Monthly Archives: November 2018

Finding my voice

It is now 10 weeks and 5 days since I had my operation and I’m delighted to say I am feeling well. I finally feel I am able to manage my fatigue levels and mentally, I feel like I am back on top of my emotions. Overall my wellbeing is in a good place.

Yesterday I met with a Geneticist. Not everyone with a cancer diagnosis will be referred to the Genetics department. Almost 9 in 10 cancer cases in the UK are in people aged 50 or over. Being 32 I am still deemed as being ‘very young’ to have had three separate tumours and therefore I have been offered the opportunity for further testing.

These tests are specifically looking at my genetic make up to see if I have a mutated gene which could make me more susceptible to developing cancer. If this is the case, unfortunately it doesn’t mean it can be prevented but  it does  qualify me for more frequent testing and in case you didn’t know – Early diagnosis is key!

It is unlikely I will get the results before the Spring and the doctor explained that they offer psychological support which is good to know. At the moment I am getting all the support I need from my family, friends and the team at Maggie’s.

On Monday I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Scottish Cancer Conference as a Patient Representative. I used my 7 minute slot to share my experience of the past 6 months after being diagnosed in May. It was my first attempt at Public Speaking since surgery. For those who follow my blog you’ll be aware that my speech has suffered slightly. I am told by those closest to me that they barely notice the change now but internally I can feel myself labouring over certain words and the energy required to speak has definitely increased. The thought of speaking at a conference with  an eclectic audience of doctors, MSPs and specialists from a variety of fields should have made me cautious but if anything it just made me more determined to seize the opportunity.

I was part of the final segment which focused on cancers of unmet need – unfortunately brain falls in this category. To finish the afternoon the MC hosted a Q&A with the panel. The final question from the audience was  regarding  the future of research. I am not a doctor, a scientist or researcher  but I was offered the opportunity to share my view and I’d like to share it with you too:

’In 2014 I was given a life expectancy of  2 years. Thanks to the treatment I received I am alive today. All cancer treatments are a result of research. In the 1970s only 1 in 4 people were expected to survive a cancer diagnosis for  10 years or more – today that number has doubled. I am now in the midst of a second battle but i have hope and that is because of cancer research. Research saves lives.’

I unequivocally believe in the work of Cancer Research UK. They provide me and millions of other people touched by cancer the hope we so desperately need.

As always, FUCANCER!

Forth Awards

I am absolutely blown away on receiving The Forth Charity Volunteer of the Year Award yesterday. However, this is a HUGE team effort and a result of all the hard work everyone puts into STICK IT TO CANCER. Thank you to the committee, event volunteers, participants and supporters. This award is for you!

Thank you to all the people who took the time to nominate me. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.Big thanks to Forth for inviting the Funny Boy and I – we had an incredible afternoon. Many thanks to Gilson Gray for sponsoring the award. Congratulations to all the winners – we heard incredible stories yesterday which goes to show that through adversity amazing things can happen. I was left feeling both inspired and motivated to do more!

BRING ON STICK IT TO CANCER 2019 – I can’t wait! For more information on next year’s event please join the Event Facebook page by clicking here or email Heather at heather@fucancer.co.uk.

As always, #FUCANCER

 

The Ultimate Show of Solidarity

Five years ago today  the Funny Boy and I had our first date. We met at the hockey club quiz during a month I renamed ‘Yestember’ where I had to say yes to any opportunity that came my way. He took his chance and asked me out. Committed to Yestember I was forced to oblige. I remember telling my friends ‘he is really funny and has a lovely smile but it’ll never go anywhere. He is too short’. Was that shallow of me? Definitely, but thankfully  l was  wrong.

It was 6 months after our meeting that I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. By any usual relationship standards we should have been contemplating our first holiday together – not negotiating the rigorous schedule of cancer treatment. I thought we were over. I told the Funny Boy I didn’t expect him to stay and I understood that this meant the end for us. ‘Who in their right mind would want to stick around for this?’ He proved me wrong again.

For those who follow my blog you will know that I refer to the Funny Boy as my  non-conventional knight in shining armour. He is my haphazard hero and last week was another fine example.

The Funny Boy was with me as I had my first full clonic-tonic seizure which led to my diagnosis in May. Since then he has barely left my side and therefore he has missed more than his fair share of nights out with the boys. Last Saturday his colleague was having a  ‘leaving do’  and coincidentally I arranged to have dinner with friends. With both of us feeling healthy we set about our separate plans.

Following my meal with the girls I returned to find the Funny Boy asleep on the sofa. He had a faint smell of beer on his breath but seemed relatively sober considering it was his first night out in over 5 months.

I prepared myself for bed when I began to feel unwell and I immediately blamed the mussels I had for dinner.

As the night went on an aggressive episode of vomit and diarrhoea ensued. It had been several  hours before I woke the Funny Boy and asked him to phone NHS 24 – a number we should  have on speed dial by now. Recognising a hospital visit was on the cards the Funny Boy felt the need to sober up. As I was draped across the en-suite  regretting my food choice the Funny Boy  drew himself a bath.

The sickness worsened resulting in a seizure and the Funny Boy  called NHS 24 again who dispatched an ambulance immediately.

By this point it was nearly 6am and despite vomiting consistently for  6 hours there was no sign of respite.The Funny Boy sat across from me in the ambulance and as I paused to take breath I realised something was wrong.

Normally the Funny Boy is the type of guy you would welcome  in an emergency. Always composed and a pragmatic thinker he never seems to panic. But on this particular journey – our third ambulance trip this year – the Funny Boy didn’t look like himself; his hands held a firm grip on his knee caps – so much so his knuckles turned white. His face held a yellowish complexion and as I looked closer his nostrils were dilating larger than usual as he took a series of long, deep breaths. His eyes were focused on a fixed point in front, he barely made eye contact with me.

’He must be REALLY worried’ I thought ‘all the stress I have put him through and this is the straw that has finally broken the camel’s back’. I broke away from my train of thought to vomit for what felt like the hundredth time.

When i turned to look at him again I noticed that he had also been armed with a cardboard bowl.

Before I had time to reach out and ask ‘Are you ok?’ The ambulance hit a speed bump which triggered the Funny Boy to projectile vomit into the bowl he held in his lap. With the blink of an eye, his bowl was full to the rim and began to spill across the ambulance floor.

The paramedic sprung into action and called to her colleague in the driving seat; ‘You’ll need to stop’ she shouted ‘the husband is being sick now’.

As quick as the ambulance came to a halt, the paramedic opened the back door to allow the Funny Boy out for some fresh air. He continued to be sick  whilst she (the poor paramedic) began to wretch. Strapped to the stretcher inside there was little I could do.

The Funny Boy and paramedic returned to the ambulance. The paramedic mopped up the Funny Boy’s sick which had sloshed all over the ambulance floor.

The embarrassment continued when we  were met with familiar faces in A&E.  As the doctors and nurses began a series of tests the Funny Boy excused himself. One of the nurses greeted  him in the waiting room ‘I remember you. You fainted the last time.. That’s  some scar you’ve got… You’re looking worse than your wife tonight’

He insists his sickness was caused by a tummy bug. I am dubious and believe the afternoon spent drinking might have had something to do with it. Or perhaps it was just the ultimate show of solidarity?? Either way between this and the Funny Boy’s spectacular fainting episode we have earned ourselves a reputation with the A&E staff at St John’s.

Fingers crossed we won’t be returning anytime soon!

#FUCANCER