New Recipe Book from Pancreatic Cancer Action

The latest news from Pancreatic cancer action:-

“Pancreatic Cancer Action has launched a recipe book to help alleviate one of the key side effects of pancreatic cancer: the inability to maintain weight and a nutritional balance. The book was developed by University College Cork and is available to patients, carers, hospitals, pancreatic cancer specialist centres and cancer support facilities to order free of charge from Pancreatic Cancer Action.

Pancreatic cancer affects a patient’s ability to digest and absorb vital nutrients from food, which can cause pain, changes in bowel habit, decreased appetite and nausea. These symptoms can put patients at risk of suffering from malnutrition.

Ali Stunt, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Good nutrition is a crucial part of any pancreatic cancer treatment programme, as so often the symptoms of the disease and side effects of treatment can make eating a real struggle.”

Nourishing your Body during pancreatic cancer treatment features over 80 recipes, which, using scientific evidence, have been developed by dietitians and chefs so that they are nutritious and can be easily tolerated.

Author Aoife Ryan, who is a dietitian at University College Cork in Ireland, said: “Our team of oncology dietitians and chefs, have worked hard over the last year to translate the nutritional advice for people with pancreatic cancer that are losing weight into simple, nourishing and enjoyable meal ideas.“

The production and distribution of the book is courtesy of a grant from the Rosenfield Family. Ali says: “I’d like to say thank you to the Rosenfield family who kindly sponsored the book in memory of Kim Rosenfield, who sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer last year.”

If you are interested in ordering a copy, you can visit http://www.pancreaticanceraction.org, call 0303 040 1770 or e-mail enquiries@panact.org.”

Autumnal cosiness

We are just into October, the sun is still shining and I am waiting for that one morning that marks the beginning of Autumn for me. The morning when there is that chill in the air as I leave home, the one that takes the breath away just a little, the one that requires a coat rather than a jacket. In a way it’s wonderful to be still waiting but at the same time there is anticipation, it could be any day now.

The move into Autumn and then Winter is all about cosiness for me; taking down the summer bunting and replacing it with sparkling fairy lights; lighting more candles; drinking hot chocolate with melting marshmallows. In my eagerness for cosy I have already washed all my scarves, throws, wraps in fact anything that will keep me warm and toastie; whether it be whilst going outside for a walk or when snuggling up on the sofa in front of the fire – for which hubby has already chopped the wood and ordered the coal.

Even the TV seems cosy with The Great British Bake Off, inspiring me to bake, with its biscuits, cakes, pastries and loaf or two. But then I will be needing the warming soups, slow cooked stews, deep filled bowls of porridge topped with stewed fruit and dry roasted seeds– all that is hearty and wholesome.

It’s one of the greatest joys of the coming seasons, that with the weather getting colder, duller, wetter it’s an opportunity to make everything warm, intimate and cosy. All I have to do now is find where I put the hot water bottle!

What will you be doing to keep yourself cosy this winter?

Credits: photo my Maria at unsplash.com

Confidence in 1,000 miles

Like many things in life confidence is only found through practice. Just knowing that what ever I do repeatedly will get easier, keeps me going. Whether that be making a skirt or cycling, in both cases practice improves skill, understanding and technique, and with this comes confidence.

When I first got on a road bike in May, I was partly terrified and partly exhilarated. There was such a sense of freedom of being able to cycle at a moderate speed. But, for me there is an additional anxiety of about falling off, not that I just don’t want to injure myself, but also not having a spleen, means fighting infection and recovering from illness and injury takes longer.

But now that I have been cycling for oooooh almost 4 whole months, I can see how my confidence has built, firstly it was all about the bike. Things like getting used to the gears, I often ran out of gears going uphill, no idea how I managed to do that, but I did.

Next it was the shoes, most road cyclists used clipless shoes, which ironically clip on to the pedal, however before the clipless shoes, cyclist used straps which went over the pedal to position the shoes on the pedal for better purchase. I started off with regular pedals and trainers, then added straps to the pedals, then graduated into rigid sole shoes. I still haven’t tried the clipless shoes but am sure I will be in them for next spring.

Flying downhill at speed was fantastic until I learnt that most accident happen going downhill, so I am a bit more cautious now, not much, just enough to balance exhilaration with safety.

Sooner than expected I found myself able to go longer distances, going out on Sundays – working up an appetite and stopping for brunch before returning home – a wonderful way to enjoy the day. Having used Sunday’s to develop stamina for distances I then used my weekly rides to improve my speed. I have been using an app Map My Ride which has been a great motivational tool for me.

Finally I had to work on the hills – it looks so easy when watching Le Tour de France, even the mountain stages. I had no idea how tough it was going up even small inclines, but it’s all about practice and persistence – and so I have kept going until finally I made it up the highest local hill – I would have celebrated when I reached the top, but breathing seemed somewhat more important!

I had never before appreciated road surfaces, there are just to many different types, some are a joy, others soul destroying – in which case it’s usually time for a sharp exit.

So finally after 4 months and 1,000 miles I am ready to cycle from London to Brighton, on Sunday. It will be my longest ride  at 54 miles, but I am feeling confident and ready for the challenge, anyway I have to finish as I am being generously sponsored to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action in memory of my Mum, Joanna Roe who died of pancreatic  cancer aged 72.

 

Distal Pancreactomy – Diary

Finally I have got round to posting the first 16 weeks of my ‘post op’ diary from when I had a distal pancreactomy along with the removal of my gall bladder and spleen. The surgery was required to remove an IPMN tumour located in the body of my pancreas.

I have created it as a page on my website, so for those who are interested it will always be easy to find, the link is:-

https://lovingmypancreas.com/post-op-diary/

I hope that it will be of benefit to all those; who need to have this type of surgery; who are recovering from this surgery; or are caring for someone recovering from such an operation.

 

 

 

 

Weight loss and self identity

When our body changes through illness, accident or injury we have to develop a new relationship with ourselves, with our new physical identity.

For me it was weight loss through illness. For most of my adult life I had been around 140lbs, but when I went into my 40’s this gradually increased to 148lb, and it was a continuous battle to remain at that weight. There were a few exceptions, for example prior to getting married I was eating 1300 calories a day and it still took 4 months for me to loose 8lbs prior to our wedding in 2013, needless to say it soon went back on. Then in the late Summer of 2014 I naturally began to lose weight which I put down to a change of diet; drinking smoothies and eating lots of salads, but the weight continued to fall through the autumn.

After an episode of acute pancreatitis – where the pancreas becomes inflamed and the digestive enzymes it produces begin to digest the pancreas itself – my diet became more restrictive. I was eating less generally, as well as having a low fat diet (less that 35g of fat a day bearing in mind an Avocado pear is around 20g!).

However, due to the pain I was in, eating wasn’t enjoyable, it became a chore rather than a delight. Anything containing too much fat caused me discomfort as my pancreas wasn’t able to digest it properly.

I struggled to get used to my lighter weight and what I called my scrawny shape. Why? Because it wasn’t my choice. The interesting thing about losing weight when it’s not planned is that there is a sense of confusion about why it was happening and also a concern as to when it would stop.

How low could my weight go for me still to have enough energy to get through daily life?

Then when I was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour (IPMN) in January 2015 the weight loss made sense, at least I knew why, which was a relief. Also, the tumour could be removed, an even greater relief.

By the time I had surgery to remove my tumour I was down to 120lbs, the last time I was this weight I was a teenager! Having lost 2 stone none of my clothes fitted, everything was baggy, making my weight loss more obvious. I became gaunt as my face became thinner.

My sense of identity had never been challenged before, and I didn’t know how to adjust to the change. It was like I had been given a new body to live in, a very disconcerting feeling. My view of myself changed. I may have looked a thinner version of my usual self to everyone else. But I felt small, not just physically but psychologically too, it felt like everything about me was diminishing, fading.

Fortunately as with most things, it was time that allowed me to accept my new shape and identity. I literally had to shrink into my own skin and then as I got used to it, I became stronger and more confident in myself and my new body.

When we chose to change our body shape, it’s because that is what we want to do, and therefore we are delighted when we achieve it whether that is due to diet, exercise or surgery.

Having lost 28lb in the 12 months prior to my operation, it has taken 9 months to put on 8lbs due to a low fat diet. But I now finally feel comfortable and well in my own skin, and I am enjoying having a new body, a new shape, a new identity.

It takes time to adapt and accept physical changes. I am fortunate, I haven’t lost a limb or one of my senses, I just have an abdominal scar that fades with each passing day. I also have age on my side, at 50, I no longer want or have any expectations of a ‘perfect’ body, what ever that may mean. I am just happy that I have a body that is still functioning and enables me to live fully.

Determination

Having a training plan in place to help get me cycling  from 0 to 54 miles in 16 weeks, has been amazing. Firstly, I don’t have to think or worry about trying to create a plan myself, it’s there done, printed out in black and white and stuck on the wall.

All I have to do now is to follow it, which has been much easier than I thought. That being said, I am not over keen on the stretching exercises. Resting I can do, cycling I can do, but stretching well it all seems a bit half hearted really. So I have had to find ways to inspire myself by reading blogs and articles on the benefits of stretching for cyclists in order to motivate  myself. I found an article on yoga for cyclist which was great, I can relate to yoga but not stretching – it’s different words for basically the same thing. However, my favourite article was:

10 Stretches for Cyclists You Can Do Without Leaving Your Bed

Surprising things have happened too – not knowing what the weather will be like for my London to Brighton cycle, has meant that I have been out in every weather no matter what and that has including torrential rain with streams of water running down the roads and cycling through floods. Not something I would have normally persuaded myself to do, but knowing that I have done it, that I can do it, makes all the difference!

Determination has appeared in another guise too, part of which is competitiveness. I have downloaded an app, MapMyRide, so I can record my routes and times. But, I also get points and times for doing certain local courses, which has motivated me and made me more determined to get out and cycle.

Finally, I am determined because there are those who say I can’t do it – there is nothing like being told you can’t to ensure that you do!!

What makes you determined?

 

 

Juicing – highs and lows

One of those little things in life that I have discovered is the joy of having a glass of fresh orange juice after I have been out cycling. Standing still in the kitchen, looking out into the garden gulping back sweet pure orange juice, is a moment of heaven. In an attempt to be even more virtuous or rather more healthy I decided that carrot juice would be a good idea!!

So I juiced a whole kilo of carrots creating a half a litre of juice, when I tasted it, well I was so disappointed, it didn’t even taste very carroty just watery. So I thought why not add some orange juice, 8 oranges later I had a litre of carrot and orange juice, once again I realised my expectations were far too high and half a litre of orange doesn’t balance out half a litre of carrots.

By now I was running out of things to juice to try to create something palatable, however I found a couple of limes in the bottom of the fruit bowl which I added in, and finally I had a drinkable juice!

I have learnt my lesson, start with oranges then add in just one carrot!

As for using the left over carrot pulp to make soup – well that’s a whole other story!

A new love in my life – cycling

It’s only been a few weeks, 4 actually, but I think I have found a new love in my life – cycling. Having spent a few trips riding hubby’s old Trek racing bike, as opposed to his new beloved Madison Genesis, I realised that I needed my own bike. Unfortunately pain from residual scar tissue means that a road bike is quite literally a stretch too far, so after much research I have invested in a Giant Liv Thrive carbon fibre hybrid bike, which gives me a more upright cycling position. Despite a tiny, but female specific saddle, it’s actually more comfortable than my old “sit up and beg” bike – amazing.