It’s the last week of April and I am now officially one year past ringing the bell at the Cancer Centre, celebrating the end of my chemotherapy infusions. As I sit in my comfortable house during this unusual lockdown period, I think back to where I was one year ago. As I grumble about my overly fluffy hair, desperately missing my hairdresser, I think back to having no hair this time last year, plus no eyebrows or eyelashes or body hair. This time last year, I was working a bit, but had few other activities or responsibilities, having given them all away in order to make time and energy for chemotherapy. This year, all of my extracurricular activities have been taken away from me, thanks to coronavirus isolation, leaving me with more free time again. But this time, I have the energy to do productive things.
And when I think back over the past year, I realize that it has been quite a journey of growth and development. I have stretched myself in ways that I never would have thought possible before. Here’s just a few:
Last spring, I developed and taught a 5 week Low Carb/Keto diet and lifestyle course to a group in our local indigenous community, Neyaashiinigmiing. I felt pretty vulnerable as I was fresh out of chemo and still very bald. It was a wonderful experience, working with clients and caregivers that were committed to improving their own health and the health of the community. That relationship has lead to other opportunities to help make an impact in their community, helping with some of their most vulnerable members.
Also while still bald and recovering, I developed and recorded two lectures to be a part of the LCHF for Dietitians Learning program, presented by Nutrition Network, Dr. Timothy Noakes’ foundation out of South Africa. The training modules are designed to cover all aspects of LCHF for health professionals and all proceeds of the course fees are used to support improved nutrition for vulnerable South Africans, particularly in the Townships, where diabetes and obesity are rampant. The parallels to Canada’s indigenous population are striking. That course, and others that have been developed by the same organization, can be accessed here.
I submitted my Success Story to Mark’s Daily Apple, outlining my use of a keto diet and targeted fasting for chemotherapy and cancer management. It was accepted and has yet to be published. I can’t wait for that to happen!
I also submitted an application to be an academic poster presenter for Low Carb Denver in March 2020. It was accepted and I did all the preparation, creating my first academic poster. Literally the day I was to drive to the airport to fly to Denver, the coronavirus was declared a pandemic and I made the difficult decision to not attend. It was the right decision, but after all the anticipation, it was heart-wrenching and disappointing. But the poster is still ready and I hope that by next year, conferences will be happening again and I will reapply to attend.
I attended two Low Carb conferences in Ontario, one in Toronto in August and one in Vaughn in November. At both these conferences, I was able to meet and help out with members of the Canadian Clinicians for Therapeutic Nutrition (CCTN). I made some wonderful new friends and some valuable connections. It’s so affirming to interact and support other health professionals that are working in Low Carb medicine and hear about their challenges and their successes.
Early in 2020, I recorded an online course that covers the keto diet and targeted fasting for chemotherapy and uploaded it to Udemy, an online learning platform. This was one way to get my information out there and available to a larger population. Developing the course, recording it, learning video editing (rudimentary, but a huge learning curve nonetheless), creating all the support materials and downloads – it was a massive undertaking. I finished it just the week before I was supposed to go to Denver. It’s located here if you are interested. It costs nothing to register with Udemy, then you purchase any courses that you are interested in and have lifetime access. For the next month (May 2020), it’s discounted using this code.
And the biggest accomplishment of the last year? I have written my book! Powerful Beyond Measure: Using Nutrition and Spirit to Journey through Cancer (working title – it might be different by the time it hits the market) has been written, initially edited by knowledgeable, medically-savvy friends and my writer/editor daughter-in-law, and now I have signed up to a wonderful self-publishing support company that will take my manuscript through the lengthy and complex process of publishing it on multiple platforms and organizing distribution and marketing. It is in the process of content editing as I write this – I’m so excited (and a bit anxious) to see what they think of it.
Outside of the Powerful Beyond Measure realm, the past year has also seen me backstage doing wardrobe for our local little theatre musical, Sister Act, with a three week performance run and months of prep leading up to it. Right after that was a two week trip to Honduras to build a home for a poor family, performing strenuous physical labour in the stunningly beautiful mountainous countryside of this impoverished but gorgeous country. We also camped our way out to PEI with our new little camper trailer, and I purchased a 200 cc Aprilia Scooter so that I can finally learn to ride a bike. We had two sets of German relatives visit us, wonderful times.
I have been so blessed in the past year. Recovery has been almost totally smooth, with the minor exception of the delayed reappearance of my immune system. But that’s now resolved at last and I feel 100% back to myself. Older, wiser, with a few new scars, but rip-raring to head into my 60’s and have a kick-ass decade. Most of my 60th year big plans have been sidelined by the current pandemic situation and resultant shutdown, but that’s okay – they will wait.
Stay tuned to this space for more information about the book launch, hopefully in early fall.
Note: The links above to the Nutrition Network course and the Udemy course are affilitate links, meaning that I make a bit of money if you choose to purchase through them. It helps me to continue with the spreading of the message.