Follow

A mum of 2 trying to stay sane in an overly airbrushed world.

Search This Blog

Friday, 7 September 2018

The Week That Will Change Cancer Forever?

This week has been incredibly bittersweet...in the space of 3 days I have seen messages informing of the deaths of 2 fabulous ladies who I knew via social media. These days a DM here and a DM there is the equivalent of a cup of tea at your mates house catching up on all the gossip!

Both ladies were aged 40 or under, both had children under 5 and both had been taken by triple negative breast cancer...remind you of anyone?

Yeah....ME - so it was all very close to home!


2 golden examples of how lucky I am and to stop sweating the small stuff, get my arse in gear and get living! I'm not going to lie, its scary - of all my 'cancer' friends there are more dealing with or /have dealt with reoccurrence than haven't and even fewer who have reached the golden 5 year mark where you would be deemed 'cured'.

Knowing this makes it hard to stay positive and not second guess every niggle, twinge and change you feel in your body. Its a fear we'll all live with forever - that's why I'm trying to live my life differently by getting out doing some exercise, eating differently and doing stuff that I wouldn't of done before the bastard C knocked at my door; I have never been so busy! Anyway enough doom and gloom, if you're obsessed or fascinated with death go read my previous blog where I talk about it exclusively here. It is sad but I know neither of those ladies would want us wallowing.

The amazing thing to happen this week is the amount of coverage cancer has had in the press and other media outlets, you've literally been unable to avoid it. Some may think its a gloomy area of discussion, but those would be the types that are happy to live in denial that this will never effect them in some way. That is not the way to tackle this beast...the odds are not good: 1 in 2 will now have to deal with cancer in their life time so even if its not you, its likely to be a significant other friend or family member - so open your ears and listen to all that is being said!

The wonderful legacy Rachael Bland has left via her Big C, Little Me blog and You, Me, Big C Podcast is that everything is discussed. Nothing is too much and its all in real terms, by real people, with  humour and accessible by all.
Nothing to be scared of - just lots of examples of courageous, quick witted humans trying to inadvertently save your life and prevent you having to go through what they have through the medium of friendship and having a laugh.

Its not hard is it? Whatever your preferred style of communication you have a foot in the door now - get checking, get talking and spread the word because you are not going to get away with this one!

We're in this to win for everyone - not just glorify our own experiences! Listen and learn from the cancer community, plain and simply put by the podcast trio: this really is the coolest club you don't want to be part of!


SHARE:

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Running No Where Fast

I started running 14 weeks ago. Previous running experience? A few badly trained for 5ks and a lone 10k which I definitely didn’t train to complete...

Prior to this 4 month running spree I would have told you I’d rather have had chemotherapy than run (this is now not wholly true) I’d now rather have chemo than run anywhere for longer than 40 minutes! Looking at the positives this is a marginal improvement.

My husband reminds me that 14 weeks ago I was struggling with the 1 minute run sections of couch to 5k - this is entirely true, so why do I feel so horrendously useless that getting past 40 minutes is an impossible dream at the moment?!

I’ve assessed my running ‘goals’ and it’s hard to really know what I want...

  1. Do I want a fast time? 
  2. Do I want to prove I can run a set distance?
  3. Am I just trying to run without walking for the longest time possible? 
  4. Do I just want to enjoy it?
  5. Do I want it to feel easy?
  6. Do I want to be fitter?
  7. Do I just want to lose weight?
The easy answer is I want all of those things... my mind is niggled with annoyance when I run:

  • Why do my split times not get any quicker EVER?
  • Why am I struggling to do distances I was able to do 6 weeks ago?
  • Why have I not improved a PB, when I’m putting so much time in?
I really felt I achieved something with couch to 5k, this 5k to 10k slog is just making me feel useless.

The only thing that keeps me going so readily (religiously 3 times a week) is the absolute fear that if I miss a run and it snowballs into me stopping altogether then it will be too hard to restart from day 1 all over again. 

1 week on from when I wrote the above and things haven’t improved; I took things back to basics - ditched the Nike running app, switched off all voice indicators when  running and just tried to run a route without stopping and still had to walk about 20 mins in FFS!! I can do it - I have done it but for some reason achieving a 6.5km run with no stops has totally knocked my mind out of the game. So I did what any normal struggling ‘athlete’ would and I signed up for a 10km in 3 weeks time! Lovely. Jubbly. 

I have no plan; I’m just hoping that I knock some sense into my self and regain the mental strength to just keep going instead of making myself walk!! The real irony of this whole blog is that I run/walk my distances quicker than if I just straight run them! WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT??!! 

Any tips or ideas greatly welcomed...I have 24 days to get my running mojo back! 
SHARE:

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1.2



"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem

24th August 2017: Days past chemo -----> 2

Woke up feeling physically good, mentally not so strong today...I just want to be normal again and worrying about mundane things. The thought of having to do this a minimum of 5 more times is daunting - I don't want anymore cannulas, chemo side-effects or change. I don't want to be the dick in the GP queue handing in a letter about my post chemo body; I want to be the girl in front telling the receptionist that she just got married and is 5 weeks pregnant (I don't even want more kids - I just got jealous and don't want this life for my family).

Pity party over...symptom wise the tummy ache I felt this morning faded by lunchtime and its just mostly an anxious day. Nausea is better this evening - which could be down to some anti-sickness bands I got sent from a friend at work.
SHARE:

Monday, 13 August 2018

Summer Fruits #lovefreshcherries Challenge

This summer has been full of unexpected surprises: 
  1. the actual real life sunshine staying around for longer than a week.
  2. the English football team nearly actually living the dream at the word cup
  3. the kids actually discovering a new fruit they like!
When we were asked to take part in the #lovefreshcherries challenge with BritMums I was dubious of taking up a fruit based challenge. Aside from bananas, strawberries and raspberries we don't have the biggest fruit fans and they aren't known for their adventurous palettes.

Turns out de-stoning cherries is exciting stuff - they loved getting involved and helping to prepare them and found them to be really juicy and sweet so they were a winner! They also loved that we made brownies with them (recipe below).

On the information that came with our #lovefreshcherries kit I was also surprised to find out that cherries contain melatonin which helps to promote healthy sleep patterns - now surely that is winning on all levels, not only one of the 5 a day but also something to help the kids sleep!

To really promote the new fruit to my two I decided to mix cherries with their favourite song of the summer (Three Lions) and the results were as follows...

Fresh Cherries for Dessert by Henry aged 4



Here's our recipe for Cherry Chocolate brownies:

Ingredients
                                                                                               
130g butter
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
55g cherries
225g caster sugar
55g cocoa powder
75g plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large free-range eggs

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a 20cm square baking tin (or the equivalent) with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water).
  3. De-stone the cherries and roughly chop them along with the pecans. Stir into the melted chocolate, then take off the heat.
  4. In another bowl, add the sugar, then sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir till well combined.
  5. Beat the eggs and mix in. Roughly chop and stir through the milk or dark chocolate (if using).
  6. Transfer the mixture to the tin, then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You want them a little gooey in the middle.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool in the tray, before cutting into squares.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #lovefreshcherries challenge, sponsored by Love Fresh Cherries (@lovefreshcherries).
SHARE:

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1.1


"Opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized." - Sheryl Sandberg

23rd August 2017: Days past chemo -----> 1

I spoke (or wrote) too soon last night, I had gone downhill by 7pm 😬.

My chemo started at 2pm and I was done by 4pm, I'd felt fine and stupidly cocky come home and had a celebratory chips and curry sauce from the chip shop. BIG MISTAKE.

7pm came and I was hit by terrible nausea, I took myself to bed and tried to sleep it out. Things got worse and by 11pm my husband was on the phone to the hospital for help to work out which (if any) anti-sickness drugs I could take as I battled the overwhelming urge to be sick...too scared to even open and close my eyes the sensation was that bad.

My biggest advice at this point is to never be too proud or scared to call the emergency helpline number they give you - never just suffer in silence! That one call helped us take some control of the situation. I then managed to sleep through and woke up feeling LOADS better!

So far today, so good...evening nausea did return though but luckily I had saved my good anti-sickness to overcome this. Still makes me scared to even attempt an evening meal after the chips and curry sauce fiasco - but night 2 was nowhere near as bad as night 1.
SHARE:

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1

Its taken almost a year for me to face typing these up, not because I was scared, scarred or traumatised - I just didn't want to keep reliving it. Once your in your chemo cycles you live for the days when chemo isn't the first and last thing you think about, you just want to get as far away from it as possible - for as long as possible.

I had every intention of writing this diary for all 6 of my chemo cycles, but by cycle 3 I barely wanted to talk about it - let along write about it.

Here's what I did get, as I wrote it and unedited...I hope it can do something to provide answers, hope and tackle any curiosities you may have about chemotherapy.



Cycle 1 - FEC-T Chemotherapy: 22nd August 2017

"The best motto for a long march is "Don't grumble. Plug on" You hold your future in your own hands." - Sir Frederick Treves

Waiting I hope is a hell of a lot worse than any of the treatments i'm about to start; pain I can handle! I know nothing can rival childbirth, the loss of hair I feel more accustomed to now I have my wig and enough headgear to keep the 'scarf stage' interesting...the pure vanity within me is still worried about the weight gain - silly really when the other option is death! Lets hope cancer is my time for the weight to just fall off, other times this has been possible but never materialised were:
  • the transition from student to full time work
  • being a mother 
The pounds were meant to just drop off on both occasions...NOPE! My greed and dietary choices laughed in the face of both.

As I wait to be hooked up its like waiting to be both killed and cured, don't really want to do it but I have to. Just trying to balance the thoughts with things I hate doing normally; would I want to do them now?

Poos on the potty? NO

Pottery painting with Henry? NO

Taking Henry for injections? NO

Delivering a presentation at work? NO

Chemo wins - dramatic as it sounds, I would rather do; much easier to just handle my own emotions and expectations!

Having the treatment is painless - having the cannula inserted in the hand is never going to be nice but its done well by nurses who could do it blindfolded. I'm having FEC-T so this round consisted of a few infusions of pink liquid and 1 of clear liquid. The only thing I felt from any of this was in the final infusion of a clear liquid - a sensation like when you jump in a pool and you inhale water up your nose; I got that all over my face. 90 minutes it took in total and not a second of it dragged.

Post treatment I feel woozy, but not too dissimilar to how you feel if you have a few early drinks without eating.

1 down - I CAN DO THIS!

To be continued...

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

SHARE:

Friday, 8 June 2018

Post Surgery Fashion: George @ Asda

I'm now 5 months post surgery and life with one 'normal' boob and one 'altered' boob is still a learning curve when it comes to clothing. The threats of Summer are getting more frequent and the need to wear less in order to stay cool (and keep hot flushes under control) is a very real issue.
I have already braved the 'first swimsuit since surgery' moment and was surprised with how at ease I felt with my lymph node removal scar and radiation tattoos being visible. People's eyes are now drawn to me for a whole new reason, they instantly know I've had cancer...I don't mind it, but I know it makes others feel awkward (which makes me feel awkward) and i’d much prefer people to come and ask all the questions it instantly conjures like:
  • are you going to die?
  • how did you find out?
  • what treatment have you had?
  • are you ok?
Not everyone is like me, I know there are loads in the cancer club who would much rather keep it a private matter and just live without the constant reminder of it. That's why the clothing options available for those recovering and moving on are SO important. My previous post 'Don't blame it on the booby' explored the range of non wired 'normal' looking post surgery bras and underwear available; I had found some great options (I still wear them now) which were comfortable, inexpensive and available in realistic sizes. 
Following that, I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to a focus group with the designers at George at Asda to discuss their range of post surgery clothes. It was all about how they could make it more customer friendly, they’d invited ladies of all ages and stages of the breast cancer journey to discuss their different needs - it brought up some great feedback and discussion points on what was being designed and things needed for future collections.

Personally I had never really looked at George when I was considering my own post surgery wear, simply because the things I had seen in store always looked a bit 'granny' and were never in the FF bra sizing I needed - so I gave up. I raised all this at the session and was advised that online George offers most styles in everything up to a G cup, I was also delighted to see even the over 60's in attendance saying that all the styles were very frumpy and lacking any excitement or colour. In short we all wanted the same thing - the same clothes and designs as the normal collection, just with modifications for the various restrictions surgery brings.

They were so keen to improve their collections everything was taken down to be considered and worked on in future. Some of the top suggestions that came up were things like:
  • front fastenings
  • items which don't require being pulled over head
  • lowering the sides so not to interfere with lymph node removal site
  • optional and removable padding for single/double mastectomy and lumpectomy breast changes
It was greatly positive and I can't wait to see the results!

For now here are some of my favourite bits from the current collection:

Swimwear





Bras




SHARE:

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Bucket 'F**k It' List

Moving away from the cancer chat now I have no evidence of disease in my body, life is starting to return to some form of normality. Part of leaving it behind is accepting it'll always be in the back of my mind and learning to forgive it a little for 'choosing' me. Its not got many positives but it does give you a renewed purpose in life and make you realise that had maybe you had become a little bit too focused on things that didn't really matter. 

Post cancer life for me is about doing things I want and saying no to more of the things I really cannot be arsed to even bother doing just to please the 'unimportant others' in life. Not everyone gets to survive cancer and I'll be buggered if I am going to waste my second chance.

This is my list: aims for the future...some things  serious, some things trivial and  stupid, but nothing is impossible and where is the fun in a list I can achieve in the next 5 years. Some of this stuff is pie in the sky and  that's what really makes me tick - proving people wrong and doing things I probably shouldn't! 

The journey starts here!
Back flip
I've wanted to do this since I was about 6...there is no way its impossible; I just need to get it done while my body still works with me and not against me. Adult gymnastic instructors in Leicester anyone??! 

London marathon
I hate running. Never been good at it and god knows I have tried many times, this time I really want the medal though and I want to be able to say I did it!

Get married in Vegas
One of the easier ones to achieve. I want to get married in that place Britney did, by an Elvis and then parade around the strip in a wedding dress. Simple.

Be in Emmerdale
As the photo shows I've made it on set...now I just need to get myself some form of part.

Travel 1st class (flights)
To make this worthwhile it really needs to be a long haul flight...so could possibly be combined with Vegas or an Olympics (see below).

Carpool karaoke with James Corden
Combines 2 of my great loves...Karaoke and James Corden, to sing a few of my faves in a car with him would be half an hour well spent.

Host a radio show showcasing 90s pop
Think Alan Partridge with more early Westlife and choreographed dance routines. Showcasing some forgotten gems and just generally having fun playing some of the tunes that have stood the test of time with me for an hour a week - surely there is a local radio station somewhere looking for someone to do this in a graveyard slot - I'll make it work!

Win an award
Being totally honest...I'll take it for anything, as long as I get to wear a nice frock and make a speech.

Be in a Steps tribute act 
I'd happily take the Lisa Scott-Lee role, I've been in training and ready for this one for 20 years...can't sing for toffee but hey turn my mic down and just let me live my best life. 

Attend an Olympics
Dick head that I am, I turned down tickets to London 2012 (WHY?!. The next 3 I have to pick from are Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024, Los Angeles 2028. L.A. looks like a good bet!

That's my 10 to work towards - no time scales just a list of things I need to think about.

Can you help me?

What would be on yours?

Challenge yourself to make your own list!
SHARE:

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Fourmones or Foresight?

First it was the terrible twos, then we moved on to the threenage year and now we’re calling it fourmones… its comforting to know a stage is so common it has its own nickname but what if its more than just a stage?

Through every single day of these ‘stages’ I have wondered that question – pushing away my motherly instinct in favour of a million other options…

MAYBE:
  • I don’t parent well.
  • I haven’t set clear boundaries.
  • I’m not cut out to be a parent at all.
  • I need outside help.
As parents we’ve tried all the different techniques…naughty step, time out, removal of privileges, early bedtimes, avoiding situations likely to cause tantrums, sugar reduction, daily routines, increased talking around the plans for a day and increased independence/confidence building.

Still we are left in situations where we run a gauntlet of terror; constantly trying to second guess and prevent anything that may set off the most epic of tantrums. I know tantrums are normal, but something niggles me with my eldest, its like he cannot calm down – what other would have forgotten about and moved on my son is still escalating beyond recognition.

The top triggers at the moment are trivial things that he’s trying to control or disagree with like if he doesn’t have a pair of black leggings to wear, if his favourite pyjamas are in the wash, if I have driven to pick him up from childcare and he wants to scooter or if you break a puzzle he has completed. I could carry on the list is endless – it can be about anything that goes against his belief of how a situation should happen.

I’ve sort help from those around me to more or less get the same few responses:
•he’s no different to any other 2,3,4 year old.
•he never does it at nursery, pre-school, whilst in the care of others – if he can control it , it can’t be. anything more than stubborn behaviour.
•don’t be so desperate to get him ‘labelled’ as troublesome or having a disorder.
•its a sign of his intelligence and him being ‘beyond his years’.

But that’s the thing, I am desperate, desperate to enjoy being his mum and not dread every interaction for fear of getting it wrong. The fact that I have even thought that makes me feel a failure but I know that away from this side of his personality he is and can be such a caring, thoughtful and considerate little boy.

I have thought about going to see the doctor or health visitor but will that help or will it just underline my poor parenting and open the airwaves to hearing yet more useless solutions.

I need help! How and when will I know if these tantrums are not just tantrums and the sign that my little boy needs more specialised help?!

Anyone?…

SHARE:
Blog Layout Designed by pipdig