Here are a collection of selfies I sent the Funny Boy over the last few months. They have one thing in common, they were all taken right after I completed some form of exercise. Each face could be a different emoji; Happy, tired, shock and my personal fave: Sick!
Having worked within sport development for a decade I could easily list all the benefits of an active lifestyle. That being said, when cancer strikes it is easy for exercise to drop off the ‘to do list’.
It is unlikely I will ever be an ambassador for Sweaty Betty but I do believe this shows a true picture of what exercising with cancer is really like. No make up, sweaty hairline and a white moustache – does anyone else get this when they workout? The hardest part is accepting that my body’s ability can change from day to day. On some days I will smash a HIIT session, on others it is an accomplishment to walk down the stairs.
After reviewing my collection of emojis I have realised another thing they all have in common and that is a sense of achievement. It may be cliche but it is true:
The only workout you’ll ever regret is the one you didn’t do!
Cancer has been a part of my life for over 5 years now and regular followers of my blog will know how much I have relied on Maggie’s during that time. It really does make a difference to meet other people who understand what living with cancer is really like. The centres are safe places, very similar to a friend’s home opposed to the clinical setting you become so familiar with. The most important aspect is meeting others who simply ‘get it’!
At times my diagnosis has left me feeling ostricized. There are not a huge number of people who fully appreciate cancer limbo; agonising over appointments, tackling numerous side effects and struggling to maintain a social life whilst keeping the raging hormones at bay. There are even fewer people who are at a similar age and stage of life who fully understand how cancer touches every aspect of life. People who know how hard it is to be told that you’ll never have children or fulfil your career ambitions and worse.
On three occasions I have gone to events specifically for cancer survivors where participants have assumed I am either running the session or delivering a fitness class. This is probably because on all occasions I have been the youngest person in the room by at least two decades.
In September, the Funny Boy and I attended Meet and Move organised by Trekstock and hosted at the Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh. Trekstock is a charity specifically targeting people in their 20s and 30s who are living with cancer. The event was described as being a day of wellbeing, getting active and meeting others who get it.
As eager as I am to participate in these events I always feel anxious, especially when you don’t know what to expect. We were greeted with a very warm welcome and a busy agenda. The day kicked off with a choice of yoga or circuits in the sunshine. We then regrouped in the centre to chat with the Maggie’s counsellors followed by a delicious lunch and nurtition session delivered by Kellie from Food to Glow. In the afternoon we discussed fashion with Cabi clothing and had an intro on skincare from LUSH.
It was an awesome day with lots on offer but the highlight had to be meeting the other participants. I didn’t feel like an alien anymore. Everyone knew what life with cancer is really like. We shared our journeys, compared our horror stories and even laughed at some of the shocking situations we have found ourselves in. There is nothing more validating then when you talk about what you’re going through and see people nodding because they understand. It was powerful!
The Funny Boy was the only male participant in the room but even he got a lot out of the day. He has now committed to a weekly face mask which I must say is doing wonders for his skin. And if you see him he will probably be rocking the French Tuck!
I would highly recommend Trekstock to all young adults living with cancer. For those of you based in Scotland, we have created a Facebook group for future meetings in Edinburgh. All of which include some form of physical activity. We are getting together on Saturday 30th November – please join the event or Facebook group by clicking the links below:
Hockey heroes and blog followers, you’ll have heard me talk about the amazing work of Maggie’s. STICK IT TO CANCER proudly continues to raise funds in aid of Maggie’s. I cannot express how much they have supported my family and I over the last 5 years. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: the care they offer is equally important as the cancer treatment itself!
Charles Jencks, husband and co-founder of Maggie’s passed away this week. We are so grateful to Maggie & Charles for everything they have done in leading the way people with cancer are supported. Our thoughts are with their family at this time.
For a large part of 2019 I have found myself struggling to find the words to describe how I feel. If I was asked to narrow it down to three, they would have been failure, ashamed and empty. It took several months, a lot of support from the Funny Boy and more than one trip to my GP before I was finally able to admit something was wrong.
I am relieved to say that things have slowly started to improve but it didn’t happen overnight. Here are a few things which made the difference for me:
Getting Help My doctor prescribed me with regular medication and since then I have started to see a Psychologist.
Talk, talk, talk Being open and honest about my true feelings with friends and family has been the biggest help. It is through them I have come to fully appreciate that I am not alone and everyone experiences poor mental health. We need to break the taboo and recognise that mental health is equally important as physical!
Peace of Mind Finding peace of mind has been a challenge. My life sometimes feels like a treadmill of appointments but learning how to fully switch off has been valuable. Personally, I find my peace when walking the dog. No phone, no music – just me, the sound of the birds and Parsnip’s little paws plodding on the path.
Physical Activity is a wonder drug! If you could bottle all the benefits of exercise and put it on the shelf at your local shop – it would literally be sold out in seconds. Activity is so good for the body and soul. There are literally thousands of different ways to be active; sports, exercise classes, dancing and even walking! I find it incredible how something as simple as a stroll around the block can improve my mood and change the way I view the world.
Put it down on paper On the difficult days when it feels like there are too many thoughts, I find it helps to do a brain dump. Physically writing the things that rotate in my mind can help me switch off. This really helps on the nights when I struggle to sleep.
A good friend of mine recently completed Mental Health Awareness training and shared the following video with me. I hope you find it as useful as I did.
‘Depression is sometimes referred to as the Black Dog. Just like a real dog, it needs to be embraced, understood, taught new tricks, and ultimately brought to heal.’
The Funny Boy and I attended Scottish Power’s Stand Up To Cancer Gala Dinner on Friday night. I had the pleasure and somewhat daunting task of sharing my cancer story. It was a fantastic evening hosted by Des Clarke with hilarious entertainment from Ria Lina, Larry Dean, Jamie Macdonald and Stuart Mitchell. I would highly recommend checking them out!
The event raised over £60k towards translational cancer research! I was amazed to learn that Scottish Power has raised £26m for Cancer Research UK in 7 years. Every corporate could learn from their example!
Raising funds and promoting cancer awareness are two of the few benefits my diagnosis has afforded me. Finding small positives is an awesome way of saying FUCANCER and it is good for the soul too. My belief is nobody has the power to change the world for everyone but everyone has the power to change the world for one person everyday. Whenever I have the opportunity to do something that makes a difference I always grab it with both hands. My project management skills transfer well into the world of fundraising and as for public speaking, well I wouldn’t say it is my forte but it is something I am working on.
We recently formed another committee working on a once in a lifetime event raising funds in aid of Cancer Research UK. We will be revealing more details in the coming months.
You don’t have to wear a lab coat to help beat cancer so if you’d like to STAND UP TO CANCER please visit the link below to find out how you can get involved!
On the 8th of April 2014 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was given a life expectancy of 2 years.
Since then I have become a proud puppy mum to Parsnip, married the love of my life, ticked a few life goals and raise funds for Maggie’s and Cancer Research UK. None of which would be possible without my incredible medical team! I had a card made for a few of the key people who have helped me get to where I am.
On the 30th September 2019 I was discharged from gynae-oncology. I have been in remission for 5 years. I may still have brain cancer but for now it is time to celebrate!