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  • I wanted it to be Cancer
    I wanted it to be Cancer - Chatting to my 7 year old on a video call after my kidney removal. Started the long wait to  find out was sort of tumour it was!
    In Hospital, the day of discharge. Smiling masks the pain ( I could not let my little one think i was anything but ok! She already had a lot to worry about in the previous year) and the relief – I was going home!

    I wanted it to be Cancer – It was an agonising wait! Each minute felt like an endless hour! It was so hard to focus on anything around me, that looking back all else is a blur! In the end I had to immerse myself in something! I had to lose myself in anything that would mean – I would stop thinking and agonising about what would be! Because every time I did I kept thinking – It had to be cancer!

    Having that diagnosis hover over me and not having had time to dwell in the immensity of it meant I probably had less time to agonise over what would be amidst it all! But now, this part of the journey was ending, and all I had to find out was – was it truly cancer? Was all this for a reason?

    I had shared with people around me so they knew the enormity of what we were facing and excused any times we could not give ourselves to our community as before! With it the pity looks that had to be overcome, was it all for nothing? Would we look deceitful and would the whole situation make a liar out of me? I would feel like a fraud – It had to be cancer!

    What about telling my then almost 7 year old about the big C? I feared she would overhear a conversation and not have anyone to guide her thoughts or feelings! So I called her one day and said – Bubbuh, you have heard about Cancer, right? At that moment I saw the fear in her eyes! I continued mummy has cancer, but mummy is not sick with cancer! Mummy will need to have an operation so mummy wont get sick with cancer!

    The thought of having to leave my tiny newborn to go into hospital and the stress of it all had made it impossible for me to breastfeed. I am a mum that believes in building up her babies immune system and how it would make a difference to them later in life! I felt like I failed her and I failed her again when I could not even hold my baby on her 2 month birthday because it was also the day I returned home from the hospital! Actually I could not hold her for weeks and weeks after that! 

    In my church I have a group of friends. They provide a two week meal plan for mums who had just had a baby! I was asked if I wanted to receive that gift and being the very reserved person I am, never wanting to burden others I fought against myself and accepted, but asked if it could be provided 2 months later (after my kidney removal) and yes, they did so!

    It was such a blessing – My husband was running everything at home, the newborn with endless bottles nappies and sleepless nights, the now 7 year old (during her holidays), the home, but at least he did not have to cook! My friends were there for me in prayer and in another very meaningful way – with lovely food, a chat and a hug! But again, all that I had received now turned into a dark cloud cast over the possibility of was it or not! – It had to be cancer!

    To my weirdly gratifying relief it was cancer, It was all for a reason, it made some sort of sense. I was not a fraud, despite my impostor syndrome, after all, I had no chemo, no radio, I did not lose my hair! I looked for all intents and purposes good! My pain and fatigue, although invisible to others, often come upon me like a ton of bricks! It was cancer, but sometimes I am still daunted by a little voice whispering – suck it up, what you had was nothing compared to the people with real cancer.

    So everyday I try to be kinder to myself, hoping that others reading this post can do the same.

    If you liked this article, find others like – https://unchainyourhealth.com/managing-lifes-interruptions-part-two  or NHS – Hate it not 100%! Love me not 100%!. Find me on http://www.facebook.com/unchainyourhealth/

  • How ridiculous – The certainty of Cancer is 10x easier than the possibility of Corona Virus!
    Cancer
    Cancer vs Coronavirus

    The certainty of Cancer is easier than the possibility of Corona Virus.

    What a bold statement, could that really be? Here is why it felt that way to me!

    Receiving a cancer diagnosis from a Dr. I worked with was simply devastating, it probably would have felt equally devastating even if I did not know him! What did it do? It removed questions about – could he have made a mistake? Is he experienced, should I seek a second opinion? I knew his professionalism so it was a weirdly reassuring drop in the sea of turmoil.

    With all the questions you are plagued with, I made a decision to fight for my 6 year old and my unborn child. The difficult part was seeing the devastation and puzzlement in my husband’s eyes. Yet, in the craziness of it all he was so strong. Fighting for my life gave me a purpose, but Covid has been so different. Now we cannot ignore Covid, no one in the world has been able to ignore this pandemic!

    Me pregnant with cancer and still I smiled

    As I write this I pray my family and I skate through unharmed but the mere thought of it, the possible devastation has been harder to manage. The helplessness of it all! A world I don’t recognize! You see, there are nuances in risk. The risk brackets the government has placed are set, yet their moderate risk is still far too high of a risk when I consider how close I was to dying, to how it felt to say goodbye to those I loved even if from a distance. It is so easy to spiral out of control in the anxiety loop.

    How do we collect ourselves, how do we remain in control in the eye of the storm. The world around us does nothing but feed the anxiety through the news. So I turned to God, my only hope is to trust God. I tried all other things some to little and others to no comfort. I found that in the uncertainty of it all He remains unchanged. He was, He is and He will be! I read of His promises and read some of the 365 ways in which He says we should not fear. Faith is not new to me, God saw me through my cancer journey, yet in face of a new threat I felt powerless, helpless and anxious.

    Please take a moment to remember that even though many CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialists) might have been redeployed to the frontline, you can always reach out to charities and organisations, their carelines, their counselling services.

    My wish to you is that you find something/someone you turn to or focus on! That you can enunciate the good things around you you might have not had a chance to notice or experience otherwise! That you can create something that not only makes good use of your time, but can also take on the meaning of something good coming out of this insane time!

    Last but not least, what does your miracle morning look like? How wellbeing orientated are your mornings? How do you ground yourself? Because let me tell you, it worked wonder for my faith and for me in general. A Miracle morning include a number set of steps like, practicing gratitude, prayer, meditation, energizing your body with some movement and planning the day ahead. Mine starts with some Bible reading, prayer, breathing exercises most days. However with a 14 month old baby i have to roll with the punches.

    If you liked this article, find others like – https://unchainyourhealth.com/managing-lifes-interruptions-part-two  or NHS – Hate it not 100%! Love me not 100%!. Find me on http://www.facebook.com/unchainyourhealth/

  • NHS – Hate it, Love it, take it or leave it!
    The NHS gives blood sweat and tears to ensure people shed less tears over loved ones. Love it or hate it, we need it.
    The NHS gives blood sweat and tears to ensure people shed less tears over loved ones. Love it or hate it, we need it.

    The NHS gives blood, sweat and tears to ensure people shed less tears over loved ones. Love it or hate it, we need it. I love the NHS and believe in it with all my being. I work for it and have been privileged to work for Trusts where optimal is the norm and expected. But does it have problems? Yes.

    I have devoted my life to the NHS, so I never expected having to fight tooth, nail and grit for my own personal basic care. 

    The beginning of my crazy journey was spent septic in various hospitals in Portugal while I was on holidays. I was pregnant at the time. Initially they missed it; I was given no Intravenous Fluids and no intravenous  antibiotics even though I had been throwing up the whole day. I was just sent home with 2 basic pain relief,  one of them was even suitable for pregnancy.

    Eventually I went to a reputable teaching hospital, the one I was born in, and was there for 8 days. I was so unwell I thought baby and I would not make it. There are few times in life when you find yourself apologising to your unborn child for anything you might have done that meant they would not experience the world. And moments when you think of your older child and feel you may not be able to see them grow.

    So, when I eventually turned a corner, be it with suspicious mass in my kidney which needed investigating when I got back to the UK- it was a relief! And the mass would certainly be a cyst or stone, right? The worst must surely have been behind me now, right?

    When I arrived in the UK, as I was pregnant my GP said my care was delegated to my OBgyn team so she did not request tests or book referrals. And my OBGyn team was booked up so I could not get an appointment.

    Luckily – and I don’t say this lightly as it cost me tears of having to overcome yet another mountain – there was a very high risk my baby would be born with trisomy 21, so I was assigned a specialist midwife (one with a heart the size of the world). The lovely midwife was instrumental in getting me to see the doctors, and requesting blood tests…

    Despite all that, I fell through the cracks of the system. I was meant to be on the two-week pathway. You see, the discharge letter from Portugal was in English and highlighted the suspicious mass urgently needing investigation.  According to the NHS bill of rights when there is such suspicion then the patient is meant to be on a two-week pathway until they are seen by a consultant, but the ultrasound request on my kidney was lost amongst the sea of baby ultrasounds.

    By the time we had realised that, the wait would be pointless –  no appointment letter was coming through –  it was the end of October. The ultrasound was in November and with that it warranted an urgent referral to urology. And again, you guessed it, once more I fell through the cracks and my appointment  didn’t happen!

    I finally got an appointment to see a Urology Consultant on 19th December and went ahead to sort out childcare for my 7-year old so that my husband could come with me. Something in me said I’d not want to drive back. Then, could you believe it!? A few days before the appointment I received a voicemail cancelling but offering me another date for the 2nd of January.

    Desperation took hold of me! I felt weak, sick and devastated in the same breath!

    I called the Urology co-ordinator back and said there must have been some sort of mistake, my appointment could not possibly be cancelled again. I explained my circumstances, only to be told that because I was  pregnant they would not be able to perform many tests anyway! Plus, my referral had not been sent through as urgent.

    I stated – and I am not faulting the lady I spoke to or the Urology Department – that the system was failing me. I was way beyond the two-week pathway. I was working for the NHS, and at that precise moment was fighting to ensure my patients awaiting cardiac surgery didn’t fall through the cracks. I was so sad and I felt totally lost! I give all to my patients, so they have the best experience of the NHS possible, yet there I was fighting for my NHS Charter Right to be upheld.

    I basically refused the cancellation and said would turn up at my appointment time and not leave until I was seen! If it was serious enough, I wanted a urologist to tell me what could or not be done, not an admin person.  If it was necessary, they would consider interventions in pregnancy or early delivery if that meant my life was at risk.

    The person on the other end of the phone either took pity on my circumstances or fell short of a retort and gave me a prostate clinic to attend, and she gave it as if it was a punishment. It was not, I was massively relieved, I would finally get to see a urologist. I became aware of my blessings when the urologist turned out to be a consultant I had worked with.

    So please if you feel in your gut something is not right, go and get checked! Don’t let others dissuade you, don’t be put off! You know yourself, so stop at nothing to see a Health professional. But please, keep your head, and more importantly your cool! We lose all arguments the moment we become aggressive, whether justifiably or not.

    If this article resonates with your experience you read about my other articles like – https://unchainyourhealth.com/managing-lifes-interruptions-part-two  and like my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/unchainyourhealth.

  • One Emotionally Crushing Day in my Kidney Cancer Journey
    An emotionally Crushing Day in the Cancer Journey
    One emotionally Crushing Day in the Cancer Journey

    The problem about kidney cancer that no one tells you is that even when you have your kidney removed, you are plagued with fatigue. Added to other health issues meant fatigue was so real it hurt!

    Kidney Cancer
    Kidney Cancer

    the lonesome part of this is loved ones have no idea how it affects you, not even with the best will in the world.

    Almost two years since my journey started and here and there i have my hopeful days, the days where i feel almost like myself, so much so i forget all my issues, pain, and the dreaded fatigue!

    Yesterday was one of those days! I went to church for the First time in a long long while( since all the craziness) and thought – I know, after here I can take my 7 year old to a Portuguese Delicatessen and buy a few things we both enjoy! When we got home I quickly did a little something for her to eat, and later made a traditional Portuguese dish – Bacalhau a Lagareiro, a favourite of mine! Days like this fuel me with hope, that everything was just a bad dream and life can be effortless again!

    Now comes the dreaded part – I  was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open until 21.00 and on the following day was payday! I was so exhausted that getting out of bed was a battle on its own right, at 14.10 after getting my tiny one in bed for her nap I settled on the sofa to nap for a little bit, but tiny one only settled at 14.50 so I could not really fully drift off and at three o’clock I had to get up, shower and go get my 7 year old from school!

    I was so emotional and fed up with feeling fatigued with no energy that I cried in the shower, which was not too bad, after all no one could see it and the water washes all our tears away! You see the biggest frustration felt like a heart break, when will i feel like myself again? This has lasted so long! I did not want to ask my husband as I am oh so aware of all the things he does that I cannot on a daily basis, that I find myself doing all I can, through pain and fatigue to at least do something.

    I made it out of the door, my new shower practice is a jet of cold water at the end of the shower in the hopes it would reset my hormones, energy, emotions… Not sure I can credit it with much at this point but I feel some sort of difference.

    Anyway, I digressed, I was out of the door and made it to her school on the nick of time, grateful her class takes ages to come out and as i was waiting, keeping my head down to avoid the usual conversations – someone asked me how i was. As I answered – Not a good day today, I felt fatigued and think I might have overdone it today!

    Suddenly, there in the middle of the playground my tears started flooding! I am not one for public displays of emotion aside from hugs and laughter, I can be there for others – as a nurse, a hat i cannot switch off but i like to keep my deepest emotions to myself. So i felt a slight relief for crying but a bit humiliated by the display.

    Most days I am good at looking for the silver line, keeping the hope, looking at the bright side, but today it has been a lot harder!

    If this article resonates with your experience you read about my other articles like – https://unchainyourhealth.com/managing-lifes-interruptions-part-two and like my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/unchainyourhealth.

  • Peeling the Layers of Time – Time to Change

    Peeling the layers of time,

    No longer looking back,

    Looking forward to a time that is absent of lack.

    True Purpose!

    Peeling the layers of time,

    No longer feeling blue,

    As big changes loom, 

    I know I’ll find the moon.

    True Hope!

    Peeling the layers of time,

    No longer fearing pain,

    With a heart as high as the sun at noon,

    A butterfly bursts from its cocoon.

    True Healing!

    Peeling the layers of time,

    It’s time to look ahead

    Time to find the knack,

    Time to raise my head,

    Exhale and get back on track.

    (Peeling the layers of time by Catia Pontes-Kicks, March 2013)

    Am I ready to change?

    It’s all well and good to imagine what we want and where we want to be, but what does it take to take that first step?

    Information, more, less? Less may be more, as we can always learn as we go, but too much can just be confusing and paralysing on the same token!

    I know what my challenge is – to lose weight, I am willing to make changes by doing intermittent fasting, choosing the ingredients more closely, but overwhelmed by my goals in view of my current circumstances – pain, less movement than I’m used to and on a crazy hormonal trip. I truly do not know how long it will take for these changes to impact my body! 

     It is always hard when try to find a solution for ourselves and we always have the answers when it comes to someone else – So I best turn this around! What would I say to someone else in that situation?

    I would do my 4 Ms:

    I would start with working on mindset – creating that can do belief, show examples of people who have done it, as a constant reminder that all it takes is one step at a time.

    I would then ask them what their motivation to change is. Understanding their reasons will help to stay the course even when the initial fire had long gone.

    Movement – to move, to act we need to have clear goals, a direction! Is there a strategy on how to achieve those? Are they achievable and realistic? 

    Do they often take a moment to imagine how life will be once they achieve? How will they feel? How will this impact those around them? Those are all incredibly important steps we cannot afford to skip.

    So I will start to peel the layers of my time and get into the right Mindset, check my motivation, move in the right direction and take a moment to enjoy the journey!

    I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it! If you have not yet subscribed to my posts and or podcasts, feel free to do so.

    Please leave a comment with your thoughts. or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.


  • Progress is better than Perfection

    When the odds are stacked against me, I refuse to believe I have to give up on being fit and healthy. So how do I keep the focus? Progress is better than Perfection – I recently heard when I took up an online digital marketing course, in order to keep my sanity and avoid drifting into the sadness that walk in tangent with my circumstances.

    As the eldest child of educated parents the pressures to succeed and take on high level education were immense. So often we find ourselves doing things for the wrong reasons or simply doing things that are not right for us or even take on too much without knowing how we will get all done.

    In society we strive for perfection, the perfect timing, the perfect circumstances aligning before we can set off and do whatever we propose ourselves to do. Be it take on a business, starting a new career, starting healthy eating, among many.
    How many times have we told ourselves:

    • I will start a business when I learn A, B and C;
    • I will start a new career after I my circumstances change; or even
    • I will start healthy eating after i read up about this new diet on the news.

    In reality, business owners don’t learn before they have the business. They have the business then learn most through troubleshooting. Our circumstances wont change as if by magic, we have to actively and physically change them. We can read up on diets to our hearts’ contempt but there is so much conflicting information out there that if you are waiting for clarity to make changes, you may not make the changes you already know could help such as drinking more water, reducing or totally avoiding refined sugars, alcohol, increasing your activity levels if you know you are sedentary. Does this mean you stop seeking better advice and guidance? Definitely not! But remember, progress is better than perfection and like the slogan of one of our supermarkets – “every little helps” Please note I am not saying change your supermarkets and this article is not sponsored by or in any way making money from the supermarket in question.

    Why is progress better than perfection though?

    Firstly, it frees you from trying to have whatever done perfectly. Secondly, it removes the big procrastination monster and thirdly, it introduces in our minds that nothing is definite, we can come back to it later and improve it.

    As I write this I mind is going onto the book on my audible and my podcasting, which is currently on hold until I sort a few things. What about you, what is your mind highlighting for you to bring forth?

    I am looking forward to the satisfaction of accomplishing something on my long to do list!

    Happy checklisting!

    I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it! If you have not yet subscribed to my posts and or podcasts, feel free to do so.

    Please leave a comment with your thoughts. or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Bad choices that lead to healthy choices

    Epiphany moments can be amazing – we reassess our priorities, but can also be harrowing, we realise the mountains we have to climb and they often involve change.

    Through the years there have been many decisions and changes that were made for many reasons that in the end were meant to align with better health! Some did and many didn’t yet, as my 7 year old coined yesterday FAIL – in Fail all is learning. I have learnt more from the “failures” then from the achievements.

    I chose to chemically process my hair at the age of 15, not because i had what was perceived to be “bad afro hair”, on the contrary, it was classed as very good hair, too good for my darker complexion. When I looked around me, I did not see examples that I could emulate with fashionable natural hair styles. Most people either relaxed or had plaits with extensions and if you did not like the latter, the only thing left was to chemically straighten your hair.

    Many years later, my scalp became hypersensitive, would itch for 2 weeks after each chemical process. I had a little girl and realised she would not know my true hair and potentially associate straight hair with her future only option. A research came out and associated the top chemicals in the product with uterine fibroids, something that became an increasing problem as the years passed.

    Radical changes sometimes turn out to be positive changes

    So I cut off all my hair and started to grow my natural hair! At the time, i remember shocking those close to me, husband worrying whether that was a sign of a breakdown. It was not an emotional breakdown but it was a breakdown of the walls of fear in what the future would hold after embracing this change. Did I have doubts? Of course, I worried if I would still be attractive to myself, to husband, if my hair would be good enough, if I would do it justice, if I would be able to learn how to look after it within a busy lifestyle.

    Through the years, I often heard how cancer patients could not use deodorants and at times attempted my own hand at it. I ended up reverting back to the store bought often aluminium filled options. Until recently, I am questioning a lot, I don’t know what contributed to my cancer, whether even if I had done all 100% right (health-wise) I would still have had it. Whether my life would have not been so negatively impacted by my fibroid and P.C.O.S. (policystic ovarian syndrome) . So I made a decision to look into everything I can to reduce the amount of oestrogen stimulation I come into contact with from nutrition to cleaning products, cosmetics…

    What ha-ha moments have you had lately that are nudging you into action? 

    Is there one action, one simple action that may make a difference in your health?

    If you enjoyed this post please subscribe, alternatively you can access my podcasts on spotify and itunes or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.


  • The Rocky Road to Success

    As we start our challenges, set out to achieve a dream, a goal of aspiration, some will be for, some against and some will simply wait for us to fail!

    It happened when I set out to move to the UK in my late teens! I dreamt about it for a year, since the conversation with a cousin of mine that was already living here and loving it! I remember telling my parents that in a years time, once I finished my A-levels I would move to the UK. And I also remember their dismissive tone of voice since I had never been here on holidays and I was proposing to go it alone! Closer to the time they reluctantly gave me my one way flight ticket (I had fought tooth and nail for it not to be a return ticket). Closer to the time they even tried to bribe me with a car, but forgot they had not given me the driving lessons I had requested before, so it simply did not have the same pull!

    It happened again when I went to Uni to do my first degree! By that time I was paying my own way and relied on my part time, often full time job to sustain myself! To my surprise, on the first day of lectures came the warning – Those of you with jobs you have to let those go, you cannot do that along with this degree! I chuckled inwardly along with a couple of others that I later found were in the exact same situation. Maybe it was not as inwardly as I thought, since we were able to quickly relate to each other in that moment.

    The other time in my life when this was really noticeable was when my now husband and I became committed in a relationship. I had a couple of friends who coincidentally were not happy in their amourous circumstances and whenever we connected they would not hesitate in voicing a level of negativity that could be toxic to any new relationship. I believe that is was not intentional, nor personal in the measure they did not personally know him, however it left me with the decision of downsizing the friendships to those with added value in human relations and connections. You may see in a fair bit, when someone gets married, suddenly some of the friends resent the time you can no longer spend together and the things you no longer do!

    But these challenges had the power to move me forward! To prove the naysayers they were wrong about me! They helped me not give up after each and every roadblock, they helped me on my eighteen hours days, on my seven days weeks, on my lost sleep amongst others

    All this said, or written should I say, it is important to have a dream first and foremost! So dare to dream! If you are anything like me, I can be so used to the limit of possibilities I forget to dream!

    Secondly, tell yourself if all was possible, how would you break your dream down into goals? What goals could you identify? Which ones would be the priority, which ones could and should take longer?
    Thirdly, for each goal with a set deadline, what tasks can you pinpoint? When by?

    Suddenly the unattainable dream is not so unattainable.

    However, between the moment when we start to see all and what we need to do, until the time people see results there is a long string of rope! You may start to have comments like – weren’t you doing…? Wasn’t that supposed to be they one? When can we actually start to see results? Don’t you think it is too much? Don’t spread yourself thin!

    Some will have the best of intentions but some won’t! You see, people get comfortable with your failure, with your status quo because that way they won’t have to justify their own failures to themselves. No one wants to be the villain in their own story.

    So the solution? Surround yourself with like minded people, people striving just as you are, they will keep you accountable and urge you on when you feel you can’t! If nothing else they may inspire you along your path.

    The achievement is not only getting to the top of the mountain but how much better of a person we become from the rocky road!

    Be it reorganising the human relations around you to create your toxic free environment be it starting a new business, venture or career – yes, the road to success will be bumpy, rocky, challenging, but possible an incredibly satisfying once we achieve what we set out to.

    If you enjoyed this post please subscribe, alternatively you can access my podcasts on spotify and itunes or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Managing Life’s Interruptions Part Two

    (Strong emotions alert)

    I remember growing up hearing how cancer affects one in three people and somehow despite how tragic it sounded not let it touch me in the slightest. As an adult I became intrigued about it, curious and somehow thought I could study it and care for people with cancer. This was the first time Cancer became one of my life’s interruptions. How wrong was I! I thought that being a nurse would be coming in and saving the day! Then there I was on a cancer ward, on my final year of nursing only to find I could not save my patients. I learnt something I hold through my nursing career – that I can only support patients and relatives in their journeys without knowing what the outcome will be and at times seeing first hand how devastating it can all be.

    Fast forward many years after the decision of looking after a different segment of patients. This meant I would only have the occasional patient with the cancer diagnosis but it was when I realised there was a massive taboo where healthcare professionals will look after a patient through a whole episode of care without mentioning that small big aspect in their lives. It can be so hard to talk about it! And at the time I appreciated being able to sit down and really talk to my patients not being afraid of where they needed our conversation to steer towards.

    And I thought, that was it! Surely Cancer would not be closer than an estranged grandparent, or the occasional cases at work.

    Until the end of 2018, the year I married my life partner and had a big celebration in Portugal. The year we took our little one to Eurodisney on the day of her 6th birthday! The year I miraculously fell pregnant after 5 years of no contraception. There it was, the year of some many possibilities! During a very sick episode while pregnant abroad in a hospital not knowing if either baby or both of us would survive it reared its head – a “suspicious mass”. Still, in my mind, it must be a kidney stone or cyst, right? I had decided I was to get better and return to life back in the UK, with no interruptions other than those of a high risk pregnancy. But there it was just seven days before Christmas and the confirmation, it was cancer!

    There it was another of life’s interruptions! Dear Lord, but how!! How could I have my long awaited pregnancy, the one where I was not alone, the one where I would have someone who truly loved me to share the joys and not run out of the door after I chose the baby and not him! Surely not now, but older bubba had prayed for a sister for five years she had shared, since she was tiny. It was true because at the tender age of two and a half she would tell nursery staff mummy was pregnant! She was the only one sure it would be a girl, she was the only one right! Father God, not now! I promised when I was sick and the cancer was found I would no longer question, I would trust, I have to trust, but I can still cry! Cry on the car journey. Hubby had wanted to go with and to drive, as if he had had a whisper on his shoulder about being needed like many times before. Just in the car because our friend had kindly offered to have my child over while we went to the Drs. and I could not cry in front of my bubba. Then at home it became that thing we could not mention until adult hours.

    Coping with a high risk pregnancy and the challenges of asserting my rights at work, were strenuous enough. But coping with the possibility of life with cancer or even death, that was hard!

    I then remembered what I had asked a cancer nurse that had worked with patients for over thirty years during my time as a student – How could you do this, one patient after the next and the next? Seeing the devastation and still having your cup full for the next. She told me – we are here for what the patient needs us, if they want to talk we chat, if they want someone to sit in silent with them we do that. I then asked her, in all her years, does she ever have an idea of who may make it and who may not? She answered, there is no science behind it, but from experience those who surrender to the treatment and learn to go with the flow normally fare much better than the typical type A personality that struggles to surrender any control over something that definitely cannot be controlled.

    So I made a decision, one step at a time! I was fortunate, because I was able to wait for my baby to get to full term (to the day). I was given eight weeks to recover from birth before having to go back in to have major surgery and have my kidney removed. There was little time to think. Only closer to the date, I started worrying, panicking about being there for my eldest 7th birthday! How I would do her afrocurly waist length hair! Would I even survive? All the horror stories of patients not making it through anaesthetics kept flooding my mind! Would my tiny baby miss me? We had already been robbed of our breastfeeding experience because of the stress of the whole situation. Would she need me to fall asleep? She was about to turn two months old! I won’t even be able to pick her up when I am back! Not to mention the whole body image insecurities! With all the craziness and lack of family support, my hubby was my stronghold, after God that is, as I remembered Him comforting me in my dreams, even place sisters in prayer on my path praying rooting and cooking for me.

    Recovering from the pregnancy issues, the operation, the impact of the three little big words – you have cancer, resonating in my being far longer than the cancer itself (because I was one of the lucky ones). Grieving the loss of health, the struggle to do what before I never had to even think about… It is a daily battle! One I fully intend to keep fighting with all my strength.

    Things happen for a reason! God has a plan that includes all our planned and interrupted changes.

    If you enjoyed this post please subscribe, alternatively you can access my podcasts on spotify and itunes or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Managing Life’s interruptions

    Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to take a step forward, make lemonade with the lemons.

    The serenity prayer comes to mind – written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). The best-known form is: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

    In life we often have interruptions to our plans.

    Be it on a personal level – During my very limiting high risk pregnancy I became septic, severely ill while abroad and was hospitalised for eight days and in December 2018, interrupted my honeymoon and the happily ever after prospects. However that was the furthest thing on my mind. At that moment I switched to the mode – How can we make it through this, one day at a time.

    Be it on a professional level – a business you are setting up and the breaking of a cooperation before the business takes off due to a fundamental lack of trust. The shock is inevitable, but once that subsides let’s look at the positives. The opportunities for two become opportunities for one. If someone feels threatened by what you do at a time you feel unsure, they trust your capabilities more than you do yourself. If they don’t trust you at the start they won’t trust you further down the line, this way we separate before we generate!

    Or an antagonising, professional growth averse boss that when presented with a change fails to be supportive and decides to continue to be obstructive until you have no other choice than branching out and changing the course in your professional career. Needless to say that what I found after was simply amazing, supportive manager and colleagues in a place i enjoy working in.

    Spiritually in delayed answers to prayers! Often we pray for what we think we want but if we truly had what we thought we wanted, would that be the best for us? Would we still want it once we had it? Sometimes delayed answers to our prayers give us time to mature our plans.

    There is a Chinese proverb – When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” whichever way you look at it, something new must happen, be it to embrace the change or to block it.

    Either way there is planning involved. So it is futile attempting to adapt to change without it.

    So tips on adapting to change include:

    Becoming a problem solver and remembering that it starts with your attitude. Keep a positive can do attitude. Remember that those that succeed is not because they have not failed but because they never gave up.

    Seeing them as opportunities and not as obstacles. Use the changing force as a drive and not as a block.Once you do, you would be surprised at the energy change within you.

    Planing your way out of it, check others that might have done it before you, research, research, research.

    Keeping an open mind as the solution may come to you from an unlikely source, when you least expect it.

    Why is this important in health?

    If you are anything like me, I used to stress about problems or bury them in the sand, begrudge change. This would leave me anxious, irritable, less focused. Now I welcome the new challenges, new opportunities and trust that everything happens for a reason.

    I found that changing mindsets has been very useful, if not the most important thing in my journey towards health. Focusing on the task at hand to be able to stay the course.

    Things happen for a reason! God has a plan that includes all our planned and interrupted changes.

    If you enjoyed this post please subscribe, alternatively you can access my podcasts on spotify and itunes or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Managing Emotions Part 2

    I was married before, to cut a very long story short – we were not suited for each other and the relationship became very toxic. During that time I had experienced a myriad of emotions from disappointment, sadness, regret, heart break. Soon i had to make a decision which i believe would be best to get out – at the time i felt like I could not breathe and was drowning.

    We often find ourselves in situations that totally overwhelm us, like a job we hate, toxic relationships – amorous or otherwise. It is really important to identify the toxic arenas in our lives and ask yourselves, do I need it, do I want it, must i keep it – if you answer No to 2 or even 1 of those, then you need to review more closely how important it is to you, can you change it somewhat and give yourself a future date to reassess the changes made.

    Other emotions such as feeling inherently unloved, or insufficient if they stem from childhood from before we knew how to vocalise, they will require a much deeper support to uproot, such as counselling or psychology. If they belong to a time when you could understand you can often affirm yourself out of them once you first acknowledge them and later understand them. Those often tend to be a disconnect between the way we view ourselves, the way others view us and the way we perceive they view us.

    In the case Heartbreak, disappointment or disillusion (sadness) – give yourself permission to resort to comfort (food, favourite places, people, within reason).
    Remember that God works in mysterious ways and even when you don’t see the point or reason does not mean there is not one. For me my heart broke when i was pregnant and had to be hospitalised while abroad with risk to both mine and baby’s life, however what I never knew then this would lead to my incidental diagnosis of cancer – caught at the perfect time.

    Take time for yourself, pray and meditate.

    For this year my wish for you is that you are aware of your emotions, can work with them and not in spite of them to achieve a happier self.

    I hope you enjoy my nuggets of health. If you have not yet subscribed to my posts and or podcasts, feel free to do so.

    Please leave a comment with your thoughts. or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Managing your Emotions

    Chose this topic because it is something that we all have to do and also something that is increasingly becoming more difficult.

    I thought about this topic when I remembered an advert I watched years ago – A mum took a child to the supermarket, the child wanted something as they do and as mum said no, the child was ready to through a tantrum. However, the twist is mum ended up throwing the biggest ever tantrum instead and the child was stunned into submission. And they carried on on their merry way!

    When it happens with children we know it is part of their development, but
    what about the rest of us? Can you manage your emotions? How often do you feel like you lost control somewhat – be it failed to impose limits and said yes when you were wanted to say no or where you felt frustration or even anger for having an outcome completely unexpected or contrary to your expectations?

    For some of us frustrations tend to be from difficulties in setting boundaries for others unmet expectations. Whichever group you fall under, one thing we have to realise that coupled with the stress we tend to have in our daily lives, means we have increasingly less coping mechanisms therefore we might react in a way that is more affected than when our coping mechanisms are at full capacity.

    Try to stay calm in stressing situations, remove yourself from the situation if you can, if not take a few deep breaths because all you can ever try to do in any situation is to stay true to yourself.

    Don’t regret past decisions because they were the best you could have chosen with the information you had at the time.

    Describe situations that are charged with frustration with less negative words, like instead of saying in a road situation – that stupid person, who do they think they are! Using something like such a silly Billy or silly Sally or other comical descriptions you could find! I know this evokes some laughter from those in the car and suddenly the situation does not seem as aggravating as moments before.

    In situations that can escalate into heated arguments try to practice active listening – listen to the words, emotions, body language, the other person carries across without thinking of the points to retort their arguments with.

    Remember to validate their feelings because whether or not you agree with them does not give you the right to refute them.

    Consider whether at times you need to be right, even if you are, specially if you have differing opinions and neither of you are prepared to change them

    Another way to help you manage your emotions is to eat well …..
    and sleep well to fill your coping mechanisms tank.

    Do activities you enjoy like dancing, cookery, baking, travelling, even short weekends for a change of scenery.

    Spend time with loved ones.

    A normal part of having children is not only the wonder of the experience but also comes with munchkins versed on the art of pulling buttons and at that time I try to remember – It is not personal, children need to explore their boundaries to feel secure loved and find their place in the world.

    Don’t repress your emotions find a healthy outlet, like walking briskly, running, or doing any cardio like exercises.

    If you can find it within you to protect your mind and specially interpret your emotions as a sign of something to be addressed skilfully and not dismissed you will find it easier to promote your well being.

    If you enjoyed this podcast please subscribe, alternatively you can access my posts on www.unchainyourhealth.com or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Singular Cuisine – How to enjoy your time in the kitchen

    Those who know me, know that I have been cooking from the age of twelve at the time for my brother and I. But after the move to the UK at the age of nineteen, I found myself cooking for one. While many of my friends did not know how to, for me that was not an issue, however, I found cooking for one was a very solitary experience and this is why it is so important for me to turn it around.

    Anyone that has done it knows how easy it is to just grab a bite of something, anything and not making sit down meals. Takeaways and meals out become our go to norm. For a period of time i is fine, but in the long run we don’t really have as much control over what we are feeding our bodies with. It becomes even more important in this day and age when we have so many pressures on our time and with the benefits of eating mindfully and making healthier choices, a seat down meal may just be what the Dr. ordered.

    There are a vast array of meals for one in supermarkets and although we all have our favourites, many a times I was left feeling cheated because my experiences of them did not meet my expectations or simply because they changed the recipe for something that to me was simply perfect.

    The only way to avoid this is to cook! Be mindful of the fact that if you are doing it for the first time, it will take you sometime to get there, but there is no other way than to do it, do it, do it until you make it!

    You can subscribe to plans that deliver meals to your door, but you won’t get the same satisfaction that you would have from doing it yourself. And remember – Done is better than perfect.

    For me this became even more important and a sort of coping mechanism, while I was on rotation to an ICU (Intensive care Unit), I loved doing so, but the amount of emotions it stirred up were by no means a small feat. Dealing with life and death on a daily basis as well as a super high pressured task driven job, meant I would often get home, take a shower and retreat to the kitchen to depressurise before I could then chat to my husband.

    An easy way to ease yourself into it and make it work is, plan your meals, have a shopping list for your plan. Include in your plans meals that are tasty and nutritious because that will enhance your sense of accomplishment, that buzz we get for achieving something that had been a challenge, or simply the feeling of doing something that feels right. With that said, of course you can treat yourself with desserts but be mindful that the sugar content is not healthy option to have all the time. Also there is nothing more frustrating than having to think at the time what to cook, decide and check the fridge only to find we are out of the main ingredients for it – something that can easily happen when you have a busy job/career and /or responsibilities.

    You can challenge yourself and make a round the world type of meal plan, where each time you choose a meal from a country you either find interesting, you have travelled to or even a country you know nothing about but would like to explore more.

    Invest in cookbooks that spark both your curiosity and your taste buds.

    Make sure you have your favourite spices and condiments to hand along with fresh herbs like parsley, coriander, basil and others because they are capable of turning anything as simple as eggs into something simply fantastic. If this is all new to you, maybe try farmers markets where the items are on display and you can pick them up to smell them, that will create an awareness where you can think – ooh, i can use this with that, or with something else. Besides there is a lot to be said about the power of spices and herbs in our health.

    Cook with a digital friend in the background or a physical friend at a distance.
    By this I mean, listen to your favourite songs, podcasts, create a playlist for cooking or call a friend and have a chat while you are cooking, as long as that friend is not too much of a distraction, because if you are anything like me, this is when something can turn up less well.

    Or simply, make a point of enjoying your own company. Use it as an opportunity to take a moment, destress from the day and just give your all into the cooking.

    Today, I love cooking, trying new things, and really really love my time doing it and will definitely go back to doing a lot more of it once the puzzles of my health are pieced together. Try it and let me know what you think, if you have any questions or tips. Later in 2020 i will release a recipe book for those who would like to take on this challenge. It will be an amazing and very pleasurable experience.

    Set the table as if you were inviting someone special, remember you are that someone special – We don’t celebrate ourselves enough.

    Switch off all distractions, having said that the occasional TV dinner is good for your feel good factor just not as much for our mindful eating. And tuck in.

    Whichever way you do it, have fun!

    If you enjoyed this post please subscribe, alternatively you can access my podcasts on spotify and itunes or on Facebook.

    Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or simply with any requests of topics you would like to see covered.

  • Rise of the vegetables
    Rise of the vegetables

    As a child I had never tried celery, so when I came to the UK and tried it…lets just say I really really really disliked it. For me it is up there with marmite, which I dare say I hate. Now guess what, here celery is used in cottage pie, soups, salads, chilli con carne. As a University student on a budget, often eating at the canteen, you can imagine, it reduced my choices a bit, maybe a big bit.

    Having said that, have you seen the health benefits of my arch nemesis?
    Needless to say I committed myself to eating it and with a few tricks I can now even eat it raw with a dip.

    Many people struggle with eating fruits and vegetables and often they started making food exclusions as a child. Either by completely refusing to eat them or by eating them against their will.

    However, eating fruits and vegetables does not have to be overbearing!

    How about trying something new everyday, or even every week? You may be surprised that often our anticipation of dread may turn up to be a pleasant surprise.

    How about adding veggies to your diet in a way you barely notice them until you get the taste for it?

    Juicing as you may be aware is quite fashionable, you get to add your dreaded vegetables with your favourite fruits and drink it even if you need to pinch your nose! Joking!

    You will be glad to know there many other ways to add the fruits and vegetables so you can experience them without the displeasure of the taste. Many of the tricks have been around for ages! I am in the process of compiling those tricks and hacks in a recipe book I will release for free later in 2020.

    So if you have not yet subscribed to my posts and or podcasts, feel free to do so so I can keep you updated.

    Please leave a comment if you have a particular topic you would like to see covered.

  • A little knowledge and blinding ambition can be dangerous

    As a teenager with no clue on how to lose weight except put less in and burn more meant I would not eat enough calories, and exercised with abandon. I felt like I was on top of the world, unstoppable, a feeling commonly known to teenagers.

    Soon, for the first time in my life I was losing weight. I started to feel hopeful, I could soon be accepted, people were congratulating me on the changes. Until one day…. I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and what I was willing to give up to get to a weight I could be happy with because staying the course would spell disaster.

    It wasn’t until years later, after I moved from Portugal to the UK, had been exposed to a lot that I realised that weight loss only works if we put health first.

    Today, health means making affective choices – eating discerningly, sleeping well, optimised movement, removing toxicity from our lives and managing any health conditions efficiently.

    Sounds simple right?

    Forget scales stalking, calorie counting, exercising till you drop, paying for meal plans and shakes that will lead you nowhere.

    Do it the right way!

    I am currently working on a giveaway book that will start the series.

    Tune in to my podcast – https://anchor.fm/CatiaP-K/episodes/A-little-knowledge-and-blinding-ambition-can-be-dangerous-e9rjua or sign up to receive my posts as I will tell you these and so much more.

  • Catia’s Story
    Catia's Story
    Catia Pontes-Kicks is candid about her story

    Catia’s story

    Name: Catia

    Nickname: Katee (family)

    Married with 2 children

    Profession: Healthcare professional, Entrepreneur, Coach/mentor, Marketer.

    Been there done that: abusive relationship, divorce, single mum, cancer.

    Catia has struggled with weight her whole life. First for the lack of knowledge and guidance and later for the lack of belief. As a child, she was often home alone in charge of chores like cooking the meals for herself and her brother. And children will cook what children want to eat! Hardly the healthiest choices, as you can imagine. As a result Catia grew up overweight, insecure, feeling unworthy and not beautiful. Looking out of the window peering into what ifs, she longed taking part in the normal teenage benchmarks that were passing her by.

    Fast forward many years and there she was, mother of a 6 year old, pregnant – with a baby that had a one in seven chance of having trisomy 21.

    During Catia’s very limiting high risk pregnancy she became septic, severely ill while abroad and was hospitalised for 8 days and in Dec 2018, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

    Catia’s world shattered into a thousand and one pieces. She had questions like would her baby make it, would she be around the following Christmas and others. Catia worried about piecing herself together in time to show her very emotionally intelligent six year old and her husband how strong she was and that she was going to get through that.

    “Thank God for my crazy journey! Being so close to losing my life made me realise I want to regain my health, conquer my fitness, for myself and for my loved ones. I want to lead by example. “


    Now, she have a healthy baby girl, had her kidney removed, and still has health issues that need addressing and limit her activities.

    But with all odds stacked against her, she refuses to believe she has to give up on being fit and healthy.
    Catia now has the knowledge and an unwavering belief in her abilities. So, as she get amazing results she will share my secrets with you.

    “In my journey I will shed 35kg/ 77lbs. I will start doing some physical activity, starting with walking and increasing as my pain allows it. I will address my fatigue head on. All these while pursuing my interests and continuing to nurture and be nurtured by my loved ones.”

    Please have a read of the blog posts like – https://unchainyourhealth.com/managing-lifes-interruptions-part-two  or NHS – Hate it not 100%! Love me not 100%!. Find me on http://www.facebook.com/unchainyourhealth/

    where Catia opens her heart, and tells of her journeys through a variety of things included the dreaded big C.

    You will also find a community on Facebook – Unchain your Health

  • Hello world!

    Hello World – Are you healthy? Can you lose weight the right way? Do you know how to supercharge and optimise your body?

    There is a lot I would like to share with you! Lets start with my story, click underneath to learn more about me.

    Please leave a comment if you have a particular topic you would like to see covered.