Tag Archives: summer

On Cloud Nine!

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Hi!
Just a quick post because I have had a lovely day and evening I want to fill you in on.

Earlier me and Gracie went to a “pick your own” farm where we walked around the orchards in the sunshine and picked some plums and apples. In the farm shop we got a punnet of strawberries then sat and ate them under a large tree, it felt so summery and peaceful! We had a good two weeks catch up to do which was great.

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Then this evening I am very proud to say I made it through a whole hour of mum’s Zumba class without stopping. This is quite a step for me as I haven’t done that much exercise since diagnosis! On the other hand, I was nervous since exactly a year ago I went to a similar class and almost passed out.
That evening 12 months ago I had no idea I was ill, but it definitely brought out the symptoms. I am told I went deathly pale, and I know I felt like I was going to throw up any minute- which I knew wasn’t right because I would exercise for 2 hours in the gym every week and not feel even remotely like that.

It was quite a scary and embarrassing event, and it was the first time I didn’t feel in control of my body.
That’s one of the things you lose with cancer through no fault of your own- your body has “malfunctioned” if you like and started producing the wrong kind of cells. The fact that I had no say in the matter and no way to make it better except take round after round of what I knew were going to be unpleasant drugs was quite a daunting prospect.

Tonight I was in a totally different place from last year- I was energised, motivated and finally I know what my body is going through this time around, so I know when to stop and rest. It’s one of many times recently when I haven’t felt held back by my condition. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times when going into hospital or arranging appointments frustrates me more than I can explain, but I am choosing to let the positives outweigh the negatives. This is something I have always strived to do throughout the last year, and really has helped me through every single day.

I can’t explain how amazing it feels to be where I am now: almost back to normal, despite starting another year of chemo. I can do so much more than I have previously been allowed to. I am looking forward to starting college in a few weeks time, attending two weddings in the next month where I don’t have to worry as much about who in the crowd is ill and doing more work at the sailing centre at the end of August.

Life has never seemed so full or so positive for me and I can’t wait to fill you in on this new leg of the journey!

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Devon On My Mind

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We’ve had an action packed week down in Devon!

Since my last post we have been down to some caves dating back to the Roman era, climbed the rocks at the foot of a cliff, visited both neighbouring towns, hired motor boats and most recently been on a “Segway Safari”!

The caves were chilly but really interesting, in one place a worker signed the wall in 1868 but you could still read what he had written! We had to wear very attractive yellow hard hats in case of falling rocks and were given the option to wear a fleece poncho for warmth- something us teenagers politely declined!

Our climbing expedition felt very ‘famous five’-esque and despite being nervous and slow on the way there I was soon clambering around from rock to rock like the little kids around us! The water in the bay is beautifully clear even up to shoulder height, and is a lovely Jade colour. It gets waist deep just a few steps in which makes a change from having to walk really far out at West Wittering!

Two of our nearest towns were Sidmouth and Lyme Regis, we visited Sidmouth first and stumbled upon a morris dancing parade on the promenade, then we saw more of the Jurassic Coast through a guided ‘cruise’ down seafront. In Lyme Regis we did a spot of shopping and decided to treat outselves to lunch out. The high street was cute, but none of the other beaches have topped the one in the town we are staying in!

On Thursday we spent our time at Beer beach, mostly sunbathing but we also took two motor boats out for an hour on the sea- during which the boys managed to catch some fish and the girls succeeded in breaking the boat… we fixed it though, so no harm done! On the trip both boats caught sight of a seal in the wild, dipping in and out of the water which we were pretty impressed with!

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The segway ‘safari’ Friday morning was superb, at first when we were being taught the basics everyone was a bit shaky and unsure but once we got onto the training track we were off! (If you don’t know what this is, open a new tab and google “segway” then come back!) When our leader took off the speed limits we went flying on the road, as we went over a gentle hill we got to try weaving from side to side which was so fun! It’s really exhilarating with the wind rushing past and the wheels carrying you- “it’s all about trusting the machine” as our guide would say! We were given the opportunity to go over a bump in the track, which we girls hurriedly shook our heads at and rolled backwards, but the boys were up for the challenge. My cousin even took off and made a little jump out of it by accident which looked good but terrifying at the same time! After a quick group photo we all tried going backwards, at which point my uncle falls clear off of the back of his segway onto the grass!

segwaySo I had a brilliant week of holiday, coming back to real life was sad but had to be done! I loved Devon and definitely want to go back again to explore more! Today I should be starting my maintenance chemotherapy which lasts for a year. That means an IV this afternoon: the dose will go through a cannula (really not looking forward to people trying to get that into my tiny, useless veins!) and some tablets. I really don’t want to do it as I feel like I am back to normal now and don’t need any more treatment, but I know that I have to go through with it to hopefully prevent  a relapse.

Will let you know how the hospital goes and whether I feel any different from this round of chemo anyway! Hope everyone is having a lovely summer.

Summer Paradise

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At 7pm on Wednesday night I was picked up by Gracie’s mum Jo, blindfolded and driven to a mystery location for my birthday surprise evening! It turned out to be a lovely barbecue on the lookout area behind the Trundle Hill (some of you hardcore blog readers may remember when I went there with my aunty for a picturesque lunch and in stead the landscape was blotted out by the bad weather, I put a photo up!). The view is stunning and it is one of my favourite local spots. We stayed up there for a few hours chatting and having our meal, I had a really great time! It was so lovely and thoughtful of them to arrange it for me 🙂 There really is nothing like the smell of a lit barbecue in summertime! Here are some photos, but it has been confirmed by my brother that I “don’t take a nice photo” so I apologise for how awkward I look!

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On Thursday we went to the beach, and I had such a brilliant day! As my line was out I wasn’t panicking about it getting sandy or wet and since the wound has almost fully healed I went for two ACTUAL SWIMS in the ACTUAL SEA! Usually I detest swimming and wasn’t bothered by not being able to go with my line in, but it was such a lovely day and the sense of freedom was amazing. I appreciated it so much more than I would have before diagnosis. Using factor 50 sun cream I managed to stay in the full heat of the sun for 5 hours without burning at all! West Wittering beach was crammed with people, which you can see if you look towards the left side of this photo I took…

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This Friday I went to Southampton for what I thought would be the start of my maintenance treatment, but ended up just being a bloods check and a catch up with my consultant. I wanted to get it all under way, but I prefer to look at it this way- no poking around to try and get a cannula in my tiny and buried veins, no chemo and I didn’t have to spend a whole day in a stuffy room, that equals a victory for me!

I loved that as I was saying goodbye to a friend who is also having his line out and moving onto maintenance at the same time as me (although he was only diagnosed in January- how unfair is that?!) we both warned each other at the exact same time “Don’t do anything mental/crazy!”. Even though we can be more normal now we were reminded by the specialist nurse today to be careful and remember that a) our bodies have been through a lot b) we will still be on oral chemo every day. To be honest I don’t think that’s going to stop us doing much, unless our immune systems are REALLY bad!

My maintenance phase is set to start some time next week at the local hospital, I don’t know exactly what these doses are going to do to me but I have a party, my birthday and volunteering at CYE Sailing Centre to look forward to!

Post From Nashville?!

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The chemo has definitely started to kick in now and I’m feeling slightly worse for wear, but the sunshine and the fact that I am home is something to be thankful for!
On Sunday the weather was gorgeous so I hosted a bbq for the old gang, we sat out in the sun chatting for hours and it was just really lovely! IMG_20140413_182420

I’ve noticed that through this experience I have learnt to treasure every moment of freedom and time spent with friends and have also grown to appreciate the little things- just being able to sit in the sun and have a laugh with my girls was so special!
Another thing that has really struck me recently is how precious life is. Before August 2013 I took my health for granted and it never even crossed my mind that this could happen to me, but since going through this I am determined to make my life count and not waste my opportunities. I think we need constant reminders to appreciate everything we have been given and to live life in all it’s fullness.
Meeting people with terminal cancers through the ward is always inspiring to me, but I still find the whole thing so indescribably unfair that I can’t wrap my head around it. How can I get off with no complications whilst someone else has been suffering for years without a positive outcome? Why should I be the lucky one? I’ve found that it makes me long for the day when there is a cure for all cancers.
This is one of the reasons that I really connect with the latest Race For Life advert (if you haven’t seen it you can follow this link… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueU_zGjnJLA ) I love the tone of the narration, it says we’ve had enough of you cancer and we’re coming to get you!

In the past used to naively assume that because cancer is still one of the major causes of death in the UK Cancer Research didn’t actually do much, but how wrong I was! I now know a lot more about what they do and just recently made the link between the charity and clinical trials. This was something I was offered in the beginning of my treatment and it made Cancer Research more relevant to me. Through the viral “no make-up selfie” campaign (in which women take a photo of themselves fresh faced, post it online, text a donation to charity and nominate others to do the same) an astonishing £8m was donated to Cancer Research UK. This money can now go on to fund nine more clinical trials which I think is really great.
Since this charity has been put on my heart I have found an event called Shine Night Walk, a walk around London in the evening on September 27th and am thinking of entering this year to raise money for them. It will require training and planning but I will let you know if I get a group together and am looking for sponsors!

Before I go tonight I have one last story to tell! You might remember that back in February I missed a Taylor Swift concert I had planned to go to, the one that one of my nurses then went to and met Taylor Swift’s mum at? Well, as mama Swift took my name and said for me to write to them I sent off my fan mail at the the end of Feb… and waited. Then waited a little bit more. Finally a package arrived for me today, and I stood staring at it for a while thinking “but who do I know that lives in Nashville?!” then the light-bulb moment hit me and I was grinning and tearing at the cardboard! The parcel contained some really cool merchandise from her Red tour including an autographed photo, t-shirt and some mega cool Taylor Swift guitar picks! Anyway here’s a picture to show you my goodies!
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