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?

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.

100 Healthy Days – And So It Begins

Delicious Healthy Recipes, Journey Back to Health

Today is Day 2 of 100 Healthy Days.  If you have read my blog previously you will probably know that I am a total sugar addict, adore carbs and live for cheese.  Anything that your not supposed to eat on a healthy diet, I am totally and irrevocably in love with.  And its true love, the kind that lasts a lifetime.  So how do I break up with this love?  I figure its by loving myself more?!

My Green Juice - Kale, Cucumber, Avocado, Celery and Pineapple

My Green Juice – Kale, Cucumber, Avocado, Celery and Pineapple

I’m tired, I have put on weight, I had cancer which has strong links to diet.  I go through phases of eating well then eating crap then somewhere in the middle and this is what has led me to 100 Healthy Days.  I have seen the 100 Happy Days on Facebook and 100 Active Days on Twitter, there seem to be many versions of this 100 day campaign going on so I decided to make my own that would suit me.  They say it takes 30 days to make or break a habit so I am hoping after 100, it will become standard behaviour, even to a sugar-freak like me – that’s the plan anyway?!

I have found many versions of healthy eating and exercise, all with varying degrees of strictness so here is what I am going to do – I am not ‘giving up’ anything.  I know me (surprisingly) and if I do that, I will do nothing but think about what I can’t have and be eating chocolate covered ice-cream before you can say Green Juice.  This for me will all be about making better and healthier choices; for me that means;

  • Making fruit and vegetables the bulk of my diet.
  • Drinking at least 2 litres of water a day.
  • Drinking a Green Juice everyday.
  • Switching white for wholemeal grains.
  • Choosing homemade food from fresh and clean ingredients.

That sort of thing.

Book-Cover-2X8lTc1A few websites I have found valuable in deciding how to do this are Deliciously Ella and 100 Days of Real Food (you are allowed wine in this one, result) and Cookbooks wise it’s, Honestly Healthy by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson and Clean and Lean Cookbook by James Duggan.

I don’t believe good health just come’s down to food, it’s exercise too.  For that my mantra will be Move More!  So even if it is just to walk somewhere locally that I would normally drive too, that will be more movement and get me my ‘Move More’ gold star for the day… Ohhh, I may actually make a sticker chart to hang next to the kids,  such a geek, I know!

Sticker charts aside.  My first day went well eating wise and today has gone well moving wise.  Tomorrow I’m hoping for a bit more of a combination of the both.  But I am pleased, all moving in the right direction.  Just knowing I have decided to do this for 100 day’s seems to have made a big difference in my dedication to what I’m doing.

Coincidently, flicking through Good Housekeeping last night I found an article about giving anything up for 100 days and the impact it can have (what are the chances) and the author was specifically referencing the website Give It 100, you can do absolutely anything as long as it’s for 100 days and the site encourages users to post a daily blog charting their progress.  They are inspirational and worth a look even if you aren’t sure about going ahead, or maybe you will be inspired to do 100 of something else.

Clean Banana Breakfast Pancakes Recipe under Delicious Healthy Recipes

Clean Banana Breakfast Pancakes
Recipe under Delicious Healthy Recipes

Needless to say I will be updating my progress intermittently throughout the next 100 day’s, don’t worry you won’t be getting daily updates, but if you don’t already you can follow this blog by popping your email address in the box to the right (on a computer, below on your phone) and clicking follow and get updates straight to your inbox.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter, for in the moment thoughts!

Wish me luck! Nx

Is The Sun Setting on Hiding Your Colostomy?

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME

As I said in my Nicola B and the Two Big C’s blog post, I have never hidden the fact I have a colostomy, traditionally I have never made a massive point of it either.  This has changed slightly in the last few months.  Talking about it more openly through the fabulous Cancer Research UK and starting to write for Coloplast UK and this blog have all, on a very personal level, made the experience of living with a colostomy easier for me.

The colostomy still remains hidden in many ways.  I still dress in a way that keeps the bag unnoticeable, I generally wouldn’t mention if I was having a problem with it and even when writing articles about going on holiday or swimming with a colostomy, the emphasis has been on how to hide your bag and I think that I can generally say this is the same for most colostomy wearers (we generally refer to ourselves as Ostomates).

But something strange has been happening on my Facebook and twitter pages.  Photo after photo of ostomates proudly showing off their bags!  I think the most well-known would currently be the absolutely gorgeous Bethany Townsend with her photo in her bikini on honeymoon in Mexico.

1970702_869609589731765_188481301_nCrohn’s and Colitis UK shared Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s photo.
July 2 · Edited

“I’ve had Crohn’s since I was 3 years old but was misdiagnosed until I was 11. Just 4 weeks later I was having 16 inches of my bowel taken out.

Since then I’ve been on steroids, infliximab, methotrexate and every other drug going as well as being tube fed for 4 years. After five more operations my bowel burst 4 years ago and I ended up with two colostomy bags. They thought that would help until 4 weeks later and it was back.

10414574_930802690279121_2727569953559798389_nI then went on to have a stem cell transplant which was in trial in the UK, we all hoped it would work but unfortunately I caught MRSA of the skin and the blood and it nearly killed me twice. Since then my Crohn’s has still been extremely active, I’ve lost more weight and now I’m waiting for the NHS to fund a drug that hasn’t really been in the UK. If this doesn’t work a bowel transplant is in talks as I can’t have anymore of my intestine out as I haven’t got much left.. BUT I’m still hopeful.

Finally after three and a half years, I decided that my colostomy bags shouldn’t control my life. So when I went to Mexico with my husband in December last year I finally showed I wasn’t ashamed. Still hoping for a cure…”

#myCCUKstory by the truly brave and inspirational Bethany Townsend.

Help us find a cure by making a charity donation at https://www.justgiving.com/crohnsandcolitisuk or Text CCUK14 £5 to 70070

She looks SO totally gorgeous.  All I kept thinking when looking at it was, I wish I had that girls figure!  But Bethany isn’t the only one, there is also the amaze balls Blake Beckford and the wonderful Thalia Skye, all showing them off.

What does this mean for me?

Well I’m not putting a belly-selfie up yet although if I’m honest that’s more weight vanity than anything else.  (What??  Colostomy or no colostomy I’m still a girl!)  Once I reach my goal weight, I may consider it, but seriously,

When I started writing for Coloplast, they told me that their hope was to make having a colostomy as normal as glasses or a hearing aid, just something some people need to live life to the fullest.  This seemed a tall order because truth be known, I didn’t see my own colostomy like that.  I saw it as a hinderance, a cruel reminder left on my body by a hideous disease.  One that I accepted I had to live with and I was happy to get on with, but I hated it nonetheless.  If I hate it, how will anyone else ever accept it?

What these Ostomates have truly done for me is given me a confidence that I didn’t imagine I would ever have about my colostomy.  

It is not something to be shy about or hidden, it is something to be embraced and thankful for.

I honestly never thought I would reach a time in my life when I would think that about my colostomy.

So for that I am truly thankful to all ostomates who are putting themselves out there and normalising having a colostomy (or iliostomy – more about that in a later post).

My wonderful friend who bought me Fish and Chips when I was having my ‘This Too Shall Pass’ day said, “surely its just like underwear”.  I had never thought of it like that but she is so right.  Non-ostomates cover their privates with pants and knickers, I cover mine with a bag…. I do also still wear knickers… just wanted to make that clear!

The shifts that are happening in my brian at the moment are nothing short of miraculous and I truly have all the amaze balls Ostomates who are sharing their stories to thank for it xxx

As well as my friends, family, Cancer Research (especially you Tom) and Coloplast, love you guys xxx

 

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