It was the 4th January 2012 that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad coming over to watch my 3-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son whilst my husband took me to the hospital for my long-awaited colonoscopy.
I knew instantly that there was a problem, as soon as the consultant began the procedure – the weird looks and awkward silences when I asked what was wrong. The nurse wouldn’t tell me what was happening, saying only that I should wait for the consultant to come and see me. When the consultant finally did come, he said that he wanted my husband present. All of this combined with the feeling in my heart and stomach meant I knew, before the consultant told me. I knew that I had bowel cancer. You can read all about my diagnosis here if you want to know more…
Obviously the first one is Cancer. But I have another big C, in a lot of ways it is a bigger C, certainly to me, so big that I often don’t really speak about it. The other big C is my Colostomy.
For those who don’t know, a Colostomy is when you have part of your large intestine removed and what’s left diverted through the abdomen wall. There are occasions when the procedure can be reversed but not in my case. Truth be told, I struggled with finding out I needed a colostomy more than finding out I had cancer – cancer I could deal with, this I couldn’t. I thought it was the absolute worst thing that could happen to me and I went into a very strange denial, praying it wouldn’t happen right until I woke up from my surgery.
I can’t believe we are already three weeks into the new year. If you love the feeling of a fresh page that can come with a new year, why not settle down with an awesome book about new beginnings and starting over to inspire you in 2017! Here are some of my favourite…
One of the things I love about it is that although it is about new beginnings she doesn’t abandon her whole life to make it happen (despite the name), she discovers a new way to enjoy what she already has – although some much-needed changes are made along the way. A book about fiding your own inner strength and making positive changes.
I have spoken about this book before. It is moving and powerful and you may need some tissues at the ready. The main theme of this book is identity and how much you identity is tied into your family and the people around you, as well as asking the question about if it is possible to ever really ‘start over’ again.
If you haven’t read the book then I am sure you have seen the movie with Julia Roberts (which I equally love). This book is creative non-fiction and Gilbert’s personal experience of the year after her divorce. Its honest and moving and will probably have you wanting to travel the world by the end.
This is a poignant and moving novel – especially in light of the recent inauguration and possible wall building – is about people moving to the United States of America as a way to make a new life and discover their place in the world. Themes of family, identity and what it means to be an ‘American’ wrapped in a story about different forms of love.
A novel to make you questions why people do the things they do.
This is a great book to start the year with. Another non-fiction book in which Ruben decides to start the year making changes to her life to make herself happier. Ruben does a new thing every month with each chapter showing what she does that month so you can try to emulate these ideas. In my case I didn’t follow everything but picked out the parts that I knew would work for me.
Two books by Elizabeth Gilbert on one list – outrageous! But if you write books about making changes and positive living, I guess that’s inevitable on this type of list. I’m such a massive fan of this book, all about living creatively which is clearly completely up my street. You don’t have to be in a creative industry or anything, this book is more about being creative everyday and is a great place to start bringing joy and creativity into your life.
Again, even if you haven’t read the book you may have seen the awesome film. The plot is not a million miles away from Eat, Pray, Love in that its a woman trying to figure out what makes her tick after the loss of her mother and recent divorce. Rather than travelling the world she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, spending much time on her own to reflect and think.
Very honest and raw reflective memoir of change.
Please do comment below and let me know if you have read any of the books and what you think of them, and what books you would recommend that are around based around new beginnings or starting over.
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If you don’t follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you may have missed my latest #WritingWednesday vlog so here it is – featuring some of my favourite and most inspirational creative living books.
Fun, emotional, heartbreaking and inspiring – just your standard Thursday night!
I was so excited a few weeks ago to receive an invitation to Bowel Cancer UK’s Summer Reception and the event was finally held on Thursday evening. Held at the Royal College of General Practitioners on an amazing roof-terrace in London there was a mixture of researchers, medical practitioners, supporters, writers, survivors, I’m sure many more interesting people and my husband and I.
I must admit to not knowing what to expect but it was wonderful, interesting but also emotional. Speaking with other people who have, like me, been directly effected by Bowel Cancer and people who work tirelessly improving everything from patients survival rates and quality of life to government policy and social awareness – and basically STOP Bowel Cancer, it brought a number of experiences back to life.
My highlight was listening to speeches from both a research scientist and Deborah Alsina who gave us a flavour of what is going on behind the scene at Bowel Cancer UK…
Bowel Cancer UK export the need for research with their Gaps Analysis Project. It is not just one disease but could be as many as 7 or 8.
Money from Bowel Cancer UK bring the best in the UK to fight this particular cancer and designing new approaches such as personalised medicine.
Exciting science that can have a real impact. Understanding the illness is key to improving the outcome for patients.
As amazing as everything they are doing is, it also reminds you just how much still needs to be done.
Bowel Cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK. However if you are diagnosed early – within Stage 1 – your chances of survival are 90% that’s why ongoing research, developments and symptoms awareness (so you can get an early diagnosis) are so vital.
Then great news is that you can now become a Friend of Bowel Cancer UK to ensure this work continues. Sign up here and you can give a couple of quid a month and continue the fantastic work Bowel Cancer UK do. I’m so grateful.
I am just going to put it out there right now that LJ Ross is a friend of mine but when it comes to book reviews this could be a double-edged sword! When purchasing her debut novel Holy Island I was suddenly faced with an awkward realisation – what if I hate it? Or (possibly even worse) what if it’s just all terribly average and I have absolutely nothing to say about it?
Oh my gosh. I loved it!
It was the perfect blend of mystery, characters and emotions. I loved the language, Ross had a brilliant way of using a select few words to convey something immeasurably powerful. Generally I am not a fan of descriptive scenery but just as Lucy Clarke does in her novels, Ross brings the Holy Island landscape to life, making the Island itself integral to the story and one of the lead characters in…
A lady wrote to me recently praising my positive attitude to having cancer. This lady also went on to say that her son had cancer and that he was in a very negative place and she had tried encouraging him to read my blog to gain a different perspective but that he wasn’t interested and so fearful for the future and asked if I ever felt like that?
I wrote back saying YES!
But her question made me think how important it is to discuss the lowest lows that you go through when dealing with cancer. I have a wonderful friend who stayed so positive throughout her whole treatment. She had breast cancer and has been all clear for years but looking back she says she never allowed herself to think the worst. She felt remaining positive was integral to her getting better and she never allowed negativity to creep in.
For those who don’t know BritMums Live is a blogging conference and oh my day’s was it a blast, down largely to the joy of meeting some fantastic bloggers – yes Jennie, I’m talking about you! I have never been to anything like this before but here are the top 6 things I learnt from going to BritMums Live;
It’s not all about the numbers.
I know it is very easy to get caught up in how many followers you have, how many likes, shares, retweets and so on… I should know, I do it all the time, but is that really the measure of your success?
This is something we were encouraged to think about during a workshop and once I started thinking about what really mattered, all I could think about was the lovely women who had taken the time to message me and tell me how much they appreciated something I had written. Don’t get me wrong, high numbers are great, but it is those messages that I think are the real measure of my blogs success.
It was also interesting that a lot of the brands said it is not just numbers they look for but someone with dedicated and loyal followers.
Be authentic in what you write about.
This is your blog and really it has to be your voice. I have always thought this is one of the unique and completely fabulous things about blogs. You don’t write in the style of someone else or following a party line and I think it is that interaction and personal touch that draws people to reading blogs.
No one else can be ‘you’. You are your blog’s USP so don’t ever lose that. Don’t work with people just because they asked or write posts, just because you think people want to read them. Then you run the risk of not feeling authentic anymore and losing your biggest asset – yes, that’s still you!
Get camera savvy.
I have got to learn how to use a camera properly. Beautiful photos look so much more fabulous and you can really tell the blogs where the blogger knows how to use a camera. Expect some stunning photos to be appearing in the blog soon. Well… soonish!
Keep telling stories because you never know the effect they will have on someone else’s life.
This really links back to my point about blogging not being all about the numbers but about the people who may be touched and hopefully inspired by your story and writing.
At the conference we have the absolute pleasure of listening to Victoria Wright a disability and face equality campaigner who was talking about this exact point. The power that not feeling alone and knowing there is someone out there who can empathise wholeheartedly with you can be an incredibly powerful thing.
I think this has to be one of the best things about the internet. No matter where in the world or what your condition, you can probably find someone out there who is in the same position and just maybe they can help you through.
Ella Woodward from Deliciously Ella is just as normal as the rest of us.
It was such a joy hearing Ella speak and meeting her. Ella’s blog gets 6 million hits a month and Deliciously Ella is the fastest selling debut cookbook since records began – not bad for a twenty-something who just four years ago couldn’t even function properly due to a relatively rare illness called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome.
I worry that women who are all about healthy living may not be on my wavelength (I make no secret of my raging caffeine addiction) but this couldn’t be further from the truth with Ella who is actually incredibly ‘normal’ and lovely. Ella even has healthy treats that my kids will eat, amazing!
Can a room full of bloggers break the Guinness World Record for making mummies from toilet roll in less than three minutes?
Why, yes. Yes, they can!
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