Saturday, 17 October 2015


Figured out what's up. I've been feeling in limbo. I hate that! You know me. I'm a control freak.

The other day I wrote a really whiny update. It was unsatisfying to write, unsatisfying to share, and to be honest I'd quite like to delete it. But I'm sticking to my rule of never deleting my posts, however much I hate them when I look back at them. (The reason being, for anyone who reads this blog who is newly diagnosed or going through cancer treatment, I want to show that while you have your lows - sadness, fear, complete lack of dignity - those days do pass. You're still you in there, even if sometimes it's hard to see that clearly through the current melt down. It's all just part of the process.)

So I've been unpicking what's up and as always I'm going to share with the whole world because as you all know I lost any sense of pride or dignity a looooooooong time ago. Here are some of my limbos.

1. I'm all about that bass. I've never been body-confident but last summer I was probably feeling as good about my body as I ever have. I was exercising every day, including running 3 or 4 times a week, and looking back, I'd become well skinny. Some of my friends have commented since then that they thought I was at a point where if I lost any more weight they'd start to worry and take me to one side to say something. Sadly my feminism doesn't stop me feeling like this is actually a huge compliment. I know that's wrong, I'm slapping my own wrists for being so influenced by the unobtainable photoshopped images of women everywhere in the media, but it's true. I felt only pride. (I was eating properly - it was just the exercise had me fit, healthy, slim and dare I say possibly even toned in parts.) 15 months later, a stone and a half heavier and I feel like a disgusting, flabby blob, which deep down I know is ridiculous for several reasons. First of all, I'm not even actually overweight (although someone did recently say to me "Ooh! Someone's getting round! I thought cancer made you thin?" - No. No, it doesn't. It makes you fat.) Secondly putting on weight is a pretty small price to pay for having your life saved. I have so much admiration for the women who manage to continue with running during breast cancer treatment because after the third chemo I simply couldn't. I was either too ill or tired from chemo and radiotherapy or banned from running by my surgeon. But the chemo, the surgeries, the radiotherapy - those are the reasons I'm able to sit here writing this now so I can't really complain. And thirdly - it's only temporary. I have started running again and I think that's actually the root cause of my recent I-hate-my-body funk. I'm not exactly known for my patience. Now that I can do something about the arse other than sing along defiantly to Meghan Trainor ("I'm bringing booty BAAAAAAAACK!"), I desperately want everything to be back to how it was before, right now.

2. Titanium. So yeah, I've started running again which makes me SO HAPPY, but I feel like I'm back at square 1 with it. Last summer I'd come home from work and run for about an hour, about 6 miles. I enjoyed it. One of the songs on my playlist was Sia, Titanium. I really felt like I was. I'd run along, singing it loudly (in my head). "I am titaaaaaaaniuuuUUUUUUUUUMMMMMM!!!"  One of the roads I crossed on my little circuit has quite a high pavement. Each time I'd get to it I'd make a point of effortlessly and gracefully springing from road to pavement (Nike Airs baby!) as I went round the corner, secretly showing off to anyone who might be around. (I know. I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now.) Oh how things have changed! My current personal best is a 42 minutes 19 seconds 6km which I sweated and panted my way through while wondering the whole time if my legs were made of actual titanium they felt so heavy. I thought fitness would be my problem but I think the biggest issue is that my leg muscles have disappeared meaning it's a lot of effort hauling all the extra junk in my trunk around the west end.

3. Curtains vs Mullet. Oh man. It's bad. People learned pretty quickly when I was diagnosed with cancer that I have no time for sympathetic head tilts, so I've not seen many of them. Til now. Last time I went to get my hair cut, I got several from MY HAIRDRESSER! "It's getting to that stage isn't it..... Where you won't really know what to do with it.....[sympathetic head tilt]" 
By "that stage" what she means is the in between stage where you are simultaneously growing out your curtains while growing in the early stages of a mullet. Sexy. And no I don't know what to do with it. I generally try clipping it back, even though I've been told I'm doing my hair like a toddler's. (My "friends" are such vicious bullies.)
I saw this on Facebook the other day. It made me laugh hard. Mostly because if I brush my fringe forward now, I have the exact same hair as Peter. FML.

4. My lovely lumpy lady lumps. The boobs were trying to kill me, so they had to go. No brainer. The kind of surgery I had was called a skin sparing mastectomy, with immediate reconstruction. In plain English, the skin is pretty much left alone, but all the insides are scooped out and replaced with implants. The implants I have at the moment are temporary. They are hard and lumpy and if I were to go through security at an airport they'd set the alarms off. On the one hand I cannot wait to get them swapped for the proper implants. On the other hand it turns out I can't face another surgery yet. I got a call on Wednesday asking me to go in for pre-op assessments on Monday. I said no, effectively keeping myself in lumpy lady lumps limbo. I think I might now be regretting postponing it. I just can't be fucked with more surgery at the moment as much as I genuinely love the dinners at Glenfield Hospital and need some  dedicated time on the sofa to catch up with Homeland. 

Pretty shallow I guess. But when I look in the mirror, I just want to see me again. Because my life itself is returning to normality (and I will never, ever take that for granted). In fact, I LOVE my life. I have the best friends in the world. Ever. I've said it before and I will keep saying it. I have the BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD, EVER! I'm having so much fun, and doing things I've never done before. I met Drew Barrymore! (Swoon!) I love my job, and I love the people I work with. I've got tons of stuff to look forward to.  

So anyway. There's only one way to deal with limbo and that's put a plan in place. If in doubt, make a list and a plan and everything is sure to be ok.

1. A stone lost by Christmas.
2. Running 10kms 3 times a week by end of November.
3. Experiment more with hair accessories for the next 4 months until I have a bob (while sticking tongue out at Andrea).
4. Take the next surgery date and get it over and done with.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Current mood

A few people have asked recently if I'm ok because I've been quiet here. The reason is simple, I've been busy getting on with my life. But in keeping with my general life approach of overthinking and then oversharing, here's what's going on...

I'm well. It's 6 months since I finished treatment for a cancer which I really thought would kill me. I honestly thought I'd die. But here I am, alive, well, no sign of anything wrong at all. I'm really lucky and I don't know why I get to be a lucky one. I'm lucky because instead of getting the typical aggressive breast cancer that young women tend to get, I got the bog standard old lady kind which is so much easier to beat. I'm also lucky because it was caught early. And I'm lucky because I was well enough to have the full on belts and braces treatment and compared to pretty much everyone else I know who's gone through the same, my body stood up to it really well. Before I was diagnosed, I wasn't well and no-one knew why. I was tired, and low, and my hair was thinning and blood tests showed my immune system was struggling. (Now we know why.) But now - I feel well. My hair has grown back and it's ridiculously thick and healthy. I take that as a sign that all is well inside. I started running again just recently. Obviously I've lost a lot of fitness over the last year but I was pretty pleased with the 6km I ran on Sunday and the 4.5km on Monday. I know speed and distance and fitness will improve soon enough.

So I'm one of the lucky ones. And that should be at the forefront of my mind all the time. It would have been my friend Rosie's 39th birthday today, but she died in June after her cancer spread to her liver. That was a month to the day after our other friend Jo died, because her cancer spread to her liver. And right now my friend Kate is in hospital, unable to return home, because the cancer that spread to her liver is taking over.

For some unknown reason, things have turned out differently for me and I know I have no right whatsoever to feel anything other than grateful, and happy and lucky. I am alive, well, I have incredible friends who I love SO MUCH, a job that I love, a roof over my head...

I was sure that if I lived, I should just use all my energy and time to try to do things that are worthwhile. I really tried. I've fundraised. I've volunteered. I've joined in campaigns to save the NHS. I set up a blog site for other young women with breast cancer. But something has been missing and I'm realising now I'm actually pretty selfish. I don't want to campaign. I don't want to run that blog anymore. It's making me feel stuck in breast cancer world when I don't need to be in that world. I'm done with cancer. I just want to forget about it and get on with my life.

I want to have fun with my friends. Do well at my job. Work hard, play hard, go for a run, go to the pub, walk the dog, watch tv, sleep in late, go on a holiday. I want to feel safe, feel loved, love back.

Someone needs to give me a good slap and make me pull myself together.