Sunday, 1 October 2017

A little life update

For a long time, I have wanted to use this blog to raise awareness of thyroid cancer, and how I am living my life with the big C. People have asked me repeatedly, “have you got the all-clear?”, and so this post will be a little update on my life lately and a few thoughts I’ve been having.

I still have cancer. Yes I am aware I do not look like the typical cancer patient, with a bald head and no eyebrows, but there are various types of cancer treatment out there – medicine is amazing, eh? – and luckily my treatment doesn’t affect my hair. People I meet keep commenting on how well I look, how happy and positive I am, and I am glad for that. I’m grateful I still look as normal as possible.

Behind the scenes, I am managing well. Even with the chronic fatigue, where I just want to collapse on the sofa all the time. The skin problems, where my skin is drier than the Sahara Desert and I’ve given up on my skincare routine because my skin is so sensitive to everything I apply on it. (Girlfriends - give me your skincare recommendations!) The dark days, when I wake up with a cloudy headache and can’t even muster enough energy to get out of bed, let alone say a few sentences or smile. The bowel issues, where I go to the toilet every ten minutes (enough said, I think). The food anxiety, where I worry whether the food on my plate will upset my sensitive stomach and make me curl up in pain later.

Despite all that, I feel very positive. Happy. Thankful. Blessed.

It’s because I’ve learnt that I love life too much to give up. Life is an amazing gift, and we all take it for granted. It’s only when a disaster or tragedy happens, or we go through a life-changing experience, that we truly realise just how incredible that gift is. That’s what happened to me. I love life too much to be sad or miserable. I love life too much to be angry at the crappy cards I’ve been dealt. I love life too much to not appreciate the beauty in every day.

I have to admit I am quite surprised at how well I feel, how much energy I have got despite having the rotten big C. The reason why I keep going is because I don’t want to be “That Girl With Cancer”. It does not define me, I had a life before it and I am still living it no matter what. I have a lot of dreams and a huge bucket list to tick off – and the big C is not stopping me!

Anyone that knows me well knows that I have always dreamed of writing my own book. For years I have mithered about, being all like ‘ooh I’m not sure what to write about’ or ‘oh I just don’t have the time’. NO MORE! I am going to write that book, in fact I have decided to write two. One is going to be fiction, a completely made up story from the figments of my imagination. The other is going to be a memoir of my life, my journey and my experiences. I don’t know if they ever will be published, but it’ll be an amazing achievement to even write and complete a book. After all, it took J.K. Rowling seven years to get Harry Potter published.

I have a few things bubbling along in my mind of what I want to do next, and it's just a matter of actually putting it into practice. I know I want to do something meaningful for people with cancer, so I am putting in my time and effort into research and set up something. It's nice to have a goal, especially if you have a lot of time on your hands like me, and I'm quite looking forward to what happens with that.

9th September 2017 marked two years since the day I was diagnosed. It was such a weird feeling, to think back to that moment when I sat with the doctor and she had this glum look on her face. It doesn’t feel like two years, in fact it feels like it’s been bloody forever. So much has happened and it’s mad to even think about. I look back and I actually can’t believe some of the things I’ve done – I went to Iceland and America, I interrailed across Europe, I had an operation, I joined the gym (shocker!), I started a new job and then resigned, I abseiled from the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, raising over £1,300 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, I went to Disneyland Paris, I organised my parents’ silver wedding anniversary party, and best of all – I made lots of great memories.

So if I can do all that in two years – I’m even more excited for the next two, three, four, however more years.

It has to be said I am incredibly lucky to have the best family and friends I could ask for. My mum and dad, who are selfless and caring in every way possible. Their love gives me the strength I need to carry on. My brothers, who make me burst with pride at the brilliant, clever and wonderful men they are becoming. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, who always have my back. My friends, who are all chasing their dreams, making the most of life, and generally being super BAD ASS. You all inspire me in so many ways and I love you with all of my heart.

Here’s to life, and embracing all that comes with it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 



Thursday, 9 March 2017

Flesh and Bone

You are made of all the suns, moons and stars.

You are made of all the oceans and all the skies.

You have all of the world in your heart.

You are fire and ice, you are wind and earth.

You have galaxies in your eyes and the universe in your soul.


Friday, 13 January 2017

Postcards from Europe

Last summer, one of my dreams finally came true. I went interrailing through Europe, and it was the most wonderful experience of my life. I went with my brother and three cousins, which made it all the more fun!

Interrailing is where you travel through countries on trains. You buy a pass - it could be an one-country pass or a global pass. We got global passes as we wanted to go all over Europe. We were selective about which countries we wanted to visit - I knew Italy was number one on my list. My brother wanted to go to Austria, my cousins wanted to go to Germany and Italy. It all came together quite well and we created a schedule that was easy to manage. with train times and hostel bookings.

We started our journey in Prague, Czech Republic, and travelled to Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and ended our travels in Italy. Along the way, we visited the cities of Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Munich, Bratislava, Zurich, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Pompeii and Venice.

I was worried that I'd struggle with the hot weather in Europe, as I'm supposed to stay out of the sun due to my condition. It was difficult, and I was told not to travel, but I was determined to do it. I got through it because I had my brother and cousins supporting me each step of the way. There were certain things I couldn't do, like walk up all the steps to the top of the Vatican in Rome. But I still managed to walk everywhere, carry a heavy backpack, battle through fatigue and take all my medication on time. GO me!

One of my favourite things about interrailing was how surprisingly easy it was. Obviously, it took a fair amount of planning and consideration, but it all went smoothly and we didn't have any major problems. Although my phone stopped working in Venice - thanks to the hot weather for overheating it! 

Each city was beautiful in its own right. I'm so grateful and blessed that I had the chance to go on this trip. I even wrote about my desire to visit Europe in this blog post from 2014 here

Venice was undoubtedly my favourite European city - the charm of the Italians, the vibrant markets, the relaxing Venetian way of life. I was amazed by how an entire city functioned almost entirely on water. The fact that to get to the other side of the city you need to take a water bus or taxi fascinated me so much.

Italy was my absolute favourite country - incredible architecture, steeped in history, mouthwatering food, beautiful weather, bloody good markets, charming Italians. What more could you ask for?! It definitely stole my heart, and I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Hope you enjoyed those little snippets from my adventure.



If you want to go on your own interrailing adventure - here's the link to the Interrail site.