Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why blog?

My brother from another mother told me, "You need to write more!"

He is right.  In the past I didn't really write - I chose to pick up a pen, paint brush or piece of charcoal and create some art instead.  However I have been pleasantly surprised that I enjoy writing and I should do more.
Do more of what makes you happy, right?! :)

It also got me thinking, why did I start this blog?

I started writing and blogging for a few reasons, but mainly because:

1) I was so happy to have found other blogs by people who had been through the same thing as I was going through.  Reading their story, how they coped and being able to actually get in touch with them was a huge support to me so I decided to share my story in case it could help someone else.

2) I wanted to write down every small detail and thought as it happened, as I knew that in a year or decade from now the memory would stay but the details may fade.

3) Writing became my therapy.  Some people take up painting, music or any other creative outlet when they are diagnosed with a disease.  I took up writing.  This blog became a place where I could write and say all the things that I may not have actually said to friends or family.  Looking back, I don't think I would have told many about "How Mario was going to Save Me" or 'Repressed Emotions' but my blog became a safe haven where I could write my feelings and parts of the story freely.  It was a place that welcomed my honesty with open arms, gave me the time to speak, never asked anything in return and never judged me.

4) Since most people follow their friends and families lives so easily and efficiently via social media (mainly facebook) I thought writing a blog would be a good way to share all the details of my story, my thoughts and "where my head was at" since I no longer had facebook.  Rather than go into the nitty gritty details personally I thought this would be a good place for friends, family or anyone searching for more info to read more if they wanted to.  Not everyone wants to know the full story so this way they could choose.

Over the past few weeks of my recovery writing has taken a bit of a back seat whilst I built a healthy relationship with clean eating and in turn finding my "happy place" with food.  (It feels great to make guilt free nutrition decisions,  I cannot recommend it enough.)

"I check your blog every day" Bro said, and this means a lot to me - that someone has taken the time to read my blog.   So the least I can do is honor his request.  I will continue to write more (plus post healthy eating recipes) :)

Thank you Bro for your honesty.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gluten Free Pizza's

Pizza's are well loved in our household, a year ago we should have been sponsored by New York Pizza.

As a treat I wanted to make gluten free pizza's with Curious Kid.  He loved deciding on what he would have (salami and cheese), getting all the ingredients and creating it.

So simple!

Total time: 25 mins (10 mins prep and 15 mins in the oven)
We used gluten free pizza bases and added our own homemade tomato sauce:
- 6 tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- Oregano
- Basil 
- Pepper corns 
Chuck it in the processor and done
Then add your own toppings

15 mins later - a very yummy (and healthier) pizza :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Aubergine and Mushroom Quinoa

Quinoa, gluten free and packed full of protein & goodness. One of my fav food stuffs right now. You can do so many things with it - add to salads, have as a healthy breakfast instead of oats, use in main dishes... The list is endless.

Cooking is creativity to me and I like to try new dishes and come up with new flavor combinations. Today that new thing was an Aubergine and Mushroom quinoa dish. I was pretty happy with the result if I do say so myself and went back for thirds #phatty

Total time: 30 mins (10 mins prep - cutting everythining) and 20 mins cooking.

1 big spoon of coconut oil
1 onion (roughly chopped)
4 garlic cloves (put through the garlic press)
Half lemon (squeezed juice) 
Ginger (about 2 tablespoon fulls finely chopped) I'm a little addicted to ginger so I added quite a lot
8 mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 big Aubergine (cut into big chunks) 
1 tomato (roughly chopped after peeling.)  You can easily remove the skin by putting the tomato in just boiled water, leave for a few mins and then peel it off
3 sprigs of rosemary
Half a handful of thyme 
10 basil leaves (roughly chopped)
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste 

Add all the veggies to a big pan and bring to the boil.
Add half a cup of water and leave to simmer for 20 mins
In the meantime rinse 150g quinoa and then let it boil for 10 mins.   Drain any remaining water and add the quinoa to the big pan of veggies (the quinoa will soak up the left over tasty juices). 

Serve and sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top.

Ta da, done! :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Creamy Mushroom and Avocado Spaghetti

Today's mission - how to make a creamy spaghetti without dairy products and eggs.  Mission succeeded in the form of a mushroom and avocado spaghetti.

Total cooking time - 15 mins (5 mins prep and 10 mins cooking).

Half lemon (squeezed juice)
3 garlic cloves (I recommend 4 actually.  Put through the garlic press)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
8 mushrooms (roughly sliced)
1 avocado 
100g gluten free spaghetti
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to the boil and add the spaghetti and mushrooms. Boil for 10 mins.
In the meantime put all the other ingredients into a blender / food processor until creamy.
Once the spaghetti and mushrooms are cooked - drain the water, put back on the stove and add the creamy avocado sauce.  Stir and mix in for a couple of minutes, until all the spaghetti is covered.
(The heat from the spaghetti and mushrooms will warm up the creamy sauce).


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So, I had kidney cancer

Cancer. A word that scared the living daylights out of me, since as far back as I remember.  The worst thing that could ever happen to you or anybody, I thought.  Well, it happened to me.  Pushing organs around so it could grow over the course of days, weeks, months, years.  A cell that went rogue for whatever reason (my educated guess so far - from various toxins), taking over my fully functioning healthy kidney.  

Since the diagnosis last month I was perfectly accepting and at peace with any outcome, apart from death. Death was not an option.  But if it was cancer, then so be it.  

For those interested to know the stats, here are the results broken down:
  • Kidney Cancer - Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma (ChRCC) to be exact
  • Furhman grade 3 (it was big!)
  • Size: 13 x 11 cm right kidney mass
  • Weight: approx. 760 grams (a normal kidney weighs around 150g)

The good news: it was limited to the kidney so there is no spread. The lymph nodes and blood vessels are clear.

No further treatment apart from taking the time to recover and heal fully.  The surgical procedure was not called a "radical" nephrectomy for nothing.

My life was saved by a very talented Surgeon and his sidekick, the robot.

There is always a chance cancer comes back but in this case it is quite small.   They will be keeping a watchful eye on me with a CT Scan in 3 months, then every 6 months after for a couple of years, then probably once every year after that.  

I guess you could say my life now has 2 era's: BC (Before Cancer) and AC (After Cancer).  I can see, read, hear and utter the word cancer and it doesn't frighten me.  It really doesn't.  Cancer can be villainous and it has sadly taken far too many people, but I'll be damned if I cave to the word itself.

I can't change the fact that I have had cancer.  Strangely enough I wouldn't want to (I strongly believe everything happens for a reason).  What I can change is how I live the rest of my life - making good choices to stay as healthy, happy and helpful as possible whilst cutting out toxins (be it in food, cleaning products, emotions etc.)
No worries, no stress.
Life is precious, and brief.  Don't forget that.

The cancer journey is an interesting one.  I am grateful to have made a few new friends along the way.  Two of them being 2 awesome guys (who I came across when googling terms such as "are you kidneying me" and "da vinci robot scars").  They went through the same thing - no real symptoms unil BAM kidney cancer at a young age.  One thing we have talked about is the experience and emotions you go through, it is difficult to explain however we knew what each other had been through - the thoughts, the realisation that we are indeed mortal. We won't live forever and yet we all faced it head on with a 'Gung-ho' attitude.

I can imagine for some people going through cancer can be a lonely journey.  Family and friends want to do the best for you, but they are having to deal with their own emotions too.  You don't need to go it alone and if I can be of any help or support to anyone I'm just an email or tweet away.  Please do not hesitate to contact me, I truly mean that :)

I aim to use this blog as a place to try and help others who are interested in healthy living:  healthy eating (be it whether you are going down the no gluten, no meat, no sugar, no diary, no eggs, no processed foods road or not), healthy mind (body and mind go hand in hand) and healthy beauty (natural cosmetics) as well as sprinkle a bit of humor along the way thanks to conversations with a 4 year old and top that off with some stories here and there.

Cheers to the healthy, happy, humorous and helpful life, cancer-free!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Twitter Rocks

6 months ago I said goodbye to facebook and Instagram (...+ some other social media channels). I had been thinking about pressing that big DELETE button a few months previous and finally took the plunge.  The only 2 that remained was Pinterest & Twitter.

Social media - it changed the world, it really did. Communicating with friends, family and acquaintances changed. Meeting, reaching and speaking with new people changed.  You could meet and communicate with people all over the globe in real time via various channels, be it in 140 characters or less, Skype, Instant Message, facebook, photo sharing apps, whatever.  I met some amazing people who I now consider very close friends via social media and for that I will forever be thankful.  It really does connect people. Everyone is easily reachable, even celebrities.

I initially started using Twitter for business, following marketing and social media enthusiasts. I loved the 'sharing' element where they would post a link to a great article they had just read or written. I learned a lot. There is a whole load of info on the Internet and there is a whole load of trash on the Internet but I felt that getting referred to a blog post from someone I respected was the best way to gain knowledge.

Over the last years I used Twitter less and less - I guess my obsession with facebook and Instagram took over, but I have to say that in these last few months I have a new found love and respect for Twitter.

It was difficult for me to say why, until I saw a RT (retweet) from a friend (thx @Kalisvaart):

'Twitter is about learning, educating, inspiring, spreading kindness and genuinely engaging with like-minded people.' 

(Original tweet by @D2DLondon)

In a nutshell this is why I love Twitter, for those precise reasons.  It is a great place to learn, meet new people who have the same interests as yourself, inspire and be inspired.  Like I said - as stated above :)

One thing I have learned is that your Twitter experience is only as good as those you follow.  So make sure you follow some rad people :)  Oh, and don't forget the #hashtags!  You can find some interesting people through hashtags.

What are your thoughts?  Do you like Twitter?

If you tweet, want to be friends?  You can find me here: @lisannevos

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Gluten free bread
Homemade hummus
Cayenne pepper

Cherry tomatoes
Apple cider vinegar


Monday, September 2, 2013

The healing powers of music

Pain.  Something we all have to go through at some point - from childhood scrapes and bruises to dental work to broken bones and everything in between.

Before surgery I accepted there would be pain, I also happily accepted the epidural the anesthesiologist offered me.  Why suffer?!

When I woke up after surgery I was in a pleasant state of comfortably numb. I couldn't really move, my legs were 'sleeping' (the epidural saw to that), but at least I could move my head and arms without too much pain.

The first night after surgery I was on a little fuzzy cloud.  Sleeping on and off for 20 mins at a time with little pain.  That all changed the day after surgery when the nurses had to get me into a sitting position on the bed - nothing could have prepared me for what happened inside me.  Everything moved, everything hurt - real bad!  Pain.  I knew a robot had just been in there, guddled about, cut through muscles, nerves and tissue, and let's not forget it actually cut out a vital organ (with a huge mass attached) and some other bodily parts, so yes my body had gone through a trauma.

After the nurses laid me back down I vowed I would not move again... ever.

Luckily, the human body (and mind) is an amazing device.  The first week after surgery was horrendous - stabbing pains every time you would move position or do anything.  I walked like a hunchback and wondered if I would ever be able to stand straight and walk for any distance again.

Since the surgery I had taken painkillers (prescribed, over the counter and injected) to ease the pain but to be honest none of them really helped, the pain was still there.  One thing that did help me though was music

In the weeks leading up to the operation I had read a few articles on the healing powers of music - for pain, anxiety, depression and sickness.  So off I went to fill up my iPhone with loads of new, old and most loved albums.

In my hospital bed I was so thankful and grateful to have had my headphones and music, especially during the dark and silent nights when it was difficult to sleep.   It was the only thing that sent me to sleep and made the pain bearable.

So, dear music - thank you!

Thank you for soothing me to sleep, helping me deal with the pain and for taking my mind off being in hospital and all the craziness that was happening.  I really believe music has been a positive factor in my recovery.  More music - less stress.

An album that deserves a special mention and a whole load of gratitude from me is
Rudimental - Home.  This album means the world to me.  In the midst of pain and long dark nights it was there for me; providing dreamy songs, uplifting lyrics and breakbeats that made my soul soar.  It marks a journey that was unexpected but one that I can look back on with a happy heart and a fearless mentality.

For anyone about to embark on a hospital stay my best piece of advice is pack your headphones, iPhone / iPod charger and fill your device with loads of music.  Because music is probably the best medicine you can have ;)

Below are some cool articles on the healing powers of music:

How to use music to reduce pain

Music therapy for pain relief

More music, less pain

Why listening to music is the key to good health