By Judy Wilkinson
Nothing in my life has been the same since being diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours of the small intestine - little did I know this would be the case when surgery was suggested to remove them. I hoped the symptoms would disappear post-surgery and I thought I'd be cured, but my tumours had other ideas and they metastasised into my lymph nodes. While the tumour grading sounded good: "well-differentiated, Grade 1," staging under World Health Organization guidelines sounded bad: "Stage 3b" (scary).
Despite all this, I still wasn't considered a candidate for "active" treatment and I was put on the "wait-and-see" program. That option was excruciating for me and I needed to do something to occupy my time. I felt I couldn't just sit around for five years having my blood and urine tested every three or six months - I needed to introduce something more positive into my life.
Having a rare cancer is a lonely and even isolating experience. You're always looking over your shoulder, hoping it doesn't come back. So as soon as I could, I started my journey back to fitness: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
This journey hasn't been an easy one, as I was cut down the middle, from just under the breastbone to just above the pubic bone. It was difficult for me to start any fitness regime, due to my extensive surgery. I required initial rest and nurturing to get my diet and fatigue under control and that's where documenting my symptoms daily using the Carcinoid NETs Health Storylines app has been comforting. My favourite feature remains Healthy Doses for mind and spirit. I particularly love the mindfulness, gratitude and optimism sayings.
The app also inspired me to get moving. So within three months, I decided the time was right to get on my fitness way and, despite still struggling physically, I was determined not to give up! With a Fitbit (Christmas present) now on my wrist, it took less than six months to go from walking fewer than 2,000 steps to almost 10,000 steps a day.
I've gone from strength to strength, doing daily resistance band exercises, squats, leg presses, even wall push-ups. But that wasn't enough, I wanted to set a new goal and that involved joining a gym or, in my case, attending the hospital's physical conditioning class so I could get on a bike. I was so scared of falling off the bike, but by month 10, I achieved that goal and am now eyeing the step master machine.
Combining the app and doing all these exercises as well as attending meditation classes run by the hospital has helped me mentally and emotionally, not to mention spiritually. It has given me the strength to face every day in a positive way.
Join Judy on her Ride to Recovery via her Roaming Rave blog @