Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Guest blog: Caring for myself post-diagnosis

Megan with Mum, Jane

Our guest blogger this month is 26-year-old Megan Bassett, who is currently living with stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After being given the advice: ‘I have the power to take responsibility for my own health and wellbeing.’ by her mum, Megan has turned her health around to give herself the best nutrition, regular exercise and meditation that she can.

She first came to know about Penny Brohn through the Macmillan Centre next door to her hospital, as well as being told about the National Centre by a few of her friends, who’s parents had visited. When she realised that the centre was only ten minutes from her house she decided to visit and found comfort in knowing she could pop in at any time.

Recently, Megan wrote a blog about her journey in regards to her own self-care: food, fitness and lifestyle changes since being diagnosed with cancer. She has kindly agreed to share this with us so that our readers can benefit from her personal experiences.

Hi everyone,

My name is Megan and I have been visiting Penny Brohn UK during my cancer treatment.

It was really comforting to find out that the Penny Brohn National Centre is only ten minutes from my house, as it meant that I could pop in at any time. Everyone there is always so kind and helpful.

Before I begin talking about the ways I have introduced a strong self-care routine into my lifestyle, I wanted to make you aware that although the changes outlined in my blog are what works for me, everybody is different and what works for some people may not work for others. It’s a process that is continually evolving and I still have a lot to learn myself  but my aim is to be healthier than I was before I was diagnosed with cancer.

To hear those three dreaded words “you have cancer” was extremely hard for me to get my head around, but once I did, I instantly felt that I needed to make changes to my health! I need to help myself, not just let the chemotherapy drugs do it all for me.

In regards to food, lifestyle and fitness, here are all the things I did before cancer:

• Take away once a week with a few big glasses of wine.

• Everyday I would have some kind of meat for my lunch or dinner.

• I ate white bread, cakes, crisps, chocolate and processed foods regularly.

• I didn’t bother looking for anything organic as long as it was cheaper I would buy it.

• I didn’t exercise other than walking with the pushchair i.e I didn’t get out of breath.

• I was holding down two jobs, looking after my young daughter and keeping the house clean and tidy.

• I was not managing my stress properly.

• I had no time for myself at all!

And here are the changes I have made so far:

• I no longer have takeaways and have cut alcohol out. (I only have a glass of alcohol on special occasions!) This is because alcohol and takeaways are full of sugar, salt, chemicals and bad fats.

• I have chosen to mostly cut meat out of my diet and I am now on a largely plant based diet.

• I eat whole grain breads, rice, pasta, beans and lentils. I no longer have sweet treats, crisps or chocolate. The only sweet treats I have are real whole fruit, nuts and seeds.

• I aim to buy organic foods wherever and when ever I can. My reasoning for going organic is to limit my exposure to unnecessary chemicals and hormones in my food. (I know that it’s more expensive and that can be a challenge for some but the benefits to my health outweigh the cost for me.)

• On my good weeks I now go running. I also get out for a long walk every day!

• My work at the moment is looking after Marnie (my daughter) and the house and concentrating on getting better!

• I have taken up a yoga class and practice mediation at home.

• I drink distilled water as opposed to tap water.

• I don’t use chemicals on my body like shower gels, body sprays, perfumes, bubble bath and deodorants. Instead I use simple, chemical free soaps and deodorant.

• I have a cold pressed juice everyday which consists of organic carrots, apples and ginger. I also have a green smoothie regularly and put a clove of raw garlic in as it has antibacterial properties.

• On the advice of a good friend I use anti-radiation dots for the back of mine and Dean’s mobile phones.

During chemo day, if i can manage to eat, I eat junk food because whatever I eat during chemo day I am put off from ever eating again. You might ask me ‘does all of this actually help?’ All I can tell you is after these changes I have made to my lifestyle, on my good days I am starting to feel really good! And since going through treatment I have not spent one day bed-bound. I try my best to keep a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and try not to see myself as a sickly cancer patient.

I am very lucky to have had my mum support me through this hard time. She has been the one who has guided and coached me on this new path. She tells me she has also learnt a lot being on this journey with me. She has, and continues to do endless research on the subject of healthy food choices and I will be forever thankful to have her as my mum. I couldn’t have got through all of this without her.

So thank you to cancer, for waking me up and changing my outlook on life. It has given me a chance to appreciate what I have and to better myself.

Thanks for reading!

Meg xx

If you are interested in hearing more from Megan, you can follow her on Instagram and read her blog here.

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