Know Your Chemo from your Radio

Cancer & Me

One of my lovely readers emailed asking if I could explain the difference between chemo and radiotherapy.  So here we are…


Chemotherapy is traditionally given via intravenous drip administered in hospital but you can now get chemotherapy tablets that can be taken at home.  Once in your blood stream, chemo can be taken the whole way round your body, treating cancerous cells, anywhere.

Cells divide themselves to reproduce, which is usually how we retain a healthy body but when we have cancerous cells dividing and reproducing, cancerous tumours form and spread.  Chemo stops your cells dividing and reproducing.  The only problem is, it stops your healthy cells as well, which is part of the reason people on chemo get so ill.  But the healthy cells will get better, the cancerous cells won’t – take that cancer!!

Personally I had both.  An intravenous session followed by two weeks of taking tablets everyday at home.

If you want more detailed information on chemotherapy, Macmillan have this wonderful leaflet…


Radiotherapy is literally a radiation ray or beam that targets the sight of your cancer.  It is given via a large x-ray type machine.  Radiotherapy is usually given daily over a period, in my case it was every day for six weeks.

Unlike chemo, it usually only affects the area it targets.  You will be given a scan to determine exactly where radiologists will be aiming the machine, then you are given tiny tattoos so that they get the exact place every time.  There will always be some healthy tissue damaged by radiotherapy but the precise nature of scans and tattoos is to ensures its minimal.

Radiotherapy can burn the skin quite badly, in my case it was very uncomfortable as it burnt my undercarriage but the physical effects are generally easier than with chemo.

If you want more information about radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy, have a look here at Macmillan’s website….

If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, please do not hesitate to let me know and if I can I will happily answer them.

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find out about the #BiBs and how to nominate here…

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Brilliance in Blogging Awards Nomination

Writing & Blogging

I have very excitedly been nominated for a Brilliance in Blogging Award but the nominations are still open and the more nominations I get, the more chance my blog has of being shortlisted.

If you are enjoy this blog and would be interested in nominating me you can do so here…

I think I am most suited to the ‘Inspire’ and ‘Writers’ categories… maybe even Outstanding?

Nominations are open until 12th April


If you need them my blog url is

Twitter handle is @njbrn

For your favourite post url, if your fav is;

The Stupid Things People Say –

The Benefits of Hindsight and the Lowest of the Low –

How Research Helped Save Me –

This Too Shall Pass –

Those are the 4 most popular but if you want to mention another one, click on that post then copy the title in the navigation bar at the top (or ask me and I will tell you).

Thank you all



The Stupid Things People Say When You Have Cancer!

Cancer & Me

When You Find Out You Have Cancer…

I would prepare yourself for when people say (what I think) are very stupid things. The most common comment being “I knew someone who had cancer and died”, seriously, who are you helping when you say that? There is also my personal favourite, “just think positively and you’ll be fine”. Don’t get me wrong, positivity is great and positively encouraged, but cancer is a little more complicated than that. Cancer is not purely a mental test with your survival the prize. Nevertheless, people will tell you to be positive, A LOT!

You may also find that you end up consoling the person you have just told rather than the other way around. Personally didn’t mind this, I actually started becoming quite offended if people didn’t need consoling – don’t they care? Just kidding, obviously they did, presumably they were holding it together so as not to upset me – right? But seriously, I can certainly see how upsetting it could be if you are struggling with your own emotions without taking on someone else’s crushed feelings.

Generally, people love to compare your cancer to someone else they know who had cancer. Sometimes I would be told the strangest things like “at least they caught it early”, no they didn’t? Why assume that? Some people make all sorts of assumptions based on a previous experience they’ve had with someone else. This used to drive me mad and annoyingly it’s not just with diagnosis, it will be with every stage of your cancer care.

What Can You Do?

Whatever someone’s reaction, remember that most people are trying their best, they are not trying to annoy you, they are probably just at a loss for what to say and feel that they need to say something, anything. If someone does say something that offends or upsets you, remember you are in an emotionally raw place. It would be normal to take things to heart that would usually not be such a big deal to you. This is entirely natural so do not feel bad about it. If someone is comparing your cancer to someone else, you could say, there are so many variations (even within the same cancer) they really aren’t comparable. Where possible try to distance yourself from those comments and if someone is upsetting you, maybe mention that you are trying your best to handle it your way, and get them off the phone!

My Loved One Has Cancer – What Should I Be Saying?

I didn’t want to send all the non-cancer people into a spin on what they should be saying so this would be my advice…


In my opinion, it’s best to follow the lead of the person who has cancer.  Be led by how they are feeling and their reactions.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I’m sure they would rather tell you than have you assume.  Ask how they are feeling, how they are reacting to the news.  Feel free to agree that it is shite and you wish there was something you could say to make it better but you know there isn’t.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help and suggest things you could do – make dinner / take the kids to school / drop a text saying, I’m at the shops can I pick anything up for you.  Feel free to make suggestions about way’s of handling ideas but leave it as a suggestion not an instruction.  If they don’t seem keen, leave it, don’t push what your friend of a friend did down their throat.

I found an influx of offers of help and well-wishes at the beginning and then it tails off (understandably) so my biggest suggestion would be to just let them know that you are still there, thinking about and loving them and ready to respond should they need you.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to dealing with cancer.  Treating someone with love and kindness will go a long way.


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International Woman’s Day

Any Human Heart, What's Happening?

Happy International Woman’s Day!  To celebrate this wonderful day I thought I would take a moment to mention just a few (there are many many more but that would take forever) of the fantastic women have made me the woman I am….

My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.

My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.

My Mum

Possibly predictable, I know, but she has sculpted me into the woman who I am in so many ways.  My mum’s positive attitude to life and death became even more inspirational when I had cancer.  I see so much of my mum in the way I’m raising my children and my most my strength comes from my mum (and my lovely dad, but I guess that comes on Fathers day?!)  Even 6 years after she passed away I can hear her when I question what I am doing, encouraging me to do better.

Ms Nicola Fernhead 

Ms Fernhead saved my life.  Literally.  She is the amazing surgeon at Addenbrookes hospital who oversaw every aspect of my cancer treatment and performed my twelve-hour lifesaving operation.  She stripped me down and put me back together again (physically and spiritually I think)… and added an extra bit!  To be able to identify someone who is one of the major reasons you are actually alive is a bizarre but very wonderful thing.

Polly Nobel 

I knew when I got through cancer I was going to write (and write and write) but I remembering being at a loss of where to start.  Then I found Polly Nobel’s website Polly’s Path.  A wealth of information about healthy living and being a twenty-something woman living with terminal cancer.  Although we had some differing views on life with cancer (and diagnosis), it was so inspirational and starting helping me picture what I wanted to achieve with this blog and my non-fiction writing.  I had the joy of meeting Polly in 2013 at an event and she was just as inspiring on real life.  Unfortunately Polly died last year but her legacy lives on.

The lovely Thalia Skye

The lovely Thalia Skye

Thalia Skye

My first paid writing job was from this amazing and inspirational lady, Thalia Skye, and the fantastic website that I contribute to through Coloplast, My Ostomy.  It truthfully is my dream job and I am SO grateful to Thalia for giving me the chance and teaching me so much about vlogging, social media but even better than that… Thalia has taught me so much about my own stoma!  From practicalities to realising how much I appreciate having this life saving bag and the strength to keep talking about it and raising awareness about life with a colostomy / iliostomy of how boringly normal life remains!

Dr Anna Tripp

My personal tutor at university and the woman who agreed to take punt on a thirty-something mother who was desperate to finally fulfil a dream of reading Literature and Writing at university.  It’s one of the best decision’s I have made in my life and I can’t thank her enough for seeing enough of a spark that she would take a chance on a woman with absolutely no academic level 3 qualifications.  She rocks!

My sister and my son

My sister and my son

My Sister

Where oh where would I be without my sister!  Sisters (especially one like mine) are the best thing ever.  An absolutely driving force in my life that keeps me moving forward no matter how much I want to give up and stop and who shines the brightest light in my darkest of days.  I quite simply would not be here without knowing that my sister is well and truly in my corner.  And now my kids get to enjoy having the best aunt in the world.  I love this woman!

There are plenty of other women in my life who have done more for me than words can say.  In particular my wonderful female friends and all the women in my family – they are all strong wise and wonderful.  From the little things to the massive things you have all built me into who I am and for that I am truly thankful.

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Happy World Book Day!

To Love To Read

Today is World Book Day.  An awesome day when we get to celebrate all things book related!  You may have seen this week I have been asking people to let me know which book they would recommend and a sentence on why, so here it is a fantastic list put together by my fantastic reader’s.

I hope you will find something inspirational to read…..

6a010536b33b69970b017ee82ff5e6970dRebecca by daphne du Maurier

The first book I remember staying up all night to finish and being utterly hooked until the very end.


41vD2CTb7RLShantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Because it’s got everything.  Love, crime, passion, violence, everything.


Gatsby_1925_jacketThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Because “I love her and that is the beginning and end of everything” … Beautifully depicts what lengths someone would go to for the incurable feeling of love. No matter how much time you spend with your family, the heart breaks, marriages, kids and happiness; Love is the centre of everything and the two worlds shown in the novel depict what society today is made up of.


71h2sjik5al-_sl1380_The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Moving and different and wonderful.


LittleprinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A timeless lesson on life, which you can read from childhood to adulthood , complemented by beautiful drawings from the author.


CrimeandpunishmentcoverCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Was a game-changer for me. Hard hitting knowledge of human nature hits socio-economic differences in Russia. Brilliant!


bookcover2Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

One of the first great classics I read, its tale of friendship has stayed with me.



BridgetJonesDiaryBridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

“I like you very much. Just as you are”. Empowering and says what thousands us are thinking. Never got bored.


TheOutsider_001The Outsider by Albert Camus

I love this text because it taught me an existential view on life which can be very helpful at times.


200px-WallyLamb_IKnowThisMuchIsTrueI Know This Much is True

Little did I know when I read this book that I would go on to have twins! This story of love, loss, redemption and facing your demons was very poignant to me in my twenties.


9780312282592The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye

Sweeping epic spanning the final days of the Raj in India.  The description of the geography of India at the time is so real it’s almost as if you could step into it.  Fantastic story of struggling with identity and different kinds of love.


The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian

I am not a fan of military stories but this is so much more than that.  Set in Vietnam, the practicalities and emotional duress of war as well as the camaraderie and a real human story.  It’s only a short story, very easily readable.


51OtEsflERL._SL500_ 2Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

These books were and remain true loves of mine and reignited a love of reading in me after teachers had done their best to kick it out of me at school.  Pure magic and escapism.


If you have a book you would like to add, please leave a comment below or message on me on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy Reading x

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World Book Day is Coming!

To Love To Read

For World Book Day on 5th March I want to give a fantastic list of books you would recommend and why on my blog, I only need a sentence, so let me know…

Which book would you recommend and why?

Either leave a comment below, on my Facebook or Twitter.

I look forward to hearing from you and letting you know what everyone thinks on the 5th March!