My pet scan trip to Denmark

Last week I had to go to Denmark for a pet scan. Iceland does now have a pet scanner, recently given to us by Kári Stefánsson of Decode. However we have yet to build a house for it and the ironic thing is, that I can literally look at where the building is going to stand out my bedroom window. It will be about 100 m from my house. But it wasn’t all bad having to go to Denmark. I actually enjoyed it, because I decided that I would.

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Map of Copenhagen

Traveling to Denmark just for a pet scan sounded like such a waste of a journey. Denmark is a wonderful country and much worth the visit. So I decided to stay few more days. The pet scan was scheduled for Thursday, so we flew out on Wednesday. Me and my mother that is. My cousin Kristin came with a train from Södertälje, Sweden, that same day and we met at the hotel which the hospital had recommended to us, as it’s just around the corner from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen.

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The following day I had the pet scan. I have to say, I was impressed with the Rigshospitalet and the Danish public healthcare. I couldn’t help noticing that there were no card machines at the reception when I came. I also like the little touches the hospital staff had done to the pet scanner. They had stuck butterfly stickers inside the scanner, so that the person lying inside it had something pleasant to look at for the 25 minutes the scan took. After the scan I felt really dizzy and weak. It was 16:00 in the day and I had not eaten anything, plus they pump your veins with some chemicals. Thankfully they do stock up on sandwiches and juice in the waiting room, so I could gorge on that while waiting for my mother and my cousin to come back for me. Then we headed downtown and the first thing that I wanted at that point was a McDonalds. Yeah judge me all you want, but I just needed some quick fix energy because I was still feeling so very dizzy and weak and that is what I was craving at the time.  After that we went to a bar and ordered a large beer and they brought us a HUGE beer. It took us 2 hours to drink that thing, but after that I was feeling back to normal. Well they do tell you to hydrate after the scan, I’m sure they don’t mean with beer, but it sure hell worked.

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The next day, Friday, we went shopping because I needed some comfy cloths for chemo…and some cosmetics, girl can never have too much cosmetics ;). Because my energy levels aren’t great, we had to make a lot of stops. By the end of the day I was really dragging my feet and I was pale as a ghost, but I wanted to be sure I had covered everything so I didn’t give up until we were completely done. My mother had to drag me to the hotel in the evening, because I had used up every bit of my energy. It’s kinda of a downer when your 60 year old mother is more energetic than you after a whole day of shopping, but that’s just cancer for you. She had to fight my corner in some of the last shops, because the shop assistants would just walked right trough me, that’s how pale I was. But it was all well worth it.

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On Saturday, the daughter of my grandfathers sister, Friðrika, came and picked us up from the hotel and took us to her home town of Solrød Strand. It was my first time out of Copenhagen and I have to say it was refreshing to experience something different from the city. Solrød Strand is an exceptionally adorable little towns by beautiful white beach. If I didn’t already have such a vivid dream of me and Ravi living in a beautiful villa by the banks of the Ganges, then I wouldn’t mind living by the beach at Solrød Strand. There we also saw the oldest house in Denmark…or at least that is what Friðrika says.

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On Sunday we visited my parents old friends at Roskilde, which is another stunning town in Denmark with a remarkable cathedral, where all the former kings of Denmark are buried. It’s probably also worth mentioning the famous music festival which takes place there every summer…I have yet to go. Never say never they say and I have always thought that was a good advice to follow. We flew home the following Monday. Next time I will visit Denmark, Ravi will be with me. For sure!

Appreciation for all I have received

The past week has been crazy. After I published my last blog post and posted it on my Facebook, my aunt shared it on and before I knew it a journalist had contacted me wanting to do an interview with me. At first I was reluctant to do an interview and I took a day to carefully consider. After a while I though, hell if some should do it, than that someone should be me as I believe I have the strength stand with it. I wanted to do it for us all, all of us that are not only battling cancer but also the financial burden that comes with being diagnosed with a serious illness. Not only is it costly, but because of our illness, we are not able to work and earn regular salary. It is really unfair considering that a large prosentige of our monthly salary goes into paying tax. One should have thought that if getting sick, we would be compensated. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Because of this, the journalist suggested that we would start a donation for me with the article, to help me with the financial burden. I was  not expecting much. I was certainly not expecting the impact the article was going to have. Many posted it on Facebook and the comments that followed, showed the anger in the society toward the state of our healthcare system. There was an outcry for its restoration. There was even a mention of my interview at the parliament. But that wasn’t all I was surprised by, nor all the financial support a received, which by the way went above my expectation. But also all the amazing energy I received from all the people thinking about me, praying for me, sending me a healing light. I never thought I would actually feel it, but somehow it did. I could feel it prickling my skin and entering me, filling my heart with love and my soul with peace. I have been feeling so incredibly thankful and touched by all the help I have received, some even coming from complete strangers. I am full of appreciation for all the donations I have received and for all the love and all the light. Thank you all so very, very much.

If you speak Icelandic, you can read the interview here.

I have stage 4 primary peritoneal cancer

Four weeks ago the surgeon called me for a meeting to tell me the result of the tests following my operation between Christmas and New Years Eve. It was my 3rd day at a new job and I was feeling positive and excited about my future. This year was supposed to be a new start. I was going to settle down in Reykjavík with my fiancé Ravi, have a steady job and save up for an apartment and for maternity leave, because me and Ravi were planing to start a family within the next two years. The plan was also to get married this summer. I was not expecting the news I got. “You have malignant cancer”. “Say what?!”. I had been told during my illness, last year and during the time I spent in hospital in September and October that I did not have cancer, so this was the last thing I expected to hear. In fact I was so sure that I was OK that I did not even bring anyone with me. I sat there on my own receiving these dreadful news. Of course the doctor who delivered the news should have known to warn me to take someone with me as she knew the severity of the news she was about to deliver. But no, I was there alone and I was neither offered consolation or guidance. I was told that I most likely had a very rare type of sarcoma cancer, one that had never before been diagnosed in Iceland and that my specimen had been sent to Boston, USA, for further diagnoses. All I could do was to wait.

For three weeks I waited for a result from this diagnoses. I was going mentally crazy, it was like torture. It was so difficult to get up in the morning and put on a brave face and face the day. Because I hadn’t been offered any guidance I seeked guidance myself from Kraftur, an organization giving support and guidance to young people battling cancer. This organization is doing an amazing job and they helped me during my difficult wait. They provided me with guidance, consolation, information and more. On Thursday, February 4th I was having lunch with my work colleagues when I had a phone call from my surgeon telling me that the specialist in Boston, who she said were the best in the world, weren’t sure any more if I had that rare type of sarcoma, they weren’t really sure what type of cancer I had and if it originated there in the abdomen as previously thought. I felt like I had been thrown into a black pit. What did that mean? Did I have some type of cancer that they did not know? Did I have a tumour somewhere else in my body they didn’t know about? They knew about the tumour they removed from my abdomen wall and the the one in my liver, but did I have tumours somewhere else? I was left with more questions than answers and feeling completely mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. For a week I could not face real life or speak to anyone outside my family.

Then last Thursday the cancer specialist, Helgi Sigurðsson, that I have been waiting to hear from finally contacted me and invited me for an interview. He apologized for the wait and what I had been put through and for the mistake that was made in the beginning with the wrong diagnoses. He told me that I had stage 4 peritoneal cancer, also a rear cancer, though not as rear as the one they initially thought I had. It was hard to hear that my cancer had already progressed to stage 4, but at the same time I was relieved to know the truth and finally have a plan. The first thing on the plan is that I have to go to Denmark for a pet scan, because we don’t have one in Iceland and then they are doing everything they can to bring Ravi here as soon as possible. Ravi is in India as he had to go back home because he can only get a temporary work visa as a specialist guide. The visa process usually takes 3 months, which would only bring him here at first in mid April, but due to changed circumstances it has become a pressing matter to get him here as soon as possible. Before I can start chemotherapy, I need to fertilize eggs with his sperm and freeze for later use, as the chemotherapy might affect my fertility. I will be damned if I don’t at least get the opportunity to have children that will in some way resemble in appearance the man I love. I have been dreaming about it for too long. Once that is done, the chemotherapy can start, which will be at least a 6 month process, where I will also most likely be operated on at some point too.

All I can say now is let the battle commence! I will fight this and I will survive this. Tough times don’t last, tough people do…and I will last until I’m at least 100 😉

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Tourism in India

IMG_6686Last month I was asked to speak at The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event at The Indian Embassy in Iceland. The topic I was asked to speak on, was on tourism in India. I am no expert on the subject, but I do have both opinions as well as ideas on the matter.

I have traveled to India 3 times. First time I was there for only 3 weeks. I went there after scheduled tour of Nepal. I staid with a friend that I met trough the international mountaineering community and the first thing he did for me was to take me out of the city (Delhi) and into the mountains. There I experienced something that I wasn’t expecting, an image of India that I had no idea that existed, an image I had never seen promoted…ANYWHERE!

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The Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

India is not exactly positively promoted in Iceland. It is in fact hardly promoted at all. The only picture Icelander get of India is trough the media and western movies and it is more often than not, a stereo typical, negative images of India. The images of poverty, dirt, pollution, noise, poor hygiene, crazy traffic and an ocean of people everywhere. I’m not saying that it isn’t  also a true image of India, all I am saying that it isn’t the only image of India, that there is more too it. India is so wast in size and differs so in culture, climate and landscape, that there simply has to be more to it and I am here to tell you that there is!

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During the NIM mountaineering course. Uttarakhand, India

What I saw during my first days in India, was yes that stereo typical image of India, but I also got to experience something that I never identified with India, a whole new side of India. I got to experience it’s wilderness, the untouched nature of the Himalayan mountain range, it’s forests, rivers and wild life. I got to stay with humble mountain villagers that lived simple life without any luxury of modern living and I got to gaze at the stars while cosying up to a fire outside our tent, with illuminated eyes of wild bears and leopards peering trough the darkness around us.

Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand, India

Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand, India

The second time I wen to India, I got to spend a whole month in the Himalayan Mountains, training mountaineering with the Indian Army at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. It was very though, the training was hard and the discipline was strict, not to mention that we had to carry 20 kg on our back in high altitude. But there again I got to experience a side of India no one every tells you about. This incredible untouched beauty of the Himalayan Mountain Range.

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During the NIM mountaineering course. Uttarakhand, India

The difference in trekking on the Indian side of the Himalayas vs. the Nepalese side, is that it is much less commercial. In fact the adventure tourism in the Indian Himalayas, is no more than a decayed old and isn’t  developing at high speed because that simply isn’t the Indian style. The people involved with this sort of adventure tourism in these areas, normally come from poor and humble background. They have never traveled much elsewhere and have little to compere it too. They simply know the mountains and the river very well and are more than willing to guide those few people that have discovers this gem in India and are interested in getting to know it better. The locals need someone to guide them in how to promote their tourism better and how to attract more tourist to these areas, because more people need to come and see this amazing part of India. The two winters I lived and I worked within the tourism industry in Rishikesh, I tried my best to share my knowledge on how market tourism and how to use social media as a tool to promote it world wide.

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A Himalayan Peak

I would like, with this website, introduce Icelanders and the world to the Indian part of the Himalayas, particular the part that lies in Uttarakhand and what it has to offer in terms of culture, food, nature scenery and activities, now that I am forever attached to it and to Rishikesh. I will be traveling frequently there with my future husband Ravi, who is a mountain and river guide, born and bred in the mountains. Lucky me! 🙂

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Chopta, Uttarakhand, India

PS. I will have separate posts where I will talk more about the places seen in the photos featured in this post.

Dinner Party!

The other week I invited my friends for a little dinner party. I promised that I would post the recipe of the feast here on my website, so here it is:

IMG_6687Chicken breasts in pepper cheese sauce:

4-5 Chicken breasts

4 garlic cloves, fine chopped

1/2 L cream

1 whoe peeper cheese (I used 150g)

1 jar red pesto

2 tbsp. soy sauce

5 – 10 drops Tabasco sauce

Melt one tablespoon butter in a pan and lightly brown the garlic. Add the cream, diced pepper cheese, red pesto, soy sauce and the Tabasco sauce and melt on the pan. Brown the chicken on each side on a separate pan and put into a baking dish. Pour the pepper cheese sauce over the chicken breasts and place the backing dish into a 175°C hot oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

IMG_6688-e1454335384617Sweet potato mash:

1 large potato, peeled and diced into small bits

1 celery stick, copped into small  bits

> 50 ml cream

25 g butter

1 tbsp. apple vinegar

salt

The tablecloth I used to decorate the dinner table is a block print tablecloth that I bought in Jaipur at The Rajasthan Small Scale Cottage Industries. It is our festive tablecloth.

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Happy New Year!

IMG_6650-1-576x1024At the beginning of the year 2015, I started this blog, but didn’t continue with it as the year didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped it would, as I spent most of the year having health problems. For a long time I did not know what was wrong with me, but I could tell something wasn’t right with me. I sought the help of medical experts in hope that someone might come up with an explanation. I was always tired, low in energy, I lacked concentration and I got frequent asthma attacks.

In the summer I worked as an office manager for Viking Rafting, as I had done the previous summer. When there was only couple of day left of the rafting season, we at Viking Rafting decided to cook a dinner for our partners. The day before, I was in pain and had fever, but because this dinner was important for the company, I decided to suck it up, took an ibuprofen in the morning and headed for work. But the pain worsened by the day and I was encouraged by my mother and fiancé to consult a doctor. The doctor asked me to come to the hospital in Sauðárkróki straight away for a blood test. After the blood test I was told that I would have to go immediately to the Hospital in Akureyri, as my blood test had revealed that I had severely high infection parameters in my blood. Turned out the infection had spread to my abdomen and liver and that I suffered as well from blood and vitamin B12 deficiency.  I was in hospital for 4 consecutive weeks. I got a strong cocktail of different antibiotics directly trough a central venous catheter in my chest and had to undergo all kinds of tests and exams. But it was of little or no avail, as the doctors could not conclude what was causing the infection. After spending approximately 2 months at home recovering, I was sent for a laparoscopic surgery between Christmas and New Years Ever, so that the doctors could get better samples to study, in their quest to determine the cause of the infection. I have yet to hear the result from that test.

I have decided on this new year, to focus on my health. I am gonna recover fully from this illness and I am going to do even better, what my health is concerned. I will try anything to help my body to fully recover, and then continue to give it all the love and care that I have so far denied it. The fact that I haven’t been taking good enough care of my health, might have contribute to my illness. I have, for a very long time, not taken good enough care of both my physical and mental health.  But now, that all will change. From now on, I will treat my body and mind like a temple. I will think carefully about everything I put into my body and stop worrying about everything. It is my New Years resolution. The first thing I will do is to stop drinking alcohol! 2016 is gonna be an alcohol-free year for me.

Another thing I’m going to do more of is to write. I decided to write at least one blog entry on this page each week, where I will record my progress and this new lifestyle that I intend to uphold on this new year and how it will affects my health.

I’ll will also dedicate time to write my books, because I have decided to publish my first book no later than in 2017 🙂

Happy New Year!

The Love Story: Fate or Coincidence!

I was not on my way to India. It was a result of various events and coincidences that landed me there. It was as if it had always been my fate to go there, I just did not know yet.

The summer of 2012 I was working as a receptionist at a hotel in Norway, Stalheim Hotel to be exact. I was planning a trip to Peru to work as a volunteer in the autumn. I was going to save the rainforest you see. My mother was at that same time, planing a two-week trip to Nepal with a group of people and had already paid for half her journey. When she did not get time off work, she contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Nepal in her place. Of course I did, no question about it!

I had few years before met Satyabrata Dam, from India, when he gave a lecture during an educational evening with Icelandic Alpine Club. Satya had climbed the highest peaks on all the seven continents and traversed both the north and south pole. He sent me a friend request on Facebook after the event, which I gladly excepted. Now that I was going to Nepal for two weeks, I saw an opportunely to visit India as, so I contacted Satya and asked him if he wanted to meet up with me in India. He did not delay his response, of course he wanted to meet up with me, and not only that, but he also planed my whole visit so I would definitely not miss out on all the good things India had to offer.

At that moment I did not know that my fate awaited me in India and another year would pass and another visit, until I knew what it was.

Chandrachilla Top, Uttarakhand, India

Chandrachilla Top, Uttarakhand, India