Archives for posts with tag: family

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Cancer you have tried to hold me back but my Christmas spirit won’t let you. You have taught me what is important, who do I love, who loves me? I still have my ability to love life and those in it. This time of year my Christmas spirit is alive and well…

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  Alexander Smith

Christmas is nearly here and like every year it takes over my life, I will put my heart and soul into it forgetting everything else that’s going on. I have booked the pantomime tickets, the first batch of tree chocolates are on the tree, the Strictly final is a few weeks away and I have ordered my turkey! Discussions have started about what drink and treats will be left Christmas eve for father christmas and his reindeer, definitely mince pies and carrots but the drink is yet to be confirmed, milk or alcohol? The cat will eventually get bored of climbing the Christmas tree, which i will restock with the hidden packet of tree chocolates on Christmas eve! How many turkey dinners out can I chance this year so as not to be fed up with turkey on the day??

Trying to arrange to see friends in December its surprising how little time there is to go out and I already have dates now booked in for January which now seems to be the new December. My daughter has written a very detailed list on the computer for father christmas with every year the presents getting smaller and the cost larger… no more plastic toys in big boxes she has now discovered brand names.

This is a time of year I have never grown out of, Christmas is quality time to spend with your family and loved ones relaxing, watching ‘Elf’ for the 17th time, forgetting to watch the queens speech, eating food at odd times of the day and reconnecting with the sofa. I do love the build up and anticipation, the opportunity to release my inner elf… Although this one will not be sitting on the shelf. Unlike my other elf who has become a huge fan of pinterest and Facebook for inspiring all her naughty antics.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear”           Elf (film) 2003

The Christmas John Lewis ad always serves as a good reminder Christmas is about giving your time, energy, thoughts, love and compassion. A happy picture of kids in Christmas jumpers, Grandad’s asleep in the chair with their cracker hats on, family games and searching the quality streets for the toffee pennies! There is so much emphasis on happy families this time of year that it is easy to forget that it will be hard for some, families come in all shapes and sizes, there are those who will no longer be with us and our thoughts will be with them, those who are here for the first time to spoil and enjoy, those we may disagree with but our love still goes out to them and there are those less fortunate than us who may need our compassion and help.

Every year we go to the children’s nativity service on Christmas eve which reminds us it is a time that is as much about giving as it is receiving and its the time we spend together that we will remember. This year things have changed in our house, the photos will be different, my daughter knows daddy won’t be at her home on Christmas morning she will see him separately this year, I suspect double the amount of presents will go down well but still its a change that is hard to deal with for a 10 year old. Christmas is a time for creating memories, and we can still enjoy our traditions at home together even though the people change, we will still put up our tree, hang our tree chocolates, put out our stocking, leave out our mince pies and carrot and enjoy our day, we may even take a Christmas selfie…

After the turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey and chips we will then clean, de-clutter, exercise more, eat better, forget about our new year’s resolutions and every day life will resume as before, if only we could treat everyday like Christmas.

17 days and counting…

Have a Merry Christmas

Lots of Love

Angela xx

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All my life I’ve lived by the theory rely on no-one, be independent, be the strong one and look after yourself, as you get older and time goes on you do let some people in but never completely, keeping that level of trust at arms length to protect yourself from getting hurt. It is how I was brought up and has served me well in life keeping me out of harm’s way. But has it??

“The problem with being the strong one is no-one lends you a hand” M.T

Recently, someone came along and held my hand, showing me love and affection, it has allowed me to open up and share emotions that normally I would keep deep inside me and well hidden. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say, suddenly once you talk about something it seems it loses its sense of importance and its affect on you. Even to the point where you start to feel a bit stupid that you let things bother you in the first place.

Also I find myself letting go of some of that independence and dare I say it stubborness! Working together and accepting help when it is offered really does make life easier, and saying thank you instead of justifying why you should do it instead. This does not extend to the washing up though it seems nobody likes this job even if the dishwasher is involved, I know that I certainly don’t. ‘Reluctant to engage in housework’ has even been written in the divorce petition I recently received from my soon to be ex-husband. I have to say that I’m actually quite proud of that one….

The strength to stop listening to what I should be doing, and think about what I want to be doing. Indulging in good times with friends, family and loved ones, free to enjoy without guilt. The indulging part needs to have less calories now, it seems that ‘Eton mess cheesecake’ with raspberries is not very good for the waistline the fruit doesn’t count? So maybe not a life completely without guilt then.. but that indulgence was worth every mouthful!

Just something as simple as the act of holding hands to show your affection, ‘The way your fingers intertwine with another person’s is both innocent and special.”  apparentlySea otters do it. Penguins do it. Even elephants do it, albeit they have to use their trunks.” Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so they don’t float apart…

I could conquer the world with one hand as long as your holding the other.     — Megan Smith

I am starting to realise how much I have been holding myself back, time to lose the negatives and free up the space to let in the positives. I’ve had the bad to appreciate the good and seen the sad to be able to enjoy the happy. My journey is not a simple one but worth every minute just to feel loved and protected from all the trouble that is in my world.

Stand by my side, hold my hand tight while I hold yours, to love is as important as being loved, it keeps my heart strong and my smile bright…

Thank you

Angela xxx

 

 



At the beginning of every Year I get a feel of the direction the year will be going… This year it is a sense of change, of soul searching and a search for inner peace.

I have been fighting for 8 years now, first the breast cancer surgery then the chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, more surgery, seizure, coma, more medication, panic attacks, anxiety and so on…. I am now feeling battle weary and am ready for a break. As dramatic as it all sounds it is what it is. Unfair but it all happens as it is supposed to, you accept it and patiently wait while you hopefully head towards recovery putting your well being in the hands of others. You don’t know the outcome and as such do not assume everything will be ok.

I have throughout assumed that my marriage would be ok I expected ups and downs and hard times  but in the past year the cancer battle has been overtaken by the realisation that we are not ok. My husband walked out 3 weeks before christmas his parting words to our daughter were “mummy and daddy are not get on”. I am writing this blog the night before I have agreed to go to a counselling session at which after a month of maybe/maybe not thoughts and experiences I have no idea which way tomorrow will go.

Is cancer to blame? Are we both battle weary? Why are we not closer after everything we have been through? Have we both been so busy keeping life going over the last eight years that for whatever reason, illness, money, time or tiredness we have taken our eyes off the prize and as such our foundations have collapsed.

Are we at the point of no return I cannot answer this for my husband. I know I have no fight left in me anymore and am not prepared to just exist together. We both agree on one thing we want to be happy, appreciated and loved, is this together? I may find out tomorrow or time will tell. For now my priority is my daughter and our health and well being.

One positive from this is finding out how many people have your best interest at heart. It is true you find out who your friends are in a crisis, true, honest, strong friendships are a blessing and should be treasured with all the love you can muster.

‘Life has a lot of grey and sadness – look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it’ Charlotte Kitley 

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Uplifting and unforgettable special days…

At my daughters school we hold a coffee morning each term to raise money half for the PTA and half for a nominated charity. Each time we support a different charity and each one often has a personal connection to someone at the school. This morning was one of the most heartfelt that I’ve helped to host, a charity that has helped both myself and another mum, The Willow Foundation is the only UK charity supporting seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds by providing unique and positive Special Days.

Founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter, Bob Wilson and his wife Megs, Willow is a lasting memorial to their daughter, Anna, who died of cancer aged 31. Anna’s love of life and the enriching experiences of her own Special Days were the charity’s inspiration. Since 1999 Willow has fulfilled more than 10,000 Special Days for young adults living with life-threatening conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s disease. https://www.willowfoundation.org.uk

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I gave a short speech and introduction this morning to the following clip which Charlie helped to create, at the end of this video everyone was left speechless with not a single dry eye in the house. Willow work hard creating bespoke days out for you and your family to create special lasting memories to give you a break from the hospitals and treatments that very easily take over your life. One particular comment in the video will stay with me for a long time:

“It was the day I got my family back” when Charlie’s husband replies “We hadn’t gone far..”

I would also like to share with you Charlie’s story which we printed out this morning for mums to read as its such a personal and heartfelt story, with a special comment from her daughter Hannah at the end:

Charlie’s Story

I was 37 when I was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkins lymphoma, a wife, and a mum to 3 children aged 12, 9 and 5. As a nurse I wasn’t surprised, I knew my symptoms were not good and that the results were really just confirmation. Cancer isn’t something that you think will happen to you when you’re young. You read stories, they make you sad and provoke your thought, but they aren’t part of your reality. Then it happens to you… I can’t say I asked “why me?” as I always believed if you asked that you then had to ask “why not?” but I did think “why my kids?” At that point I knew I had to fight, not just because my kids needed their mum, but also because my husband can’t cook and I didn’t want them living on cereal!

So the fight began. Scans, picc lines, bone marrow tests, 6 months of chemotherapy every other week. Not quite as scary as tv and films had me believe but not pleasant either. My wonderful husband and children watched their wife and mum become very tired and physically sick. My hair inevitably fell out which must be so very shocking and frightening for a child to see. My husband shaved his off too and my kids bravely told me to not hide behind my scarf and be proud of my bald head! They walked beside me and endured the staring… You’d be surprised at how many people stare! As my body bloated with the steroids they told me I was beautiful… I cannot actually begin to explain how difficult that is to write, nor explain how hard it is to watch the physical changes to your body. For me that was definitely the hardest part.

One day I looked at my kids and saw that their characters had changed. They were quieter more serious children. They’d had to grow up overnight. I knew then that I needed to give us all something to look forward to as a family, and so I sent in my application. My children had, unfortunately down to my own obsession, developed a liking for Take That. Their song ‘Rule the world’ had become a song with very special meaning to us. So thanks to the Willow Foundation we got tickets for the whole family to see them in concert. We had so much to celebrate. We had made remission.

The car arrived to take us which was in itself an exciting adventure for the kids! We were driven to Wembley and quickly found ourselves a spot to sit. The crowd was loud, the atmosphere amazing! It was a packed house and the rain did nothing to dampen spirits! Everyone sang, screamed and danced in the rain and it was so easy to just go with the crowd and get lost in the music and excitement. That alone is such a tonic. As valuable a medicine as the chemotherapy itself. Part way through the night I took a moment to quietly watch my precious family. They had been my rock, my reason to fight. I watched them as they danced and sang without a care in the world. It was almost like I was watching the stress and the devastation they had endured through my illness, physically disappear infront of my eyes. I was watching my family, my pre-cancer family, once more for the first time in a very long while! No money can put a price on that feeling.

I cannot ever thank the charity enough for what they have done for our family. I hope my story shows you how important these days are not just for the recipient but for the people that stand there fighting with them. It wasn’t just a day with memories made, it was so much more than that. It was closing the door, it was celebrating, it was a moment for relief and release. It was our moment.

It makes me so happy to know that more people like me, and families like mine, will be given the gift of a special day, of ‘forever memories’. What a gift that is!

Hannah:

I will never forget the completeness I felt during that whole evening. I’d finally been given a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and so had my mum. She had been given the chance to forget about everything that had happened, and just laugh and absorb that moment of happiness and security.

We were reconnected with new memories and laughter. The special day brought my family back together again; and I will never forget how much I owe the Willow Foundation.

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Breakfast will be in Bed. FAIL

I shall be supplied with flowers and a thoughtful card.TICK

All choices today are mine. TBC

I will be doing no jobs or chores.TICK

There will be no consideration towards healthy eating today. TICK

The sun must be shining. TICK

I am right all day. TBC

I shall spend a fun day with my family. PLANNED

I shall be loved all day….. OF COURSE

I wil be the most helpful and attentive wife and mother all day?

For all mums young, old, past and present HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

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Does this really happen? Are there couples out there who have blissfully romantic and thoughtful relationships full of red roses after dealing with Cancer? I must of missed that paragraph in all those leaflets I read after appointments. Where is the leaflet about real life afterwards?

Do I look across the dinner table longingly at the husband who was very close to losing his life partner. Oh do I heck, he can be just as irritating now as he was 10 years ago when we were thinner, younger, childless with independent careers. The rubbish bin is overflowing that he refuses to empty until he has finished his beer, his shoes are abandoned in the middle of the hallway and the TV now has the News on it, whilst I dutifully cook the family dinner. Love is now a ‘pencil sharpener’ for christmas and I quote: “It had a 5 star rating on Amazon”… We have indeed become closer we are now so close we can wind each other up just knowing what irritating thing the other one is about to do with saying a word!

Do I look at life as a blessing and grab every moment with a renewed enthusiasm? No I do not I’m as down to earth and realistic as I was before Breast Cancer. Life can be irritating, frustrating and tiring, people can still be rude, ungrateful and inconsiderate. At home the Brownie promise needs to be learn’t, the spellings need practising, the bathroom needs cleaning, the fish tank needs changing and we have run out of bread. I struggle with a renewed enthusiasm for these jobs.

The one thing it has done is to make me really appreciate life exactly as it is. When your friend tells you she fell off a skateboard in Toys r us! When mid argument your husband cracks a highly inappropriate joke and its impossible to keep an angry face…There are lovely family moments together, we all laugh at the cat when she gets dizzy chasing her tail, we enjoy walks in the forest on a sunny day or summer days at the beach. We are in no way perfect we never were and never will be and I’m glad it has stayed this way.

I do now appreciate the ordinary, the average, the everyday, the fact that my marriage and family are ‘normal’ and remain the healthy mix of ups and downs it was before Cancer. Life doesn’t become a rose-tinted, stress free, and purely positive experience because you survived, life is life and I’m grateful for the funny, loving, empowering, irritating, rude, frustrating world it throws at me keeping all parts of me alive.

 

 

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Carol Jackson from EastEnders has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and viewers across the country are on tenterhooks to see how she copes with the devastating news that she has inherited a faulty BRCA gene.
http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/guest_posts/2017502-Guest-post-Ovarian-cancer-spotting-the-signs?msgid=45577112#45577112

Its not good news but I question the implication that it is ‘devastating’ news for her children. Devastating would be finding out you have ovarian cancer and there is nothing you can do, if you are unfortunate to find yourself in this position action can be taken to prevent the high risks of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Having been through the whole set of treatments in the book Carol’s story is almost identical to mine, I’m not impressed there is a gene in my family but I don’t find it devastating.

At the age of 30, 7 years ago i found out I had breast cancer, then found out I had the BRCA2 gene, as there is so much breast/ovarian cancer on my mothers side. I have lost my mum to breast cancer 15 years ago, and recently both my Nan and Aunt both died of Ovarian in their 70’s. My sister also has the gene but has not had Cancer. Both myself and my sister have had prophylactic mastectomies, it is the best thing we could do to reduce the risks from an 80% chance to lower than that of the general population.

After being treated for a Grade 3 Breast Cancer in 2006 I had a CA125 blood test and ultrasound every 3 months for 5 years to keep a watch on my ovaries until 18 months ago when I had my ovaries removed as a second preventative measure. I have to admit about being very concerned about this, but its the best thing I have ever done. I haven’t gone grey yet and I don’t feel 65! Yes I get the hot flushes but a small price to pay for piece of mind.  Do not worry about finding out you have this gene, finding it means you can take preventative measures. Breast/Ovarian is one of the few cancers that you can do this.

Carol’s story in Eastenders has been very accurate but I’m concerned that Eastenders is adding too much ‘end of your world’ to the possibility of her children having a faulty gene. Its not the greatest news in the world of course but action can be taken before cancer may be diagnosed. I miss neither my breasts or ovaries and am happy with my ‘slightly bigger than the original’ fake breasts.

Like many Cancers in our world.. and there are far too many, research, screening, diagnosis, and early detection are all key to a successful outcome. March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Visit http://ovarian.org.uk/about-ovarian-cancer/what-are-the-symptoms-of-ovarian-cancer/ for details about symptoms.

Ovarian Cancer Action is working to raise awareness of the need to know your family history. If 2 or more women in your family have had breast and/or ovarian cancer, ask yourself: are they on the same side of the family, your mother’s or your father’s? Are they blood related? Were they under 50 when they were diagnosed? If the answer to these 3 questions is ‘yes’, you’re eligible for screening for a faulty BRCA gene.”

If testing is something you need then please do not shy away from it, not knowing is far worse… It could potentially save your life… and prevention is always better than cure.

On a lighter note what do you call the removal of Ovaries? Oopherectomy! Not quite right for my blog name so I settled on: ovary and out!

 

 

January is a strange month, for some reasons it can be miserable. The worst rainfall on record, loved ones lost at this time of year, removing the Christmas decorations, its dark, cold and more trivially rubbish on telly. However this year I find myself reflective and making plans for this year, which for me marks a significant step in my recovery process.

Making plans when you’ve been ill isn’t something that sits very comfortably. Deciding to spend money on a holiday or do work on the house is something that is more carefully considered than normal. What if I’m ill with Cancer again, what if my husband can’t work because he needs to look after me and our daughter all over again? Rather than commit just yet Google has become my best friend in January, researching every project I can think of, checking prices, reading blogs, mumsnet forums and Trip Advisor on the best place for a family holiday??

I have also found myself spring cleaning the house, which judging by this neglected blog was last done in September when I sorted the kitchen cupboards. So far I’ve finally parted with all the baby stuff via ebay, the charity shops and donations to friends, cleaned the cooker, cleared out my daughters old clothes, moved the furniture around, empty my email inbox and have a very good dust and clean. I’m finding the process quite therapeutic and starting to enjoy my January, clear out the old and get ready for the new (although my husband can stay!!), arrange coffee with all the friends you ran out of time to see in December. If I’m stuck indoors I may as well get those jobs done and when the weather improves and we go out more I will be guilt free to do what I like. Not a lot happens in January so we have free weekends to sit and watch a film on a Sunday followed by a hearty Sunday roast. No diets just a post christmas sort out, more healthy food, more home cooked dinners, trying different fruits and flavours.

I’m embracing the fact that I have time to think, time to plan, time with friends and family away from all the usual pressures that seem to fill the rest of year. January is a month like no other, its the first of the year, its new, its ideas, its quiet, stress free and relaxed. Time to concentrate on the important parts of your life and look after yourself and your family without distraction…

 

 

 

Help! I'm a stay-at-home mum

Be inspired, fulfilled and hold your heads high, stay-at-home mums!

ovaryandout

Great highs, the depths of the lows and why at age 7 do I still have to remind my daughter to say please!

Great highs, the depths of the lows and why at age 7 do I still have to remind my daughter to say please!

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