Monday, February 11, 2019

Things Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Breast Cancer

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer it is all about getting rid of the cancer.

This is good but it does not deal with the bigger picture. How do you make your body strong enough to stop the cancer returning.


This of course can be a hard ask as we all have lifestyles to maintain even with a cancer diagnosis and income and other practicalities do not change just because we are ill.

This morning I have just come in from watering the beautiful collection of organic fruit trees above I have planted myself, bananas, Indian guava, feijoa, mango, sandpaper creek fig, custard apple and pigeon peas.


Twenty seven years ago when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I would never have imagined I would be doing anything like that. At that time I was a busy high school teacher with a new mortgage.

The realities of my lifestyle were difficult to deal with as I coped with treatment and the fear breast cancer aroused in others at that time.

It really took me two more breast cancers to begin to see the big picture which was my lifestyle, and to be fair to myself it was just not my lifestyle but the mindset in which I was living.

It is difficult to maintain one's health in an unhealthy world, so I decided I needed to change my ways.


This was eleven years ago and I am pleased to say, fingers crossed I am still cancer free.

So what did I do.

I began to remove as many chemicals from my life as I was able. This is a complex issue as our consumer world is so full of toxic chemicals and our body can deal with many. For some however we reach overload and this impacts our immune system.

I saw myself as one of those on overload so I checked out all the chemicals in my life and eliminated all I could.


I brought an old government house and made sure all surfaces were from `healthy' products which did not offgas.

I created a garden to give myself organic food.

The best thing about my new neighborhood which was so different from the trendy inner city suburb where I had lived is that people did live simply and compared with where I was before chemical free. They understood where I was coming from.

It was all a very different lifestyle and aspiration from my earlier years but it has renewed my body and brought a peace of mind I never had before.

I have made every effort to live in harmony with the natural world and to renew the soil on my land.


It has been rewarding and uplifting and definitely something my doctors never told me.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Creative Ways to Help the Planet

Rose Apple Canvas Print featuring the digital art The Rose Apple by Winsome Gunning
The Rose Apple Canvas Print by Winsome Gunning



Sometimes what is happening to our planet can seem overwhelming but if each of us makes creative changes to our lives there is still time.


Even in the smallest of apartments we can grow a plant in a pot that can change the quality of the air around us, a small creative act that adds change.

The beautiful Rose Apple pictured in my canvas print came from a small tree which I started growing in a pot.

Now well entrenched at the bottom of my garden I never realized what a contributor  to our earth it would become when I was first given it as a seedling.


Garden Coffee Mug featuring the digital art Garden Flavor by Winsome Gunning
Garden Flavor Coffee Mug by Winsome Gunning

One of my favorite things now is saving seeds.

 

These I share or grow into seedlings. There is a beautiful strawberry guava at my community garden full of fledgling fruit which came from one small seed I saved from a particularly beautiful organic guava I so enjoyed eating.

Not only is this little seed now feeding many but also adding to our air quality.

The smallest act can create change if it is the right act. 


The snake beans seeds I saved from my first harvest are now feeding many at my community garden thanks to saving them each year and sharing the seeds.

The beautiful nasturtiums on this mug were also grown in my garden from shared seeds which have now been shared on.

Lavender Portable Battery Charger featuring the digital art Lavender Moment by Winsome Gunning
Lavender Moment Battery Charger by Winsome Gunning
Both the flowers and leaves of this colorful plant are special in salads and the corms I believe make a great caper substitute although I have not yet tried them myself.

Lavender is another plant I love to share around.

My garden lavender is featured here on this battery charger and is it a strong lavender that grows so well from cuttings.

Most of the places I visit including my church now feature a lively lavender bush from this strong little plant.

Yes being creative about the planet is about learning new ways of sharing and creating, learning to think outside the box.



There are so many ways we can change our ways of growing and sharing what we produce and create ourselves.

I personally love plants and gardens so this is my way. I love to think I am breaking away from old models of producing food but for me it is still trial and error and a lot of learning.

Still it is not accepting the status quo which has resulted in such a depleted planet and although it may be a small beginning it is all adding to the creative ways we can help our planet.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Getting Smart With Breast Cancer


I tried to write this blog post last week but couldn't. It was the week before my yearly checkup for breast cancer and I had writer's block..
Healing Canvas Print featuring the painting The Healing by Winsome Gunning
The Healing Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

That day still brings up so many  emotional memories and I look back and wonder how I did what I had to do.


One of the staff at the medical center said to me as she completed her testing not many people hear good stories like yours they just hear bad breast cancer experiences.

So today I am trying again to give a brief summary of my journey.

In short I have had three separate or concurrent breast cancers the first now twenty seven years ago, the second nineteen years ago and the third eleven years ago., yes finally I am considered stable but not stable enough to skip my yearly checkup.


Bird Canvas Print featuring the painting Waiting by Winsome Gunning
The Waiting Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

Each of these cancers was caught early due to vigilant testing.


It really is tough fronting up to those regular checkups as you will have gathered from the beginning of this post but I know without them I would not be healthy and well today, in fact I have never felt better.

I am as nervous as anyone when going to be tested and each time I have had a positive diagnosis I have been a teary mess but then the let's get well energy has kicked in and I have got on with what I considered the best medical advise.

For me this consisted of three partial mastectomies followed each time by six weeks of radiation treatment and hormone treatments. I reacted to both the first two hormone treatments after approximately two years and came off them but the third treatment really suited my body and I still take it today.

Today with the amazing new technologies and wide choices of drugs for individual breast cancers the diagnosis for cancer is quite a different experience to what it has been in the past.


But even last week as I waited for my results after being called back for extra testing, a technical point, I was surprised at the emotions I experienced and remembered some of the wide variety of feelings and vulnerabilities being a patient  can make you feel.

Anyway I got good news and a renewed passion for the sustainable lifestyle I share here on this blog and which along with excellent medical advances has created for me twenty seven years after my first diagnosis a healthy body and a passion for life.

Garden Canvas Print featuring the painting Garden Of Joy by Winsome Gunning
The Garden of Joy Canvas Print from original artwork by Winsome Gunning

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Getting Smart With the Planet

Earth, Blue Planet, Globe, Planet, World
 Painting - Remembering Joy by Winsome Gunning

Remembering Joy

We only have one planet and we all share it so my new year's resolution is to get smart with the planet.

I have just returned from twelve special days in the South of New Zealand that small unspoiled country at the bottom of the world. At least it was.

Yes there are still areas of wilderness but the water in Christchurch where I was staying is no longer pure water from the ground.

Farmers around the city have gone for the quick money and turned what were mixed farms into cow factories.  The cow poo has got into the rivers and contaminated the water sources.



My memories are of drives in the country where my father who brought and sold crops from the mixed farms would comment on which grain was ready to harvest.

There was such a diversity of crops, we could swim in every river and water was drunk from anything that was running. nature felt balanced.

 Painting - Joy by Winsome Gunning

Joy



Now for the first time ever Christchurch water has had to be  chlorinated.

Enough chlorine to give me skin rashes, and it is recommended not to swim in what were three beautiful free flowing rivers surrounding the city.

The joy of a hot summer day in Christchurch was going to swim in the local river now you do so at your own risk as it is contaminated with bacteria found only in cow's intestinal tracts.

As we drove over one of these river beds I saw families were still camping there for their summer break and children were paddling in the water.

But now innocent enjoyable childhood treats come clouded with risks that would not be happening if farmers had not gone for the quick buck rather than honoring the land.


Yet this is what is happening everywhere,  so we all  need to get smart with our planet.
 Painting - Living Water by Winsome Gunning

Living Water


Do we need that extra car, do we need houses full of stuff or do we need a planet where people can run free and trust the land to provide good water and a fair living.


I want a new mindset where we put away the flash and start working together to heal our planet before it is too late.

Our governments do not seem to be doing this but together as individuals we can create change.

I want for everyone in the world to know what I experienced growing up, fresh, pure water you can drink with safety .  


Yes it is a dream but it is possible if  we wake up in time.