and some colleagues were doing some research which included observing brain function using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), something that was relatively new back then. One day, one of the student ‘guinea pigs’ who was assisting with the research failed to attend and so David volunteered to take their place – to jump on the MRI and have his brain scanned. The process started. And then it stopped. He called out to his colleagues – asking what the problem was. And their response was “We can’t do the experiment. There’s something in your brain.”  By accident they had discovered a brain tumour. It was operated on, and David was fine for a while, but routine checks a few years on showed that it had reappeared. It was at that point David decided to pull together research to identify what he could do stop the cancer from returning again and this is what he talks about in his book.

A lot of what he suggests is common sense (to see a summary of the book click here). Eat well ... organic food where possible ... meat where the animals have been grass fed as they were years ago ... little dairy products ... lots of fruit and vegetables ... oily fish. Reduce the amount of white carbohydrates you consume. Drink only one glass of red wine a day. Take regular exercise. But he also talks about very specific things which can prevent cancer from appearing or reappearing – the power of turmeric, pomegranate juice and green tea. Mushrooms ... in Japan they actually give medication produced from mushroom extract to patients receiving chemotherapy.

David goes on to say how psychological wellbeing is vital in conquering cancer. How support, both mental and practical support, has a direct impact on a person’s health and recovery. That friendship plays a major role, in terms of positive impact on both morale and physical, biological condition. For example, an American study has shown that women with breast cancer who could name ten friends were four times more likely to survive their illness than those who could not. I am sooooo glad I can name at least ten friends … whether they would call me a friend is another matter…

David also stresses the importance of positivity ... removing stress and anger … relaxing … doing things that you enjoy … how these help you in the fight against cancer and could help prevent recurrance.

So back to that holiday ... ‘cos let’s face it … that is what the doctor has ordered. Yeah … I could do the States … I haven’t been before … I don’t think an hour at Maine airport for a fuel stop really counts. But where? When I want time-out … to relax … and think positive thoughts … what am I dreaming of ?

Well, the sun is shining … I am healthy … and fit (in more ways than one). I have hair, lashes and brows … and two boobs. Obviously my camera is in my hand. I am cycling alongside a long stretch of golden sandy beaches. I am sitting at a seafood restaurant and looking out on the blue ocean. Or swimming, boarding, sailing … or whale watching. Cape Cod. That is where I want to go. And … touch wood … one day I will. It won’t be this year, and possibly not even next … but one day …


Cape Cod.

One man’s mouse is another man’s fish …


  1. Maybe my New Year resolution will do me more than I ever thought - to never raise my voice in anger. It has removed an awful lot of stress from my life, I now take the time to stop and consider the options and act in ways that are far better for ME.

  2. My goal is Australia. And then who knows? But I can tell you this for sure, Paula. As jarring as cancer was, I find myself and my resolve getting stronger and stronger with each passing day. I want to live. It does not matter to me if the cancer comes back, I'm living. I am living each day. I am dieting, losing the chemo chub, I am in school. I am excited about things. My marriage has never been more solid. I feel as if after all these years of living life in a dreary plodding, just like the Wizard of Oz, I've stepped out and suddenly find myself blinded by technicolor. Congratulations on your last chemo. Yay us!

  3. I am positive that one day YOU WILL have that holiday in Cape Cod. YOU WILL have the hair, the brows, the lashes, the boobs and the body (well~maybe not the body, but then miracles do happen!) And if you are lucky, very lucky some kind person will bring you back a pair of Mickey Mouse ears to wear, enjoy and remind you of those life long friends who are there for you always.
    Lots of love
    your "little" long life friendxxx

  4. Okay I have to defend Disneyland, being a Californian. :) Disney and roller coasters have no shared DNA. Going to Disneyland is a lot more like being inside a movie than being in a theme park.

    Now, before you think I am one of those people who walks around in mouse ears, I have been to Disneyland three times in my life and I only live 800 miles away. Never been to the one in Florida. I don't collect Disney triviana and don't take every vacation there. But Disneyland is a wonderful, impressive, fantastic place. It's not just for kids. You really do leave your cares and relax there. Your friends are right, and you should listen to them.

    Should you fly across the pond just for Disneyland? Probably not. But, a couple of days there AND a visit through CA? Sure. San Diego, the Pacific Ocean, Hiway One north to Mendocino, the Redwoods, San THAT's a trip. :)

    I'm not so much into the natural foods hoohaw - I do think eating healthy is important, but so is chocolate cake and wine. But, I am glad somebody is encouraging a positive attitude. I am tired of the trend that says cancer patients should be negative and it doesn't help to think positively. I don't believe that for a second.

  5. Paula, you are such an inspiration to soooo many xxxx

  6. What a read!!
    If positive thoughts win points and points make prizes, you're definitly going to win a holiday. I am so pleased you got through the chemo. I always had my doubts about Disney too, maybe not as strong as yours. If someone told me they'd booked it for me, i confess i'd be delighted, probably on behalf of the boys. But if I had to part with cash, it proabbaly wouldn't be to go there. Although, and i know its not the same to all the hard core Disney folk, but i would consider a little french camping trip and spending a day or 2 at Eurodisney for the boys. Anywhere that is not hospital will be holiday, Devon and Cornwall and lovely and very accessible in the meantime and as good as any other backdrop for making magical memories.
    Cape Cod then, there's something to look forward to. And I know you will treasure all the days in between.
    Well done for your positivity, and thankyou for it too.

  7. Wow--what an interesting study. It's amazing the power friendship and support have on one's ability to overcome cancer. Thank you for sharing!


I love to hear from you ... even if it is just a 'hi'!