MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer update #41: Dithering over decisions and walking with llamas

I’m still dithering over what to decide about the chemotherapy treatment option.

I have had a meeting with the palliative care consultant which was helpful and reassuring in that chemotherapy and palliative care are not an either or scenario and if I decide to go ahead with the chemo, I can still be seen in palliative care for help managing any symptoms from either the disease or from the treatment. Knowing support is available in managing symptoms caused by the treatment is reassuring.

Other topics discussed with the consultant included resuscitation and whether or not I should have a DNR in place and also whether or not I would want to treatment interventions such as ventilation (I think that’s a no).

I started on the SafeFit trial established by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and other medical bodies to enable people with a cancer diagnosis retain or regain physical fitness levels. After a very lengthy process or questionnaires both online and over the telephone – plus a bit of a hiatus in my application because of the unexpected appearance of cancer cells in my lymph nodes after my treatment ended – I was accepted and assigned an instructor. For the first four weeks I have one-to-one online exercise sessions, tailored to my fitness levels and needs. It’s very much a holistic approach so my instructor always checks on my stress levels – not sure she expected me to burst into tears on our first meeting but she coped very well.

I also re-started Pilates classes after a break and that felt good, too. Over the period of lockdown, which more or less coincided with my cancer diagnosis and treatment, the class has been so important – the exercise but also seeing people, even if only on screen.

All in all, I’ve been feeling fairly well – and although I can see the lymph nodes in my neck expanding they aren’t bothering me too much yet – though I do worry about winter when I usually wear polo neck jumpers, which I suspect will be an irritation. But then, as always seems to be the case, whenever I’m doing the things I’m supposed to be doing to improve my health, to stay as physically strong as possible, something knocks me back. This time, I put my back out. I was putting the cat’s breakfast down on the floor – forgot to engage my core and bend my knees. Mea culpa.

I reached for the frozen peas followed by the heat pad. Dug out the lumbar brace and took paracetamol, expecting it to ease off after a few days. It didn’t and I had to give in and make an appointment with my GP. Before cancer, I was rarely at the doctor. I was brought up by parents who believed the NHS was a wonderful privilege never to be abused – so you had to be seriously ill before the doctor was consulted – and so I still hate to feel I’m making a fuss about nothing.

Oh, my goodness, what a difference strong painkillers and a muscle relaxant made! When I woke up three days later (I’m kidding) I couldn’t believe how much the pain had receded. Before the pills, I couldn’t have sat for long enough to type this far. I should apologise here to the many people waiting for a reply to their emails, letters and cards – now you know why I’ve not been able to keep up.

The llama who has firmly turned her back on me is the llama I was going to take for a walk!

The one thing which did help my back when it was bad was walking, which really eased it. I was delighted to be invited by a friend to take one of her llamas for a walk. It was a lovely.

Annie the llama did grumble a bit at first about being made to go for a walk but she soon stopped complaining and seemed to enjoy looking about her. Occasionally, she turned to stare at me as if to say: “I don’t know who the hell you are but I think we can manage this together.”

Me and my new bestie

I’m so looking forward to my trip to Islay with Wee-sis, which is still a couple of weeks away. Isn’t it odd how time moves slowly at times? Before Islay, though, I have another exciting event – a wedding. I can’t remember when I was last at a wedding. I can’t remember when I last wore heels!

The week I come back from Islay (16-24), I’ll meet the oncologist, try to get answers to my questions and make my decision.

144 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer update #41: Dithering over decisions and walking with llamas

  1. Love the photos Mary and so pleased that you are participating in the fitness programme and pilates. They are positives although I know that putting your back out was not helpful… glad the muscle relaxants and pain meds helped..I would not mind taking a llama for a walk… and that red jacket is almost as powerful looking as your kick ass boots you have.. love and hugs♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday 7th October 2021 – #Haunting Rebecca Budd, #Reviews Sandra Cox, #Interview Melanie Stewart with Sharon Marchisello, #Update and #Llamas Mary Smith, #OracleCards D.G. Kaye | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. Wonderful to see you are doing well, especially with all that is going on with your health. Your writing and post, especially this one, resonates as I spent the past month in the States with my parents, helping my Mom who has some health issues, after a lifetime of great health. It seems she could have written much of what you wrote above: the importance of exercise (both social camaraderie as well as physical health), the respect of medicine but always an arms length away as it fortunately was never needed. And then when health issues to arise, it is frustrating because the world get turned upside down. I think this is what clicked when I first read of your diagnosis – knowing such a day will come for me, and then of course with my parents. Anyway, I admire your approach and mindset as you carry on. Wishing the autumn brings you strength and many smiles, and llamas definitely will help with this. Take care ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments. I was thinking the other day I hadn’t heard from you or seen a post from you for a long time. I hope your mum’s health issues have been resolved and she is feeling better.
      I can totally agree llamas are great in encouraging smiles 🙂 Walking with Annie was very relaxing.
      I hope you are keeping all right yourself.


      • Thank you, Mary. Mum is feeling so much better. And it makes me feel so wonderful as well 🙂 The doctor after her surgery said, “I’d much rather to operate on a healthy 85 year old than a 35 year old with underlying conditions” which made me think how important health and being strong can be, something I think has helped you as well. The strength of spirit and body is so valuable when troubling times come. Take care and enjoy your walks with Annie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, one of the things which worries me about having more chemotherapy is that first time round I was a lot more fit and healthy than I am now, despite my best efforts.
          Glad your mum is feeling better.


  4. Walking with Llamas. That’s a new one on me, Mary, but lovely to hear about your experience with them. I’d heard that walking is good for a bad back, so I hope it helped as much as the meds did?
    And it’s lovely to hear about the exercise you’re also doing. Even if it is all done online, it’s better than no exercise at all.
    Hope the wedding was good and that your holiday to Islay was a huge success. Looking forward to hearing all about it.
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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