5 Mar

Two years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After hearing the news, I was stunned beyond words. The first person I called at that time was my good friend Theresa. Afraid of scaring people with my loud and uncontrollable sobbing, I sat on a curb at a corner of an open-air car park, telling my friend I have cancer.

I still remember her first words, “Oh shit.” Yup, exactly.

Since then, life has taken a different path. As I cleared out my photo frames in the flat, I looked at old pictures of myself with longer hair, looking like a stranger. Life will never be the same again, and I’m not sure if I want to be the same person again too.

For this special day, we decided to commemorate it with a slice of good chocolate cake and a sparkler, courtesy of the restaurant. Two years on, I’m still here, and that’s surely something to celebrate!


The Cancer Survivor’s Companion

22 Feb

If you have been diagnosed with cancer in this day and age, chances are you might find yourself doing a whole load of speed reading. Reading about what causes cancer, what the treatment options are, what you are supposed to eat etc. The list goes on.

I read a whole lot, from Lance Armstrong to Susan Love. Just when I thought I am through with reading about cancer, I found a book in the bookshop one day that shouted, “Read me!”

The Cancer Survivor’s Companion – Practical ways to cope with your feelings after cancer, by Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins is a brilliant book for survivors like me who have gone through treatment but yet still feel lost or at times sad, contrary to the “Carpe Diem” survivors who are relishing every waking minute.

There are chapters which deal with specific emotions, such as worries, depression and low mood and anger. Within these chapters are explanations or examples of how you are feeling and small exercises for you to get through these difficult emotions.

I have just started on my first chapter and it sure feels great that someone out there knows how I feel!

You can purchase your copy of The Cancer Survivor’s Companion here.

Dine and Wine…?

14 Feb

Do you know drinking red wine moderately helps reduce your risk for Breast Cancer?

Apparently there are signs of reduced estrogen in women who drank red wine for a month.

This article is published in Huffington Post.

Happy New Year

10 Jan

It is already the first 10 days of this new year!

How quickly the feeling of a new start quickly dwindles into life as per normal as the work piles up, to-do lists add up… Does your New Year’s Day feel like a remote world away? Or are you still excited about the new year and keeping your resolutions?

Crazy, Sexy Cancer

21 Dec

One of the amazing women I have come to know (online at least) after being diagnosed of Breast Cancer is Kris Carr, a Stage 4 cancer survivor who has started her very own cancer battle almost a decade ago. After being told that there is no real cure for her cancer, Kris went on to search for alternative ways of healing and along the way she also made a documentary of herself (which regrettably I have not seen).

On her blog, you can find many posts on health, well-being and advice on food and diet. I find them inspiring, fun and really informative.

Here is a link to a post which feature some amazing women who gave short talks on their journey to empowerment:

Gabrielle Bernstein – Motivational Speaker and coach

Alissa Vitti – Holistic Health Counselor

Mama Gena – Teacher, author, mother

and one of my favourites from young:

SARK – Best selling artist & author


Sex and Intimacy after Cancer

15 Dec

One of the things I realised after treatment is that life does not return to normal. Well, some say that you’ll get used to the new normal  and then they go on to tell you what the possible new normal is. When it is expected, it could be well tolerated without much struggle. However, more often than not the new state surfaces out of the blue and it hits you like a “wham!”, and all you can think of is, “is that the new me now? and how long does that last?”

I came across this educational talk posted on the Livestrong blog about sex and intimacy after cancer. After treatment ended, I found myself not interested in engaging intimately with my partner. There are many reasons: don’t feel like it, not in the mood and pain. Coming to terms with the new self is a slow process and takes a great deal of communication. I remember being confused about the fear of intimacy and love – does that mean I’m not in love with him anymore? – and having to dissect what my emotions are before attempting to speak to my partner about it. I didn’t feel like a woman, more like a sexless person who has the technical functions of a female human being.

Speaking about it allows your partner to understand what you are going through. First of all it is a good thing for your partner to know that you are not rejecting him. Second of all, it reinforces the idea that you are still in the process of recovering and hence he knows what to expect – certainly not back to your pre-cancer normal. Best of all, if you can talk about it and laugh about it, it certainly helps with your relationship.

There are lots of information out there with coping with sex and intimacy after cancer. Here is the link to the livestrong video and it also comes with a handout which you can print out. This page at the National Cancer Institute also has information about how to cope with your sexual life after cancer. At the end of day, be patient and kind to yourself. Dealing cancer has been difficult and now you still have to deal with it?? WTF? I know, I feel that at times too. But moping around doesn’t really help. So focus on the positive and remember that life can sometimes throw you many curveballs, it is really up to you to make the best out of it. If in doubt, a loving hug to your dearly beloved or a relaxing massage never fails.

Your Inner Child

6 Dec

My session with the medical counsellor yesterday went up one higher level when we spoke about the fears, anxieties and negativity that comes after treatment.

I did not understand why after handling cancer treatment very well, I found it difficult to proceed in life, to live my dreams and future life with an optimism that is often seen in cancer survivors. One month ago, I realised that it could be menopausal symptoms which bordered on depression. Yesterday, my counsellor said it could be possible that the fears and anxieties were within me all along. Because I had a focus (to get treatment and get better), I have subconsciously pushed these feelings aside. And now it’s pay-back time.

After discussing my fears with her, it seems that there is an inner critic within me who is harsh and pretty much judges me according to all the mistakes that I’ve made. In fact, because of this judge, I have fears of failure because I fear that she will judge me. It all sounds a little psychotic, like I have different personalities within me but I honestly understand it as it is really true that I have such a judgemental voice in my head! We then went on to identify the different voices in my head, breaking down the inner conversations within my head. Then we proceeded to come up with things to tell those voices when they are at work. One of the things which we discovered was that I am often too hard on myself and I need to have a kind voice to myself.

I did a little research after I came home about “inner child” and came across this on the livestrong website. It is a little introduction on the concept of the inner child and is a good place to start, if you think you may have an inner child who has been suppressed.