Still cancer-free eight years on…my recipes for recovery!

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My sweet peas

Exactly eight years ago I was still reeling from the surprise diagnosis of my soft tissue sarcoma . You can read about it here but, for those who remember the last words of that blog, they were: ‘I will probably lose my calf muscle – no more mountain walks – but should be able to ski again in due course. These are small but meaningful mercies if one can at least continue to live.’

Detns du mid cows

A walk underneath the Dents du Midi in-between lockdowns

A couple of days ago I went for my annual check-up at the Royal Marsden. Despite Covid, I was whizzed through the x-ray system, having had my temperature checked at the entrance and was even issued with a new mask. Then down to radiology outpatients to wait for the results. Again, the system is running smoothly and soon I am with a junior consultant who tells me the good news that the x-rays are clear.

However, over the past year or two I have been consistently losing muscle tone and movement in my foot, compounded by numbness and pins and needles. My yoga practice is becoming harder – the balancing in particular and vinyasa sequences increasingly wobbly. But we carry on!

So when the doctor says that I must have been warned about such deterioration at the time, I reply, ‘Quite honestly I thought I was going to die, so paid scant attention to the side effects’. Which, putting it all in perspective, is quite true. There is nothing they can do. She recommends that I continue to do my yoga, Pilates and physio. Ross says I keep half of the north London practitioners afloat, and I  answer that it is good to support your friends during the pandemic and, after all, they are helping me!IMG_9103 3

Last cut of summer/autumn

So in these dark times of Trump, Boris, Brexit, lockdown and, yes, death, we have to dig deep a to discover the inner strength that gets us through. Sometimes it’s hard to be positive and take control, but it does work – well it did for me! Only today my fishmonger, the lovely Sharron, told me with tears in her eyes and her voice cracking that one of the local boats had rolled overnight and two lives have been lost, one still missing, young men with families, boys they have seen growing up. I found it hard to offer any comfort except to say that we too have felt that kind of loss. Life can be very challenging.IMG_9279 2

Meanwhile to keep sane I have decided to try and cook my way through Ottolenghi’s Flavour (thank you Clare!) interspersed with a bit of Everyday Harumi, a fantastic Japanese book. It is healthy, delicious and fun! Many of my Instagram followers will have seen the results of my cooking but I am sharing a few of the photos here, and of my garden – examples of things that make me happy…

In those eight years since my diagnosis and operation I have grown new calf muscles, written two books (my latest The Boy from Boskovice will be published on 21 January but copies will be with those who pre-ordered in the first week of December – hurray!) and travelled the world. I have never given up hope of enjoying my life to the full and ensuring that I am fit enough to do so. So of course I am walking up mountains, skiing and scuba diving! As soon as lockdown ends and/or I get the vaccination there will be no stopping me…watch this space!

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