A year on …..

 

 

So, it’s a year exactly today, on our son’s birthday, since I was finally admitted to hospital after over two years of illness. So much has happened since then but I can remember each and every step of the long journey I’ve had to take, a journey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

image Who would have guessed after I’d been admitted and thought I was finally going to see an end to my problems that in reality, they were only just beginning? It’s the kind of case scenario you read about and hope never happens to you but when it does, you have options. Once the sheer shock of what was happening had abated, I was adamant that I would NEVER give in to this awful disease, that I would fight tooth and nail to give myself the best chance, no matter what treatment or procedures I would have to undergo.

Even so, had I been able to foresee exactly what I would have to go through, I might have panicked slightly but luckily, no crystal balls are available and so I’ve had to take each step as it comes.

No words are enough to thank the wonderfully caring staff at the Royal Marsden in Chelsea. They’ve filled our long, stressful visits with kindness, humour, truth and above all, a calming sense that all that can be done WILL be done.

After a break from chemo, which has given me time to gather my strength both physically and emotionally, I’m ready to return to the RM shortly to find out what the next steps are for me.

All I know is that I wouldn’t have got this far without the love and support of my family and close friends. I’m so proud of the way you’ve all handled such a hard, distressing year and I love you all. Xx

Look Good, Feel Better afternoon …….

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Spent yesterday afternoon over in the MacMillan Centre at QA Hospital with a group of ladies, attending the Look Good Feel Better workshop.

Look Good Feel Better is the only worldwide cancer support charity, providing practical support for women struggling with the side effects from cancer treatment.

Finding out you have cancer can be daunting and life-changing and the added stress of the appearance related side effects of treatment can be demoralising and very hard to cope with. This can have serious consequences on self-esteem and confidence at a time when a positive attitude is very important.

Look Good Feel Better is dedicated to improving the self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing of people undergoing treatment, for any sort of cancer”

photo (21) Despite everyone there being in the throes of cancer treatment and all the baggage that goes with it, the afternoon was filled with laughter as we all dug into our huge goody bags of different high class  products and learnt how to get ourselves looking (almost) how we used to be …….

I was chuffed to get a bottle of Emporio Armani “Diamonds” EDP in my bag; what a great scent!!

Anyone who’s suffering from cancer can book themselves onto one of the LGFB afternoon workshops, just contact your nearest MacMillan Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut water shampoo? I’m in my element!!

coconut shampoo

So …… finally back to “proper” hair washing and although it’s a bit of a novelty at the moment, can’t say I’ve really missed all the hair care palaver over the last few months, to say nothing of the money saved!!  But hair’s arrived so it must be nurtured and looked after.

Was chuffed to find this latest Organix shampoo in Boots today; not only are Organix one of my favourite shampoos but to find a coconut water bubbly was great! Those who know me know I love coconut products and just love the taste of coconut water – walking round with said smell on my head will please me indeed ……

julie, feb 2015

 

Dame Judy Dench, I can give you a run for your money …….

 

 

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Over the last few months, I’ve had dry sore lips, thanks to the chemo and have gone through Vaseline tins and lip balms like no one’s business but today found this little beauty, Lanolips Lemonaid and decided to give it a whirl. Not exactly cheap but if it does the job, then it’ll be well worth the payout. Smells lovely …….

 

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Whilst mooching through Boots (ah it’s the little things that please me these days) I saw this on the holistic aisle and thought it might come in handy for those days when I don’t wake up with a smile on my face.  The fact it contains brandy is just a bonus ….. will let you know whether this works ……

 

 

… and I couldn’t go past the nail polishes without grabbing a couple of new ones for my collection!

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Updates ….

snowdrops It’s been a while since I last blogged on my site so here’s the latest updates: my chemo was doing well and had shrunk my tumours considerably but back in October, I was rushed to hospital, unable to breathe and in a lot of pain. Turns out the chemo had caused some damage to my lung and resulted in me staying in hospital for a week, with blood transfusions and CT scan. I know I was extremely ill and it wasn’t a good time for me or our family.  I was informed that if I hadn’t have gone to A & E, I would probably have died …. that’s the second time last year.  Not good. However, back up to Royal Marsden for a follow-up re. the scan results and it was decided together that I wouldn’t start chemo again for a couple of months, to allow my poor old lung to recuperate!

So, I’ve been on a break from chemo since October and how great has that been! Tastebuds and appetite back to normal, fatigue all but gone  (although I still get very tired each day) and best of all, my hair has grown back, presenting me with my new look, that of a Judy Dench look-alike!!!  Being off the chemo does have its drawbacks, however, as I’m constantly aware in the back of my mind that things could be progressing in a way I don’t want. January 3rd, however, saw me back in A & E, delivered by ambulance this time, with severe pain in my liver area. Bloods showed that I could be suffering from an aneurysm or a kidney stone, so it was off to the CT scanner again! Both ruled out but follow-up at RM recommended, which we did and scan showed slight growth in the liver tumour but our consultant stated that nothing drastic would happen in the space of a couple of months before March so have to go along with that way of thinking.  Chemo still off the cards until March at least, so I’m  kind of living in a bubble at the moment, just waiting to see how things pan out.

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But there has been some good news (apart from my hair!) On January 28th, Leah and Si presented us with our third gorgeous grandson, Freddie Owen, at 12.04 am weighing in at 8 lb exactly.

 

Also, my nails, which had suffered so badly from the chemo, have also had chance to recuperate and are looking a whole heap better (although they are still slightly ridged and break sooo easily!) I’m still applying the Trind Kerotin, although not every day but it seems to have worked so I’ll stick at it ….

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Trind Nail Care products – chemo nail rescue!!!

My poor decimated nails!

My poor decimated nails!

One of the annoying side effects from the chemo I’m getting ( Gemcetibine and Docetaxel) is the damage I’m now seeing to my nails. Researching online, it seems the Docetaxel could be the main culprit but having a double whammy dose of chemo probably doesn’t help matters. Having spent sooo long getting my nails up to par (if you’ve read my earlier posts you’ll know I’ve battled with nail biting for years up until a couple of years ago when I decided enough was enough) and to watch my hard work go down the drain as the drugs took hold has been a bit of a blow. Still, never one to sit down and give up, I’ve researched chemo nail care and delved into products which could help restore my nails to some sort of normality.  Hopefully, this might help some of you in the same position.

Re-hydration is my main aim as my nails have gone so dry, despite using cuticle oil by the gallon. The white bits have gradually crept down my nails but strangely enough, just on both ring fingers! I’m not sure what I can do about those though …..

I’ve had no problem growing my nails throughout my ongoing chemo treatment – in fact they’ve grown like mad. I read that some people lose their nails due to Docetaxel so I guess I’m lucky in that respect.

I read some great reviews on the Swiss TRIND products and decided to

Nail Balsam &  Nail Repair

Nail Balsam & Nail Repair

give them a whirl  – after all I’ve got nothing to lose but healthy nails to gain. The two products I plumped for were the Nail Balsam and Nail Repair and then their Keratin Nail Restorer and Keratin Nail Protector.  I’ve had the first two products for about a week now and the latter have just arrived.

Using the products is easy: you simply apply a coat of the Balsam to clean, dry nails and leave for two minutes to soak in, then gently rub any excess into your nails. I  can see my nails absorbing the balsam!  Then, you apply a coat of the Nail Repair and allow to dry.  This helps seal in the balsam and helps strengthen your nails. Each day, you simply remove the products with a non-acetone polish remover and start the two-step process again.

Trind Keratin Nail Restorer & Nail Protector

Keratin Nail Restorer & Nail Protector

Already I can see some improvement in the condition of my nails and they are definitely more hydrated.

Whilst ferreting around online I was reminded that nails are basically made of keratin and that restoring your nails to health meant restoring the keratin levels.  Having seen that TRIND also have keratin products I went and checked these out and decided that having some extras in my arsenal wasn’t a bad thing.

On first applying the Keratin Nail Restorer I’m really impressed at how quickly it’s absorbed and how incredibly soft and smooth my nails feel, even after one shot. I’ve left off applying the Naail Protector for a few hours as I want to apply some more of the keratin goodness throughout the day.

The keratin products are formaldehyde free although the Nail Repair does ontain this. I’m not a fan of formaldehyde but on this occasion, I’m prepared to overlook this if it means my nails stand any chance of getting back to how they were pre-chemo!!

I’ll update on the progress ……..

 

Indian summer here in the UK?….

Flower filled meadow Well, we’ve had a great summer this year down here in the south of England.  Plenty of hot summer sun and hot sticky nights and it looks like we are enjoying an Indian summer as the temperatures are still brilliant as we hit the second week of September!

I’ve not been able to fully enjoy the lazy days of summer, having to travel to London three weeks out of four for my ongoing cancer treatment but it’s been great to see our wonderful capital in its summer glory.  Let’s hope the sun continues to shine and that autumn is late arriving this year!

Some good news: we are expecting our third grandson early in the New Year! Leah and Simon are having another boy, a little brother for Archie, who’s now 2.  Can’t wait!

Apologies for the lack of posts written but this is due to my illness.  I’ll try and get on here more, promise! :)

 

My Cancer Journey

Royal Marsden Cancer Charity Having always been a writer since I was very young,  tracking my thoughts and progress on my ongoing cancer journey seemed just another step forward.

If you want to keep up to speed, you’ll find my blog here:

http://cancerjourney58.blogspot.co.uk

You’re more than welcome to leave comments :)

 

Summer Fayre at Lee on Solent Infants School

tote bag Spending so much time at home recovering this year has meant that I’ve had to find things to do that didn’t involve either driving/lifting/too much exertion.  Luckily I’ve been able to stitch and make crafts for Jack’s upcoming Summer Fayre at Lee on Solent Infants School on Saturday 5th July.  Hannah and I have a table there where I’ll be selling my goodies with a portion of the proceeds going to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Come along and say hi to us, as well as supporting a great cause :)

Country Chickens make their entrance ….

If it’s one thing I love it’s chickens. Especially in my kitchen! You’ll find them everywhere on my shelves, on the window sills and on tea-towels and canisters. So when I needed a tote bag to cart stuff off to hospital, chickens were the only choice to decorate it!

The templates for these chooks came from a small quilting pattern a friend sent over from the States a few years’ ago. I’ve never gotten round to making the quilt but the chickens have now found a new home on the bag!

Now I’ve fished them out, I’m sure these cute chickens will find their way onto other things before too long ….

Country Chickens tote bag

Country Chickens tote bag

Country Chicken

Stitching aids recovery …..

Lavender embroidered cloth

Lavender embroidered cloth

I’ve been off work for several weeks now, post-op recovery, and although I’m not allowed to do too much and I still tend to get tired all too quickly, stitching is one thing I’ve done plenty of! With hopes of a good, sunny summer to come, I’ve been busy stitching some new cloths for our garden table …….

Dandelion embroidered cloth

Dandelion embroidered cloth

Daisy embroidered cloth

Daisy embroidered cloth

With still more time off work, I’m planning more stitching goodies, all of it hand-stitched as I’m not using my machine at the moment.

Apple cloth

Apple cloth

Just need some summer now to put my work to use :)

Watch me Grow! – Month Three

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By the third month, your little one will be a very active young lady! She’ll be constantly moving and wriggling around when she’s awake, waving her arms and legs – and delighting you with her squeals of excitement.

You’ll find she’s fascinated with everything you do and she’ll follow you with her eyes as you move around. She might be able to keep her head quite steady if she’s in a sitting position ut she won’t be able to keep her back straight just yet.  If she’s placed on her tummy, she should be abe to lift her head and chest up.  She’ll be able to hold a toy if you give one to her but may have trouble letting it go!

public domain baby image

Don’t forget, it’s NOT advisable to give babies a pillow!!

Now your little one has neck control, start putting her in a bouncy chair so that she can sit up and look around.  Interaction will be fun for her how she’s growing to be sociable.

You should find her sleeping patterns are settling down – she may be sleeping and napping around 14 hours a day but if she’s still not going through the night, don’t despair.  Try keeping her busy during her waking hours with two or three short sleeps so that she may go longer during the night.

You know by know how much hard work having a baby is – but there are NO words to describe the joy you get raising your little one.   As each month passes, things will get easier and you’ll be amazed at how quickly time flies ……

Missed month two? Find it here .…..

“Manners maketh the man”: so what’s happened?

public domain manners

I’m a bit of a  stickler for manners; nothing winds me up more than bad manners and lack of respect.  I was taught as a young child (and yes, I can remember that far back!) that manners cost nothing and will take you far.  Simple things like saying please and thank you, holding open doors for those behind you and helping people.  So what’s happened in today’s society?

We made sure our children were taught to be sociable and polite from a young age; opening doors for people and shaking hands were skills they learnt as soon as they were old enough to comprehend their actions (and which they still execute today, out of sight of our parental scrutiny!)   Little toe-rags they could be at home but wheel ‘em out into public and they were a credit!

There seems to be a whole generation of people who’ve been brought up with virtually no manners or social skills.  But worse, it’s not always the youngsters who are at fault.  They get a bad reputation for a lot of things but in my experience, sometimes the elderly are the worst culprits.   Perhaps they see age as an excuse to do and say what they please; who knows?  In my job, I see it daily and it riles me so much!  With a simple request, why the need for an in-your-face demand, coupled with a raised voice and an attitude that quite frankly stinks?  It’s clear some people don’t realise that you achieve far more by being polite.  Works every time with me.

Another of my pet hates is people answering their mobiles when you’re dealing with them, so you end up having disjointed two-way conversations: “Hallo? Darren..? Yeah, I’m in the surgery…  no I can’t do that … no I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to my boyfriend ….  yeah, I can make that … no babe, I’m talking to the lady here…” . Pity they can get a signal inside!

Sometimes, though, an incident can restore your faith in humanity, something simple which otherwise might have gone unnoticed.  Last week, Leah and I went up to London, arriving right in the middle of the rush hour.  We were trying to find our connecting tube lines and were undecided whether we were heading towards the right one.  We must have been overheard as, out of nowhere, a total stranger pointed us in the right direction.  A simple act of kindness, especially in the hustle and bustle of the Jubilee line!  Clearly, this man had been brought up to be polite and helpful, which didn’t go unnoticed.

Raising your children to be polite costs nothing but time and patience but will reward you with a family whose social skills will see them through many differing situations throughout their life.   Little ones learn through example so how you interact with them and others will  reflect on their perception of how people should be treated.  Remember that today’s moms, dads and grandparents are moulding the adults of the future!

Ok over to you –  do you still give up your seat for a pregnant lady or elderly person?  Do you think manners are important? We’d love to hear your views! Please leave your comments below …….

 

Wheelybug Ride-ons: how cute are these!!

If you’re looking for a decent sit and ride toy for Christmas but want something a little different, take a look at the Wheelybug Ride-on range, with cute bumble bees, ladybirds, tigers, mice, pigs and cows!  There’s bound to be a creature your little one will love.

These sit-ons are handcrafted with a robust wooden base and padded with a layer of sponge, covered with a tough polyurethane that’s easy to clean.  These toys are built to last!  The Wheelybug features multi-directional castors that allow your child to scoot around endlessly – which all toddlers love to do!

The Wheelybug is one toy that you’ll be happy to leave out – even when your little ones are tucked up in bed! With a handle bar, the Wheelybug can be used as a push-along toy when babies and toddlers are taking their first steps so you’ll get years of use from this lovely toy.

International & European Safety tested (EN71) so you know you can trust the design.

Take a break from plastic – get a wooden Wheelybug and watch your little one’s face light up ….

TIP: Go for the large size; this will last your child for longer than the small …..

… doesn’t it make you wish you were a toddler again?

Sharenting – are YOU guilty of over-doing it?

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For those of you who might still be in the dark over this term, “sharenting” is the term for the popular online phenomenon of posting endless details/photos of your children on social media platforms, for everyone to see and share.

It’s estimated that 62% of parents post photographs of their offspring on Facebook, Flickr and Instagram.   They do this  mostly to keep distant friends and relatives up to date with what’s going on, some just want to share their joy at being parents – and apparently, some admit to doing it to show off!

Although most of us are guilty of posting photographs at some stage,  sharenting is getting a bad name because of the  sheer amount of “babyness” being shared on the social media platforms.  Concerns about privacy shouldn’t be swept under the carpet; remember that once an image is online, it can be viewed and altered by anyone.  Do you really want to take that risk in this day and age?  Once it’s out there, it’s out there! Digital footprints are there to stay and could come back to bite your rear in a few years’ time.  Just remember that any online details you post will live in cyberspace forever …..

Simply taking a few precautions will help parents “sharent” sensibly …..

*  only share information/images with people you consider friends

*  don’t just accept anyone as a friend on Facebook.  You wouldn’t do it in the real world, so why do it online?

*  look carefully at any photos you intend to post; certain things should be kept private, such as bathtime or potty training images

*  over-sharenting could alienate you from your online friends! Of course, your little one is EVERYTHING to you, but not everyone will share your fascination with your off-spring

*  If you don’t want photos of your children posted, make sure you let your family and friends know

*  Try to avoid bragging about your children. Remember, each child develops at a different rate and your comments could possibly make an extra-sensitive parent feel they’re doing something wrong if their child isn’t at the same level …

So, are YOU guilty of being a “sharent”?  Is it something you think you child might thank/hate you for later in life?  Do you think parents have every right to put what they wish online? How do you think you’d feel if your parents had documented intimate details of your life via social media?

Let us know what you think …….  send us your comments below!