Gluten Free • Paleo • Sugar Free • Dairy Free
Gluten Free • Paleo • Sugar Free • Dairy Free
If you’re a long time reader of Mummy Made.It you’ll know that I don’t often hand the reigns over to anyone else (yes, I am a control freak) but this week I’m making an exception. I wanted to share with you the very special story of an amazing woman and mum named Lisa, or Little Lisa I used to know her (I was big Lisa – don’t worry it’s not an insult; little Lisa is tiny). 18 months ago Lisa was given the most devastating news, and I recently asked her if I could share her story with you. You’ll understand why when you read it. You can also watch Lisa tell her story as part of ‘Just One Breath’, an initiative of the Lung Foundation of Australia.
My name is Lisa Briggs and I’m 34 years of age, wife to my amazing husband Kirk, and mother of 2 beautiful children, 4 1/2 year old Jasmine & 22 month old Alastair. On the 28th November 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. Having always led an active lifestyle, never smoked a cigarette in my life and being an Allied Health Care Professional (Osteopath & Exercise Physiologist) and business owner, the diagnosis definitely came as a massive shock. In fact, the day I was diagnosed was the day the disease nearly claimed my life.
It all started when I was pregnant with my 2nd child Alastair & had difficulties breathing. Initially, I was prescribed asthma inhalers, but after providing me with minimal relief, at 38 weeks gestation I was sent for an x-ray. The results were all clear, and I was told there was a simple solution; Once I have the baby my symptoms would disappear. The initial period after giving birth was tough as I was trying to juggle an unsettled newborn, a toddler craving attention as well as continuing to manage and direct my sports medicine business. As a result, I often blamed my fatigue and difficulty breathing on the hectic lifestyle. However as my symptoms continued, four months later, things quickly became a lot more complex than that ‘simple solution’ provided by my doctor and it turned rather ugly. I coughed up blood for 3 days continuously and was misdiagnosed in hospital for having bronchitis. A CT scan (promptly requested by my GP) followed by a bronchoscopy, finally confirmed the real reason for my symptoms. A tumour in my right lung which was wrapped around and strangling my pulmonary artery (the main artery that exits your heart and supplies your lungs). By this stage, I needed emergency surgery (embolisation) to stop the bleeding in my lungs caused by the tumour, but I was told there was no guarantee this would be successful. Thankfully it was and before I knew it I was out in recovery surrounded by my family and friends. Whilst I was lucky to have survived, further tests and examination in hospital soon after revealed it had already spread to 8 different locations in my body, and it was then I was told there was no cure.
Initially I felt numb, then the panic set in. I was scared for Kirk & my kids. It was devastating news! My son was still a baby at only 4 months old & relied so heavily on his mum. He was forced to stop breastfeeding immediately once I was admitted into hospital and my contact with him was minimal for a two week period; his security blanket was completely ripped away. Jasmine who was 3 years old was at such an important age of development both mentally and emotionally. I was the one she looked up to, yet I was physically vulnerable. All I kept thinking was that they were going to grow up without a mum and that I would miss all the important milestones most mothers want to see. I asked myself questions like “How will they cope?” “How is Kirk suppose to be a mum and a dad to these kids and work full time?” “Will they even remember who I am?” Naturally, I wanted to work out a plan to help solve the problems I had created in my mind. Once I realised this was counterproductive and decided to use these fears as motivation to live so that this would never actually happen to them, my whole perspective changed, and I pulled through and survived beating the odds that were stacked against me.
On 5th January. 2015 I started on a clinical trial with the targeted therapy Ceritinib/LDK 378. In the 1st 6wks all my tumours reduced by greater than 50%. In 3 months I had an all clear PET scan, indicating there was no active cancer in my body. The cancer in my bones had healed, lymph nodes returned to normal size and blood was flowing back through my pulmonary artery again. Whilst I’ve made a personal decision to sell my business and focus on my health, I am now able to spend more quality time with my family and friends, go away on holidays with them and live a relatively normal life. I’ve toned down my exercise intensity, trading in the running, weights and netball for regular yoga, walking and meditation sessions. I see a Chinese medicine practitioner for acupuncture every 3 weeks, and eat a well balanced diet. For the first 6 months after being diagnosed, I saw a cranial Osteopath and took up a powerful program with NLP practitioner Jeffrey Hodges, which involved some hypnosis, deep relaxation with specific visualisation sessions, and a mental training program which involved changing beliefs and working towards more positive thinking. I heavily attribute those NLP sessions in combination with my targeted therapy, change in diet and cranial therapy for the miraculous outcome. As a result I have since co-written a book called ‘Conquering Cancer. Develop your WILL to Live’ with Jeffrey, which consolidates the mental training program we did together. (NB: you can get Lisa’s book here)
Being given a second chance in life can be viewed in so many different ways, particularly when you are still battling a potentially life threatening disease, however implementing a positive outlook is so important. You can never underestimate the power of the mind and how it influences your body and bodily functions. Is it not in fact your brain/nervous system that tells your body what to do? As a result the way you think definitely influences the way you feel, so for me re-wiring my brain by changing my brain association with through my thinking patters and developing mental toughness through working with Jeffrey made a huge difference towards how I now live my life.
Finding having a source of motivation or a will to live has also been a huge part of my success. Knowing that I’ll be around longer to watch my children grow and develop is so important for me, so I now only focus on the things that mean the most such as: seeing my children go to high school, graduate, get their first jobs and picturing myself one day even being a grandmother. For me, giving up is not an option and I now live my life through the eyes of my daughter who has really put my life in perspective for me when she runs into my room in the morning saying “Mum, mum the sun’s up”. That’s right, the sun is up, Im alive. I’m here to live my life to the fullest, I hope you are too!
I promised Lisa that I would create a delicious dessert in her honour. She told me that her new favourite foods were sweet potato (must be something in the name!), spinach and raspberries. She also loves dessert so I have made this Triple Chocolate Sweet Potato Mousse Pie to celebrate her brave and inspirational story.
Not only is this Triple Chocolate Sweet Potato Mousse Pie extraordinarily good to eat, it’s also made with two vegetables and uses only the blender/food processor. It’s very easy to make and will take no time at all. The hardest part is waiting for the layers to set; but you could quicken this up by using the freezer if you are super impatient and hangry.
I have adapted my Chocolate Pie Crust to be Nut Free to make a firm, crunchy base. The base is filled with Chocolate Mousse made from… Sweet Potato! The Mousse is adapted from my Chocolate Sweet Potato Ice Cream recipe and I swear you cannot taste the sweet potato or the spinach. Even the biggest sceptics will be going back for seconds, maybe even thirds once you tell them it could double as dinner! On top of the mousse is a layer of stabilised Chocolate cream and just for added chocolateness I’ve added some chocolate chips (which technically makes it Quadruple Chocolate but who’s counting?!). It is definitely a guilt-less dessert!
Thank you for letting me share Lisa’s story with you. Make sure you watch the video as well; I teared up right at the end when they ask her what she misses. I’m sure you will too.