Radiotherapy : 5 things that have helped my recovery

Recovering from radiotherapy on sunny spring days: Architecture and blossom in Hyndland, Glasgow. April 2018.

I wasn’t planning on writing much about my radiotherapy treatment on my blog. Stars & Stems is about my art, but it is part of my life so perhaps deserves an explanation.

Luckily, the four-week course has finished and it wasn’t too bad. Now I’m well and truly on the mend, save for a croaky whisper and an extremely sore throat. Goodbye vegetarian lasagne and vegan stir-fry, hello soup and smoothies! It could be much worse and besides, I’m getting used to my new diet.

But why did I need it in the first place?


Beautiful blue glass from Stained Glass Supplies in Glasgow. After radiotherapy it feels like I'm swallowing glass!

In a nutshell, a bad cold turned out to be worse than I thought. First I lost my voice and had three months of speech therapy (a common issue for teachers). When it didn’t improve as much as the specialist would’ve expected, I went for exploratory surgery.

Another operation followed in which some “abnormal cells” were found. The doctors were very clear about this. They weren’t cancerous, but they were two stages before. They could stay like that on my vocal chords and do nothing for the rest of my life. Or they could turn into bad cells then spread to my lymph nodes.

Therefore, radiotherapy was very much a precaution. And I’ll never ignore a bad cold again!


Julie Arbuckle, Glasgow artist. Part of the Highs & Lows exhibition at the Lillie Gallery, Milngavie, May 2018.

Yvonne Taylor, Glasgow artist. Part of the Highs & Lows exhibition at the Lillie Gallery, Milngavie, May 2018.

A wee trip to the Lillie Gallery in Milngavie to catch the Highs & Lows exhibition. And silly me forgot to recharge the camera batteries, so these iPhone snaps hardly do them justice. The show finished last week and featured some wonderful artwork of talented artist pals Julie Arbuckle and Yvonne Taylor. Stephen and I popped in to see their celebration of the Scottish landscape. After all, we were voted the world’s most beautiful country. 😉

Julie’s work, top left and picture in the middle, packs a punch with its dramatic scenery. Her pieces are painted on board, canvas and even aluminium. Julie does plenty of outdoor sketching to prep for her paintings, so we get to enjoy her roadtrips to the Highlands and Islands through her Facebook posts. And even pops bits of Ordnance Survey maps in her work.

Yvonne’s work, meanwhile, is celestial and it sparkles. There’s a fine and watery feel to her paintings (top by and bottom) which I find soothing. My favourite is the one above of the trees, and I imagine I’ve woken from a delicious sleep to this scene. I look at it and feel the breeze through the branches as I watch the sun rise from across the loch.

One of the things to have hit me is artist’s block, but seeing these ladies’ work certainly perked me up. I feel inspired to grab my sketchbook and start planning new pieces again.


April 2018: Fantastic bespoke hats at Fabhatrix in Edinburgh's Grassmarket.

April 2018: Fantastic bespoke hats at Fabhatrix in Edinburgh's Grassmarket.

These hats are from the fantabulous Fabhatrix in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. I popped in with pals Olwen and Jonathan who were on a family visit to Scotland. It’s a very special boutique where millinery for both men and women are made on the premises by this lovely team.

In fact, I wasn’t planning to buy a hat this time – I already have three from Fabhatrix! But I thought it was worth enquiring about wide-brimmed ones since they’re recommended for radiotherapy patients. Sunshine is not our friend, unfortunately, for a year after treatment. ?

The lady recommended this wide-brimmed black number and I couldn’t say no once there was a feather on it. What’s more neither could Olwen, who also left the shop en chapeau. And we got the thumbs up from some of the younger generation in Edinburgh! A gorgeous and practical birthday present for myself.

And off to my next garden party!


Look at this sumptuous chiyogami paper! It arrived recently, wonderfully packaged. Lots of bright, sparkly colours with dollops of cherry blossom and tinges of gold. It’s a bit of a shame that I’ll be cutting into it to use in my art.

As you know, I have a bit of thing about chiyogami since living in Japan. This is from The Rare Orchid in California and owner Melissa sources the most amazing papers. She even ran a little competition earlier in the year to name the new papers and I won a $15 discount. I think my suggestions went along the lines of “Peach Glow”, “Sakura Sunrise” and other such memorable hits.

I’m planning on making up some of my framed abstract works very soon and am already picturing them in black wooden frames. Can’t wait to start!


Yoga on Millport beach: Restoractive yoga was just the thing for recovering from radiotherapy treatment.

Radiotherapy takes it out of you. And after week two I was pretty tired most days. I found lots of exercise helped and took plenty of long walks and cycle rides. But as the treatment made my vocal chords swell, hence breathing became more laboured, something gentler was called for.

I found a lovely online class for people in my position on the Movement for Modern Life, one of two online yoga sites I’ve signed up to. Although energy starts to sap, it’s important to keep joints supple which this class with teacher Barbara Gallani highlights. Check out the yin and restorative yoga classes on the site too for more stretching-while-relaxing sessions.


On the way back from my radiotherapy appointments, signs of spring were everywhere. It’s definitely my favourite time of year,  seeing as I was born in April.

So you may think I’d be miserable having to go through radiotherapy during my best season. Conversely though, the new life sprouting from the ground and branches reminded me of nature winning out against the cold and the rain (although I wouldn’t put money on a Scottish spring missing out on either!). As I drove away from the last sessions past fluffy pink cherry blossom trees, I could feel the old me coming back slowly but surely.

My recovery from radiotherapy treatment is helped by the beautiful spring weather. I'll soon be back to my old self!

EDITED TO SAY: All my views are my own and products discussed here were paid for by myself. 🙂


© Emerald Dunne Art 2018