Well, five years later

It’s been a couple of years so thought it best to pop up a blog post.

Especially for anyone stumbling on this site as I left it relatively abruptly when I went into remission.

Today is a pretty poignant day and some might just think it is any old day but it is the day I mark being in remission for five years. A day I held onto and wanted to happen for so long.

And now I am here. Crying of course.

And this is me now. Not crying. And with my new best friend.

Here I was then…

The docs said at five years you’ve as much chance as anyone of getting Hodgkins Lymphoma again.

And life is great.

Jeez don’t get me wrong, I don’t skip to work down a path lined with birds singing and the sun shining, well not everyday, but I’m here.

I’m blessed with my (nearly) one year old daughter Elsie May, who I once didn’t know I would even be able to have, after all the chemo I endured but science and medicine is a wonder.

Ok here’s another…

We are so grateful to every wonderful doctor and nurse at UCH. For many things now. How anyone can criticise our incredible health service is beyond me.

Since then I donate to every cancer charity going as without advancements and research who knows where I’d be right now.

Once you’ve beaten cancer, at the time you think that’s it, it’s over. But it is never over. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t have to turn the telly over when those awful cancer adverts come on or try not to read a newspaper article about someone’s fate worse than mine or even when I smell anti bac hand gel I’m transported back to the chemo ward.

Some days I’m fine. Some I’m locked in therapy and break down because I fear the cancer coming back.

Life is so bloody precious and I’m just so fortunate of what I have and do now. I’ve a ridiculously wonderful and long suffering husband who I couldn’t have done any of this without. Who after all the cancer debacle decided to marry me!

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I’ve such an incredible family. My Mum throughout has been a wonder. Although now Elsie is here. I’m no longer the favourite.

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Oh goodness I’m bloody crying again and on a packed train. Ffs!!!!!

I’ve such wonderful friends too. They even came with me to Margate to do the conga with Black Lace.

And we went to Coronation Street..

I’ve become obsessed with the Toby Carvery.

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And over the last five years I’ve crammed holiday after holiday in.

From Bangkok…

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To Blackpool…

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I’m blessed to have a lovely job with lovely people and I’ve had my insanely beautiful and personality-rich daughter and I love every moment of this journey. Weird to say.

I guess you learn to appreciate everything.

So, and yes I’m going on, you know this, but my biggest fear was getting cancer. And I beat it, and anyone reading this could do too.

In my darkest days I never thought it was the end and weirdly never once thought this could kill me. It could have. I stayed strangely positive. God knows how.

As comical as the pics above are, I never knew I would have those moments. I was in living hell. And some might say that’s Blackpool or dancing with Black Lace. And yes, I guess I do have horrific taste but (this is the point I would insert a laughing emoji).

So, have a lovely day and live life to the fullest. Anything you’ve ever wanted to do, just do it (well unless it’s illegal).

Cancer will never be over but don’t ever let it beat you. It’s a horrid disease but we are all better than that xxx

…And now time for one of my favourite signature poses…

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…Finally here is me with Mick Hucknall. My twin, only he doesn’t know I am there. I once asked for a picture with him and he refused (probably because we are twins).

Have a lovely day, week, year xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

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One Year in Remission – Woop!

Oh God, it’s here, I’ve done it!!! I’ve now been in remission exactly a year, I might cry with happiness, I’m sorry I promise this won’t be too emotional. Oh who am I kidding, stop reading now!

This blog was my lifeline when I was sick – it helped me so much, an outpouring of how I was and feeling the support from everyone who read it to get me through it. Therapy lol.

I’m so happy to be this far – I can’t wait to celebrate!

This last year hasn’t been easy but I am so blessed to have such lovely people in my life who have continued to support me.

It has been a journey for those close to me, some might think once you go into remission, that’s it, you’re cured, you move on. 

For me, it’s been hard, here comes the serious stuff, I think I’ve found the period after the cancer treatment in some respects harder mentally than dealing with the cancer itself.

Emotionally I’ve been a bit all over the place. I’m one big bag of pent up emotion although I’d suspect my friends and family would say I’ve always been like that.

I just now have an excuse. When I’m crying my eyes out at my friend Laura’s wedding or throwing things round like a teenager, at my mum, mainly, I just look all doe eyed and blame ‘Oh it’s the cancer’s fault…’

I’ve a great excuse – try arguing with that one. Poor Rich can never win. He has the patience of a saint.

In all seriousness though, it has been a hard year – it’s been a great year, one of the best, I’ve done so much but it doesn’t stop me fearing the bastard cancer coming back.

When I was going through it, my body took over, was strong, positive and got me through it. Now I try to be strong but I’m not pumped full of sedative, loony medication and have a bit more of a grip of reality, sadly.

I’m frightened every day about if it comes back. Sometimes I’m fearless and say I’ve done it once I can do it again, some days I just sob, I never want to go through that hell again.

I’m not frightened of dying, I’m frightened of missing out on things but when my time comes, I can certainly say I’ve lived. I’ve travelled and had such a privileged life – not because I’ve had money but because I’ve made the best of it. Being northern I’m good at finding cheap deals.

Before I had cancer I was obsessed with seeing the world, within months of going into remission I was back on holiday and haven’t stopped. 

For me, I don’t know how long I have left – no one does, so I’m determined to make the most of it and see what I can! I read somewhere, in 50 years time you’re not going to remember the expensive bag or designer shoes you bought but you’ll remember what you’ve seen and done, life’s experiences. I’m sure some of my friends will argue that lol!

The miraculous thing is that it looks like six months of chemo and radio hasn’t affected my chances of being able to have kids.

I’ll still go on holiday as much after having them – I’ll leave Rich at home with them or be the Mum who leaves her kids at home a Daily Mail news story.

Only a month or so ago I had tests to show my fertility results after the cancer. And they are ‘normal’ – I am not going to go into technical detail but I have the same chance as any other 32 year old of having a baby.

I don’t think I look like a girl who had cancer a year ago anymore either – I don’t know what they’re meant to look like but I keep getting pretty glimpses and I can nearly tie all my hair back which feels great.

Me now –

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Me then, can you believe it –

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Admittedly, the weight now is not shifting although that’s largely my fault and an inability to be arsed to go to the gym.

I remember having such good intentions telling the docs I’d be joining a gym after chemo however after radiotherapy, my body was knackered for a good couple of months. Something they warned me about but as ever, I didn’t take it in.

But come on Laurs, lets be positive. Oh God I’m now the person that talks in the third person. Definitely a side effect of the cancer…

Life has truly been great this past year. 

Not a second goes by that I don’t panic the cancer has come back but I’m still here and I need to continue to be grateful for the time I’ve got left and make the most of it.

No one knows what’s round the corner but you just have to get the best out of a bad situation.

I have a wonderful life, friends, home, I love my job and I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of it.

Everything happens for a reason and I’m just lucky I’m ok. When I look back on the blog it really is insane how far I’ve come and how horrific I looked. 

Thanks for keeping me smiling and to everyone who has continued to be just there for me really.

It feels like the Oscars. In fact, I’d much rather be at the National Television Awards.

My favourite all time clip of David Platt’s reaction to Eastenders winning an award over Corrie –  

Coronation St continues to be my number one love, a trip to the street is currently on schedule, then life will be complete.

Laters potatoes xxxxxxxx
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6 month all clear from the hospital, woop!

What a delightful day, just had my six month all clear from the hospital today!

And I sailed through my blood test too, I seem to be, dare I say it, getting better with needles.

I’ve bought the office a tin of Quality Street to celebrate – lucky them, I’ve vowed that for each all clear I’ll buy sweet treats and they will get better each time. Maybe.

Anyway here’s some happy things to make you smile even more.

My baby Godson dressed as a pumpkin – 

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My best friend Emma’s dog Bogden!

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Oh go on then, another pic!

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See you in another few months! I would like to carry this blog on but not sure what to write about now! Maybe a travel blog as I have a number of jaunts planned.

Thank you all for your support xx

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A year ago today I was diagnosed with, well, you know … And look at me now

Well I’ll admit I am a little emotional today, and its understandable.  A year ago today, the 19th of September 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer, as you know, but lets not look at the sad things, as my Mum keeps saying – look to the future.

Who would have thought, a year later, here I am – with a great job, a wonderful boyfriend who has insanely not only stuck by me but continued to love me even more (sickening huh!? Promise not to be so soppy throughout) and I am happy, more secure in myself than I have ever been. A little chubby but grateful, not grateful I guess for having cancer but maybe grateful for it – my life has changed and for the better.

The long term goal of weight loss is still there and hopefully when I write this post again next year I will have lost it. I’ve still not met Gary Barlow or visited Coronation Street and now my hair has grown, I no longer look like the girl with cancer who people will sympathise with, so those dreams might not happen.

I’ve been in remission now nearly six months. And I’ve managed to squeeze in a few holidays and I have a few more to go before the end of the year. Seeing the world is my priority – before I have a baby – but I never know when or if this will strike again. If it does, I’m ready and I know I can cope with it. Six months ago I wouldn’t have said that, straight after radiotherapy, I would have refused treatment if the cancer had come back but now, its like a distant memory.

The cancer seems like a bad dream, people talk about when they have a baby but they blank out the actual birth. I have almost blanked out the six months of treatment and the radiotherapy. It almost seems like it happened to someone else or I watched it on TV – its weird. Straight after treatment finished I moved house which I think helped a lot, all the old memories and sadness was left with my old flat.

Richard and I were only talking last night about it all, neither of us know how we did it, during it, I never once questioned it, I just got on with it and knew I had to do it but now when you look back, it was horrible. It was much bigger and much harder than I gave it credit for.

Jeez, I’m going to say it, I’m so fucking proud of myself for getting through it and for everyone that got through it with me. I know it wasn’t easy for my family and friends and know I was probably a drain on a lot of you but you stood by me and supported me every step of the way and I feel blessed for knowing such amazing people that could help me.

My world changed overnight, its funny, I will never forget this time last year and what happened the next day. You don’t prepare yourself for it, I don’t think I have told many people this but the day after I was diagnosed, I got up and went into work. I didn’t have to, I just didn’t know any different and didn’t know what to do. Rich wasn’t around as he was on holiday so I went to work. That night it hit me more and that week it started sinking in.

I can’t believe how my day to day life changed, the days spent in bed because I was too tired or sick to move. The fact my hair fell out – must admit that was a really hard thing to happen. And then now looking back and seeing the horrific pictures of how I looked. I remember thinking throughout, I wonder if I can ever go back to normal.

The steroids massively messed my head up – made me sluggish, made my personality change, made me paranoid, think all the time, I did lose my spark – despite wonderful people telling me I hadn’t. And my body changed so much but the steroids gave me the strength to fight the disease.

I remember daily looking forward to hospital visits knowing the quicker they were done and out of the way, the sooner I could get on with my life. I am so fortunate to get my life back. I am so genuinely so grateful I have fought this disease for now. Every day though I will think about what happened but it doesn’t get in the way or stop me doing anything.

A lesson for me and for anyone is to live life and do what you want to do – its something I find I tell people in life now,  if I don’t see that they are happy, I tell them to make themselves happy. Everyone should do all the things they have on their life’s to do list. Mine are mainly places to visit and trust, I’ve booked a lot of them already!

I look at how I look now and the steroid face weight is going and I’m almost getting back to the averagely pretty girl I used to be. If you have time, scroll down to my pictures in March and April and look at how fat my face was and how it is now. Richard – I don’t know how you could even kiss me like that!

Me then –

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Me now –

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There’s an online, I guess you’d call it a vault, an online vault where you are asked 10 questions every year (its here in case I am not making sense! http://www.doyou10q.com/login) and you send your answers away and a year later those answers are sent to you, its meant to remind you of where you are and where you have come. A week after I was diagnosed, I answered my 10 questions and sent the answers away, last week, for some reason, they sent them me early.  Here is what I wrote, I wonder what I will write in a year –

Day 1:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?
Your Answer:
Last week I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphona – pretty significant. Feel numb, on auto pilot to get through it. I am worried and just want to fight it and cannot wait for it to be over

Day 2:

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?
Your Answer:
My life has changed in the last two weeks with the cancer. Before now, I probably had a lot of things I wish I had done differently. I couldn’t have prevented the cancer so am grateful I have found it.
I love my friends, my boyfriend, my life, even my family, my job.

I want to be more secure and in future I want to work on that. I am so proud of my relationship, I am so happy to have met Richard and for his support. I want to work on that and continue to make it stronger and more secure.
I am proud of my job and where I have got to, the amazing people I have had the joy of working with and when I am better want to continue to be good at what I do.

Day 3:

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?
Your Answer:
I hate to have all the attention but think my cancer has been a horrific milestone. I hope by next year we are over it

Day 4:

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?
Your Answer:
Well the passing of the 10th anniversary of September 11th was poignant, I watched a few films and documentaries which were very interesting. (note today, this question and answer is highly irrelevant but thought I better leave it in….! I’m deep in thought lol!)

Day 5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.
Your Answer:
Not that I can think of.

Day 6:

Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?
Your Answer:
Being free from cancer and still in my relationship. I would say weight loss or travelling the world but the biggest thing to me is surviving this disease right now and being happy with Richard – he is just wonderful.

Day 7:

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?
Your Answer:
Myself – I would like to be thinner, I have always wanted to be a size 10. However I don’t think I ever will. Also there are more important things in life.
I want to be more secure with my looks.
Once rid of cancer, I want to be healthier. Think that will do. Spend time on health and fitness.

Day 8:

Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2012?
Your Answer:
I want to give back something to my friends for what they have done for me during my Chemo months.
I also want to raise money for MacMillan who gave me money during the Chemo months.
I will probably find more that I want to thank.

Day 9:

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?
Your Answer:
My fear used to be cancer but now I am here, I hope to get over that fear.

Day 10:

When September 2012 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?
Your Answer:
I hope I am cancer free. That is all I want.

Day 11:

What are your predictions for 2012?
Your Answer:
I am hoping house prices go up so my current place is worth more!
Would quite like a book deal too for my cancer story!
Seriously, I just want my health. That is all I care about. That and my family and friends.

I say it a lot but thank you, to everyone who got me through it and who was there for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. And you know who you are.

Right, now better try to get through the day without crying…. Mission Impossible I fear. Probably Mission Impossible 2 as that is one my favourites.

Oh and just had a text from my friend Alice and already crying again. My brother and Mum started me off this morning… I’m not sure why I’m so emotional!!!!

Anyway no more tears, tiny tears

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Happiest day ever

I was a bridesmaid at one of my best friend Laura’s wedding, here’s the pic, it was one of the best days of my life, I just wish I had been able to lose a few pounds but that is still proving to be a bit of an issue! Here are all us bridesmaids and the beautiful bride!

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Mum and I are off to Milan at the weekend, I am literally cramming in as much travel as possible – two reasons, one I am scared the cancer will come back so want to see as much as I can before it does. And secondly because I went without doing anything for over nine months so want to make up for it.

I remember someone once saying, in life you remember memories and where you have been, not necessarily the bag or outfit you wore. Saying that, I wish I could fit into the outfits I wore as a spritely, size 10, 21 year old.

In other news, I dressed as a cat at my ultimate best friend Susi’s 30th birthday. The dress code was superheroes and obviously I turned up without an outfit, in a maxi dress. So she put me in a cat costume to make me…. Catwoman!

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Susi’s wonderful Mum got me a bumblebee pinata too to celebrate the end of treatment and all I’ve been through!

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Sorry its been a while!

I’ve been getting back to every day life. As every day as it can be anyway!

I remember the therapist telling me I’d never get my life back, not like how it used to be and in ways she was right and in ways she was wrong.

I’ve sprung back into work and I love it, I am so happy being back doing what I love. And with such lovely people, I’m very fortunate to have that opportunity. I have to stop working so hard though, that sounds wrong but I am not good at having work/life balance. I am just so grateful to be back at work but I need to remember to prioritise MY LIFE.

I’ve found it hard though, adjusting. I think mentally more than anything. Right now, I am in a good place but I have been suffering from panic attacks these last few months and I never really know when they are going to happen – it can either be because I am on a train and feel trapped or I am round at my friends and I want to be home, its strange but I am learning to cope with them as and when they happen.

Plus I’ve been getting ill if I don’t look after myself. At the beginning of June I had a celebration with friends to mark the end of the cancer and thought I was OK to drink all day – at the time everything was brilliant, later that week I got ill again.

I’m realising I need to take care of myself, not do too much and not stress myself out as if I do, I get poorly. I know a lot of people could say, its my age! Whatever I am learning to deal with it and allow myself a gin here or there if I’m careful. I’d imagine I’ll one day get back up to strength but we’ll see how long that takes.

My doc was worried I was suffering from depression but I don’t think I am, my emotions can get the better of me but I realise it only happens if I really stress myself out so I need to keep in control.

I’m back in hospital the week after next for my routine three months check up. Can you believe its been nearly five months since my last chemo, four months since radiotherapy!

What have I been up to?

Well in June Richard and I went to Bath for the weekend, it rained mainly but we had a brilliant time. We went in the rooftop spa and in the Roman Baths – I can highly recommend it! 

At the beginning of July it was my best friend Laura’s hen do and we all went to Brighton. I was a bit rubbish and couldn’t handle the whole weekend but it was wonderful to hang out with the girls. I am a bridesmaid next weekend!!!! I will be the fat jelly baby dressed up like a bridesmaid. 

Here’s me, Laurs and Alice near the pier –

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And Laurs having a cocktail lesson!

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I haven’t managed to shift any of the weight, if anything I’ve put it on. I am so tired still. I need to exercise though so might look into alternative therapy to give me a boost in terms of fatigue – any help or advice appreciated?

My friend Sherrie and I have just come back from Madrid – can you tell I am making up for all the months without holidays! Here I am in the rooftop pool, of course!!!

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Mum has been down for the weekend, we’ve had a lovely time. Well I’m not so sure she’s enjoyed it, I’ve been quite tired so we’ve not done much although today we did the Race for Life in Croydon – 5km in 1hour 15mins! Very pleased with myself and we had a lovely time.

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We also visited my Godson Joey on Friday, Mum was delighted to finally meet the little love!

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All in all, life is great. I have to approach a few things with caution, I can’t drink like I used to and have to take the easy routes but slowly its getting back to how it used to be.

My friends and family have been and are wonderful and I am grateful for everything everyone is doing and for how understanding they are all being too – I know I am being a bit rubbish at the moment and am not so dependable, cancelling on people and not always out but I am trying and I just want to be back like my old self. 

Wish there was more I could do to thank people for their support. I am forever grateful.
And I won’t leave it so long next time before I blog!

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Holiday was the BEST. Now back to the real world

So the good news is…. my holiday was wonderful. I relaxed, I swam in the pool, I got a hangover, all in all it was great.

I wish I was back there now. Here’s me and the girls out for dinner –

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I had to keep out of the sun so I didn’t go out in midday heat,  I slept, I read books. Its because of the radiotherapy and chemo why I can’t go in the sun.

Right now I have blocked out the past eight months of treatment.

Its funny, not haha, when I went to the hospital therapist / counsellor, I remember her telling me that life would never go back to normal again and now I know what she means. Whilst I am going back to doing every day things, life has changed.

Last week I was round at my friend’s house and out of nowhere I started to get stressed, upset and have a panic attack – something again the therapist had warned me about.

I realise that its going to take time for rehabilitation. I’ve started work and I LOVE IT but I have to take it one step and one day at a time.

When I initially started back at work, I planned things for in the evening after work and on my days off and realise I just can’t do that, at least not right now, I need to ease back into things, I need to rest on my days off.

I thought when I had finished treatment I would be able to get to the gym and start losing the repulsive chemo / steroid weight I had put on but sadly I haven’t had the energy to do so yet. I ended up with a chest infection which has meant my lungs just aren’t strong enough yet and so it looks like I am going to have to build up to it. I put it down to me being lazy but seems not.

Anyway, I’m just grateful for every day I feel OK. I hope to stave off illness and keep doing normal things like normal people.

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