A family’s journey through life-limiting illness is very different from that of the patient’s. Isabel Hospice cares for the patient and all those around them. When someone in the family has a diagnosis of a serious illness, everybody is affected. It takes time to adjust and find ways of managing illness and treatment
Isabel Hospice cares for the patient and all those around them. The Family Support Team consists of staff specially trained in counselling and family work and a team of highly skilled and trained volunteers. These teams work closely with the nursing staff and Hospice Chaplain. They know that patients and families need not only physical support but also emotional, practical and spiritual care too.
Jeff’s wife, Cathy lost her fight against breast cancer four years ago. She was just 33 years old. About five months after she was diagnosed, Cathy’s consultant suggested they contact Isabel Hospice. Their initial reaction was typical of many patients and families who have not experienced hospice care before; that the Hospice is a place where people go to die and “she was not going to die yet.” Cathy was struggling at the time with the chemotherapy treatment she was undergoing and so they decided to make use of the care being offered by Isabel Hospice for just a short period. This was the beginning of a relationship between Jeff and the Hospice that still remains today. “They were superb and the care was fantastic. They looked after me as well as Cathy. Cathy would go in for a week or so and they would get everything under control with her medication, etc until she was ready to come home.”
“It would give me a break too. You don’t realise how things build up and up. You think you should be able to cope and you don’t realise things are getting on top of you or how the stress is building. The times when Cathy stayed in the Hospice would let me recover too. I could go and stay with her there whenever I wanted to, knowing that they were handling everything. When she came home I was stronger and in a better position to care for her myself.”
“I was there for her if she wanted to shout or as a shoulder to cry on but I couldn’t really help her. I would think I was coping and then something, usually something small, would just snap and I would find myself snapping back at her and saying things I really didn’t mean. There was one time when a bike show was on in London and Cathy wanted me to go. She was very poorly at home and I didn’t want to leave her. Helen our Hospice Nurse Specialist came and stayed with her and they both convinced me to go and even supplied me with a mobile phone so that I could keep in touch. I worried all afternoon but the break was wonderful and allowed me to feel so much better when I returned.”
“On those occasions when Cathy went into the In- patient hospice I felt a bit of a failure, I was her husband and I should be able to look after her I thought, but she was suffering with terrible pain and a week later she would come back home and it would be all under control again. I couldn’t do that for her, but it made it so that we could cope again for a period together as husband and wife.”
At Isabel Hospice everyone works together with families and carers, allowing them to dip in and out of the facilities, care and support on offer to them as it best suits their current needs. The Family Support Team is there throughout the illness and into bereavement and also specialises in support for the children and young people involved. Although a family’s journey through the illness of one of them is very different from that of the patient’s, their need for support, information and for feeling valued and respected are the same.
Isabel Hospice staff stand beside the family, ready to help when needed. This may be soon after bereavement or it may be years later. The support does not go away. Following bereavement Isabel Hospice support people in many ways such as giving information about the effects of grief and help to sort out finances and other practical worries. One to one or group support is on offer for adults and separately for children and young people.
Where children and young people are involved the Hospice has programmes which offer a group experience for grieving children and their parents. On these programmes children and young people share with others of the same age some of their worries and painful feelings. They are encouraged to express their emotions by using music, art, talking, physical activities and they also have some fun together. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children and meet together while their children are in the group. They take part in similar activities and this provides the basis for the children and adults to have a shared experience.
For adults Isabel Hospice offers one-to-one sessions. There is a team of trained visitors who can either meet with people at home or arrange to meet at one of Isabel Hospice’s bases. The service is confidential and concerned with helping people to cope with their feelings of loss. There are also different groups all over the area that meet to share feelings, experiences and friendship.
Many ill and bereaved people question why and what is the meaning of the illness. The Hospice Chaplain is available to support families whether they have particular religious and spiritual beliefs or none at all. “90% of our patient intake have no religious beliefs and do not attend a worship centre. Yet I have never met a patient without some form of spirituality. By listening and getting to know the patient, we, on the caring team, learn each patient’s spiritual language and so discover their spiritual needs. If a patient is in some kind of spiritual pain we work with them for control or release from the pain.” Geoffrey Brown (Chaplain)
“Some people feel bereavement is like an injury which you will recover from. It is of course not like that at all.
I found the staff at Isabel Hospice were prepared to let me talk to them about Cathy when I wanted to. Friends were very kind but there came a point where I felt guilty repeating myself over and over to them. The Hospice were and are always there and ready to listen when I needed or indeed need to talk.” Jeff.
More information about Isabel Hospice and the services offered free to the local community in eastern Hertfordshire can be found on the website: www.isabelhospice.org.uk or by calling 01707 382500. It is an independent hospice funded mainly by charitable donations. The majority of the £3+ million running costs are generously raised by and through the local community to allow this service to continue to be provided free to local people.
Isabel Hospice care is based on the simple idea that our patients are ordinary people living with physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. We are an independent Hospice funded mainly by charitable donations. We have developed our services to meet the needs of our local community in eastern Hertfordshire and rely on the help of a multitude of specially trained voluntary staff, highly trained nursing staff and specialist doctors to make the lives of patients and their families as good as they can possibly be.
The Hospice provides its services for free to local people. Around £2 million of the £3+ million it costs to run the service each year needs to be raised through charitable donations.
This feature, first published in 2002, was lost when an earlier version of the In Balance Magazine website was irretrievably corrupted. We recently rediscovered the feature on an archive website and decided to republish.
A diagnosis of cancer and its subsequent remission were what made Natalia Markelova, a 49-year-old divorcee set out on the road to establishing her the goat farm in Togliatti, Russia, and ultimately receiving national accolades for her work as a businesswoman
When a friend organised a visit for me to someone whom I would end up referring to as ‘the goat woman’, I expected a tough wizened old goat farmer. Instead, I met a large, plump woman with friendly cornflower-blue eyes, a halo of silver-grey hair and a gentle smile.
Natalia explained that she had been diagnosed with uterine cancer and subsequently decided to refuse conventional chemotherapy. Instead, she embarked on an intense research programme concerning the medical benefits of drinking goat’s milk. Convinced she was on the right track, she doggedly stuck with her preferred self-treatment of drinking goat’s milk only to find that her cancer was in remission.
Inspired by her own self-cure, and because the only way to obtain goat’s milk in this city of almost a million people was to own a pet-goat, she vowed to set up a goat farm with a view to producing milk for fellow sufferers of cancer and other ailments.
Thirty eight of Natalia’s goats produce 110 litres of milk every day. This doughty woman has the help of four workers, two of whom work at a time on one of two shifts. Milk is sent to kindergartens, hospitals and orphanages. After a tour of her the barn where the female goats were separated from the male goats and the bleating kids, Natalia explained that once her illness had been diagnosed she cut out cow’s milk altogether and switched to goat’s milk. Since the day she was told that she had only six months to live, she has now extended her life by another seven years.
She believes that as a society we need to be closer to nature and more in tune with its benefits. Indeed, judging by her close companions: a nervy toy poodle, a sleepy black cat, a fluffy white cat, and the fact that she says she knows all her goats by name, it is evident that she practices as she preaches.
It took her three years to start the farm from scratch and fulfil the promise once given to her pet goat: “I will help others as you helped me”. Natalia has visited nine states in the USA to learn about goat farming and to import specific breeds that were superior to native stock. She has also visited goat farms in the UK. She has been elected the leader of the Russian Goat Farmers’ Association which she helped to found.
I asked her what her thoughts were on receiving a diagnosis of cancer. “I was afraid for three days at first, but then decided that I was not going to accept the diagnosis and that I would find some way to fight it,” she says, adding that her three children had been her main motivation for staying alive. “I wanted to prove to them that there is nothing in life that can take you out of life’s saddle, if you are not prepared to get out if it first, yourself.”
Natalia explained that scientific research showed that goat’s milk takes 15 minutes to be digested in contrast with cow’s milk which takes some 45 minutes. Goat milk is also said to be the only product that helps rid the body of metal products. She also believes that it helps to kill allergies in children, and helps to calm ulcers.
I asked her if when she received her diagnosis, she changed her diet in any other way. “I eat anything I want, in addition to all goat products including meat, milk and cheese.” Regarding other cases where goat’s milk cures cancer she referred me to the work of Dr Bernard Jensen PhD, an American physician who was diagnosed with cancer at age 35 but who went on to cure himself with goat’s milk and lived to the ripe old age of 96. She is a devotee of his book: ‘Goat milk magic’. (This book is still in print Ed.)
She then takes out a thick file filled with letters which she tells me are from people who say how they have been saved by goat’s milk. Natalia suggests that if someone has cancer, she would advise them to read up on the healing benefits of goat’s milk and then make their own decision about whether or not to use it.
Contributing authors: Martine Self and Anna Garmash, email@example.com
Growing interest in alternatives to cow’s milk is reflected in the availability of pasteurised goat’s milk now widely available in UK supermarkets.
There is a proliferation of goat’s cheese from France, especially sourced by Tesco. Some goat’s cheeses are made from unpasteurised milk.
A huge amount of information was discovered in a general search on Google using unpasteurised goats’ milk.
The British Goat Society has an interesting website – You can call them on 01626 833168
Other In Balance features relating to cancer:
Oranges are full of Vitamin C, other nutrients are vitamin A (as beta carotene), potassium, calcium and most other vitamins and minerals but in small amounts. Orange juice is a popular drink but in reality eating an orange is better than consuming juice as the membrane contains bioflavanoids which have antioxidant properties.
The many types of orange include Jaffas, mandarins, clementines, satsumas, tangerines, the bitter Seville orange (suitable for marmalade) and kumquats. They can all be used in different recipes both sweet and savoury.
Chicken & Orange Hot Salad
500g/1lb 2oz boneless chicken, cut into strips
1 tabsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 packet rocket
2 large oranges
2 tsp wholegrain mustard mixed with 1 tabsp olive oil
1 tabsp sunflower seeds or chopped chives
Fry onion and chicken in oil quickly until browned. Add oranges, mustard and oil to warm through
Put rocket onto serving dish and place chicken/orange mixture on top. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds or chopped chives
Orange Drizzle Cake
110g/4oz caster sugar
110g/4oz rice flour
One heaped teasp baking powder
Topping – juice 1 orange
2 tabsp caster sugar
Heat oven 180 degree / gas 4
7″ square cake tin lined with baking parchment
Put all ingredients in a bowl and using a hand electric mixer whiz together until a smooth creamy mix is obtained. Do not overbeat otherwise you will have a heavy cake. Add approx 1 tabsp milk to mix.
Put mix into lined tin and bake 20mins
When cool remove from tin and sprinkle cake with orange juice, then sprinkle over remaining sugar
Brandysnaps – Special recipe for coeliacs
110g/4oz dairy free margarine
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 tablsp golden syrup
110g/4oz rice flour
1 tsp ground ginger
Makes approx 14 brandysnaps
4 oranges – peeled and sliced. For a touch of luxury the slices can be marinated in brandy.
Cream or dairy free ice cream
Heat oven 180degrees/ gas 4
Melt margarine, sugar and golden syrup together in a saucepan, remove from heat, stir in rice flour and ginger
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and place small spoonfuls of mix on to paper. Make sure these are well spaced as they spread on cooking.
Cook until golden and bubbling approx 10 mins.
Allow to cool for a few seconds and roll over small pieces of plastic tubing. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Fill brandy snaps with whipped cream or dairy free ice cream and serve with the marinated oranges.
Sallie Darnell – Sadly Sallie died a couple of years ago. Sallie was an inspired and down to earth professional cook whose husband became wheat intolerant. That led her to devise scrumptious and appealing recipes for him. We admired and valued her recipes and are pleased to pass them on, a valuable resource for coeliacs.
The prospect of having to cook separately for a member of the family can be a daunting experience. However, Sallie Darnell* a professional cook faced up to it when her husband became wheat intolerant needing gluten free dishes
Having trained as a Home Economist Sallie’s interest had always been healthy eating. As such she ran a popular outside catering company for 22 years, working for corporate and domestic clients alike. In many instances she created her own recipes.
However when her husband became wheat intolerant she needed to re-think how to cook on the domestic front. She had cooked for wheat/gluten/dairy intolerants on a professional basis but as a one off this was easy. Her new challenge in life was obviously how to create interesting fabulous food, giving variety for all time. Whilst relearning cooking principles she also discovered new recipes for wheat free food and became more concerned about vegetarian and vegan food as well. She realised her interest in healthy eating had only just begun.
Cooking lessons for specific food intolerant persons were not available at that time and so she devised a range of recipes, all easy to prepare. Here are a couple of cake recipes suitable for anyone wanting to achieve a wheat free regime.
This Victoria Sandwich recipe for instance can be adapted by changing flavours
It will make 12 fairy cakes, lemon cake, or add coffee (liquid) and walnuts
4oz /125g soft margarine or butter
4oz /125g rice flour
4oz /125g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Mix all ingredients together with hand mixer, put into prepared tin
Bake gas no 4, 180C
Her husband found this Chocolate Cake irresistible!
5oz /150g low fat spread or butter
5oz /150g caster sugar
2oz /50g cocoa powder
100ml boiling water
5oz /150g rice flour
2 heaped tsp baking powder
Mix spread + sugar until light and fluffy
Mix cocoa + water to smooth paste, then mix in eggs, flour/baking powder.
Put into cake tin 6 or 7”, lined with baking parchment
Bake 30 min Gas 4 180 C
More recipes suitable for those with a wheat intolerance – muffins, sweet and savoury filled pancakes – will be added to this Recipe Section of In Balance Magazine website in the near future.
*Sadly Sallie died some years ago. She was an inspired and down to earth cook whose work we admired.
We recommend highly the online grocery suppliers GoodnessDirect for healthy, fresh, eco and organic shopping for all your cooking needs
For information on coeliac disease and a gluten-free lifestyle see www.coeliac.org.uk
For information on allergy and intolerances see www.allergyuk.org.
There is good information on the NHS website
For information about eating well go to the Food Standards Agency website www.eatwell.gov.uk
NEWS: You may have heard that Novak Djokovic, the Men’s Wimbledon 2011 Champion, had recently being diagnosed as Gluten Intolerant and claims his new diet helped him to improve his game.
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor
Is that learned behaviour on your part, or instinctive? Most psychologists would say it was learned, that you had experienced it before and been puzzled and made some assumptions – they are uncomfortable with you, they are guilty of something and they don’t want to look at you for instance.
But what of the person who is avoiding the eye contact? Do they have something to hide, or are they simply not wanting to make any kind of contact with you? Are they painfully shy?
John Elder Robison has written an account of his life from when he realised he was different from other people. Unable to make eye contact or connect with other children and by the time he was a teenager his odd habits – an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, behave obsessively – and earned the label social deviant.
I found this book hard to put down and spent most of a day and evening reading it cover to cover. I have come across people who displayed some of the behaviours described by Robison, who was eventually identified as having Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 40 and who eventually was able to work hard to communicate and be able to socialise with greater ease.
This fascinating book, a New York Times bestseller, mixes ascerbic wit with painful honesty, wry humour and clarity. It should help to break down some barriers to understanding the behaviour of anyone within the autistic spectrum. More importantly I think it should help anyone with Asperger’s syndrome to manage their interactions with their peers and society in general better and be more able to successfully survive the slings and arrows that life throws at us all.
Published by Ebury Press, 2008, available from Amazon Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
Unfortunately these days, there can be hardly anyone who has not known someone, relative or friend, who has suffered from some type of cancer. Or indeed has the disease themselves.
What once was called ‘The Big C’, because no-one dared speak its name has now become so prevalent as to be almost a household word.
Practising food safety at a time when E.coli is a potential threat is common sense. Generally you are advised to thoroughly wash and rinse fresh fruit and vegetables.
We were always advised to take precautions against e.coli when we travelled abroad on holiday and especially when camping because of contamination from mud picked up – remember Glastonbury a year or so ago, public toilets and shared facilities. So we always took sterilising tablets purchased from the chemist to wash fruit and vegetables, to sterilise drinking water and to wash our hands.
When I was on a trek in Nepal after a visit to the toilet tent we had to wash our hands in a bowl of water coloured red with added potassium permanganate that acted as a sterlising solution.
We used Milton sterilising tablets when babies’ health was a consideration – a recent feature in The Guardian mentions that to be good advice.
We also read about Veggi Wash, made from edible fruit compounds but powerful enough to wipe E.coli off the surface of a cucumber, tomato or other fruit and veg. Wash for two minutes and rinse off. You are advised to dry the vegetables and keep in the fridge.
Of course, nothing will work if you don’t practise basic hygiene which is washing your hands thoroughly – especially your thumbs – after going to the toilet. And washing your hands before you prepare and eat food is of course, absolutely imperative.
E.coli is too serious to risk.
Val Reynolds Brown Editor
Thursday JANUARY 8TH 2009 – The day Caroline Edmonds’ life changed forever: little did she think that within a week she and her family would be coping with a diagnosis of Follicular Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Grade 1 stage 4, a form of cancer
Caroline had been treated for a stomach ulcer for many years, occasionally suffering from terrible pains and then suffering bouts of nausea. It all came to a head that Thursday; Caroline had severe pains all day and was unable to sleep. Gary took her to the out of hours doctor who then referred her to the QE2 hospital in Welwyn Garden City, where she received morphine and was sent home. After a sleepless night of being violently ill, she returned to the doctor the next morning, who then referred her back to the hospital. She was finally admitted to hospital not knowing that she was to spend the next two weeks in there, including her 47th birthday three days after being admitted.
Caroline says “I felt like a fraud, as between bouts of pains and nausea, I felt fine”. During her first week in the hospital she underwent test after test, CT scans and what felt like every blood test known to man. It was in the afternoon of Wednesday, 14th January that the Consultant informed her that she had a suspected malignant lymphoma and needed to undergo surgery. On the night before her operation on Friday the 16th she said “The pains all over my body were so severe, I think every lymph node had enlarged. I really thought I was going to die”. She had nurses writing letters to her family as she feared that she would not make it through the ordeal.
During surgery they removed the tumour, surrounding tissue and part of her intestine. A week later Caroline received the news that she had been dreading; it was what they had suspected and further tests showed the cancer had also spread to her bone marrow and chest.
All this came as a blow to Caroline and her family, as she was self employed falling sick meant she would be unable to earn money to help support the family. Caroline along with her husband Gary have run a graphic design business – Edmonds and Hunt Advertising in the Hertford area for over twenty eight years. They have one son, Sam who is currently busy with his GGSEs.
Caroline is an active member of her son’s school PTA, Friends of Sele School. She attended every possible meeting and helped out at the various fundraising events. She is also a Councillor for Bengeo Parish Council. If this was not enough of a shock for the Edmonds to deal with, they also tragically lost Gary’s father the day after Caroline came home from the hospital. The family now not only had the worry of Caroline’s health, but also had to sort out the logistics that come with a bereavement.
On 1st April she started her first of eight sessions of chemotherapy. One every three weeks for a whole day. One of Caroline’s side effects was hair thinning; fortunately she didn’t lose it all. She was also put on steroids. “During the first week after each session of chemo I had to take 24 tablets a day, gradually reducing until the next session where it all started again” she said. The course of chemotherapy finished on August 28th and a month later she was told it had been successful. The doctors said if she could get through the next year and it returned they would put her on the same chemo therapy treatment again. This form of cancer is not curable, but is controllable. Should the cancer return before September 2010 she would have to undergo a far more aggressive treatment.
Throughout the pain and stress of being diagnosed and treated for Follicular Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she tried to carry on as normal as possible but to make matters worse as Caroline was recovering and finally able to return to her business full time, the recession hit. Suddenly after being in business for so long and never having to look for work, she has had to look at reinventing the way she does business.
The first thing she did was join the world of social media and online marketing. She designed a web page, started using Twitter and created a Facebook page. She recently also started blogging. “Times are tough out there for graphic designers, but you have to look at what is trending, embrace it and move with the times” she said.
Caroline is an example to us all and is proof that even if you are dealt a bad hand, it doesn’t mean that you have to lose the game.
For more information of Follicular Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:http://www.lymphomainfo.net/nhl/follicular.html
For more information on Caroline and her business:
Brigitte Houghton, Contributing Author
UPDATED 12 March 2011
Caroline has asked us to let readers know she is willing to talk to anyone who feels they would benefit from talking to her about their cancer experience. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
anti cancer – a new way of life
Dr Servan-Schreiber was diagnosed with cancer of the brain when he was working as a medical resident in Pittsburgh.
Anticancer turns fear on its head – it is simply all the best, most thorough and quite amazing research on how you can build your body’s natural defences, whether you have cancer or not.
It is a myth that cancer is primarily linked to our genetic make-up – our lifestyle is the major determining factor and there is so much we can do to help boost our body’s natural capacity for protection.
Guard ourselves from the imbalances of our environment – adjust our diet, cutting back on cancer promotoers and including the greatest number of foods that help prevent, and actively fight, tumours
Create a relationship with our bodies that stimulates the immune system – understand and heal the psychological wounds that feed cancer
This truly groundbreaking, positive book has swept the world by storm, taking its place at the top of the bestseller charts.
Dr Servan-Schreiber makes the most compelling and inspiring case for playing a part in your own health.
I found this a most compelling read. It has the ring of authenticity and written in non-medical terms
When we heard a dear friend had been diagnosed with multiple melanoma we were devastated and felt helpless. Finding this book has made a huge difference to our understanding of cancer from the point of view of the sufferer and gave us more confidence to keep in touch with him. I have given my copy to him and I’m confident it is the most positive gift I can give. I’m sending a copy to another friend who is in remission and again I’m sure she will find it of huge interest and a source of hope and inspiration.
I would urge anyone touched by cancer to buy this book and pass it on, or better still send a copy as a gift to those about whose health they are concerned.
Anticancer is published by Penguin in both hard and soft back, www.penguin.com ISBN978-0-718-15684-8
It is also available on Amazon Anticancer: A New Way of Life
Penguin has provided In Balance with FIVE copies of Dr Servan-Schreiber’s book, anti cancer to giveaway to In Balance readers. To enter the draw send an email to email@example.com with Anti Cancer in the subject box and your full contact details in the text box to reach us by 30 March 2011. One entry per household.
Val Reynolds Brown Editor