So I’m A Blogger Now!

I’ve wanted to write a blog for a while now, but I didn’t know what to write about. Would anyone read it? Do I want anyone to read it? Life has given me the topic so I’m sitting here at 2am on a Tuesday morning, blogging.

Check me!

If you want to skip the serious stuff, start at September 11th. No, I’m not kidding!

Thanks to my friend for giving me the technical advice on the how, for the ‘encouragement’ AKA boot up the backside to actually write it, and for proof reading my ramblings before putting them out there. All without knowing what the content would be. And also for being there at exactly the right time.

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Not Just Pink & Fluffy

As you know, I’m an avid follower of a few Instagram accounts of some inspirational girls who have, or have had cancer. And recently, @bowelbabe posted about something that really ‘ripped ma knittin’ More than 1 major retailer used an advertising campaign to promote their support for cancer charities using the pink & fluffy route.

One of the slogans was ‘2 is better than 1’ referring to friends, but this was for a breast cancer charity. Just think about that for a second. How many women, or men! with breast cancer end up with only 1?

Cancer isn’t pretty guys, and I got off lightly.

Cancer isn’t best friends rallying round bringing you bunches of flowers & cups of tea

Cancer isn’t running 5k and raising money for a charity that pays it’s senior management millions yet still doesn’t find a cure.

Cancer isn’t living off a diet of raw broccoli because some guy in America says it cured him

 

Cancer. Isn’t. Pretty.

 

Cancer is rocking up for radio / chemo looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards cos you’ve got no energy to fix yourself

Cancer is not wearing makeup cos you couldn’t even if you tried.

Cancer is taking a pillow and blanket into the bathroom to sleep cos it’s quicker if you’re gonna be sick

Cancer is living off toast and ready meals cos you don’t have the energy to cook, even though that’s something you really love to do. But you live alone so don’t really have much option.

Cancer is barely having the energy to go to the hospital every day for treatment, getting dropped off at the hospital door cos you don’t have the energy to walk from the car park.

Cancer is leaving the hospital without saying goodbye to your best friend who is in the waiting room because you just want to curl up in a ball and stop everything.

Cancer is having a panic attack every time you go for a check up because, what if?

My statistics are great. 60-70% chance of surviving the next 5 years. So far so good. 16 months of NSD.

But let’s get real, cancer will affect 50% of us and that’s something we probably can’t get away from in our generation.

So everything in moderation, except living your life.

Do that 100% of the time.

SuzieDoll x

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

I’ve loved looking a everyone’s 10 year photo challenge on social media. Most look better with a bit of wisdom behind them, some of the early photos are absolute belters! Mines brought back a lot of memories. Keeping it relevant to this blog, a picture can tell a thousand words, but it never gives you the full story. People can hide a multitude of things in a photo. You can be all smiles, look like you’re having an amazing time, but inside is a different story. You can be hiding something even you don’t know is there. Inspired by @bowelbabe, I started looking back at my photos pre-diagnosis. I never loved having my photo taken, but how times change. I even got a selfie light for Christmas! Because one day, photos are all we will have so I think it’s important to take as many as you can.

This one is from May 2017, I may not look the picture of health, but it’s because I’ve just spent my first night camping, along with my niece and her dog. It rained. ALL. NIGHT.

may 2017
I carried the tent, the firewood, and most of the luggage, cos you know, we’re girls and we overpacked. While Jade took care of Demon Dakota. I put the tent up, in the pouring rain. Did I mention it rained ALL NIGHT!! Thunder & lightning, the works. But what you can’t see in the photo, is that undoubtedly, I already have cancer. Diagnosed 8 weeks later. Never felt ill, never had any symptoms, nothing. My first experience of camping was amazing. My second experience hasn’t quite happened yet!

 

This is me & Harve, my great nephew. 1 week before my treatment started. A family day out at the local farm park. There may be photos, or even videos of us all on the huge jumping pillow things, but I won’t overshare.

sept 2017

Here is the photo that I think I look the worst. This is me having my first chemo session. I think I look so horrendous as I maybe had 2 hours sleep the night before?

chemo-day-1.jpg

Me walking the dogs in week 1 of treatment, 1 chemo & 3 radiotherapy sessions down. And I’ve had some sleep by this point.

dogs.jpg

Here’s me on bell ringing day. 5 chemos, 25 radiotherapy sessions and 2 brachytherapies down and that is a look of relief on my face.

bell

And here’s me today. Roots done, eyebrows on point and in my gym gear raring to go.

today.jpg

I always hated having my photo taken, and I really still do unless I get to veto the results. My advice would be, nobody scrutinises your photos as much as you do, so get your friends together, take the photos, and make those memories. Use a filter or go au naturale, whatever makes you happy. Share them if you want, don’t if you don’t, but never judge a book by it’s cover.

SuzieDoll x

 

 

Look Good, Feel Better

I recently found myself at a bit of a loose end, which resulted in me finding myself at a Maggie’s Centre. It’s set in the grounds of the local hospital, and after much getting lost I found it! Maggie’s Centres are there to support anyone affected by cancer, a patient or their families and are staffed by professionals as well as volunteers. I’m so lucky to have one locally, but until a few weeks ago, had never set foot in it. Now you can’t keep me away. I initially went to sign up for their Where Now? group, which may actually be called What Now? I’m never sure. 7 weeks of how to manage life after cancer. Run by various professionals, psychologists, nutritionists, nurses and every week we get put through our paces by a PT. They kept that bit quiet until the first day! We even get lunch afterwards. I’ve met some great people on this course, all at various stages of post treatment and all with their own story to tell. I can’t express how good it was to be able to talk to people that have been through the same situation. We make the same inappropriate jokes about dying, nothing is off the table. I think most non cancer patients would cringe at how we laugh it off.

All the ladies on the course kept talking about another day the centre hosted called Look Good Feel Better, and being the curious person I am, I needed to find out more. It’s a one off thing that teaches women with cancer how to manage the visible side effects post treatment. First off, I felt like a bit of a fraud. I never lost my hair, and that’s the biggest thing a lot of women, and men, have to deal with. Today there were women who had lost their hair and it had already grown back, some women had some very stylish wigs on and one lady opted for a headscarf. Easy for me to say they all looked fab, but that must only add to the whirlwind of emotions during treatment.

There was one lady there, younger than me, starting her treatment next week. She got quite upset during the day, she can’t quite come to terms with the fact she might lose her hair, so much so that she is considering not having chemo. And what happened when she got upset? The 12 other women in the room did what we do best and just talked about it. One lady who was probably old enough to be the girls Mum, said “well we’re all here to support you, you might lose your hair, but you’ll still have your life” She did not mince her words! She told us this is her second time with cancer and the first time round she hated her wig, but she got used to it very quickly. Another lady, old enough to be the girls Gran, said “We didn’t even get a wig when I had cancer the first time round, I’m that old!” We only met on the day, but we already shared a bond that allows us to be brutally honest with each other.

Set Up

And then the fun commenced. If you’ve ever sat and watched a girl get ready for a night out, you’ll know how long it takes! There were a dozen of us in one room, the only thing missing was the alcohol. We didn’t need it.

 

Kit

We all got the LGFB make up bag full of goodies, and we’re not talking cheap drugstore make up here ladies, all about the Clinique! For the next hour, we were taught how to put make up on properly. There were plenty of giggles, a lot of swapping make up as the shades didn’t quite suit. My bag had extra fair, perfect for my eh, pasty complexion! For an hour, we all forgot what had brought us all together and just had some fun. A perfect tonic. I think after the course you are all meant to go your separate ways, but a few of us stayed, had coffee and put the world to rights. We only left as the volunteers all put their jackets on, I think we may have overstayed our welcome!

We are so lucky to have places like Maggie’s to go to, and it’s all funded through donations. It took me a year post treatment to step foot in the centre, but I think I found it at exactly the right time. Now I can’t stop talking about it. I’m even being a proper grown up next week and going in to make a will, another thing the centre has helped me with.

I’m not sure what I’ll do after this week when the What Now course finishes. I might just have to take up the yoga or tai chi classes they have on, just so as I can still go there. I might even see what volunteering opportunities they have.

The other thing I’ve found that has helped me through the last few months is You, Me & The Big C podcast. Rachael Bland, Deborah James & Lauren Mahon talk about ‘The coolest club you never want to be part of’ They discuss everything about living with cancer, life after cancer and ultimately dealing with the ending nobody wants to hear. Honest, heartbreaking and hilarious. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, or know anyone who has, it’s a fascinating listen.

Now that I’ve caught up with that, I’ve downloaded Deborah’s book imaginatively called F*** You Cancer. More brutal honestly, with some more hilarity thrown in. My favourite line so far, when a stranger told her off for using a disabled toilet she replied “Two words, which you’ll find in the title of the book” Deborah is living with stage 4 bowel cancer. Shit really does happen!

SuzieDoll xx

 

Download the podcast here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0608649/episodes/downloads or do that technical thing on your phone and get it there!

Give the girls a follow on Instagram @bowelbabe @girlstolelondon

Darling, where you go, I go

Teresa is one of my best friends. We have been through many up & downs over the years. This popped into my mailbox at 1.30am this morning…….

 

Last year Suzie asked me if I would like to tell my story and add to her blog. I said yes but to be honest I wasn’t sure. You see talking about the big C scares me, I’ve lost too many loved ones to this disease but it’s a year later and nearly 4 years since my world stalled but I’ll get to that.

 

It was 1987 and I was 11 when I first heard the C word, I got called out of class to my dad waiting for me, his eyes red and his voice full of emotion. His big sister, my auntie Molly had passed away. She had cancer of the thyroid. Suddenly i’m 17 and at my big cousin Steven’s funeral, he was 19 and like a brother to me. He’d fought hard for 5 years against bone marrow cancer and never once complained or slowed down. If he wasn’t joking around and throwing his artificial leg out of car windows or into swimming pools, he was raising money for our local hospice or going into the childrens ward to carry on with the kids or running onto the pitch when Kilmarnock got promoted to the premier league. He was an inspiration to me and I miss him every day.

 

It’s 2013 now and it’s my youngest son Sams baptism. All the family are together, including my sister who I hadn’t seen in over a year. She kept going on about the weight my mum had lost and how amazing she looked. That’s when it first hit me that mum had lost weight, I hadn’t noticed as she always wore baggy cardigans around the house but today she was dressed up and you could clearly see it. I thought she looked great too and told her this, everyone did. It’s Christmas 2013 and my mum has lost more weight. I speak to her quietly and ask her if she’s feeling ok. She says she’s fine, fit as a fiddle but caring for my dad was beginning to take it out her a bit. You see my dad had been ill for a few years, a mini stroke, a heart attack which resulted in a pacemaker being fitted and a leg amputation caused by diabetes, my mum was his primary carer even though she was 9 years older and nearly 80.

 

It’s January 2014 and mum has lost more weight. This time I don’t take any excuses and tell her to get a doctors appointment and that i’m going with her. We go to the doctors and she tells him about the weight loss and some other things she’d been keeping from me. Night sweats, loss of appetite, fatigue, a feeling like she had indigestion all the time and a pain in her upper back. The doctor reassures her that at her age weight loss is common, the indigestion is a result of her hiatus hernia and taking care of my dad will be making her tired but he will send her for an xray on her lungs. The xray comes back all clear.

 

It’s April 2014 and mum has lost more weight. To put it into perspective, my mum was a size 18/20, she is now a size 12.  Back to the doctors we go. It’s a different doctor this time who tells my mum the exact same as the last doctor but also says her pain will be coming from her spondylitis. I ask him a few questions and basically he tells me that it’s my mums age and her existing medical conditions that are causing her problems along with the pressure of caring for my dad. I feel so guilty, I moved 50 miles away in 2009 and can only get down once or twice a week, it doesn’t seem like enough, I feel like i’m not doing enough to help them. Dad is worried, he tries to hide it but I can see it in his face.

 

It’s June 2014 and I walk into the my mum and dads bedroom as mum is changing. I’m in complete shock, she’s skin and bones. I insist she goes back to the doctor. She promises me and she sees the new doctor who joined the practice. He’s Irish, like mum, they hit it off straight away. Mum says he was lovely, very handsome and is arranging for her to have an ultrasound of her abdominal area.

 

It’s Thursday 24th July 2014, mum had her ultrasound 2 days ago. I’m at home and dad calls. The doctor called and said he was coming to see them in the house, there’s panic in his voice, I tell him to calm down, everything will be ok but he’s to call me straight after the doctor leaves. I put the phone down but i’m shaking. A couple of hours later my dad calls back. They’ve found black spots on my mums liver, the doctor is sending her for a ct scan. I speak to my mum, she’s upbeat but there’s panic in her voice too. I’m working through till Monday, I tell her i’ll be down then but i’ll call her tomorrow, as normal, for our daily chat. I put the phone down and burst into tears. Then I start googling and immediately wish I hadn’t, fuck you google, fuck you.

 

It’s Thursday 31st July and i’m getting ready for work. The phone goes and it’s my dad, he’s in a right state. Then I hear it, it’s mum, she’s screaming in the background. I ask him what’s going on. He says mum is in pain, she can’t get out of bed. I tell him to call the doctor and i’ll be down as soon as I can. I arrive about an hour later, my mum is writhing in pain and the doctor hasn’t called back yet, I call them, i’m told they’re extremely busy, I kinda lose it and tell them i’m calling an ambulance, the doctor is on the phone within minutes. He asks me 1 simple question, “In your opinion, if i came to see your mum, would I call for an ambulance”? “Without a doubt I reply”. He arranges the ambulance. While waiting my dad tells me something him and mum haven’t told anyone. My mum has been taking his morphine tablets for months, he’d got them the previous year when his toes were amputated. The pain had hit her so severely today as they’d ran out. The ambulance arrives and the paramedic asks if i’d noticed my mums eyes were yellow, I hadn’t but do now. Dad and I follow the ambulance in my car.

 

It’s Tuesday 5th August, Stewart (fiance), myself and our boys are travelling down to Kilmarnock to visit mum who is still in hospital. We’re on the M8 when my dad calls. He asks how long we will be until we’re at the hospital, I ask him what’s wrong, he says we’ll talk when we get down. I tell him I want to know now. Mum has cancer, my worst fears have materialised. I feel like I can’t breathe. Dad doesn’t know all the details, the docs will tell us more when I get there. We’re taken into the family room, just the 3 of us. The doctor tell us the following:

 

  • Mum has pancreatic cancer
  • It has spread to her liver, with a few spots in her lungs
  • Chemotherapy is not an option
  • Radiation therapy is not an option
  • Palliative care
  • Control her pain
  • Make her comfortable
  • District nurses
  • Hospice

 

The next week or so go by in a haze. I call everyone. I tell my work I need to take all my holidays. Stewart takes holidays from his work so he can look after our boys. I decorate my mums bedroom. I organise hotel rooms for mums sisters and brother who are coming over from Ireland. I clean, clean, clean. I answer calls and repeat the same information time and time again. I look after dad, I argue with my lazy arse brother, I miss my boys, I miss Stewart, I run my dad everywhere he needs to go, I liaise with doctors and district nurses, I keep busy, I don’t stop……..I can’t stop, I can’t stop.

 

It’s Thursday 14th August 2014, mum’s home from hospital and she’s yellow,. She has a morphine driver and get’s tired very easily. There’s a steady stream of visitors, I know they mean well but mum is exhausted. Mums sisters and brother arrive from Ireland. They’re all speaking Gaelic, it drove me crazy as a child and it still drives me crazy. My dad and I are sitting trying to figure out who or what they’re talking about, then I hear it, “cremated”. WTF??? I glare at them and ask mum what they’re talking about. Mum say’s she’s told her sisters she doesn’t want buried, she wants cremated. They ask what she want’s done with her ashes, mum isn’t sure but seems okay to be talking about this. I say that we can take them to Ireland and scatter them, dad says we should wait till he joins her and we could scatter or bury them together in Ireland. My mum says “Dick, would you be ok with that”? My dad replies “darling, where you go, I go”.

 

My sister visited again and spent a couple of days with me, my brother, mum and dad. We all reminisced and mum was so happy to have us all together with her. When my sister was leaving it was heart breaking, they both knew it was probably the last time they would see each other.

 

Over the next few weeks mum gets more and more confused and sleeps most of the time. She talked about being with her mum and dad and running through the fields. She also reverted to speaking Gaelic, her first language. It was so difficult, I couldn’t understand what she needed, I couldn’t help her. I broke down crying with my head on the bed next to her. She started stroking my hair and said “I’m sorry honey, I love you, I don’t know what your dad and I would do without you”. I told her I loved her too and was there anything she needed, she replied in Gaelic and then got so frustrated with herself, I started crying again and she said “pog mo thoin” and we both started laughing. It means kiss my arse in Gaelic but she knew that I knew the meaning, she was telling me that she was still there. Those were the last words my mum said to me. She slept solid for the next 2 days.

 

Mum died on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 4:36pm.

 

My dad and I were by her side holding her hands, my brother stroking her feet.  I went straight into keeping busy mode, calling everyone I had to, repeating the news over and over, telling family and friends my mum had died, over and over and over. I organised the funeral director, I sat with dad, I cried with dad, I watched my daddy, my hero, shrink in front of me. I wish I’d watched him closer. I wish I’d noticed his bad cough earlier. I wish I hadn’t been so consumed with my own grief. I wish I hadn’t listened to him “Honey,  I don’t know how we’d have coped without you, I love you. Go and see your friend, take a break, God knows you deserve it, I’ll be fine here with your brother and uncle”. I left the house at 9:30pm, I went to my friend house, my brother called me at 10:45pm, my dad had had a heart attack. By the time I got back to the house my cousins were giving him mouth to mouth, then the paramedics arrived and took over. They got his heart beating again and it was like de ja vu as I followed the ambulance to the hospital. I called everyone, repeating over and over that my dad had had a heart attack and was in hospital. We were all in the family room when the doctors came in and asked to speak to me.  The doctor tell me the following:

  • They told me I could see my dad
  • He was breathing on his own but he was still unconscious
  • His heart was very weak.
  • They asked me if I knew my dads wishes
  • They didn’t know why he wasn’t waking up
  • They’d checked him for a stroke and everything was clear.
  • They asked me to put a DNR on him,which I did

 

I got looks of horror from my uncle but we’d discussed this at length before, a conversation I didn’t want to have but one my mum and dad made me sit through. I knew my mum and dads wishes and where all their documents were. I left the hospital at 3am to get some sleep. I woke at 7am and called the hospital, there was no change. I went for a shower and then my phone rang around 8:30am. I was advised to get back to the hospital asap. I called my other brother who I don’t really speak to, my dads son. My brother and I went to pick him up and went straight to the hospital.

 

Dad died on Monday 15th September at 9:06am, 17 hours after the love of his life and wife and partner of 45 years. I didn’t make the hospital on time. A nurse held his hand as he took his final breath, I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for not being with him.

T

 

Robot mode, robot mode, robot mode, phone call after phone call after phone call, tell everyone my dad had died over and over and over again. Funeral arrangements, insurance companies, flowers, music, poems………….

 

Why is everyone going on as normal? Why are the buses still running, why are the shops still open, why, why, why???????

 

I wanted to scream, I wanted to run away, I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, I wanted Stewart, I wanted my boys, I wanted my mum and dad, I wanted everything back the way it was but most of all I wanted to make them proud.

 

One of the hardest things was trying to explain to my 4 year old Ben that his beloved gran and papa had went to heaven and him asking when he can go visit them. My heart broke again, if that was even possible.

 

My parents were cremated together on the 26th September 2014, soulmates till the end. I still have their ashes. I know they wanted them to go to Ireland but I can’t let them go. I think I knew them better than anyone and that they would be happy that i’ve had it written into my will that their ashes will be buried with me when it’s my time to join them.

 

It almost 4 years since I lost them, the pain is still real but what have the last 4 years taught me?

 

Grief never ends, it’s a journey, a very personal one that you live every day.

You have to deal with your grief or it will consume you.

Life is precious but fragile.

Love is amazing.

Family and friends are everything.

If you love someone, tell them.

Make memories, take pictures.

Laugh, laugh, laugh.

You are stronger than you know.

 

Suzie, you are beautiful, courageous, inspirational, selfless, strong and a true friend. I love you and wish you had known my mum and dad, they would have loved you as much as I do.

 

Dick and Bridget Turnbull, my heart aches for you both. I love you and thank you for being my amazing, crazy parents. I’ll see you in my dreams.

 

Love from your baby girl, Teresa xxx

 

 

One Year On

Exactly 1 year ago today, I got my cancer diagnosis. I remember it like it was yesterday. The previous day the hospital had phoned to say I needed to go in for the results of my colposcopy. Being quite naïve, I wasn’t too worried so I didn’t take anyone with me. I spent the morning with my friend and her 2 sons, my niece and nephew. It kept my mind off it for a bit.

I remember the nurse coming into the room with the consultant with me and sitting in a chair next to me. Looking back I understand why, but I genuinely wasn’t expecting to be told the news I got.

A lot has happened in a year. I made some new friends, some girls who were going through the same process. I’ve lost a very dear friend, who fought such a courageous battle, right to the very end.

My friends & family stepped up to the mark when I needed them most. Even people who I barely knew before all this, have become so very important to me. I wouldn’t have got through the last 12 months without them all.

A few weeks ago, I had one of those random conversations you have. One that starts out with someone asking ‘How are you?’ I gave the standard reply of ‘Fine thanks, how are you?’ but then the person said ‘but how are you really?’ I knew then he meant ‘You’ve had cancer, I’m genuinely asking about your health’ We had a long conversation about how I found out, how the treatment was and how I am now. I told him to share my story, with his wife, his daughter, his work colleagues. Because women aren’t getting their smear tests, and that’s just stupid! They really can save your life. We talked about my change in diet, my new found affinity with the gym, and how both of these things really will keep me around a bit longer. I didn’t even cry during this conversation which is a big win for me. I cry at almost everything these days. I blame the HRT for that!!

People don’t really ask how I am in respect of ‘The Cancer’ and I understand why. I suppose they think I won’t want to talk about it. I don’t really want to be known for having cancer, but before my diagnosis, I didn’t really know anyone who had gone through it. I think it’s something we need to talk about. Men and women are afforded the opportunity to go for regular tests to ensure anything that’s there gets caught early. There’s also a lot of checks we can do for ourselves.

Which brings me on to the next part. Shortly after returning to work earlier in the year, I found a couple of lumps. I promptly put on my drama queen crown and convinced myself of the outcome. Fortunately, my history means that I get fast tracked for any such concerns. After some further drama, I eventually got an ultrasound and they turned out to be nothing of concern. I think if I hadn’t already been through the cancer process, I might not even have got them checked out. My one piece of advice is anything you are concerned about, get it checked out. You are not wasting the GP’s time, you are looking after your own health.

So, an update on where I am now. Physically, I’m good. Last week, I got my third all clear. The radiotherapy has left me with some physical problems, which are still being treated, but the alternative is grim so I can deal with those. Pelvic radiotherapy also triggers the menopause. During the current heatwave, I’m surprised I haven’t spontaneously combusted!! Again, a necessary evil which I will continue to deal with.

Mentally? That’s the bit I wasn’t prepared for. For at least a few weeks before every check up, the anxiety starts. I’m 99.9% sure that every check up will result in an all clear. So why the anxiety? This time round, I barely managed to fend off a panic attack after my appointment. Yep, after I got the all clear, that’s when I panicked. Survivors guilt. Why am I still here when my friend isn’t? Dr says that unfortunately, that’s not a choice I get to make and I shouldn’t feel bad about it. But I do. Insomnia. There’s only so many shows you can watch on Netflix before you actually start dreaming you’re the serial killer, and wake up after 4 hours sleep feeling more tired than when you went to bed!

But do you know what? I’ll take all of the above before having to go through the last year again. As long as I keep getting the all clear, I can work on the rest. I hope that the anxiety of the check ups will fade over time, not sure mini me can cope with me the next time! So if anyone wants to volunteer to take me, I’m sure she’ll be glad of the opportunity to sit this one out!

People go through life changing events every day, and it can seem like things will never improve. I’m here to tell you that they will. It might seem like the end of the world at the time, and it might not get better any time soon, but as long as you wake up every morning, you have the opportunity to make things a little bit better. Get whatever help you need to get you through. Lean on the ones that care about you and that offer help. You’d do the same for them.

Until next time

SuzieDoll xx

Never Goodbye

Never Goodbye, Just See You Soon

 

I never thought this day would come, but in the last few weeks it has seemed inevitable.

Throughout the last year, there have been many ups and downs. I’ve met some wonderful people, some I have come to refer to as family. And tonight, my family are heartbroken.

Cancer is a horrible disease, and at some point, most of us will be affected by it. Either personally, or through a loved one. It can catch us at any age, at any stage of life, and it is ruthless. It doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you have a family. It doesn’t care if you are happy.

I met the most courageous woman I have ever known as I started my treatment last year. I have spoken about her and her family in the blog before. I can recall the day we met as if it were yesterday. A quiet, unassuming lady. Until a nurse came at her with a needle…. It’s not quite what she said, but more the look she gave her. It was then that I knew we would be friends. For life. And that’s what we were.

From that day onwards, we were inseparable. Mainly as our appointments were at the same time on a daily basis, and always because she got there early and jumped the queue in front of me!! I wouldn’t have let anyone else away with that.

We had the same personality, the same dark sense of humour, and the same outlook on why we were there. Just an inconvenience really.

Our families became friends. Her husband was a riot, still is! One of her daughters came with her one day, felt like we’d known her forever. Then her young granddaughter, she’s her Gran’s double. By the time my treatment was finished, it felt like we’d all known each other forever.

Fast forward 7 months.

A few days ago, I got the call I was dreading. She has slipped away peacefully with her husband by her side.

It was expected, but it still hits you like a bolt from the blue.

I can still hear her voice as I’m typing this post, and I can still picture her rolling her eyes at me!

2 weeks on and I’m still unsure how to deal with her not being here. In the final few weeks, I’d been to see her. I felt honoured as she wasn’t really up to having visitors. We’d sit for hours, and put the world to rights. Her husband would come into the room, and immediately be banished downstairs cos we weren’t quite finished.

On the day of her funeral, it was a very private affair, just as she wanted. We were the only non family members there. Obviously a very difficult day, but what struck me was the strength of her family. The girls are still so very young to be without their Mum and Gran, and her husband does not deserve to be without her. I know that they will be there for each other, and I hope that I can still be part of that.

The last thing I would say to her as I left after visiting, was, see you soon. I was very aware that each time might be the last, so I never wanted it to be goodbye.

For the most courageous, bravest and inspiring woman, I have ever known

It’s never goodbye, just see you soon

Never Goodbye

Update….

21.03.18

 

*ALL CLEAR*

 

Next appointment not for another 4 months, thank goodness. I’m definitely not going to get this stressed out the next time (maybe)

Stand Up To Cancer

I’m sitting here, on the eve of my check up, watching Stand Up To Cancers Great British Bake Off. Now, I do love a bit of cake, for sure, but I wasn’t ready for the wee VT’s they do in between the baking.

 

1 in 2 of us will be affected by cancer in our lifetime, and that’s a scary statistic. Especially if you’re like Ruby in the clip I’ve just watched. Ruby was 10, and her parents have just told her story. Because Ruby isn’t here to tell it. A very sobering thought.

 

I’m 99% sure that I’ll be given the all clear tomorrow. But that 1% will stop me from sleeping tonight, because, what if??

 

Once my treatment was over, I thought it would be plain sailing form there on in. I was wrong. How much do you worry every time you have a check up, smear, slightest wee medical symptom?!? I’m determined that this will be the last time I feel like this. So many of my friends / family have been through the mill recently with medical crap that I feel guilty for being worried about tomorrow. I don’t want to waste today thinking about what could happen when there are people I care about dealing with what has actually happened.

 

Signed up to do the Edinburgh Kiltwalk in September to raise money for The Beatson. One of those spur of the moment things. From someone who really just walks from my house to the car and back, this is a challenge!! I know that I’ll struggle with the distance on the day, but thinking of people like Ruby and others will spur me on.

 

Til tomorrow people!!

 

Suzie-Doll xx

#SmearForSmear

smearforsmear

Last week was Cervical Cancer Prevention week, so what better time to write a wee blog post?

A few facts:

 

75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by screening (smear test)

9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day

2 women lose their lives every day to cervical cancer

 

This is one of those “do as I say and not as I do” occasions. I went for 15 years without having one. I’m so lucky to have been to a nurse that really didn’t want me to leave her office without having one, even though I was there for something completely unrelated. If not for her intervention, well, let’s not go there…….

 

If you are aged between 25-50, then you should receive a letter every 3 years inviting you to go. If you are over 50, it’s every 5 years.

Can’t remember when you last had one? Phone your Dr and ask!

Moved house recently, can’t remember if you’ve changed your address at the Dr’s? Phone them and ask.

This week, you might find that if you need booked in for one, then you might have a longer wait than usual due to all the attention this campaign is getting. It’s a good thing in a way. Regardless, make the phone call!!

I had no real reason for not going, just never got round to it. Yes, having a smear test is embarrassing, but only for you. The nurse has done so many of these, it’s just another task.

 

No, she doesn’t care if you’ve waxed!

No, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t shaved your legs!

Lie back and think of something more pleasant and it’ll be over with in 5 minutes tops.

Yes it may be uncomfortable, it might even hurt a bit. You’ll forget about that as soon as it’s done.

Here’s a link to a great page called Jo’s Trust. It has all the info you need about smear tests. There is so much information on there that I’m sure any worries or questions you might have will be answered.

 

https://www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/cervical-screening-smear-test-and-abnormal-cells/cervical-screening-in-the-uk

 

An important thing to bear in mind, in my case I had no symptoms whatsoever. So if I hadn’t had a smear test, on that day, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post now and it may not have been discovered until it was too late to do anything about it! Scary eh?

I’m that annoying person that mentions it to everyone now, even strangers. On the train home on Saturday night, after a few eh, lemonades…. Got chatting to 2 couples, I think they just felt sorry for me sitting on the “drunk train” alone. Anyway, we talked about loads of things and one of the ladies mentioned her family member had been in the local hospital and had had cancer. By the time I got off the train, I knew the 2 ladies are up to date with their smear tests and the guys were a bit reluctant to have their bits checked, but would maybe go and have a think about it.

I’d say that’s progress?!?

Happy New Year!

Better late than never eh? At this time of year, people spend their time looking back at the previous year and making plans for the year ahead. I am no different.

Last year brought me so many happy times. I spent time with friends and family, made some new friends who will absolutely be in my life forever. You know how sometimes you just meet people and think, I like you, you can stay!! Those ones.

 

Friends

 

2017

This year has probably taught me that we should all be making the most of our time on the planet, and I plan to do more of that this year. I remember making a list of 40 things to do before I turned 40, and although I didn’t achieve 40, actually I’m not sure I even made it to 40 things on the list? I’m going to work on checking off a lot of those things this year. Open to suggestions if you have any? Funnily enough, one of them was to write a blog, so that one is checked off. Hopefully any blog posts from now on won’t contain the dreaded C word, and perhaps some more cheery topics.

I bought a house last year, that’s exciting, although the timing was a little, eh, interesting. I’m still decorating it, and as I write this post, I’ve just finished painting yet another room. I hate painting, but apparently my powers of persuasion are dwindling and I’m no longer able to guilt trip my family into helping. I think for the remaining rooms, I’ll gladly pay someone to do it for me. This summer will hopefully bring some decent BBQ weather and my friends and family can join me and maybe teach me how to BBQ?

2018

My biggest plan for 2018 is to get and stay healthy. Every bloody January, for as long as I can remember I have joined some kind of slimming club, and made the statement that this will be the year to do it. Well guess what?!? This year is no different, but as I’m putting it out there, it really needs to happen this year. I’ve done a bit of homework this time and signed up to a fat loss coach, as well as exploring a sugar free diet. I’d love to go vegan, but it’s so difficult. I’ll commit to eating less dairy for starters. The coffee I’m drinking as I write this post has no milk, so that’s a start right? Let’s not talk about the kilos of cheese in the fridge leftover from Christmas!

I stumbled across this website whilst browsing on Instagram:

https://healthylivingjames.co.uk/

Most of the recipes are free from gluten / wheat / dairy / egg / refined sugar. The ones I have tried have been really easy and tasty. Perfect for lunch / dinner to take to work.

Ah yes, work. It’s almost time to go back. 6 days to go and I’ll be back at my desk. Work have been so supportive over the last few months since finding out my diagnosis. I’m looking forward to getting back into a normal routine, but if I’m honest, I’m apprehensive too. What if I’ve forgotten what to do? I struggled to even remember my passwords the last time I went in. 4 months off is an awful long time. It’ll be nice to see my colleagues again though, I’m sure they’ve missed my nagging / controlling / sparkling personality!! I’ve seen most of them during my time off, so hopefully I don’t feel too much like the new girl on Monday.

I had recorded a programme called Fighting Cancer: My Online Diary. It was on Channel 4 back in October as part of Stand Up To Cancer. I’ve only just got round to watching it. It basically follows 3 people with a cancer diagnosis. It backs up the fact that I’ve never met anyone with cancer who has taken it lying down. All 3 people were so positive about the future, faced it head on and never once thought it would have a negative outcome. If you need a bit of a kick up the backside, give it a watch. But have some hankies ready, it’s not an easy watch.

‘Cora’

I had a check up at The Beatson in December, and the news couldn’t really have been better.

“No obvious disease to see”

I took a picture of the letter, just to remind myself!

I’ll need an MRI to confirm this, and that’ll be in Feb sometime. I’ll also need to have check ups every 3 months this year, but that’s a small price to pay.

So all in all, the last days of 2017 I spent more relieved and looking ahead to better times. 2017 wasn’t bad, it just sent me a wee life lesson.