Archive for the 'Breast Cancer' Category


Recent news

OK, enough from me in the whining “but this time I really am going to post more often” tone that you’ve all come to loathe, and that I hate myself for later when I break it. Let’s just take it slow and see what happens, ‘kay? 😀

The last number of weeks have been incredibly busy, I’ve hardly had a second to think about anything except for work and family.

Work, by the way, is now officially my ebay business. I left my job as engineering controller for a telecoms company about three weeks ago. It has felt a little like taking a running jump off a cliff and not really knowing if there’s water or solid ground below you for you to land on. I’m absolutely terrified by the fact that it’s not a hobby or an evening’s pastime now- I have to make it work. Signs so far are encouraging though. I’ve just achieved Powerseller status and also gained a Top Rated Seller badge- this was an amazing amount of hard work on my part, and maintaining that badge will be even harder. The standards required are incredibly high and it only takes a couple of assholes for you to lose it. We shall see…however, all is going (touching a whole great chuffin’ FOREST) pretty well on that front.

Me and Robbie have been home alone in the mornings since I left work and it’s been fairly harmonious. I have targetted myself on getting ten listings done per day. He’s quite happy to play in the background while I photograph the clothes and take measurements, and there’s lots of time left for snuggles in between. He is the most gorgeous child (not that I am biased at all) and very easy to live with.

So, that’s my mornings at the moment. Me and Robbie go and collect Ricky at 1.30pm and then we do something fun in the afternoon. It doesn’t have to cost any money- in fact 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t- we go to the park, for a walk or to the museum. I’ve had some really memorable afternoons with them already.

One afternoon in particular (I will curse myself for the rest of my life for forgetting my camera) it was an incredibly still and perfect, clear winter afternoon. I had made a chicken pie the day before and left my Dad in some of the spoils, before taking them to one of the many beaches near his house, at Kilclief Bay on this beach. We spotted seals on the rocks and in the water, examined the rock pools, and, despite the cold temperatures (though it was pretty mild), the kids waddled in the completely flat calm sea in their wellies. Of course, they both ended up totally drenched. It was truly one of those Calvin Klein-ad, perfect, afternoons, and it made me realise that there is NO comparison and that everything I am doing is for the right reasons at the moment. I will never get this chance again, and I don’t ever want to be able to look back at my life and think “what was I doing?” when I think of their childhoods, and my lack of involvement in it.

As you know, Robbie is now 2 1/2, so I’ve already missed years of that time. I’m not taking anything away from mothers who work- I did it myself and never thought anything would change that- I was very settled in my job (until June this year) and had no plans to leave. A variety of circumstances changed that. I think maybe dealing with cancer HAS changed me, and HAS changed my outlook on life and my priorities therein. So whilst all of this has and continues to scare the living shit out of me, the cancer has taught me- in no uncertain terms- to feckin’ well grow a set and live out my life as if every day was my last. I don’t spend nearly so much time these days worrying about what other people think, that’s for sure. Though I do still spend some time worrying about that. Old habits die hard.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve become a domestic Goddess since leaving work- that’s not going to happen, I don’t have it in me. However, I am definitely making slow inroads in terms of the house, and the kids have been helping me cook every day, which is both fun and frustrating at the same time. I’m fairly competent in the kitchen and a bit of a Prima Donna, so I am having to learn new levels of patience with them. Their enthusiasm is wonderful, though, and Robbie loves to clean too, so his job is hoovering the living room every day, ha ha! He actually manages to do a fairly good job, mainly because I let him have at it the whole time I am cleaning the kitchen… 😛 Maybe Robbie will be a domestic God. There are too few of those in the world.

I never saw myself as being much good at the stay-at-home and keep house and kids kind of thing, but it’s just “right” for now. Maybe I won’t be good at it. Certainly, doing this is MUCH harder work than my job was. I feel good that I am still bringing some money in whilst I do this.

The whole thing is a massive life change, and while it’s really, really scary, it’s also exhilarating. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. That said, I’m grabbing it with both hands.


Tuesday randomness

I hate that my blog seems to have taken such a complete back seat at the moment! Some of you know that I suddenly find myself with extremely limited net access, which is the most spectacularly large pain in my arse…but that story is for another day.

I’ve had a lot of lovely emails recently from people who wanted to know how I am doing. I really appreciate these, thank you so much! J

I’m doing fine. I have been really trying hard not to think about the cancer at all, and now that I am feeling so much better, it’s been quite easy to do so! However, I got a letter telling me to come for some scans, and went for those yesterday. I felt very nervous about going. Every time I am forced to think about it all, I get that numb feeling in my arms and legs again…isn’t it funny how you can mostly feel fine, but blind terror apparently still lurks behind every corner!

If the tests show anything that looks dodgy, they’ll call me in very quickly. The next few days are going to be rather nerve wracking as I wait to see if the phone rings. They’ve said if all looks well, I’ll just see my consultant in September as planned.

In answer to a few recent questions- I still do not have “the all clear”, I am not in remission or anything like that. I still feel a bit in limbo as I wait to see if they can find any more of it. I’m not really sure how long you have to go with no evidence of disease before they will say you’re in the clear, I think it may be several years. In the meantime, I’m getting on with it! Time waits for no girl!

My business empire is, in the meantime, going really well! I’ve bought three bundles of clothes so far and all of them have sold for a good profit. I have my toe in the water! I have to say that this has been the steepest learning curve of my life- but a really good one. I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks and continue to learn every day. It’s been a while since I felt challenged like this, and it’s very exciting! So far I have made almost £400 which is not bad for a week or so’s part time work! It will hopefully let me spoil the kids rotten when we go on holiday at the end of next week.

My pony Morning seems to be responding fairly well to the treatment they’ve given her for the sore muscles. We’ll have to wait a couple of days now that the treatment is finished to see how she does without painkillers. I am going down there tomorrow night to see how she’s coping.

Robbie has suddenly developed an obsession with the horses! Carly (my other mare) is retired but still fine for the kids to bounce around on, and she has recently displayed patience which normally results in Canonisation…Robbie will charge down the field yelling “Hello, Ladies!!” at the horses (which is what he hears me say to them) before insisting on riding Carly. She’s very big compared to him, but he’s totally fearless! He just sits on her back with me holding him by the back and leg, and she potters around the field eating grass while he yells “Hurry up, horsie!” at her- he is the cutest thing! When we’re away, I will definitely pay for him to have a ride at the riding school across the way from our holiday house. They have small ponies there which will be much more fun for him.

Ricky is also doing well. He’s now finished at nursery school and can’t wait to go into P1 this September. Leigh’s daughter, and Ricky’s great amigo, Sophie, is going to be in the same class as him, to both their great excitement! Ricky tells me that he will sit beside Sophie in class. He’s also planning on learning to drive as soon as he’s old enough so he can take her out!!! Is it any wonder that Leigh and I practically have our hats bought already!

Actually, Ricky’s daycare had to have a “word” with me, which those of you who are parents will know is never a good thing. Apparently, there was an incident involving Ricky, “Little Ricky”, and a bunch of six year old girls. I have now appraised Ricky of the fact that “Little Ricky” should remain in Knicker Land at all times unless for scheduled appearances…either way, two small girls practically threw themselves at him on his way out of the daycare last night, so clearly they haven’t been left mentally scarred by this incident. If anything, it seems to have increased his popularity! 😀

I am heading out for dinner with my great friends Heather and Jacinta tonight. I think this will let me blow off some much needed steam! The diet has taken something of a bashing this week. I don’t think I’ve gained any weight, but I’m just lucky about that! Still, I am about 15lbs down on where I was six weeks ago, which can’t be bad.

Oh, BTW there is a password protected post in the pipeline in the next few days. I will be using the same password as last time- if you need it, please don’t feel weird about asking!!! 😀

I had a lot of dreams last night about Donegal- we’re planning a holiday there for three weeks next month (YEE-HAAAAAA!!). You probably won’t remember THIS post, but I can’t wait to get to that beach, go in to the water and do exactly what I described in that post. You’ll think I’m insane, but one of the rocks has a smiley face on it- it’s clear as day- and every time I’m in the water there, I look at that rock and can’t help but smile too. That’s my main focus at the moment. Smile, and the world smiles with you. Stick your grumpy frown on, and that’s all you’re ever gonna get back!!


Race for Life 2009

Well, it’s done, and we had a great time!

Leigh and I completed the Race for Life at Stormont Estate yesterday. It was a very warm day without a cloud in the sky, which was great in one sense but I think we could actually have done with a bit of drizzle by the end! Next year we should bring water pistols!! 😀

When I got to the site and realised the sheer scale of the event, it was a bit of a surprise. I knew it would be well attended but there was just a sea of pink everywhere you looked. You have to pin a sign on your back saying who you are running for. I have to say, this aspect of it was very moving- the people standing next to me as I waited to meet up with Leigh were running for a little girl with leukemia, and nearly everyone’s shirts mentioned someone close to them. The scale of the effect cancer has on society is really impressed on you and it would be a stony heart indeed not to be moved by seeing those shirts.

Leigh and I met up about an hour before kickoff. An Australian lady was giving a bit of an irksome pep talk over the loudspeaker. I kind of wished they’d gone for someone Northern Irish, she seemed rather out of place, but she seemed to be enjoying herself!!

Next, a Scottish lady who was one of the main organisers came on to the stage and she really was inspirational. She reminded us all of why we were there, but in a fun way.

Just before we set off, we had a warm up in the shape of an aerobics instructor who reinforced my belief that I can never take part in an aerobics class due to my slow wittedness and inability to follow basic instructions. My lack of coordination will probably appear sometime soon on YouTube, courtesy of another participant! 😛


The route itself went all round the Stormont Estate. Regular readers will know that Leigh and I have struggled a bit with the dreaded Stormont hill- which is bloody steep! You find yourself fixated on the sight of the Carson Statue at the top, because he’s right at the top of the hill! 😀



I have to say, I think we kicked that hill’s ass yesterday. We veritably strode up it and I was only a little bit puce in the face by the top. In the past we’ve both practically needed a lie down when we got to Lord Carson!

My Dad and regular commenter Bernadette had walked up the hill to try and see us on our way past, but somehow in the crowd we didn’t spot each other, which was a shame. Next year we should plan things better!


I think everyone felt a real sense of achievement at the end. This is such a good cause- to date I have raised almost £800 for Cancer Research UK and hope to get close to £1000 by the time I am finished. You can still sponsor me online if you have a few pennies to spare.


I feel very privileged to have taken part. I am also very lucky to have been well enough. The past year has been rough, but I am still here, fighting fit and taking no prisoners! Next month marks the anniversary of my diagnosis, and it seems amazing that it’s been so long.

And Leigh, we WILL run it next year!!!! 😀



OK, so I did it

Right, I dyed my hair and because I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, I am prepared to post the following picture. I’m not happy with the colour! It somehow went lighter and more orange than I planned, lol!

I guess I can continue to cover it with a headscarf.

I haven’t even left the house without a scarf on yet, and I am posting this for the world to see.

I have no clue if this makes me brave or foolhardy, or both at once… 😀



An update on the hair

OK, OK, so I wussed out.

I was all set to dye my hair last night, but when I look at it without my wishful thinking goggles on, it’s still a little bit too short and thin. I’d probably end up simply dyeing my scalp and looking like an even bigger freak.

So, sorry to disappoint those of you who have been waiting with bated breath (ha ha!! as if!) but it will be another few weeks.

I do still plan to leave the scarf off when on holiday next week, so you may find that the odd picture of me creeps in, minus headscarf, when I get back.

It’s a bit like leaving your stabilisers off your bike for the first time when you’re a kid.

Last time the hair grew back, I tested the water at the local shop.

I quickly realised that having very short hair doesn’t necessarily brand you a cancer victim the way wearing a headscarf does. Noone batted an eyelid, and there were none of the usual INCREDIBLY irritating sympathetic smiles, the ones where people tilt their heads to one side when they smile at you. These sympathetic smiles are doubled in strength if you have small children in tow.

I know people are trying to be nice, really I do, but it has been frustrating for me.

At least with short hair, people can just think you like your hair that way. I actually kind of do like having short hair (not THIS bloody short, though!!) and might keep it short for a while.

The hair dye is on my bathroom shelf for now. I still can’t wait to feel like I have enough hair to actually break it out! That day is coming soon though. 🙂


NI Hospice Walk at Castle Ward

Today was the annual charity walk in aid of the Northern Ireland Hospice, so I met up with various family and friends at the Castle Ward Estate to complete the 5 mile walk. It was so much fun! I had a lovely day out. I took about ten thousand photos and can’t begin to post them all, but there are some below. In fact, I may be spamming you a bit today!! 😀

Castle Ward is owned by the National Trust and is set in stunning parkland sweeping down to Strangford Lough. The 18th century house itself is really interesting, as the Ward family who built it couldn’t decide what style to make it- the lady of the house wished for Gothic style of architecture whilst her husband preferred Classical. In an unusual move, they made one side of the house Gothic and one side Classical, and even the rooms on the inside are split in this style. It’s a lovely place to visit if stately homes are your bag. 🙂 Sadly, the walk didn’t allow me to really get any good pictures of the house itself, to my irritation!


I brought the kids, and my brother Brian and friend Heather, in the car, and Ian followed us down on the motorbike. He was to look after the kids while the rest of us did the walk. We were also accompanied by my Dad and some of his friends, not to mention my Dad’s dogs Sophie and Bonzo, and a very special three legged doggie called Archie who is getting on a little in years, but who completed the first half of the walk with great enthusiasm!


The first loop of the walk took us in front of the house, and through the woods, with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. It was quite a clear day, so you could see across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and Scotland, and see over to the Mourne Mountains which aren’t too far away.


When we got back to the start, which you had to go past to complete the second part of the walk, we were met by Ian and the kids, who had apparently wanted to come with us a little of the way.

This turned out to be a bad move- their little legs wouldn’t take them very far and Ian ended up with Ricky on his shoulders (he is big for his age and weighs a ton) pretty much all of the 2 1/2-3 miles…Robbie went mostly on my Dad’s shoulders and some of the time on Brian’s. 😀 Needless to say, they were all totally knackered by the time we finished!

My brother Brian with Robbie on his shoulders, and my partner Ian with Ricky weighing him down-


I don’t know why Dad, Brian and Heather are all looking at me like I just jumped out of a hedge with a knife, but they do…


The second loop of the walk took us around Temple Water, a man-made lake, and then down to the familiar woods and 15th century towerhouse at Audley’s Castle- regular readers will know that it’s a favourite haunt of mine.

Me and Heather at Temple Water-


Some from the woods at Audley’s Castle-




We then skirted the shoreline until we got back to the estate itself and climbed the hill back up the house and cars.

My Dad then treated us to a gorgeous meal in The Cuan, Strangford, and I had lovely crab claws and mussels.

I really enjoyed my day out, got lots of fresh air and exercise, and contributed to a really worthy cause. Thanks to everyone who walked with me for making it such a wonderful day!


Feeling reflective today

This will probably be an extremely rambling and incoherent post- so what else is new!

Three of my friends have had very bad news in the past week. Two of them have had miscarriages, and one of them has found that their daughter, who is four, has some issues with her heart. All of these things have made me wish I could be there in person to help and comfort them, and I’m thinking about all of them.

A lot of things make me think about my own mortality these days. I guess it’s impossible not to, given how my life has been over the past number of months.

I’m stuck with this bloody headscarf for now- I look kind of like a scarecrow without it! The hair that didn’t fall out the second time is now about an inch and a half long, but is kind of patchy! There’s no sign of the rest of it growing back yet. This leaves me kind of in a conundrum; cancer no-man’s-land.

I’ve finished my treatment, yet I can’t say I don’t have cancer and I can’t say I’m cured, or have beaten it. I simply don’t know yet.

I’ve heard a number of people close to me say that I’ve “had the all clear”- and it just isn’t true! Listening to people say that actually makes me want to start screaming uncontrollably!

This reaction is totally unfair on my part. It’s natural for those close to me to want to think it’s all finished with. I want to feel that way myself! However, I feel like the cancer is somewhat unfinished business. I wonder how long I would have to go without a recurrence for me not to feel that way- I really hope time will tell!

I’m kind of starting down a new path now, and I hope it will be a green one with few steep hills and no stumbling blocks. I need to work out where I go from here. There’s no doubt that this experience has changed me for ever, no matter what happens now.

Until I can leave off the headscarf, I feel like I still have cancer (and I really don’t know if I do or I don’t!). I feel like I can’t move on.

But I know that, for my sanity and for the sake of those around me, I must.

So, that’s my challenge now! 🙂

Thanks for indulging my confusing and irrational ramblings!

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