Facing the Worst

I have this lump in my breast. I’ve been trying to ignore it for a while, hoping it will go away. I looked up breast lumps on the internet and found that the vast majority of these lumps are benign. I’m sure that is the case with mine. And as I said, no-one in my family gets cancer. Arthritis, yes, and the odd bit of dementia, but not cancer. I’m sure my lump is benign. It must just be a cyst.

The dark orchard

Today I will be going to Hereford Hospital to be seen by a surgeon about my lump. Even though I am convinced that it is benign, I have to admit to being more than a tad nervous.

I say a prayer asking that I get the right diagnosis and I ask for help in healing my lump in the least invasive and most beneficial way for me.

At the hospital I am called in to meet the surgeon – I mean the surgeon?! Surely he only knows about surgery? How is he going to be able to help me heal a benign lump in a non-invasive way?

He examines my breasts and does an ultrasound. He has found a cyst. Hooray – told you so! Oh, wait, there’s something else too. He tells me there is a mass behind the cyst that he is concerned about. He says that it may just be inflammation associated with the cyst, but that he had better take a biopsy and get it checked out anyway. He asks me to go for a mammogram so he can see it better. At first I resist. The surgeon asks me what my problem is with mammograms. ‘They cause cancer, don’t they?’ I ask.

He tells me that he can’t treat me any further unless I have a mammogram. I’m really scared. I submit to the mammogram. Then he drains the cyst and takes 5 biopsies. It is horrific. I feel brutalised.

He apologises that there will be some bruising, and tells me to make another appointment to see him on Friday when he will have the result of the biopsy. I can’t get out of there fast enough.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

You can find me on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/flowersonghealing

or email annabillbrom@yahoo.co.uk

The Power of Dreams to Heal

Mamma Mia 2

Since working with Robert Moss, the Active Dream teacher, I have discovered the importance of the images and information received in your dreams for our health. I intend to use this for part of my cancer healing. Robert teaches a technique called dream incubation, in which you can ask to be sent a dream about a subject on which you need help or information. So I ask for a dream which will help me heal from breast cancer. Here is an extract from the dream I had:-

My Dream: The Young Men from the Sea

I am standing on a green hillside, watching as a ship full of young men arrives in the bay below. The hill where I stand has a network of country lanes and several houses with beautiful gardens full of flowers, fruit and vegetables. It is an idyllic rural place, much like where I live, except that my home isn’t near the sea.

The young men on the boat are athletic, handsome, cheerful and full of energy and good humoured banter. One of them looks up and catches my eye. He has twinkling brown eyes. He gives me a wink and a mischievous grin.

They all dive into the water and swim to shore. They swarm over the hillside, taking fruit and vegetables from the gardens and small amounts of money from the houses. Then, mission completed, they are quickly back on the boat and away with their gleanings and a smile and a wave to me.

Although they had just stolen from those properties, it felt as though they had done it respectfully, only taking what each household could afford to let go of and being careful not to cause any damage. I greatly admired their lithe energy.

Seeing the fruit they had taken, I had a craving to eat juicy blackcurrants and raspberries too. We made our way up the hill but I found it was really hard going. I wasn’t as fit as those young men.

I went into a house at the top of the hill, and searched for a container to put the fruit in and enjoyed picking and eating the fruit.

Then my dream memory goes fragmentary. There was a lot of activity in the lane outside our house – lots of farm vehicles, tractors, slurry tankers and quad bikes driving up and down the lane and in and out of fields churning them to mud after heavy rain.

When I woke, I had positive feelings about the young men at the beginning of the dream. I admired their physical prowess and their ability to get a job done quickly and cheerfully. And I woke up craving raspberries and blackcurrants. But I had a feeling of uneasiness about getting caught raiding the garden and about the sludginess in the lanes. I pondered the meaning of the dream and felt that it meant that I need to get fit and lithe like the young men and that maybe this and eating raspberries and blackcurrants would help me to stop feeling muddy and sludgy.

The Dream Re-entry

I want to understand more about this dream I. There are keys in this for my healing. I use another technique taught me by Robert Moss, called Dream Re-entry. I use drumming music to take me into a meditative state and help me go back inside the dream. I want to talk to the young man who caught my eye and winked at me. My intention is to ask him about the meaning of the dream.

In the dream re-entry, I am running down the hill. I jump in the water, swim to the boat and climb aboard. It is an old-fashioned sailing ship. People are running off it, onto the land along a gangplank. Someone is helping me up. It is the young man that I want to speak to. The others are going to do their business. He says, ‘Hello there my Beauty, we are here to help you glean the riches of your bosom and to clean up anything that does not serve you. See the others are going off on their mission.

I ask, ‘What is their mission?’

‘Their mission is to clean up what no longer serves you. They are like your most powerful immune cells.’ They are swarming all over the mound, which now that I look at it from this angle, looks very much like a breast. They have put a gang plank from the ship over to my breast. There is a cave entrance in the side of the breast mound and they are going into it. It is a bit darker in there. They have baskets and they are bringing things out. They are having a good old clean out. So this is what the muddy lane symbolised. It is like my lymph is a bit sludgy. They are slopping it out into the sea, and the sea is washing it away.

When they have finished sloshing all the mud out, they get a hosepipe, and blast clean sea water into the cave to clean it out. The young man says, ‘This is what ozone therapy will do for you – it will clean everything out and oxygenate it.’

The reason you couldn’t run up the hill was because you feel sluggish. This is all related. All the things that your kinesiologist told you about will help you to feel less sluggish. The alkaline diet will really help. You also need to do things to move your lymph. You need to do regular exercise – at least 20 minutes every day – dancing, walking, cycling. Fresh air is needed too.

Everyday when you do your meditation, you can invite us to do this for you – hosing out the murky things. And you can come and talk to me anytime you like about your healing.’

Eat those berries that you crave. They will do you good. Blackcurrants, blackberries and raspberries – eat plenty of those. A little meat, but not too much. Green vegetables, millet, crab apples. No sugar. The apple cider vinegar remedy is brilliant for you, with a little honey. A little honey on your yogurt, but not too much. CBD oil will help you.’

I say thank you to him. He says, ‘It is a pleasure, Dear Lady.’ And he gives me a wink. I come back to land and the ship sails away.

I feel so comforted by this dream, which is such a wonderful source of advice. It has given me a whole new set of tools for my healing and some wonderful new allies in the Young Men from the Sea aka my most powerful immune cells.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

 

 

Kinesiology Rocks: Finding a Protocol that Works for Me

Swans on Wye2

I have been feeling down and mopey, overwhelmed and confused about the choices I have to make for my cancer treatment protocol. So I have enlisted the help of my dear, multi-talented husband who is skilled in kinesiology, shiatsu, cranio-sacral therapy and Reiki, to help me devise a plan that suits me best. Lucky, lucky me to have an in-house healer!

I have also booked a session with Quantum Kinesiologist, Andy Kemp from the Chiron Centre in Bristol, a trusted practitioner who has helped me heal difficult conditions before. Kinesiology is a brilliant therapy that taps into the body’s own wisdom and asks what will be the most effective treatment for this particular person. It does this by gently testing the strength of an indicator muscle in the presence of various treatments, herbs, supplements, foods, etc.

Bill gets out all his kinesiology test kits to find out what will help me most. He calls in his guiding angels and begins the session. His testing comes up with this:-

  • Hormonal imbalance – too much oestrogen
  • Deficiency of helpful gut bacteria
  • Hypothyroidism

We didn’t know it at the time, but later the hospital sent a letter saying that my lump is oestrogen responsive. My research found that iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism are also common factors in people with breast cancer. I found out later, through Andy Kemp, that I have leaky gut syndrome, so Bill’s testing is very accurate to determine the physical background to my cancer.

He tests for supplements and remedies that will help. Multi-vitamins and minerals come up, as does high dose Vitamin C, turmeric and agnus castus – a herb which is really effective for balancing female hormones. The Bach flower remedy Rock Rose comes up – no wonder, as it is used to help deal with shock and horror.

After the testing, Bill gives me a beautiful soothing shiatsu and cranio-sacral treatment. Finally, he asks his guiding angels to assist him in doing an extraction on the causative energy of my breast cancer. As he tunes in to what is happening in there, he sees a yucky, orange, many-tentacled thing wrapping itself around the tissues of my breast. He goes in with his guide and gently prizes it free before putting it on the fire and burning some sage to help clear the energy. ‘Better out, than in!’ he comments as the yucky thing goes on the fire. Then he asks for a cascade of light to fill my body with sparkling energy. It is blissful – a welcome moment of light in a dark time.

By Sunday afternoon, I feel as though I am going through a massive detox. I have one of those horrendous headaches behind the eyes, which won’t go away, no matter how much water I drink. It feels like chemicals are coming out of my eyeballs. And my skin feels so irritated, as if toxins are coming directly out of it too. I think it is a combination of Bill’s treatment with the extraction, and also all the love, light and healing being sent to me by so many people.

The detox is physically really hard, but inwardly I am delighted that these toxins are leaving my body. I decide to support the detox by getting very clean with my diet. I give up drinking any caffeinated drinks and stop having any meat, dairy or sugar. I am enjoying eating loads of fresh green vegetables. In fact, my body is craving them, along with fresh berries such as raspberries and blackcurrants.

At this time of year, our garden is full of fresh herbs such as lemon balm, thyme, oregano and mint, so I make teas by infusing them in hot water. I have never been very good at drinking loads of cold water. I find it chills my kidneys. But drinking these teas made from my garden herbs feels really healing and refreshing. The lemon balm also has an uplifting effect on my emotions. It is very easy for me to feel down at the moment and drinking the lemon balm brings a little sunshine back into my life.

Quantum Kinesiology Rocks, and so does Andrew Kemp  

Andrew Kemp is a brilliant kinesiologist. He has taken his classical kinesiology training to the next level, calling what he does ‘Quantum Kinesiology.’ So his testing can go much further and give more detailed results than Bill’s work. Nothing phases him. As far as he is concerned everything can be healed by natural means in the most subtle and gentlest of ways. His testing and diagnosis of what has caused the illness on every level – mind, body and spirit is superb.

It is a beautiful journey through the wooded hills of the Wye Valley, as I make my way to Andrew’s clinic in Bristol. The river is sparkling in the July sunshine. Swans and white geese float on the water.

Andrew greets me in his clinic room. I tell him of my cancer diagnosis and the ongoing difficulties I have had in healing from the hip replacement operation. After his initial tests, the first thing he says is, ‘This is a hero’s journey for you.’ This is not the first time I’ve heard that phrase lately! He goes on to say, ‘The testing on the spiritual aspects of this illness for you show that there is nothing negative here. This is a sacred journey to healing and will bring great gifts for you to pass on to others.’

Then he tests for the physical causes. ‘The major physical cause of this is chemicals in your body. And when I test for where these have come from, the major part of them are the chemicals left over from all the medical treatments you have had, especially the last hip replacement operation. There are also some pesticide residues.’

I tell him about the farmer spraying the field next to our garden and how the first time they did it, I was in the garden and got a big lungful of it. He tests again, and yes, this is a factor, along with the general pesticide load in the environment.

‘All these chemicals have led to you having leaky gut syndrome, where food particles are getting directly from your gut into your bloodstream, causing generalised inflammation around the body and all sorts of other problems like hypothyroidism. The solution is to heal your gut and repopulate it with healthy bacteria and I will test for a suitable protocol for you. Because of the chemicals and all the pain and physical difficulty you have had since the operation, your lymph is quite sluggish too.’

He talks about the factors involved in breast cancer on an emotional level. He says, ‘I have found that breast issues are usually about nourishment, self-nurturing and always worrying about others rather than nurturing yourself, with a side helping of feeling like a victim.’

I laugh and say, ‘Sounds about right to me!’

Then he tests for which therapies will be most beneficial for me. He writes out a healing protocol for my first phase of healing:-

  1. Drink more fluids, including 3 glasses of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and mixed with a teaspoon of honey.
  2. Eat an alkalising diet and cut out grains and sugar
  3. Repopulate gut bacteria by eating raw unpasteurised fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir.
  4. Take L-glutamine to heal the gut.
  5. Use ozone therapy to oxygenate the cells.
  6. Take CBD oil as natural chemotherapy.

It has been a wonderful session. It has settled my mind about the causes of this condition and given me clarity on the way forward for my healing. A lot of the doubt and confusion that I have been feeling is now dispelled. Andrew’s calm, reassuring manner has helped me feel that I can do this. My miracle is entirely possible.

You can find me on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/flowersonghealing

or email annabillbrom@yahoo.co.uk

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

Miracles Are Possible: My Decision not to have Surgery

What a beautiful evening. The light is golden. The evening comes with a soft moistness after a hot, dry day. I am sitting in our garden. Everything is quiet now, save for the bleating of the lambs and the last twitterings of the birds as they prepare for bed. My decision not to have surgery came with great clarity today.

images

The more I hear about the orthodox approach to healing cancer, the less I want to go down that path. The thought of having my breast chopped off fills me with horror and fear. And filling my body with poisonous chemotherapy feels so wrong. The statistics of long term recovery after chemotherapy are not great. Most of the studies talk about ‘five year survival rates.’ I intend to live a lot longer than that, so I need something that will properly heal me, not something that just whacks the cancer cells for now and lets them sneak back later. Because in killing the cancer cells, chemotherapy also destroys your immune system, which is the very thing which will keep you alive and healthy in the long term. Hand in hand with that, chemotherapy makes your hair fall out and makes you nauseous and exhausted. A friend told me that when she had chemotherapy, it made her kidneys bleed and she actually peed blood. Now that can’t be doing you any good, can it? And as for radiotherapy – zapping your body with ionising radiation causes cancer, doesn’t it? It is counterintuitive to me then to use this to try to heal cancer. On the other hand, all the alternative treatments and diets are aimed at boosting your immunity and improving your health, so that you actually feel better, not worse.

I have been wrangling with on one hand, the big stubborn part of me which is saying, ‘No! I can heal this without surgery. Another operation would sap my health and energy even further.’ But then there is the really scared part of me that’s saying, ‘Don’t be bloody ridiculous, Anna. Which would you rather lose, a breast, or your life?’ I have the responsibility to my husband and my daughter to get well and stay alive and the most sensible thing might seem to be to have the surgery and then to use alternative therapies to support my recovery without radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

But I have heard it said that cancer can start metastasizing (spreading to a different part of the body), even before a breast lump is detectable. We have cancer cells circulating in our body all the time and it is up to a healthy immune system to deal with them. When the immune system is compromised through trauma, toxins or general ill health then this can allow a tumour to start growing.

In the words of Donald Yance¹, one of the most widely acclaimed practitioners of integrative herbal medicine in the US, ‘In my opinion, the more surgical procedures (and accompanying disruptions to the immune system), the greater the risk of cancer spreading and manifesting in another location…I believe that surgery can actually enhance the growth of systemic cancer because the removal of a tumour creates a tremendous amount of damage to healthy tissue and causes significant inflammation. Inflammation and the breakdown of tissue create an environment of very high free-radical activity in which cells are actively dividing in order to replace the damaged cells, thus making it possible for an increase in the growth of the cancer itself. Post surgical healing causes tremendous stress to the immune system, leading to systemic immune suppression that renders one vulnerable to…more aggressive systemic cancer growth.’

I have had the trauma of so much surgery in the last 12 years, which I believe is what caused the damage to my immune system and allowed the tumour to grow. So, having more surgery to try to heal something that was caused by the trauma of surgery in the first place, seems like the wrong path to take. And I get to keep my breast, which I’m actually quite fond of. So really, the choice is a no-brainer for me.

A feeling of great calmness has descended with the making of this decision. As I learn more about this condition, it feels really important to be kind to my body and to treat myself SO gently. Making sure my diet and health is tip top, combined with meditation, visualisation of my cancer reducing, and healing of the underlying spiritual and emotional issues will be the best way forward for me.

A wise friend told me something very important when she said, ‘Whatever course of treatment you decide upon, you have to put your heart and soul behind that being the right one for you. If you decide to do chemo, you have to go in with the attitude that this is going to heal me. Because if you go in feeling that you are poisoning your body by taking it, then you surely will.’ I cannot put my hand on heart and say that I could take chemo into my body without believing that it is poisoning me. Likewise, having invasive surgery feels so wrong for me. I am so glad that I have made the decision now.

I am apprehensive about telling Bill, fearing that he will want me to have surgery. But when I tell him of my decision he says, ‘Whatever you have decided, I will support you all the way. I think you are right about surgery. I think more surgery would kill you.’ I hug him and give thanks for being with such a wonderful supportive man, who understands me so well.

So, through my research and through the information sent to me by the people I have reached out to for help, I am now starting to get an idea of what my treatment protocol looks like.

  1. Find a really good naturopath who specialises in treating cancer patients.
  2. Get my diet and exercise regime absolutely spot on – nourishing and healing.
  3. Work on all the underlying emotional and spiritual causes of the illness.
  4. Continue to get amazing treatments with my lovely Bill.
  5. See my kinesiologist to help hone down which of the amazing array of treatments, supplements and diets are best for me
  6. Draw in the light and visualise my lump shrinking every day.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

 

 

 

 

Reaching Out for Suport: Receiving Hope

The rain is pelting down around me, echoing my mood of fear and despair. Bill suggests a change of scene to change our moods. We drive to the Warren in Hay-on-Wye, where there is a river beach.

I walk along the beach, head down, deep in thought, while Bill and my daughter skim stones across the river. I shed tears of despondency. I say a prayer asking for help, asking for a sign, anything. Something catches my eye on the riverbank. I bend down and pick up a stone. It is the perfect shape of a heart. I get the message – ‘I am loved and supported.’ It is just what I need to hear.

Heart Stone

I am part of a Facebook Group where a community of well informed alternative health practitioners share insights. It is run by Sandra Ingerman, a world class teacher of alternative health. She is an amazing teacher, with such integrity and heart.  The group is a place where you can ask for help and information, so I put a post on, asking for help with healing breast cancer naturally.

I am overwhelmed by the response to my post. There are so many comments from people sending love, light and healing to me; and giving me lots of information about how to heal cancer by alternative means. There are also many stories from people who have survived cancer using only natural therapies for healing and this gives me great hope.

Many people are praying for me and adding me to their prayer groups, including my parent’s prayer group. They are all picturing me surrounded in divine light and returned to full health and sending me healing and love.

Many of the comments from the Facebook Group give advice about diet. A plant-based alkaline diet seems to be the thing. Oh and definitely absolutely no sugar, because it feeds the cancer cells.

Many people tell me about the amazing healing power of CBD oil for cancer. They point me in the direction of a series of videos called The Truth About Cancer and also a video series called The Sacred Plant.

A couple of people send me a link to Dr Veronique Desaulnier’s website, breastcancerconqueror.com, and mention that she has written a book called Heal Breast Cancer Naturally. I order a copy straight away. It is to become my bible of breast cancer healing. You can find her website at.

https://breastcancerconqueror.com

Lots of people talk about the power of Reiki and of doing visualisation work, picturing all my cells filled with light and returned to their original healthy blueprint.

Sandra herself responds to my post, saying that she is holding me in Divine unconditional love and light, and asking me to keep everyone posted on how I am doing.

I am so moved by all the love, light and beautiful comments and information sent by everyone in this circle. I can feel it coming over the ether to me. It has taken me from a place of shock and despair yesterday, to one of hope and resolve that I can heal from this. The journey has just begun, and this is such a beautiful support for me.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

The Diagnosis

Today I am going to the hospital to get my biopsy results. It can’t be cancer, can it? I’m sure it will be fine and it will just turn out to be inflammation from the cyst. All the same, fingers have been crossed, and prayers put in shoes, for a bit of extra insurance.

wolves-howling-at-moon-1

I’m sitting in the reception of the Macmillan Renton Department. They don’t like to call it the Cancer Department, but that is what it is. I’m waiting for my appointment to get the biopsy results and hoping that this is the last time I will have to visit here. But when the nurse who comes to get me says, ‘Have you got anyone with you?’ I know it will be bad news. She shows me into the surgeon’s office and he repeats, ‘Do you have anyone with you?’

I say, ‘So it must be bad news then?’

He says, ‘I am afraid so. The result of the biopsy is that you have lobular cancer.’ He goes on to explain that lobular cancer is in the glands that produce milk and it can be quite hard to see the full extent of the cancer from a mammogram, because hidden bits of it can invade the lymph nodes under the armpits and surrounding tissue. So he recommends that I go for an MRI scan the following week to see the full extent of it. Then they will book me in for surgery within two weeks, initially for a lumpectomy, but depending on what they find, possibly for a mastectomy.

I can’t take it in. My reaction is of stunned disbelief. The results must be wrong. I ask the surgeon, ‘Is there any way that there can be any question mark over the results?’

‘No,’ he replies. ‘It is unequivocably cancer. Here, let me show you the results. He puts them up on screen. The result of the biopsy says that the type of cells in my lump are LB5.

I ask him, ‘What does that mean?’

‘The LB stands for lobular cancer and the 5 indicates on a scale of 1-5 that they are most definitely cancerous,’ he says.

‘Lobular Bastard 5,’ I mutter to myself. So I’ve gone from merrily waltzing in to get a non-cancerous cyst drained, to the prospect of possibly losing my whole breast and having to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Shit, bugger, damn! I’m really in trouble now. This is all my nightmares come true at once. I was finally starting to get back to normal after the hip replacement and then wham! – this happens. It seems so unfair. I’ve already had three major surgeries – a caesarean section and two hip replacements. Now I am facing the prospect of a disfiguring operation to remove my breast and possibly my lymph ducts.

The surgeon cuts in on my thoughts. ‘I know it’s a lot to take in. Why don’t you have a chat with one of the breast care nurses. I call my husband, who has been doing some business in town. He comes with me to see the nurse. He is as shocked as I am, but puts an arm around my shoulder, reassuring me that we will get through this.

The breast care nurse is lovely. She addresses my thoughts. ‘I’m sure it’s really hard to believe. Most people feel this way at first. But I want to tell you that we are really good at getting people through breast cancer. It is very survivable. She gets out some diagrams and explains more about lobular cancer and then describes the surgery.

‘They will take a margin of healthy tissue as well as the lump and then send the results off to the lab to make sure they’ve got it all. If not, they take a bit more and so on. If it’s really bad, they will do a mastectomy.’ Then she goes on to tell us about all the support that is available.

At home, I begin to research the hell out of breast cancer. I am looking for hope. I am looking for ways out of the need to have massive surgery. Lumpectomy, my arse! They say that to let you in gently, but if I’ve got invasive lobular cancer, they are sure to end up taking my whole breast off. And I’m not fancying that at all.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

 

Facing the Worst 18th July 2017

I have this lump in my breast. I’ve been trying to ignore it for a while, hoping it will go away. I looked up breast lumps on the internet and found that the vast majority of these lumps are benign. I’m sure that is the case with mine. And as I said, no-one in my family gets cancer. Arthritis, yes, and the odd bit of dementia, but not cancer. I’m sure my lump is benign. It must just be a cyst.

The dark orchard

Today I will be going to Hereford Hospital to be seen by a surgeon about my lump. Even though I am convinced that it is benign, I have to admit to being more than a tad nervous.

I say a prayer asking that I get the right diagnosis and I ask for help in healing my lump in the least invasive and most beneficial way for me.

At the hospital I am called in to meet the surgeon – I mean the surgeon?! Surely he only knows about surgery? How is he going to be able to help me heal a benign lump in a non-invasive way?

He examines my breasts and does an ultrasound. He has found a cyst. Hooray – told you so! Oh, wait, there’s something else too. He tells me there is a mass behind the cyst that he is concerned about. He says that it may just be inflammation associated with the cyst, but that he had better take a biopsy and get it checked out anyway. He asks me to go for a mammogram so he can see it better. At first I resist. The surgeon asks me what my problem is with mammograms. ‘They cause cancer, don’t they?’ I ask.

He tells me that he can’t treat me any further unless I have a mammogram. I’m really scared. I submit to the mammogram. Then he drains the cyst and takes 5 biopsies. It is horrific. I feel brutalised.

He apologises that there will be some bruising, and tells me to make another appointment to see him on Friday when he will have the result of the biopsy. I can’t get out of there fast enough.

My Just Giving fundraising page can be found at:-

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-bromley

A Visit to Cae Thomas’ Holy Well, Llanveynoe, Olchon Valley, Black Mountains

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Yesterday, Phoebe and I set off on an adventure. Our quest was to find Cae Thomas’ Holy Well near Llanveynoe. Rumour had it that this beautiful natural spring was to be found somewhere in the mystical Olchon Valley of the Black Mountains on the border between Herefordshire and Wales. So far no-one we knew had been able to find it. Local folklore has it that the water has special healing properties and is particularly good for rheumatism and strengthening weak eyes and this was good enough incentive for me. Perhaps it would be good for my gammy hip and maybe I’d even be able to read the small print on labels after a draft of the elusive water.

So, armed with an OS map and a sketchy description from on elderly guide book on the Holy Wells of Herefordshire, we set off. Phoebe was as excited as me and had prepared a bag of provisions – a bottle to put some water in, some extra strong mints and a bag of jelly babies – excellent emergency rations!

We drove off up Long Lane in the direction that leads away from civilisation and into the mountains. I love this route – turn right at Bob Shop, through Michaelchurch Escley and then dipping down into the valley of the River Monnow. The verges of the narrow lanes spilled over with wildflowers – purple vetch, the magenta of rosebay willow herb and the frothy cream flowers of meadowsweet, to name but a few. Amongst these, waved the golden fronds of tall grasses bleached by the August sunshine. We passed quaint cottages with flower filled gardens, tumbled down stone ruins, glossy red post boxes set into garden walls, each turn in the road unveiling a scene more beautiful than the last. Rounding a bend, the imposing ridge of Black Darren reared up in front of us. Round another bend we were treated to a lovely view of the craggy end of the Cat’s Back Mountain, also known as the Black Hill, made famous in Bruce Chatwin’s novel.
Now entering the Olchon Valley and crossing the Olchon Brook, we kept a beady eye out for anything that might resemble the description in the book.

Black Darren

Black Darren

‘Ooh, hang on, that tiny little gate might be promising. It’s not big enough to get a tractor through and why else would you have a gate only big enough for pedestrians going into a field?’ I asked Phoebe. She thought it looked like a good bet too. I squeezed the car off the narrow lane into another gateway, hoping that we wouldn’t meet an irate farmer wondering what we were up to. But I needn’t have worried – there was not another soul about. We went through the little gate and hearing the sound of running water, thought that we must be onto something. Going through another small gate, we found ourselves at a beautiful waterfall flowing into a pool. We sat and enjoyed this lovely place for a few minutes. Phoebe was keen to fill her water bottle, but I was sure that we hadn’t found the right place. So near and yet so far. How frustrating.

We started making our way back towards the car to try again further along the road. I pondered about the little gate and then something made me stop and turn around. This time I noticed another gate off to our left. Not a small gate this time, a full size farm gate, but it was propped across a gap that again wasn’t big enough for vehicles. Phoebe got really excited by this and ran back ahead of me. I heard a shout as she disappeared round the corner.

‘This is it Mum. I can see the enamel cup hanging from the tree with the initials carved into it, just like it said in the book!’ We had found it at last. I negotiated the broken wooden gate and immediately, the atmosphere changed completely. It was serene, peaceful and welcoming. The vegetation was somehow different here too – short neat grass, soft moss and shamrocks, gave the impression of a magical garden. A three-limbed ash tree grew out of a rock above a little pool, into which the spring was merrily gurgling. The water in the pool was crystal clear and very inviting. The ancient enamelled cup hung from this tree, left there by some thoughtful person who would like others to enjoy the spring. With great reverence, we took it in turns to have a drink from the cup, and to bathe our eyes and feet. The water from the spring was the sweetest and freshest I’ve ever tasted. We stayed and enjoyed the atmosphere of the Cae Thomas’ Well for a while before saying a little prayer of thanks for such a lovely place and hoping that it always stays as unspoilt as this.
We returned to the car, feeling refreshed, soothed and very satisfied that we had accomplished our mission to visit such a beautiful and magical place.

A Walk in Paradise

Paradise woods AnnaThe light is incredible today. Herefordshire is bursting with green juiciness under the clear blue skies. Perhaps it is this clarity of light that helped me come to a big decision – one that I’ve been putting off for some time. It really came home to me whilst walking in Paradise Woods yesterday. Those woods are like a lost enchanted kingdom. As I stopped by the waterfall, I half expected to see a water nymph step from behind the cascade.

Paradise WaterfallAs I walked further in through the dappled sunlight and the fragrant, mossy, leafiness, surrounded by wildflowers and the sound of nothing but birdsong, I kept catching glimpses of things moving just out of the corner of my eye, as if some woodland sprite had just run giggling behind a tree. Soon my heart was melting with the joyous beauty of it all. I’ve been feeling despondent and a bit stuck lately, blaming it on all sorts of possibilities and wondering what the cure might be. Walking in that magical woodland made me see that I’ve been denying myself regular doses of this beauty which inspires and uplifts me so much, because my hip and back have now become too painful for me to walk very far without extreme difficulty. So now I know what I need to do.

Paradise woods 3For those of you who don’t know my recent history, my last hip replacement came after a very tragic and traumatic time, when I lost a twin pregnancy. The first baby left at 10 weeks and I nearly lost my life giving birth to little Hector at 22 weeks. The physical and emotional trauma of this left me in a very debilitated state and it was a year after Hector’s death before I could bring myself to have the hip replacement operation that I so needed. With hindsight, I should have done it long before, avoiding many months of disability and extreme pain. At the worst of it, I could barely walk from one end of the kitchen to the other, and life seemed very grim indeed. So I promised myself that when it came to the time that my other hip needed to be replaced, I wouldn’t wait for things to get so dire before I made the decision. That time is now.

Forgive me for pouring my heart out like this. I do it for two reasons. Writing is healing and cathartic for me. It helps me to process my feelings and let go of unwanted thoughts. I also need to let people know. Last time I found it really hard to talk about it with anyone other than those closest to me. I just carried on stoicly, with a grimace of pain and determination etched on my face. I thought people would be able to tell, by my hobbling gait and that grimace, but apparently most people didn’t even realise I was in pain and therefore offered no help. A bit of understanding is mostly what I need – understanding as to why I might not be joining in with something, or helping out, understanding that I can’t stand up for long periods of time or carry heavy things around, understanding that if I’m sitting down, I’m not being lazy or aloof and I’d probably appreciate someone coming over for a chat, understanding that the operation is a really big deal for me. I’m terrified of it. I’m heartbroken that I need it now. It will extinguish the last glimmer of hope for me that there may the chance of that longed for second child.

So wish me luck. Wish me a fast track through the waiting list. Wish me a speedy and full recovery from the op. Thanks so much for reading this. It means a lot to me.

The Sparrow and the Sparrow Hawk

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Sparrows are such comical little creatures, always busy and extremely noisy. They are nesting in our yew tree and under the eaves of our house. Our lives have a background soundtrack of their incessant cheeping. The yew tree, clipped to conical perfection by Bill who loves to snip away with secaturs in hand, provides the perfect protection for them, the foliage too dense to be penetrated by cat or hawk. Little feathery faces emerge from between the yew needles, cheeping in a slightly irritated fashion and looking this way and that to check that the coast is clear before emerging. Other feathery bottoms disappear back in on the return journey.

Yesterday evening, Bill was making his way up to inspect the vegetable patch, chuckling to himself about the activity of our little feathery friends, when vhoom!!! Something very fast and light went by, glancing his cheek as it passed. As his eyes focused ahead, he realised it was a sparrow hawk, just in time to hear a soft thudunk and flurry of feathers. And there was one less feathery bottom left to return to its yew tree nest, one less noisy alarm clock to sit on our window ledge going CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP at some unearthly hour of the morning. RIP little Sidney Sparrow. The circle of life goes on and Mrs Sparrow Hawk can feed her young today.

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