Happy Cancerversary

On this day one year ago, life as I knew it changed forever.

I had been told after a short spell of illness that there was metastatic cancer in my body.

Just like that, boom everything changed colour, taste, feeling, my world as I knew it over in a 20 minute doctors meeting.

ARE YOU FUCKING SURE

sprang to mind

I DON’T WANT THIS

THIS ISN’T PART OF THE PLAN

Also I had dealt with enough medical shenanigans having had a traumatic miscarriage three months previous.

I was shell shocked, that this young brown girl had been picked to have cancer.

How did it manifest inside me in such a short amount of time?

I have barely lived! 

I felt disgusted because I did not know anyone going through it, because everyone I knew that had cancer was DEAD.

Cancer = Death no wonder I spiralled into panic.

Thanks to modern medicine and my stubborn persistence to live i’m still here give or take some intense nerve pain and a restricted arm.

I’m at the end of my natural prognosis (6-12 months without treatment) so everything from here on out is ‘extra time’ baby.

Women remember everything, it’s so annoying that I remember my diagnosis date along with lots of other useless information like my first date with Gareth.

Women use these dates as annoying markers for goodness knows what, just to add extra admin to our busy little brains.

As I write this the tree in my back garden is full of cherry blossom once again, I feel emotional as I compare the two springs, one where I was sick and full of uncertainty and one where i’m diagnosed as sick and still full of uncertainty.

With my G – June 2018

So much has happened between these two seasons I am no longer the same girl, my fertility and future out of my hands, uncertainty once again casting shadow over my day to day life.

It has been quite the challenge to accept that I cannot plan my future like I can plan menus, yet I feel totally and utterly comfortable living like this now.

A year on after trying a couple of target drugs which have stopped working I am now undergoing a new combination of Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Targeted therapy for my particular circumstance.

At Maidstone Hospital having my second round of combination drugs June 2019

I have been non responsive to target drugs yet no new mutations,  the combination is called ‘IMpower 150’, cool name right?

The initial fear, CHEMO, visualising sick people and bald heads made me shudder, but I have cancer through no choice of my own so must look to overcome and conquer my fears and work through this new chapter that I have quite frankly been blessed with.

This combination has proved to show positive results and brand new on our beloved NHS.

I recently had a break from writing and work commitments as chronic pain took hold and robbed me of my attention span and ability to physically write, walk and carry out the simplest of daily tasks.

I am improving and responding to this new treatment everyday and sharing my vulnerability through this whole process has completely……. IMpowered me

Ending on a terrible joke because my sense of humour has also come back.

Ha. xxx

Bristol – May 2019

Full Circle

Round and round we go, life is like a series of circles. 

So here I am one year on from the most extraordinary year where life slapped me alive.

End of January 2018 I was newly engaged to my love and I experienced a devastating miscarriage which led to a spell of ill health and a cancer diagnosis, life as I knew it changed forever.

I have been looking back and so very sad for the previous version of me, as I look to just be stable and live in peace now, innocent dreams now tainted as I carry this new cancer world with me.

Where I am now is very testing as I have experienced true pain as a symptom of the cancer, a tumour causing brachial plexus compression, nerves in my right arm are being obstructed and I have lost some mobility due to this.

Feelings of fear and anger have surfaced of how my body is capable of working against me like this, like a betrayal of sort. 

This experience has been mentally testing as I have had to learn to be patient with daily mundane tasks, let alone cooking and writing. Feelings of shame has been a huge factor to challenge as my mind wonders what people will think as I am a restaurateur and cannot even hold a spoon properly.

On top of this the synthetic drugs that are helping me cope generally numb your brain down and come with a whole host of side effects to counter the good they do to control the pain.

Funny that one year on after quite a good spell of stability and being very independent and busy living that I am having a taste of the cancer patient life again.

I am currently on a cocktail of pain drugs and have just had five sessions of radiotherapy to my neck.

I found this process traumatic, attending hospital for days and days for tests, sessions, scans and appointments, the faint baby blue walls, the crusty faded uninspiring art, the gaunt faces of patients, full of sadness and despair.

Hospitals are places that supposedly heal people yet everyone there looks sick of life and ready to throw in the towel.

The sessions although short and very quick were painful, I would have to lay on a hard table with a custom made face mask to keep my head still during the sessions. The nerve pain shooting through my arm constantly reminding me why I was there in the first place.

Life throwing me those fire bombs, triggering my post traumatic stress disorder as I flash back to previous hospital admissions.  

I recently hit a milestone, I made it to the grand old age of 30, which without medical intervention would not have been possible.

I marked the occasion with loved ones with my favourite food and drinks at home, yet I had this dull pain in my arm at the time reminding my that my life is limited, that the next decade is not guaranteed.

Despite all of this, I am here to move forward, this resilience I do not know where I am finding it but through all of this darkness is hope, that things will change, that everything is temporary.

My life will keep moving and appearing different and my emotions will change, my pain will change, I will see improvements and I will see decline.

I know I have golden moments ahead where I will laugh so hard to the point of tears, I know I will achieve great things, I will travel and continue to be inspired by life.

I thought I would be getting used to this thing called life but every damn day something new blows up in my face and humbles me that I know nothing and have so much to learn. 

Life ever transient running in circles.

Time to Reflect

I have always loved Christmas, yes people, us ‘brown people’ celebrate christmas too as I so often get awkwardly asked.

This time of year is especially important for me as I have watched each season turn for the first time in my entire life.

There is a tree in my back garden which I watched blossom with the most beautiful blush pink colour when I got diagnosed with cancer in spring.

April 2018 with my dear friends Sarah and Sharan shortly after the diagnosis

It flourished in summer when I reached health stability and got married to my love and leaves fell into Autumn when my emotions released and I felt more at ease with my shortened, uncertain future.

Leaves are now rotting in Winter, signalling the end of this turbulent and transformative year heading towards new beginnings, life around the corner.

The seasons we experience here are so very magical, I am truly embracing the winter and these darker days, its sad that it takes disease for me to stop and appreciate how much of a blessing life is and how important I am to myself and others.

Our modern surroundings tell us to show and tell, spend and be excessive with food, drink and gifts which most of the time creates an empty void for many who do not achieve the ‘perfect’ christmas experience.

Achieving the perfect experience is unobtainable, it’s an illusion in our heads, created by grotesque, money grabbing retailers and marketers who I used to work for in another life.

Mine and Gareth’s subtle Christmas tree this year

This year I am full of gratitude for being here to experience this season, I am most excited to reflect upon my experiences no matter how painful and extreme some may have been.

Some miraculous lessons have come from this year and I feel cliché ‘conscious’, for the first time in my life.

I always had wisdom, I told people whats best and what to do which makes me a fantastic restaurateur, but a reflective cancer patient with a message, can it be so?

I am learning everyday, to be vocal and speak up for myself, if I didn’t get a private ultrasound scan on my neck my prognosis could have been much worse if not terminal from the get go.

I have learnt this year that I am totally worthy, my opinions, my thoughts, my being.

I have purpose and things to achieve for myself and others, big or small we are all miracles, teaching each other how to live, how to love, how to hurt and how to be, every single one of us.

Hurting has been a huge lesson for me, the pain has taught me to love harder.

We are all here on the same journey, side by side whether you choose to see this or not.

We are all here together, this disease has changed me, I needed to learn from this experience and its taught me in a short space of time what is important.

I realise how powerful my mind is, how it caused such physical panic attacks within my being from sheer fear of the unknown, it could also be a contribution to my diagnosis.

Ancient medicine considers disease of the lungs to be linked to grief and sadness, I had to explore this as I have mentioned previously I lived a significant life before the diagnosis.

I experienced my fair share of these emotions in my life from such a young age, I felt abandonment and extreme pressure to grow up and react to nightmare scenarios for any young teen.

I have been working on releasing these emotions and become more loving to myself and those around me because a life threatening disease is literally shouting at me to.

Now I’m not saying disease is self-inflicted, I’m merely drawing on my own very colourful life experiences and taking ownership.

It’s totally a control thing, I’m not in control of a lot of me physically and medically, what I am in control of is my mind and my thoughts, that’s where the real battle lies.

This will hopefully transcend upon my body and give me a chance to live and love.

Wishing you all a reflective winter season of deep loving thoughts towards yourself and others, light in darkness, hope over fear as we all look towards the new year together xxx

Alicante moonlight