Thursday, 8 June 2017


Getting out and about

Research says that physical activity has great benefits, both during and after cancer treatment.  The advice I've been given is to try to do about 150 minutes of physical activity a week.  Now, as I've probably only ever done about 150 seconds of physical activity a week before I was diagnosed, I thought I'd better get off my backside.  

Tai Chi

The first thing I did was to join a Tai Chi class sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Support.  It's a graceful and spiritual form of exercise which I've discovered, much to my surprise, requires more control over muscles and a greater degree of co-ordination than I ever expected.  

At my first class, I quickly realised that an elephant on a pogo stick would have had a better chance of getting to grips with Tai Chi that first night than I did.  But I'm sticking at it and I'm in a group of people who make me feel welcome.  It really is a lovely activity and I come away from it with an inner warmth, a calmer mind and a feeling of mutual support.

Move More

I've also met up with a fantastic Macmillan 'Move More' co-ordinator who has worked with me to understand my level of activity both pre- and post-diagnosis.  She has helped me set goals to increase my activity levels.  Even gardening counts as a physical activity.  

I'm now starting to plant vegetable seeds for the first time in my life.  If someone had told me 20 years ago I would be growing my own vegetables, I would have laughed out loud.  And trust me, I have a really loud laugh.

I also now go to a weekly Move More class for people living with cancer and cancer survivors.  It's a little bit like circuit training but is very much geared towards the attendees' needs.  The people who go are really friendly and chatty.  We laugh and joke but we knuckle down to the exercises.  There was one woman there who, whilst we jogged, told me she had incurable cancer but wanted to do something to help tackle her fatigue.  She was a stunning looking woman.  I am rarely lost for words but on that occasion I was.  I just didn't know what to say that didn't sound naff.  Her story touched me deeply.  

'There but for the grace of God...' and all that.

Coffee and Chat

I went to my first Coffee and Chat session organised by Action Cancer at the Macmillan Centre. I met cancer mentors who talked to me about their experiences and who gave me lots of tips, for example moisturising my feet to reduce the risk of ulcers during chemotherapy (I don't know if this is true yet as at time of writing I haven't started chemo).  
Cancer mentors are really positive, inspirational people.  They've been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  They listen to you and give you practical advice but more importantly they give you hope.

Wednesday Walks

Something else I've started to do is to take part in 'Wednesday Walks' organised by Connswater Community Greenway.  I've discovered areas of East Belfast I knew nothing about.  For example, the first walk took us to a place called The Hollow (see pic) made famous in the song 'Brown Eyed Girl' by Belfast's own Van Morrison. 


The Hollow, East Belfast

 The Great One

I met a lovely former Canadian resident on one of the walks.

We talked about ice hockey which is my favourite sport to watch.  She told me that her husband had once taken her many years ago to see the Toronto Maple Leafs (go Leafs!) play at the famed Maple Leaf Gardens.  Wayne Gretzky - the Great One - was playing in the game.  I was about to bow down and say 'I'm not worthy' when she said something that astounded me: she read a book throughout the whole game.

Wayne Gretzky.  WAYNE GRETZKY.  The greatest ice hockey player that ever graced the game.  And she didn't bloody watch him!  

Next time...

Taking control (and no, it's not about Brexit).

PS

Let me know below if there's anything specific about my breast cancer journey you'd like me to blog about.

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