Three years ago I had just completed cancer treatment. Sat in chemotherapy, in a very comfy Lazy Boy style chair, I had the idea of organising some form of hockey festival which could raise funds in aid of Maggie’s whilst also saying a massive #FUCANCER. Today, sat at my not-so-comfy office desk, I am in disbelief at how that idea has developed into a reality.
Yesterday marked the second STICK IT TO CANCER HOCKEY FESTIVAL. For the second year running we welcomed over 100 hockey heroes dressed as heroes and villains to unite in the fight against cancer. I am delighted to say that the event raised £2175.27 which will be going straight to the Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Edinburgh. A place very close to my heart. I don’t know if it is because I have neglected this blog for so long that my writing skills are very rusty or if it is the fact I am absolutely exhausted from an incredible 24 hours but I am struggling to find the words to share how much this event means to me. Instead I will share the video below (click where it says STICK IT TO CANCER 2017) to give you a flavour of what the day is all about and finish with these words:
“Together, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results” – Becka Schoettle
Thanks for being a part of it…
All the teams and their supporters, friends and family who came along on the day! Edinburgh Academy & George Sutherland; Harry’s Bar & Ben Ashcroft; Luca’s at Morningside, Edinburgh Leisure; Scotch Whiskey Experience; Butterfly & Insect World; Scran & Scallie; Ryze; Cineworld; Pinkk; Stewart Brewing; Camera Obscura; Morrisons; Sincy, Batch, George & Kyle. Craig Muir. The THRIVING umpires, George & Grace. The SITC Top Team – Nicola, Christian, Amy, Jenny, Marie, Buggernuts & Iceberg. And finally, more poor husband Funny Boy for putting up with me everyday!
With a conscious effort to adopt and apply the growth positive mindset to all aspects of my life this week saw me return to not one but two sports I have lost touch with.
As promised I made a pledge to dust off my hockey stick and ditch the negative attitude. On Wednesday night I joined my friends, old and new, to play in my first hockey game since the arrival of my cellular traitor. Over the course of the day I could feel myself getting nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach, sweaty palms (not conducive to grasping a stick for 70 minutes!) and an internal battle in my mind. Over the past year I have desperately wanted to return to hockey but the fear of my body collapsing into a heap of exhaustion, anxiety of how poor my skills will be in addition to the prospect of people laughing at me has simply prevented me from returning to the pitch. Inspired by WSLA I have grown determined to overcome this. In the build up to the evening I just told myself ‘the hardest part of any journey is the first step’.
How did it go? It’s safe to say I have a long way to go to get my fitness to where it was. Plus the FIH have introduced a couple of rules I need to get my head around but it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be. In the simplest of terms: it was fun!
The following morning, feeling very stiff, my friends invited me to go swimming. On most occasions when I am invited to go swimming it involves a hot tub, sauna and a couple of lengths of granny style breastroke. This was not one of those invitations. These friends of mine are excellent swimmers: one swam competitively at Univeristy and the other (a qualified swim teacher) is training for a triathlon. Internally I found myself saying ‘I can’t!’ Listing off 100 reasons why I shouldn’t: I’ve not swam properly in over a decade, these guys are good, I am a poor swimmer and even worse, I’d need to be seen in a swim suit! Then I looked at the pictures I have printed out and stuck on a wall at work:
It forced me to re-evaluate. I turned the ‘I can’t.’ Into a ‘I can’t yet…’ This resulted in me being in the pool at 6.50am the following day. Again, I was nervous, I had butterflies but thankfully nobody could tell I had sweaty palms. How did it go? I got cramp within the first four lengths and I struggled to control my breathing but at the end of the session I had swam over 1600m. Not bad for someone who has barely done a full length since being at school! To put it simply: I had fun!
To most people this may appear like a really straightforward thing and perhaps it is but the power of a growth mindset not only supports you in achieving goals but it also opens opportunities you never knew existed. Playing hockey and being in the pool has led me to wonder what other exciting prospects I have missed out on purely because I focused on the ‘I can’t’ opposed to the ‘I can’t yet…’ This realisation is leading me to explore endeavours beyond sport and work. I am currently working on something very exciting which I’ve previously avoided because I was afraid of failing. It’s going to take a lot of time, hard work and effort but I believe it’ll be worth it. Watch this space!
As I draw this entry to a close I share with you the words I have saved as the background on my mobile. Its time to ask yourself:
Yesterday was the first time in four and a half months that I have seen my mother cry. I finally heard the news we had all been dreaming of: I am in remission.
On the 8th April at approximately 3.30pm I was told I had a tumour. The following week I was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive type of cervical cancer. I am the 19th recorded case of it’s kind. I was told I had to ‘buck the trend’. The journey that has since followed has been an emotional roller coaster where I have celebrated the highest highs and endured the lowest lows.
Upon hearing my results this week I have received literally hundreds of messages from friends and family to say how happy they are for me. As you can imagine I am relieved. Upon arriving at the hospital on Wednesday I had tried to prepare myself for every possible scenario: more treatment, losing my hair, I had even began to contemplate my funeral. So here I am with the best possible outcome and how do I feel? Physically exhausted, emotionally drained and more vulnerable than ever before. It possibly sounds ungrateful but in all honesty I wouldn’t say the feeling I have right now is happiness. I simply feel angry. I feel so excluded from what I used to call my life I don’t know where to start.
Breaking the news of my diagnosis to my family and friends was one of the worst things I had to do. Trying to cushion the blow and await their reaction led me tears. It quickly highlights the ones who were there for me. Some people would say the wrong thing but the worst were those who said nothing. I heard someone excuse this with ‘I just find the whole cancer thing a bit awkward!’ —–> really?!
Two months on from completing treatment and I am still recovering. The fatigue is an ongoing fixture in everyday life which is a massive source of frustration. A large part of my social life revolved around being physically active and as the new hockey season starts I am beyond jealous to be missing out. For the first time in years I am without a team.
I am adapting to life with menopause and learning to accept what that means for the Funny Boy and I. The picture I had painted for myself has changed. When the time comes for the Funny Boy and I to start a family we will be looking into adoption. I had always imagined myself being pregnant and fantasised about everything that comes with it. Sharing the news with my friends and family, feeling a life grow inside me, watching my belly take shape and that amazing day when we get to meet mini Huffer for the first time. Pregnancy has always been a miracle to me. However the Funny Boy and I will have our own miracle one day which will be equally special – it’ll just have a different route. Losing the opportunity to be a mother is a price I have had to pay in order to save my life.
I imagine as a reader you must think I am very ungrateful and there are 10000s of people wishing they received the news I did this week. Perhaps if you had been in my shoes then you would understand. I have always said I want this blog to be an honest journal of my journey with cancer so here it is. Unfortunately the news of remission does not automatically bring back my old life. Life is different now and my perception of the world has changed. What I am grateful for are the key people who have helped me on my journey so far. You know who you are. The chapter of treatment is complete but the one ahead is focusing on how I recover and rebuild my life. For now I will just celebrate the relief: