I went into Makcu’s bedroom and immediately felt choked from the familiar metallic chemical smell. She had just completed her 6th chemotherapy cycle a few days before and resting in bed due to body fatigue. It was the 2nd day of Eidul Fitri this year.
Like a flashback I remember the body ache and the same smell on my skin, urine and sweat two years before. I remember that helpless feeling, as I lay in bed, trapped, every joint in my body was aching, tongue felt rubbery and I can’t wash the feeling and smell away. It was either fight or flight. But the struggle wasn’t physical.
It was mental.
I knew then my doctors were giving the best treatment recommendations for physical recovery. It was up to me however to heal psychologically and spiritually. For all the medicine to work, I must be willing to do my part.
Steps Leading up to Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015, I went through a few steps that helped guide my decision making. I’m sharing it here with the hope that it will one day benefit others.
- An abnormality is found perhaps through medical checkup, mammogram or ultrasound
- Go in for a second opinion with another doctor or hospital on the course of treatment
- Have a biopsy for further tests and reconfirm imaging results
- Once the specifics of the cancer/illness is determined, discuss treatment plan options with your doctor. Look at options available be it conservation treatment or preventative measure.
- Slow down, research and read as much as you can so you are able to make good choices. Remember, we have options. Don’t believe anyone who tells us otherwise.
- Choose an oncologist and surgeon that you are most comfortable with.
- Share your medical/family history, your fears, what is important to you, lifestyle or anything of relevance that will have an impact on your treatment.
- Share what other complementary therapy you are doing with your doctors.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends before, during or post your treatment. Prepare to be having ‘down time’ during the first week and get someone to help with cooking or looking after children.
- On your first day of chemotherapy, bring a book, iPad or phone to help pass the time during iv infusion which can last from 3 – 4 hours. Depending on mood, sometimes I watched comedy, cartoons or something lighthearted and happy.
Dealing with decision making and ‘what if…’
We are human and there will be many thoughts, fears and concerns racing through our heads. When I decided to proceed with chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy, my primary concerns were that I didn’t want to deal with ‘what ifs…’ later in life.
It was a decision made as per the current advice and knowledge accessible to me at that point in time. Whatever the outcome may be, I will accept.
Once you have decided to proceed with your choice of treatments, I am sharing some of the recovery activities that really helped me to cope in the beginning and eventually paved the way for my wellness:
- I go for 15 – 20 minutes morning walks to sweat out on the 5th day post-chemotherapy. Please slowly ease into exercise, perhaps swinging your arms and legs first in bed, then walking around the house before going outdoors. Perspiration is one way to rid the body of toxins.
- Most of my meals are sugar-free, grain free and dairy free. I ate small meals throughout the day, mostly soupy vegetables, cut fruits, good fat like extra virgin coconut oil, seafood and moderate amounts of meat. I suffered from a loss of appetite so nutrient dense food like eggs and avocado smoothies helped.
- Do drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. This could be any type of drink that you prefer like flavoured teas, bone broth, coconut water, leafy green vegetable juice (spinach, beets, kale, wheatgrass) or fruits. Drink ginger tea to nix nausea.
- I bathed a few times a day and used extra virgin coconut oil to replace soap and moisturise skin. Bathing in cold water helped me with hot flushes from chemo-induced menopause.
- Lastly, if the sweat smell is bothering you, talk to your doctor for tips on how to improve the situation and change the bed linens regularly.
I hope that sharing this has been very helpful and look forward to hearing from you soon. In the meantime, here’s a nutrient-packed Avocado recipe I would like to share.
Nutrient Dense Avocado Recipe
Avocado is a fantastic nutrient-dense fruit that is low in carbs (1 medium size avocado is approx. 2g carbs) full of nutritious fat, antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, great for our heart and loaded with potassium.
This pudding is great to serve chilled and its fantastic for anyone on ketogenic diet or lactose intolerant as its dairy free too. Give it a try and let us know.
Avocado Pudding with Chia Seeds
(311 Calories, 5g netcarbs, 13g fiber, 26g fat, 5g protein)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
1/2 box coconut milk
1 teaspoon of lakanto
1 medium size ripe avocado
1 tablespoon of lakanto
1 tablespoon of coconut milk
A drop of vanilla essence.
- Mix chia seeds, coconut milk and lakanto together until combined in a small bowl and refrigerate.
- Blend avocado, vanilla essence, lakanto and coconut milk until it resemble smoothie consistency and scoop on dessert glass.
- Cover and keep chilled for at least 1 hour.
- To serve, take out our avocado pudding and pour chia seeds mixture on top. Get your spoon ready and dig in!
What is a Ketogenic Diet or Keto?
A ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet. It revolves around limiting our carbohydrate intake in order to put our body in a state of burning fat for energy as opposed to glucose.
When we eat a lot of carbs, our body produces glucose and insulin. Glucose turns into energy while insulin is produced to process the glucose in our bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since the glucose is being used as an energy source, our fats are not needed and just sit there in storage.
By lowering our intake of carbohydrates, we put our body in a state called “ketosis”. During this state, our body makes ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver. Loading our body with fats and taking away carbohydrates, will make our body burn ketones as the primary energy source instead of glucose. In other words, we burn fat for energy as opposed to burning sugar. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.
Update : Not all cancer story in my family has a happy ending. Unfortunately by the time this article is published Makcu had passed away on 26th July 2018 after battling cervical cancer that metates to liver cancer early this year. She was a gentle, kind auntie that took it upon herself to be our ‘mother’ after our mom passed away 10 years ago. She survives by her husband and 8 children of whom, 4 are still studying.
May Allah bless her always. إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون
َAllahummaghfirlaha warhamha wa`afiha wa`fu`anha” – “Ya Allah, ampunilah dosanya, berilah rahmat-Mu ke atasnya, sejahtera dan maafkanlah dia.
Meet Roslina at the Keto for Carb Addicts Workshop
Butterkicap is excited to be featuring Roslina in an upcoming workshop Keto for Carb Addicts! This could be life-changing! In the 3-hour session, you will discover:
- First-hand how keto can reverse diabetes, help you lose weight and achieve clarity of mind.
- How to be on keto in a healthy and sustainable way.
- How to adapt keto to Malaysian food.
- How to cook 3 Malaysian recipes including murtabak, lontong and agar-agar lumut. Can you believe she made these recipes keto friendly!!
- Enjoy some of her baked goods including keto scones, YES SCONES! And chicken buns.
- Receive a Keto Starter Pack full of tools and helpful tips you’ll appreciate.
- Take home a bag full of keto related groceries to get you started.
- Make friends and build a network of people who can support you in your keto journey.
The fee for this workshop is RM300 per person.
Spaces are limited. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.