The reality

As most of you know, I’m a member (and one of the admin team) of YBCN – the Younger Breast Cancer Network. Currently we have just over 3500 women, all under the age of 45 and all living with varying diagnoses of breast cancer.

I’m a member of the ‘living with’ group – we have all been diagnosed with secondaries (our cancer has spread from the breast into organs and/or bones). Our cancer is incurable.

The past few months have been tough. Really tough.

You quickly form ‘virtual’ friendships, welcoming new ladies into our fold on a (sometimes) daily basis. We talk about all sorts – chemo, side effects, the best holiday insurance company (we all love a holiday!) and many other things besides. It’s somewhere safe to vent, cry and share our scan results.

Many of my friends on the group I’ve never met, but there are some of us that meet up a few times a year for lunch, normally in London. I always liken these meetings to the witches conference in the film ‘The Witches’ except we don’t pull our skin off!! There’s something about the group of us sitting there, just like anyone else, that makes me want to chuckle. From the outside, we are just regular women but we all share the same secret.

It’s hard not to forge special relationships and some of the ladies become close friends – I’m off to Belfast in a few weeks with two of them which will be a blast!!

But, with all the good comes some bad. The past few months have been extremely tough going because we have sadly lost a lot of our friends. It’s inevitable in a group such as ours that this will happen, and it does frequently, but just lately it feels as though it has been relentless. It truly rocks the group.

And it never gets any easier.

But, that said, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would never leave the group. The support I get from the ladies, who understand exactly what I’m going through, totally outweighs the sad times.

Some deaths hit harder than others but it’s at these moments we all come together – united, strong, brave women that I’m proud to be one of.


Halfway point

I’m halfway through my 40 things year – in fact it’s almost 7 months through! I honestly don’t know where that time has gone?! But it’s been brilliant!

Slowly but surely, I’m ticking things off the list – horse riding, read 40 books, trip to Paris, be a DJ, drive a super car and do a shift in Tesco to name a few.

I’m a little behind with my reading. I’ve just finished book 18 and at this point I’d really like to have been at about book 20. But, I have a stack of books waiting on the bookshelf so I’m sure I’ll catch up.

My Tuesday morning Radio Dacorum show is going well. I get to play whatever I want – mostly 80’s although I do chuck a bit of everything in. I find it really therapeutic actually. Being shut in the studio, in your own little world, choosing, playing and singing along to your favourite songs.

There are a few things in the pipeline and some that haven’t been organised at all. There are also a few things I’ve had to change due to time and money but I’ve tried to replace them with something equally as exciting – One of these is ice skating.

Planet Ice – my local ice rink, kindly offered me a 6 week, level 1 course for free. I’ve had 4 lessons and boy is it hard! Before I started, I’d have easily said that I can skate. But, technically I can’t. Technically speaking, skating is probably one of the trickiest things I’ve ever tried to do! The technical side of skating is an eye opener and not something you master very quickly. You have to learn to use the blades, to keep your feet neutral or to tilt left or right, to keep your weight in the right position. My stronger leg is my right leg which isn’t helpful when trying to use your left leg in front – it just doesn’t want to play ball! I work up a sweat and last week had to give myself a stern talking to as I was getting frustrated with myself – to the point I felt like quitting. But, I’m not a quitter so I took a breath and carried on. And even though I couldn’t convince them that the pub was a much better option, I’ve also made some new friends.

Next week sees the kids joining me as we climb up and over the O2. I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely bricking it but this is what 40 things is about, pushing myself and doing madcap things I’d probably never have done before I got my cancer diagnosis.

It certainly does open your eyes. It puts things into perspective and, if nothing else, it gives you a thirst for life.