It’s the final countdown…

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“You never know how strong you are until being
strong is the only choice you have”

Bob Marley


The last few weeks have been frenetic as we have been to-ing and fro-ing to hospital with dad.  Just as we thought things were improving, he was admitted again yesterday.  It’s a good job I have a Master’s Degree in Positivity and believe me, I’m putting it all to use right now.

What has been overwhelming is the swell of love from family and friends.  Everyday without exception, I am blessed with messages asking how the day is going and if there is anything that can be done whether that is shopping for Bridget Jones style knickers (thank you Clare – I will look ravishing!); the numerous cake drop offs;  the lighting of candles – (there is a warm glow around our area there are so many candles lit) and the heartfelt prayers.

Yesterday I started the Hibiscrub body wash routine – quite delightful – it is basically like washing with hospital grade anti-bacterial hand sanitiser – all over and in all the nooks and crannies – I will leave the rest to the imagination but needless to say, it’s not pleasant.  I did wonder whether it was absolutely necessary to wash my balayaged hair that Jaki spends so long over and then Mark suggested it was probably better to strip out some of the colour than to risk any infection.

I finally got around to packing my bag.  As someone who is known for being organised, I am surprised it has taken so long to put everything into a bag or rather, lots of little bags into two bigger bags.  I figured that when I am in hospital I will find it easier to handle smaller bags and so everything has been packed into associated small bags – toiletries; things to do; snacks; IT et cetera.

I had in my mind what the last few days at home would be like – peaceful; time for myself; a bikram yoga session in the morning and then a relaxing yin yoga session in the afternoon; a glowing facial and hot stone massage followed by a long soak in the bath.  It’s been absolutely nothing like that.  I’ve gone from one task to another ticking random items off my to do list.  Now my list is clear, I feel a sense of satisfaction and even fit a serene yoga session in this morning, perhaps my last for some time.

The last couple of days the children have been away, I couldn’t wait for them to return, I missed them so much.  Every ounce of me needed to be close to them.  Everyone arrived together, the children and Mark and not long afterwards, my brother to wish me good luck.  We are so close – he has always been the stereotypical big brother.  He held me in his arms but this time, there was nothing he could do to protect me from what was about to happen.

We took the children to bed.  Ben couldn’t talk about it other than say ‘it’s going to be our last tuck in mummy’.  I swallowed hard trying not to let the tears well up in my eyes.  Gracie’s been particularly tactile which I’ve lapped up.  I tucked her in and asked if she were ok not convinced at all by her answer, it wasn’t long before she was in my room, stood before me with tears running down her face.  Of course, I know how they both feel, I have been the child in this scenario, frightened and lost for words, wondering what is happening and scared to cause any upset.  I’ve told them both, let’s cry together, it is ok.  We’ll get through this.


I woke up this morning; Mark greeted me, ‘morning Gorgeous’.  I asked him if he would still think I would be gorgeous after my surgery to which he replied ‘Gorgeous is you, not a part of you’ which made me all the more teary.

So why am I feeling sad?  I’d rather dad were not in hospital, that’s certainly not helping and today when we both realised he wasn’t coming home, we both cried on the phone together.  I was so grateful that yesterday when I visited him we’d decided to go for a coffee together and have a chat rather than stay on the hospital ward.  I would have given anything today for my dad to hold me in his arms and I know he would too.

On a deeply personal level, there’s a sense of attachment, you’ve been through a lot with your body; growing up – one boob is bigger than the other – I used to wonder, ‘is this normal?’ Having big boobs growing up when everyone else had teeny tiny ones, when as a teenager you just want to be like everyone else! The passionate affairs when you realise, actually, it doesn’t matter whether one is bigger than the other or whether they’re big or small! The love of a good man when you know in your heart you’ll never bare your breasts to another.  Breast feeding the children and when Ben used to inappropriately place his hand down my top for comfort when he was upset (thankfully, he did grow out of that pretty quickly!).

I have worn my old bras with pride these last few days and weeks, changing them by the hour so I can make sure they all get a last turn out before they are cast aside.  I can’t quite face removing them from my underwear drawer in case there is a chance they still fit, though the surgeon has already said there is a very slim chance of me emerging from the operation the same size – hope springs eternal.

With dad in hospital today, we had no option but to take the children with us for my sentinel node biopsy and so this afternoon, off we traipsed.  I must confess, I was a little nervous especially after the core assisted biopsy which was dreadfully painful.  The kids, have been intrigued about this as the side effects include blue eyes and blue skin…two hours after the radioactive injection I’m please to report no blueness yet.

For anyone who is a little squeamish – please don’t read this paragraph.  For anyone having a Sentinel Node Biopsy and you’re worried about the pain – here’s what happens…

So for me, this was classified as SNB preparation, the SNB will be done tomorrow in theatre.  Today I was being injected with radioactive dye to allow the oncoplast tomorrow to identify the sentinel node.  I had to undress to the waist and covered myself with a gown which was quickly removed, to be honest I saw no point in covering myself in the first place!  The radiographer then discussed the procedure – for me, the SNB will not be analysed in theatre though in some hospitals that does happen.  A needle containing radioactive fluid is then injected into the area around the nipple.  For anyone who has had the core assisted biopsy, it feels like the anaesthetic injection you have before the biopsy.  You can feel the injection and you can feel the fluid going in but it is over pretty quickly.  It smarts but it’s done very quickly.  I was in the room for ten minutes, it felt like three.  I cried when the staff went out, I think it was the realisation that this was the start of it all.

Now I am home, a brief reprise before I am admitted tonight at 7.00pm.  I am as ready as I can be.  The last few weeks have been truly blessed, I’ve spent time with my wonderful family and friends and had the chance to make memories but now, it’s time to crack on – I’m ready.

And to everyone who has supported me and mine over the last few weeks, thank

Much love xx



A girl’s first love is her Daddy

MHB Toots and Dad

Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health and is as
friendly to the mind as to the body

Joseph Addison

It has crossed my mind on a couple of occasions since my operation was cancelled whether there was a grand plan I was unaware of and during the course of this week, I feel it has all come to light.

My wonderful dad had knee surgery five weeks ago and had been recovering slowly but steadily.  Last week, things took a turn for the worst when he developed an infection on the operated site with a possibility of sepsis.  What then followed was dad’s heart rate beating near double the normal rate and the medication that had been prescribed not working.

We spent pretty much every day last week at the doctors and then by Friday he was taken to hospital.  On Saturday he was admitted.

When I picked dad up in the morning, he was very emotional, his voice trembling, clearly worried.  He held me in his arms and told me that he wanted me and my brother to look after one another – I knew what he was inferring.  I did my best to hold back the emotion in my voice to protect him of anymore upset, I tried to be strong, it was hard.  Dad is the pillar of our family, he’s the one that always tells us that everything will be ok, but now he wasn’t able to provide any reassurance, it felt unfamiliar.

I spent the day with him in hospital, just the two of us – it reminds me of the Will Smith song…

“Hold doors, pull out chairs, easy on the swears
You’re living proof that  dreams do come true
I love you and I’m hear for you
Just the two of us, we can make it if we try
Just the two of us you and I”

The song embodies the way dad has brought us up.  The table has now turned with us looking after him, though if I’m honest, he’s still doing most of the looking after.

There were many blessings to count on Saturday

  1. a consultant cardiologist happened to be on call and saw dad personally
  2. the endless cups of tea the staff made us on the ward
  3. the charming orthopaedic registrar who gave dad his undivided attention
  4. the consultant orthopaedic surgeon who came to give his opinion

But it was so much more than that, the blessings came from spending time with dad, the easy conversation, putting dad’s mind at rest.  At one point dad insisted he wanted to do his physiotherapy exercises and stood up.  In an attempt to lighten the moment, I got up and practiced by barre exercises from long ago – first position, second position, the odd pirouette, dad, finally was laughing.  I think there were a few wry smiles from other patients and staff but I wasn’t bothered, my only concern was dad and making him smile.  He always used to tease me that I was more like a baby elephant in my tutu than the prima ballerina I aspired to, of course, he was right – nothing much has changed!

After eight hours and many tests, it was agreed that dad could go home much to his delight.  However, a couple of days later, the medication he was given failed to work and so today after consulting with his GP, it was agreed he would be admitted to hospital for further investigation.

I look at dad and the fragility of life, all those things we say we’ll keep for best or we’ll put on our bucket list; we can all be reckless with our time.  I know I spend way too much time that I can’t account for and not investing enough time in activities that would bring real joy and happiness.  Our health really is the most vital gift we have and we should invest in it daily, I’m not about to lecture, we all know what we need to do.

So here we are and once again, I can see how important it is to be positive and how at this time, we need dad to muster up every ounce of positivity.  Whilst his physical body is ageing, his mind is young and the people around him have kept him young – Maria, Claire, Lottie and Sue who he adores and are like his family – they help to give him purpose and zest for life.  Hopefully the fact he is father figure to so many will continue to provide focus for him.  We have been blessed with a big family and that is so important to dad and the relationships he has with his siblings are steadfast.  Of course for us, we will be there, showering him with love because that is a gift given to us from mum and dad that we can return in bucket loads.

For me right now, dad, I need you more than ever.  It’s a little over two weeks till my surgery and I pray, maybe selfishly, that you are better so I don’t need to worry about you so much.  ♥  I love you daddy, get well soon ♥  All my love Toots xx




The wider good

MHB The wider good blog

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week, another one! If I allow myself to think about it too long, it would be easy to dwell on the fact that now I would be a week post op and on my way to recovery. Instead, it been a week of long hard conversations with NHS organisations up and down the country trying to establish whether DCIS is treated under the cancer pathway or not and what the risks are in waiting for my treatment aside from the fact that I am not medically fit at the moment to proceed with the operation.

I spent Friday 6th and much of the following week making calls trying to expedite my surgery as the hospital initially advised me my surgery would be delayed until the end of August and possibly the beginning of September. Of course, no one is quite as concerned for your welfare as you are.

It takes me back to being pregnant with Ben, I was 13 weeks pregnant before I realised. I’d been breastfeeding Gracie at the time and was blissfully unaware, putting my tiredness down to running around after Gracie who was seven months old at the time and having returned from a driving holiday in France and Italy. I found out a few days before my mum was diagnosed with another cancer, this one would be terminal and resulted in the next six months of my pregnancy being spent every day bar none, in hospital visiting my mum is was very difficult for us all but looking back, it must have been most difficult for my mum. Her resolve and strength was astounding as was her resilience. Nonetheless, it was frightening for us all and all I wanted was for herto meet this growing baby who in spite of everything, was thriving inside of me.

My obstetrician wanted me to have a Caesarean section as I had a section with Gracie and so was deemed too high a risk. Having spent all this time in hospital caring for mum, the last thing I wanted was a clinical birth and instead I wanted a home birth. I was fortunate enough to meet a midwife who believed in me and the over medicalisation of the guidance I had been given. I remember as I was told in the morning that my mum may only have a week to live seeing the consultant obstetrician in the afternoon who talked to me as though I was reckless, she was insistent, I was putting my life at risk and the baby if I went ahead with anything other than a caesarean. There was some truth in what she said, if my uterus ruptured, it would be catastrophic but the likelihood of that happening, (and I’d spent several months researching this at the highest level), were very slim. Sometimes, you just have to speak out and in this case, to pardon the pun, push back a little. My mum didn’t get to meet Ben, she passed away three weeks before he was born. We always say they met in Heaven. I went on to successfully deliver Ben at home in what was a fabulous home birth looked after by Lesley Price and her team. Later I went on to advocate the woman’s right to choose and I’m sure mum was powering and steering some of those decisions from above.

I felt then as I do now that it’s so important to ensure that we all have a voice and that is why I felt so passionate about being a champion of sorts. I am fortunate, I know who to call, what to say how to press for a better service and even though I think I know, it has been emotionally draining and wearisome this week to be constantly passed from pillar to post. At the end on the day though, it’s not about me, it’s about us and in those moments of self pity, it helps to remember how we can make difference to other people by channeling our efforts to the wider good. There are so many others, the elderly, those alone or with mental health issues who simply take at face value all they are told and do not question it. We need to assert our rights as patients and ensure we gain access to the best treatment at all times for all people.


God works in mysterious ways

MHB God works in mysterious ways

“You are braver than you believe,

stronger than you seem and

smarter than you think”

Christopher Robin  – Winnie the Pooh

Today I should be in theatre undergoing my mastectomy, DIEP flap reconstruction and mastopexy but early this week, there has been a sudden turn of events which put the kaibosh on the last few week’s planning.

On Sunday as I sat at my dressing table getting ready, I noticed a rash on my belly.  It concerned me slightly and I thought what an inopportune time for a rash to appear but didn’t really give it much consideration; sure it would disappear.  It didn’t, in fact, it rapidly worsened spreading quickly across my whole body.  Angry red clusters  from nowhere also started to itch in the hottest summer since 1976.  I convinced myself I would be fine, took some antihistamines, applied some cream and got on with my day.

On Monday it was worse and by Tuesday it was quite alarming.  I saw my GP and then in the evening my good friend Rachel who is a GP with special interest in dermatology came over to have a look.  I love Rachel but had never planned on sharing my nakedness with her even though she has seen it all before.  She gave me some good advice, I stepped up my antihistamines, bought more cream and got into an ice cold bath.  I saw Jessica Ennis-Hill talk about how she prepares for races by getting in ice-cold baths – I think this is as close as I’ll ever get to being an elite athlete – I only lasted 22 minutes and came out feeling mighty sorry for myself.

Wednesday was my day of admission.  I was due to go in late afternoon for a couple of tests and then be admitted early evening.  I called the hospital yesterday (Tuesday) to tell them what was happening and it was no surprise when they asked me to go in on Wednesday morning for an emergency appointment.

I called Cathy, who dropped everything to take me to hospital in case my operation was cancelled.  When I arrived, the consultant took one look at me and said, it’s ok, I think it’s just the sun, it wasn’t until I took off my dress and she held her hands up that she realised the extent of my predicament.  What a nuisance!  After numerous calls to various consultants, I was greeted by a dermatologist who would give the final decision and his decision, was loud and clear.  The risk of surgery was too great; putting knife to skin could cause the rash to spread and who knows the outcome.  The plastic surgeon turned to me and said, “I am sorry my dear, it is cancelled”.  And that was that.

I felt so blessed that the dermatologist was on hand to see me.  Whilst I did not want the surgery to be cancelled, after all, I was in the zone, ready and prepared, the whole family were ready for this day, we’d been working towards it, everything was in place, I knew there must be a reason for God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to behold.

In situations that haven’t quite gone to plan (granted, perhaps not quite of this magnitude), like when we’ve been at an airport and the plane was delayed or the hotel room wasn’t as we’d expected or we were late for the theatre, Mark and I work together to find the good in the situation.  So yesterday, after I came home and I was reflecting on my new status quo, I thought it was time for a bit of creative thinking.  Here’s my list of why it has been good news that my surgery has been postponed:

The benefits of the delay:

  • I will be able to help to look after my dad who has been discharged from hospital this week
  • Some women who have breast cancer have been moved to the list on 5th July in my place, having their surgery early – what a blessing for them – their cancer will be out so much sooner than expected – yippee!  They are on their way to recovery
  • I will be able to take the children out on their last day of term as we do every year
  • More time to spend with my family without being partially incapacitated
  • A shopping trip with Adam is a must before I go in
  • The cupboard under the stairs will finally get sorted!
  • We may get to Wales again
  • I’ll get to see the sequel to Mamma Mia – hoorah!
  • There were a couple of dear friends I didn’t get to see before my operation and now I have the chance to catch up with them – I am so looking forward to Doyley’s tomato consommé
  • Look at the weather – need I say anymore! (Rash permitting!!)
  • I can lie on my side in bed without the constraints of stitches and more importantly have a cuddle from Mark without him worrying about hurting me
  • So many more yoga sessions to fit in and the delicious feeling of being pulled and stretched in different directions – I simply won’t be able to do this after my surgery (initially)
  • Walking the dog – given I can’t even lift a kettle with more than one cup of water after my op, walking the dog is a definite no no so I can make the most of it now
  • Going back to work as soon as my body is free from contagion!
  •  I was given a spa voucher for my birthday but haven’t been able to fit it in – I’m going to book an appointment tomorrow
  • Many more opportunities now to build up my tummy flesh which in turn becomes boobie flesh – bigger tummy means bigger boobs and given I’m prospectively going from an F cup to a B cup, I need all the extra meals I can get!
  • I can wake up a little longer and enjoy the body my mum (and dad) gave me, with all things in the right place and no crystal maze to work out

I have had an update from the hospital today (Thursday) to say despite their best efforts, they have been unable to reschedule my surgery for July and are unable to tell me when my operation will be.  I have asked if it could run into August and the nurse gingerly said yes.  The difficulty is scheduling a theatre session for the required length of time.  I pray it will be soon and that there is a way forward without delay.

For now my friends, I will go and ponder more benefits, the first that springs to mind is The Great British Bake Off, but honestly, I think I’d rather trade it on this occasion for two perfectly formed breasts like iced buns with a cherry on top and a glacially flat pancake of a tummy.  If only life were so easy!

Much love x


My three peaks…finishing work, anaesthetic assessment and charity walk

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“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye

and gives it a wink”

Gina Carey

Oh my word, what a week this has been. From the lows of Tuesday when I felt at the depths of despair, hit by the reality of the situation and all that was facing me; to finishing work on Thursday, and feeling the love of those around me; my anaesthetic assessment on Friday and the amazing clinical team that will support me and Saturday’s midnight walk, raising funds for the breast care unit where I will be treated in three days and a local hospice (though I have no plans on checking in there any time soon!).

Finishing Work

On Wednesday morning, I’d wondered if I would be able to go into work, I felt so emotional, but as with every day, going in has been a valuable distraction, something to focus on.  I am not ill, I am still the same person I was before I was diagnosed, I simply need surgery.  That said,  I do feel frustrated at the inconvenience it will cause, at the plans we can’t make both short and long term but like all things, I will get over it.  I am learning to surrender and for someone who likes to be in control of everything, adapting to my state of powerlessness is challenging some days more than others.

I had in mind that my last day in work would be peaceful and relaxing and I’d get off early but instead, it was full on and fast paced, just as I like it.  It was nearly 5pm when I pulled off the car park and I smiled, delighted that even on my last day, my day had been full and felt like I’d contributed and been valued. Honestly, it had been a perfect day. I was speechless – and that’s pretty rare! It started with the delivery of a seven tier chocolate cake with the aim to help me put on a little bit more weight in these final few days, I must be honest, that’s not going too well but God knows I’ve tried!

Chocolates, flowers; a goodie bag for hospital; a lavender plant and Phalaenopsis orchid; a Pandora’s box full of beautiful goodies which will all accompany me to hospital, that’s if the Lavender biscuits last that long; oil burner and ornaments; beautiful scripture verses which I will take into hospital and a bag of presents with very detailed instructions of when to open them from someone who I know would want to remain anonymous. Thank you all for your thoughtful gifts and the time you have taken to make my last day so special. You made me feel like a million dollars. I am a very, very lucky girl with so many wonderful people around me who have made the last few weeks much easier.

My Anaesthetic Assessment

We had been advised to allow four hours and naively, I thought we’d be away after two, I am after all, fit and healthy.   I had the following tests:

  • Bloods including Group and Save incase I need a blood transfusion which will be repeated on Wednesday (the day before my op)
  • ECG
  • Spirometer (because I am asthmatic)
  • Height / weight (for the umpteenth time

I am pleased to report that:

  • a), I am the same height (I am not sure why there is an expectation this will change)
  • b) after eating absolute rubbish, at my consultant’s request, to try and add extra pounds before the op for much needed boobie flesh,  I managed to weigh in an astounding 1lb more!!
  • How can it be that for the last ten years, I have tried so hard to shed those pounds  which have clung on to me in desperation and here I am,  trying to put it on to no avail!

I also met a member of the surgical team who went through my drug history and answered any questions I had.  As I was considered low risk, I did not need to see the anaesthetist which given how long we were there was probably a blessing.

What took up most time was meeting Tina, the Breast Reconstruction Nurse.  I cannot thank her enough for the time she spent with Mark and I on Friday.  I felt like we were her only patient, I wasn’t rushed or hurried at any point.  Instead we were actively encouraged to ask questions.  It was during this meeting that Tina set out in detail exactly what will happen from the moment I arrive in hospital on Wednesday until I leave, I cannot tell you as a patient how reassuring it is to be given this level of detail and in contrast to my mum’s experience who was diagnosed on Friday and went in on Monday and had no before or aftercare, breast care has moved on exponentially.

Midnight Charity Walk

I told my good friend and colleague, Jeanette my news.  She was devastated.  The following Monday at work she phoned and told me that she’s been chatting to Louise and they’d decided to do a charity walk wearing t-shirts with my name on the back.  I burst out crying, I was speechless that anyone would want to do that for me.  Now some how or other, Chris got involved but I don’t know how that came about.

The 10 mile walk was taking place five days before my operation and at midnight, but I couldn’t help but see it as an opportunity to raise money, so I signed up and bought myself a t-shirt with a pledge to raise £500, funds for the breast cancer unit where I am being treated and a local hospice.

I set about getting in touch with everyone in my phone list and asked them to sponsor me.  I am very grateful to those who were able to, especially when we all have so many competing priorities right now.  I have been bowled over by generosity.  I know I keep saying it, but truly, we don’t know how lucky we are.  People sponsored me who I have never met, what a gift of human kindness and every penny does count.

Saturday night was a fabulous, balmy night.  We arrived along with around a thousand others celebrating loved ones who had conquered cancer, some who sadly had not.  Memories were shared, tears were shed.  T-shirts were decorated with names of why people were participating and there was my name engraved on the back.  It hit home, my eyes welled.  You don’t think this will be you or for you. In 1998, I took part in the New York Marathon, wearing a heavily decorated bra (and scantily clad bottoms!) for the fairly newly formed charity WalkTheWalk.org with Nina Barough and again in London a couple of years later raising money for Breast Cancer – it feels like it has come full circle, though the challenge was far less ambitious this time.

The atmosphere was electric as one thousand pink t-shirts decorated the streets in the middle of the night.  Cars tooted their horns; late night drinkers cheered and emptied their pockets of loose change; families stood on street corners and clapped; many, many volunteers ensured we were safe, guiding the way and of course St John’s Ambulance for those who were ill or unable to complete the race.

And my £500 total – I smashed it.  Money is still coming in this morning and as of now, with gift aid (which is a 20% top up from the government), the total stands at £1604.00 and counting!  THANK YOU VERY MUCH xxx

Most importantly, to Mark, Gracie, Ben, Ad and Dad who I love more than you will ever know, thank you for your unending love and support.


And the countdown begins…nine days to go


Today it is only nine days until my surgery – a total right mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction and left mastopexy.  Fourteen years ago I tested negative for BRCA2 gene but in light of my age and mum being BRCA2 gene carrier, I am now being re-tested in case my result was a false negative.  If so, I’ll have a prophylactic mastectomy and hysterectomy but I’m not worrying about that right now.

Today, I had a CT angiogram of my abdomen which is used as a road map for the plastic surgeon, allowing them to identify blood vessels to be used during surgery.  I hadn’t realised I would need contrast dye and that it would be given intravenously though it was seamless, as was the scan. It is the first of a number of tests over the next few days. Next up is the anaesthetic assessment and then sentinel node biopsy the day before surgery, I can’t lie, I’m not looking forward to that!

Today though, it was the moments after the scan as I got changed from the hospital gown, my cannula still attached and I thought about the enormity of the task ahead. My eyes pricked with tears and I wished in that moment that someone was in the room with me but Mark was at work;  we’re trying to save his time off for my post op recovery; my mum – that is impossible, though I know she is here always; dad is currently in hospital recovering from his own surgery and my brother juggling visits between dad and worrying about me.  I collected my thoughts and returned to the waiting room pleased to see Mandy who came with me today.  I was grateful to see a friendly face but felt emotionally drained.

I tried to call my husband who was in a meeting. Later, when I desperately tried to talk to him amidst after school lessons, the children’s friends coming around and me dashing off to see dad in hospital, the moment had passed. It was at hospital then, visiting dad that emotion poured out and I sat next to his bed as he held me in his arms and the tears I have perhaps been refusing to let fall, finally came like a waterfall and with it, the guilt as I was leaving dad in hospital tonight worrying about me. A girl’s first love is her daddy and for me this is certainly true.

So now I am home and feeling more focused again, I have chosen this picture of a butterfly which has a damaged wing which I took at Pili Palas in Anglesey. After my surgery, I will have new body that will tell of a journey I have been on, scars I had not anticipated, one hip to hip, a new breast, no nipple but they will not define me. It reminds me of Amy Bloom’s quote, ‘you are imperfect , permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.’

Tomorrow is another day xx


My life unfolds in divine order

When I first heard the news, all I wanted was to have my surgery as soon as possible, especially given the first consultant I saw insisted on the urgency of my case.  Having an immediate reconstruction can delay surgery as surgical teams need to align theatre time.  Added to this, my plastic surgeon is taking two weeks leave but when I met her, she instilled me with so much confidence and I knew instantly she was the person, who with my oncoplast, would make a real difference to me.


I have had to let go, stop trying to be in control and instead invest my faith in God.  In retrospect, the extra time has enabled me to gain more control over my emotions and I think I will be stronger when my surgery takes place as a result.  There have been a number of events I would have missed if my surgery had happened earlier in the month and I feel eternally blessed that I have been able to participate in them all so fully.

On Friday Mark and I went away for the night and stayed in the most luxurious surroundings and then yesterday we went to my friend’s wedding, we’ve known each other for nearly thirty years.

So the moral of the story, there is a divine order to life but you need to surrender to it a little because otherwise these blessed opportunities pass us by.

To Clare and Al – I wish you a lifetime of happiness together, all my love xx


Oh for the love of sleep (and food)!

There are two things missing from my life right now – sleep and the ability to eat.

Most nights I am able to drift off to sleep.  That said, there are sometimes when going to bed seems to bring the emotional collective together and I am supercharged and hypersensitive as though the emotion has to come out RIGHT NOW and finally after crying like a child who has lost their favourite toy, I fall asleep through exhaustion.  The trouble I have is kerching – 4am, wide awake, thinking.  Not necessarily about what is going on, I’ve managed to control that somewhat, but I still cannot get a full night’s sleep.

Over the last week or so, I have managed to sleep in until 5.30am ish but I’m still feeling generally sleep deprived.  Work is a marvellous distraction and I am so grateful for the ability to go in to be useful and productive, not to mention the support of colleagues.

The other difficult I’m having is eating.  This is a longer standing issue for me as I have previously been diagnosed with gastritis which can impact on my appetite but combined with the stress of what is happening at the moment, I’ve seen numbers on the scales that I haven’t seen since I was 15.

I visited my GP who helpfully suggested (so I thought) very high calorie milkshakes.  That was until I got home and tasted them.  Each milkshake has around 330 calories and I have to have three per day.  They are pretty gross but better cold.  I figure each one is going to help in the search for bigger boobs as the plastic surgeon has already told me there really isn’t to much to go at on my abdomen.  Her departing words to me were, as she gently held my rounded tummy in her hands, “this is my play dough, give me something to sculpt with”.

So I have been sent away to eat, under no circumstances am I to eat salads and waste vital hunger on low calorie food, instead, when hunger comes, grab it by the balls and eat as much as I possibly can that is high fat, high calorie.  It goes against the grain but given I am a 32F now and have been told I’m likely to end up with a 32B, I’ll give it a go…I’ve nothing to lose except for a couple of cup sizes!


Meeting the Surgeons – Oncoplasts and Plastics

Generally, I am a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of a gal which drives my husband mad but when it comes to something important like choosing which school to send the children to or planning an important family event or big holiday, I meticulously look at the detail, I want it to be as near perfect as can be.

It’s fair to say then, when you’ve just been handed the, p.s. ‘you’ve got DCIS, oh and it may be worse following surgery card’, that some of us will want to research it.  I was definitely in that group and in the three weeks from my initial diagnosis to meeting the surgical team, read hundreds of pages of carefully selected information. This was not to send myself into a state of trepidation but to be better informed and ensure that when I met my consultants I was prepared and had a list of questions, after all, your time with them is limited and extremely valuable.

I’ve had a number of appointments so far; I met a consultant first to hear the news and then was invited back a week later to have a chat with any additional questions I had.  At that point, I was referred to another hospital with a plastic surgery unit as I opted for an immediate reconstruction.  There I met with my designated oncoplast and a week later, plastic surgeon.  Some of the questions I had I asked at each visit and received multiple answers, this does not always help when your head is already in a muddle and you are searching for clarity.

When I arrived at my first consultation with the oncoplast, they had not received my mammogram / histology report so it was very difficult to answer any of the questions I had.  My advice would be to contact your consultant’s secretary ahead of your appointment to ensure they have all of your information so you come away with all the answers you need.

Another question that came to me during my appointment but I had not committed to paper was, ‘based on the histology, what is the chance of obtaining clear margins during the surgery’.

Here are the questions I took to clinic.


I’m in a club I don’t want to be in…

Okay, I can’t lie, telling people has been so much harder than I’d anticipated and being part of a big family and blessed with plenty of friends, there have been lots of calls to make.


Firstly, no one knows what to say but when you make the call, you’re not necessarily looking for them to say anything you’re just imparting information. What happened several times is that you end up being the strong one. By that I mean the person on the other end of the phone needs comforting about the news and you end up being the consoler.  In many ways, it helped me because it made me feel useful again and regain control.

During the next week, I receive numerous letters from various hospital departments asking me to be part of a new club, The Cancer Club, but quite frankly, I don’t want to be in this club, it’s never been on my radar.  I’m fit and healthy.  I practice yoga regularly, go walking and meditate every day so to be perfectly honest with you, having given it no consideration at all, (and I don’t think I’ll regret it), I’ve decided not to join and I’ve sent back the membership card in a large envelope marked Return To Sender!. A few weeks ago there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and I will not be stigmatised now with a label that quite frankly, I do not want.