After last week's oncology and nutritionist appointments, I am back to being on 100% sick leave. This feels like a disappointment, as I before the summer, considered myself being well on track to full recovery. However, I have learned that it is vitally impossible to predict and identify every organ and body process that somehow have been affected by the cancer illness as such, and all the surgeries and treatments I have undergone. The only way is to handle the problems as they arise, rule out cancer recurrence, and then try to minimize the impact.
Recently, my digestive problems have escalated, thus giving me painful stomach cramps, constipation and severe sleeping problems. All this makes me tired and my everyday unpredictable, as I never know when I will be in desperate need of a toilet. Last week, I had my regular oncology check-up and the results were good, without any signs of cancer recurrence. I am certainly happy and relieved that this was the case!
My doctor's theory is that the cause of my current problems, is that my intestines' movement capability has been drastically reduced. There is no treatment or medicine that can improve this condition, it could vanish any day or remain forever. This means I will need to focus on reducing symptoms, by trying various methods and diets, and hopefully finding some that works for me, and improves my quality of life. Currently, I am on a very high dose of good gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus, in addition to strictly adhering to the Fodmap diet. Keep your fingers crossed that this will work, if not, the next diet will be three days of eating white rice only.
I sincerely hope that the time of serious digestive problems will be short, so I could resume my road to full recovery.
Healthwise, I have been struggling for months with digestive problems. When I go to bed, my intestines starts partying. I am convinced that they listen to hard rock, singing out loud and head banging, thus giving me severe stomach ache, bloating, constipation and sleeping problems. It impacts my everyday life, which I hate. None of my doctors can say why I have these problems. They might be caused by the surgeries, the chemo therapies or the HIPEC treatment that I got during my first surgery. HIPEC or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy is a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment delivered directly to the abdomen after tumor removing surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells.
It is pointless to speculate why I have these problems, I just want to find a way to reduce them. Compared to the cancer as such, it is of course just a small glitch, but nevertheless tiring and annoying.
At first, I tried a fiber-reduced diet, but without any success. Later, I was referred to a nutritionist to get specialist support. She advised me to try a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates known as Fodmaps. Fodmap stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, di-saccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. In simpler terms, different types of carbohydrates (sugars) that are found in milk products that contain lactose, stone fruits, onions, garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, wheat, rye, nuts and many more. Cooking definitely gets more challenging, when following this diet, not to mention eating out... Step 1 was to remove all Fodmaps from my diet for a couple of weeks, and step 2: introduce one type at a time, to identify what types and what amount of Fodmaps I can tolerate.
My vacation project was to reintroduce wheat to figure out how much gluten I can tolerate. Disappointingly, the results are inconclusive. Despite having tried different types of wheat-based bread every third day, and carefully noting down any symptoms, there is simply no logic. Somedays, I had serious problems and others none. I guess I will need to continue with gluten-free products and as a next step try some other Fodmap type.
Nevertheless, I do not give up, I need to find a way to reduce my digestive problems and feel better.
For me a summer in Sweden means time with my family, meeting dear, old friends, reading all the books I should have read earlier in the year, swimming in the lake, if it is not too cold, long forest walks, barbecue almost every day and ice cream! During other times of the year, I am not a huge ice cream fan, but when summer comes I like to enjoy an ice cream. According to me, the best ice cream in Sweden, is made by the small company Wetternglass in Hjo. They make their high quality ice cream without any artificial colors or flavors. They only mix ecological cream, milk and eggs, with fruits, berries and other natural ingredients.
For a long time, I have had "Enjoy a Wettern ice cream" on my list. Last week, I finally got the chance to do that. I had a cup with three scoops of very tasty and innovative flavors: almond, basil and muscovado. Yummy!
Another simple summer pleasure is fishing. Well, it is not always a pleasure, especially if you are a bit impatient like I am, and find it boring if you do not catch anything within the first 30 minutes. Waiting patiently for a fish to catch the bait is not my strongest side, no matter how much I try to see it as time for leisure, contemplation and relaxation.
The lake by our summer house is great for fishing and we normally catch perch, pike and pike-perch. This summer I have been successful, and at the same evening caught the biggest pike I have every caught: 3 kilos and the biggest pike-perch as well: 2,5 kilos. In comparison to the Swedish records of 21 kilos and 12,5 kilos respectively, my fish were super tiny, but anyway I was extremely happy for my catch. The pike-perch is a delicacy and my whole family and I like it immensely, especially fried and served with a creamy leek sauce. Pike I do not even try to cook any longer, regardless of the different recipes I have tried, it only tastes like mud. I happily give all the pikes we catch to a friend of mine.
I have a few more vacation days, before going back home, and I look forward to more sunshine, ice cream and fishing!☀️🍨🐟
Today the local newspaper of my hometown published an article about me and my Foundation. I am grateful to get the possibility to reach more people. Hopefully, through my story, I am able to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and the serious need to fund more research. It was of course also an excellent opportunity to get publicity for my Foundation's upcoming charity event: Lenas Lopp för Livet. If you have not signed up yet, please do!
If you want to read the article you can find links to the article below. The first one works if you are subscribing to VLT or MittMedia and the second if you are not.
Now I will get back to enjoying my vacation. Sweden, at this time of the year is absolutely wonderful! 😎☀️❤️
I have been coughing badly for a couple of weeks, without having had a cold or a fever. As you know, my whole cancer shabang started with coughing, so naturally my whole family gets slightly nervous when I cough without an obvious reason. After having seen my family doctor twice over the last weeks, without her being able to determine the cause for the hideous coughing, she contacted my oncologist. It was quickly decided that I needed to do an extra CT-scan to check for metastasized cancer in the thorax area. Just hearing the words metastasized cancer is frightening and it gives me the chills.
Naturally, both my doctors and I wanted to know if something is seriously wrong, before I would leave for my summer vacation to Sweden. However, with only three days left before my flight, I thought that would be impossible. I am glad I was proven wrong, thanks to the excellent Swiss health care system and my oncologist's personal support. I did the CT-scan the following day and my oncologist saw me, the day after the scan, during his lunch break, to make sure I got the results in person before my vacation. Thank you Swiss health care! I am delighted and relieved that the results were good, with no signs of any new tumors.
Now, I am looking forward to a couple of weeks vacation together with my family. We have no specific plans, other than spending time together, relaxing and meeting family and friends. Hopefully, the weather will be nice, so we can enjoy the lake by our summer house. I hope to completely switch off all work related tasks, and will only do some minor volunteer tasks for my Foundation's big event on September 5th: Lenas Lopp för Livet (Lena's Run for Life). The charity run in Västerås, where every krona goes to ovarian cancer research. If you have not signed up yet, click this link.
With yesterday's positive scan results in mind, I will for sure enjoy my break even more! I wish you a great summer, full of joy, happiness and sunshine!😎 ☀️
Today is my one year Cancerversary! You may not be familiar with the word Cancerversary. It is the anniversary of a specific time, date or event in the life of a person touched by cancer. Since each cancer journey is unique and different, individuals may choose different milestones to celebrate. Some people choose to celebrate the day they were diagnosed, or the day they finished chemotherapy but I have chosen to celebrate the day I had my first clear scan. On July 4th 2018, I officially went into remission, as my scan showed that all visible signs of cancer was gone and no more treatment was needed. So today, one year later I celebrate big time. The reason is two-folded, first to reflect on where I am today versus one year ago and secondly I celebrate the fact that I am alive!
This last year has definitely not been a walk in the park, I have been struggling with all the aftermaths of chemotherapy, an urgent bowel obstruction surgery, digestive problems and much more. Nevertheless it has also been a joyful year with lots of love, laughter and fun! I am happy and thankful for all the amazing people I have met, interesting places I have visited, small and big things I have learned and experienced. My family aside, I am most proud of the Foundation I have founded and extremely grateful for the fantastic start it has had. Thank you for your support!
I made it 1 year! I almost do not dare to say it loud in order not to jinx myself and awaken sleeping cancer cells. This hybrid of joy and nervousness, or gratitude and anxiety, I guess I will have to live with for years to come. Still, I will have an extra glass of champagne today, enjoy and celebrate. Life is good!
What does Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Victor Hugo and I have in common? Honestly speaking not much, they are well-known people and are all dead since long. However, we have all four enjoyed the healing thermal water in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.
The thermal bath in Bad Ragaz has a history dating back to 1242, when hunters discovered a warm spring in the Tamina gorge. According to tradition, the monks of a nearby Benedictine monastery soon recognized the healing effects of the water, which has a low mineral content and a temperature of 36.5°C. The first spa guests were lowered into the gorge on ropes, to enjoy the warm water. Already in 1840, some clever, business-minded persons built a four kilometer long pipeline to bring the water to Bad Ragaz, to make it more accessible. This was the starting point of Bad Ragaz gaining a worldwide reputation as a bathing and spa resort, thus attracting Europe's celebrities. They all wanted to benefit from the thermal water, which is said to have a range of positive effects on the human body, such as boosting the metabolism, circulation and improving cardiac function.
Thermal bath year 2019
Today, there are several pools with different temperatures, jacuzzi, massage jets and an outdoor section: all to maximize the well-being. The bathing is done in a Swiss orderly fashion with discrete, flashing arrows making sure you do not stay too long by one of the massage jets, but move on to the next one. The whole place has a calming, soothing ambience and people only speak in low voices.
I left feeling relaxed and recharged. The medical effects for me are yet to be seen, but I do hope the thermal water gave me a much-needed health boost. Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant and relaxing experience, and I got to spend it with a dear friend of mine. Thank you Katharina!
If you look at lists of what people are most afraid of, public speaking is almost always among top 5. It is common to feel uncomfortable and getting very nervous when all lights are on you and you are at the center of attention. The good thing is, facing this fear and doing it anyway, together with learning some basics of how to speak in public, are often enough to overcome at least some of the public speaking fear. And of course, the more speeches and presentations you hold, the more confident you get.
Over the cause of my working career I have held hundreds of presentations and speeches. Some good, a few brilliant and definitely some boring and bad. However, I enjoy public speaking and find it most of the time rewarding and fun. For me it all starts with: who is the audience? Based on the audience I try to tailor a message to get the desired outcome. It is two completely different things to speak about robotics in front of a high school class or delivering a robotics sales pitch in a customer meeting. It is also important to take every presentation seriously, be well prepared and to have rehearsed several times. I am almost always a bit nervous, and it is not only negative as I feel it makes me more focused.
Last week, I was invited as inspirational speaker at an event in Sweden. I felt honored and privileged to get the chance to talk about the importance of "here and now", joy and appreciation of life! It was also a good opportunity to increase awareness about ovarian cancer and of course to promote my foundation.
I hope to get more such chances and who knows maybe this is my next career!?
On June 2nd 2018, I wrote my first ever blogpost. When I look back and compare it with what I have written lately, I can see that my writing certainly has evolved. The texts are longer, more colorful and I hope more interesting to read. They have also definitely become much more personal, as I share my thoughts, feelings and what I am experiencing more openly.
My Good Life Formula
Today's blogpost is my 52nd and so far my posts have been a mix of personal reflections and stories about completing actions on My Survival List. As I have written earlier, it is definitely not a competition and ticking off actions is not the main point. More importantly, the list gives me a direction and a future orientation. In my situation a future outlook is essential, as it demonstrates hope and a belief in a tomorrow. However, tomorrow is tomorrow, what we have and are certain of is now. Hence, full focus on the presence, here and now, enjoying and cherishing the moment. I am alive, life is great, let's enjoy!
Last but not least, healthy egoism, which starts with self-awareness and with a recognition of one’s needs and values. Healthy egoism is not the self-centric, boasting egoism, but a self-reflecting version, where I listen to me, my wishes and desires. I decide where I want to spend my time and with whom, because that makes me happy, and gives my life meaning and purpose.
Future outlook + "here and now" + healthy egoism = Good life
It works for me, does it work for you?
My husband and I are getting ready for PandaGoSport tomorrow. It is a non-competitive family race in Zumikon. The aim is to bring people together for a sporting activity and to support charity. Check out the Webpage for more information. We just got the T-Shirts for My Foundation delivered, so Lars and I will wear them to create awareness about ovarian cancer, and to promote My Foundation. Main aim is of course to generate more donations, thus contributing to cancer research and saving women's lives.
Getting a cancer diagnosis, and going through all the necessary treatments are exceptionally tough. I am convinced that in order to handle that people need hope. Hope is what keeps us going even when life is miserable and it seems like there is no tomorrow. It is said "Hope is the last to die" and I fully believe in that! However, seeing that there is hope even in the darkest and most frightening moments, is not always self evident. Several psychologists underline the importance of creating and seeing a path forward, as well as looking for inspiration and role models. The realization that others have managed can be extremely powerful.
I try to bring hope via my small, personal actions and of course through My Foundation, by generating more money to cancer research. Tomorrow I will run for hope and to save women's lives!
Support cancer research via Lena Wäppling's Foundation:
Hi, my name is Lena and I am a cancer survivor. I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts. If you want to subscribe, click on Contact.