Heather's story: 6 ways to nurture yourself and your relationships during cancer treatment
Heather Meyler is fighting Stage 4 Appendix Cancer. Last June, she had a surgery to remove her omentum, appendix and uterus. The 31 years old dietitian, who exudes positivity, shares her insights on nurturing mind, body and love during cancer recovery.
At 31 years old, Heather was first told she had metastatic ovarian cancer but it turned out to be stage 4 appendiceal cancer.
I had a big debunking surgery in June of 2018 that removed my omentum, appendix and a hysterectomy.
Heather started her first type of chemo two weeks after. She is currently in her third type of chemo since June because unfortunately the others didn’t stop the cancer from growing. After surgery, she still has tumours in her liver, lungs, diaphragm and peritoneal cavity - but she doesn't give up hope:
My current chemo lucky number is 3: it's stable for now. I believe something work or a miracle will happen despite the odds I’ve been given. I always chose the light or find the positive in any bad news I get from doctors.
The role of a support person
My husband has been amazing and we set lots of goals, short term and long term. When I first got diagnosed it was hard to make plans with cancer I thought I had to wait to get better. BUT I realised why wait to do the things we want! On my good days, we go all out!
Heather reminds us how important it is to keep doing the things we love as a way to nurture our body and mind throughout recovery. Heather and her husband Eric are very close on this journey: they are fighting cancer together.
Having a support person has a huge impact on our health - this can be a partner, a friend, a sister or even a stranger you just met at a support group. So make sure to reach out to that special someone to get the love and support you need.
How Heather nurtures her mind + body
1. Staying active
I fight to stay active. I try to do 30 mins of activity a day even if I’m not feeling well. It’s very important to keep your body strong. I ran marathons before I got sick and I’m up to running 3 miles.
Heather mentioned that after her debunking surgery in June, she couldn’t even sit up on her own. When she was able to walk again, she started by walking up two drive ways from her house and slowly increased her walks until she could walk around the block.
Accepting the limitations of your body and gradually increase movement is a great way to start! Make sure to talk to your doctor and listen to your body along the way.
2. Eating healthy
Heather also started eating a vegan diet. As a registered dietitian, Heather can make sure she gets adequate nutrients from her diet.
I also eat mostly organic and only drink bottled water. I have been doing chemo since June and have not needed any neulasta! I try to drink at least 4 fresh juices* with beets to help keep my blood counts up. I eat sprouted grain breads and try to eat low and medium glycemic index foods.
*"4 fresh juices in between each chemo cycle, I get chemo every 14 days for 48 hours."
3. Setting goals
My husband and I also set a lot of short-term and long-term goals, such as make travel plans and run 10k in April! Since I am unable to have children one of our long term goals is to adopt a baby! After I beat cancer's a$$!
4. Staying positive and taking time out
One of the most important things for Heather is to stay positive and believe in herself.
I also meditate and visualise the cancer getting smaller, doing healing touch and my sister in-law does reikki for me. We only look at the positive in any bad news I get and I refuse to be a statistic! I believe that my odds are as good as I see them to be and my glass is always half full.
5. Listening to your body and seeking second opinions
Heather highly recommends seeking second opinions and listening to your body:
Only you know what's going on in your body. Initially I was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer and we got a second opinion in October 2018 and found out I had stage 4 appendix cancer. I’m on my third type of chemo but my disease is finally stable, not getting better or worse!
Heather says she is thankful that she felt something was off and, with the help of her husband, got several other oncology opinions. Doctors have different experiences and may give you more options.
6. Talking it through together
Cancer can be hard to deal with for anyone - especially your family. It’s important to be open with each other, cry together, laugh together and for you to be a team through your battle.
And, Heather and Eric are closer than ever:
He is so very supportive! One of the chemos was supposed to give me bad acne and my husband said he would run greasy pizza slices on his face to get acne too!
Now that's awesome support! Well done to all the women and men out there supporting Girls Rocking Cancer. Thank you Heather for sharing your journey to help others. If you would like to share your story or insights, please contact us and remember you are not alone! Join us on Instagram or Facebook.
Heather & Mel X