What was..

Today hasn’t been a good day. In fact this weekend has been hard. My energy levels are low. My mood is low. This happens every so often, it’s one of the waves I’ve spoken about before. I just have to ride it.

I’m very tearful and can burst into tears for no apparent reason. Although, deep down, I’m sure there’s many a reason. I was talking to a friend from my cancer group, telling her how I felt and she told me that we’re dealing with a cosmos of shit and we’re allowed weepy, low days. She’s right – we don’t need a reason.

Trouble is, these waves throw everything at me. I think about my past – about the life I had. I was settled, had plans for the future, was on a nice, steady journey. I had two families, lots of friends.

I made the mistake of looking at my wedding photos this afternoon. I don’t recognise myself. The pictures are full of strangers. And sadly, three of my loved ones in those photos are no longer here.

Four years ago. That’s all. My world was completely flipped and now I’m completely different to the person I was pre cancer. I became stronger, less likely to put up with bullshit. It’s me versus the world. Sometimes it gets very lonely.

I feel like I’m grieving for the life I once had. The plans I had made. The baby I wanted. Cancer snatches so much away from you.

I now live my life in six monthly chapters. I don’t like to make plans outside of that time just in case it’s tempting fate.

I can’t always put how I’m feeling into words. I just feel sad.

I was so poorly and given a 6 month prognosis but in just a few weeks I’ll be celebrating my fourth cancerversary. Amazing I know but also a bit of a mind fuck – am I now skating on thin ice? Has my proverbial piece of string got shorter? How many more good scan results will I get?

It’s so hard and I’m so tired of it all.

Xx

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Breast cancer isn’t a game!

Every year is the same. Someone starts circulating those stupid Facebook games that supposedly raise awareness of breast cancer.

You know the ones – post a piece of fruit to show your relationship status or post a make believe holiday destination which is determined by your birth date. But, and this is the all important rule……don’t tell the men?!!!!!

I mean really!! I can’t tell you how incensed these games make me and have posted many times on my Facebook page, asking – no telling, my friends not to send me invites to play. But still, some do.

It’s not that I’m boring or have no sense of humour. I just don’t find these games appropriate. Cancer isn’t a game.

Cancer is real and it’s devastating. Cancer strips families of their loved ones. Friends lose friends. I should know – I’m living with secondary breast cancer and will eventually succumb to it. I’ve lost many friends.

These games supposedly raise awareness but I want to know how? Do they show the correct way to feel your boobs? Do they make you aware of the subtle changes that might happen to your breast? Do they even make you think of cancer?

The answer is no.

Maybe, for a fleeting second you think you’re doing a great thing , girl power and all that. You probably know someone who has had a diagnosis and think it looks good taking part. It doesn’t.

And why can’t the men be involved? They are also at risk of breast cancer. They’re also likely to feel anything untoward whilst having a fondle of yours!

Anyone diagnosed or indeed living with a breast cancer diagnosis would much rather you shared graphics of how to check yourself – TLC – Touch, Look, Check. We’d much rather you share videos from breast cancer charities. We’d much rather you shared the reality of breast cancer.

So, next time you get invited to take part, maybe stop and think. I’m not suggesting you can’t play along, each to their own and all that, but how much awareness is it honestly raising??

Xx

It’s all messy

It’s been a tough week mentally this week. My head has felt messy and fuzzy and I’ve not been able to really decipher what’s going around in it. I think it’s a bit of everything – my illness, the reality, the guilt, fatigue, the what ifs and the whys.

It’s during these times when I don’t particularly want to be around anyone. I’m not necessarily grumpy, I just don’t have the energy to give my attention to someone or something. Preferring my own company and space.

I haven’t even been able to read and normally I can lose myself for hours in a book! It’s been a something and nothing week.

I attended a funeral on Tuesday. A friend from my support group. I’m not going to lie, it was tough. I’m pleased I went but it was too close to home. Your mind wanders so easily. It becomes all too real.

I’m also very tired and that doesn’t help. Some nights I sleep better than others but mostly I toss and turn, rolling from my side of the bed to the ‘cold’ side and then back again once it gets warm. It’s been a struggle waking up in the morning and I’ve really had to push myself to do anything this week. I just have to carry on, for the kids mostly, no matter what’s going on in my head. It’s hard to explain but if I had to draw it, it’d look like this…..

I’m also due Zometa (or, as I call it, bone juice!) http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/zoledronic-acid. I’m having it every 3 months now so it’s been a while and I’ve noticed these ‘come downs’ before. Roll on Monday!!

Sometimes it’s rubbish being me.

But, there’s only one thing for it…

Xx

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.

Xx

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.

Xx

Meh..

Arggghhhhhh……

I’m feeling angry. It’s a wave and I just have to ride it but boy I’m seeing red. Stupid. Poxy. Cancer.

I’m angry at the enormity of the task in hand.

I’m angry about the fact that I’ll get poorly again.

I’m angry that I’ll have to leave my children.

I’m angry that they’ll have to lose their Mum.

I’m angry at the unfairness of it all.

I’m angry at how people react to the diagnosis. How they disappear.

I’m angry that this afternoon I had a frank conversation with my oldest daughter about planning my funeral.

I’m angry for friends that are going through this too.

Why me? Why us? Why them?

Xx

Goodbye 2017

It’s been one hell of a year and I’ve had a blast!

January saw me going to Belfast for the first time to meet up with one of my YBCN friends – Melanie. We applied to go on Big Brother and although we weren’t successful, we had a fab day seeing the sights and getting to know one another.

A couple of weeks later, February 7th to be exact, saw me rushing to A&E with appendicitis. It was whipped out the next day and I spent a couple of hilarious nights in hospital partying with the elderly ladies on my ward!

I went to the Brit award show and saw Bruno Mars and Adele in concert. I met Simon Cowell, David Williams and Amanda Holden at Britain’s Got Talent.

I took the kids to Butlins for the weekend and was lucky enough to visit New York – somewhere I never thought I’d see.

July saw me start my ’40 things before 40′ challenge. I’m slowly ticking things off of my list – horse riding, turning the Christmas lights on in town, pretending to be a firefighter, reading 40 books and also getting my own radio show on Radio Dacorum! My 2 hour slot is a little bit of escapism and has the same effect on me as going to the gym – it really helps my mental well being.

I went to 2 balls. The first was a wedding dress ball in aid of the Hospice of St Francis. The second was The Pink Ribbon Ball in aid of Breast Cancer Now and it was here that I met Nick Knowles 😍 I’d had my make up done professionally and with the help of a very special lady, bought a beautiful ball gown to wear. I felt amazing.

I had 2 sets of scans and thankfully got stable results both times. As the years go on, scanxiety is getting worse. I guess it’s the not knowing how long the proverbial piece of string is. Nothing I can do but keep on keeping on. I’ve had 40 hospital/doctor appointments – zoladex, Port flushes, Bone juice, cardio and oncology.

I also did a lot of media work on behalf of both Breast Cancer Now and Macmillan. I made some video diaries on life with SBC and manned the BCN twitter account for a few hours. I appeared on the BBC for Macmillan and also on their news app. I also wrote a guest blog for the Huffington Post explaining why I never wanted to know my prognosis.

I call myself a media whore but I mean it in an affectionate way. I never set out to be so vocal about my illness but it’s become important to me to shout about it, to raise awareness.

My 2 best friends, Michelle and Rebecca are the bestest friends a girl could ask for. They’ve been by my side through thick and thin, they’ve been a shoulder to cry on and they don’t mind when I make them dress up in all manor of luminous tutus!! I’d truly be lost without them.

I’ve also made so many new friends and the support I get from each and every one of them blows me away continually.

I’ve also seen a couple of milestones – my oldest daughter left to go to university and I had to apply for my youngest daughters secondary school. Both things I wasn’t sure I’d get to see/do when I was first diagnosed. I’m also watching my son grow into a fantastic young man, a keen rugby player who is getting on well academically.

Things that are taken for granted. Things that three and a half years ago, I was unsure that I’d see.

So, on that note, I’d like to wish you all a very happy new year. I’m counting my blessings and feel lucky to have made another year – many of my friends didn’t. Tonight I’ll be raising a glass for those we’ve lost.

Love your life, love the people who choose to share it with you and never take anything for granted.

Thank you for being there xx