Julie Randall's letter to the CancerAid Community
The most challenging part of my diagnosis was the feeling of being hit with a Mac Truck.
I was surprised because I thought I was the fittest and healthiest I have ever been. Apparently not!
I had a massive brain seizure out of the blue one day at work. Within 24 hours I was literally told that I had terminal cancer. Surreal! Would be a pretty good word for it.
My illness has affected the people around me and I have to say, Family is everything! I think I knew that before but today 6 years after from my diagnosis, I love and cherish my husband and daughters every minute of the day. Even when I am not with them they are always at the forefront of my mind along with my dad and my brother and sisters. I have to work as we all do, but my main focus is on spreading hope and inspiration to others. Through my speaking, charity work and of course my book my story can reach the world on a daily basis and the messages of thanks I receive every day from cancer patients and their families has kept that fire burning to spread my story throughout the world.
I want to get my hard earned message to many more people so that they can gain motivation to keep going and most importantly never give up! There is some great stuff happening in the treatment of cancer so hang in there. We just need it to happen faster! Before I started immunotherapy I underwent 6 months of Chemo. When you start chemotherapy, nutrition is paramount and so is exercise and spirituality. This doesn’t mean you have to be a Zen Master, it’s enough to just be introspective. If you can’t eat solid food, health juices are great for sustenance.
It’s not easy but where possible it is beneficial to stay well and help your body to be as high functioning as possible. Some people get extremely sick and if you are one of them I would advise you to listen closely to your body and ask it what it needs. Everyone’s different but your gut will know the answer. I wanted to know I was on the best possible treatment and I challenged my doctor a lot. I listen to my instinct and when I thought the chemo was starting to affect my nerves I started spreading out my infusions.
That’s just how I choose to do it. I tend to run my own race. In my case, the Chemo wasn’t going to save my life so I had to keep my body in the best shape it possible until I found the answer as to what could. Which I did in Portland Oregon in the US.
I believe as patients we need to take control of our situation. Certainly, listen to your doctor but also do the research yourself and work out what is the best path for you. Doctors only have limited time. When my doctor would mention certain things that were going on in the world regarding clinical trials my husband and I would research all of the options.
There are so many questions. You need a support team!
Put all the questions in your CancerAid app. Prior to your visit. I want to know everything about my cancer on a genomic (personal) level before I go to an appointment and then ask about how can achieve my health goals.
Cancer is a very personal disease and it is not a one size fits all approach. You can do genomic testing these days and that can help doctors work out what treatment your body can respond better to. Before I go to an appointment I like to know what my treatment options are, the response rates of each of them and what side effects people experience with each of them.
I felt the need to know the percentage of people that experience these side effects so I could make wise decisions. It doesn’t help if you end up worse from a side effect than from cancer but as I use to say, if only 2% of patients experience a certain side effect then chances are it won’t happen to me.
My advice is to stay as well as you possibly can to let the body deal with cancer effectively and to tell your doctor about everything you are feeling and ask if it’s normal. Other questions I would advise to ask is whether or not you have access to a holistic team. If not, why not? I also asked myself, is there any better treatments overseas? If so what are they? How can I make sure I know I am on the very best treatment?
The key thing I learned during the treatment process was that I am strong and that, as crazy as it sounds, apart from cancer my body was actually in an amazing condition. I was in good shape to get my body back to perfect health with the right tools. You will notice I don’t call it a battle or a fight. I don’t believe in fighting with my own body. I made peace with my situation and worked with my body to give it the best chance. I needed the right treatment but I really feel that my spiritual work, yoga, and meditation, helped my plight enormously. I also tried to have fun and enjoy myself wherever I could because your cells respond to joy. It’s not an easy thing to do under the circumstances but I gave it my best shot. Keeping busy is a big YES after a period of treatments.
If you are not working my advice would be to refocus and so something you have always wanted to do. Turn your situation upside down and don’t let cancer take up any more of your life than it already has. Try something new that you may have feared before.
Let’s face it, after cancer we don’t fear much at all.
I have now put myself out there with a book, I speak in front of 800 people at a time, I have even been on National TV crying like a baby. I would never have dreamed of doing those things prior BC..that is Before Cancer…
I recommend making a positive change in your life. If you enjoy your work, get back to it. If you don’t, please, find something else to do if you can. If you make a positive change in your life your body will feel it and you will feel better within yourself. It might sound like a no-brainer but it’s true!
What I like most about the CancerAid app is that it contains great information and has the possibility to track symptoms and feelings - all in the one place.
My gosh, if only it would have existed for me to use 6 years ago!