The Reality of Getting Ill After Cancer

Cancer & Me

What do you do, when your favourite place is also your absolute worst?  When I remember having cancer I am always in one of two places.  One (as you would expect) is the hospital, the other is in bed at home.  Both were accompanied by dark emotions of fear, anxiety and discomfort — physical and mental.

Although it was more comfortable being in bed at home, it was also scarier.  The security of having medical staff, diagnostic tools and the (seriously good) painkillers nearby would be stripped away and I would feel so much more vulnerable.  I couldn’t press a little buzzer and say to someone within a matter of moments; Is this normal?  Should I be concerned?  I think something is wrong.  I had to determine those things on my own and would be constantly double guessing my own judgement.

img_7779

If you follow me on social media, you will probably know that over the last few months I have had a number of bladder infections, kidney infections and Sepsis.  The most recent being last week when I ended up in A&E — again!  Each time these illness’ have seriously knocked me for six and I have ended up back in bed for days whilst the medication does its thing. Immediately I am thrown back into a very strange headspace.

I don’t worry about it being cancer or anything like that, but being back in bed is still very triggering for me.  Those feelings of fear, anxiety and discomfort come back.  The vulnerability of taking responsibility for whether I am OK or not and the constant double guessing of myself, overwhelms me.  The ability to see an infection as just an illness being easily treated is lost as I fall headfirst down the emotional rabbit hole.

Being in bed whilst sick gets me so upset and tearful, even though logically I know I am being ridiculous.  I know I haven’t got cancer.  I know once the antibiotics kick-in I’ll be fine.  I know that unlike before, I’m not going to be stuck in bed for months on end with a complete lack of control over myself and my health.  Even so, it still triggers all of these negative emotions and connotations.

img_7784

There is a reason for this.  It is caused by the way our brains hold onto emotional memories and create shortcuts.  Once the brain associates a ‘thing’ with an ’emotion’ — in my case, being in bed sick = fear, vulnerability and very long-term, severe illness — the brain will quickly recall that emotional memory when in a similar situation.*

As horrible as my sickness recalls are, they are nowhere near as bad as they used to be.  I’m getting better at saying to myself – this is just an emotional memory, it’s not what’s happening now, but it’s not a flawless system.  Sometimes I’m so in the depth of despair, I’m not able to remind myself, but I do try and I am getting better.  Plus, as I continue to get ill and recover, my brain will start to create new shortcuts and I will have a different set of memory recalls.  It will just take time.

img_7769

I think this story serves as a reminder that cancer isn’t over and done with as soon as the doctor says, you’re all clear.  As with anything, it takes time for the emotional fall-out to settle, for your emotional resilience to build back up and for your brain to create new shortcuts.  It is also a great reminder that it is not a straight upward line from feeling shite to feeling fine all the time.  Like life, there are up’s and down’s, followed by one step forward then ten steps back, followed by a few stumbles along the way.

So if, like me, you are feeling all the things right now, logical and completely illogical, just know that you’re not alone – I’m right there with you!

Stay healthy!
Nx

stay in touch... copyimages-2 Unknown-2 images-1

About Nicola
Nicola is the author of ‘The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer’ part memoir, part guide for people going through, or supporting someone going through cancer.  Nicola has also published creative fiction and non-fiction, and copyedits and writes for others.   Nicola also runs online  Writing Workshops throughout the year, sharing her love of reading and writing with everyone!

*You can read more about emotional memory here…

Non-Fiction November Recommendations

To Love To Read

It’s non-fiction November and I love it.  There are SO many wonderful non-fiction books, everything from creative non-fiction and memoirs to literary journalism and essays.  There is something incredible about reading something and knowing that it is a true and lived experience.

These are just a few of my favourite non-fiction books that you might want to think about picking up this November…

71UzoY91DTLThe Outrun by Amy Liptrot

I loved this book.  It is a memoir following Amy Liptrot through a point of major change in her life of extremes.  Going from living in one of the most remote and quietest parts of Scotland to a hedonistic lifestyle in London that quickly spiralled out of control and finding her way back again.  It’s incredibly moving, beautifully written and gives an amazing insight into the mind of an addict.  This book will also make you want to desperately visit the Shetland Islands!

51D5+AsHk0L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

This book is so unique.  Nelson is also a poet which I think comes across in her work because the sentence structures are so stunning.  This memoir reflects on the woman’s body through the lens of Nelson’s relationship with her body when she is pregnant and her gender fluid partner’s body as they transition.  The text is very fragmented and jumps around time like she is trying to piece all her memories together.

9781408859261The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury

This is one of my favourite books of all time.  Katharine Norbury’s memoir is  one of the most beautiful books I’ve read.  It combines memoir and nature writing, following Norbury’s journey to the source of a river in the UK after she has a miscarrige.

This book does broach the subject of miscarrige, although its not discussed in length, I think its worth giving a trigger warning for a very sensitive subject.

91h3nXHn+dLMen We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Ohhh this book!  Writer Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life in just five years!  In this beautifully written memoir, Ward reflects on her relationships with these men and what lead to their deaths, as a way to look at the circumstances that young black men who live in poverty often find themselves in.  Let your eyes be opened and your heart moved by this incredibly honest book!

coverNo Is Not Enough by Namoi Klein

I am reading this book at the moment.  It is about ‘shock politics’ and how someone like Donald Trump (who she calls the ultimate logo) can become President of the USA.  Although it’s about America, a worrying amount is relevant to the UK at the moment!  It also looks at how we, as societies can stop letting fear taking over and bring unity back. As Klein says, ‘This is a look at how we arrived at this surreal political moment, how to keep it from getting a lot worse, and how, if we keep our heads, we can flip the script.’

51dyNorWnNL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer by… me!

Given that it is non-fiction, I kinda feel like I have to mention my book.  Part self-help and part memoir this book moves from diagnosis to getting the all clear, trying to offer everything that I learned along the way.

 

Do you have any non-fiction books that you would recommend?  If so, please leave a comment in the comments section below… I am always looking for books to add to my list of books to be read!

image1

Happy Reading! 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

 

Come with me to Los Angeles!

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

Virtual Book Tour Love

Gosh I wish I really could feel that LA heat BUT let’s Virtually head over there and visit Esme Winterflood at her LA Lash Studio on Venice Beach.

Esme is sharing her excerpt from The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer where she gives all the tips and tricks for lashes when you are going through chemotherapy.

So head over and visit Esme Winterflood here

vbt-esme-winterflood-new

 

 

We still have loads more to come with our Virtual Book Tour so make sure that you sign up here to stay up to date with everything that’s going on and remember to pass it on! xx

Did you see the previous Virtual Book Tour stops?

screen-shot-2017-03-06-at-09-25-45.pngTalent Keepers
Guest post ‘Managing Employees Returning from Critical Illness’
Read all about it here!

 
Nicola Jane screenshot.pngNicola Jane
The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer was Nicola Jane’s first ‘Book of the Month’
Read all about it here!

Still to come…

I will be meeting some fabulous women over the coming weeks so stay tuned and pass it on to anyone else who might be interested!

virtual book tour poster befunky.jpg

 

1st Virtual Tour Stop – Nicola Jane

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

vbt-nicola-janeIt has begun!  That first day of my Virtual Book Tour and I am so excited… especially as I am starting off at the completely fabulous Nicola Jane.

Nicola Jane know everything that there is to know about post-breast surgery fashion.  From mastectomy bras to swimwear and everything in between they have you covered.

They wrote a fabulous section in my book, full of styling tips and information for shopping after breast surgery and I feel very honoured that they asked me to be their first ever ‘Book of the Month’ in the community part of their website.

Nicola Jane Book Of The Month: March
Wednesday, 1st March 2017

Introducing our Nicola Jane ‘Book of the Month’ for March: “The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer” by Nicola Bourne

So head over and read all about it here…

Make sure you stay up to date with everywhere I am visiting this month by subscribing here…

 

 

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!

virtual-book-tour-poster_251

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

the_fabulous_womans_cover_for_kindle

1st Birthday of The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

I cannot believe that my book was published a year ago today!  Happy Birthday to my book!  The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer was a labour of love and nothing compares to the getting wonderful, heartfelt messages from ladies who have been touched or helped in some way by reading it.  I have written honestly about the parts of writing a book about cancer which can be difficult in an earlier blog post but those emails and messages I get from people – knowing that I have been able to use my love of writing and turn something so negative into something positive is, quite simply, amazing.

things-your-baby-does-not-need-at-his-first-birthday-party.jpeg

Over the last year I have posted a few blog posts on writing and why I wrote The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer, I think my favourite is What Do You Wish You Had Done?  It is something I try to keep in my mind, what do I wish I had done and what do I still want to do.  It can be so easy to fall into a routine and stop pushing yourself but this post reminds me that no one else is going to make amazing things in my life happen.

And I think we should all ideally not wait for a near death experience to push us into action.  We owe it to our future selves to create the life we want.

It never ceases to amaze me, just how many people are effected by cancer; how it comes round and round, time and time again, yet I also know that if I had my cancer ten-years ago, I would not have survived.  Now I am 3 years into remission and it is only getting better.  More and more of us are surviving even extreme cancer diagnosis’ and I love that my words can help others who are going through similar experiences.

Publishing this book was one of my proudest moments, along with this blog and I really want to send a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have read, commented, reviewed, been involved, anything… Thank you, thank you, thank you.

IMG_9707 2.JPG
To anyone who had or had cancer I just want to say… You are so strong, especially on the day’s that you don’t think that you are, the days that you want to give up, those are the days when you are actually the strongest because you keep going.  You are going to do things you only dreamt of before.  You are going to be even more amazing because at one point you were stripped of all and (if not now, in time) you will rebuild.  Give yourself time and be kind to yourself and let the magic of life unfold.

Happy Birthday book x

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

BUY THE BOOK HERE

What it’s Really Like to Write a Book about Cancer

Cancer & Me, Writing & Blogging

It wasn’t easy writing a book about one of the worst experiences I’ve had to encounter. I remember when writing the section about chemotherapy, I swear I could feel the cannula in my hand and the chemo seeping up my arm. Similarly when writing about the emotional side of cancer, reliving the rollercoaster once again and remembering points I was so low I wanted to give up, I came away from my computer crying.

Read the rest of the article on Medium

This weekend ‘The Fabulous Woman’s Guide Through Cancer’ is only 99p on Kindle

book cover