Hold onto your hats, it's going to be a bumpy ride! Thank you for stopping by and joining me for a while. I've recently been juggling (as all mums do) more balls than I am comfy with, and just when I felt like a professional juggler - BAM!! I get hit with this - BREAST CANCER!! I'm hoping that writing this blog will serve as some sort of therapy for me, to get me through this 'rough patch' ahead.... if it's interesting, entertaining, thought provoking or helpful to anyone else out there then that's an added bonus. If you like what you read, please visit again or click the "join" button below, and feel free to spread the word.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

10K Triumph!

So today was a very big day, a mile stone you might say.   Well actually is wasn't a mile, it was 6!!   Today I took part in my first proper "race", the Brooks 10K in Brighton & Hove.  Back in the summer, as the memory of Race for Life began to fade, I was struggling with keeping up the momentum of getting out there regularly to run/jog and my fitness was suffering as a result.   A friend had asked me a few times to sign up for the 10K and I had flatly refused, it just seemed too far! for a newby to running.  Anyhow then my lovely sister-in-law said she was doing it, as did my Step Father who is nearly 70, so OF COURSE I had to sign up! How could I not?!

My training has been regular but I actually only managed two practice 10k's prior to today.   I have done plenty of 5k's now and few 7-8k's but always found it too much hard work to push myself on to the 10 on a regular basis.    So my Personal Best before today was 1 hour 11 mins - but today, boy did I beat it!    It does help that the Brooks is on very flat ground all along the promenade.   And it certainly helps that you have 2700 people running along with you.   But I am well chuffed to say that I ran it in 1 hr 4 mins & 27 secs!!   its all about the seconds you know.   It was great to run alongside my sister in law as we go at a similar pace but each didn't want the other to get in front! So actually we pushed each other along.   I shall be cheeky saying this but I beat her by 1 second! 

I really did push myself and I shall be paying for it tomorrow, my muscles are seizing up as I type.   I have to say how proud I am am of my Step Father.   He has been jogging since April this year and is aiming at running the Brighton Marathon next year.   He looks amazing, full of life and vitality and I felt very proud to see him run today.   Here we are with our medals....

Another reason to be proud is that we ran as part of a team raising money for SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity

Back in the summer I laughed at the suggestion of me running a 10K.    Today I laugh at the suggestion of me running a half marathon (a natural progression?) - so watch this space....


Friday, 11 October 2013

Hair update

For those of you who have read my posts from last year during my Annus horribilis (check Me out! that's Latin that is!), you may remember my new Skinhead look, well I thought I would post you a picture to show how much my hair has grown back.

I have many bad hair days but I'm really pleased with how its coming along.   This photo shows my slightly Grannyish blow dried look, but I often sport it in "messy mode" when I can't be bothered to dry it properly and it goes all flicky and wavy.  My DH says it has "more character" that way, mmmmmmm is that a compliment? not really sure, but he means well poor bloke.  The colour is very different to how I was pre Chemo.   As a child I was blonde so I kept lightening it for most of my adult life, briefly going dark auburn which I found too severe, so went back to blondie again.   Anyway, I haven't coloured my hair at all this year apart from a wash out Light Ash Brown back in April but during the summer it seems to have gone rather auburn on the top layer -  I quite like it and can't see many greys so it is staying for now.

My aim is to grow it into a wavy bob near my chin by my big 4-0 birthday in January.   I have to mention my lovely friend K who has been trimming my hair for me, keeping the dreaded mullet at bay - I always love our chats and a cuddle with Rosie (a gorgeous yellow Labrador).

Anyway, enough about me.... x

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Puppy love ...

Yes I know its be AGES since my last post! What can I say? Life just gets in the way sometimes.

So if anyone is gagging to know... my diet has pretty much petered out!   I can hear those "I told you so's" from here.    I stopped my Fast Diet the first week we got our new puppy.   It is very much like having a new baby, and believe me, fasting and babies do not mix.  You need energy for those early mornings and constant worrying and watching baby's every move.  OK, I know here the comparison ends, puppies are much more mobile than a new born baby - and I have never spent so much time in my garden, watching his every move and trying (in vain) to make sure he doesn't eat stuff that he shouldn't!    Prior to Max's arrival we thought our garden was Puppy Friendly because we blocked up places he could escape.   Errrrm - wrong!!!  NOW it is almost Puppy Friendly cos we have blocked off more spaces, cut back lots of bushes and cleared the ground of potentially poisonous fallen damsons and pears.  Apparently the stones and pips of such fruit are toxic to dogs!   I so wish I read this before he came home!

Anyway, I digress.   Max our puppy is a gorgeous black Labrador.   He is 10 weeks old tomorrow and has settled in really well.   So maybe now I can turn my attention back to what I eat, or don't eat.

Having said this my weight is down.   I did purchase some new scales.  My first "Home weigh in" on 18th Sept was 59.9kg (9st 4lb) which I was very pleased with.    Today I have weighed in (after breakfast, if it makes any odds) at 58.5kg (9st 2lb).   So YAY for the loss but that is over 3 weeks, so not great.    At least it's not a gain.

My scales read my BMI too - very clever, who knows how accurate it is!   So my current BMI is 23.7.  Better, but I want it to be closer to 20.  23.7 is still quite close to 25 and if your BMI is 25 or over, you are officially overweight.  As far as measurements go, my belly - at the fattest part, is now 37 inches and my waist is 31.5 inches.  So only a loss of 1 inch around my fat belly but it's good.    I'm glad I've taken the time to type this up and now I can see it's clear I need to keep going.    I think I will try just cutting calories and less carbs a few days a week as well as keeping up my exercise.   The problem with the Fast Diet for me is not the fasting, that became quite easy, but the day after, when I usually wanted to go out and jog, I just felt sapped of energy and reluctant to take any exercise.    I am training for this 10k in November, so my body needs fuel to perform well.

This past week I have slipped into eating the odd chocolate bar here and there, nibbling of an evening, so I'm gonna cut that out and stay focused.   I want to get down to 9 stone and stay there for a bit.

Once our Max is able to go out for walks, life will settle into a better routine for me.  At the moment, and for 2 more weeks, he is confined to the house and garden, which I think we are both bored of and its not conducive to healthy eating.

Fortunately, I have been able to get out for some jogging sessions and my usual Thursday morning "boot camp" style workout, otherwise I would probably have gone insane by now!

Having Max is wonderful, but has been exhausting and very repetitive during his first weeks here. Calling "Wee Wee's" and "Down Max", "No Max!!" about 1000 times a day.     He is sleeping at the moment and really I should be cleaning upstairs whilst he does so, but I've been on here doing this, so I hope someone reads this and appreciates it!!!  bye for now. x

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Fast Diet - 2 weeks in

I've now done 2 full weeks on the 5:2 Fast Diet so thought I'd update with my progress so far.   The second week of fasting was much easier than the first week.  I didn't get any headaches or sleep problems.   Keeping busy on your fast day really helps.  The worst part is my "chill out" time of an evening, when I would usual have some dark chocolate or graze on a Graze box whilst watching the tele.   I have to be really strict with myself to not nibble, and try to go to bed without calming my tummy rumbles.   On Weds night I failed and ate 2 rice crackers at 8 calories each! before retiring.

As I don't own any bathroom scales I use the scales in Boots the Chemist, so am obviously fully clothed when weighing in - I don't want to get arrested for public nudity just to get an accurate weight reading!!! Anyway, if I always wear similar clothes when I weigh in, it makes no difference really and any loss will show up the same way.   However I wore different footwear this time and it recorded my height as been 2 inches taller than I am!   Therefore the BMI calculation is wrong.    Also, could those shoes have been heavier than the ones I wore before??? This has been bothering me, so now my own bathroom scales are on order.

SO, the weigh in showed I am now 9st 9lb!!  A loss of one teeny weeny little 1lb.  I had expected more over the 2 weeks.   Maybe my "time of the month" this week has had an impact?   Maybe the scales are dodgy?!  They were in a different branch of Boots to my previous weigh in.   Oh well, its better than nothing.   Let's hope it will be more next week.   I'm pleased to say that the measurement around my middle has dropped 1 inch! Yay! A good start. Incidentally I call this my "waist measurement" but actually I measured around the part of my tummy that sticks out the most! about half an inch under my belly button. The Fast Diet book tells you to measure around your belly button, but I went for the part that sticks out the most as that's the bit I need to reduce the most.

When my fancy new scales arrive I will be able to way myself sans clothing, first thing in the morning, which will then reveal the true Me.  Whatever they say, I am still going to stick by this diet for a while as I really need to cut down on the weight I'm carrying around my middle.  I'm aiming for being under 9 stone and staying there.   

Also this week as part of my fitness regime I have done 1hr 30 mins of yoga, jogged over 12k (2 separate outings) and done a 30 min Kettlebell workout.

So I'm feeling pretty good and just need to keep up the momentum.  I went out to jog on Sunday with the aim of seeing how far I could go, but going back to interval training to help me increase my distance.   I managed to cover 8.75k by jogging for 20, running for 5 then taking it down to a walk for 5 mins.  I even RAN (not jog) up a hill!! it really helps if you listen to the theme tune from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) when you do this!

Friday, 6 September 2013

The F word

.... now I've got your attention, it's not a rude word at all, at least not in my book, but I'm going to talk about FASTING - to be precise, the latest "craze" in weight loss which is Intermittent Fasting aka the 5:2 diet or The Fast Diet.

Now although I've always felt blessed with a size 12 figure, at only 5ft 2", currently weighing in a 9st 10lbs, I am on the heavy side for a short arse and I carry most of my excess weight around my middle.   I'm well aware of how unhealthy this is, plus I could be carrying who knows how much fat on the INSIDE of my body, I figure it's time to get myself sorted.   My BMI is 23.8 (according to the scales at Boots) which is acceptable but could definitely be lower and therefore healthier.   I've even got the tape measure out and horror of horrors, my waist measures 38 inches!!!!   I am being brave and sharing this with you all in the interests of research and transparency, to see if this diet actually works.  I hope to be reporting losses as the weeks go by.  I hereby pledge to stick with it for 12 weeks and see how it goes.   Can I live with it?   Does it actually work?

It is called a diet but I do prefer to think of it as a STRATEGY.   The basics are that on 5 days a week you eat normally and on 2 non-consecutive days you Fast, consuming just 500 calories if you are a women and 600 calories if you are a man.  I'm currently reading The Fast Diet book and it is very persuasive stuff, claiming health benefits that include:

  • weight loss of 1-2lb a week,
  • improvements in blood pressure,
  • improvements in cholesterol levels,
  • reduced risk of age related disease, such as cancer,
  • reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia,
  • a greater sense of wellbeing and happiness!
On the cancer subject, the book refers to research undertaken at the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre in Manchester where a study of women showed that those on a 2 day diet lost twice as much weight as those on a full-time diet - interrrrrrresting!

So taking all the above into account, myself and the Hubster have started on The Fast Diet.  The beauty of it is, that you choose whichever 2 days fit in with your coming week the best.  You don't have to stick to the same 2 days.  So this week I have fasted on Tuesday and today (Friday). I must be honest, that Friday is not a great day to only allow yourself 500 calories, but as yesterday my mum was round for dinner plus I had a hospital appointment (just a check-up), I felt today would fit better.   So, yes I have felt deprived of my usual Friday glass of wine, but tomorrow is another day and I can have one or 2 if I like, then!

Today I have eaten:

Breakfast - 2 boiled eggs and 4 asparagus spears (to dip)
No lunch
Dinner - one lightly dusted Cod Fillet with 3 Broccoli florets and about 50g of steamed spinach
Drinks - MANY!!! lots of herbal tea or water (hot and cold) - my downfall here is that I can't bear herbal tea unsweetened - I tried today and it was grim!! So I use a sweetener called Agave Nectar which is similar to runny honey but has lower calories and a lower GI.  However if I have that every time I have a drink, the calories soon rack up.
Snacks - 1 satsuma

The above totals 525 calories - it is quite tricky to keep it at 500, however practice makes perfect. On Tuesday (my 1st fast day) I had 562 but that was because I really couldn't sleep and got up to eat a chocolate covered rice cake!!  I'm hoping tonight I will do better on the sleep front.

Today has been quite tough if I'm honest.  I have been home all day pretty much, other than the school runs.    I have kept myself busy with household chores etc, but I think next time I fast I'll make sure I get out and about more.  This is early days though right - the book promises that after a few weeks you get used to it and the feeling of hunger barely registers.   So I've got to stick with it.   Nothing worth doing is ever easy.   And tomorrow is another day - one in which I can eat whatever I like AND have some vino.     I should point out though, I'm not a fan of junk/fast food.   We have very occasional take aways and the closest we get to junk food is a pizza from the freezer once every couple of weeks.  So, when I say I can eat whatever I like, I won't be going on a junk food bender and stuffing my face silly on unhealthy food.   Cos that would obviously undo all today's hard work.  

Have you given this diet a go? I would love to hear from you with your experiences and any tips.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Well, after a very long wait, getting on for 3 months, I finally received a phone call last week about my blood test results.    The good news is.... drum roll please.......THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MY GENES!!!!

Whoop Whoop!!!  I am so very relieved.  This has been a very heavy weight on my shoulders, more so as the weeks dragged by and I was left waiting way too long to hear the results.  They had to do run the tests twice, because a part of it wasn't working properly, I have no idea why, but the most important thing is, being told there are no problems with my BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  
So fantastic news! as now with no impending operations or further treatment, I can finally get on with the rest of my life.     And on that note, I've already found our forever friend - a black Labrador puppy, whom we shall be bringing home to join us in early October!

So please visit again for more puppy news and photos.   Plus my 2 other "projects" - training for a 10k run (yikes) which is happening in Brighton on 17th November and going on "The Fast Diet" because I need to lose to my fat tummy and am bowled over by the other health benefits this way of life offers - if you haven't read the book, you really should.

The kids are back to school on Thursday, so I will have more time for all the above, and blogging, of course.  Bye for now. X

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Still waiting...

it's been quite a while now since my blood test, and I'm still waiting for the results phone call, but been assured that I will hear by the end of this week.    So although I try not to think about it, I'll be making an effort to keep the ringer on my mobile ON (I often have it on silent),  and I can't really help but imagine, how I will react when I get the news.   I think it's important to prepare myself for the worst.   All my friends and family have done a great job of being positive, saying "you'll be fine" and try not to think about it.  Which I appreciate, but I kind of HAVE to think about it, in the worst terms, so that I don't completely freak out if I get bad news.   I will need to keep a lid on my emotions as the children will be with me and they haven't a clue any of this is going on.
And of course, if you have kids you will know what I mean, when you try to have a private phone call, that is the precise time that they need your attention urgently and they won't stop bugging you until they've got it!  I have been known to lock myself in the bathroom before now, in an attempt to get some privacy whilst on the phone.   
So, anyway, my way of dealing with this dodgy week ahead and avoid the waiting game - like I haven't waited long enough - is to fill my week AND my house, with children!  Other people's, not just my own.    Having just typed this fact, I realise now that it was probably a very stupid idea.    Oh well, tomorrow I'm looking after 3 more kiddliwinks for a friend, so she can have some valuable quiet time to pack for their holidays.  So I could well be hiding in the bathroom from 5 kids whilst on that very important phone call, instead of 2.   The phone call will need to be brief and to the point then.
Another distraction technique, which I have much enjoyed today, is spending money!  This morning I was rather spontaneous and just booked myself and the hubster into a London hotel for our wedding anniversary at the end of the month!   I woke up and thought, why not - a treat is needed for us both.  So I just went and booked it.  None of this dithering over it for days or weeks like I normally would.  Job done.  Something to look forward to - it always helps!
Right, that's all for now - watch this space for some GOOD news folks! xx

Friday, 19 July 2013

To test or not to test.....

...that was the question.

I am talking about Genetic Testing for "mutations" in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.   Its been in the press a fair bit recently, not least because Angelina Jolie opted for a prophylactic (risk-reducing) mastectomy because she tested positive for the gene defect and had a family history of both breast and ovarian cancer.

So I have been fortunate enough to be offered Genetic Testing.  I do not feel fortunate however.   Deciding whether or not to have the test has been a difficult decision to make.  Knowing what ramifications it will have on me and my family if a faulty gene is found.   Some people would choose to stick their head in the sand, they'd rather not know, but having been through what I already have, how can I?  I am a Mother and no less, a Wife.   I have a responsibility to my family, to do what I can to ensure a long, healthy life.   The cancer I was diagnosed with last year was TRIPLE NEGATIVE breast cancer. This is the only reason I have been offered the Genetic Test as there is quite a strong link between triple negative breast cancer in women of my age and a fault with the BRCA1 gene.   

Before my blood test was taken I had a counselling session with a Genetic Counsellor.  She explained what would happen if the test found an alteration in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.   Every case is different, but for me, having already had breast cancer, if an alteration is found I may have up to a 50% risk of developing it again in the future and a 45% risk of developing ovarian cancer.    Looking at my family history, my immediate female relations have thankfully all been clear of cancer, but my grandmother's 3 sisters all suffered with breast cancer and one had ovarian cancer as well.   So my dear Granny could have been a carrier of the gene mutation, but miraculously escaped its effect and died of nothing more sinister than old age.

I must say I'm finding it difficult to write this post.  I have revisited it a number of times and it has been over a month since my appointment with the Genetic Counsellor.    There are so many mixed feelings running through my head, it's difficult to put it all down.   The reality is this - I've had the blood test and I have to wait for 8-9 weeks for the results.   Most of this waiting period has already passed by now, and I'm hoping for the results phone call during the first or second week of August.

If the blood test shows that a gene alteration has been found, I then have to consider my options.   I will be offered an increased level of breast screening including a yearly MRI scan, but I may also have the option of a prophylactic mastectomy and/or oophorectomy (having my ovaries removed).   Right now I'm of the opinion that although it terrifies me, I will have whatever surgery is offered to reduce my risk.  Otherwise what is the point of having the knowledge.   Knowledge is power.   I can take charge of my life rather than sit and wait and dread that cancer may come knocking again.

BUT fingers crossed, no faulty gene will be found and I can get on with my life!!

If you were wondering, I do have plans to get a puppy but this blood test has definitely been a large spanner in the works!    Once I am sure that the future is bright, a puppy dog will most definitely be joining our family.   So, watch this space.... 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Race for Life 2013

It was an emotional and fulfilling day today.   I took part in my local Race for Life, and ran 5k/3 miles to raise money for Cancer Research UK.    I did the Race for Life last year, half way through my chemo treatment.   I walked round the course, supported by my wonderful friends and it took me about 1 hour.   Today I ran it!  The whole thing.   It took me 38 mins.   You can read about last year's race here.   Cancer has changed my life in so many ways, for the better.    I am now fitter than I have ever been before, I have never been “a runner”, always shying away from it saying I hated that gasping for breath, burning in your lungs feeling.   But since January I have been in training.   Last year’s Race for Life and my Chemo Consultant telling me to exercise more, was all the incentive I needed to put my running shoes on and get out there.   With the help of this really useful App, C25K, I have slowly built up my ability to run and now I’m doing it!  Without the gasping for breath, burning feeling in my lungs!!!

That's me no 498, with my fab friend and training buddy Mrs M.
My daughter also took part in the Race today.  She is 6 and she walked the route with her best buddies and their mums.   I am so proud of her.  The sad thing is though, I think she understands what’s going on with cancer – I mean that it’s a nasty illness that can take peoples lives.   I never really wanted her to know that, but with all the publicity for Race for Life and Macmillan on the radio and seeing all the messages on peoples backs today, she’s a bright girlie, I think she gets it.   I just hope she won’t start living in fear, like I am – at times.  

I've found that since I started training to run, I've inspired others to do so too.   A close friend of mine, who was "allergic" to exercise now runs with me once or twice a week, my sister-in-law who works full time and has 2 young children AND a teenager to look after, has found time to train and has been running at 6 a.m before work a couple of times a week.  I LOVE that me having had cancer has had this knock on effect, more people I know are taking their health more seriously and putting their fitness higher up the list.

Watching all those groups of women, mothers and daughters, friends, of all ages crossing the finish line today was such an emotional and powerful experience.  It brings it home to me, that my fight is there fight.  I’m not in it alone.   1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer in their life time.  I really hope the work that Cancer Research are doing can improve those odds.

I was very proud of my family today, my two gorgeous Sisters-in-Law who ran the route too, my daughter and our boys/men for being their to support us.

To all my Team – Fab n Fighting Fit, you are all amazing and I really appreciate you joining me and the other thousands of pink t-shirts today.  I’m proud of myself for what I did today and so should you be!
Half of Team Fab n Fighting Fit - having trouble getting hold of pic of full team, but will post when I do!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Hula Hula Holiday

Hello dear Readers, I must apologise again for my lack of blogging in recent times.   I guess I have just been too busy living!  But I thought I would let you know what I’ve been up to and this may be of particular interest to anyone who is just going through or been through cancer treatment and feels like booking a much needed and deserved vacation/holiday.

My family and I have not long returned for a fabulous 2 weeks away in Orlando!! We went with some good friends, a whole family and stayed in a villa with its own pool, so there was plenty of room for us all and it was a much needed refuge from the craziness of the theme parks we frequented for most of our trip.

Now if you’ve had cancer treatment you will know that there is lots of talk out there about how hard it is, yet how very important it is, to get decent travel insurance before you go anywhere.   I have heard scare stories of it costing more than £300 to get cover, particularly when travelling to America.   However in my experience, it really isn’t like that.    I’ve had 2 trips abroad since finishing my treatment, once to Majorca and then this one - for both trips I found cover that was affordable and included all my ‘pre-existing medical conditions’.     The insurance for Orlando cost us £172 for 2 weeks for a family of 4.    It’s a fair amount I know, but certainly not an astronomical cost that would prevent us from going.    So if you are in a similar position to myself, please check out Medici Travel when looking around for quotes.

Another thing to consider if you are going on holiday and have had radiotherapy is you must keep your treated skin out of the sun.   I was told numerous times by various doctors and nurses that I must take extra precautions in the sun for at least the next 5 years, as the skin is very sensitive and liable to burn easily.    I take this very seriously as we all know what sunburned skin can turn into at any point later on – skin cancer.    I knew that we’d be out in the sun a lot on holiday, and probably in our swimming costumes a fair bit enjoying the villa pool or water parks, so I had to be prepared.    I decided to get a Rash Vest, it’s basically a t-shirt made from swimming costume fabric which has a high SPF factor, usually 30 or 50.   Now, trying to buy one that fits was rather challenging.   I started with the old faithful,, ordered my regular size, but when it arrived I could barely get it over my head and when I eventually did squeeze myself into it, it was not a good look and did nothing for my fragile self esteem, so I sent it packing.   Now unless you live in a surfers paradise (I’m thinking Torquay or somewhere like that), Rash Vests do not feature in the stock of your high street shops, so after making some enquiries of people in the know about such things, I found a very well stocked surf shop down in Hove and it was well worth the drive there as I got a Rash Vest I was able to fit into and almost feel good in.   It turned out that once I added sunshine and was standing amongst every body shape known to man in an Orlando water park I felt pretty darn good in it after all!!!   My little tip is to wear a one-piece swimming costume underneath, NOT a bikini, to help smooth out any lumps and bumps.

Me in 'the rash vest' doing the Hula with Lilo

So, aside from having this Holiday Of A Lifetime – which included swimming with dolphins and exotic sea life, dining at Cinderella’s Table (no less) in Magic Kingdom and whizzing upside down and every which way on roller coasters and crazy simulator rides – I have been getting fitter.   Keeping up my jogging/walking, yoga and kettlebell workouts (not whilst on holiday, I am NOT that disciplined!) and although I still have a way to go I know that I am stronger and fitter for it.    I’m entering the Race for Life again this year, and this time I intend on running it! All of it.    Even if it kills me – which of course it won’t, so

When I’m not exercising, I am being Mum; cleaner, cook, peacekeeper, PA, researcher, counselor and carer.    Fortunately, and thanks to my wonderful Husband we are not desperate for money, so I don’t need to add another job to my plate – not yet anyway.  But I do spend time wondering what direction to go in next.   I am knocking on 40 and still have no idea what my vocation in life should be.   Oh well I am sure it will come to me eventually!  In the meantime I am going to keep getting fitter and improving on my Mummy skills, AND hopefully in the not too distant future, will be welcoming a new member to the family – a beautiful fluffy little puppy!!  Now that WILL keep me busy.   Watch this space!  X

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dear Donna

Dear Donna

The school is in mourning, some parents and pupils are shocked to hear of your passing, some are sad yet relieved as we know you can now rest and be at peace.   No more fighting it, no more pain and discomfort, no more frustration or fear.   Not for you.   You put up a good fight and have been such an amazing positive inspiration to us all.   You taught my son in his first 2 years of infant school, he was still a baby really and you took him under your wing, nurtured and taught him, making sure his school life got off to the best possible start.   I thank you for that.  You not only taught children but you taught adults, how to be better teachers themselves and better people.   When I was diagnosed you gave me a hug and offered your support and understanding.   You had such strength and grace throughout your battle against this wicked disease.   I only wish I could have known you better and for longer.

I'm so sad that cancer did this to you, and can imagine how hard it has been on your nearest and dearest.  But I like to think of you now, in a better place, somewhere out of this world, somewhere with beauty and love all around you.  Where your soul can rest and reflect on what an amazing person you were.  The school will never forget you and all that you did, you will always be in our hearts and minds.

Your cancer journey has made me determined to dig deep and keep fighting, putting my health and fitness first, so your suffering has not been in vain.

Sleep well now Donna, the Angels will take good care of you. xxx


Happy Valentine's Day everyone! to all my family and wonderful friends, blog followers and of course my loving husband,  I LOVE YOU ALL! and thanks for being in my life and making it richer.

I'm urging you to spread the love today, not just to your partner if you have one, but to anyone and everyone in your life whom you cherish.   Go for it, don't hold back, you might just make their day.

I am spreading the love this year because when I think about last year's Valentine's Day bad memories just come flooding back.    I spent Val Day last year at the hospital, having radioactive fluid injected into my breast and then preparing for my surgery the next day.  You can read more about this here.   I guess it wasn't all bad scary stuff as we did manage to squeeze in a Valentine's lunch in a proper restaurant.  You see, no matter how shit life is, there is always space for romance!

Come the evening though, I did feel sorry for myself as I was on Nil By Mouth and obviously full of anxiety about what the following day would bring.     Looking back at my posts about the operation I realise I didn't say too much, probably because I just couldn't think straight.  There was so much I could have said and I just felt overwhelmed by it all.    One lasting memory I have is of the medical staff.   Mainly the Anaesthetist - what a wonderful man!!  He was young, younger than me and just had the most amazing chirpy, confident manner about him.   You literally couldn't help but trust him with your life.     He talked about the general anaesthetic in terms of drinking wine, after the initial dose (first glass) I would feel chilled out and then as he topped it up (2nd glass and so on) I would feel all warm and very dozy, until quite quickly I would be out cold, as if I'd drunk a fair few bottles!   But I wouldn't have a hideous hangover, no banging headache or nausea when I awoke because of all the painkillers and anti nausea meds he would give me whilst in theatre.   He probably says the same thing to all his patients if they're of drinking age, but it really felt like he was taking care of ME and speaking to me in terms I would understand and appreciate.

So my operation is a distant memory now.   The scars are there and I doubt my boob will ever feel completely 'normal' again, but at least its lurgy free and I'm still fighting!

Another reason I have to spread the love today is my kids' school community need it.   We've had some very sad news yesterday but I'm going to write more about this in a separate post.... X

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Memoirs of a Mammogram

I'm celebrating tonight! Today I had the dreaded Mammogram and survived to tell the tale.  This was my second one ever, basically it's a year since my breast cancer diagnosis and I was due a post treatment Mammogram to confirm all is well.    As you'll have seen from previous posts, I was dreading having this because the first one I had last February, hurt so much that I felt like asking for gas and air!   Plus obviously I have been anxious about what they might find.   Laying in bed at night, thinking I've found another lump ....not every night (I'm not obsessed with it) but at least once a week.    I coped with today's challenge by cleaning the house, browsing curtain fabrics with my dear Hubster, then popping 2 extra strong painkillers before heading to the hospital.   My wonderful husband always comes with me to these hospital appointments even when it's just a quick check up. His quiet strength and support means everything to me.
So, I'll cut to the chase - the Mammogram itself was basically like clamping your boobs in a vice, but I coped quite well with it and the painkillers definitely played their part.  The Radiographer was very kind and did all she could to help me relax and get it over as quickly as she could.   Usually you would have to wait a week or so for the results of the Mammogram, but as I was scheduled to then have an ultra sound scan on my scarred boob, the Doctor was able to view my Mammogram straight away and give me the results.    Whilst I'm laying there, in a state of undress waiting for him to come and see me, I thought I'd have another feel and see if that little lump I found on one of my sleepless nights was still there.   I found it straight away!  Pea sized and not far from from my scar site, there it was, the little bastard.   Trying not to freak out, I felt reassured by its small size and the fact that I would very soon find out if it was the dreaded C, back again, or just a little cyst or something.   So the Doctor came in and straight away said those precious words "Your mammogram looks fine".   He very quickly got to work covering my boob in gel (ooh Matron!).   Using the ultra sound doplar (I think that's what it's called) he pressed down on my lumpectomy scar and could see a dark area of fluid, which I had suspected was there and wanted rid of.   No problem he said, and was able to stick a needle into the area and drain it off.   He is sending the stuff he drained off to the Pathology lab, to check its nothing horrid, but he said he is confident that it's nothing to worry about.    I was elated to hear his reassuring words about the mammogram pictures, but still concerned about my little pea.  I pointed to where I could feel it and straight away he found it, pressing down hard on it with the doplar - ouch!  But looking at his monitor screen neither of us could see anything there.   Phew!  The
Doctor said any lumpiness that comes and goes is likely to be caused by the radiotherapy, so I don't need to worry.
I left the hospital feeling elated - I got the 'all clear'!   I just need to get to the 5 year mark all clear and I'm home dry - back to the same odds as anyone else of getting it again.  I shall sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

One year on....

Well I've made it through a year!  It's pretty much one year to the day since my cancer diagnosis.   To be precise, the diagnosis was 2nd Feb but by this point last year I had been to visit my GP and was awaiting my appointment at the One Stop Breast Clinic.    So, Happy "Cancerversary" to me!!! I say this in a sarcastic tone, because I really don't feel like celebrating.   Most of my posts are very positive, but right now I'm on a downer, so why pretend?   The bottom line is I still feel bitter and twisted about my diagnosis.  Feelings of why me? Which I know aren't healthy, nor helpful.   Obviously I am eternally grateful that my diagnosis wasn't worse.   All my treatment is done and dusted, they removed the cancer and zapped any remaining cells, then sent me on my way.   The problem is the fear.   The fear of IT returning and having to go through it all again.    My boob doesn't feel fine, it feels tender, lumpy in places and dry.  These are mostly side effects of the radiotherapy, but also of the lumpectomy which I had on 15th Feb 2012.   I was so hoping to be side effect free by now, but I guess I was kidding myself.
Whilst doing my best to focus on a new life, a cancer free, happy and healthy life, I obviously still need to have hospital check ups every now and then and one is looming next week.   I had a quick chat and examination at the clinic last week, where the Doctor says everything seems "fine" but just to be sure I'm lined up for a mammogram and ultra sound scan next Tuesday.    Now seeing as the mammogram I had on 2nd Feb 2012 hurt enough to make me cry, I am seriously dreading having one on my still tender tit, which is full of scar tissue.   My plan to cope with this is to dose myself up on some serious painkillers beforehand, fortunately my darling Husband will be there to dry my tears and drive me home.   It is a necessary evil, I need to know that my boobs are officially lump free.  I am having way too many rough nights sleep at the moment, constantly checking myself and imagining lumps and bumps which seem to disappear come the morning.  So,

As I said, I'm doing my best to just get on and live a happy, healthy life.    I'm exercising, not every day, but 3 times a week, and if this rain would bugger off I would be doing more!  I am going to train to run 5k before I go on our special family holiday in April.   I will need all the strength and stamina I can get, cos did I mention... We're going to FLORIDA!!!! Whoop whoop!! Now there's a high note to sign off on! Xx

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

Hello, I'm back - apologies for the massive gap in posts but y'know Christmas just got in the way. Plus, I haven't had that much to talk about really.    All is quiet on the cancer front.    The doctors aren't in any hurry to have me back for a check-up, even though they said they would - so early in January I got on the phone and chased them up, and the very efficient secretary sent me an appointment in the post 2 days later.  So my check-up back at the Breast Clinic is next Thursday.   I think it will probably just be a 'chat' and then they'll want me back again for a mammogram sometime in February.   Apparently they can't do one within a year of a breast operation.  Good job too, as a mammogram is painful enough without having tender scar tissue to contend with.  
So today is my birthday, I am the ripe old age of 39 - derr derr derrrrrrr!! Knock knock knocking on the BIG 4.0.    I don't care about what age I am at all, I care more about the age I feel!  and thanks to my efforts at getting fit during the past month or so, I feel about .... 35! Well its a start isn't it.
I have kept to my word about exercising - generally speaking....I have exercised between 3 & 5 times per week since my last post.    Apart from a week after Christmas where I felt under the weather, the lurgy was trying to get me, and it succeeded for a while.   However I got off lightly and bounced back after a day or two.    My trick for fighting the coughs and colds of winter is, as soon as you feel it coming on, dose yourself up on cold remedies, especially Night Nurse at bedtime but also boost the amount of veg you eat.   Green veg mainly, if you can stomach blitzing some greens (cucumber, spinach & rocket) along with water and a dash of lemon juice in a blender and making a Green Smoothie so much the better, because it really does help.   My husband says it tastes rank but I don't agree - you can practically taste the vitamins!
I really wish it wasn't so freezing cold out though, as I want to get running.  I've been using my new Wii Just Dance 4 game to burn some calories and get moving, plus I had my first session back at yoga after the Christmas break this week.  I have really missed it, and although I occasionally used my yoga App, it's not the same.   I love the way yoga slowly builds strength and stamina in your muscles whilst helping your mind to focus then relax in such a blissful way.   
Anyhow I have a new exercise craze to get into, which I'm really excited about - Kettlebells!!!  Basically it's weight training, but is increasing in popularity especially amongst women as it burns calories FAST.   In a 20 minute workout you can burn about 300 calories!  Sounds good to me.   This is the set of Kettlebells I received today for my birthday:

I won't be touching the 8kg one for a very long time (if ever), my hubbie can have that one!  But the 2 and 4 kg will definitely get some use.   As I have said before though, my main focus for all this exercise is to be fit, not thin.   I don't own a pair of scales, and like to keep it that way because I think it is easy to become obsessed about what you weigh.     Out of interest though, I stepped on the scales at Boots the other day.  I am 10 stone.   Which at 5ft 2" is just tipping into the "over weight" bracket, so I need to sort that out and get down to 9 stone at least.    Kettlebell training will burn the fat but also tone up my muscles - perfect.  So watch this space - I haven't actually done any yet!! Tomorrow will be day 1.

On another note - New Year's resolutions, everyone should make them.   Mine are:

1.  Obviously, to get fit - I intend on running the 5k Race for Life this summer, without it killing me.
2.  Enjoy and savor time with my kids more.
3.  Not let other people's opinions of me/my choices in life affect me. 
4.  Live in the moment.
5.  Blog more regularly.

On that note, I will say farewell.   I have red wine and crispy duck on the menu for my birthday dinner!