Swishing Up Your Post-Op Wardrobe

Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

Published on MyOstomy

I think one thing that most women can safely say they have in common when finding out they will need an ostomy, is a collective worry over how they are going to dress.  

I am a big fan of the #GetYourBellyOut campaign, but you don’t necessarily want my ostomy out on display all day, everyday.  Just like anyone without a colostomy bag, I think women generally like to keep their toilet habits, whatever they may be, under wraps… or at least under clothes.

Before having my ostomy surgery, I used to predominantly wear tops that were very tight around my stomach and low-slung hipster jeans. I then wore maternity wear when I was pregnant and for about 6 months after with the first baby, and, to be honest, I don’t think I ever truly got out of it after the second baby – but that’s another story.

Basically as far as I could see it, everything in my wardrobe was not going to work with an ostomy.  Excellent!

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Coping Strategies – Cancer When You Have Children

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me, Family Matters

I was recently emailed by a lady asking if I had any specific coping strategies that I could share for attempting to fight cancer and be a present parent for your child, that you want to be the best mum ever for?

It really got me thinking.  I don’t know if you can fight cancer and be an ever-present, best mum – well I mean, I’m sure you are the best, but maybe not in the all-encompassing way you envisioned.  It’s hard, there are no two ways about it.  I had such a clear idea what I thought motherhood was going to be and cancer was robbing me of it.

I’m not sure that I did cope, it was a constant and evolving situation and you just keep trying.  But, here are a few things that I learnt along the way.

Keep things in perspective.

When I used to get upset about not being with the children for certain things, my husband used to say  “the kids don’t care if you are there the first time they roll over or whatever, they care if you are there on their first day of school or get married, but even if you miss those… They only really care if you are alive.”  I used to try to keep that in mind when I felt I was missing out because it’s so true.

Getting to be at home with my baby girl

Getting to be at home with my baby girl

Carve out some special time.

When I was having chemotherapy or was bed bound, I used to get the children in to my bed and read them their bed time story.  Or go and snuggle up with them on the sofa whilst they had TV time.

Little one’s love routine so if there is one part of the day, no matter how tiny, that they can know you will be involved in, I think it works quite well.

Bonds are built on more than time.

The bond with my daughter was something I worried about as she was only three months old when I was diagnosed.  When you are pregnant you are told about all these things you have to do with your baby, otherwise you are basically stamping all over their childhood and any chance of you bonding with each other, but it’s not true.  My daughter and I have a wonderful bond.  We love each other eternally and no amount of being in hospital and chemotherapy has changed any of that.

Plus you are going through their childhood with a determination to live for them that most other parents will never experience.  So don’t panic if you aren’t around as much as you planned because your bond will still be the same.

Give Yourself a Break

It’s not much I know, but hopefully it will help.  Most importantly, give yourself a break and just enjoy all the moments that you can.

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Does Cancer Ever End?

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

If you break your leg, it’s annoying but it’s cast, it heals, then it’s over.  Becomes nothing more than a dinner party story about your teachers not believing you broke your leg playing football at break time and having to hobble about on it in huge amounts of pain all day (my husband, not me).

But I’m increasingly feeling like I will never get the joy of talking about cancer in the past.

This week I have been in hospital. One of life’s irony’s is that having the type of treatment I had for cancer, put me into early menopause, which has thrown my internal pH balance off, which means the internal scar tissue caused by my surgery to remove the cancer, can’t heal properly, which means the scar is growing abnormal cells, which will turn cancerous if not removed.

Basically – my treatment for cancer is trying to give me cancer!  Excellent.

I generally stay quite positive about my treatment, but I can’t lie, this has really got me down. I just can’t be arsed quite frankly.

I don’t want to go back to hospital, I don’t want to be given what is essentially a long and painful smear and I definitely don’t want to hear about cells doing something they are not supposed to be doing…. again!  I have had the results and the cells are benign, which is great, but still – why won’t they just do as they are bloody told and stop causing trouble.  I actually have serious déjà vu writing that last sentence as I must have said it about fifteen times to my children this morning.  But I digress…

I do think a very difficult post-cancer treatment concept is the idea of it never quite being over.  I think no matter how in the back of your mind cancer is, it is still there and the tiniest thing – like a hospital appointment – can bring it all rushing to the front again.  I am struggling to get used to that and there are points when running away to a remote island that is no where near a hospital seems seriously appealing.

Logically I know that it is obviously for the best that I am in hospital regularly with doctors keeping a close eye on me so that cells can be removed before they even have a chance to turn cancerous but emotions aren’t always logical are they?  Mine definitely aren’t, but maybe that’s just me.

I will however not be running away to an island – I shall stand tall, keep moving forward and continue to show cancer and my troublesome cells the finger!

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Landfill by Helen Gordon – Book Review

To Love To Read

I read this book after doing a fabulous workshop with the author.  I know Landfill by Helen Gordon has received mixed reviews but I loved this book.  It is one of those books that get’s under your skin and you think about when you aren’t reading.

My favourite thing about this book is the language.  It is so beautifully written, with words and sentences that catch the heart.  Which is fitting as this really is a book about the heart.  It’s not non-stop action or about resolving issues as book these days so often are but about going through an emotional change within.

A thoroughly enjoyable novel, with language you can just get lost in, perfect for me.  I would certainly recommend Landfill.

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The Problem with NOT Losing Your Hair When You Have Cancer

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

Cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss.  Standard.  These three things appear to be inextricably linked which is strange because it’s not actually true.

There are hundreds of types of chemotherapy, all with different side-effects and hair loss is not always one of them.  Some chemotherapy’s cause heat in the body, which causes the hair follicles to open and the hair to fall out.  Some chemotherapy’s cause cold in the body meaning that doesn’t happen.

So why do people always connect the two?  I think it is because people have the ‘heat causing’ chemotherapy when treating breast cancer.  As Breast Cancer is the most common in women and the poster-child of cancers, this has become the ‘normal’ image we all accept and expect.

These ‘cold’ chemotherapy’s come with their own additional side effects, mostly in the form of nerve damage.  Your nerve endings become so damaged and hypersensitive to cold, it meant that I couldn’t even walk down the chiller aisle in a supermarket because of the painful reaction in my nerves.  If it was cold outside, I would be in pain.  If something was cold to touch, I was in pain.  I could not drink cold or room temperature drinks as the pain the nerves in my throat was unbearable and made my throat feel like it was closing causing a gag reflex – warm drinks were fine thankfully.

Of course you still get all the added, expected side effects like nausea, sickness, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, etc…  We all have these joys in common.

The problem with not losing your hair when you have cancer is that people don’t realise you have cancer.  Even when they know you do have cancer, it’s like they forget.  It can be genuinely shocking.  How you feel and how you ‘should’ look are poles apart which somehow creates a disconnect to the reality.  If I had a pound for every time I heard “but you don’t look ill???”  It makes it even harder to acknowledge the truth of what is happening, for others and for yourself.  Sometimes I just wanted people to acknowledge how crap I felt without me having to explain

“I am far sicker than my long flowing locks allow you to believe.”

I remember someone saying “How come you haven’t lost your hair?  Obviously your chemo isn’t very strong.”  Cue internal crying and tending to the metaphorical kick in the stomach, whilst outwardly I tried to explain the differences.

I am thrilled that I didn’t have to deal with losing my hair.  Obviously I can’t imagine truly what ladies go through when they lose their.  I would most certainly be devastated, feeling like I had lost an irreplaceable piece of me.  But just because someone doesn’t ‘look’ a certain way, doesn’t mean they aren’t still fighting their fight.

That probably goes for everyone and everything actually!

Fighting-the-batle-of-life

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