Category Archives: Cancer

#Smearforsmear

Another MRI Scan

I have lost count of the number of letters I receive like this. Another scan. Another 30 minutes in a tube followed by an agonising wait which seems like forever. I have learnt to not worry until there is something to worry about or to quote my brother:

‘Don’t put up your umbrella just because there are rain clouds’

I am confident this cloudy patch will pass. But it does serve a cold reminder of the importance of attending smear tests. In light of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week I wanted to share the facts:

  • Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35
  • 1 in 3 women between 25 – 29 years old ignore their smear test invitation-
  • 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer EVERY DAY
  • Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that CAN BE PREVENTED!

Quoted from Jo’s Trust – http://jostrust.org.uk/smearforsmear/
Cervical cancer has had a profound impact on my life. Menopause, infertility are just two of the changes I am still learning to live with. I was one of the unlucky ones. I

Attend your smear, reduce your risk of cervical cancer

Parsnip and I showing our #smearforsmear in aid of cervical cancer prevention week
Parsnip and I showing our #smearforsmear in aid of cervical cancer prevention week
Here is my #smearforsmear selfie. Attend a smear, reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
Here is my #smearforsmear selfie.
Attend a smear, reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

 

 

Bad Habits

Allow me to apologise! Apart from a brief update in November this blog has seen very little action. I appreciate the kind messages of concern but truth be told I have found it difficult to sumise my thoughts appropriate for a post. Unpredictable as ever, it appears that now is the time for me to share my latest news and views. (The time is currently seventeen minutes past midnight which means today is Christmas Eve – yay!)

I have formed a bad habit. One which has been causing me a few problems. You see – having cancer startles people. Wether it be old friends, new friends, would-be friends or mere strangers, when they discover I have had cancer they simply looked shocked and awkward. Cancer does not define me but it does have a huge impact on everyday life which means it lends itself to common conversation. Marathon training, career plans, that oh so dreaded question: ‘when will you and the Funny Boy have babies’ always lead back to what my family and I had to endure last year. This conversation topic doesn’t bother me. I find it cathartic and hopeful that someone might be more cautious in their own health. That being said, I have developed a bad habit of trying to ease the shock and minimise the awkwardness by changing the subject through assuring whomever I am speaking with that ‘I am one of the lucky ones’. Whenever I sense sympathy I immediately go into ‘positive mode’.

At the end of September I found myself beginning to feel overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks. The basic question of ‘what do you want for your tea?’ On some occasions was simply too difficult to fathom and reduced me to tears. Initially I put this down to the menopause. Work became a chore: concentration was lacking and enthusiasm was gone. My Sunday night dread appeared on the eve of every work day. Away from the office I would find myself avoiding social situations, opting to stay at home, preferrably with the dog alone. I began experiencing panic attacks. At this point I felt more vulnerable than ever before. My bad habit of ‘being positive and being one of the lucky ones’ clouded my judgement. In my head I told myself that I was being ridiculous: if you can get through cancer, you can get through this. I simply told myself to get over it. But I was wrong.

It wasn’t until October I took myself to Maggie’s. This is where my bad habit began to unfold. By constantly being positive I wasn’t allowing myself to really feel the trauma or emotions cancer brings. After a great deal of support from Maggie’s I found the confidence to challenge my bad habit and visit my GP. Following a short stint on sick leave I have now returned to work. Thankfully, I do not feel as vulnerable as I did in September but I am in a challenging place. As I strive to move forward with all aspects of my life I am facing the unfair truth that old habits die hard. Lucky to survive? Yes! Lucky to have been dealt a lethal hand? Not so much. It is not something I will ever ‘get over’ but that’s ok. In time I will come to terms with it and in the meantime it is ok to say it as it is…

Cancer is a bitch!

#FUCancer

Stressed

I have been neglecting my blog for six weeks. Every time I sit down to write something, my fingers hover over the keyboard nervously but I am struck with the same challenge of not knowing where to start. So as always I will focus telling the truth in hope that what I eventually compose makes sense.

I had my 12 month check up at the start of September. The good news – no evidence of disease. The bad news – I have the pelvis of an 80 year old woman. Ok, so the doctor didn’t quite put it like that, however that is how I feel. It constantly aches and there is nothing they can or will do – it just a case of rest and ibuprofen. Returning to hockey seems impossible and that is getting me down.

I was selected for the Social Innovators Incubator Award to get FUCancer started. Fantastic news right? Well, it appears three hours at the end of a Monday is just too much for my tired body to handle and with a heavy heart, I made the difficult decision to put my FUCancer plans on hold.

The Funny Boy and I have been looking at houses. Again, exciting news! Yet it comes with a decent portion of added stress.  Although everything seems to be headed in the right direction the long wait for completing missives seems to be taking a sweet age. That in itself is tiring.

Then there is the infertility thing. That just makes me want to scream.

With everything going on, I simply feel stressed and anxious. Even as I write this I can feel my chest tightening as though my lungs won’t fully expand. On top of that – I feel guilty for feeling stressed. I am 13 months cancer free with the prospect of a new home to move in to. I should be feeling on top of the world. Yet, I am struggling to find enjoyment in my usual pastimes. Exercise now seems like a chore. Work has become a challenge. And even spending time with my friends gives me a feeling of dread. Why? I don’t know. Furthermore, I appear to have lost the ability to make a decision. Whether it be plans for the weekend or even a choice of what to have for dinner – I find myself feeling irritable and opting to go without because it seems too difficult to choose. Despite being a morning person, the simple task of getting out of bed is becoming more strenuous leaving me exhausted most days. And when night-time does fall I lie in bed unable to fall asleep.

The good news is I recognise this is abnormal and something I need help with. The bad news is I am impatient and frustrated. I have found myself returning to Maggie’s and even my GP. Both of whom have been an enormous support. They have helped me realise this feeling is potentially a delayed reaction to the trauma of last year and in order to move on I need to start dealing with it. I am in a weird place where the last year has left me feeling stronger yet more vulnerable than ever. So there you have it – apologies for the bleak banter but it is an honest update!

#FUCancer

Stress

Dream Big!

It has been an exciting week for #FUCancer…

Over the past 18 months I was thrust into a world where cancer has been a daily topic of conversation. I have a new found respect for the wonders of science, the importance of early screening and long term effects of treatment. I have learnt about the numerous charities which work tirelessly to not only deliver the above but strive to support everyone affected by cancer. Their amazing efforts has inspired me to ask myself: What can I do?

My time spent at WSLA reminded me to dream big and go beyond my comfort zone. This week marks the first step of making my #FUCancer dream a reality after I was selected for the Social Innovator Incubator Award from the Melting Pot. I am beyond grateful for this huge opportunity which will help me develop and explore my vision for #FUCancer and ultimately help a lot of people! I currently feel super inspired and excited for what lies ahead…

Dream it!
Believe it!
Achieve it!

#FUCancer

Dream BIG!
Dream BIG!

Project 30: Get a tattoo

Prior to starting treatment I had to get three small tattoos around my pelvis. This was so the radiotherapy team were able to target the radiation accurately. The tattoos are nothing bigger than the dot of a bic pen. They could easily be mistaken for a few dark freckles. At the time Iceberg and I joked about getting a tattoo. We made a pact. Here I am 15 months later and true to our word, the Iceberg and I have got our first ‘proper’ tattoo. Technically you could say it’s my fourth but I don’t think the NHS freebies count!

If I was ever asked to describe my family I would use the words competitive, weird and loyal. It goes without saying that a family who has a heavy interest in sport is going to be competitive. Some of the biggest arguments Buggernuts and I have ever had have been caused by an innocent game of tennis. Individually we all have our weird traits. The Iceberg has a spoon in her handbag at all times. The reason being it can prevent static on clothes whilst serving its original purpose. The Funny Boy has an incredible gift for locking himself out of the flat and breaking back in. It’s a talert he shows off regularly. I, myself, have more weird traits than anyone: whenever I am alone with Parsnip I have a sing and selfie marathon. The products of which often circulate whatsapp. But for a weird and competitive bunch my family are powerfully loyal. We are a pack and we support each other as one would expect.

When life puts you in tough situations, don't say 'why me'. Just say 'try me'
When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say ‘why me’. Just say ‘try me’

The picture above is one my brother sent me mid treatment. The clear message of ‘Don’t ask why me – instead say TRY ME!’ Is one I have constantly referred to. I am not a huge believer in astrology, that being said I can’t resist reading my horoscope. I am a Leo  which is represented with a lion mascot. Lions are a common symbol found across different cultures and religions. The majority of these use the lion to represent the following characteristics: courage, strength, loyalty and leadership. One of my favourite lines is:

“the lion wins the prize for most relentless fighter in the face of life challenges.”

My mum is the most incredible person I know. She is strong, brave and forever putting her family needs before her own. She is a true lioness. So, if anyone asks me what my tattoo represents? I’ll tell them my lioness is my mum. It represents my pack, my family who I am immensely proud of. And finally, my lioness is a reminder: when life puts me in tough situations simply say ‘Try Me!’ I am a fighter.

#FUCancer

Lioness

 

 

Project 30: 30 Sports Before 30

Today I am really excited! Not only is it my first ever VLOG (video blog) but I have began working towards one of the tasks on Project 30!

I have loved sport my whole life yet as I have grown older I find myself shying away from trying new ones. The reason for this? Honestly? It is a fear of being bad at something. A fear of people looking at me and laughing. Thank goodness the 8 year old me never had those fears otherwise my life would have taken a totally different course. I have no doubt that my active lifestyle has supported me in overcoming cancer and moving forward which is why I dedicated item 18 of Project 30 to try a new sport. In hindsight that was a little tame. The past year has taught me that life is way too short and that you should NEVER let the fear of looking stupid or other people judging you prevent you from doing something you love. I work in sport, I promote sport, I love sport – it is high time I stop preaching and start doing! So number 18 on the list has been revised. Instead I have set myself the challenge of trying 30 new sports! Over the course of the next 13 months I am looking to try, play and compete in as many sports as possible.

I was hugely inspired by the #thisgirlcan campaign and was pleased to be involved in the BBC’s Get Inspired #thisgirlcantoo promotional video. It is off the back of this I have chosen to include 30 sports before 30. In doing so I hope to generate interest so I can raise awareness of the two fantastic charities: Maggie’s and Cancer Research which all in all works towards me saying #FUCancer!

This is where I need you to share my story and get involved!
I have twelve months and I am looking for suggestions and invitations to try new sports. Each sport will have a dedicated post with corresponding videos – my GoPro will be getting put to good use! I am prepared to try anything and everything so please spread the word and do not hesitate to get in touch if there is something you think I should try.

#FUCancer

Project 30: 30sports before 30
Project 30: 30sports before 30

“Getting cancer is like finding out Santa’s not real!”

Us Brits are notoriously known for our impeccable manners. Sometimes our polite nature holds us back from certain topics of conversation! I am very open to discussion about my experience with cancer and its ongoing side affects yet I have had to endure some perplexing, crude and at times down right merciless comments. I thought I could share these for your own amusement or a lesson on what not to say to someone with cancer.

Did you get to keep your cervix?

I’ve not been in touch because I find the whole cancer thing awkward. 

Cervical? That’s one of the good cancers. – There is NO GOOD CANCER!

My mum had cancer but it sounds like hers was a lot worse.

I’ve done loads of reading. What stage is your cancer at?

What caused your cancer?

Should you be eating that?

You shouldn’t eat sugar, sugar causes cancer… SUGAR IS KILLING YOU!

Finding out you have cancer must be like finding out Santa isn’t real. It turns your life upside down eh?

(On the topic of infertility where I am surrounded by pregnant women) It’s like when people talk about their tans. I can’t get a tan and it drives me crazy when all people want to talk about is tanning.

(In response to me struggling to think of a word) Oh my god! It’s like that chemo cabbage brain thing – your brain cells are literally dead! Haha!

(On the topic of me not being able to have kids) It’s not that big a deal.

It’s great to see you back to normal. 

You look great, considering…

You’re going on holiday? You’ve just been off work for the best part of 6 months!

I know what you’re going through because I had to get a smear once. It was a nightmare!

My brother’s girlfriend’s uncle’s son is a doctor. He wants to know the name of your cancer.

I was reading about your cancer online. Did you know….

You must feel so lucky! 

That final quote is a bit of an oxymoron because I do feel lucky to be here. Lucky to be alive. However I also feel incredibly unlucky to have been dealt a hand which forced me to sacrifice fertility. In the same breath of it being a small price to pay for survival it is equally something I will never get over. But hopefully, in time, it is something I will come to terms with. But in response to a few people above:

My inability to have kids is not like being unable to take a tan and it is a big deal! F*ck sake!

#FUCancer

Bowels Behaving Badly

Monday marked my 9 month check up. In contrast to the last one which loomed over me for weeks this appointment snuck up on my calendar – it felt as though it had come around too quick.

In the past few weeks I have returned to frequent visits on the porcelain throne which is reeking havoc on my socialising. It appears my grumpy bowels and bloating belly, although predictable following treatment, require a more thorough inspection. I am now awaiting the invitation to attend a colonoscopy and another MRI scan. I am assured there is nothing to worry about and I have great confidence in my doctor. I don’t see this as a setback. It’s merely an opportunity for peace of mind. 

That being said it is is difficult not to get anxious when you are faced with the prospect of having a camera rooting around your rear! On the whole (excuse the pun) it’ll make a change from where I am used to being poked and prodded… Giggidy!

#FUCancer

Project 30 Begins: 30 photos in 30 days (and then some!)

27th March it begins! My first item of Project 30 (https://hevewilliams.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/project-30-happy-new-year/) is to take a photo everyday for 30 days. The challenge here is to make them interesting… Eek! So here is number 1  :

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Number 1 – 27.3.15, 9am on the Embankment near Tower Bridge in London waiting for my photoshoot with Marie Claire #FUCancer

Processed with Moldiv

Number 2 – 28.3.15, Silly o’clock at Guille Dhu for my Hen night!

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Number 3 – 29.3.15, the day after the night before! Feeling rough but what a night!!

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Number 4 – 30.3.15, 9am enjoying a good breakfast with my team at work!

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Number 5 – 31.3.15, Out of office is on and it’s time to say goodbye to the Funny Boy and Parsnip the Wonderdog. The Funny Boy seems to like his Wedding Countdown Calendar.

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Number 6 – 1.4.15, Pinch and a punch for the first of the month! Pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Iceberg and I are jetting off on serious wedding business…

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Number 7 – 2.4.15, Soaking up the Fuertaventura sun! Time to relax!

  Number 8 – 3.4.15, Post-workout shot! Check the vest #FUCancer

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Number 9 – 4.4.15, Only one week left as a single lady! I better get my Beyoncé on but struggling to get out of bed. Pelvic pain strikes again!

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Number 10 – 5.4.15, Braving it in the pool. The water is surprisingly chilly!

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Number 11 – 6.4.15, Bridal bodywork in progress. I love running in the sun!

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Number 12 – 7.4.15, As the Iceberg and I are flying home tomorrow we decide to celebrate my cancerversary a day early. And what better way to celebrate than with a cocktail?!

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Number 13 – 8.4.15, Iceberg and I waving goodbye to sunny Corralejo and hello to final wedding prep!

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Number 14 – 9.4.15, Even Parsnip is helping with the wedding prep as she adds the finishing touches to our totem pole!

   

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Number 15 – 10.4.15, Wedding eve spent with Team Bride who have travelled from as far as Toronto! Final sleep as a single lady….

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Number 16 – 11.4.15, Introducing Mr & Mrs Duff!

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Number 17 – 12.4.15, Evidence to prove the wedding continued into the early hours of the next day!

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Number 18 – 13.4.15, At the departure gate with the Funny Boy who is now my Funny Husband!

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 Number 19 – 14.4.15, After a 19 hour flight the Funny Boy and I arrive in Bangkok where Songkran celebrations are in full flow. First meal of the trip is Cabbages and Condoms. I highly recommend it!

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Number 20 – 15.4.15, How much can you squeeze into 24 hours in Bangkok? Sky train to the Golden Temple, Tuk tuk to visit the temple of the reclining Buddha, walk along to the Chinese Market and finally a trip on the river boat to the Asiatique Market!

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Number 21 – 16.4.15, Next stop – Chiang Mai! Walk into the Old Town, quick visit to the Night Bazaar and another green curry at the Riverside Restaurant.

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Number 22 – 17.4.15,  A personalised tour to Doi Suthep where the views are incredible, buildings are fascinating and the hill tribe children are adorable!

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Number 23 – 18.4.15, Today’s focus was for Gordon to tick an item off of his bucket list: EAT BUGS! Meanwhile I found the best margarita!

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Number 24 – 19.4.15, Next stop – Phuket!

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Number 25 – 20.4.15, After a brief bout of diarrhoea we are at the Elephant Hills safari. This place is beautiful! Today I met, fed, washed and played with several elephants!

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Number 26 – 21.4.15, I made the Funny Boy search our tent for snakes after hearing our neighbour found an unwelcome visitor in hers last night! Today we took a tour along the mangroves meeting various wildlife before kayaking our way to lunch on a junk ship. We spent our afternoon on a deserted island. Bliss!

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Number 27 – 22.4.15, Our final day in the Elephant Hills was spent trekking through the Rain Forest.

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Number 28 – 23.4.15, Arrived at our final destination, La Flora in Koah Lak!

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Number 29 – 24.4.15, Exploring our home for the next fortnight and discover this. A military boat which was forced 3km inland during the 2004 Tsunami. A permanent reminder of the devastation caused by the natural disaster.

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Number 30 – 25.4.15, A day trip to the Similan Islands where we met Nemo and a bunch of his pals underwater and a Sea Turtle whilst snorkelling!! Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence but we do have a video!

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Number 31 – 26.4.15, On this occasion the Funny Boy and I made the most of the £1.50 cocktails. The night was very enjoyable but the hangover that followed was certainly not!

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Number 32 – 27.4.15, This picture speaks for itself!

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Number 33 – 28.4.15, Another day spent in paradise with the Funny Boy!

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Number 34 – 29.4.15, Jumping on Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay!

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Number 35 – 30.4.15, Jumping in the Bangniang Sunset!

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Number 36 – 1.5.15, Chilling by the pool and the Funny Boy makes a friend!

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Number 37 – 2.5.15, The heat is so fierce during the day! The only time we seem to take photos is in the evening on our way to dinner. Beautiful sunset as always!

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Number 38 – 3.5.15, Making a wish as we light our Good Luck lantern!

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Number 39 – 4.4.15, This is Pepsi a very friendly gibbon!

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Number 40 – 5.5.15, Final day of our honeymoon! Goodbye Thailand, Hello ‘Happy Ever After’!

So, there you have it! My 30 photos over 30 days. It has been incredible but I am pleased to be reunited with Parsnip the Wonderdog! Who, if you haven’t guessed was the ring bearer on our special day!

#FUCancer

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