How to rub your belly

Just got back from my Southampton acupuncturist. Her message for the day: rub your belly! Belly rubs don’t just feel good, they help with digestion which means the body absorbs more nutrients, more energy and functions better. “Have I told you the story?” she asks. “Nope.” I reply.

Apparently she was watching the television and this prominent acupuncture doctor, now eighty years old, was being interviewed. He was showing off his hair, his teeth, his muscles, saying he’s one healthy man. And his secret (at which point she lowers her voice and leans in close), he massages his stomach every day.

How do you massage your stomach? This is what she told me. It’s not exact advice, so if you have a sensitive stomach or any kind of concern, please don’t start rubbing your belly on my account. Be sensible.

Right, so you ‘find the middle line’, which is essentially a vertical line that runs from your solar plexus to a bit below the belly button.  And you poke it. Just poke away.

Next you poke along the horizontal axis (essentially around your belly button again).

Lastly you rub the area in circles. Not too hard, just a light massage.

Also, she likes to give a little heat to the area. I guess this can be done with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, laid across the stomach.

Every morning she pokes and strokes her belly – “Get the digestion moving. Good for the bowels. Good for the energy. Make immune system better.” That’s what she tells me. Frankly I often forget to rub my belly (and meditate, eat broccoli, take my supplements, get enough exercise) . . .  so these visits are great reminders.

I’m rubbing my stomach right now, more from hunger (lunch is cooking) but it’s the right track.

Immigration to Canada: Step one

Ok! Moving away from breast cancer topics onto more interesting things. That is, moving away from England.

The UK has been incredible, and I wouldn’t say that we’ll never return. It’s a definite possibility. Look at the pros: England’s primary language is, duh, English. It’s a ‘bridge’ between Europe and North America. The people here are awesome. Planes, trains and automobiles make this place easily connected to anywhere. And we’ve built a home here once, we could do it again.

Cons: My apartment is driving  me crazy with allergies – not in itself a reason to leave the entire country, but I’m an aggravated women. Also, it’s not Canada and it’s not Hungary. Neither side of the family has plans to immigrate to this giant Island (I miss having tea with my mom, meeting with friends, listening to Dad’s fishing stories) and during the next three years, as a minimum, being situated close to family is a priority.

The plan is to officially move later this summer. We’ll be doing some travelling beforehand, but our deadline for a Canadian touchdown is September 15th, when Zsolt’s ‘welcome to Canada’ window expires.

Here is the checklist as it develops:

First – get permanent residence.

Second – investigate moving companies.

Third . . . not sure, will update later.

We’re on steps First and Second. This week Zsolt received an email stating that his application has been approved (WOHO!) and we need to submit a bit more paperwork, plus passports. So, I can’t check off this step until the permit has been collected, but we’re getting there. The entire application process took about five months total – however, that doesn’t include all the time compiling the application, medical checks, background checks etc. Man, that was a long process, and mixed with chemotherapy too. But we managed. On average they say the application takes around six to nine months. I’d like to think Zsolt’s application was so well organized that it zoomed through the system. However, that’s only speculation because the inner workings of consulates are a mystery.

Sometimes I wonder whether it was crazy to uproot and go back to Canada. . . but going home for Christmas was incredible, and Dr Canada was quite impressive too. Plus, maybe a little North American flavour would be good to chew on, at least for now. Assuming Zsolt can land a job and I can pick up more writing, things could look good. Besides, there is that canoe and the lake and the image of paddling in the water on a gorgeous fall day. What’s more wonderfully Canadian than the great outdoors?

Looking ahead helps me focus on the present. First step, finish the permit process. Last step, go for a swim in the lake.

Side tip for visa applications: Collect evidence. From the moment you form a serious long-distance relationship you should start collecting proof – some examples: plane tickets, email exchanges, receipts with both names, joint bank account statements. The more official the better. Many places won’t accept a relationship is genuine unless you’ve lived together for two years, and can prove it through paperwork. *

*I’m no expert or professional regarding immigration. These tips are based on personal experience and several visa applications gone well. That’s all. If you need actual help, seek a professional.

Killer whales and cancer

My Disney Land perception of whale behaviour was shattered last week when Marcelle told me a story about killer whales attacking mother grey whales and their calves. *Sigh* Nature is ruthless . . . Beautiful, but ruthless. In the end it’s about survival. If the mother whale pushes back against the orcas, then the attacking group will retreat. If not . . . hard luck for the baby.

So why am I writing about this? Good question, which I’m ultimately wondering myself – but having promised a discussion on whales, I’ve got to deliver.

Here Mom’s take: Nature is ruthless, and if you want to survive you need to push back; same with cancer, same with any illness. Passivity doesn’t pay. This extends to all corners of life (e.g. trying to negotiate internet fees, getting a refund, etc.). If you want to win, you have to fight.

Thank goodness there is help, because it’s one thing to tell a newly diagnosed patient to ‘fight fight fight’ and it’s another thing to know what that really means. How do you fight cancer – how can you fight something without knowing the cause?

It’s the eternally frustrating question that still haunts my twenty-eight year old, no family history, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and exercises regularly, diagnosis. What am I fighting against?

Initially it’s the problem: fight the cancer. Push back against the tumour – surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy. The surgeons, oncologists, nurses all helped me to fight, and I’m thankful for their expertise.

Next there are the emotions: Fight the saturation. Cancer seeps, it seeps into your life – like a stain on the carpet that’s sunk deep and low. It spreads, it settles, it stains your mind. Fighting means connecting with other survivors, letting family and friends support you, talking about the depression or the fear, finding release when life gets too heavy. Stress is linked to illness, and I’m sick of being sick. I fight back by talking about my feelings, releasing that stress. Thank goodness for my support network, they’ve been incredible.

Okay, and now treatment is nearly over and we’re left with this window of possible reoccurrence, what is there to fight? Fight the cause. I do not know what caused my breast cancer, but nevertheless, changes must be made. From taking supplements, re-examining diet, going home, pursuing writing, chasing dreams, and having fun. Change will be the name of 2011, and hopefully it’ll be a really healthy year.

Screw those killer whales (though they are lovely creatures). I’m pushing back. We’ve got to push back.