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

Birthday Giveaway!

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

Virtual Book Tour

As ‘The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer’ Virtual Book Tour coincides with my birthday I thought it was the perfect excuse for a Birthday Giveaway!

To enter, just pop your name and email address in here and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Find out about all the goodies that I have ready to send out to you in this video…

To enter, just pop your name and email address in here and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Already signed up, no worries, that means you are already entered into the draw!

Hope you are enjoying the Virtual Book Tour.  I am having the best time doing it, but would love to hear what you guys think, so please do let me know.  And don’t forget that we have LOADS more coming up.  I have a book review coming on The Writing Garnet, I am giving an interview at TEND Nutrition, a guest blog post about writing at Womb Cancer Support UK, a webinar about how to get started writing at Coaching Emily, my Birthday Giveaway draw, and a review at Through the Looking Glass… Plenty more to keep you entertained.

Nx

 

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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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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What’s Different in the UPDATED EDITION?

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

the_fabulous_womans_cover_for_kindleI wrote the first edition of The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer around a year and a half ago.  I received some wonderful feedback (thank you all).  I also received requests for more information about certain aspects. I realised there was still so much more to say.  Some people suggested I write a second book but I decided to update this book.  I wanted anyone to have all the information they needed, not to need to buy more than one book.  And so that is what I did, I set about writing an UPDATED EDITION of the The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer.

The UPDATED EDITION still retains the essence of the first edition, combining self-help practicalities with personal memoir but it is nearly double in length, now at 366 pages.  Each chapter includes even more information, there are additional chapters,  plenty of fabulous an inspirational quotes and even more personal memoir setions and practical, useable tips.

More fabulous women have kindly reflected on their personal experiences including, Kaz, founder of Womb Cancer Support UK.  Beth, blogger at Tumor Has It.  Emily, founder of Coach Therapy Support.  Alice, blogger at Through the Looking Glass.  Eleanor, blogger at Ballet Mum and even more lovely ladies who don’t blog about their experiences.

It also now includes expertise from specialists, such as, TEND NutritionSabrina’s Wig BoutiqueTracey Gray Mann Make-Up ArtistBibliomaniac Book BloggerEsme Winterflood LashesNicola Jane Mastectomy Bra’s and Swimwear, Shona Harding from Moving Picture Review as well as personal experiences with Cancer doctors and nurses.

The layout is improved making it easier to locate specific sections. The text is broken down into bite size chunks, boxes, italics and bullet points – ideal if you are suffering from chemo brain. There is more practical information that will be useful for friends and family, or for women with cancer to give to their friends and family.

I am so proud of this book.  I hope that women and their friends and family continue to find it useful.  As I said in a recent interview, “knowing that I have been able to use my love of writing and turn something so negative into something positive that can help others, is quite simply amazing.”

I can’t wait to hear what you think.  As always, please leave comments on Amazon, Good Reads and let anyone you think may want to know, all about it.

So much love and thanks x

Nicola’s style strikes a great balance between the chatty, informal, supportive voice of a friend as well as being clear, practical and pragmatic. It is an invaluable companion for any woman going through cancer and for any friend looking to support the fabulous woman in their life.” – Bibliomaniac

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Book Review – The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer, Nicola Bourne

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

Another wonderful review of my book….

SH*T HAPPENS

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I jumped at the chance to review this book by Nicola Bourne as I’m always interested in an alternative perspective to cancer, especially those of other women who are/have been on a similar journey. Myself and Nicola have had similar experiences in having bowel cancer that has resulted in a colostomy, so I was extra interested in this read!

The book that Nicola has written is less about her personal cancer battle and more of an uplifting book full of useful tips on how to make your cancer journey a less negative experience. It’s a great little reminder that you may be ill, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and live your life whilst you’re undergoing treatment. I loved the tips on how your can (safely) pamper yourself, on how to party without the stress and the mess and most importantly of all that you don’t have…

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My Top 6 Books of 2014

To Love To Read

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

1. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES BY KAREN JOY FOWLER

I have a no-reading during the University year rule but it was quite rightfully broken for this novel. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t talk about the plot and just say this – this novel is thought-provoking, clever, character-driven, wonderfulness. My best book of the year and an awesome way to finish off reading in 2014!

 

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

2. PRECIOUS THING BY COLETTE McBETH

A complete surprise for me, this book left me hungry for more and gripped all the way through. Are our own memories the truth? Read this book! I believe the author has another coming out soon – can’t wait!

 

Diary of an Interesting Year

3. DIARY OF AN INTERESTING YEAR BY HELEN SIMPSON

I read this short story that featured in ‘The New Yorker’ as part of my degree and thought it was amazingly clever on many levels. A revealing look at how our planet may crumble around us in the future but remains totally character driven by looking at it on a personal and humbling level. Here’s a link to the story… 

 

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer4. THE SHOCK OF THE FALL BY NATHAN FILER

I’m sure you have heard of the wonderfulness that is this book already, given all the well deserved awards. I found it captivating, moving and slightly heartbreaking and giving an incredible insight into things I haven’t experienced. A book to fall in love with.

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Betrayal by Harold Pinter5. BETRAYAL BY HAROLD PINTER

This is actually a script, which again I had to read for university, but it is so beautifully written and the stage directions are so fabulous that it is just as clear as if reading a novel. Full of lies and deceit between the people closest to you. I can’t wait to see it on stage!

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Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom6. TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE BY MITCH ALBOM

I think we could all do with a Morrie in our lives. Published sometime ago this book was recommended to me and gives the most wonderful insight into life choices. A good one for the new year!

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Did you have any books you particularly loved reading in 2014?  If so please let me know, I would love to add them to my ever-growing list!  Stick a comment in the box at the bottom of the page.  Thanks.

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Hot Days Summer Reading

To Love To Read

Laying on a sunlonger, feeling the heat, none of the day-to-day stuff to worry about, absorbed in a fantastic book – heaven!  It’s not quite that simple now I have children but still a little more time that normal.

A few lovely people have been asking me what I would recommend for them to read on holiday.  You can look at my ‘To Love To Read’ section and see the books I have read recently and loved and from there my favourites would be The Fault in Our Stars, The Shock of the Fall, A Single Breath and Precious Thing, but  here are a few others you might want to consider, plus what I will be taking with me on holiday.

My Recommendations

  • The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke – This was Lucy’s debut novel and also a Richard & Judy must read.  Set at gorgeous locations all over the world and with a twisting story to unfold, I think its a beach must have.
  • The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty – I devoured this book.  Makes you think, what secrets would you keep to protect the ones you love.
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – If you really want to get stuck into a long book, set in a different time and different continent but deeply emotional and heartfelt then I would recommend this old classic.

My Hot Summer Reads

  • Curious: True Stories and Loose Connections by Rebecca Front – I know Rebecca as an actress but it turns out she is also written some of my favourite comedy shows.  This is a book of witty tales from her life and I do love a good laugh, especially when reading on holiday so I am seriously looking forward to this book.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – This has been on my book shelf for a while and given the size I just haven’t started it, holiday will be the perfect time to read this Man Booker Prize winning novel.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – The author of memoirs Eat Pray Love and Committed has written her first novel which I am looking forward to reading.

What are you Hot Summer must have reads?  I am happy to be over optimistic about the amount of reading time so want to add a few more to the pile.  Let me know in the comments section…

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XOXO

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom – Book Review

To Love To Read

This book was recommended to me by a couple of people, but I have no idea how I had never read this book before.  I had never even heard of it and I am now so thankful that I have it in my life.  It is the most profound book and I challenge anyone not to feel their perspective changed and improved as a result of reading this book -and to not fall in love with the wonderful Morrie.

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The book, the story, the words, everything about Tuesdays with Morrie is just beautiful.    It was Morrie’s last wish that this story was put into the world and it is such a gift to everyone who reads it.  I believe this is the sort of book people should read once every couple of years, just to remind us what’s important and enjoy these wonderful words.

I would have loved to hear a little more detail of their conversations and about Morrie specifically, his family.  Those things were quickly moved over and for such a short book, I think he could have given more detail here.  But that is probably just because I am in love with Morrie and want to know everything about him!

I could not recommend this book enough to everyone.

Enjoy.  A complete 4.5 out of 5

The Anti-Bucket List

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health, The Anti-Bucket List

I think everyone is now familiar with the term Bucket List as a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket.  When I was having treatment for advanced Colorectal Cancer  I decided that when I got better I would flip the idea and came up with The Anti-Bucket List… these were things I was going to do, not because I was going to die, but because I was going to live.  Got the idea?

I see this as different to New Years Resolutions because I consider those the be goals of the year, whereas this list is more things I want to do and experience.

Last year I only included a few things as I was still having treatment / recovering but there were;

  1. Travel to somewhere I haven’t been before / Travel for the first time with my P1010291colostomy bag – I went to Morocco.  Truly amazing experience.  I was so nervous to travel for the first time with a colostomy bag but in reality it was fine.  Just made sure I had plenty of everything (I took about 2 months worth for 3 nights) and in all different bags in case something happened, but nothing did.  No trouble flying.  Everything was cool.  Have now flown a few times, all fine.  And Morocco itself was out of this world.  It is firmly at the high end of my favourite places to go list (Mexico remains number 1).
  2. Go to University – Wasn’t easy and at times I wondered why I put it on the list but I did it.  I now go to the University of Hertfordshire reading English Literature, Philosophy & Writing and I absolutely LOVE it.  It is one of my favourite things to do on earth at the moment.
  3. Read another 3 books of my list – My list is the BBC Top 100 Reads voted by the public.  Its been really good actually, made me read loses of books I wouldn’t have otherwise, most of which I have really enjoyed.

So that was last year, but what about this year…  This is what I have so far…

  1. Go to a fancy Horse Race – by that I mean like Ascot, a traditional big race where the ladiesIMG_2621 get seriously dressed up.
  2. See a Ballet at the Royal Opera House –  I haven’t been for years.
  3. Visit Harry Potter world at Letchworth Studios – as close as I can get to the real thing.
  4. Take part in Cancer Research’s Colour Run – Have you seen how much fun this looks… has to be done.  If you want move information about it, visit www.thecolourrun.co.uk or if you want to know more about why Cancer Research means so much to me specifically you can click here!
  5. Go somewhere I haven’t been before – This doesn’t have to be abroad, there is still a lot in the UK I haven’t seen.  Quite like the idea of the outer-Heberdies… anyone have any suggestions?

So that is the Anti-Bucket list as it stands but I am looking for inspiration and things to add so please leave and comment & let me know what else I can do that will bring fun and excitement to this year I’m living.

But, most importantly, what is on your Anti-Bucket list?  I really would like to know leave a comment & tell me.

Whatever it is, hope you have fun doing it! x

Some other awesome lists to check out….

101 Things to Do When You Survive

Bucket List Publications