Why I Took Dramatic Measures To Save My Life

My gorgeous family in 2015...this is what I live for.

Until now I have not felt like sharing my story. Part of me always wanted to but something about opening yourself up is quite frightening. I am not sure what changed for me. Was it that fact that my mum’s twenty four year anniversary of her passing was last week or was it just time? That I can’t answer I just know that now seems the right time to share. Two and a half months ago I underwent a preventative Bilateral Mastectomy which will guarantee I will be around to watch my children grow up and grow old with my husband. Having a very strong family history of Breast Cancer including my Mum losing her battle at the age of Forty Three, and knowing I had a 90% chance of getting it at some point in my life was something I could not ignore any longer.

I need to be very clear that this is written from a place of gratitude and not from sympathy. Goodness knows I have joined countless women who have had the same surgery some elective and some not.

For those who know me personally you would be no stranger to my positive way of thinking. Whenever faced with adversity I always look at ways to learn from the experience. Is this a lesson that can be learnt and then shared? What can I pass on from this? Why is it that I am faced with this decision?

When I woke this morning to my two year old, Charlie, kissing my face it was clear what the lesson was. To remind people that focusing on your health and wellness shouldn’t be negotiable. It is something that should be on your toothbrush list. Movement, Nutrition & Wellness are three things you don’t want to avoid. We need to shift our thinking from ‘cure’ to ‘preventative’. We need to be pro-active with our health and do everything in our power to stay that way.

I find it interesting that so many of us change our lifestyle choices because we are forced too. I am no different. Let’s face it eating Quinoa porridge, sweating it out in a gym or bending yourself into strange positions in Yoga are not everyone’s preference unless you have a motivator bigger than any food group or couch! My question to you is “since when did NOT moving become the norm?” I get we are time poor because we have become slaves to technology but we must realise that there is a payoff to that; some greater than others.

It’s easy to forget that the physically stronger you are the faster your body repairs itself. You underestimate the power of the mind. A positive mind is a strong one and that is a huge advantage. Sure, we hear it all the time but it really does matter. The scariest thing about life is you never know when you will need it. For me, thankfully I was aware of it and decided 20 years ago when I was 18, that I would rather have a strong body and mind than not.

Some say I am brave, courageous even but I like to save that for the real hero’s, the ones who actually have a real fight on their hands; the ones who aren’t as lucky as me and don’t have a choice. I am just a mum who will do anything to protect her family. In fact I would go as far as saying it would have been selfish not to have the surgery. It would be an insult to every woman out there who didn’t have the opportunity that I did.

Don’t get me wrong I am not playing down the emotion and thought that went into this decision. Given I do not have the gene that they can test for but a gene of some sort made the decision all the more challenging. Removing something from a perfectly healthy body was a very confronting thought considering what I do for a living. At the end of the day, regardless of all the pro’s and con’s it comes down to two things; freedom from fear or live in fear. The surgery will give me that freedom and that was where the thoughts ended. Just get it done.

I decided that to get through this I had to approach the challenge systematically; one step at a time and the key was to have a recovery plan. I figured that there was no point getting myself in a panic about the pain, after all there are drugs for that. Worrying about how I would look I knew would be difficult but I knew it wouldn’t be forever. So, the only thing I could control was how I recovered! If you haven’t guessed by now I am a little bit of a control freak!!

In the weeks leading up to my surgery I worked closely with my “wellness team”. In my opinion this was the way to give myself the best chance for a quick recovery. It sounds strange, even to me, to have a team of people but that is exactly what is needed. I have that for my business; accountants, trainers, a marketing manager, admin staff and a business coach to ensure the health of my business, so why should this be any different.

My wellness team consisted of:

- Dr Bianca Beaumont – the principle chiropractor at Body In Balance who I saw every week leading up to the surgery and subsequently every week after that when I got out of hospital. I saw this as a vital step in the process as ensuring my spine was aligned meant that my nerve supply to my organs/tissue was as optimal as it could be.

- Elise Grauer (Natropath) – the founder of Bodhi Wellness Clinic. Elise gave me a recovery plan centered on nutrition to promote healing.

- The surgeons who obviously gave me physical guidelines as to how much movement I could do. I was not the typical patient so they had to spell it out for me!!

- My team of trainers at StudioForty6 who made sure I was sticking to the physical guidelines set out by the surgeons! They also kept the business running whilst Dean and I were absent which we are very grateful for. They are truly a supportive group and a team that I am proud to be associated with.

- My foam roller. Yes, that’s right a foam roller is my best friend. Myofascial release and mobility exercises keep my body free and mobile.

- My gorgeous husband, Dean, who I can talk to when things get too much. Training has always been my coping mechanism so when that is taken away things become much harder. He kept reminding me that this was not forever.

So, with the weeks passing by and slowly my movement returned and so did the trust in my body. My walks have increased from Twenty minutes to an hour and now at the Ten week mark, once a week, a Thirty minute run. Slowly, I am integrating weight training taking careful consideration to any push movement patterns.

I am now at the stage where my next hurdle is the final surgery scheduled in a couple of months. I need to be strong for that one! Time for recovery plan number two…

I continue to see my Chiropractor weekly, I have a follow up appointment booked with Naturopath Elise, my foam roller is utilized daily, my training is now at a level that I can rebuild the muscle that I have lost; it is time to implement the final piece in the puzzle…Eat Fit Food.

I decided to engage in the Eat Fit Food Twenty day detox program so I could keep my weight under control and my body functioning optimally. Weight for me is not a huge concern but I am sensible and understand that a healthy immune system requires good nutrition. In saying that my body composition has changed, it has to have. I did not train, only light walks for the first 6 weeks so muscle loss is inevitable. Will it come back quickly, absolutely but I need to be practical. By engaging in the Eat Fit Food program I know that I am guaranteed to eat healthy meals that are portion controlled and the bonus is I don’t have to think about it. I can focus on my children, husband and get my business ready for my absence again.

So, that being said, I will post my weekly eating and training plan in the lead up to my final surgery. It is a bit of an experiment too. How will I feel and what results can be had with clean eating and how quickly?

On that note I will leave you with this thought…

"Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it." ~ Dennis P. Kimbr

Written by Kirsty Robbie - Founder of StudioForty6 and CHEK exercise coach.

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