I have been overwhelmed and disappointed by the fact that my health situation has worsen. This was definitely neither what I had foreseen nor hoped for. I guess it is part of the human nature, when things improve, you more or less take it for granted that it will continue just like that. And I believe it is especially true for people like me, who were born optimistic and with a sense of that the only direction is upwards and towards something better.
Last year, when I was at my low-point physically and mentally, the revelation giving me a sense of purpose and meaning, was when I started to make sure I not only had things to look forward to, but actively started pursuing them. Lately, I have come to realize that I need to restart that again with the same passion and commitment. Hopefully, this will make me happier and more content, by seeing that I actually take steps forward, if not health wise, then at least in my own personal way. Hence, I have added a few, new activities that I really want to do, starting here and now!
The first task added, is quite obvious: successfully arrange Lenas Lopp för Livet (Lena's Run for Life) and raise lots of money to ovarian cancer research! Together with my fellow board members, we are well on our way. Sponsors have been signed up, practical arrangements have been made and many participants have already registered. The press coverage has been exceptional, with articles in both local papers of my home town:
Västerås Tidning, August 23rd
VLT, July 26th
Thanks to my parents, you can find posters about Lenas Lopp för Livet all over Västerås. Now I just need to get the go ahead from my doctor to travel to Sweden. Keep your fingers crossed!
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!☀️🍨🐟
Support cancer research via Lena Wäppling's Foundation:
Lenas Lopp för Livet (Lena's Run for Life) is arranged in September every year. In 2019 100.000 SEK was raised for ovarian cancer research.
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.