Saturday, 28 March 2015

This is a good life, Sarah

I've stolen the title for this post from my friend Kayla. "This is a good life, Kayla" is something one of Kayla's friends said to her the night before she had surgery a few weeks ago. (Read about it in her blog, Love Conquers All!) Kayla is one of my inspirations - she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24 in May 2013, and is one of the most positive and bright people I've had the fortune to get to know. I was chatting with Kayla on FaceTime a couple of days ago (she lives in California!) and it prompted me to write this post and record some of the things that have made me really happy over the last week or so.

Thursday night last week I went out for a meal with some of my friends from work. It was the night before my birthday, and they surprised me with a whole basket of lovely presents! There was a wine and chocolate theme to them - they know me so well!

Emily stayed over at mine that night, and the next morning (my birthday as well as, appropriately, the first day of spring, International Day of Happiness, and day of the solar eclipse) we got up and went outside. We decided to go out the front of my house where you couldn't see the sun itself but we thought that wouldn't matter, what with not being allowed to look directly at it anyway. We figured we'd just enjoy the eerie atmosphere as everything went dark and the birds started going bonkers. 

We waited...
 And waited...

...and apparently missed it because it never actually went that dark and the birds didn't do anything exciting. Bonnie was thoroughly disappointed...

But I didn't mind - it was still my birthday! I'd made it to 34!

Me and Emily headed off to Cosy Club for breakfast. So amazing we both took photos of it to show off to everyone else.

I had a lovely day, with cards, flowers, and friends turning up at my door! 

And then I spent that evening with my feeders friends, Lucy, Rachel, Becky, Glen, Dave, Dylan, Matt, baby Finn and Bonnie. We ate and ate and ate and ate.  Rachel made the most incredible birthday cheesecake ever, and Becky brought a key lime pie covered in nipples.

I was very lucky and spoiled and had another pile of presents to open!

I loved them all, but wanted to mention this print in particular. It's a quote that keeps being sent in my direction - another friend had even written it out in her birthday card to me! I love it.

I loved all the cards and messages I received - THANK YOU. I always keep cards, but this year's are extra special to me. 

Especially my personalised Chorizo Cat card from Jojo*!

(*Also known as "CANCER WOMAN")

On Saturday I went to Birmingham for a big Younger Breast Cancer Network meetup. I met loads of incredible women for the first time, as well as getting to spend time with those I've become close friends with over the last 6 months or so like Kate and Laura! I love these two. Kate was the first other young woman with breast cancer who I met after diagnosis. I hadn't yet started treatment and I was terrified. I was preparing to spend 18 weeks alternating between the bed and the sofa, with crusty sick dried on my face, unable to do anything for myself except rub coconut oil into my scalp. I met up for a drink with Kate who was just coming to the end of treatment, and who was so WELL! So well, so happy, so full of life, back at work, all smiles. That was the moment I decided I wouldn't be ill from chemo if I could help it, and that I'd live my life to the fullest possible whenever I could.  I met Laura not long after that. She'd just finished chemo and was as happy and well as Kate, reaffirming my determination to just get on with things and live my life.
Amazing women.

That Saturday in Birmingham was a lot of fun!

On Sunday I went out for lunch for another friend's birthday and came home in the afternoon and collapsed. I was exhausted! I slept and slept and looked forward to a quiet week, with lots of rest before radiotherapy begins on the 30th. It didn't turn out to be all that quiet though...

I was contacted by a company who are making a Save Our NHS film for 38 degrees. They wanted to include me in the documentary! This is the point I realise something really has changed in me since I was diagnosed with cancer. Last August when my open letter to The Sun about their use of topless models for breast cancer awareness went viral on the internet (I still can't believe that happened!), I was contacted by ITV. I said I couldn't do an interview because I was ill from chemo. The truth was I was just too scared to say anything in front of a camera. This week though I said yes right away without even thinking about it!

So on Wednesday, 3 lovely people with fancy equipment turned up at my house, hooked me up to a microphone, shone a spotlight at me, and asked me a bunch of stuff about being diagnosed with cancer, the treatment I've had on the NHS, and why I think saving the NHS is important. When I'd been rehearsing with Bonnie the night before, I was incredibly articulate and engaging, if I do say so myself. But on the day I waffled and got my words muddled up. I think though that I'm still going to appear in the documentary! Eek! BUT, the thing is, even if I waffled and look silly, I am just so pleased with myself for doing it. Most of us aren't brilliant at things the first time we do them but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Plus - it was a really fun day! Big thanks to Charlotte who spent a couple of hours acting in the role of "friend". We had to do cheesy things like walk up and down the street talking and smiling, and drink coffee talking and smiling. It was funny! And fun!

Then last night I went out for drinks and dinner after work with Charlotte and Beth - a fairly normal Friday night - except that Leicester was absolutely buzzing! We've got a big, bad King buried here now and there's been all sorts going on this week. Last night the city was lit up and there were fireworks. It was an amazing atmosphere!

 This is a good life, Sarah.

Right now, I'm feeling so happy. I have wonderful friends, wonderful people in my life. Right now, I can assume the best - that I'm cancer free. The radiotherapy which starts next week will help with that. I don't know what's in my future, but right now, just for a moment, I don't need to think about that. I can enjoy this moment of feeling happy. 

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