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Thoughts, Updates & What you can do to help loved ones battling cancer

Thoughts, Updates & What you can do to help loved ones battling cancer

Today is CT day… The first since Alan has started his regime of chemo treatments. He’s pensive but I expect good news from this CT as all the tumours that we could feel have greatly diminished.

As we sit, somewhat patiently, waiting for Alan to be called, a young man with a head injury is wheeled by. He is obviously heavily sedated and it brings tears to my eyes as the memories of Shaydon’s injury flood back. This young man is a complete stranger to me but all I want to do is go hold his hand and to offer some comfort.

This makes me think of all the others with ailments and how this changes their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I hope you’re fortunate enough not to have experienced this but if you have, you’ll know there’s so much emotion and questions attached to any illness or injury.

I remember the questions flooding my mind when my late husband was diagnosed… How did it start? What created it? Lifestyle, poor food choice, poor immune system, radiation from his cell phone? The questions were endless but the most important ones were, How do we make him better? What was the plan going forward and what did we need to change in our lives to make him healthy and whole again?

A need for change always come to mind when someone is sick. Something has gone out of balance and the body is no longer coping. This is a time to clean up and reevaluate where you are in life and what you’ve allowed to creep in. When I think of illness and recovery, I look at what we have control over.

Nutrition & Hydration

What are we using to fuel our bodies and are the foods we’re choosing the best for us or have we become lax with our choices? Are we hydrating with clean, filtered water? Are we taking in enough? So many of us are dehydrated!

What happens to those toxins you’re meant to expel if you’re not providing enough fluids so they flush from your system? You get headaches, aches, pains, constipation, etc. You become a toxic mess.

Exercise

Some of these ailments can be helped with exercise; did you know you expel toxins when you sweat?

When you’re sick or recovering from an injury, your body may not be strong enough to exercise at first. Often walking up a flight of stairs or just getting cleaned up for the day will seem enough or too much in the beginning. You need to make sure that you’re getting enough rest as this is when our bodies are meant to recover. How do you deal with stress? Do you hold it in or do you have an outlet?

Cleaning and Personal Care Products

Did you know there are so many toxins hiding in these which are not helpful to anyone’s system? Did you know that your skin is your largest organ and anything you put on it is absorbed? Your organs need to process and detoxify whatever is absorbed through your skin. This includes shampoos, soaps, perfumes, cologne, makeup, shaving lotion and cleaning products. I just posted a blog on my favourite cleaning products and I hope this helps you.

As for the rest, health food stores can be helpful but not everything there is clean. You’ll need to do your research. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has lots of information on their site that can help guide you.

Biannual Detox

It’s always helpful to do a personalized spring and fall detox to clean up some of these toxins and prepare for the coming months. As we’re heading back into another school season, this is an important time to get our children, parents and teachers ready for the sharing of germs by boosting their immune systems and doing a little clean up.

Questions that have been on my mind…

With all of my knowledge on how to stay healthy, how did Alan become sick and where did his balance go so wrong? This is the big question I’ve been searching for the answer for. Of course, we have a similar diet and he would argue we eat the same foods, but it’s been in a very different balance. I love my vegetables and I use fruits as my sweets and I hydrate all day long. If you know Alan, you know he loves his chocolate and almost anything sugary sweet. He’s also struggled with his water. Yes, that’s past tense – he’s learning out of necessity! But these things are just a piece of the puzzle and not the whole picture.

Our food choices are very important to our health, but that’s just one important part of staying healthy.

There are so many causes of disease, all of which I will tackle in an upcoming blog. Right now my focus is on recovery, healing and happiness.

How can I help?

“How can I help?” A question I’ve been asked by so many.

We are surrounded with wonderful people, family, friends and neighbours, all wanting to do anything to help. I’ve always struggled with this as I’m rather independent. Finally, this time around I’m accepting help, at least during chemo days. These days are very taxing for my mind even if I take work to distract me.

There are usually so many appointments, consults, tests, hospital stays, etc. for someone who is sick. This is where help is huge! A second pair of ears and separate thoughts bring on questions so that nothing is missed. It can be such an overwhelming time for the whole family and most of us still need to find time to work. Being sick can be expensive and lonely. If you don’t know how to help, sometimes just being there is the best thing you can do. If you live away, then don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

I remember when Shay was first injured and was heavily sedated or in an induced coma; we all gathered around and talked to him like he was awake. His buddies drove from Kelowna to Calgary to visit, knowing he wasn’t awake to talk to them but to wish him well all the same. We had 3 plus weeks of him in ICU and on constant medical and family watch.

I believe that we need to look out for our own. If you were in the hospital, who would be the first person you would want to see and be comforted by? And who knows you the best but your family.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have offered and helped during those trying times.

 

The update

Alan’s results are in! I’m so pleased to share our positive news that most of the tumours have shrunk considerably along with liver enzymes and tumour markers decreasing. With the good comes some bad; there’s a slight increase in his liver and lung tumours but we’re only looking at millimetres. Considering his first CT was 4 weeks before he started treatment, this is really positive news.  

All in all very positive news to share.

So the battle continues…

A Rare Day – Cleaning your home after chemo

A Rare Day – Cleaning your home after chemo

“A rare day…”

This is how my adoptive mother-in-law would describe the last two days of hanging laundry on the line. Of course, Alan’s parents live in Scotland, a much damper climate, and the trade off is the obvious beauty and history that is evident everywhere you look. We are fortunate ourselves for living here in the Okanagan, the beauty here is quite different in my eyes; lakes, wildlife and sunshine. But there’s no comparison with the history of Scotland.

Alan’s parents welcomed me with open arms almost 4 years ago. Me, a complete stranger, they welcomed me into their home and hearts… I truly adore them both.

I call Alan’s mom Nan, my adoptive mother-in-law, as marriage does not look good on Alan and I’ve already had an amazing marriage (something I know I could not duplicate) and we’re happy this way. I do sometimes joke we should maybe have an “Unmarriage” party… Not sure what that would look like, other than that the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland comes to mind!

Alan’s 4th chemo day has come and gone, and so the cleaning began yesterday; a reason for all the laundry. We all exude toxins in our bodily fluids and this is even worse with chemo running through your veins. The cancer clinic advises you now that everything needs to be washed separately and twice… I always knew this as it made sense, but all those years ago with Tony it was never a concern or conversation that was had.

I’ve always been a clean, neat freak which my family can attest to… Even folding my dirty clothes before being washed. Now I just put them in the basket. I’ve relaxed considerably over the last years. Knowing this, it makes sense that I had a construction cleaning company years ago and that I use only non-toxic, non-chemical cleaning products.

It is so important that anyone fighting any disease have very limited exposure to further chemicals in the home; cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, even cologne and perfume. These are just not helpful to their immune systems. You should also remember this when visiting clinics, hospitals, or an ill family member or friend.

Of course, I have favourite cleaning supplies! They are baking soda/sodium bicarbonate and vinegar. A baking soda paste will clean off soap scum and tarnished metal, while vinegar helps kill bacteria, neutralize chemicals, softens fabric and helps keep static away. Can you see that all my washes include vinegar?

I do have a few basics I use for laundry; unscented laundry powder, borax to keep things white or bright, a natural oxi for stains, and my stand by vinegar. There are many recipes out there for natural laundry soap and fabric softener, all of which I’m sure work great but like many others my time is limited and my basics work for me and help keep the chemicals out of my home.

No, you won’t smell like a chippy*, as Alan once thought. When my son was in Vancouver at GF Strong, there were shared laundry facilities and so much bacteria everywhere. So it was vinegar to the rescue, and thankfully it worked.

Happy natural cleaning!

*Chippy is U.K. slang for a fish and chips shop.

Alan Stirling, The most interesting man I’ve ever met

Alan Stirling, The most interesting man I’ve ever met

Alan is one of those people that captivates you from the moment he opens his mouth and starts sharing one of his many stories. He’s lived more lives than most and experienced so many adventures that it’s hard to believe that he’s only 61-years-old (his birthday is today).

A dear friend had deemed him “the most interesting man I’ve ever met” after getting to know him over the past couple of years and hearing the bits and pieces of his life.

Alan Stirling, Good-Guy Policeman

His stories begin when he joined the police cadets in Edinburgh, Scotland and he earned the nickname Loopy. This was the beginning of many adventures and the start of his career with the police. His parents tell me that Alan has pushed the limits since he was a child and entering the police was no different. Even then, Alan had longish golden hair, but it was not meant to be over the collar. His police career had him in very prestigious responsibilities when he joined the motor brigade. He escorted the Pope and Princess Anne during their times in Edinburgh.

Scotland is a very different world than the one we know in Canada and things are sorted out quite differently there. At the time, police carried only batons, no firearms; only clubs and wits to protect them from thugs, gangsters and altercations… Yes, gangsters still exist, even today.

Alan’s actions as a police officer did not go unnoticed as he was recruited by the government to work undercover. Of course, he couldn’t look like a police officer undercover, so this was the start of his even longer hair, which delighted him.

Alan Stirling, P.I.

His time with the government and police provided the training for his next career choice as a private investigator, which his best friend, Stewart, joined him in. Stirling and Peters Private Investigators was formed in 1991. These two shared a passion not only for the truth and what was right, but also of music… They had a studio below their offices on St. Mary’s Street.

Alan and Stewart were quite successful in business and caught the attention of the BBC, who did a documentary on them.

When Stewart suddenly died from heart problems, Alan was devastated and could no longer go on with the business, shutting the doors to the P.I. business and the recording studio.

Alan Stirling, Nightclub Empresario

Did I mention he also had a night club?!? Well, that continued as he had obligations to the previous owner’s family. When it was eventually sold a few years later, the proceeds went to support the children of the deceased owner.

This kind of action helps set the stage for your understanding of the kind of person Alan is; Rugged on the outside, but so very caring and sensitive on the inside. He’s touched so many lives and is always there to lend a hand or ear… Whatever is necessary.

Alan Stirling, Florist

Flowers were next… Yes, Alan became a florist with no formal training and, like everything else he touched, he was successful. His first shop was on St Mary’s Street, a few doors down from the old P.I. office, but he soon relocated to Glasgow in a hard area called Govan. He then moved to a bigger, more central location in Pollokshields.

When the Iraq war broke out in 2003, the neighbourhood became very tense and it became a dangerous place for a white man to be. It wasn’t long before there was an altercation in the shop and someone threatened Alan’s well-being. He decided it was time for a change and decided that Canada was the place to be.

Alan Stirling, Landscape Designer & Keeper of Fishes

In 2003, Alan immigrated to Canada and found his new calling making the Okanagan beautiful with all of his creations. That’s how Loopykums Pond & Koi came to be.

Through his business, Alan creates stunning landscape designs and water features that enhance people’s enjoyment of the outdoors. Whether he’s building a custom fountain, cascading backyard waterfall, or a harmonious koi pond, Alan always strives to do his best. His crew have been so wonderful during this time and Alan still loves going to work every day!

Tony’s prophecy and blessing

It was years ago… Tony, my late husband, and I were talking about our future. He was still recovering from surgery, an awake craniotomy due to brain cancer, and we both knew that the future had surely changed.

He started talking about how I must go on and be happy without him… Well, I wanted no part of this turn in the conversation, I only wanted to see and hear about recovery. People recover and go into remission all the time… Right?!?

He continued along these lines, saying, “One day you’ll meet someone to take my place and make you happy.”

I’m sure I cut him short… I was happy; worried, but happy. We’d get through this together.

It was a few years and some bad results later that this conversation came up again… “You’ll find someone,” he said. He even mentioned a blonde man…

Fast-forward to 2013 and I’m an emotional wreck. It’s been not quite 3 years since I lost my husband and my son, Shaydon, has been injured at work with a spinal cord injury that is life changing. I’m so happy and elated that he’s alive and well, and sustained no brain injuries. Still, there are going to be some huge challenges.

My son was well on his way with his early recovery and beginning a boot camp for spinal cord injury at Project Walk in Carlsbad, San Diego. I helped him get settled and organised with his personal equipment and daily care aids before I set off for home. I’m sure I wasn’t prepared for what or who was to come next.

And then came Alan…

I met, or rather rescued, Alan at the LAX United Airlines counter. The lady behind the counter had a strong Filipino accent and Alan has a thick Scottish accent… Neither one was able to understand the other!

I overheard this blonde Scotsman say that he was trying to get home to Kelowna… What?! Our previous delayed flight out of Carlsbad, along with a drunk Englishman, had created this mess, so I stepped in and sorted it out. I became the official translator for the conversation and took Alan under my wing as I worked out how we could both get back to Kelowna.

I was not looking for a relationship or another friendship. This is how most things that are meant-to-be begin.

So here we are, not quite 4 years later. Alan, the man who changed my life and allowed me to have emotions again, is sick…

Alan Stirling, Cancer Survivor-to-be

Alan received a call late one Friday night from his GP, a woman in her early sixties that comes across as being very thorough. She wanted Alan to go for another blood test, even though he’d been for several that day. He wrote down the name of the test and proceeded to ask me if I knew what a CEA test was for.

Cancer markers… Yes, I knew and I hoped he wouldn’t Google it; I didn’t want him to worry more and it was bad enough that I knew what she was suspecting.

Knowing that we were now at the weekend and nothing would happen until mid-week at the earliest, I set off to my office to do what I do for so many others… Help them with health issues. I put a homeopathic bowel cancer protocol together and had him start it directly.

The following week, I was in Nelson for a clinic when Alan’s doctor ordered a colonoscopy that was meant to be a few weeks out. Of course, an opening came up while I was away… It was over as quickly as it started. A tumour was found.

I’m over four hours away, feeling helpless, and Alan is scared… Who wouldn’t be? Okay, so it’s a tumour. Now what? Now we wait for a consult with a surgeon and a CT scan. WAIT… Yet again… Thankfully, I’d started Alan on a natural protocol and there were already signs of improvement.

We had friends over one night to discuss our upcoming trip to Scotland and Alan mentioned he was waiting for a CT. Our friend, Frank, questioned why he was waiting at all. Not waiting for our response, he picked up his phone and started texting someone… Within minutes his phone pinged with a reply; his friend could fit Alan in now if we could leave right away. Guess it sometimes pays to have doctors as friends… So off we went.

It seemed like we were there forever, waiting for his CT results. We knew we were dealing with bowel cancer but the CT showed that it had spread into the streets; lungs, liver, lymph nodes, abdominal wall… Fuck!!!

It’s crazy how quickly life can change.

Ok, now we must endure that all consuming sinking feeling again. We were also told surgery was off the table, that chemo was the only option medically open to him. Chemo. Oh my, here we go again. All I could think was “Hold it together, He needs you. These have to be his choices, not yours.”

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned came many years ago with my late husband; you have to let each person make their own choices when it comes to their health. Even if you don’t agree with them. It’s their journey not yours. Be supportive, as most disease is not only physical but mental as well.

Alan, receiving his chemo treatment on his 61st birthday. Doesn’t this look like an optimistic face that’s going to kick Cancer’s ass?

There is a chance!

Alan wrote a song years ago, There Is A Chance, a phrase that he held onto while our friendship was growing… Even though I kept pushing him away!

There is always a chance for recovery with this disease and all diseases… Our bodies are amazing things.

We were booked to go to Scotland the week after the CT Scan to visit his family… Well, my family too now! His son’s partner was expecting a baby while we were there, the real reason for the trip just as Alan’s season was to start. We were very happy to get the all clear from his oncologist, so off we went with two of our amazing friends.

As with most births, this beautiful baby girl, Penelope, made us wait  for her arrival. Meantime, we stayed busy visiting and with rehearsals. Yes, rehearsals… Alan’s old band, plus two very talented young ladies, were to be putting a gig on at The Voodoo Rooms. Maybe you caught some of my Live footage on Facebook?

Our trip seems like months ago now. Alan is patiently sitting through his fourth chemo as I write this… He’s calling it his poison for his birthday. I’m thankful for all the chatter around his birthday; well wishes, FaceTimes,  etc., as I’m usually losing my mind and any kind of friendliness about now… Becoming that person I don’t even want to know, let alone be.

Tonight is party night at KYC with a wonderful group of friends and family. We’re looking forward to it. A well-deserved night out to celebrate this interesting, loving man.

5 questions to ask your practitioner before you hire them

5 questions to ask your practitioner before you hire them

There are many alternative modalities available to us these days; some that require years of training and others that require very little. It’s time for us to start asking some important questions that will help us determine who’s qualified to help us in our health care needs.

As a Nutritional Practitioner and Live Cell Microscopist, I’ve worked with many people over the years and most of my clients are referrals, which will tell you I must be good at my job. There are a lot of good Practitioners out there willing and able to help you, but treat engaging a Practitioner as you would when hiring any other professional.

A lot of us have experienced sitting in a practitioner’s office and asking ourselves “What on earth are we doing here?” By asking these five questions, you will be much closer to finding a practitioner that is ethical and a good fit for your needs.

1.  What are your qualifications and/or certifications?

This will help you determine if you are working with a professional.

2.  Do you have a governing body or professional organization that you are accountable to?

Does this Practitioner have a registration number that may be submitted to extended medical where applicable? Do they have a valid license and insurance? Are they required to do continuing education yearly?

3.  How many years have they been practicing and what do they specialize in?

You may find a highly qualified, well-studied Practitioner right of school that can help you, but make sure all the practitioners you deal with a licensed to work with humans, not animals as we are vastly different. You may think this is a bizarre statement. but there have been instances of such behaviour!

I specialize in cellular support which is one important reason I use Live Blood Analysis as a tool, combined with my nutritional knowledge to help correct what is seen in the analysis.No one should be told they have “bad blood” due to lack of knowledge from someone who claims to be a qualified practitioner. Sadly these are some reports I get from my clients regarding previous people they’ve seen.

4.  How does the Practitioner plan on helping you and how long do you need to wait for your protocol?

Health and Life are about balance. All protocols should consider all aspects of how we live.What foods are we eating and are we eating in the correct balance? Are we hydrating with the correct fluids? How often do we exercise? How do we deal with stress? What toxins have we been exposed to?How does your Practitioner plan to help you create balance or homoeostasis?

5. What are their values or mission statement?

Honesty and integrity should always be first, as well as a vow to Do No Harm.

I have been trained to look for the root cause of health imbalances. I have learned over the years that you need to give your clients some relief while finding this root cause, listen to what they are telling you as they know their bodies best. I learn invaluable lessons from my clients every day and  I could not be happier to see their progress from my teachings and their work.

Once all these questions have been answered to your satisfaction, be aware of practitioners offering extreme results. For instance, antiquated fad diets or the latest wonder nutrient exploited on t.v.

When working naturally there are no quick fixes. If you want life changing results they take time and your effort to see results.