Site icon Fabienne S. Morgana

Gratitude Practice 2 of 12

Peer reviewed articles on gratitude practice

Before I go into the main part of this blog, I’d like to share some links to articles focused on gratitude generally, and some on gratitude and the cancer experience. Science is important to me and having a psych degree myself, I do find the peer-reviewed scientific method comforting. This approach may not work for everyone, but it helps me.

Accessible Peer-reviewed articles

I read a lot of peer reviewed articles as part of my process through my diagnosis. Here are some fully accessible articles that I have read around gratitude practice.

Peer-reviewed articles that require payment or university access

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day One ( Day 8 total).

Week 2 of my Three Week Chemo Cycle
(of which there will be four cycles):

This week, I have an increased risk of infection, and need to continue to monitor my bowels. 

So here’s a challenge for those following along at home; watch your bowel movements for a week and monitor them with the Bristol Stool Chart – bowel movements can reveal a lot about your health, and in fact can reveal symptoms of things like bowel cancer first – it pays to be aware.

1. That corner that the Oncology Liason Nurse talked to me about? I think I have turned it – and I am grateful for that.

Just to be clear… that doesn’t mean no pain, no diarrhoea, or that my capacity is magically returned to normal… it just means I am not basically absolutely fucking miserable like I have been since Sunday – I’ll take it.

2.  I am grateful to finally manage 6 hours sleep last night without waking.

Social connections

3. I am grateful for telephone calls from family members checking in and, as always, for the daily conversations I share with people.

Social interaction is vital for mental health – even for introverts like myself, but especially when sick, and when combined with lockdowns. I am experiencing what I call face hunger for the first time in my life! Check in on your extroverts – they probably really aren’t ok.

Some psych studies indicate that diversity of social interaction is important for maintaining social skills when unwell or else you can get stuck in medical communication mode – because the only people you are having regular interaction with are the medical professionals. The data from some early studies on virtual contact (phone, messages, Skype, zoom) indicates better mental health and less social cognition deterioration in elders across periods of isolation than those elders who did not have regular and varied virtual social contact.

Practical assistance

4.  The gardeners have been – this was paid for by friends – who instead of saying “if you need help, just let us know”, said “you talked about gardeners – what is your bank account number, I’m putting some money across to cover the gardeners”.  So I am both grateful for the gardeners and for friends that take initiative from the things I have said that I need, and make a clear offer of help and support.  And yes, my housemate could probably do the gardening, and yes, it would save money – but seriously, they are doing so much, much more than their fair share – cutting them some slack and giving them some support is also absolutely necessary.

5. Today the council cleaner also came – it’s the last session I am entitled to under post acute surgical care support package. Initially, they were coming three times a week to help me wash myself, the last session and today has been to clean; toilet, bathroom, vacuum, mop, microwave. It’s been an amazing service, especially during lock down when my contract cleaners can’t come.

6.  I got one of my favourite delivery meals for dinner tonight to celebrate the end of the first week – a halal snack pack from Kebab Yeah. I haven’t had one since the night before surgery, 7 weeks ago!

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Take a look at my hair, Gentle Creatures – next week is when I can expect to start loosing it.

“‘Enough’ is a feast.”
Buddhist Saying

I’ve been wearing headwraps for years, and yet oddly, during chemo, it felt disingenuous in some way. Once my hair started falling out, I just rocked the chrome some. But we started here – a buzz cut.

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Two (9).

1. I can lay 100% flat on my back in bed and stretch – it’s been nearly 8 weeks since I could do that.

2. I am grateful for ducted heating; we have been running it almost non stop since we moved in, but… this morning for example, when I was up at 0230, and again at 0430, and it was less than 5°C outside.. I’m not fucking freezing in addition to being sleep disturbed – I can sit on the (over the toilet chair) toilet in relatively temperature controlled comfort; it absolutely makes a fucking difference, trust me!

Let’s talk about poop, baby!

3. I am grateful for a normal bowel movement.- the first since Sunday, and only the second since I started chemo.

Now… are you uncomfortable reading that? Why is that topic taboo vs anything else? Weird huh? I will continue to take about poop – we need to normalise it, it makes me uncomfortable too. But… did you know that bowel issues are one of the first signs of bowel cancer?

The big five – lung, bowel, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers – account for almost half of the total cancer mortality rates in Australia.

4. I can cough, sneeze, hiccough, blow my nose, laugh, and cry without feeling like I am going to inadvertently disembowel myself.

Evisceraphobia – the fear of being disemboweled; it’s a thing!

As I have mentioned before, my lizard brain, Brian, is convinced that we have sustained a grievous injury and that we are in danger of our entrails leaving our body through the abdominal surgical wound – that is starting to calm a bit, but it’s right up there in terms of random weirdness in this experience.

5. Today, I am lethargic – I am grateful for the privilege of being able to go back to bed and have a nap / doze; I had a pretty bad night’s sleep, so a nap helped.

6. I am grateful for a week without medical appointments (unless you count the telephone check-in on Monday).

7. I am grateful that we are beginning to work out a daily pattern that works – even if we are doing that by making mistakes and learning from them.

8. I am grateful that tomorrow looks like being a nicer day weather wise – it has a huge impact upon my mental health and motivation right now.

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”
Germany Kent

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Check your breasts, check your testicles, check your poop / pee / period.

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Three (10).

1. I am grateful for sunny days and my three different outdoor chairs / benches that are positioned to catch the sun and of an appropriate height and sturdiness that I can get up out of them without too much strain on my chest / abdomen.

2. I am grateful to have more energy than yesterday… I suspect yesterday may have been the day the Oncology team alert you about – in week 2, there is basically a 24 hr period where your immune system is at its absolute lowest – I suspect that was yesterday, given how flat I was.

The healing properties of nature.

3. I am grateful that I could be sitting in the sun at 1030 this morning with my cup of tea and my book.

4. I’m grateful for my scented backyard; currently I have Daphne, Jasmine, and whatever the other two things are (see pictures, lol – one of which is actually a favourite and I’m delighted to discover it in this yard).

5. I’m delighted to have seen my first ever Blue-banded Bee or Metallic Blue Bee (Amegilla Cingulate) – in my own back yard! I only found about them recently, and was able to confirm the identity with a bee keeper friend.

6. I’m grateful for fresh sheets and aired blankets – and the ability to strip my bed and make it myself.

7. So many birds! In addition to the Rosellas, I saw a Wattle Bird today (although the Wattle itself is almost finished). There’s some whose calls I do not know, so once lockdown finishes, anyone who knows birds – come visit, we can sit in the backyard and you can tell me what I am hearing!

8. I think I saw three different type of Shield Insects today – they probably have some other name, but that is what I knew them as.

9. Managed my stretches today – nearly an hour, very carefully, as I have some new swelling in my armpits and down my ribs and across my chest. It’s not obvious to my housemate, but it’s uncomfortable and a bit painful. Not entirely unexpected, not quite 8 weeks out from such big surgery… they keep telling me it will be 6 months before the swelling truly goes down.

Managing the evening sads

10. My housemate did BBQ Lamb on their Webber outside for an early dinner: trifecta! The house doesn’t smell of cooking, I didn’t have to think about dinner, and small, early dinners are part of our ideal strategy to manage my evening sads*.

*We have noticed a pattern in that I get sad / overwhelmed around about 8pm every night, even to the point of tears. We think it is because I’m just over tired by that stage, as I am rarely sleeping through the night and often wake between 2 and 5 either multiple times or just can’t get back to sleep.

So our solution is to aim to do dinner and shower between 5 and 7, so that by 7ish, I have no significant energetic demands.

11. I have achieved my evening goal of early dinner and shower, lotions and potions, wound care complete by 730 tonight – I’m grateful for that.

“Gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world.”
John Milton

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Check your breasts, check your testicles, check your poop / pee / period.

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Four (11).

1. I am grateful for the privilege of being able to relax into a low energy day. Resting today, having a nap – I think it has allowed some time and space for the swelling in my armpits and down the sides of my breasts to go down a bit.

2. Technology, even when it is old – I am grateful for my old iPod, and the quirky little iPod Pet (speakers) that I purchased well over 15 years ago – they still work and have been a constant companion since we moved.

3. I am grateful for the Enya Watermark album: it’s basically been on repeat 24 / 7 in my bedroom since surgery – it sets a consistent and calming background (along with a fan for white noise) that works for me.

4. I’m grateful for my companions – both the feline and the housemate.

5. I’m grateful for friendships and connections.

We were in strict lockdowns because of covid all through my chemo treatment: social media was my lifeline.

6. I’m grateful for the privilege of being able to take this time to focus on my health, to be able to afford quality food to support my healing, for infrastructure like gas, electricity, hot water, rubbish removal: all of which makes life infinitely easier – I have lived without such things, and I’m happy to live in a city where they are taken for granted.

And…inspired by a friend because I nearly forgot this tonight.

7. I’m grateful for my favourite mug – I have two the same, that arrived in the week prior to surgery, both from Beloveds that have never met each other… it still delights me.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”
Brené Brown

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Check your breasts, check your testicles, check your poop / pee / period.

Housewarming gift

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Five (12).

“Unselfish acts are the real miracles out of which all the reported miracles grow.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Six (13).

1.  I am 8 weeks post surgery, and I am grateful for my healing.

In discussions with the Oncology Liason Nurse yesterday, she told me that my healing may now completely stop and I need to consider my goals as prevention of infection of the unhealed bits (mainly the Belly Button 3.0 ™️): this was a bit hard to hear, but I’m working on adjusting my expectations. I’m still hoping it will heal!

2. My housemate went and got a Bánh mì roll from a local bakery – they are a favourite of mine: so grateful for lunch in the sun.

3. I’m still not sleeping very well, but I am grateful for the ability to nap / doze during the day – sleep is vital to healing!

Hair loss started here.

4. I’m grateful I was able to have very genuine conversations with my oncology team and was prepared for hair loss – I have started to lose hair from my armpits and pubic region.

As a side note- well meaning people tried to tell me ‘not to worry about it’ because ‘it may not happen / focus on the positive’ – denial is not reassurance and it doesn’t help – except perhaps the person who is enabling the denial because it makes them feel better.

I’m grateful I didn’t invest in that feel good denial. The reality is that due to the particular chemo I am on, it is very likely, statistically, that I will lose my hair. I think it’s the eyelashes in particular that I don’t want to lose to be honest – so we will see what happens.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Melody Beattie

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Check your breasts, check your testicles, check your poop / pee / period.

Bánh mì roll + ginger beer: simple pleasures!

Chemo Round One of Four, Week Two, Day Seven (14).

1.  I am grateful that I actually feel like myself today… it’s been a pretty fucking average (read awful) two weeks, but today, I feel like *me*. Totally grateful for that.

2. I am grateful the my Wound Clinic Nurse seems to have taken the assessment of the Oncology Liason Nurse regarding my wounds not healing anymore due to chemo as a personal challenge, lol!

See photo of my wound dressing drawer below: this is going to be part of my nightly showering, lotions, and potions routine for the next two weeks until I see her again.

And I’m not going to share a photo of the medication drawer!

3. Audrey (cat) hopped onto my housemate’a lap whilst we were sharing a phone call with a mutual friend… the first time she has *ever* done that… and stayed there and smootched with them a bit… and their face was an absolute picture! I’m so grateful I got to see that!

4. Avocado (cat) snuggling in my blankets this morning.

Post surgery, no driving for 6 – 8 weeks; then fatigue and pain and generally being unwell meant that it was a long time before I drove again.

5. I’m incredibly grateful to my housemate for acting as chauffeur. Today was medical appointment #59 since the start of April, and they have probably taken me to about 75% of them. I’m still not driving, I honestly don’t think it would be safe for me yet, as much as I miss it.. having said that, having someone drive you to appointments and home again means that I can just focus on staying centred, which is such a gift.

6. It’s Spring! September is one of my favourite months. I confess, I was feeling pretty down the last couple of days because I really was hoping that this experience would be done and dusted by now… but I’m working on adjusting my expectations and celebrating what I can. So I’m grateful for Spring, and I’m grateful for September.

7. Looking at that dressing drawer – I’m so grateful for the medical care that I am receiving.

8. I’m grateful for friends that help and support; for the people that respect my boundaries, and can adapt their world view to incorporate the way in which I am consciously chosing to curate this experience. I understand that it has been challenging for people, but there is no margin for me to get through this any other way – it’s tough, Gentle Creatures, and if there is anyone else in your life who is living with cancer, or with other chronic or acute health circumstances, or life changes (like grief), make sure that you are supporting in and dumping out.

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Be kind, Gentle Creatures – soft eyes, clear vision, open heart, walk gently where you can and harness your rage mindfully when you can’t.

Check your breasts, check your testicles, check your poop / pee / period.

Ugh. Wound care nearly broke me.


Ensure that you are vigilant around your self-examination. Train yourself to check your breasts/testicles routinely, and monitor your bowel habits and your urine output. These are our body’s early warning signs, and we don’t have a lot of awareness of them.


Exit mobile version