When you usually see cancer, it is in adverts or leaflets. It is censored and made to look comfortable for its viewers. The article below is about a series of images that depict real people living with very real cancer. So are funny and some aren’t but this is the reality. I’ve even included one of my old photos to this post
Over the past week I have been feeling a little down, maybe it’s just the time of year, however after Boxing Day I have started to feel a lot better.
I am now looking forward to the new year and planning plenty of things to do with family and friends. At the start of 2014, I thought this was the year that things were going to happen i.e. I was going to build up my business, I wanted to do a lot of things with my family and all this was put on hold when I was diagnosed. Back then I felt so lost and had no idea what the future held for me. Nearly a year on, I’m still a little unsure but I’m going to get on regardless.
Although 2014 was pretty rubbish (my diagnosis has put a bit of a black cloud over things) there has been so many great things have happened too, such as
- Meeting the Backstreet Boys (Sorry I’m going to keep going on about that for some time still)
- reconnecting with old friends and made lots more
- completed the Race for Life and the Midnight Walk for Katharine House Hospice
- I’ve completed 2 modules towards my degree
- been on some lovely trips away with my family
- Raised lots of money for charity
- had a few interesting adventures
Today was kind of a day off the treatment as the machine was having a service so I thought I’d plan a catch up lunch with a friend and a few other bits and bobs.
To start the day off I thought I’d wear a new dress I’d been looking forward to wearing. All was going well until I looked in the window and saw I looked like Sinead O’Connor (I’ve got nothing against her but I don’t think the look suits me). That was a little upsetting, I just wish I had my long hair back. It doesn’t help either when you are feeling exhausted and poorly.
I dropped my children off at nursery and headed home to spend some time with my dog before heading into town to buy Lynda Bellingham’s new book and have lunch. When I met my friend, as usual it took us ages to look at the menu as we were too busy talking. I had my usual a nice healthy salad with a lemon meringue to balance it out (hehe). We had some brilliant conversations and giggles, most of it was the kind of “had to be there” to get it but I had a great time. It was nice to be able to forget everything I’m feeling at the moment and just let loose. The only problem was it never seems long enough.
After that it was back to it, sadly being a mum as well as a cancer patient means life never stops. You never have time to wallow in self-pity or sleep for hours on end. But I guess it has helped me to stay so positive, watching my two children (even though they can be little tinkers at times) makes me want to fight so I can carry on watching them for as long as I can. Nothing can brighten your day like your child giving you a cuddle or telling you they love you. Things have been difficult for both of them, my little girl especially, as they are both too young to understand what is happening to Mummy.
Well this evening my plan is to do a little bit of coursework, settle down with some chocolate and start my new book.
After watching some of the interviews Lynda Bellingham has done recently and hearing some of her funny stories, it made me think about some of the funny things that have happened to me since my diagnosis. There have been so many situations that I have found myself in that just would not have been the case if I wasn’t ill. This has now prompted me to share some of these with you, both now and in the future. So here goes!
My first happened just the other month when my sister and I went to see Lee Evans at the NIA. I’m sure you are all aware of how profusely he sweats on stage, well it was hardly surprising, as the arena was so hot and there was no air conditioning. As it was a night out, I had decided to wear one of my wigs and by the interval I was a mess. Try as we might, we couldn’t get a drink from anywhere as there were so many people. When we finally found a shorter queue we were told that they were not letting anyone else in at that time but we could wait. By this point I was so hot and bothered I decided enough was enough, the wig had to come off (fortunately I had a head scarf in my bag). Well I’ve never seen the security move so fast “What sort of drink did you want?”. “Anything. Water, any soft drink. I don’t care” I replied. We were then rushed through to get our drinks and they apologised for making us wait. I couldn’t believe it and I tell you one thing, if I’d known that earlier I would have bloody played the cancer card then! The funniest thing was I only took my wig off because I was too hot, I had no intention of it drawing any attention, let alone get us some drinks. God only knows how anyone else around us reacted, would have been funny to see.
My second story is more of a conundrum. As I have said many times before, cancer is not glamorous and dignity is a distant memory. The other day as I preparing myself I was told that two male nurses would be preparing and positioning me ready for treatment. I was given the option of female nurses, however it might mean having to wait until one was available. I gave it some thought and it occurred to me, what is the point? My boob is swollen and bright red, my arms are held up like a puppet and I have a wonderful bit of yellow plastic holding my chin up. If anyone found that attractive, they had bigger problems than me! I ended up telling them to just get on with it so I could go home.
I had a discussion with a couple of the girls on the workshop yesterday about how being diagnosed is bittersweet.
On the one hand you are dealt with something you wouldn’t wish on even your worse enemy and on the other, it makes you take stock of your life and makes you want to make the most out of it.
If I had been told I would do even half the stuff I have done in the past 8 months, this time last year, I probably would have just laughed it off. However, since my diagnosis I have done so much,
- I met my favourite boyband
- I have made some incredible new friends and reconnected with others
- I shaved my hair off for charity
- I completed the Race for Life and even ran a little bit of it
- I have been able to manage running home, caring for my children, endured surgery, chemotherapy and the shock of having cancer and continued studying towards my degree
- I’ve held a Strawberry Tea for Breast Cancer Care
- This weekend I am going to be completing the Midnight Walk for Katharine House Hospice
- I went on a Look Good Feel Better workshop and to Hoar Cross Hall
- I went on my first study visit to Liverpool (something I was very nervous about doing)
- I am booked to go on another study visit to Brighton next month but this time I will be going for the whole weekend
- With my family I have been to Nottingham, Bath and London all in between my treatment
- and countless other things
But the best thing is, it’s only September so there are plenty other things I could do! If I’m honest, I have no idea what will happen before the end of the year but I’m excited to find out.
Like I said before, having cancer is bittersweet, it is only now that I am really enjoying life and having the guts to do all the things I want to. So my advise to all of you reading this is if there is something you want to do, just do it! Don’t be afraid, don’t think you are being selfish, just get on with it! The only person you are letting down is yourself and if like me, you’ll be excited about what it will lead to next.
So until next time, I’m off to plan another adventure x
Can’t believe how long it has been since I last updated you all.
I’ve spent today at Hoar Cross Hall, attending a Look Good, Feel Better workshop. This was provided the a charity of the same name which aims to provide practicial and free services to women and teenagers who suffer from the visable side effects from cancer treatments. They do this with a 12 step programme which they go through with you in the workshop and you are given a bag with all the products in to use and take home (I’ll just add here that they are all full sized products not just testers).
About 13 of us came to the workshop, all at various stages of treatment, and it was lovely to meet some new people with whom you have a lot in common with. From what we were told, this was the first one in the area and I honestly hope there are a lot more in the future. We were all able to have a giggle and learn something new. It was lovely to be able to get a bit glammed up and be able to do it at home too. As an extra treat Hoar Cross Hall also allowed us to have lunch and use of the facilities at a reduced rate.
I took full advantage and enjoyed the pool and various aqua spa facilities. There are times when you feel really low and have no confidence in the way you look (especially after putting on weight and being ill). This day really helped me to feel better about myself and made me realise that I can still pamper myself, ok maybe not in the same way I use to but this has shown me a new way.
I must admit, although I have to go through so much rubbish with my cancer, I am enjoying the perks too.
So here’s to looking good and feeling better!
So today, in a break with tradition, I went on my first study visit for my photography degree. It’s fair to say that the past 2 days haven’t been my best. I’ve been suffereing the side effects from my filgrastin injections (they simulate bone marrow to produce white blood cells) and I could have slept for England but I was determined to go.
I found it pretty easy getting there and finding the meeting place and was enjoying meeting fellow students (this was the first time even though I have been with the OCA for 2 years). It was when we started to walk around and chat to people that I got the “looks”. One lady asked if I had gone through the same as her, which I said yes and she asked when I had finished my chemo. I explained that I had one to go and my last was on Tuesday, to say she was surprised is a bit of an overstatement. She couldn’t believe that I was able to pull myself together enough to come. I just shrugged it off and said that I had been looking forward to coming. She seemed impressed and we continued on.
Later, the discussion of what modules we were doing came up. Most were doing photography modules and had spent the last year completing one. It was then my turn, again I just made a passing comment that I was doing 2 modules and again jaws dropped. How the hell do you do that? Isn’t it stressful? Again, I just shrugged it off, I’m so used to doing both it never crossed my mind that it was a lot.
It was at lunch that everyone came to the conclusion that I was completely mad. We were discussing families (majority had older children) and then I was asked. I was honest, I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. “Bloody hell!” was the response.
Once the day was over and I was sitting on the train home, I started to think about and it suddenly dawned on me how much I did have on. It had never occurred to me, it was just day to day life. I must admit, I like to keep busy and just take each day as it comes. It did occur to me to perhaps slow down a little but I’m happy as I am.