April Catch-Up

Any Human Heart

April catch-up image

It has been a strange few months as March and April have been full of health issues.  First, I had a middle-of-the-night dash to A&E, where I was quickly diagnosed with Sepsis, brought on by kidney and bladder infections.  I was immediately put on treatment to bring me back from the brink.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is when you have an infection and your immune system goes into a crazy overdrive, starts attacking your organs and causes inflammation throughout the body.  It is a life-threatening but easily treatable when caught early.

Visit The Sepsis Trust for more information.

Recovering from Sepsis is much harder than I would have ever believed and I was medication for quite a long time after getting home from the hospital.  However, I was on the mend and just when I was finally starting to feel much better, I felt the same symptoms coming on again!  The A&E doctors had told me that if I suspected I had another infection I should come straight back, so that was what I did.  I was showing early signs of sepsis but I was put straight on antibiotics which seemed to stop it in its tracks.  Then it was back to trying to get better again.

Basically, not dying has taken up an incredible amount of time recently!

Getting ill is strange after having had cancer.  In a strange way, it takes me back to those old moments.  Laying in bed recovering = feeling like I have just had chemotherapy.  Going back and forth for hospital appointments = feeling like I am waiting to get some horrible life-changing results.  It is amazing how the brain can immediately trick you into thinking something else is going on and bring old emotions back up.  In some ways, the biggest challenge getting better was the mental battle rather than the physical one.

Needless to say, all of this put me rather behind with work, University and writing but I am finally getting back into the swing of things and I’m still in that dizzyingly excited period you get after you’ve been ill for a long time, where you just want to throw yourself into everything because it is just such a relief not to feel ill.

Writing

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.53.04However, in March I did have a short story, ‘Connected’, published in Fifty George Street literary journal.  It’s future fiction, imagining what it might be like trying to stay connected in a technological world.

You can read it on the Fifty George Street website.

Reading

I have read some wonderful books in the first quarter of this year, so I wanted to recommend my top 3 but I am finding it so hard to choose!  So I have ended up going for 4.  All 4 books are emotional but amazing and take you on a complete journey of the heart.  I highly recommend them all to you…

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Maillot ~ The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss ~ Soho by Richard Scott ~ Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Writing Workshop

After listening to the wonderful feedback I have received from people who have taken part in the ‘Let’s Start Writing’ workshop they have a had a bit of a revamp to include the chance to get more feedback on your writing.  I am thrilled with it and can’t wait to get started on Monday 7th May.  If you think you may be interested, please sign up here!

Let’s Start Writing

Sign up now to join the Let’s Start Writing Workshop starting Monday 7th January 2019

£20.00

For the rest of the month, I plan on getting on with writing and working and giving my body time to get stronger and stronger.  What have you been up to?  What have you been reading, writing and doing?  Leave a comment down below so we can have a chat.

Happy April x

Virtual Book Tour Coming in March

Writing & Blogging

Hello all!

I am so excited to be able to tell you that we have a very exciting time coming up in March. This Virtual Book Tour is going to be FULL of events, interviews, giveaways, guest posts, blog visits, hangouts, vlogs – both on this site and on some other awesome blogs and websites including Nicola Jane, TEND Nutrition, Womb Cancer Support and more!

Sign up here so that you can keep up to date and find out about EVERYTHING that we have going on!

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World Cancer Day Q&A

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

Hello all, happy World Cancer Day!

As a way of highlighting the fact that it is World Cancer Day I thought that I would answer a few of the questions I’m repeatedly asked about my cancer experience, so here we go…

What was the best thing that someone did / bought for you when you had cancer?

People are always asking me this because they want to know how they can help someone else.  You don’t need to wait to be asked to do something, no one is going to mind you turning up with a casserole, they will love it, but equally don’t expect to eat it with them or be messaging twice a day asking for the dish back because that just makes it stressful.  Do things without expecting anything back.

The gifts I appreciated the most were uplifting DVD’s (keyword uplifting) and microwaveable gloves and booties as your extremities can get very cold when you are having chemotherapy.

Do your children know you had cancer and how did you talk to them about the illness?

When I was diagnosed my son had just turned two years old and my daughter was three months old.  My son could see I was very sick so we always explained it in a language he would understand.  Things like, mummy has an owee and the doctor is giving her special medicine and we have always tried to encourage both kids to ask plenty of questions.

As my kids got older they’ve asked more questions which I have answered as honestly as possible so they now know that I had an illness called cancer.  They also know that the reasons we do so many Cancer Research UK campaigns is because they raise money to help people like mummy get better and I just love being able to tell them that!  My wish is that one day every parent can tell their child that they are cancer free.

It is really tough being a mum whose sick, there are no two ways about it. I actually wrote an article about coping strategies and the subject gets a whole chapter in the book because being a mum with any long-term serious illness has such a massive impact.

Was writing a book about having cancer therapeutic?

It was but it wasn’t always easy.  I remember when writing about (and reliving) the moments that I was so low I wanted to give up, I came away from my computer crying.  But at the same time, that was what I wanted, an honest account that did approach the harder emotional parts of having cancer, so I felt I had to go through that.  I think that, combined with the time that has passed, definitely helped me come to terms with what I went through.

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Wearing my Cancer Research UK Unity Band

Have you got an advice to anyone wanting to write about their cancer experience?

I think writing is a unique and amazing way to process emotions, good and bad.  Obviously you don’t have to keep a blog or write a book, it can be private thoughts just for yourself.  If you do want to publish, I think WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, it’s what I use.  If you want to write and don’t know where to start, check out a book like Let It Out by Katie Dalebout which gives prompts and different ways of looking at your illness.

What is it like for you when people donate to Cancer charities?

Ok, so the only people who ever ask me this are cancer charities but it really is an AMAZING feeling!  You feel like people are doing something very personal for you and your family – they are helping to ensure that you live.  It feels incredibly personal and incredibly moving.  I feel the same way about people who volunteer in charity shops.  Because of YOU, I was offered a type of chemotherapy that my mother, 8 years earlier, wasn’t.  The fact that people I don’t know and never will are actively doing something which helped save my life is a very unique and powerful feeling that I can’t fully articulate.

If you want to be one of those amazing people – great news – you can!  Give whatever you can to the cancer charity of your choice and know that you are doing something this World Cancer Day to literally change the life of someone with cancer!

With love & Unity! x

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7 Best Books for the New Year

To Love To Read, Uncategorized

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…

Unknown.jpeg1. The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

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.

This book is  also wonderfully uplifting

 

 

Unknown-1.jpeg2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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.

A moving book that is highly recommended.

 

 

Unknown-2.jpeg3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

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.

Touching and inspiring novel.

 

 

images.jpeg4. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

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.

 

Unknown-4.jpeg5. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben

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.

Great read to motivate yourself.

 

Unknown-5.jpeg6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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.

Inspiring, creative living.

 

Unknown-6.jpeg7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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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Writing Vlogs and #ProjectJoy

Any Human Heart, Writing & Blogging

Is your New Years Resolution to be more creative?  To write more?

Awesome! Then you should check out this #ProjectJoy blog series all about living creatively, using writing as a tool through difficult time. Check it out and let me know what you think…

Happy Writing! x

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I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Welcome to blogging

Writing & Blogging

A couple of my friends have recently set up blogs Tend Nutrition and BiblioManiac and I was going to email them a few tips I have learnt along the way but then I thought… I should share them with all of you.Unknown-1.jpeg

Make sure people can follow your blog. I love following the blogs I like so make sure you have an easy sign up point so they can get an email every time you post.

If you are Book Blogging… Check out Net Galley to find out about latest releases and get preview copies to review.

Get involved in the blogging world…  Find other blogs that you like then, comment, share, talk to other bloggers.  The blogging world is a very friendly one and they will start doing the same for you.  It’s a fab way to get each other’s work out there.

When using twitter…

  • When blogging about books use #amreading and include the usernames of the author and publisher.
  • There are some wonderful twitter users who retweet blog posts, my favorites include @femalebloggerRT and @theblogguideRT

Keep Blogging…  The more you blog, the more you will get read, it really is that simple.  Obviously don’t put posts up just for the hell of it but the more you blog the more you will get read and seen.

If you want more advice on blogging… I love You Baby Me Mummy, she has loads of ideas and suggestions on all things blogging.

Most of all, have fun… Have any other tips, comment and let me know and leave details of your own blog so that we can all take a look!

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The 5 Most Popular Posts of 2015

Cancer & Me, Delicious Healthy Recipes, To Love To Read, Writing & Blogging

I actually cannot believe today is New Years Eve and the end of 2015!  As NYE can make us a little reflective, I thought that I would give you all the links for the 5 most popular posts on this blog in 2015!

  1. The Stupid Things People Say When You Have Cancer! – This is actually my most popular post of all time, I think because it is just as useful for people who don’t have cancer as those who do.
  2. Top 5 Things to do When Someone Has Cancer – I imagine this is for a similar reason, it’s useful for everyone.
  3. Holy Island by LJ Ross – Book Review – This book was such a huge success for LJ Ross and people seem to like reading about Holy Island, just as much as they like reading Holy Island.  Final instalment is out this year, can’t wait!
  4. Kiddie Friendly Green Juice – AKA Dinosaur Juice – This post was actually from 2014 but remains one of my most read this year!  Clearly I need to be doing more posts on the healthy juices I get my kids to drink.
  5. The Problem with NOT Losing Your Hair When You Have Cancer – I remember being so nervous when I wrote this post.  It is a side of cancer that you don’t hear very much about and I was worried about people’s reaction to the post.  But I needn’t have been, you guys couldn’t have been kinder and I got some very sweet messages from people who had exactly the same thing.  I’m so pleased this post made it onto the list.

So there they are, my top 5!  Are they yours?  Was there another post you preferred?  Let me know in the comments.  And if there is anything you would like me to write more about, please feel free to let me know about that in the comments too.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!! Nx

Happy-New-Year-2016

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Ask Me!

Cancer & Me

A few lovely people have sent messages and emails about The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer, about the thought behind the book, things I have shared in the book or about the process of writing itself, like how and when do I write, about the publishing process which gave me an idea…

Why don’t you email, comment, Facebook or tweet a questions and I am going to do something a little different and make a vlog answering as many as possible?

So ask away, what would you like to know?

The Top 6 Things I Learnt at BritMums Live

Uncategorized, Writing & Blogging

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;

  1. It’s not all about the numbers.

IMG_9714I 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.

  1. Be authentic in what you write about.

IMG_9733This 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!

  1. Get camera savvy.

81e5a35d282fcd9dea66a038448e46b2I 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!

  1. 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.

  1. Ella Woodward from Deliciously Ella is just as normal as the rest of us.

IMG_9726 copy 2It 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!

  1. 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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I genuinely love to hear from you so come and say hi! Nx

Purchase The Fabulous Woman's Guide Through Cancer on Kindle or in Paperback here!

Purchase The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer on Kindle or in Paperback here!

Shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards!

Writing & Blogging

I am SO thrilled.  My blog has been shortlisted in the INSPIRE category.

Firstly, a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me.  Secondly, I have one more favour to ask….

VOTING FOR THE FINALIST IS NOW OPEN!

So please can I ask you to vote for me again?  Just click here, pop your details in, scroll down to the INSPIRE category, click on me and submit.

Thank you all so much and wish me luck!! Nx

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