Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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My 6th Birthday after a Stem Cell Transplant

Today is my 6th Birthday after my Stem Cell Transplant in Jan 2012.

Never thought I would live to see my 4th birthday after the Transplant 🙂

I feel like I have taken a rebirth in Jan 2012 and that I am just 6 years old now 🙂

I am off chemo since One and a half years. My Oncologist said that I can meet him after a year which is the bestest news ever. Otherwise I was meeting him every 6 months, sometimes every three months and at times every month. Thanks to Ayurveda and Mother Nature .

I have never been as content as I am now.

I feel like a free 🐦 bird . Happy with little pleasures in life and enjoying my work .

Went to the Temple this morning with hubby and my son. Also took blessings from my parents .

Feel so good to receive wishes and blessings from friends, colleagues and family.

God Bless you all .


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Use of Turmeric / Curcumin in Indian Customs and Traditions , Health and Healing , Beauty treatments

Turmeric Vs Curcumin :

Turmeric is a root/rhizome, a golden-colored spice that belongs to the ginger family . Widely used in India for different purposes. The words Turmeric and Curcumin are usually used interchangeably but Curcumin is an extract from Turmeric root, which gives the yellow color to the spice and has several healing properties. Different methods are used to extract Curcumin from Turmeric. Turmeric contains various ”curcuminoids” and Curcumin is one of them. Curcumin is a whole Pharmacy in itself and is used to treat several health conditions. Extensive research is being carried out on Curcumin in the western world for its healing properties..

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This spice has always been revered in India since thousands of years. But ,it is very unfortunate that the healing properties are unknown to majority of the current generation and the knowledge is slowly getting lost. Hopefully the research that is being carried out in the western world will bring to light the potency of Turmeric and thereby heal the world.

Here is an attempt to describe how Turmeric has been in use since centuries in Indian Customs and traditions.

Hindu Customs and Traditions :

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A few drops of water is added to Turmeric powder which is then shaped into a small solid cone . During Hindu festivals this form is worshiped as ”Lord Ganesha” , the remover of all obstacles. It is a fact that none of us  wish to face any obstacles in whatever activity we do/take up. This is a method of reinforcing our will power and also to invoke the blessings of the almighty.

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During Fridays, festivals and other auspicious events, Turmeric paste is applied on the threshold of the main entry door of the house and all other doors that lead outside the house. This ensures that insects and ants do not enter the house. Now a days this is done away with by using paints. Beautiful designs of flowers and leaves are drawn using colourful paints.

A married woman gives Turmeric root/powder along with ‘kumkum’ to other married women  (neighbors, relatives , friends etc), during festivals after inviting them into their homes. This is done as a blessing and good wishes for the long life of the woman and her husband .

Turmeric during weddings :

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Wedding preparations start with the making of Turmeric powder at home. An auspicious day and time is chosen for the event. A few women (relatives, friends neighbors) gather and use a mortar and thistle to crush the dry Turmeric root and symbolically prepare Turmeric powder.

A lot of Turmeric powder is used during Hindu weddings. There are a minimum of  5 rituals, spread over a few days , which require the use of Turmeric powder.

Haldi Ceremony is a very important part of a Hindu wedding. The bride and groom are smeared with a paste made by mixing Turmeric powder , sandalwood paste and rose-water, in their respective homes , couple of days before the wedding. Relatives friends and neighbors gather and make it a fun event.The Bride and Groom get a beautiful glow on their skin 🙂 . . This is repeated three times on three consecutive days. A natural beauty treatment instead of going to a beauty parlour or a Spa.

The bride and groom wear clothes that have been dipped in water that is mixed with turmeric powder . The cloth then gets dyed with a light yellow color.

Turmeric powder is mixed with rice which is then called ‘Akshintalu / Akshatalu ‘. These Akshintalu are used during puja and also used to bless others by sprinkling a little on top of the head of the one taking blessings who bows down and touches the elders feet.

In South Indian weddings , this rice is taken with cupped  hands by the bride and groom and  is poured on top of each others head during the wedding ceremony.

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A long thread is smeared with Turmeric paste and a Turmeric root is tied at the center of this thread. During the wedding ceremony the groom ties this thread around the neck of the bride with three knots.

 

 

Health and Healing :

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An Indian kitchen is incomplete without Turmeric powder in its spice box. Almost all Indian recipes contain Turmeric powder.Thus ensuring that turmeric is taken everyday in our diet. Turmeric also enhances the color of the dish. The anti bacterial properties of turmeric prevents food from decaying quickly.

 

Turmeric powder is Mixed in milk and consumed in order to treat coughs and colds.

Turmeric is supposed to be good for the Liver and digestion.

Turmeric is applied to bruises as it is an antiseptic.

Small balls are made with wet Turmeric powder. A few of these are consumed in order to reduce menstrual cramps .

Turmeric is a blood thinner and reduces cholesterol. Helps in controlling Blood Pressure.

It is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the major reason for most of the chronic diseases including Diabetes , Cardiovascular diseases , Arthritis , Cancer etc.

Curcumin induces apoptosis in tumours . It induces cell death in cancerous cells thereby stopping the multiplication of these cells.  A lot of research is being carried out and there is sufficient proof that this property of Curcumin can treat almost all types of Cancers.

Beauty Treatments :

Many South Indian women apply turmeric paste to their feet every Friday and during festivals and other religious events. Being an antiseptic it protects the feet from infections and cracked feet.

Turmeric paste mixed with other items like milk, chickpea flour etc is applied as a face mask to get rid of acne, pimples and other skin problems . It is also an excellent exfoliant and gives a glow to the skin.

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No wonder Turmeric has always been given a lot of importance in Hindu customs, traditions and rituals since a long time and is treated with piety and respect.

It is highly recommended that everyone include more Turmeric in their diet. It is also advised to prepare your own Turmeric powder instead of using the store-bought powder which is usually adulterated.

I have been using Curcumin every day since Jan 2014 , to fight Multiple Myeloma. Currently not using any other drug. Hope to manage my condition as long as I can.

~Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavathi  : You become what you think ~


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Update on my Condition – Multiple Myeloma

It is 3 months since I had my Bone marrow test .My results were -ve , No M-spike was seen.However , my Oncologist wanted me to be back with my CBP , LFT and RPT reports after 3 months. I actually expected he would say  I can come back after one year 🙂 but he didn’t want to take any risk. So I complied. I remember him saying that after 5 years of having the Transplant (Bone marrow Transplant) , I will have to take the Bone Marrow Test once every year. For the past 5 years I have been doing the test every 6 months .

My Hb touched 11 for the first time in decades. The range for a healthy woman as per my report is 11-14. This is an achievement !! A record break !!

Yayyyy !!

My Globulin Serum too is 34 which is well within the range. A bigger achievement !!

He was very happy on seeing the reports 🙂  and exclaimed ‘you are off all medication isn’t it ?!!’.

I said “Yes Doctor, but I am continuing to take Curcumin and I am sure it is helping me “.

It is one year since I stopped chemo and taking only Ayurvedic medication.

He then asked me , “Do you think  people should go for a Bone Marrow Transplant”.

I was confused.

I immediately said “yes,  there is no other option “.

I then reminded him about the advise he gave me , after my Bone Marrow Transplant (in Jan 2011)  , about using “Tinaspora Cordifolia” , to improve my immunity. Later on , it was this advise that motivated me to look for alternative treatments and I finally found the way.

Having started using Curcumin 2 years ago ,followed by good results , I had been very eager to push Curcumin  and I wanted my Oncologist to prescribe Curcumin along with Tinaspora Cordifolia to all his other patients.In fact, I started using Curcumin, two years ago, just when I was advised to go for a second Bone marrow transplant .

The right time had arrived and I blurted out ” Doctor , you can also recommend Curcumin to other patients. I have read a lot on the Internet and it prevents and treats all types of cancers.My ayurvedic doctor gives me Tinaspora Cordifolia too ,along with Curcumin and some other herbs”

He nodded and  I felt relieved that I finally said what I wanted to say :))

It is a delicate situation wherein a patient suggests an Allopathic Doctor to prescribe Ayurvedic Medication to his other patients . I am so glad that my Oncologist is open to try out other forms of treatment and encourages his patients.

Hopefully more patients will benefit and will be encouraged to try ayurveda , the way I did.

My sincere thanks to Dr Kochar, Ayurveda and Dr Suresh , Oncologist.

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Vegetable Kichdi , my style !!

I go on a 24 hour fast once a week and end my fast by eating a bowl of hot Vegetable Kichdi.This is light on the tummy.A fast should never end with heavy food. This dish is made with Rice, Moong dal ,Veggies and is easily digested . I look forward to this treat at the end of the day. Here is the simple recipe.

Ingredients for one serving :

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Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp

Cumin 1/4 tsp

Urad dal 1/4 tsp

Black pepper as per the spiciness that you can bear 🙂

It is OK if one of the above is missing in your spice rack. But pepper is a must.

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Rice : 2 tbsp

Quinoa (optional): 2 tbsp

Moong Dal ( Split Green gram ): 2 tbsp

Wash and soak Rice and Quinoa in water and keep aside.

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Ginger :  1 inch piece chopped into small pieces

Curry leaves : one or two sprigs

Veggies : you can use capsicum,  carrot, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, corn or any other veggies. Any two veggies are good enough. I am using Capsicum and Carrot today.

One chilli

Ghee 1 tsp

Asafoetida : a small pinch

Salt : As per your taste

Water : 4 times the volume of rice , quinoa and moong Dal.

Place all of them in a bowl. You will need water 4 times this volume.

Preparation : Use a pressure cooker

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Roast the moong dal in the dry pan till you smell the flavour of nicely fried moong dal. It should change into a very light brown colour. Empty the moong dal into another bowl.

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Add oil in the same pan. Add mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal and black pepper to the oil. Let them splutter.

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Add ginger pieces , chilli and curry leaves. Fry for 30 secs . Add all the cut veggies and stir for a minute.

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Now , drain the soaked rice, quinoa and add  to the pan. Also add moong dal . Add water. Add salt . Close the pan with the lid and put the pressure weight. Let it cook on medium heat till you hear 5 to 6 whistles. Let the pressure reduce before you open the cooker.

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Add the ghee and mix it well so all the contents get mashed up and the flavors combine well. Hot and yummy Vegetable Kichdi is ready !! You can eat with a little pickle or chutney on the side, if you wish. Your tummy will thank you 🙂


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Health , Nutrition and South Indian Recipes with Korralu (Foxtail Millets)

Rice is a staple food of a majority of South Indians. Most of us cannot imagine life without rice . Craving for rice begins after 24 hours of not eating rice:)) . I too belong to South India 🙂 and a major part of my diet used to comprise of rice. Rice is an ingredient in our Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The kind of rice that is usually available in most stores is highly polished and hence deprived of nutrients and is left with carbs. After learning about how cancer cells feed on sugars and carbs , I started my research on ways to minimize consumption of rice . Rice is an ingredient in several traditional South Indian dishes like Dosa , Idli , pongal , pulihora etc. Plain rice is eaten with other ‘curries’.

I came across ‘millets’ a couple of years ago and gradually started incorporating these in my diet.

Millets are a group of food grains grown in semi arid areas. These are ancient grains which have not undergone selective breeding.There are several varieties of Milliets . Pearl, Foxtail,Finger, Sorghum etc. Millets are gluten free, are alkaline,have low GI and anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the major cause of a lot of chronic diseases in the body. Millets are usually not attacked by pests and hence are relatively free of pesticides. Millets have higher amounts of minerals and fiber than wheat and rice. Good for putting a check on Diabetes, cholesterol etc

I will be focussing on Foxtail Millets in this post. They are called ‘Korralu’ in Telugu.
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These are a very close substitute to rice and can be used in the preparation of a variety of traditional South Indian dishes.

Korralu (whole grain) can be cooked just the way we cook rice.Replace rice with korralu , for rice preparations like Pulihora, Kichdi,sweet pongal etc.
Batter for idli and dosa is prepared by substituting rice with foxtail millets. Brown rice, foxtail millets and Urad Dal  can be added in equal proportions to make a batter for Idli and dosa.

Korralu ravva is also available in a few supermarkets and organic stores. Idli can be made using this ravva. Upma too can be made with this ravva.

You might have to experiment a bit with the quantities. The taste , colour , texture might differ slightly from what you are normally used to . The idlis may be harder than the usual stuff  when you make them for the first time with millets. The texture of dosas  too might vary.Think of the nutrition rather than the look ,feel and taste. With experience you will be able to do a better job 🙂

Add cooked Foxtail millets to your favourite salad too,instead of quinoa.Also add foxtail millets in moong dal dosa.Get creative and adventurous !!

Lots of recipes are available on youtube.Check them out !

 

 

 

 


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My experience with Meditation

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There are a lot of people all over the world who are able to manage and control chronic illnesses with Meditation. Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Stress, Anxiety , Depression and Cancer too can be ‘managed’ well by including meditation as a part of your daily routine.

My curiosity about meditation and yoga began about 15 yrs ago.
I wanted to learn to meditate but didn’t know what it was all about.

I bought books on Meditation. All the books mentioned a wonderful experience and wrote about a lot of steps and discipline that are required to reach that blissful state. I got discouraged reading all this. I even feared it , thinking I would die during meditation , especially after reading about yogis who pass on during meditation . This is called ‘Samadhi’

I continued reading up on the Internet .

I came across various methods to meditate. Some of them are ..

  • Staring at an object a little away from you. A flower or a candle should do.
  • Sitting with closed eyes and trying to concentrate on the gap between two consecutive thoughts.
  • Focusing on various parts of the body starting from top to the bottom while relaxing those parts of the body.
  • Gently focusing  on the point between the eyebrows with closed eyes.
  • Chanting a mantra etc

I later came across various spiritual organizations that taught meditation. But, I was not ready to accept any Guru.

I continued reading and one day came across ‘Chakra meditation’.
This particular method appealed to me. I read about it several times and one day decided to try it out.I had read enough of theory and was confident and ready for some practicals :))
The experience I had was indescribable. I couldn’t discuss my experience with anyone.

During the process of  meditation all the chatter in my mind had stopped. Breathing was very slow and steady.  I was not able to feel my body, only  a part of the face, the throat, and the breath. It was as if the body had disappeared and expanded into a balloon , this balloon had a diameter of a few meters. There was a lot of energy in this balloon.It was a peaceful state and all was still , as though time was frozen.

This was my first experience. There was no way of knowing if all those who meditate have the same/similar/better experience.The experience was good and I was happy that I was able to ”meditate” without a Guru :))

Soon all was forgotten.

One day , a few years later , I learned that a course was being held by a spiritual organization , close to where I lived. I joined the course hoping to know more about meditation. They didn’t teach any meditation but I learned Pranayama and other rhythmic breathing techniques which are supposed to improve our health and clarity in the mind.

Later on, I also did the Meditation course conducted by the same organisation. The experience was just ok . I  was unable to sit for long periods with my spine erect during all those different kinds of meditation sessions. It was painful 🙂

Once in a while, I would practice Pranayama followed by Meditation. Each time my experience was different.

I have now begun to meditate regularly. So glad that I had learnt to meditate .

Advantages of Meditation :Thoughts too create havoc in the body. Meditation helps in calming the mind which in turn helps the body to relax and heal.

  • Clarity in the mind.
  • A reduction in unnecessary thoughts which drain your energy.
  • One feels calm and peaceful within.
  • Better management of chronic illnesses.
  • Feel more energetic.
  • Deep Rest. It is said that 15 mins of deep meditation is equivalent to 4 hrs of deep sleep.
  • Improves the immune system.
  • Stress relief.
  • Reduction in Anxiety.
  • …and many more

I too had a lot of doubts about meditation dulling the mind. But NO , it helps you to be more efficient as all the clutter is out of your system and you feel more energetic.

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Here is an easy method to make a beginning  :

  1. Sit in sukhasana (cross legged) on a mat on the floor.The spine should be erect.You can also sit on a chair or lean on a wall. You can use pillows/cushions to ensure your spine and head are upright.Place your open palms facing upward on your lap/knees .
  2. Gently close your eyes.
  3. Gently try to focus your eyes at the center of your eyebrows. Do not  apply any pressure while doing this.
  4. Start observing your breath going deep inside your lungs and also observe the air going out through your nose.
  5. Continue to observe your breath.
  6. If your mind wanders , try to gently push the thought away  and bring back your focus to your breath. You can even arrive at a solution to whatever that is bothering you and gently push the thought away.
  7. Continue to bring back your focus to your breath.
  8. Sit in this position for as long as you can.You can also set a timer for 15 mins. It is okay if you are unable to sit for 15 minutes initially. Do this for as long as you can.
  9. Slowly open your eyes while cupping them with your hands.

Initially the process seems irritating as you are unable to focus on your breath and the mind continues to wander. Regular practice will definitely help in focusing and thereby to reach a state of thoughtlessness and the benefits should follow.

The practice can be done anytime during the day. Ensure your stomach is not full , should be almost empty. The best time to meditate is before having breakfast , lunch or dinner.

Where can one learn to Meditate ? 

There are several organizations that conduct regular meditation courses all over the world. You can earn from more than one and choose the one that you are more comfortable with.Take your time to accept the process. There’s no hurry.

A lot of CDs and YouTube videos are available which can help you make a beginning. Once you learn the technique you no longer need any external aid and you will be able to meditate anywhere.

Your experiences are unique to you. We need not compare with others experiences. Just go ahead and enjoy the feeling.

Practicing any art form makes the mind stay calm. These are wonderful methods to calm your mind. Any hobby is good too.

I am enjoying writing these posts and it is definitely helping my mind to stay calm.

Benefits of Meditation have been proven scientifically.

~~Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi ~~

 

 

 


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Allopathy and/or Alternative treatments for Cancer

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Depending on past experience (self or others) , nature of the disease and stage of the disease, people choose Allopathy or  Alternative treatments like Naturopathy, Acupuncture ,Homeopathy, Ayurveda etc.

When the situation is not critical , one can choose Alternative therapies. But when the patient is in a critical stage do not hesitate to go for Allopathic treatment . Get a second or third opinion.Agree Allopathy is expensive but do not take any risk at this point.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma , the thought of Alternative treatments didn’t arise. I was in a state of denial . I didn’t want to accept that I had cancer.I didn’t dare to type the word ‘cancer’ . We immediately took a second opinion and went ahead with Chemo followed by Autologous Stem Cell Transplant (SCT). This was in Jan 2012. It was only after 3 yrs of SCT , when my plasma cells started increasing again that I started scouring the internet for Alternative treatments. By then it was obvious that Chemo is not a permanent solution and comes with a lot of side effects.

Thankfully, I had the hope and confidence that I would find a solution and didn’t give up.

Alternative therapies can be started once Allopathic treatment, ie Chemo/ Radiation/surgery, is done and the patient is in remission. One can also take Alternative treatments simultaneously after consulting experts.

It is strongly advisable to take your Oncologist into confidence when you wish to start Alternative treatments.Don’t ever stop the medication give by your Oncologist.

My strong advice is that you start looking for Alternative therapies as soon as one is diagnosed . The patient or their caretaker can do it.There’s a lot of information on the Internet.  Ignore any negative information.

Read blogs of people who are doing well and cured themselves. The first blog that I came across was margarethealthblogs.com . I was introduced to Curcumin by Margaret.

Watch youtube videos on the methods that several people are adopting to cure cancer.

Join online forums where you can share your problems and you may get some advise.

In India, yoddhas.com is one such forum. They are on facebook too.Feel free to share your concerns.Only when we open up and share , we receive help. It was through this forum that I met some wonderful people who have helped me to be where I am now.

Continue to look for other solutions even if you have started using an Alternative therapy.

Some options are : Juicing, Exercise , Deep breathing , Meditation , Positive thinking , Eliminating foods like sugar , white rice , dairy , maida (all purpose flour) and other acid forming foods in your diet and  include more alkaline foods .

Check your B12, Vitamin D , Calcium, Uric acid levels as often as you can along with other regular tests like CBP, LFT and RFT.

There are a lot of self help books written by those who have successfully battled cancer. Read up and follow them. I have read two inspiring books recently , namely ‘Dying to be me’ by Anita Moorjani and ‘You can heal yourself’ by Louise Hay. Both have healed themselves of cancer and helping a lot of people to heal themselves.There are a lot of videos by them on youtube.

 

 ‘If you think you can, or think you can’t , you are right’ – Henry Ford