All posts by Hevewilliams

Prepping for Surgery

Well, its the final 24 hours before surgery and after a not-so-great start to the weekend I am feeling as well as can be expected. The bag is packed, my affirmations are on the wall and I my deep breaths are helping me keep my cool. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch – I have been overwhelmed and so very touched by your very kind words and amazing generosity.

One day closer to surgery means one step closer on the road to recovery.

BRING IT ON!

#FUCANCER

 

STAND UP TO CANCER

Apologies for being a day late in getting this up – yesterday I had pre-op as planned which went really well. Unfortunately the Funny Boy and I had a rough night though – vomiting, diarrhoea and a mild seizure warranted another ambulance ride back to the hospital. The biggest worry on my mind at this point is all about being fit for surgery. So after some anti-sickness drugs, another line to prevent dehydration and several tests I am delighted to be back home now. The doctors will do more tests on Monday to double check I am fit for surgery but in the meantime its all about rest, recuperate and building up my strength whilst mentally preparing….

Anyway, back to looking at the positives. This week the local press revealed that I have been asked by Cancer Research UK to be the face of STAND UP TO CANCER in Scotland. I have previously spoken about how proud and passionate I am to work for CRUK so it is an honour to be asked. I would strongly encourage you to think about something you could do to STAND UP TO CANCER – perhaps you are part of a sports club and could arrange a training night dedicated SU2C by asking players to dress in orange and bring along £5 to drop in the bucket? Maybe you’re inspired by the Great British Bake Off? Or perhaps you have something wacky you would like to do with your friends – fancy dress, games night etc. This list is endless and there are fantastic resources on the website HERE to help you with your fundraising plans. And as always – no matter how large or small your contribution your money IS making a difference and ultimately saving lives – plus it gives you a good excuse to have some fun with your friends!

#FUCANCER

 

Bittersweet Cancerversary

Monday 27th August will mark four years of being in remission. Technically I am still in remission for ‘that cancer’ but with a new diagnosis this anniversary is bittersweet.

For those who have been asking here is the ‘how to poop guide’ I received from the Gastroenterologist – everyday is a school day!

Finally I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has been in touch – your kind words, thoughtful gestures and unwavering support is hugely appreciated! You have given me a much needed boost!

#FUCANCER

 

 

World’s Best Husband

Four years ago I did an interview with a local newspaper about my experience of cervical cancer. At the time I was recently engaged to the Funny Boy and the resulting article was titled:

’I BEAT CANCER TO MARRY WORLD’S BEST HUSBAND’

The Funny Boy cherished the article with pride and even printed a copy for every table at our wedding breakfast. Me? I found it quite entertaining. I don’t recall saying those exact words. Don’t get me wrong – he had proved to be a very loyal, patient and loving boyfriend – but world’s best? It was over-zealous and a title that needed proving.

So what behaviours? What gestures? What  exactly is it that justifies the title of WORLD’S BEST HUSBAND? Surprise flowers? Last-minute romantic trips away? Taking me to my favourite restaurant?  These are probably the answers I would have provided once upon a time but the reality is a very differently picture.

Allow me to provide you with some insight and please accept my apologies  in advance – the following is not for the faint of heart!

A Lady in Distress

When going through cancer treatment my pelvis was subjected to aggressive chemo and radiation. The result of which made for some very badly behaved bowels. Bare in mind that the Funny Boy and I, at that point, had only known each other for 6 months and had not yet graduated from the ‘FART FREE ZONE’. Negotiating diarrhoea and constipation I  found myself waddling  around our flat with a rotund tummy full of trapped wind! Imagine Violet Beauregard and you’re not far wrong. Desperate to retain my feminine mystique I would excuse myself frequently and use a range of scented candles to mask my relief. The Funny Boy quickly understood what was going on. Opposed to simply ignoring the situation he decided to take matters into his own hands…

On day as I lay on the sofa armed with my hot water bottle and glass full of laxative he approached my spherical stomach. Like an expectant father talking to his unborn child, he began stroking my belly. ‘Out you come little one’ he whispered ‘time to let go!’

Mortified, yet desperate to cooperate with his coaxing I couldn’t bring myself to ‘let rip’. The Funny Boy then looked at me and said ‘Perhaps it will help if I go first…’

He stood up tall (all 5 foot 6 of him) took a deep breath and lifted his left leg off the ground. A loud rumble rippled through the room. It sounded like the horn of an Eddie Stobbart Lorry! Upon returning his foot to the floor the Funny Boy knelt next to the sofa and looked lovingly in to my eyes: ‘Your turn’ he insisted.

Now, this may not sound romantic but in actual fact – his ‘breaking of the ice’ was exactly what I needed. He could see  I was in distress and did what needed to be done!

Non-Conventional Knight in Shining Armour

Over the years the Funny Boy has continued to prove himself as a non-conventional knight in shining armour. Countless appointments, the odd trips to AnE, even sitting outside our ensuite playing my favourite music as I prepare for  Colongraphy, Colonoscopy or whatever procedure requires my bowels to be emptied. As a couple we have spent more than our  fair share between the loo and NHS facilities!

Our most recent stay in hospital allowed the Funny Boy and I to reach a new level in our relationship. Thankfully, he managed to leave without stitches this time but he did have a nasty experience I am sure we would both rather forget…

The doctor suggested I have a Sigmoidoscopy. This is a so called minimally invasive procedure where a camera is used to examine the large intestine via the rectum. Basically a very thin and flexible camera goes up your butt hole. Did I say cancer was a glamorous game?!

In order for this to be done the bowels need to be clear and to help prepare  the nurse provided an enema. For those of you who aren’t familiar – an enema is a simple injection of fluid into the lower bowel. Usually used to relieve constipation or in my case to evacuate the bowel for examination.

The nurse advised I could do the enema myself if I  prefered. Having been in hospital for four days with various tests which echoed all major vowel noises ‘oooooh, eeeeeeeee, aaaaaa’ – I gladly accepted the offer of DIY!

This is the point where you assume the Funny Boy would make himself scarce. Nobody, least of all me, would judge him for vacating himself from the situation. But this is where he earns himself the title.

‘I’ll stay’ he offers ‘just in case…’

So here we are in a private room. The Funny Boy  politely staring out the window (opposite direction of me) whilst I lie on my side and follow the ‘how to’ guide on putting the enema to work. Cue more extended vowel sounds and it appears to be working.

As previously highlighted this was my fourth day in hospital. I was tired, weak and still experiencing pain in my abdomen. I found myself struggling to empty the full bottle of  liquid which was a basic requirement for the procedure. I changed grips, swapped hands, altered position – but nothing was working. As I moaned and groaned to the Funny Boy, whilst simultaneously threatening him about what I would do if he dare turn around – he maintained his cool, composed demeanour!

Once again, the Funny Boy decided to take matters into his own hands…

As I writhed and wriggled the Funny Boy approached the bed and in a seamless movement took hold of the bottle. With one final squeeze he managed to successfully empty it of its contents. The intended impact ensued and once again I found myself back on the loo.

I should have felt horrified, embarrassed, humiliated even, but once again the Funny Boy did exactly what needed to be done! The sense of relief overpowered any feeling of shame! My threats were unrealised and the only emotion I felt for him was in fact gratitude! He once again came to my rescue.

So, to answer my original question: What  exactly is it that justifies the title of WORLD’S BEST HUSBAND?

Fancy Flowers? Fine Dining? Anyone can do that! But finding a man who is prepared to put up with all the crap I throw at him (quite literally) and still make me feel loved – well I’d say that definitely makes him worthy of the title.

It would be remiss of me to exclude a couple of other gestures the Funny Boy has done over the years. He proposed in spectacular fashion via a home made movie screening at our favourite cinema. He also earned major brownie points for bringing Parsnip into our family – literally the best birthday gift I could ever dream of having! So yes, I think that article was merely a premonition because to me he is the WORLD’S BEST but in turn that makes me the luckiest!

#FUCANCER

FUCANCER FRIDAYS

As of today I will be updating my blog weekly. Depending on how I am feeling this might be a simple sentence, picture or alternatively might be blog or vlog.

Cancer is a very negative business. Emotionally charged appointments, the agony in waiting for results, extreme treatments and of course the horrid and very real fear of death. Something nobody ever wants to talk about. Naturally it is very overwhelming. So, I am determined to use my personal experience to flip the negatives and find some positives.

In yesterday’s post I talked about how powerful exercise is – not only physically but mentally. So to follow on from that here is my first FUCANCER FRIDAY where I share just some tips on how I manage living with cancer. As always, if you find this useful please consider sharing.

#FUCANCER

The Power of Exercise

As I write this from my hospital bed it is safe to say that it has been a tough week. I am still waiting for a confirmed date for surgery and the ‘unknown’ has been causing some stress.

I have had ongoing issues with my bowels since completing cervical cancer treatment four years ago. At a recent appointment with Gastroenterology they found a build up of faecal matter (aka POOP) in my bowel. The advice was to start a daily dose of a bulking agent and a hot water cleanse. I also recieved a ‘how to guide’ on the correct way to poop. Apparently I have been doing it wrong for 32 years!! I chose to delay starting this as I thought it might impact surgery but after receiving the go ahead from the Neuro team I began the process on Tuesday this week. Long story cut short, I was taken into hospital on Tuesday evening after experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea – lovely!!

The doctors initially ran some tests which found a fever, high white blood cell count and low blood pressure so I have been kept in since. Today I am preparing for a sigmoidoscopy – another unwelcome surprise!

Anyway, before all the drama (including me being sick on all fours in the middle of AnE whilst a little girl asked her mum ‘why is that lady being sick in her hat?’) I prepared the following vlog which I still stand by. So if you are having a crap day make sure you get outside and at the very least go for a walk. That is the first thing I will be doing when I leave here.

#FUCANCER

Continue reading The Power of Exercise

Proud

For the past year I have been working as a Fundraising Manager for Cancer Research UK. Having gone through treatment for cervical cancer in 2014 I was left feeling in awe of the work they do and after a lot of deliberation, I finally took the plunge and left a career in sport (my first love) to pursue one in a new-found passion – fundraising!

I recently returned to work after taking some time off following my new diagnosis. My first team meeting in over 2 months led me to the Cancer Research UK Centre in Edinburgh. When I began my role I was surprised and impressed to learn that research was happening literally yards away from where I had been receiving treatment at the Western General Hospital. As part of my induction I had a tour of the labs where I met a few of the researchers.

I don’t come from a science background. My strengths at school were PE, Sport and English – if organizing was a topic then I would have passed that with flying colours but alas chemistry, physics even biology were a challenge! The idea of meeting researchers, especially those who focus on cancer was slightly intimidating.

On my first lab tour I was amazed at how the researchers were able to breakdown a very complex process into layman’s terms. What really struck me though, was their passion! I LOVE passionate people – the topic itself isn’t so important – but when I meet someone who is dedicated and determined to a particular cause I find it very appealing. I am not shy in admitting that upon finishing the lab tour I had a crush on several of the researchers!

About 6 months ago I walked past one of the researchers whilst I was shopping with my mum. He wouldn’t have remembered or recognized me but upon seeing him I had the same reaction to the one I had when I saw Rod Stewart in Harrods: I grabbed my mum’s arm, pointed and repeatedly whispered his name! Basically the researchers, in my eyes, are total rock stars!

So, how does it feel to have cancer whilst working for a cancer charity?

In two words I feel lucky and proud!

My job has allowed me a backstage view to some of the ground breaking, life-changing, life SAVING research which is happening right now! I have met the real life superheroes who are actively bringing forward the day where we will find a cure for cancer. I have also had the honour of working with just a few of the thousands of people who support Cancer Research UK. From the Tartan Monster in Selkirk, to the phenomenal Lanark Local Committee who are celebrating their 50th year and reaching their £500k fundraising milestone to people like Pete the ‘Can Man’ who has single-handedly raised several thousand pounds through collection cans across the capital city. These volunteers have taught me the valuable lesson that you don’t have to wear a lab coat to help find a cure for cancer.

It is because of all of them – the researchers, the volunteers and my awesome colleagues that I feel lucky. I know there is a an almighty army of people who are continuing the fight everyday. Together we are stronger and I am beyond proud to say I work for Cancer Research UK.

#FUCANCER

 

A Gift

In 2016 I ran the London Marathon for Cancer Research UK. As part of my preparations I remember training on World Cancer Day and putting the following post up on Facebook:

“1 in 3 people will develop cancer in their lifetime. But the impact of cancer goes much wider. Like a pebble hitting the water the ripples spread far and wide. When an individual is diagnosed it changes life for them and their family and friends. Today is #worldcancerday and it is a #adaytounite everyone who has been touched by cancer. Grandparent, parent, sibling or other. Stand up and say #fucancer If it wasn’t for Cancer Research I wouldn’t be here today.”

Personally, the hardest part of being diagnosed for a second time is seeing the impact and strain it has upon the ones I love. Regardless of how hard they try I can see the concern in their faces. I can tell how worried they are and I know how desperately they wish this wasn’t happening to us.

Similarly, since my new diagnosis I have been reminded of how awkward cancer can be for friends and acquaintances. The reactions can range from invasive questions about diagnosis, treatment and even to query if it runs in the family (it doesn’t by the way) to complete avoidance: ‘don’t make eye contact, don’t engage in conversation, just sidestep at all costs’! On some occasions I can virtually see the panic on peoples’ faces desperately looking for an escape route as they prepare to flee. I don’t believe it is me they are running away from but most likely a fear of saying the wrong thing.

I genuinely believe most people are good at their core but we are human and that means we make mistakes. The good news is that is how we learn! So here is a valuable lesson to help everyone in this scenario – a gift from me to you…

It was during my treatment for Cervical Cancer when I was referred to the very useful article and diagram below on ‘How Not to Say the Wrong thing’.

Silk & Goodman’s Ring Theory

I find Silk and Goodman’s ‘Ring Theory’ to be a VERY useful tool and one to be shared. This theory can be applied to anyone facing a crisis or a challenge. And let’s face it we all have difficult times at some point – it’s part of life I am afraid! Likewise, the theory helps set a precedent for the family, friends and acquaintances and even includes suggestions on what to do or say.

If you have found this useful please consider sharing.

#FUCANCER

Leaving Limbo

On Wednesday I met with the specialist to review the results of my scans. Following his advice we have decided to go ahead with surgery in September which will aim to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Due to its location this comes with inherent risks which could lead to long-term impairment physically, sensory and visually. In an attempt to minimize these potential side effects the surgeon will be performing an awake craniotomy. If, like me, you are a Grey’s Anatomy fan then you will know what this entails but as the name suggests – they plan to wake me up mid-surgery. In doing so they will ask me to perform certain tasks so they are able to remove as much of the tumour as possible without impacting the surrounding areas.

As the reader I am sure you will find it a lot to digest. Major surgery… on your brain… whilst awake! Crazy hey?!

So, how do I feel? In all honestly I feel very calm. After an hour long appointment with the surgeon where myself, the Funny Boy, Iceberg and Buggernuts asked many questions I left feeling strangely at ease. This is the most relaxed I have been since having the seizure and I think it is because knowledge is power! It’s cliché but it is true! I hate life in limbo – the not knowing, impossible to plan, unable to see my future beyond the next few weeks is difficult. At least with this I now feel like I know what I am up against over the next few months.

Many of you have already been in touch asking how you can help. So here are two things I need from all my family and friends..

  1. I want to make full use of all my abilities whilst I can so over the next few weeks I want to do as many fun, active, outdoorsy things as possible. Particularly if they are things I have never tried before.  I will be using my annual leave before surgery and hopefully making some trips – so, if you have any suggestions and would like to join in please let me know.
  2. I want  NEED you all to PROMISE me that if my motivation drops or changes when I come through surgery that you will remind me of how stubborn, determined and able I really am! You have full permission to kick me up the butt!

I am not one to dwell on things, I am looking forward and I would strongly encourage you do the same too. Before I draw this entry to close and head off to play hockey, I have a secret obsession with Winston Churchill – what a man, what a life! He has a wonderful way with words so I will finish with one of his many, famous quotes:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts!

And as always, #FUCANCER!!!