News & Events

April 2021

Positively Pink & Creative Skill Share

As I write, our Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted tentatively and I sincerely hope that we will soon be able to meet up with some of our friends and relatives for much longed-for companionship and sharing. Having said that, I am very much aware that we will need to continue, for quite some while to come, to do all that we can to keep ourselves and each other safe and well.

Looking from a slightly different angle at our efforts to care for ourselves, I have been considering how to make our home environment a little safer from some of the nasty chemicals with which, in an effort to keep our abodes reasonable fresh and sparkly, we bombard ourselves. I know how easy it is to reach for the bottle or spray can of that magical substance which promises to make your sink/oven/windows/plug hole/ work surfaces, etc., so clean and gleaming that you will swiftly become the envy of your neighbourhood and all who survey. Added to which temptation is the promise that you will raise yourself to the great heights as one who is worthy of accolades for battling with grim and grease so triumphantly that you manage to 'kill 99% of all known germs".

Although we at Positively Pink are concerned about keeping ourselves as well as possible after cancer treatments, I believe it is certainly worth considering cutting down on household use of chemical packed cleaning products and turning to other items such as salt, toothpaste, vinegar and lemons, etc., which most of us have lurking in our store cupboards. Apart from the fairly obvious benefits of reducing our exposure to nasties such as poor health inducing parabens and other chemical additives used by many cleaning product manufacturers, we can all be a whole lot kinder to ourselves and our planet too. Over the next couple of months or so, I hope to share with you on this, and our Creative Skill Share page, some ways to beat the grime and spread the love...

Lemons

Banish all those unsightly mineral deposits on chrome taps and other tarnished chrome by rubbing it with lemon rind. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Beat those tough stains on marble (only the genuine article). Cut a lemon in half, dip exposed flesh (not yours - the lemon's) and dip into some table salt, rub on the stain and rinse off Marble is petrified calcium (probably from the remains of seashells) which is porous - hence its ability to stain easily.

Brighten your lack lustre aluminium pans with a quick rub with half a lemon and a judicious buff up.

Make your tarnished brass, copper or stainless steel gleam. Make a paste with lemon juice and salt (or replace salt with bicarbonate of soda), coat the area and leave for 5 mins, wash in warm water, rinse and polish dry. The same mixture can also be used on metal sinks. Apply the paste, rub gently and rinse.

Remove those rather less than attractive hardened bits of various meals which have erupted in your microwave by mixing 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with 300ml of water in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on 'high' for 5-10 mins until the steam condenses on its inside walls, roof and door, then just wipe away those happy take-away food bits memories with a dishcloth.

Toothpaste (Non-Gel)

Clean off the sticky residue on your iron's soleplate, left behind by the over enthusiastic pressing of your finest garment (in my experience, it's more likely to belong to your partner), by applying toothpaste when the iron is unplugged and cool. Avoid getting water on the electrical components. Rub with a rag and carefully rinse clean.

Spruce up grubby piano keys (real ivory or plastic), by brushing with an old toothbrush and toothpaste. Then wipe them with a damp cloth.

Remove scuffs from leather shoes or handbags. Squirt a small amount on the scuffed area and rub with a soft cloth. Then wipe off with a damp cloth and polish in the usual way.

Prevent steamed up mirrors and goggles/visors by coating them with toothpaste and wiping off. Do not use on spectacles with special coating.

When your lovely guests insist on ignoring the coasters you have strategically placed on your splendid wooden furniture, remove the tell-tale water marks by very gently rubbing a little toothpaste onto the area with a soft cloth. Then wipe it off with a damp cloth and, when completely dry, apply some environmentally kind furniture wax.

Salt

Remove the residue left behind in a vase after your lovely flowers have met up with the other contents of your recycling bin. If you can reach inside the vase, rub the offending deposits with salt, then wash with soapy water. If the neck of the vase is too narrow for your digits, place some uncooked rice (a couple of inches deep) inside the vase, top up to about half-way up with a strong salt solution and give the vase a good shake. The rice/salt combination should leave the vase sparkling clean. Remember to use a strainer when emptying the water ... otherwise your next problem will be a bunged-up plug hole!

Avert a red wine stain on carpet disaster by pouring a little left over white wine (should you be disciplined enough to have any left over, or second-best mineral water) over the area while still wet - this will dilute the colour. When the red colour has disappeared, soak up as much of the fluid as you can with paper towel and then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area liberally with salt, wait for it to dry and then hoover up the residue.

Stop oven spills from hardening. Next time your culinary masterpiece flows over onto the oven floor, throw some salt onto the drips while still fluid. When the oven cools, simply wipe up the spill with a cloth. The same technique also works for overflow situations on the hob.

Clean off lipstick marks from glassware. Lipstick manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure that their lipstick stays attached to our lips, even in some of the most severe conditions we encounter. Therefore, it is no wonder that the resilient stuff stays stubbornly glued to our finest glasses, even if we do risk subjecting them to the extreme glassware sport of dishwasher survival. Before washing, simply rub the edges with salt.

Erase tea and coffee stains from cups by mixing white vinegar with salt in equal proportions and rubbing with a sponge.

Vinegar

Burnish that favourite pair of scissors that one of your darling loved ones has used to cut sticky things. Don't use water to wash them - the rivets may rust. Instead wipe them down with a rag soaked in full strength vinegar and dry off with a rag or towel.

Conceal light scratches on furniture, mix some distilled or cider vinegar and iodine (from the chemist) in a small jar and paint over the scratch with a small artist's brush. Use more iodine for darker woods and less for lighter woods. Leave to dry and apply environmentally kind polish.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of white vinegar to a large bottle of washing up liquid. This will increase its grease busting capabilities and enable you to use less of the liquid.

Some Words Of Warning

Wear protective gloves and try the fabulous preparations above on a small inconspicuous area of your treasured possession before committing to the whole shebang. I have personally tried all of the tips mentioned and they have worked well for me, however I cannot guarantee that they will work for you on your items which will be made from a variety of different materials... Care is the watchword to bear in mind.

Update

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open Pinky's Tearoom until the position regarding the Coronavirus becomes clearer, but we very much look forward to the time when we can welcome you all once more for the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends to enjoy your coffee shop specials, plus homemade cake, soup, panini, salad, etc.

Due to the pandemic, we are not planning a Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts for this year, but we do hope to hold some very special concerts later this year and look forward to holding a super-duper festival next year.

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to Positively Pink our local breast cancer support group, our Creative Skill Share group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email.· positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

March 2021

Sue Oliver, Professional Head of Mammography, and Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, have written a thorough guide (below) to checking your breasts for any unusual aspects. It is a great, possibly lifesaving, idea that we gals should aim to do at least once a month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with almost 50,000 women diagnosed each year and around 11,500 resulting deaths.Thankfully, due to advances in medicine and greater awareness, more women than ever are surviving this. As with all cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the less likely it is to spread and the more chance you have of quickly getting back to living the life you love. Breast cancer can occur at any stage in a woman's life cycle, so it is important that whatever age you are, you check your breasts regularly to monitor any changes.

What should you look for?

We have looked at general cancer signs and symptoms before, but this time I think it is important to focus on breast cancer. It is not just lumps that you should be checking for. There are several other important indicators of breast cancer. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice one or any combination of the following changes in your breast:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin

  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

  • A nipple that has changed position

  • An inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)

  • Clear or bloody fluid leaking from the nipple

How to perform a breast check

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders level and your hands on your hips.

Here's what you should see:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour

  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling

But if you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin

  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)

  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Look again at your breasts with your arms raised above your head and look for the same changes.

Now, lean forward and look for any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.

While you are at the mirror, look for any signs of discharge coming out of one or both nipples ( this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Next, examine your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first three finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Make a circular motion, about the size of a 2p coin. Check the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from armpit to cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; for tissue in the middle of your breasts use medium pressure and for the deep tissue in the back use firmer, but not uncomfortable, pressure.

Many women find that the easiest way to examine their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, as in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements as before.

What should I do if I find changes in my breasts? Don't panic, most lumps found will be completely normal. All breasts feel different and are naturally lumpy. But if you do find changes, contact your doctor who will listen to your concerns and perform an examination. Please remember that you have the right to request a female doctor to perform the examination or to have a female nurse present. Stay safe and well...

For a chat, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

February 2021

During this pandemic, it has been so important to find ways of helping our bodies and minds to stay reasonably fit and active. During lock down and other mobility restricted times, so many of us have felt the build up of stress and anxiety which hinders restful sleep and brings about a multitude of stress related ailments. This is why I have decided to take a look at a stress busting therapy that has really come to the fore in recent months - aromatherapy. This is quite a vast topic of which I can only scratch the surface in this article. I have this month combined my usual pages for Positively Pink and Creative Skill Share in order that I can offer you a glimpse of the basic understanding of the topic in relation to stress management. If you are already knowledgeable of the subject, perhaps a look at some of the references below may help further expand your knowledge. I know that several of you members of our Creative Skill Share groups already enjoy making scented candles and toiletry products and this may whet the appetite for incorporating essential oils into your lovely creations.


Aromatherapy (A)

Aromatherapy products, once thought as somewhat exotic, have now even sprung up on the shelves of our supermarkets. Aromatherapy candles, bath products, essential oils, and other fabulously scented items (although to be honest, some can smell distinctly less than fabulous) are now widely available and have been heralded as effective in many health-giving ways including as an aid for soothing babies, relieving stress and

promoting a sense of well-being. These claims may indeed be true, but as with any product which can have an effect on our bodies, for good or otherwise, it is wise to research for yourself whether or not it is safe and lives up to the claims being made.


Although the use of aromatic plants appears to be as old as civilisation itself, with many texts from ancient Egypt to Asia and a large part of the Mediterranean area describing various processes involving the making and use of healing ointments and oils, poultices, healing perfumes and religious ceremony preparations made from plants. During recent years, a fair amount of research has been done to evaluate aromatherapy's

benefits, but there will always be room for study. Here are some of the findings to date:


Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy - something that can be considered for use alongside medical treatment, but certainly not instead of it. Essential oils are highly concentrated essences made from flowers, leaves, roots, peel, resin, seeds and bark of some plants.


One of today's most popular essential oils for aromatherapy - lavender has been shown to reduce some distress in infants and promote sleep in both infants and adults.[1] It can also alter brainwaves and behaviour.[2] Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the "stress hormone".[3] Some studies have shown that aromatherapy massage can have some beneficial effects

on anxiety and depression.[4] Massage with aromatherapy provides stronger and more continuous relief from fatigue especially mental fatigue-than massage alone.[5] Aromatherapy combined with massage carries greater benefits than either strategy by itself.[6] It can enhance the relaxation benefits of meditation, (as with incense prayer and meditation). Even a five-minute prayer and meditation session can offer the passive stress relief benefits when combined with aromatherapy.[7] Not all aromatherapy scents bring about the same effects on people. Individual scents have their own unique qualities, so it is important to choose with care the ones we use.


While aromatherapy is not the magic 'cure-all' that it is sometimes purported to be, it does at the very least appear to have proven effects as a stress reliever. As I have said, it can be used with massage, but also in a more passive way by filling your room with the scent from a essence scented candle or aromatherapy diffuser (to avoid a towering inferno, battery operated diffusers are probably preferable).


I would like to stress at this point that because there are many products on the market made from synthetics and a plethora of chemical additives, it is so important to use good quality products, which have genuine essential oil ingredients, from a reputable supplier.


Article A Sources:

1 Vaziri F, Khosropoor M, Hidari M, Pourahmad S, Morshed Behbahani B, Saki F. The Effect of Aromatherapy by Lavender Oil on Infant Vaccination Pain: A Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. J Caring Sci. 2019;8(1):17-21. doi:10.15171/jcs.2019.003


2 Sowndhararajan K, Kim S. Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response. Sci Pharm. 2016;84( 4):724-751. doi:10.3390/scipharm84040724


3 Hosseini S, Heydari A, Vakili M, Moghadam S, Tazyky S. Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(4):397-401. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.185582


4 Babakhanian M, Ghazanfarpour M, Kargarfard L, et al. Effect of Aromatherapy on the Treatment of Psychological Symptoms in Postmenopausal and Elderly Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.] Menopausal Med. 2018;24(2):127-132. doi:10.6118/jmm.2018.24.2.127


5 Gok Metin Z, Ozdemir L. The Effects of Aromatherapy Massage and Reflexology on Pain and Fatigue in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Manag Nurs. 2016;17(2):140-149. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2016.01.004


6 Lakhan SE, Sheafer H, Tepper D. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Res Treat. 2016;2016:8158693. doi:10.1155/2016/8158693


7 Soto-Vasquez MR, Alvarado-Garcia PA. Aromatherapy with two essential oils from Satureja genre and mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety in humans. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017;7(1):121-125. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.06.003

Oils for Relaxation (B)

Although aromatherapy oils are 'natural' products, they are very potent and if used incorrectly can be toxic, so please be sure to consult a pharmacist or well qualified aromatherapist to gain a thorough understanding of how to use powerful essential oils safely. Studies have shown that not all scents are created equal, nor do they affect human physiology and behaviour in the same ways. [2]


Lavender

Lavender is associated with feelings of contentment, improved cognitive performance and mood. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and it has other mild sedative and calming effects.[4] It can help soothe babies and new mothers alike and promote positive mother-infant interactions. This oil is often used to promote sleep in infants and deep a deeper than usual sleep in adults. It can be a great choice for anyone trying to relax at bedtime or feel more calm and relaxed during the day. A real essential oil based lavender sachet next to your bed or diluted oil sprayed on a tissue and placed in your pillow case can do wonders for relieving stress and help you unwind from your day. [1]


Rosemary

Rosemary is associated with feelings of contentment. It has been shown to have positive effects on performance and mood.[3] Rosemary has also demonstrated the ability to reduce cortisol levels.[4] This means that rosemary aromatherapy can be a good choice for de-stressing during the day when there is still work to be done.


Peppermint

Peppermint aromatherapy has been found to aid memory and alertness.[5] It can provide a great pick-me-up for overly busy, tired and stressed adults and students in today's frenetic world.


Ylang-Ylang

Ylang-ylang has actually been found to decrease alertness and slightly lengthen processing speed. It can promote calmness and reduce stress, making it a good option for unwinding and destressing at the end of a long day.


Lemon

Some research has shown that lemon oil may possess antidepressant-type effects. It is also a good choice for stress relief and mood enhancement.[7]


It is important that most essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil, generally 1-3% essence to oil (such as apricot kernel, sweet almond, grapeseed, sesame,jojoba, or avocado oil) but NOT water.


Possible Side Effects

Certain essential oils may not always be appropriate for everyone; therefore, if you are pregnant or have: epilepsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sensitive skin, allergies or some types of cancer seek advice from your GP or other primary health care provider so that you can be ensured that your condition is accurately diagnosed and that you may first receive any conventional treatments you may need.


As a general rule, essential oils should not be ingested because some are inherently poisonous. Great care should be taken when applying some oils to the skin. It is important to do a small skin patch test on a more tender part of your skin (ie the inside of the forearm), before using any new essential oil.


Although there is much to be considered when thinking of using essential oils, under proper guidance, there are a great many benefits to be gained and enjoyed from inviting these age old well-being boosters into your life.


N.B. The information contained in this article should not be taken as a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using complimentary medicine or making a change to your normal regime.


Please see the very helpful National Association far Holistic Aromatherapy Safety information page for further guidance.


Article B Sources:

1 National Cancer Institute. Aromatherapy With Essential Oils (PDQ® )-Health Professional Version. Updated October 25, 2019.


2 Sowndhararajan K, Kim S. Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response. Sci Pharm. 2016;84( 4):724-751. doi:10.3390/scipharm84040724


3 Sayorwan W, Ruangrungsi N, Piriyapunyporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Siripornpanich V. Effects oflnhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System. Sci Pharm. 2013;81(2):531-542. doi:10.3797/scipharm.1209-05


4 Boehm K, Bussing A, Ostermann T Aromatherapy as an Adjuvant Treatment in Cancer Care--A Descriptive Systematic Review. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2012;9( 4):503-518.doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v9i4.7


5 Meamarbashi A. Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(1):72-78.


6 Tan LT, Lee LH, Yin WF, et al. Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:896314. doi:10.1155/2015/896314


7 de Sousa DP, Silva RHN, Silva EFD, Gavioli EC. Essential Oils and Their Constituents: An Alternative Source for Novel Antidepressants. Molecules. 2017;22(8):1290. doi:10.3390/molecules22081290


Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, aromatherapist, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.


For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or Creative Skill Share groups, or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email:

positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com


See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

January 2021

I sincerely hope that this year offers us all a much healthier, happier experience than 2021. With the restrictions we are necessarily under, and the pressure the NHS is facing, it could be very tempting to delay seeking medical advice for non Covid related ailments until the virus activity has reduced somewhat. However, amidst all the pandemic news with which we are bombarded every day, there is still woven a clear message from medical advisers that the NHS is still very much 'open for business' for all our illnesses, and especially our life threatening events such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer. So, may I take this opportunity to strongly encourage anyone who becomes aware of any new lumps or bumps, pain, weakness, slurring of speech, numbness, bleeding, breathlessness or unusual discharge to seek medical help immediately. The causes of these signs and symptoms may be something trivial, but they could also be warnings of something much more serious which needs prompt attention. The NHS, even in these challenging times, is very much there for you, so please do get any such new concerns checked out speedily.

We at Positively Pink exist primarily to offer support to people who have experienced, or are currently being treated for, breast cancer, but we also care deeply about anyone with cancer of any type. At this time, when it is so important to look after ourselves well, I offer a short list of simple ways to aid our self-help efforts:

Catch some rays (in moderation) or pop a supplement.|
Many studies have found that the 'sunshine vitamin' Vitamin D can reduce the risk of some cancers and improve our bone health. It is also important during the times of the pandemic and some studies have suggested that many people who suffer badly from the virus have low levels of the vitamin in their systems. I must add that it is not clear whether such people had low levels before they caught the virus or their levels were made low by Covid 19. Regular exercise is also so important and so receiving· our boost of vitamin D from sunshine is probably the healthiest, happiest combination. However, research suggests that taking a supplement of 400-800 IU, under medical supervision, is recommended for most of us, especially in the winter. As always, I must reiterate that if you plan to change your exercise or vitamin taking regime, it is important to talk it through with your doctor.

Follow an antioxidant rich diet. The link between cancer and nutrition is so powerful that there is a peer reviewed medical journal called 'Nutrition and Cancer' which is devoted to that topic. Some highly recommended foods/drink which may be easily incorporated into everyday diets:

Ordinary tea or green tea contains powerful antioxidants which help to protect our cells from oxidative damage - harmful changes due to free radicals and other substances produced in cell metabolism that can lead to cells becoming cancerous.

Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries and apples are all packed with antioxidants, as are tomatoes (and these red beauties pack an even more powerful punch against cancer if cooked).

Cold pressed olive oil. This wonderful oil is best consumed cold, possibly in dressings, because high heat can alter its qualities. For some time, it has been understood that regular consumption of olive oil, as in the Mediterranean diet, can cut cancer incidences.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage are a must in your veg basket. Garlic and onions contain the compound organosulphur which can be fantastic at influencing enzymes to detoxify carcinogens. This compound is also clever at supporting the immune system and scavenging free radicals in the blood stream. It is recommended that we consume garlic and onions in some form every day... I suspect we would all be a little more relaxed about doing this if we knew all our friends were doing so too, especially the ones we may like to kiss when the pandemic is over! Perhaps you would like to join me in a Cumnor Parish 'Garlic rules ok' campaign to encourage kissable friends to join in?

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex-nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com Website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk.

December 2020

Banana Recipes

I do hope you are all staying safe and well in these very strange times. Although we are not yet able to safely meet up in person, I am still regularly adding articles to the 'News and Events' page of our website - www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk and would welcome any contributions from anyone who would like to share an interesting topic.

Christmas is currently speeding towards us, and so I have a couple of fairly healthy recipes using bananas for your delectation over the festive season ... frankly, I would make and eat these at the drop of a hat any time of the year. I have a soft spot for ice cream and anything which shows off the virtues of bananas, especially when I can successfully convince myself that it is reasonably free of nasties! This scrumptious ice cream is totally cream free, can also be enjoyed by vegans, contains just 5 ingredients and is super easy to make - what's not to love?

May we wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year brimming over with good health, love and peace.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

Banana Choc Penguins

Ingredients: Makes six

  • 150 g dark chocolate chips

  • 3 bananas

  • • 18 orange M&Ms

  • 1 pack white ready-to-roll icing

  • 1 chocolate icing pen

Method:

  • Peel 3 bananas and cut each in half. Place in the freezer.

  • Melt the chocolate into a bowl over a pan of simmering water until runny. Leave to cool slightly.

  • To make the penguin's eyes, roll out small balls using ready to roll icing. Pipe the pupils onto the eyes using a chocolate icing pen .

  • Once completely frozen, remove the bananas from the freezer and peel.

  • Dunk the top half of the banana into the melted chocolate, gently rolling so you get a longer coating on the back. Dunk the bottom of the banana in the chocolate to create the feet.

  • Carefully stick on the eyes and do the same with the M&Ms for the nose and two for the feet.

  • Place back in the freezer briefly to set and then serve.

Guilt-Free Easy Peasy Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium bananas, very ripe and frozen (they add sweetness but you will not otherwise be able to taste these - believe me).

  • dash of unsweetened almond milk

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1-3 drops peppermint extract

Method

  • In a food processor blend the bananas with a splash of almond milk. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract.

  • Slowly add one drop of peppermint extract and use more if desired. It can be quite potent, so taste with one drop first!

  • The mixture can be placed in an icecream maker if you have one, but it works just as well in a sealable tub in the freezer. Just beat it with a hand mixer every now and then when you see ice crystals forming around the edges - this helps the ice-cream to stay smooth and gorgeous.

November 2020

Nordic Walking Poles.

Last month we looked at some of the great benefits we can achieve by using Nordic walking poles whilst out and about on our day to day walks. This time we discover how best to use them. Nordic walking poles originated in Finland in the early 20th century for use by skiers in training and it was in 1997 that medical experts discovered an astonishing list of physical/mental health benefits associated with their use by people with just low to average physical capabilities.

Benefits for older women

Anyone can do Nordic pole walking, but there are particular benefits for older women. In fact, the largest growing age group sector are women between 55 and 100 years! Using the poles properly can help to naturally align the spine and strengthen the core. Around 50% more muscles are involved, targeting the arms, abdominals, waist, chest, bottom, hips and thighs. when walking with poles. There is an extra bonus in regular use in that unwanted back fat and floppy arm ‘bat wings’ are sent packing! On a more serious note, especially relevant to Positively Pink members, is that studies have shown that pole walking is beneficial for breast cancer treated women suffering from lymphedema.(1)

The correct pole length

Nordic walking poles should always have a strap or demi-glove that keeps the poles in your hands and allows you to release them from your grip on the backstroke and have them snap back into your hand. The poles are usually made of aluminium or cartoon fibre and should be adjustable in length. For your stability and to give leverage, you need the poles to be the length at which you can hold them with bent elbow at 90 degrees with the tip touching the ground next to your foot. Most adjustable poles have a range for people who are from 5 feet to 6 feet tall. If you are shorter, there are poles designed for children that will fit you well. If you are taller, look for poles for the higher height range.

The correct grip

If your poles have a strap, bring your hand up through the strap and then grip the pole. This results in the strap being over the back of your hand (and not twisted), with your thumb over the strap. Adjust the length of the strap so the pole is secure in this position. Some poles have straps labelled left and right for your convenience. By using the strap in this way, you'll be able to release your grip on the pole for a brief time without it falling to the ground. Your hold on the pole should be relaxed, with the pole able to rotate forward and back between your thumb and forefinger. The handgrips are usually angled to assist with their use.

If you keep your grip relaxed, it will take minimal effort to flick the pole forward with each step. To get used to the correct grip, hold it between your thumb and forefinger without using the other fingers. You can close the other fingers loosely. There is no need for a tight grip on the poles - you will naturally tighten your grip if you feel unstable momentarily.

And so to walk…

Keep your elbows close to your sides as you walk and use the poles. With each step, flick the opposite side's pole forward. This is a small upward motion of the forearm or a slight flick of the wrist. If you have a loose grip, it will cause the pole to pivot forward correctly. The opposite arm/leg motion is important. If you bring the same arm and leg forward, you will end up with a swaying gait. You may need to practice this at first if it doesn't come naturally. Walk simply dragging the poles behind you with a natural gait, and you should see that you fall into the opposite arm/leg pattern. Now you can bring the poles up enough so the tips touch the ground with each step. There is no need to firmly plant the tip into the ground. Your arms can move forward and backward naturally as you walk. You don't need any forced or exaggerated arm motion. Adjust the length of the poles so you maintain an angled elbow as your poles contact the ground. It may sound a little complicated, but the walking action is very simple. You just need some poles, supportive shoes, preferably a walking partner and off you go… Enjoy. Please remember to always ask your doctor if any new form of exercise is suitable for you.

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258212727_The_effects_of_pole_walking_on_arm_lymphedema_and_cardiovascular_fitness_in_women_treated_for_breast_cancer_A_pilot_and_feasibility_study authors Karin Johansson and Charlotta Jönsson


For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

October 2020

I do hope that you are all managing to stay safe and well in these very strange times and that you feel able to confidently seek good medical attention for any physical changes which may concern you. It is so important that we have an early diagnosis and treatment, especially for conditions which may be cancer or heart disease related. Doctors are encouraging us to seek medical help in such circumstances, so if you are concerned about anything, do please make that appointment.

A few years ago, when I was suffering from an inner ear problem (unrelated to cancer) which affected my balance, I found that the use of walking poles was invaluable for simply getting me from A to B in an acceptably straight(ish) line. When I recovered from this pesky problem, I, rather unwisely, banished the said poles to languish in the under stairs cupboard. It is only fairly recently that I have discovered that the true qualities of the poles extend much further than their use as aids to help unruly balance mechanism afflicted souls, like I was, get about.

After much research, many physicians strongly extol the virtues of walking poles and their use to achieve the activity called ‘Nordic Walking’ - a widely recognised and increasingly popular method used to aid general fitness. The benefit of this type of exercise may be experienced by people of a wide age range, you do not need to be super fit to use them, but it is important to speak with your medical advisers first and learn how to use the poles correctly. We will look at the best way to use them in next month’s CPN. If you like to walk in the company of others, there are many Nordic Walking groups all around the country and some are especially for beginners.

What Is Nordic Walking?

Nordic walking uses two specially designed super lightweight poles to work the upper body while walking. Rather like cross country skiing, the poles are used by the arms to match each step the person takes. Most poles have rubber tips that grab the pavement and wrist straps that secure the poles to your arms, so with one walking pole in each hand, you grip the handles and push off with each stride. The Nordic Walking technique is a simple enhancement of normal arm swing when walking. The poles remain behind the body and pointing diagonally backward at all times.

How Is It Better Than Just Walking?

For a better but easier cardio workout, Nordic walking increases your heart rate without you feeling like you are working any harder. While you can get a similar heart rate effect by actually walking faster, there are many people who do not want to, or cannot walk fast.

Upper Body Workout

Nordic walking works the arms, shoulders, upper chest and back muscles through a full range of motion, stretching and lengthening those muscles which are often tight. This can help us to overcome the hunching forward that many of us adopt while working at desks, computers, reading or watching TV. Most of us know the feeling of stress we get with the tightening of our neck and shoulder muscles. Nordic walking helps to loosens up those knots.

Consider some of the benefits of using walking poles:

  • The arm movement adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.

  • They can improve balance and stability. On any surface, the poles provide more stability for walkers who have balance, knee or leg problems.

  • They help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and strengthen upper back muscles.

  • They take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems. Proper use of the poles and arm motion encourages good posture. Many people who had given up walking for pleasure find that they can walk comfortably with the poles.

  • Walking with poles makes the activity of walking more intentional and can improve your confidence and mood.

Walking poles in various fixed or adjustable lengths are available inexpensively online and in many sporting goods stores. I find the adjustable ones better because they can be adjusted to people of different height. Why not have a word with your doctor and, if appropriate, give Nordic walking a try?

Helpful Reading


Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com Website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

September 2020

I do hope that you are all staying as safe and well as possible. As I write, the temperature is soaring up into the mid 30 degrees and just keeping reasonably cool and well hydrated is proving to be something of a challenge. A tip I picked up some years ago when working in Malta is that household fans can be much more effective at cooling us down when we place a bowl of ice in front of the blades… this works really well. I have also used small mineral water bottles ¾ filled with water… I place these in the freezer and alternate them in front of the fan with a saucer under to catch the drips. Remember not to fill the bottles with water because of expansion.

It has been lovely during the pandemic to invite friends round for drinks in the garden and to be able to accept invitations to other safe distancing gatherings in lovely outside spaces. Being treated for cancer myself I have become aware that red wine, which was always my choice of refreshment at such events, is not generally recommended by the medical profession for people with cancer, particularly of the breast. Alcohol is also rather dehydrating and so not at all advisable at times of sweltering heat when we need our bodies to retain water. Not being overly keen to give up the delicious red grape without a fight and being aware that wine in moderation had, for many years, been recommended for heart and blood vessel health I set about reading published studies on the topic and talking with oncologists and other members of the medical profession for their views. Although it is important to remember that we each need to discover for ourselves the best ways to remain healthy and to talk with our own medical professionals, here are a few considerations which may help you open up the topic.

Red wine appears to get its health benefits from its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipid-regulating effects. Being made from crushed dark grapes, it is a rich source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols and resveratrol - a natural antioxidant found in grape skins. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body which is said to have clear links to many physical ailments, including cancers, heart and neurodegenerative disease. Even though alcoholic and non-alcoholic red wines contain the same amount of antioxidants, it is thought that the alcohol may block the polyphenols from doing their protective work of protecting our cells from free radical damage and helping to reduce our blood pressure levels. Non-alcoholic red wine may therefore be more effective at protecting our health. Red wines have more of these polyphenols than white because white grape skins are removed during manufacture. De-alcoholised wine starts out as real fermented wine, but before bottled, it is either filtered or put through a spinning process that removes both the water and the alcohol. Next, the volume is replaced with water or a combination of water and unfermented grape juice. However, it does not taste like grape juice, it still has a hint of the tannins, and is less sweet than plain juice. An added bonus is that non-alcoholic wine has 3-6 times fewer calories than regular wine. There is a wide range of choice of non-alcoholic wines available from supermarkets now, and I for one am absolutely sold on them, (No, I am not receiving commission!)

Some useful reading:

Allen NE. Beral V. Casabonne D, et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer incidence in women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101:296–305.

Chen S. Sun X. Kao Y-C. Kwon A. Zhou D. Eng E. Suppression of breast cancer cell growth with grape juice. Pharm Biol. 1998;36:53–61.

Castillo-Pichardo L. Martinez-Montemayor MM. Martinez JE. Wall KM. Cubano LA. Dharmawardhane S. Inhibition of mammary tumor growth and metastases to bone and liver by dietary grape polyphenols. Clin Exp Metastasis. 2009;26:505–516.

Wang Y. Lee KW. Chan FL. Chen S. Leung LK. The red wine polyphenol resveratrol displays bilevel inhibition on aromatase in breast cancer cells. Toxicol Sci. 2006;92:71–77.

Zhang SM. Lee IM. Manson JE. Cook NR. Willett WC. Buring JE. Alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk in the Women's Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;165:667–676.

As I write this article, many of us are still trying to keep ourselves and each other safe during the Coronavirus pandemic by limiting our interaction with others. Inevitably, we have needed to avoid sharing our usual style of hospitably with people from different households. Fortunately, for everyone’s physical and emotional well-being, we have been discovering ways in which we can enjoy some socially distant interaction and invite friends into our garden’s for drinks and nibbles. I have found that guests are perfectly happy to bring their own glasses with them for me to top up with a little sparkling something and they welcome an offering of tasty nibbles that I have freshly cooked (which kills any bug that happens to be lurking) and which I have served in a safe way. Here are a couple of great accompaniments to have with drinks that are as quick and easy to do as falling off a log…


Olive Paste Toasts

This quantity serves six people, but you may well be blessed by more friends than that… if you do happen to be the most popular person on the block, you are well blessed…double, or triple up the quantities.


  • 4 large thick slices of tasty, good quality bread

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed is best)

  • ½ garlic clove (crushed)

  • Red pepper strips and a little fresh thyme sprigs or other favourite herb to garnish


Olive paste

  • 175g (6 oz) stoned black olives (the inexpensive tinned ones are fine, but I rinse off the brine)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • A few drops of balsamic vinegar

  • A little salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200C (400F/Gas 6)

  • To make olive paste, place ingredients into food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.

  • Transfer to bowl.

Cut each slice of bread into 3 fingers. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 mins until crisp and golden.

Warm the oil and garlic in a small saucepan and trickle this over the bread. Serve immediately spread with the with olive paste and add garnish.

Note: The Olive paste can be made in advance and put into sterile jars. Pour over olive oil to cover, seal and keep in refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


Cheese Filo Tartlets

Makes 16 tartlets

  • 500g (1lb) feta cheese

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

  • Pepper to taste

  • 3 beaten eggs

  • 8 sheets of filo pastry

  • 125g (4oz) melted butter


Method

  • Crumble the cheese into a bowl.

  • Mix together the beaten eggs, parsley and pepper.

  • Stir into the cheese and mix well.

  • Take one sheet of pastry and cut in half, keeping the remainder covered in a clean damp tea towel or damp absorbent paper to prevent it drying up.

  • Brush the pastry with melted butter and fold into quarters.

  • Place the pastry into buttered patty tins.

  • Put a spoonful of the cheese mixture into the centre of each patty and squeeze the pastry around the filling.

  • Brush the pastry with any remaining melted butter.

  • Bake at 200C (400F/Gas 6) for 20-25 mins, until golden. Serve hot.

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk


July/August 2020

I do hope that we are all managing to take the extra free time imposed upon us due to the Coronavirus to find new ways of looking after ourselves and keeping healthy. It appears from government statistics that, over the past few months, many people who would normally have gone to see a doctor or attended regular check ups have failed to do so, probably due to understandable fear of entering a GP surgery or hospital. I suspect that others will have avoided seeking medical advice because they have felt that they did not want to bother the medical profession at such a busy time. We are assured that family doctors and hospitals have been available to us during this time and have found ways of shielding us from other people with Covid19 and keeping us safe. There has been great concern amongst the medical profession that many people who would have otherwise sought medical help have placed themselves in danger because of untreated serious illness such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Medical experts are now saying that anyone with any troubling symptoms, especially those associated with heart attack, stroke or cancer should immediately contact their doctor, or in the case of an active stroke or heart attack, call an ambulance.

We at Positively Pink Oxford have a special interest in supporting people with cancer and so I felt it may be helpful to quote a list of possible cancer signs and symptoms from Cancer Research UK so that we can all be a little more aware of our bodies and what changes to notice. It is important to add that many of the signs and symptoms listed below can be due to minor causes other than cancer, but it is wise to get them checked out by a doctor. Early detection of serious illness is the most effective way of dealing with it successfully. We will all know by now that currently if we have a persistent cough, a fever or a loss of a sense of taste and smell, we should seek immediate medical advice, get tested for the Coronavirus and, if the test is positive, self isolate.

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Signs and Symptoms of Cancer (as published by Cancer Research UK)

– Tell your doctor if you notice the following:


  • Unusual breast changes. Lumps are not the only changes that should be reported to a doctor. Also look out for any changes in the size, shape or feel of the breast, any skin changes, redness or pain in the breast. And don’t forget any nipple changes, including leaking from the nipple in a woman who is not pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Unusual lump or swelling anywhere. Persistent lumps or swellings in any part of the body should be taken seriously. That includes any lumps in the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle.

  • Persistent cough. Coughs are common with colds. But if a cough doesn’t go away or gets worse, make sure you tell your doctor.

  • Coughing up blood. No matter how much or what colour it is, tell your doctor.

  • Unexplained weight loss. Small changes over time are quite normal. If you lose a noticeable amount of weight without trying to, tell your doctor.

  • Appetite loss. This can happen for many different reasons. Speak to your doctor if you’re not as hungry as usual and its not getting any better.

  • A change in bowel habit, such as constipation, looser poo or pooing more often. Stomach bugs and food poisoning are often the cause of loose, frequent bowel motions. But if you’ve noticed a change in your bowel habits, it’s important to tell your doctor.

  • Blood in your poo. The most common cause of blood in your poo (stools) is piles (haemorrhoids). But blood in your poo can sometimes be a sign of cancer.

  • Blood in your pee. Blood in your urine should always be reported to your doctor. Usually it is not caused by cancer and can be treated quickly and easily, but it could be a sign of cancer.

  • Problems peeing. This can include needing to pee (urinate) urgently, or more frequently. It might also include not being able to go when you need to. These conditions can be caused by conditions other than cancer, but it’s important to tell your doctor if you experience any of them.

  • Difficulty swallowing. Some medical conditions can make it difficult to swallow. But if you are having difficulty swallowing and the problem doesn’t go away, it should be checked out.

  • Persistent bloating. It’s quite common for women to experience bloating of the abdomen that comes and goes. But if you feel bloated most days, make an appointment to see your doctor.

  • Persistent heartburn or indigestion. It’s normal to feel slight discomfort or pain sometimes after eating a large, fatty or spicy meal. But if you have heartburn or indigestion a lot, or if it is particularly painful, see your doctor.

  • Croaky voice or hoarseness. These can be common with colds. But a croaky voice that hasn’t gone away on its own should be checked out.

  • Very heavy night sweats. This can be caused by infections or it can be a side effect of certain medications. It’s also often experienced by women around the menopause. But very heavy, drenching night sweats can be a sign of cancer.

  • Breathlessness. It’s not unusual to feel out of breath every now and then. But if you notice that you’re feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time, tell your doctor.

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding. Bleeding or ‘spotting’ can be a side effect of the contraceptive pill. But still see your doctor if you bleed from the vagina between periods, or after sex or after the menopause.

  • Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal. It’s common to get ulcers in the mouth. The lining of the mouth renews itself every 2 weeks or so, which is why they usually heal themselves within this time. But an ulcer that doesn’t heal after 3 weeks should be reported to your doctor or dentist.

  • Sore that won’t heal. The skin repairs itself very quickly and any damage heals within a week or so. When a spot, wart or sore doesn’t heal, even if it’s painless, a doctor needs to see it.

“If you spot anything that isn’t normal for you, whether it’s on the list or not, get it checked out”

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Date and Nut Truffles – No Cook

These delicious balls of loveliness (see photo) are just the sweet treat to keep in your fridge for those moments when you feel like a little pampering something to pop in your mouth. The bonus is that they are unaccompanied by the vicious pangs of guilt we hurl at ourselves for succumbing to the consumption of hip hugging refined sugars and mind zapping E numbers. What’s more, they need no cooking, contain just a few ingredients, are extremely simple to throw together (in the nicest possible way) and, unless you become addicted to eating vast quantities of them, are actually good for you.

If you can bear to part with any of them, they make great gifts to share with friends and neighbours, but please remember to let them know that the precious things contain nuts.

Ingredients

  • 14 soft dates – Medjool are best (soak in hot water for 5 minutes and drain well)

  • ¼ cup of cocoa powder (unsweetened)

  • ¾ cup of ground almonds

  • ½ cup of other nuts of your choice

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • Up to ½ teaspoon of sea salt to taste (optional)

Remove the pits and woody ends from the dates.

Place all the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

Add the dates, vanilla and sea salt.

Process until the mixture is completely smooth and forms itself into a sticky ball.

Taste and add any flavours you like.

Scrape out the mixture into a bowl.

Scoop out rounded teaspoons of the mixture and form into small balls between the palms of your hands (makes about 22 truffles). To help you remove the mixture from the spoon, dip your fingers in a small bowl of warm water.


When it comes to choices of coatings, there are plenty of good things to choose from: finely chopped or ground pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or even pistachios. Other options include: roasted sesame seeds, cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, cinnamon or dried ground berries (which add a lovely sharp contrast to the sweetness of the dates). Why not try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to some of the mixture in the food processor, some coffee or crystallised/powdered ginger?

These wee beauties can be kept in the fridge for a week, but in my experience, they have a habit of disappearing long before then! If you feel so inclined, you can prepare a mountain of the paste and your whole family can get involved (current social distancing rules observed) to make a lot of people very happy!

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

May/June 2020

Like so many people with or without cancer across the UK and indeed the world, I have been self isolating because of the Coronavirus and I understand, only too well, how uncomfortable this very challenging way of living can be. Having said that, I have had the space and time to realize that life for many of us had become something of a running paragraph with no punctuation in which things just seemed to merge into each other and make no sense. Most of us have previously been in a constant state of busyness which threatened to drain our inner resources, our love of life and leave us in a state of exhaustion of which even holidays could only touch the surface. The consequences of running on empty for any length of time can have a great impact on our lives… we can loose our sparkle, eat and sleep badly, live on a short fuse, lack energy and life itself can begin to stop making much sense to us.

Is time and space so bad?

We must never forget how horrible and heartbreaking the consequences of the Coronavirus have been for so many and may continue to be for some time ahead, but it can be extremely beneficial to use this enforced time of isolation to consider some of the benefits it can offer us. The virus has thrown us a curve ball and pressed the ‘pause’ button on us before we were aware of the need to do it for ourselves, but with a little courage and adaptation to our way of perceiving our lives, we can give ourselves the opportunity to wake up from the slumber of survival, in which we just go on going on, to experience some of the fullness of lives well lived. With a heart of gentleness, we can allow ourselves to unravel some of those cords which bind us to habits of blind busyness and offer ourselves a safe space in which to relax, play, explore and welcome new opportunities into our lives. Busyness is not in itself a negative quality, but it can become much more life giving when connected to an aware and calm place inside us, rather than one of fear, panic, anxiety or shoulds and oughts.

I strongly believe that unless we actively create natural pauses for ourselves in this crazy and driven world, we open up ourselves to undesirable feelings of stress, anxiety and to poor health. Understandably, when we are so used to dashing about in a world that is focused on pressing forward and doing more, periods of stillness can make us very uncomfortable… we feel we want to ‘do’ something, but in slowing down or pausing to take care of ourselves, to listen to the deep wisdom of our bodies, minds and souls, we make available the possibility of becoming the people we were always meant to be and to living in a way that our hearts yearn for. Here are a few tips which may help…

For those of us who can go outside for micro/macro walks, it is often helpful to allow the natural world to help us ease ourselves back into our bodies, slow down our minds and connect ourselves to our awareness of how we interact with our world. There are some lovely walks around the CPN area where we can pay attention to our surroundings by calmly zooming in and out between the vastness of the landscape and the tiny details around us. A little practice in this technique can be well worth the effort. If you are unable to go outside, this technique can be practiced at home too.

Awareness Exercise

Become aware of: 4 things you can see: 3 things you can touch: 2 things you can hear: 1 thing you can smell.

Sight

Take plenty of time to slow right down and rest your gaze for a few moments or more on each thing that draws your attention. Allow the chosen object to ‘come to you’ softly and gently without straining your eyes… notice its qualities and receive them.

Touch

Take time to gently become aware where your body is in contact with another surface and how it feels to you.

Hearing

Notice if your chosen sounds change or is there a regular pattern? There is no need to identify what makes the sounds, simply enjoy them and notice the space and the stillness between them. Become aware of how you feel in relation to each sound.

Smell

Keep walking until you catch a scent of something…pause and absorb its fragrance. This sense is strongly associated with memory, so if it reminds you of the past, gently acknowledge that fact, bring yourself back to the present and walk on.

Journaling

This is a great way to help us gain insights into our inner desires, to remind us of what really matters to us and, even in the darkest of times, to the many things we can be grateful for. There is a truth to be shared in this sign on the wall of the Mayflower Café in Chicago, ‘As you wonder on through life, sister/brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole’. I know that in such times as these, it can be very difficult to see ‘the donut’ and ignore ‘the hole’, but gratitude can transform for us what little we may have into enough, and even more… it can turn feelings of helplessness into a powerful tool of hope and peace which we can experience right now.

Journaling is just a fancy name for writing down, probably in some kind of book, your gentle whispers to yourself about some things that may be helpful to be heard from within. It is quite different from writing in a diary and can be seen as a luxuriate sharing of your story with yourself… a reflecting on your life and, at this time of Coronavirus lockdown, it can enable you to listen to your inner promptings of healing and peace. Journaling can be done anywhere, indoors or out, in the kitchen, the shed, in the woods or next to a pond… it should be done wherever you feel comfortable at a slow, reflective pace… there is no rush and it need not be seen by anyone else – you are the important person you are sharing these things with. Let your reflections percolate just like a good coffee for which you have to wait to enjoy.

You can write down whatever comes to mind, but do please remember that you are writing with loving kindness as your own closest and very dear friend. Here are a few prompts that may, get you started:-

  • How am I feeling today?

  • What 4 things am I grateful for right now?

  • What can I bring into my life that, even in a small way, will bring me joy?

  • What area of my life could be improved by a little more patience?

  • What new thing have I discovered that will help me feel more alive?

  • What old thing that I have, or that I do, hinders me from living more fully, calmly and joyfully?

Self Face Massage

With all the necessary social isolating we are experiencing, many of us are feeling more than a little starved of hugs and other physical contact which helps us feel loved and cared for. It may be some time yet before we are able to return to such affectionate touching, but we may well benefit from a little more self care in the form of facial massaging. For anyone living alone, this can be surprisingly comforting, relaxing and simple to do.

Squeeze a 1pence sized amount of your favourite facial oil or lotion onto each of your palms. Evenly smooth over your palms and fingers.

Lightly press your fingers between your brows and slowly slide several times using circular sweeping movements over your forehead to your temples.

Massage using all your finger tips from the bridge of your nose over your cheeks and on to your ears. Avoid your eyes and the delicate skin around them.

Move hands to a lower level, repeat the sliding up and out motion across your jaw line.

To finish, with the back of your fingers make very gentle vertical strokes from your collar bone and up your neck.

This is a very relaxing process to try before bedtime and, if you have a little lavender oil to put on a tissue on your pillow, you should nod off in moments!


As always, if you are having treatment for cancer or any other illness which involves your blood circulation, please talk to your doctor before having any massage or other physical treatments… even by yourself.

Jean Pryce-Williams is an ex nurse, osteopath and paramedic tutor, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist, clinical masseuse, stress management consultant, retreat leader and Anglican priest.

For a chat about your experiences of living through these challenging times, for more information, to express an interest in coming along to our breast cancer support group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

April/May 2020

Everyone at Positively Pink Oxford wishes you all lots of love and good wishes for your safety and good health at this very challenging time. We have certainly all had to adjust to a very different way of being and social distancing and this can have a profound effect on our sense of well-being. Thankfully we all have the opportunity to be altruistic and to feel that we have a connection to one other or a group of people who support each other. This enables us not just to survive, but to thrive. I would like to take this opportunity to say a very big Thank You to everyone in our wonderful CPN area for offering anyone else who may value it, extra special time and care… perhaps a phone call, letter, text or a little shopping. My thanks also go to anyone who has received loving care from someone else… it is not always easy to admit that we need help, especially if we are a little shy, proud or used to being alone and independent, but it is a precious building block in our community life and, after our compliance with the advice to say home and save lives, it is one of the most powerful contributions we can make to beating this virus together... and living a fulfilled life after it.

If you would like to offer help in any way to those around you, be courageous, take the bull by the horns and go for it… you will be so glad you did! It would be great to hear how you got on… perhaps you could drop me a text.

If you, or anyone you know (particularly, but not exclusively, if self isolating after cancer treatment) would like a chat on the phone with someone from time to time, please contact me at the email address below and I will do my best to make it happen.

The Coronavirus and Use of Face Masks

People with lowered immune systems, such as those who are having or have recently received cancer treatments, are strongly advised to self isolate at home. The UK advisory bodies are not currently recommending that we all wear face masks in public to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19, but the American CDC (Centres for Disease Control) are doing so. As we are all probably well aware, there are global shortages of medical-grade face masks and those should rightly be reserved for healthcare providers. Although it is not possible for individuals to make medical-grade masks at home, some of us, who have no choice but to mingle with others in public albeit within the recommended ‘safe social distancing’ guidelines, may feel a little more comfortable wearing a face mask. I must stress that the templates below must not in any way be relied upon to provide a complete barrier from Coronavirus and that we must always keep the recommended safe distancing from other people when wearing them… some medical experts, including those of the World Health Organisation, say that, if well fitting and made of layers of closely woven material, …’they may provide some degree of barrier from the droplets associated with the virus and be beneficial as a preventative measure in curbing the spread of the virus’. Many people have been found to be infected with Covid-19 and they do not show any symptoms, so it is possible to unknowingly spread the virus to others. Therefore, wearing a mask could reduce the chances of being infected yourself and you infecting others. The masks should be washed frequently and our hands should be thoroughly cleaned before placing them on the face and removing them… the whole aim is to keep the virus off our face, nose, eyes, mouth etc.

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How to make an (almost) no sewing washable non-medical coronavirus face mask - using a T-shirt or handkerchief

Version one – the T-shirt face mask:

Starting with an old T-shirt, ideally 100% cotton, but any closely woven material will do, it should not be thin enough to see pinpoints of light through. If helpful to you, draw on it an outline of the mask (See diagram). The bottom line should go just underneath the armpits of the shirt. Try it on your face to make sure it is large enough to properly cover your nose, mouth and chin.

Cut through both sides of the shirt at the same time so that your mask has two layers.

With cotton thread, run just a few inches of stitches centrally along the bottom cut edge joining the layers together and place a piece of paper towel or coffee filter in between the two layers of the T-shirt. This rests on top of the stitches and makes an additional filter. Secure the mask around the front of your face, covering your nose and mouth. Secure the top ties under the back of your head and the bottom ties at the top of your head. Make sure you have a good fit all round especially under your chin.

Diagram - thanks to Masks 4 You

Version two – the handkerchief/small bandana face mask:

Start with a handkerchief/bandana or any square of closely woven material (preferably cotton), a coffee filter or piece of paper towel and two hair ties, rubber bands (not quite as comfortable) or recycle the ties off a used commercially made mask.

Cut off the bottom third of the coffee filter (the narrower part), leaving you with a curved top.

Fold the handkerchief or square of material in half, along a horizontal axis, and make a good crease.

Place the piece of paper towel or coffee filter (curved edge facing the fold and the cut edge facing up) at the centre of the material as a filter. Fold the top down to the centre and the bottom up, to the centre so that the filter rests in the fold.

On one end, place your first elastic about one-third of the way in from the edge of the material, then place the second elastic one-third of the way in from the other end. The two elastics should be about six inches apart.

Next fold the left side in toward the centre and then fold the right side in toward the centre, tucking the right side into the left-side flap. Taking the elastic ‘bands’ in each hand, place over the ears and adjust the material to fit well.

Using and taking care of your mask:

Keep the mask clean and available for when you are with people outside your regular family group. It may not be necessary in a park or on a quiet street with few pedestrians, when you’re moving around keeping your advised distance.

Do not remove the mask until you are at home or in a place where you can wash your hands first and avoid coming within 6ft of other people. When you do remove the mask, avoid touching the material itself in case you breathed in/or out infected droplets that could now be there.

Remove and dispose of the paper filter insert. Place the rest of the mask in hot (60 degrees +) soapy water, soak it for two minutes, then wash and rinse. Any kind of soap – washing up liquid, laundry detergent, hand soap – will do. Then thoroughly wash your hands. Never reuse a mask without washing it first.

Next time you wear the mask, remember to replace the paper-towel insert.

Handkerchief/Bandana step 1
Handkerchief/Bandana step 2
Handkerchief/Bandana step 3
Handkerchief/Bandana step 4

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If you have symptoms – a stuffy nose, a cough, a fever, sore throat or loss of ability to taste or smell – stay inside.

For a chat about your experiences with breast cancer, for more information, or to express an interest in coming along to the group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com See our website: www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

March/April 2020

Just when we thought we could start to regain our equilibrium after the onslaught and painful indecision of Brexit, lo and behold, up pops the Coronavirus to keep us all guessing and on our toes! Like most of the world, we in Cumnor Parish have had to make some difficult choices in an endeavour to keep each other as safe as possible. Therefore, our Positively Pink Oxford group has decided, after much thought, discussion and advice from medical professionals, to temporarily suspend our group meetings, Film and Fizz evenings and Pinky's Tea Room until the risks associated with the virus subside. It is also with great sadness that I have to report that we will not hold the Cumnor Festival of Performing Arts this year on 20th June as planned. Pinky's Tea Room and the festival are our only sources of income, so I shall have to be creative in discovering a new way to keep our breast cancer support group ticking on without the festival income this year. However, I do hope to continue to write this regular article, would love to hear from you and will let you all know all our latest news via this page and our website www.positivelypinkoxford.org.uk

Keeping Well

It is so important to keep ourselves as healthy as possible especially through these challenging times, and so as usual, I shall research and share with you some ideas as to how we may go about this. We continue this month by looking at the health benefits of my dear old wrinkly friend - the walnut!

Walnuts and Breast Cancer

There has been some rather compelling research undertaken on Omega-3 fatty acids (in which walnuts are rich) and the effects this may have on breast cancer prevention and survivorship [1]. The breast cancer clinic which I attend in London strongly advised me to read the article I cite below and to supplement my diet with dietary Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and walnuts. It is important to talk with your own doctor about what is right for you.

Studies have also found that eating walnuts may have substantial benefits related to heart disease, stroke, peripheral neuropathy and brain cognition disorders sometimes associated with the after effects of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Further supplementing our diet with cold pressed virgin olive oil can have added health benefits [2].

The science is a pretty complicated business, but in a nutshell (see what I did there?) it appears that there are several ways the clever old walnut could have such an effect. The unsaturated fats they contain can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Their Omega-3 fatty acids can also assist in the reduction of general inflammation, the prevention of blood clots and reduce the risk of developing erratic heart rhythms.

What's in a Walnut?

30g or a small handful of 10 halves gives you approximately ...

170 calories

4g protein

1.2g fibre

2.4g alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant based Omega-3 fatty acid.

This is the most commonly recommended amount to eat 5 times or more per week.

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[1] Fabian, C.J.,Kirnler, B.F. & Hursting, S.D. Omega-3 fatty acids for breast cancer prevention and survivorship. Breast Cancer Res 17, 62 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0571-6

[2] New England Journal of Medicine 21; 378(25), e34. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1800389 https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1800389

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For a chat about your experiences with breast cancer, for more information, or to express an interest in coming along to the group or helping when normal service resumes, please call Jean on 07927 236961 or email: positivelypinkoxford@gmail.com

Walnut and White Bean Dip

(serves 4)

  • 40g roughly chopped walnuts

  • 400g butter or cannellini beans

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 crushed garlic clove or 1 tsp garlic paste

  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Carefully toast the walnuts in a dry pan. Blitz in a food processor.

Drain the beans reserving 1 tbsp of liquid. Add these to the processor and blitz again with the oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice.

Add most of the parsley, season with black pepper and pulse a few times to combine.

Spoon the mixture into a pretty dish and scatter over the remaining parsley.

Serve with vegetable crudités, fiatbread or whatever crispy things take your fancy.

Enjoy.

Film and Film Evening

Chawley Grove Care Home, Cumnor Hill have again very generously offered their luxurious new cinema room exclusively to the group for a private film showing and refreshments on Tuesday 25th February at 7.30pm. I bring the Prosecco and film ‘Mary Queen of Scotts’ staring Academy Award Winners Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. No charge. Limited seating…booking through Jean a must.

The next Pinky’s Tearoom openings will be Wednesday 5th February 11.00am – 1.00pm Cumnor Old School. Everyone is welcome.

February Meeting

Wednesday 19th February. 7.30pm Cumnor Old School. Therapists Marie and Shelley from the Oxford Nuffield Health and Fitness Centre will be here to tell us about their ’Relax and Restore’ treatments designed for cancer patients and the substantial discounts available for us.

February 2020

Our ‘healthy but fun’ spin on Christmas canapés from nutritionist Helen Money gave us lots of tasty, guilt free ideas… and we added a little Prosecco to give a tad more festive cheer! Many thanks to Helen for all the support she gives us.

We had a most interesting and helpful gathering in January with Consultant Obstetrician Dr Brenda Kelly (see photo), who came to share with us her thoughts and research on ways to help those visited by cancer to live more full and active lives.

Brenda spends some of her time working alongside a team of health professionals for cancer fit.me@cancertime which provides resources regarding exercise for people living with and beyond cancer. Brenda, who herself completed treatment for breast cancer in December 2018, says there is persuasive evidence that exercise and physical activity during and after cancer is associated with improved physical and psychological well-being, reduced side effects and risks of treatment, decreased cancer-related fatigue and enhanced self-esteem. Fatigue in cancer survivors is a significant issue and perhaps the most common side effect. Surgery, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and Hormone therapy can all cause feelings of extreme debilitating tiredness that can drag on for many months. We may not all call it fatigue, but tiredness and exhaustion, are reported by up to 95% of people with cancer[1]. According to Cancer Research UK, almost all of the main forms of treatment can cause it[2]:

Exercise helps – but how to start?

It can be very difficult to motivate yourself to exercise when you feel drained. The trick is to start with little and often and not let the need to exercise become overwhelming. Be regular – but take it easy. Work up for 30 mins until you are warm and comfortably out of breath, but still able to talk in short sentences.

Do it right

Most importantly, tell your doctor that you intend to take extra exercise. Evidence shows that it can effectively help overcome fatigue, but it needs to be at a correct, ‘moderate’, level of exertion[3]. The best evidence for exercise overcoming fatigue is to work at 70% of your maximum heart rate.

The science bit: 70%HRM and its effect on fatigue

There’s a scale, adjusted for people’s age, that gauges the maximum number of beats that your heart can safely take per minute, known as your Maximum Heart Rate or HRM. It’s thought that exercising at 70% of that level is the most helpful, specifically for tackling tiredness and fatigue.[4] For most people, it would feel like 7 out of 10 in terms of effort (0 being sitting still, 10 being flat out and you want to stop)

To work out your ‘70% HRM you use this equation:220 minus your current age, multiplied by 70%. So, for a 60-year-old: 220-60=160 x 70%=112 beats per minute.

[1] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/fatigue/what-is-cancer-fatigue

[2] https://about-cancer.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/fatigue/causes

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647480/

[4] http://www.journalofphysiotherapy.com/article/S1836-9553(16)00021-7/fulltext

[5] Exercise Recommendations for Cancer-Related Fatigue, Cognitive Impairment, Sleep problems, Depression, Pain, Anxiety, and Physical Dysfunction: A Review - Karen M. Mustian, Ph.D., M.P.H., A.C.S.M, F.S.B.M., Assistant Professor and Director,1 Lisa K. Sprod, Ph.D., A.C.S.M., Research Assistant Professor,1 Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor,1 Luke J. Peppone, Ph.D., M.P.H., Research Assistant Professor,1 and Supriya Mohile, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor1

December/January 2019/2020

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in our groups and Pinky’s Tearoom for all your invaluable support… and to wish you all a lovely Christmas and New Year filled with love, hope, joy and gentle, memorable moments of peace.

Sauerkraut – Gut friendly deliciousness – Great with festive savouries

Sauerkraut is one of the most common and oldest forms of preserving cabbage - traced back to the 4th century BC. Due to the fermentation process, which promotes the growth of beneficial probiotics that are also found in live yogurt and kefir, its health benefits far outweigh that of fresh cabbage. These probiotics can help the bacterial balance of the gut, improve the digestion by breaking down nutrients into smaller, easily managed molecules and they can boost the immune system by improving the strength of the gut lining and therefore preventing unwanted substances leaking into the body causing an immune response.

This wondrous health giving concoction is so tasty and easy to rustle up that I wonder why we don’t all keep a hearty supply in our fridges. I like a mix of white and red cabbage, but either will be fine. Here is how to make it:

    • 500g white cabbage (grated or thinly sliced)

    • 500 g red cabbage (grated or thinly sliced)

    • 2 large apples

    • 2-4 tbsp caraway seeds (if liked)

    • 1 tbsp salt

    • A 1.5 litre jar

Clean the cabbage and apples thoroughly and grate or thinly slice.

Place the cabbage, apple, salt and caraway seeds in a bowl and mix.

Leave for 15 mins for the water to come out of the cabbage etc. Massage the mix by hand for 10mins until the cabbage looks slightly ‘cooked’.

Transfer to clean jar and pack down so that cabbage is covered by the water and no air bubbles show.

Add some cold boiled water if there is not enough to cover.

Place a weight on the cabbage (smaller jar) to keep it under water, cover with a cloth secured with elastic band.

Let the vegetables ferment at room temperature for approx three weeks.

Check regularly that the cabbage remains under water. When fermentation process is complete, transfer to smaller jars. Can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 months if unopened.

Sauerkraut is high in sodium, so be careful if you are watching your salt intake. Can be rinsed to reduce its intensity.

WARNING. Fermented food should not be eaten whilst having chemotherapy or at other times when immuno suppressed

Medical references: Raak C, et al. Glob Adv Health Med. 2014

Lei YM, et al. Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol. 2015.

Film and Fizz Evening –‘Fisherman’s Friends’ - Tuesday 28th January

Based on a true story set in Cornwall - Described by the Guardian as ‘The feel-good film of the year’. All Positively Pink Oxford members are cordially invited to another private film showing generously offered exclusively for us in the luxurious cinema room at the brand new Chawley Grove Care Home, Cumnor Hill. I will provide beautifully chilled Prosecco as we welcome you at 7.30 pm. Free of charge. Very limited numbers – prior booking essential – contact Jean.