It’s All About Me! 11 Random Facts

Any Human Heart, What's Happening?

A reader messaged me saying they love the blog (thank you) but felt they didn’t really know anything about me. Interesting!  I had never thought anyone would want to know about me in general but there is slightly more to me than cancer and colostomy’s – so here are 11 random facts about me.

  • 1.  I live in Hertfordshire which is just outside London but being born and bred in ‘Norf’ London, I struggle slightly with not living in London and still consider myself a Londoner.  The realisation a few months ago that I no longer know the whole tube map by heart actually made me cry inside.  Having said that I do love my town and would be surprised if we left, but I did say I would never leave London so, who knows?
  • 2.  Even at 34 I’m a complete daddy’s girl and have no problems with it – that man is my hero.  Am mildly obsessed with all my family.
  • 3.  I’m half American.  And not just half American, I’m half Texan!  This fact surprises everyone as nothing about me suggests I am anything other than English.  My mother moved here as a child and actually, nothing about her suggested she was anything apart from English either.  Except her passport which she never changed.
  • 4.  Growing up I wanted to be either a writer or a dancer & spent everyday after school in some sort of performing arts class & did a BTEC in Performing Arts at college.
  • 5.  In my worst nightmare I would be stuck in some sort of dark pit with rats.  It is actually making my skin crawl just thinking about it!
  • 6.  I have three tattoos but I have actually been tattooed five times – two were to cover up what was already there.  You would think on that basis I would have learnt my lesson but I would like one more re-done and then one final one which will be the date I found out I had cancer.  Sounds morbid but I want it as a reminder that life is to short not to be living the life you want to lead.
  • 7.  I change my mind about things – you may have worked that out?!
  • 8. I love making things, in particular jewellery and gifts.  I would much rather give (and receive) something heartfelt that has had effort and thought put into it.  It made my day this summer when a friend wore a necklace I had made her as part of her wedding jewellery – very cool.
  • 9.  Mexico is my favourite country.  I love the language, the people, the culture, the food, the architecture, I could go on and on but basically, its flaming fabulous.  I spent a month travelling there when I was 19 and went back travelling for three months when I was 24.  I will return soon, but there are just so many new places to explore and I am obsessive about visiting new places.
  • 10.  I love shite TV.  Reality shows like Big Brother, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, they are all complete guilty pleasures of mine.  My husband can’t abide them so I only get to watch them sneakily on catch-up.  By then my twitter feed is full of all the gossip so I know what is coming which sort of defeats the point.
  • 11.  If I could give some advice to my teenage self it would be to worry less and do more that made me happy.  I was always so worried of what people thought and I think at times I really let it hold me back.  Of course hindsight makes everything seem so black and white but I wish I’d had the confidence I have now at 15.

So there you have it.  11 very random facts about me.  If there is anything that you would like to know, leave a comment, let me know and I if it is something I want to share I may do a similar sort of thing soon…

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Why My Blog Is My Blog

What's Happening?

Why Inner Haven?

So much of what we focus on can be on the outside – how we look, how we dress, where we live, what we have.  I fall into that trap all the time, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive for nice things, but I wanted my blog to be about what was happening within you.  A place to reflect on your inner self and to create a haven that is within. And for me, that’s my own Inner Haven.

Why Live the Life You Want to Live?

In a nutshell, that’s what I want to do! I know it is a cliché (but most clichés are clichés because they are true), but ce78b8e695667a6af844f4063f7d2801after surviving an advanced colorectal cancer I knew I had to finally do the things that nerves, fear of failure or circumstance had stopped me doing before.

I always wanted to write, to study, to blog, to help people by talking & writing about my journey & experiences (Cancer and Colostomy related or not).  Life may not be perfect but I love what I have achieved since having cancer & realise more than ever that you have to at least strive to live the life you want to lead.

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Where To Get The Best Massage in Harpenden

Beauty Treatment, Health & Beauty

People often do ask where I as a massage therapist go to get a massage and in Harpenden I truly do have one favourite place.  Sabrina.

It may not be the most flashy salon in Harpenden but they have what matters, a secret weapon, amazing therapists!  In particular the amazing Amy!  She honestly gives the best massages.  Concentrating on any areas of concern she covers the whole body, including the jaw and scalp, where I hold a huge amount of tension.  I always leave feeling revived, relaxed and like I can’t wait for the next one!

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If Amy isn’t there then you may get to have a massage from Sabrina herself, equally wonderful.

Although I am yet to try anything else, Sabrina offer a whole host of Beauty treatments, Hair dressing, Wigs, Tanning… plenty to keep you looking and feeling wonderful… what to try next?!

Happy relaxing x

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Who Should Decide Your Cancer Treatment?

Cancer & Me

The story of Ashya King has been as shocking as it has been upsetting and has stirred up all sorts of thoughts and feelings.  Cancer treatment is something that I have looked at from different points of view.  Not only as someone with an advanced cancer that needed and received treatment, also as the daughter of a woman who had and then refused cancer treatment and in all honesty, it comes across like a bit of a minefield.

Back in my blissfully ignorant-about-disease days, I believed that cancer was cancer and treatment was treatment.  Now I know that is far from the truth.  There are numerous variations of both and combination options, and it’s essentially down to your doctor to decide the best combination for you, based on your illness, their experience and resources available.

I originally had a surgeon who wanted me to have the ‘standard’ colorectal cancer treatment plan.  I then saw another surgeon who wanted further testing.  As a result a much more extensive treatment plan was given to me.  I say ‘given’ because it was.  There was no discussion just this is what we are going to do.

Since recovering I often question, what if I had stayed with that original doctor?  I only changed because my brother-in-law worked at a different hospital, not because I was expecting better treatment somewhere else.  If I had stayed with the original surgeon and his plan, not all the cancer would have been removed and I would have only had half the amount of chemotherapy I ended up having.

As time went on other variations on my treatment plan popped up.  Should or shouldn’t they remove my womb, was it genetically problematic, the order of treatment, different doctors held different opinions.  It started to seems to me that cancer treatment is on a spectrum ranging from a very well-educated and resourced opinion to a blanket standard.  I have no doubt that I was getting the best and right treatment for me.  But what if you aren’t?  What if you believe there is a better or different way?  At what point do you stop trusting what you are being told and go out on your own?

Just a few of my Cancer Drugs

Just a few of my Cancer Drugs

After my operation I did not regain bladder function and was still using a catheter weeks later.  My surgeon explained the bladder is a very sensitive organ that doesn’t like being pulled around (I love this, makes it sound like stroppy teenager), and given time it would return to normal.  In the meantime I was referred to a urologist so I could learn how to insert a catheter at home.  I returned for my follow-up a few weeks later, believing it was just to check if I was getting on with the catheter’s OK, when they said they wanted to run a series of heavily invasive tests with a view to operate and create a second stoma for my bladder.  WHAT!  Firstly, one stoma’s enough.  Secondly, this went against everything I had been told up to then.  I was still having chemotherapy, still recovering from the 12 hour surgery I had only a few weeks before.  The thought of another operation and another stoma served as such an incomprehensible blow.  I asked if it would be worth waiting to see if I regained function as I had been told I would.  She was very matter of fact, this was her recommendation.  No discussion, no options.  I was devastated.

So what did I do?  I ignored it.  Not something I would advise with health conditions, but I did speak with another doctor who said they didn’t agree (alleluia).  She thought that I should wait, give my body a chance to heal.  I knew straight away in my heart that it was the right decision.  I did regain full bladder function over the coming months so in this case it was right, but what I did find shocking was the way I was cut off by urology.  I wasn’t following their treatment plan so that was that.  I never saw anyone in urology again.

Since having cancer I have met with some fascinating people who work in the cancer field.  Some have been surprised that I wasn’t aware of the treatment variations available.  I had no idea there were different kinds of cancer drugs with new one’s being developed and trailed all the time.  In my case, it matters very little.  I am happy with the decisions, but what if you’re not?

Should we look at doctors as all-knowing beings and be forced to place our health in their hands no matter what?  Even after going through cancer, I still only understand the tiniest fraction of the science, so surely people who have trained specifically in the illness know best?  Or should we be involved as patients, guided by but not bound to doctors expertise?  These are not rhetorical questions, I am genuinely asking because your health is to important not to be discussed.

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Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse – Book Review

To Love To Read

I haven’t posted a book review for a while.  The reason being, I have struggled to get into a book.  That was until Me Before You by Lucie Whitehouse.  This book moves at a quick pace (which I love), keeping you turning the pages as rapidly as you can.

before we met

Although it is building up to something, I was still taken by surprise by what the twist was and although I suspected the ending, its delivery was still surprising and not quite what I thought.  The narrative moves between the past and present and at some points I thought it could have been a little clearer when jumping between the two.

All in all a fantastic book that I would highly recommend – as long as you don’t mind being kept up late because you just need to read one more chapter!! 🙂

Happy reading x

Starting University with an Ostomy

Colosto-ME

I had no time to sit at home getting used to having a colostomy. I started chemotherapy six weeks after surgery, so I was in and out of hospital almost straight away.

I thought I was used to being out of the house. I hadn’t quite considered that a hospital is somewhere notorious for being understanding to people with health conditions; turns out this is quite different to somewhere like a place full of barely legal hungover teenagers, I’m sorry adults, with a lot to say for themselves. I am being horribly harsh, as my fellow students are completely lovely (the smell of stale alcohol generally subsides after the first month or so), but this was the fear I was starting university as a mature student ostomate with.

Read more………

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Just Keep Swimming – Swimming with a Colostomy

Colosto-ME

The thought of swimming seems to be something that a lot of ostomates struggle with and, of course, I understand why. It was something I was very worried about but it just sort of happened.

A friend asked me to join her on a trip to an amazing spa close to where we live to celebrate and relax after finishing my cancer treatment, which I leapt at, paid nearly £200 for (I know, but I had just survived cancer, totally deserved it), then went into a complete hyper-melt-down-type-panic over. How on earth I was going to do this with a colostomy?

This was only about 6 months after the surgery that gave me my colostomy and two months after my final bout of chemotherapy had finished, I was still wearing balloon sized clothes. There was no way I could wear a swimming costume – the bag would show through, it would become unstuck and float around the pool, and if that didn’t happen, the large neon sign flashing ‘this girl has a colostomy on’ above my head was bound to give it away!

Read More……….

Taking a Swim!

Taking a Swim on Holiday!