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

Follow this blog to get latest posts and updates straight to your inbox.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

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

The Anti-Bucket List 2015

Any Human Heart, The Anti-Bucket List

If you have been following me for a while you will probably be aware of my Anti-Bucket Lists but if you haven’t or need reminding you can read all about it here but basically, when I was having treatment for advanced Colorectal Cancer I decided that when I got better I would flip the traditional ‘things-to-do-before-I-die-Bucket-List’ idea and came up with ‘The Anti-Bucket List’… these are things I am going to do because I’m alive.

My list for 2014 was;

Holly at her first Ballet performance

Holly at her first Ballet performance

  • Go to a fancy Horse Race – My lovely hubby took me to Royal Ascot and it was everything I hoped, including seeing the Queen and Prince Harry.  You can read about it here.
  • See a Ballet at the Royal Opera House – It wasn’t at the Royal Opera House but I took my daughter to see her first ballet, you English National Ballet performing Swan Lake in Milton Keynes and it was amazing and a very special mummy-daughter moment.
  • Visit Harry Potter world at Letchworth Studios – I ended up going to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios instead!!  Oh yeah!! I was literally like a kid at Christmas.
  • Take part in Cancer Research’s Colour Run – They didn’t do one last year 😦
  • Go somewhere I haven’t been before – Benhavis in Spain – if you are in the area, it is beautiful and well worth a visit.

My Anti-Bucket List for 2015;

  • See the Book of Mormon – been meaning to see it for ages.
  • Visit Harry Potter at Letchworth Studios – going to Florida has made me want to visit even more.
  • Visit somewhere new – This was on my list last year but I think this will remain on my list forever.
  • Do the Tougher Mudder race for Cancer Research. Am hoping this will be achievable by the end of my #100ActiveDays?!
  • Visit a new Spa – sometimes you just need a bit of a break and I know that I do now so a Spa weekend will be just what the doctor ordered… and I think I could get away with considering it research?! 🙂
  • Organise a family get-together for no reason.  I love my extended family and so rarely get to see everyone altogether outside of weddings. Christenings, funerals etc…  So I am going to try to organise a ‘Just Because I Love You’ get-together.
  • Add a lock to the Love Lock Bridge in Paris – sounds cheesy but fun, making our mark on Paris forever.

As always I am looking for new inspired ideas so if you have any, please leave a comment below and let me know.  I had some great ones last year and as a result did even more cool stuff, would love that again.  I would also love to hear what is on your list so let me know.

images

 

Make my day and follow this blog, just click FOLLOW in the right column
You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Come and say hi, I would love to hear from you!

When Nicola Met Cancer Research UK – How Research Helped Save Me

Cancer & Me

Last week I was asked to speak at a couple of Cancer Research UK events about my experience, which I was thrilled to do.  The benefit of research is something I’ve experienced first hand, I am passionate about it and it’s why I am a massive fan of Cancer Research – and pretty much everyone I know who works there!

This is my story, that I shared during my CR-UK speeches (not word for word, my memory isn’t that good).  Can you believe I totally forgot to take photo’s!  Imagine me looking slightly nervous but trying to appear confident and lots of very lovely people watching and that’s basically what it looked like.

Finding Out

I found out in January 2012 that I had Bowel Cancer.  I was 31.  I wasn’t shocked.  I knew I was experiencing classic symptoms as I had a strong family history.  My mother died from bowel cancer in 2008, she was only 52, after having bowel cancer for the first time in 2003.  My Grandmother also died of bowel cancer in 2004 when only 69.

Despite this, getting diagnosed was hard (I’ve talked about this at length here).  Mainly due to an outdated thought held by GP’s that bowel cancer is an “old” persons disease.  I was also pregnant and some of the symptoms crossed over.  When I reached the point my symptoms were unbearable I fought for tests until my GP referred me.  My daughter was only 6 weeks old.

Diagnosis

After having a PET scan, I discovered just how extensive the cancer was.  It was stage 3C, meaning it was as far spread as it could be without reaching another major organ.  I was told I needed ‘radical’ treatment meaning I would be very ill and unable to care for my children on my own.  I was also informed that the treatment would bring on early menopause, infertility and I would need a permanent colostomy bag.  Armed with all this information I went into a year of physical hell.

Treatment

I assumed my treatment would be the same as my mum, I was completely wrong.  In 2003 my mum had surgery followed by 6 months of weekly chemotherapy given through a drip in hospital.  My mother heard about a new type of chemotherapy in a tablet form that you could take at home. Mum asked her oncologist if she could change but was told it was still in the trial stages and not yet available.

Getting to be at home with my baby girl

Getting visited in bed by my baby girl

10 years later those chemo tablets were now the standard treatment for bowel cancer and what I was given.  This was a landmark moment for me, getting to benefit from that trial 10 years earlier.  I received 1 dose of chemo intravenously in hospital, followed by chemotherapy tablets taken at home everyday for 2 weeks. This meant;

  • I could be with my children more
  • Easier with visitors
  • It’s just a fact that being on your own sofa is a thousand times nicer than being in a chemo ward!

Obviously there is more to developing a new type of chemotherapy than comfort.  It’s a more effective way to treat bowel cancer.

I was fascinated finding out that Cancer Research UK were involved in developing part of the chemotherapy tablet I was put on.

My treatment was also delivered differently.  I had my treatment at Addenbrookes hospital where they had been researching and trialling the order in which a patient receives cancer treatment.  Under the trials, patients were given chemotherapy targeting the whole body first, then radiotherapy and daily doses of chemotherapy targeting the tumour, surgery and lastly more chemotherapy.  My oncologists believed this would be a much more effective way of treating my cancer and I truly believe it was.  When they came to operate my cancerous tumour the size of a cricket ball had completely melted away.  Most importantly this means my chances of it coming back have dropped drastically – all good!

It wasn’t just the treatment that had improved, everything had.  From the understanding of bowel cancer to the genetic developments.  From the patients perspective to the general care for my well-being and side effects whilst on the horror that is chemo!

All round, I truly got to experience the different that research and development can make.

 The treatment was still hard, verging on impossible sometimes with me wanting to give up.

I know there is no ‘good’ time to have cancer but I did feel particularly unlucky to have it with a 3 month  and  2-year-old.  I felt like I missed most of Holly’s first year.  After getting to spend every moment with James when he was a baby, this was really difficult for me.  I missed the first time she rolled over and sat up, the nanny we were forced to hire enjoyed these.  I will always remember fondly that when Holly stood up and lifted her leg as if to take her first step, our nanny quickly pushed her over before she could and carried her around for the rest of the day so I wouldn’t miss it – bless!  Of course Holly didn’t try walking again for another couple of weeks but I was there to see it.  At the time husband used to say;

“Holly doesn’t care if you see her roll over for the first time or not, she cares that you are alive, to be with her and watch her grow up.”

Ain’t that the truth!

Cancer’s Legacy

Even though the cancer is gone, certain things remained.  Like the colostomy.  Early menopause and HRT.  Antidepressants I was put on to get me through the end of my treatment when I wanted to stop.  An emotional battle to comprehend everything I had been through.  But it’s not all bad news…

Cancer has left me with a strength I didn’t realist I had.  It’s the reason that I have fulfilled lifelong ambitions like finally going to university, becoming a writer and speaking in public.

When You Give to Charities Like Cancer Research UK

Without wanting to sound completely narcissistic, it feels like you are directly helping me and mine.  It feels like a very personal gift to me.  Whether it’s time, money, help, it directly impacts how me and my family are, and how our futures will be.

I know that I have a genetic cancer but at the moment the genetic link is unknown.  Once found, we will be able to see if my family are effected by it.  This will be breakthrough research for me.

Looking at the differences between mine and my mum’s treatment in just 10 years gives me confidence of where we will be in 10 years time, or 20 years when my children may be facing it.  If research continues the way it has been going, they will be walking into a very different landscape of treatment, understanding and chances of reoccurrence.

I believe research saved my life and for that I will always be truly thankful.

 

If you are feeling inspired to help – FANTASTIC NEWS!  Stand Up To Cancer is coming, click on the pic and GET INVOLVED!  Or you can donate directly to my Just Giving Page

su2c_logo

jg-logo-header-purple

Make my day and Follow my blog – pop your email in the box on the right to subscribe.

Please do share, like, comment on this post using all the buttons below

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter

This Too Shall Pass

Any Human Heart, Colosto-ME, Family Matters, Journey Back to Health, What's Happening?

I am having a tough day.  I have hay-fever so bad it is making my head foggy and I am struggling to write this post as just looking down is making my nose run.  My kids are doing everything they know they shouldn’t and completely ignoring me when I try to retain some semblance of control.  Worst of all, I had a horrendous leak from my colostomy bag.  Had I been out and about, I would have classed as one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life, thankfully I was home so able to sort myself out.

Why am I telling you all this, it’s not for an outpour of sympathy I promise but for a couple of reasons;

  • Firstly – If I am going to write about my life and experiences, I think it should be an honest representation.  There are days when I handle everything that has happened to me and my toddlers terrible two’s with (what I hope is) a positive grace, but there are other days when its hard, I want to give up and wish I didn’t have to deal with any of it.  This is one of those days.
  • Secondly – This must happen to others so I want them to know they aren’t alone, it happens to all of us.  Negative emotions are a part of life and an inability to talk about them can leave people feeling isolated and like they are the only one.

If there is one thing I have learnt over the last couple of years of cancer, treatment, aftershock, child-rearing and just life in general, it’s that, these feelings do pass, life will go on and another day (another hour in some cases) things will be easier.  In essence – this too shall pass.

The fantastic thing I have found by thinking ‘this too shall pass’ when things are rough, is that it stops me falling into to much of a downward spiral.  It reminds me to try and accept my emotions for what they are.  Sometimes tricky, sometimes difficult but I try to let them wash over me and move on and help myself where I can.  Like this morning…. a trip to Boots to buy a million Loperamide’s (which helps to take water out of the colon and should stop another leak) and bought the kids to an indoor play place to burn off some hyperactivity and I can try to get my head together through writing.

Hopefully missions accomplished but if not, don’t worry about me, this too shall pass.

Anything you think that helps when feeling blue?  If so please click on ‘leave a comment’ above and let me know, may help others too.

Nx

UPDATE

Firstly thank you to everyone who sent such sweet supportive messages, you are all so kind.  I also wanted to let you all know that ‘this too HAS passed’.  I already feel back to my normal self, thanks in large to my wonderful friend ordering Fish & Chips for tea and getting them delivered to the park where we were playing with the kids – genius!

But I also know this this too will pass and I may feel blue again another day but when it does I will be able to think to myself again – this too shall pass x

photo

 

Did you know you can follow this blog – just pop you email address into the box on the right to receive my posts straight into your inbox (but don’t forget to click on the activation email to get started)

Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/innerhaven

Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/njbrn

Thoughts on mother’s day- just because I am a not a mum…

Family Matters

With Mother’s Day approaching tomorrow I thought I would reblog this fantastic post. I hope you find it as insightful as I did.
With love xx

Gladstone Bag

 

So how are the cats June, have you decided to add to your litter?

 It was this seemingly innocuous question by a lovely mother of twins, at a recent birthday party for a friend’s little girl that stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized that not being a mother immediately made me a crazy cat lady in her mind.

Did all other women see me like this?

It also drove home the point that because I wasn’t a mother the only other thing women who are lucky enough to be mothers, could think to ask me about, was cats.

Don’t get me wrong as everyone who knows me will tell you I adore our cats. In fact I love all animals. I also love my wonderful siblings, my gorgeous nieces and nephews, my very handsome husband, my dad, and I miss my lovely mum every day.

I love…

View original post 1,065 more words