One of the phrases most commonly associated with cancer is ‘life’s too short’. Then there’s ‘live every day as if it’s your last,’ ‘appreciate the little things’ and ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ While I absolutely agree with all of the above, I think that anyone who is living with, or has had, cancer will tell you that in practice they aren’t always possible. Continue reading
Today marks six years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m not quite sure how to sum up everything that’s happened in the last 24 hours, let alone the last year or six years. So here’s a list, in no particular order, of random thoughts and people who have inspired me. Continue reading
Three good things happened to me last month. Here they are (in order of occurrence, not importance):
I had laser eye surgery
I got discharged from my oncologist (forever, I hope)
My three-year MRI scan came back clear
And so it was that almost three years to the day of my original surgery, I found myself going under the knife again. This time it was to remove a cyst that emerged after my original operation in June 2012 and recently got infected. So, no biggie. However, as with anything in the world of boobs, hospitals and health, it was not without its fair share of drama. Continue reading
So this photo popped up on my Facebook feed the other day.
There’s nothing like Facebook to give you that big surprise surge of emotions with a visual image – whether it’s a photo of your ex on his wedding day or a school photo of you with pudding-bowl hair circa 1990 that someone has recovered from their parents’ house. Or, in my case, a pic of you larking about in a photo booth mid-chemo with a completely bald head and some ill-informed eyebrow pencillage. Continue reading
Ok, you may detect a hint of irony. I have long hated the word ‘Cancerversary.’ First of all, it doesn’t go particularly well with the word ‘happy,’ which should be reserved for things like holidays and families and birthdays and cake. ‘Cancerversary’ is up there with ‘Your cancer journey’ and ‘Your battle with cancer’ in my Most Disliked Cancer Terminology book, even though I’m guilty of using some of these myself. It’s also perhaps because I’m a grammar and spelling Nazi that I hate the adding of ‘-versary’ onto anything that isn’t ‘anni,’ but don’t get me started on that.
Hating aside, today is the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I would like to say it was the worst day of my life, but the truth is there were far worse days to come. A year ago today, I was the naive Laura who said things like “Ah, it’s just like breaking a leg” and “I’ll be running marathons again by the end of the year.” Pah! Little did I know what was ahead of me.
I survived. And the fact is, I’m doing wonderfully. I haven’t quite got the ‘One-year all-clear’ yet because I’m still waiting for my mammogram and MRI scan, but the important thing is I feel healthier and happier than I did a year ago.
As proof, here is a photo of me looking suitably content on a beach in Ireland last week (yes, I did just say “content,” “beach” and “Ireland” in the same sentence – we were truly blessed with the weather.)
And, while I may not have fulfilled my slightly farfetched hopes of running marathons by the end of 2012, I did manage to climb to the very top of this rather sizeable mountain in Ireland last week and am making significant progress training for the half marathon I’m going to attempt in October.
Rejoicing aside though, I am very aware the ‘cancer journey’ (for want of a better phrase) doesn’t end here. Life goes on for me, but I’m well aware not everyone is so ‘lucky,’ which is why we’ve got to continue spreading the message and encouraging early detection. I’m very proud to have joined forces with Coppafeel!’s Boobettes and will be giving my first breast-cancer awareness talk to the boys and girls of Britain next month. (More on this later).
So… while I may not exactly love the phrase ‘Happy Cancerversary,’ I’m going to celebrate anyway, because I’m alive and well and that’s good enough for me!
Guilty for buying a new dress instead of giving money to the homeless guy; guilty for reading girlie glossy magazines instead of the newspaper; guilty about spending £2.40 on a coffee when I could make one at home for free. Guilty about having cancer.
To read the rest of this Huffington Post blog, please click the link below:
My latest blog post for Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita Magazine:
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, and that should be interpreted as a good thing. It means there has been no cancer news and no cancer treatment, apart from me trying to remember to take my daily doses of Tamoxifen, Vitamin D, fish oil, Co-enzyme Q-10, turmeric, ginger and 27,000 servings of vegetables…
Yep, I’ve been getting on with a thing called Life for the past few hospital-free weeks, and I have to say, I’ve been enjoying it. Yes, I am still tired from the chemo and radiotherapy and I do still look a bit like a peeled potato when I take off my eyebrow make-up, but otherwise I am infinitely hairier and simply happy to be alive, as you can see in the above photo of me and my team.
Those of you who don’t see me every day at work have been asking how my hair is doing, so here’s an up-to-date photo:
And how do I feel about it?
1. I AM JUST SO HAPPY WITH MY HAIR.
2. I am so grateful to have hair.
3. I am thankful every day in the shower when it doesn’t fall out in my hands.
4. I know it still looks kinda bald from the back, but I couldn’t care less – I love it.
5. I can’t really describe to you how amazing it feels to have just this little bit of regrowth… But I have got a lot of my confidence back in these past few weeks and I feel fantastic.
6. I can’t stop touching it.
7. I could do with a hairbrush – one of those really soft baby hairbrushes.
8. Does anyone know where I can get one?
So that’s it on the hair front, really. I did also spend £50 on some sort of eyelash-strengthening product from Boots but I’m not convinced it’s doing anything at all. Strangely, my lower eyelashes are growing back thick and fast but my upper ones (i.e. the ones I could really do with having) aren’t growing back at all yet. And my eyebrows are growing back in totally the wrong place as well, but beggars can’t be choosers.
In other news, my friend Chris decided to take on the amazing Eddie-Izzard-esque challenge of running three marathons in three days in freezing cold conditions this very weekend, to raise money for the brilliant charity Coppafeel! on my behalf. This incredibly crazy challenge on the UK’s Jurassic Coast just happened to coincide with one of the coldest, wettest, rainiest, windiest, snowiest, blizzardy-est weekends of recent years, and led Chris to endure knee-height floods, mud, killer hills and all manner of chafing. Nevertheless, he has trooped right through it and here he is looking very dapper in his orange top and sexy pink Coppafeel! accessories!
At the time of writing, Chris has raised an incredible £1,388 for Coppafeel!, which raises awareness about breast cancer in younger women. However, it’s not too late to sponsor him! Please just click on this link if you’d like to donate to this extremely worthy charity.
While I can’t quite claim to have run 78 miles this weekend, I have reached a few little milestones of my own lately too. Last week, for instance, I went indoor climbing with my team and reached the top of a few easy routes. Each 5-minute climb was so exhausting and exhilarating that I came down trembling and panting for breath, but it felt like such an achievement to reach the top and just to be able to do the same physical activity my colleagues were doing. I’m definitely not back to the same fitness levels I had before chemo, but considering there were times during chemo when I could barely even stand up, I’d say this was a pretty awesome achievement. There I am, above, looking like a little spider at the top of the wall.
It’s not all fun and games, however. Next week hails my return to the hospital, for my 9-month check-up with the surgeon who saved my life. From reading a lot of other cancer blogs in the past few months, I know my fellow surviving sisters tend to get extremely panicked about these check-ups, thinking a new lump is going to be discovered and they’ll be summoned back to hospital for endless months of stomach-wrenching chemo. Thankfully, I am not a worrier and my positive thinking tells me everything is going to be just fine. (Though keep your fingers crossed for me, just in case!)