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Blog 9 - The Road to Isle of Man

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Blog 9 - The Road to Isle of Man


So here we are…10 days away from the most exciting netball week of the year (Liverpool World Cup eat your heart out!). Emirates Netball are on our way back to the European Open Championships in the Isle of Man. The team has got a few new faces this year, and we are excited to get back on court and hopefully, one step closer to getting our world ranking!
Last year’s competition in Gibraltar was so important to me, for so many reasons. Not only because I was lucky enough to be part of the first ever Emirates Netball team, being capped for the country I have proudly called my home for 10 years, but also because I’d received my diagnosis around the time of selection and was 5 months into chemotherapy at the competition. It took a huge about of grit (stubbornness) on my part to get to the competition, but also a huge leap of faith for my team mates and managers, to be willing to take the cancer patient on tour. I’ve said it before, but getting to the tourn…

Blog 8 - Thinking pink isn’t enough…

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Thinking pink isn’t enough…
October sees the arrival of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for me a year since I went to my GP and the painful, expensive process of biopsies, ultrasounds, mammograms began. Truth be told, even though I had thought I had found a lump, I probably wouldn’t have gone for that check-up had it not been free, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Whilst I didn’t check my breasts regularly, I had noticed a lump which was quite hard, but I’d kind of fobbed it off and assumed it was all OK. I didn’t track the lump enough to realise that it didn’t come and go with my periods in the same way as the rest of the tissue in my breast changed (as my Dr put it, I was ‘lumpy bumpy’ so it was always going to be hard to self-examine).
Plus, I was healthy, active and far too young, so obviously it wasn’t going to be serious!!!
Fast forward a year and I can confirm that cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are young, old, male, female, BRCA+, BRCA-.
The…

Blog 7 – The upside to cancer?

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Blog 7 – The upside to cancer?
So, here I am 9 months from my initial cancer diagnosis. Currently in some weird limbo-land between finishing all the active treatment and waiting for all the re-tests to see if the dreaded C has gone. I’m not a fan of the “journey” which everyone seems to talk about in regards to a cancer diagnosis, but this year has been one heck of a ride! As I wait (not so patiently) I’m trying to focus on the upside of cancer. Might seem like an oxymoron but I can assure you there are some.
Legitimate use of a cleaner – I mean, let’s start with the most important one! Given the low immunity and the low energy I have been able fully justify having a cleaner weekly. As upsides go this one was priceless! Plus it makes me sooooo Dubai!
Gives people a reason to get in-touch – the support I’ve received off strangers, fellow netballers, old school friends, ex-colleagues and ex-students has been overwhelming. People that have taken time out of their busy lives to send me a…

Blog 6 – Radiotherapy, chemo’s less popular sibling!

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Blog 6 – Radiotherapy, chemo’s less popular sibling!
“When it comes to cancer treatments, radiotherapy is the lesser-talked-about sibling of chemotherapy. It doesn't have the reputation that chemotherapy does, it isn't perceived to be as blatant in the way it goes about its business”. (Alice-May Purkiss talking to breastcancercare.org.uk)
This quote, to me, sums up radiotherapy in a nutshell. I kind of knew what to expect from the chemotherapy, it’s certainly showcased in enough films and TV shows to give you an idea of what occurs, and the impact of the surgery was obvious enough, but when it came to radiotherapy I was kind of clueless.
Despite being the “lesser-talked-about sibling” radiotherapy is still an integral part of the cancer treatment plan for many, me included. My radiotherapist has recommended 25 sessions and as of Thursday 16th August I will have completed 18.
Radiotherapy takes its toll, but in a very different way to chemotherapy and surgery. It is draining in…

Blog 5 – So very far from done.

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“So you are done then”….
When people ask where I am up to with my treatment plan and I say ‘I’ve had the chemo and I’ve had the bilateral mastectomy” they generally respond with “so you are done then”. Well, I wish!! I’ve come to realise that I will never be “done” with cancer. Yes, I’ve conquered 5 months of chemotherapy, and the surgery and yes, I believe everything has been removed, but the fear will always be looming.
Recovery post op has been so draining, emotionally. As a teacher we get lovely long summer holidays (sorry parents, now it’s your turn!!) and all my teacher friends are jetting off to exotic places. I’m currently VERY resentful of the fact I’m stuck in the UAE, with my life on hold. It doesn’t help that the UAE is hotter than living on the sun (50 degrees C) and therefore I am essentially housebound. I think I’ve watched every Netflix series going (any recommendations greatly received). Facebook is also rubbing it in with their ‘memories’ each day. For anyone inter…

Blog 4 - The hardest thing I have ever done...

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The hardest thing I have ever done….
Last week was certainly chaotic. My mum was due to land on Sunday 10th June to be with me on the 13th, my surgery day. Unfortunately, due to a missed connection from France, she missed that flight and at great expense had to rebook for the following day. Unbeknown to her, whilst she was in the air, my surgery was moved forward to Tuesday 12th June. Poor mum was picked up at the airport and driven straight to hospital where we had about an hour before I went to surgery. 7 hours later I was wheeled back to my room and the next phase of my treatment was complete. I’d had my double mastectomy. I can honestly say that THIS is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Surgery makes chemo look like a walk in the park!
According to the Doctor and the nurses my recovery is going really well. I was up and walking around the ward the following day and was allowed home at the weekend, and truth be told the pain is bearable. But what is not bearable, and is…

Blog 3 – A LAST to be celebrated!

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Blog 3 – A last to be celebrated! 

We talk a lot about the firsts in our lives— first loves, first jobs, first international cap!!  Firsts are momentous and as such are recorded, photographed and posted about. This week I had a LAST that I’m certainly going to celebrate!! The 29th May 2018 was the date of what I hope will be my LAST ever chemotherapy! I ‘graduated’ after 16 sessions. Over the last 20 weeks I have spent more time in a hospital than I ever believed I would and I know there’s more to come. To be diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years old was never in my life plan but in these situations, you can only grit your teeth and deal with it as best you can. People tell cancer patients it’s all about positive mental attitude, at the one time we actually have something to be negative about. So, I thought I’d compile a list of things that I’m positive about.
1)My teeth! I hadn’t realised just what impact the chemo would have on my body. I knew I would lose my hair but had no idea …