The Bourne Diagnosis – Nicola B & the Big C

Cancer & Me

I posted this article 2 years ago today and it is still one of my most read… My experience getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer and beyond…

Nicola Bourne

I knew that I had cancer.  I had a strong inner feeling and I knew.  I was experiencing textbook symptoms and had a basic knowledge based on a strong family history – my mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandfather all died from Bowel Cancer at ‘young’ ages.  Even so, getting diagnosed was not as easy as it should have been.

I had been getting rectal bleeding on and off, probably since 2006.  Over the years I had visited various GPs but they always said the same, that I was too young to have  Bowel Cancer, it was probably a small internal cut and if the bleeding went,  there was nothing to worry about.  The bleeding would stop so as far as the GPs were concerned, that was that.  I now know that the bleeding was probably polyps in the colon, which can bleed intermittently and it is these polyps that grow into cancerous…

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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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Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – Day 5

Cancer & Me

Another common misconception about Bowel Cancer… If you experience rectal bleeding and then it goes away, that doesn’t mean it was nothing.

This is something I was told by a GP and was something a lady I recently spoke to had also heard the same statement from her GP.

colon_cancer-resized-600.jpgI was told that if the bleeding stopped, that would indicate that it was probably a small tear in the colon and nothing to worry about.  I now know this is not always the case.  Polyps – which can develop into cancerous tumours – can bleed sporadically.  So just because the bleeding has stopped, it doesn’t mean that everything is OK.

 

The only way to truly know is to have a colonoscopy so get a referral from your GP! 

More in colonoscopy’s soon…..

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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

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

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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5 Tips When Going for a CT Scan

Cancer & Me

Now I have had a few over the years, I have learnt a few things that are well worth remembering when going for a CT scan…

  • Unless are rather partial to the ‘property of the NHS, do not remove’ printed gown, don’t wear anything with metal on, by that I mean zips, buttons, wires. like a track suit or dress.  As long as you have no metal you can keep your clothes on and don’t have to change into a gown.
  • Fellow girls – don’t wear an underwire bra, same reasons as above!
  • There is no positive way to spin it, the drink they send you to drink is rank!  I have tried it with ever flavour cordial and I can confirm that blackcurrant masks the taste the best.  Also don’t hold back when adding cordial.  This isn’t lightly flavouring water, it’s making it drinkable so my advice, go for it!
  • A chaser.  Unfortunately I don’t mean anything to exciting, but with a CT scan you can normally eat and drink so I like to follow it straight up with a drink I like the taste of to ‘cleanse my pallet’!
  • Allow a fair bit of time either side of your appointment.  As well as needing you to be there 30 minutes early (which it should say in your letter, for you to drink yet more of the drink) they ask you to stay for 15 minutes afterwards to make sure you are feeling OK after your scan so make sure to leave extra time.

CT scans are quick, you can see the radiographers, the machine is cylinder but not a tube so you shouldn’t feel claustrophobic.

Best of luck, Nx

Life – but not as you knew it: Tired of being tired?

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

Oh my gosh, this is exactly how I feel. In a way I am relieved it’s an actual thing & not me going mad. I have said so many times this is more than ‘being tired’ and it’s not to do with being a busy mum. It is all encompassing & mental as well as physical.

It is also true that rest doesn’t usually help but your not able to do anything either, even think clearly, so your left in a very strange & uncomfortable place.

Fantastic article….

Shine Cancer Support Blog

Fatigue is one of those issues that many people living with cancer experience, but that few discuss and even fewer understand.  At Shine, we know that fatigue often lasts far longer than the period when everyone expects you to be ill – if you’ve finished your treatment, friends and family often expect you to be back to normal relatively soon. And if you’re living with a chronic cancer, you might not look ill or tired, making it even more tricky to explain to people exactly why you feel so wiped out.

In this week’s blog, Sam shares her experiences of coping with fatigue, the impact is has, and how she is coping. Please share this if you can – the more people understand how tiring cancer is the better!


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Guest blogger: Sam Reynolds

The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.
–…

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Sky News, Social Media, Selfies, Colostomy’s and People Who Don’t Want To Know

Colosto-ME, Press Appearances

I was so excited when I got a phone call asking if I would be interviewed for Sky News.  The chance to talk about Cancer and Colostomy’s on actual real-life national news, yes please! The premiss behind the segment was looking at how social media gives people a chance to express what they are going through and interact with campaigns like Cancer Research UK‘s #NoMakeUpSelfie and Colitis UK & Bowel Cancer Research‘s #GetYourBellyOut.  My part was recorded a few hours before through Skype (so clever) and inserted into the segment. I didn’t know which part of the interview they are going to include and a wide topic became quite a specific issue so I wanted to discus what they didn’t have time to show. Why Are Campaigns Such as ‘No Make-Up Selfie’ Amazeballs? 11870_10152357217119474_281799384_nI think one reason is the ability to engage with the charity.  You can send a photo and the charity can post their own pictures like this one that Cancer Research posted on Facebook in March.  I was fascinated to learn how the money raised was being spent. It’s an easy way to get involved and do something positive for charity.  I am never going to run a marathon but I can take a photo, have a giggle and text donate £5 with minimal physical training required. It’s also a bit of fun.  We are used to presenting our best-selves on social media, it’s fun seeing everyone strip that back and show it like it is. Why Use Social Media to Discuss Delicate Issues? When first having a colostomy I felt very isolated, ashamed and embarrassed.  It is through speaking about it, explaining, hopefully educating and experiencing the lovely support from people, that I have become more accepting.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get embarrassed but have decided rather than shrink away from the embarrassment to power through it and gain strength from it. 603591_10153939743255153_437681074_nI haven’t done a Colostomy-Selfie but for #GetYourBellyOut I posted this picture and donated.  Even showing some scarring took a lot of courage and was a real break-through moment for me. What About the Poor People Who Don’t Want to See Colostomy’s? Ahh, those poor people, unable to scroll down or look away, must make life very difficult for them. Ok, seriously. Sky News asked this and it’s something I have seen people saying online.  I understand not wanting to see it.  I wouldn’t have wanted to see it before I had one and this is exactly why we need to see them.  The more we see something the more normal it becomes.  If people were posting pictures saying ‘look at me wearing glasses’ you would think, so what?!  It’s only because traditionally ostomates have hidden their bags that it seems novel to see one. “Showing A Colostomy Doesn’t Change Anything?!” This is something I keep hearing and I couldn’t disagree more.  I did touch on this in the interview.  It has helped my confidence and acceptance hugely.  It has given friends and family an insight into what it is and as a result they have been even more wonderful and supportive.  And really it goes back to the point I just made about people having to get used to seeing ostomy’s. 10414574_930802690279121_2727569953559798389_n“Bethany Townsend only got this huge publicity because she’s pretty” I agree, but that is what makes it perfect.  When I looked at her picture I thought,”wow she’s beautiful” and that’s the point.  It is her beauty that you notice and the bag becomes inconsequential.  It’s there and part of her but it’s not what defines her – her beauty and amazing figure do that.  To be fair, I am sure there is a lot more to Bethany and she is defined by more than the way she looks. For me, Bethany’s bags not being what I was looking at was liberating in reminding me that I’m not defined by my bag either.

I find it hilarious that people can’t believe she’s pretty, like only ugly people get sick

Being pretty and having a colostomy aren’t mutually exclusive!

The BEST Thing About The Colostomy-Selfie That they have started these conversations.  When else would a colostomy be discussed on Sky News?  Or Facebook, Twitter, numerous blogs etc…  Whether people like it or not and want to discuss it or not, it’s out there now and I am hoping this is a massive leap in the move to helping ostomy’s become a more understood and talked about, normal way of life.photo copy 4 If you missed the segment on Sky News don’t panic you can watch it here….  It’s about 10 minutes in. Sky News – Digital Generation 13th July 2014 Shockingly no one recognised me walking down the street after it aired, guess I am a little way off TV superstar status my mother-in-law thinks I now have! 🙂   Please let me know what you think.  Would you do it?  Have you done it?  Do you like / hate it?  Click on comments and let me know. Follow this blog!   Just add your email address and press FOLLOW, click on the email and you will get an update every time I post – it also gives me a warm glow when people follow, I genuinely love it! 🙂 You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.