Tag Archives: cancer research

You Won’t Like Me When I’m Hangry

A wee video of Heather post op:

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After being ill on Friday and an emergency visit to hospital we awoke on Monday morning with the very real prospect that surgery might not go ahead.

We had been up late chatting and putting the finishing touches to the FUCancer playlist from all the suggestions Heather had. I spent most of the night adding in some Kiss and AC/DC to balance out the Britney and Kelly Clarkson tunes.

I awoke at 5.30 am to the sound of the playlist up to 10 and Heather dancing around the room singing along, it’s moments like this, when you realise Cancer doesn’t stand a chance with this girl.

It’s fair to say Parsnip was not happy with her mummy’s mood, burrowing under the duvet and refusing to come down for her breakfast.

After showering and getting ready there was time for 30 minutes more dancing and singing before we left for the hospital at 6.30 am.

Heather collected her post it note affirmations from the mirror and encouraged the whole family to adopt a superhero pose.

A few more tracks from the playlist and we were at the hospital. We were about 45 minutes early and the walk we had planned to kill time was quickly abandoned on realising that the best summer weather ever had gone and it was absolutely minging out there.

We then sat with a series of doctors who would be managing the surgery, going over the risks and confirming Heather’s consent.

With each new doctor or nurse we had to explain Friday’s nightmare, knowing that this might mean the surgery would be cancelled.

The decision was made to go ahead and it was time to say goodbye and although Heather didn’t have her cape and spandex she was ready for another city levelling super battle, as she was wheeled into surgery in her gown and slippers.

With all the chat about Friday I had forgotten to mention to the staff that Heather was a real life super hero and that normal needles wouldn’t pierce her skin, special equipment would be required to operate on her and control her super strength.

The NHS bill for Heather’s treatment in recent years was huge and has been priceless for us, thankfully they have never sent us an invoice for equipment damaged, while treating this super specimen.

In similar fashion to Dr Banner, 4 years ago Heather was exposed to high levels of radiation, as treatment for her cancer. 

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like the movies and the result of this life saving treatment is years of side effects that impact your daily life.

Thankfully for us Heather already had a hulking green monster inside her and anyone that knows her will agree “you won’t like her, when she’s hangry”.

The last time they tried to strap her down for a procedure (Brachytherapy), she awoke to find stirrups bent out of recognition, apparently not designed for super thighs.

On Monday they would be cutting a hole in her skull, exposing her brain, her head pinned into a brace with three prongs, held in place with 60 pounds of pressure.

As I left the hospital my mind flashed back to the pre-op questions, “when did you last eat Heather”, “I had a biscuit at 9.30 last night” she replied.

Panic hit my body, Heather now hadn’t eaten for over 12 hours and hanger would be setting in.

There was no time to call Thor or ask Tony Stark to fly in his hulk buster, all I could do was pray that she could keep it under control.

The day was a blur, spending time with family and trying to distract myself from the reality that whatever happened today, my life with Heather would be changing.

I was expecting a call about 2.30 to say how she was, it didn’t come. I knew it could be later, but that didn’t lessen the worry, when the call didn’t arrive.

I felt like I was having a panic attack and found myself wandering aimlessly trying to control my breathing.

About 4.30 I got a call from the surgeon who had led Heather’s operation, his name isn’t Professor X or captain America, but he was the leader of a team avenging Heather against cancer.

He told me that it had gone well and that she was moving her arm and leg, one of the biggest risks was damage to Heather’s motor strip and that she might lose use of the left side of her body. He repeated this a few times, before I clarified “both arms and legs?”, “Yes both” he replied. I was overjoyed, the NHS aka the Avengers had done an amazing job again, despite the challenges of operating on a super human….“BUT” Professor X stopped me in the middle of my 5th thank you speech and said “there was a slight problem”.

When they woke Heather up, having earlier anaethetised her with a combination of gas, morphine and kryptonite.

Sitting with her brain exposed and her skull pinned in place Heather came too with an empty belly. Her skin quickly turned from pale pink to deep green, her hospital gown bursting at the seams. Flexing her arms and legs and with one swift motion of her now bulging 23 inch green neck she broke free from her shackles.

The Avengers jumped into action, Professor X covering her exposed brain to prevent the pins causing her serious injury, while Wonder Woman grabbed the equipment and quickly intubated Heather with a high dose of kryptonite, putting her back to sleep.

The “awake craniotomy was off the cards, the carefully plotted out procedure couldn’t continue in the decimated city scape that surrounded them.

The Avengers moved to plan B and pressed on with the operation. Professor X no longer had the feedback that an awake craniotomy provides and would need to use ultrasound and judgement to remove the tumour.

As he relayed this story I felt slightly embarrassed to have earlier been on the verge of a panic attack, while waiting for a phone call. For Professor X and the Avengers there was no panic, there was calm and composure.

At 5 pm we were allowed to visit Heather, as I walked in the room I saw my beautiful wife smiling back, looking better than she had done on Friday in St John’s hospital.

She immediately began apologising for destroying a city scape during the operation. I could almost hear the sad piano music from the credits of the Incredible Hulk in the back ground, as he walked to another town regretting the destruction and chaos he had left behind.

After apologising 50 times we received visits from Professor X, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and various other members of the NHS Avengers, all were happy with how the operation had gone.

Heather spent the next hour slagging her dad and I, singing songs about “peeing freely” and telling constant jokes.

Draped on the end of the bed was a red thin shiny piece of fabric. Heather had hung up he cape for now and along with the NHS Avengers she had earned a rest!

However there was one more mission and I her trusty sidekick, would have to complete it alone. Was I up to the challenge? Could Penfold fill in for Dangermouse, could Robin star in a standalone movie without Batman? What would my mission be?

“Seeing as I won’t be there, please can you sing Parsnip a song for me, when you get home?” This I could do, “What song?” I asked. She replied with a serious expression on her face, pausing for effect, such was the perilous nature of my task…“Nobody does it better by Carly Simon”.

So if you hear a whining noise tonight, it’s not the cats on the wall outside. Look out your window and you might see a grown man slow dancing with a sausage dog murdering a great song, in the name of saying FU Cancer.

Continuing to thrive!

In hindsight my previous blog, although well intended could cause concern. I neither need, want or seek sympathy. The insight (or overshare) was aimed to encourage women to prioritise their health. My frustrations lie in the fact a high percentage of people are not doing this and therefore putting themselves at unnecessary risk.

Aside from the aforementioned side effects, which I am mastering daily, life continues to treat me well. Even now I am sat next to the pool with a view of Spinalonga which just so happens to be the subject of my current novel, The Island by Victoria Hislop (highly recommend it by the way). This sunny retreat comes at the end of a very busy few months and therefore not only feels deserved but essential! In my last update I was training for the Virgin Money London Marathon. It is with great pride I can share that I completed this in April and raised £4000 for Cancer Reaearch. A month after crossing the finishing line I flew to Toronto to visit my brother who I hadn’t seen since the wedding. Alongside the Funny Boy and Gags’ girlfriend, Katie, the four of us (dubbed the new Wolfpack) ticked off another item of Project 30 and enjoyed several ‘proper NYC breakfasts’ in the city that never sleeps. Whilst overseas I recieved the welcome yet unexpected news that I had been shortlisted and selected to win the Edinburgh Evening News Bravery Award. An accolade I don’t believe I am worthy of but delighted and grateful beyond words. The start of July would see the inaugural STICK IT TO CANCER hockey festival. An idea I had whilst sitting in chemo two years ago finally came to fruition after nearly 14 months of planning. Over 150 people united in various superhero outfits to say an almighty #FUCancer. The result of everyone’s efforts was a phenomenal £3700 raises for the Edinburgh Maggie’s Cancer Centre and another big tick for Project 30!

Baring in mind the Funny Boy and I moved house at the end of November by the time July came it had been a manic few months. I had promised two months of no ‘extra curricular activities’. No marathons, no fundraising, no more bonkers ideas for two months. However, this changed when I had an opportunity too good to miss. Hidden from public view and in line with Project 30 I was looking for the next step in my career. An opportunity arose and after speaking to my counsel (the ever reliable Iceberg, Buggernuts and Funny Boy) they urged me to go for it! A new job in an exciting role with fresh challenges lie ahead of me. This does mean I am extending my ban on extra curricular activities until at least Christmas. But, with my new job, hens, weddings and a reunion of the Wolfpack on the cards I doubt I’d have time to get much done anyway.

Life is great. Yes, it has its challenges but I am one of the lucky ones who continue to thrive!

#FUCancer

What to wear??

Today marks the end of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week but as one calendar month passes a new one begins which means it is only 12 weeks until the London Marathon.

Training is going well. I won’t bore you with the details but I can disclose that I now share something in common with Paula Radcliffe! Thankfully it wasn’t on the roadside but I did find myself hiding amongst bare trees hoping to not be seen. I suppose it is a combination of bowels behaving badly and getting used to those long runs again! Fingers crossed its not a regular occurance!

Anyway – back to the marathon. To aid with training I will be participating in Cancer Research’s SnowFlake 10k Run. I got the opportunity to help with the promotion at the start of the year, the links of which can be found here. Since the article I have had my heart set on running the 10k and more importantly the marathon in fancy dress! Initially I thought it would be a great opportunity to dress as something to raise awarness of cervical cancer. After a quick google search it appeared that the logistics of dressing up as a cervix would be too complex – if not impossible! Top Tip: do NOT Google cervix fancy dress!! So, if you have any suggestions as to what I can dress as for the London Marathon please let me know…

In the meantime if you would like to help beat cancer sooner please consider sponsoring me at the link below:

Sponsor me now!

#FUCancer
#muddytrainers
#12weekstilLondon

Muddy trainers with only 12 weeks til London. Bring on Spring #FUCancer
Muddy trainers with only 12 weeks til London. Bring on Spring #FUCancer

 

From one marathon to another…

I launched my blog with the title ‘The marathon I didn’t sign up for…’ and although I am not quite at the end (yet) it hasn’t stopped me looking for the next challenge! This week I found out I was successful in getting a spot for the London Marathon! I am delighted to be joining the team of runners who are participating on behalf of Cancer Research UK.

BRING IT ON!!

#FUCancer

  

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

Race For Life

It goes without saying that Cancer Research are an incredible charity; the work they do literally saves lives.

Cancer Research are continually discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Did you know that in the 1970s, the 10-year survival rate was as low as one in four? Today, thanks to Cancer Research, half of people diagnosed will survive for 10 years or more. They are committed to ‘beating cancer sooner’ and whilst they work towards that goal they also develop evidence-based policy to inform Government decisions related to cancer and research. All of which they do without any government funding! Incredible. So given my experience with #FUCancer I wanted to share my story beyond the confines of wordpress. Today, I was invited to Cancer Research’s Race For Life at Hopetoun House to do exactly that.

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After signing up for the 5k I recruited a team of friends to unite as Team #FUCancer to run, march, skip and dance the route together. At the start of the day I was welcomed on stage by Heart FM’s Paul Harper to give a brief overview of what my family and I had endured in the past year. The crowd were very supportive but I think the warm reception was down to Parsnip being on stage. That dog loves the limelight! It was inspiring to see an army of women, children and dogs dressed in pink gathered for the same goal: beat cancer! I had the huge honour of starting the race.

As I ran around the course I found myself casting back to this time last year when I was in the midst of treatment and beginning to experience the menopause. It was tough. I have come to realise I am reminising a lot at the moment. I know they say you shouldn’t look back but I find it a huge motivator in enthusing me to move forward. So that is exactly what I did, I ran towards the finish line. I owe a huge amount to Cancer Research and today was only a small part of how I intend to show my gratitude. It was privilege to signal the start of the race and I am so proud to have been a part of it along with my friends.

#FUCancer

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Jigsaw

I initially began writing this blog to save myself the laborious task of repetition and more importantly keep the facts straight. It is wild how quickly a single piece of information being passed on through several links can become distorted. There was no poetic license needed to compose my blogs. What you read is the truth.

I have come to depend on this safe space to be my voice. A space where I can share my experience as well as my thoughts, fears and feelings. Many people who have taken the time to read my entries have admitted they now have a better insight to what life with cancer is like.

I know life will never be the same for me. I have accepted that as of the 8th April 2014 everything has changed. Relationships, outlooks, motivations have all shifted in some way. I have always viewed life as being like a jigsaw puzzle; everyone has numerous pieces which click together to make a complete picture. Work, family, friends, hobbies, the love of a significant other! At times if ever I was down it would be because a piece was missing or something just didn’t fit quite right. Now, however it feels like I am starting my puzzle from scratch because the picture has changed completely. All my puzzle pieces are upside down and jumbled in the box. I have identified my corner pieces but the remaining 996 will take some time to piece together.

One of the pieces in my puzzle is how I am going to give something back to say thank you, to show my gratitude for being one of the lucky ones and more importantly support the people who supported me. In light of this I am in the early stages of hosting a ‘STICK IT to Cancer’ hockey festival & quiz night to raise funds for two incredible charities.
The first is Maggie’s who have provided a wealth of support to my family and I. Maggie’s have been helping me navigate my way through the emotional aftermath of cancer. They have offered advice on every puzzle piece from coping mechanisms to exercise and how to look good. They have become a new safe place out with this virtual forum.
The second charity is an easy choice for obvious reasons: Cancer Research. It’s as simple as it sounds. Without the research I wouldn’t have received the vital treatment which ultimately saved my life.
More details on the ‘STICK IT to Cancer’ hockey festival to follow in due course. Watch this space!

Another new piece, inspired by my experience, is how I can share my story so people can learn from it. The past six months has allowed me to realise how ignorant I was about cancer. Even in my initial diagnosis I remember asking ‘so, it’ll be a few tough months?’ Which was quickly corrected with ‘it’ll be a tough few years.’ Even following treatment I was of the opinion that being in remission meant I was over it, beyond it, it was behind me. But that’s simply not the case. I am still unsure how exactly I will fulfil this piece in the puzzle but I have a feeling this blog is a good starting point.

My jigsaw is far from complete but as I said I have the most important corner pieces already in place and that is my family and friends. Thank you for being so supportive, reliable and making me feel so loved!

#FUCANCER

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