Reducing Anxiety & Toning Up

The axillary clearance of the lymph nodes in my right arm left it very swollen, numb and painful after surgery. 13 weeks on, I still have some pain and numbness but the swelling has nearly gone.

One of the most frustrating and worrying things during this post op period has been not knowing if what I’m feeling in my arm is the first sign of Lymphoedema or not. Time and again I’ve found myself wishing my upper arms were more toned so I could easily see any signs of swelling. Instead, every time I caught myself looking in a mirror I’ve tried to compare one arm with the other to see if one looked noticeably bigger, which really isn’t that easy to do.bodylastics

So, now that the swelling has reduced considerably and I am able to use my arm a lot more, I thought I would start to try and tone up my bingo wings by getting my triceps in shape. Not wanting to spend out on gym fees for the privilege, I decided to get some exercise resistance bands. I went  for the Bodylastics set, which comes with 5 different band strengths, along with a DVD manual to get you started.

Now after rebounding first thing in the morning, I use the door grip attachment to work on toning my triceps. 15-18 reps x3 per exercise.

It’s going to take some work to get in shape but it’s going to be so worth it.

Breast Cancer & Lymphoedema Free DVDs

There are two DVD packs, available free of charge to breast cancer patients, which I would highly recommend getting. They are both from The Haven  – a breast cancer support charity, which has centres in London, Leeds and Hereford.

The Haven at Home – Supporting your well-being with and beyond breast cancer
A 2 disk pack, it provides both physical and emotional help for whatever you may be going through.

the-haven-dvdMind, Body, Life – DVD
Includes information about…
– Emotional support
– If cancer comes back
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
– Tai Chi
– Yoga
– Healthy eating

Being Still – Audio CD
Covers the following areas…
– Mindfulness meditation
– Hypnotherapy
Breathing & relaxation

Lymphoedema Awareness – Reducing your risk
This DVD answers frequently asked questions about Lymphoedema, gives simple exercises you can do at home to prevent or alleviate the symptoms, talks to some women about their experiences and provides useful contacts for further help.

Both DVD’s can be ordered by emailing your nearest Haven giving your name, hospital or surgery name, full address and the quantity required.


Medicine Cabinet

cabinetAs with the pocket first aid kit, finding a medicine cabinet for the house, which looked nice but could also hold a whole host of bits and pieces took quite a while. In the end I found this one from The Holding Company.

It’s white-painted metal with a chrome handle and can be fitted to the wall vertically, horizontally, with the door opening on the left, right or from above. It doesn’t have a lock though so I’ve put it quite high up on the wall out of the reach of little hands.

I have to say it looks really cool and it’s just the right size for everything I need to keep to close to hand, without looking too imposing.

Spinach Frittata

Serves 4
10 mins prep
35 mins cooking


250g New Potatoes, thickly sliced with the skin on
3 Rashers Smoked Back Bacon, chopped
3 Free Range Eggs, beaten
50ml Skimmed Milk
100g Spinach
3 Spring Onions, chopped
25g Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated

1. In a pan of boiling water cook the potatoes for 5-10 mins until tender. Drain.

2. In an oven proof frying pan (needs a lid) cook the bacon pieces for 5 mins until slightly brown. Put to one side.

3. Put the beaten eggs, milk, spinach, spring onions, cooked potato and bacon in to a bowl and stir to combine.

4. Pour the mixture into the frying pan and cover with the lid. Cook for 10 mins. Pre heat the grill to medium.

5. Remove the frying pan from the heat and scatter grated cheese on top of the frittata.

6. Put the frittata still in the pan under the grill for 10 mins until set and golden. Serve with rocket and baked beans.


– Spinach is rich in carotenoids, which the body converts to antioxidant vitamin A to help trigger immune response to fight infections. The vegetable helps to prevent lung, breast and cervical cancers, as well as fight heart disease. Its vitamin C content keeps skin and mucous membranes healthy, while its B vitamins improve energy and nervous system conditions. Spinach is also rich in zinc, required to promote T-cell activity.

– Potatoes are one of the cheapest and most readily available sources of vitamin C – a nutrient that is vital for keeping the immune system healthy. New potatoes are richer in this antioxidant than old ones. Most of the fibre, which aids digestion and lowers cholesterol, is found in the skin. Potatoes also contain vitamin B6, which helps to make the immunity-boosting amino acids that are crucial for good health.

– Onion has an exceptionally high level of the flavonoid quercetin, a strong antioxidant which can block the formation of cancer cells.

– The humble baked bean is a nutritional powerhouse of protein, fibre, iron and calcium. The tomato sauce covering baked beans is also a good source of lycopene, another powerful antioxidant shown to help prevent heart disease and prostate cancer. The insoluble fibre in baked beans is not digested but moves into the large intestine, or colon, where bacteria act on it and produce short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are thought to nourish the colon lining and protect it from carcinogenic (cancer-causing) invaders.

(Source book: The Top 100 Immunity Boosters by Charlotte Haigh and The Daily Mail)