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Farewell 2013

30 Dec

It’s that time of the year when there are lots of shows on TV looking back on the year, and starting to look forward to 2014. So I thought I would do the same – it’s been an eventful year!

Going back exactly 12 months, this time last year I was just home from Australia and preparing for my first MRI on NYE 2012. Even thinking about it now reminds me of how frightening that whole time was. It seems bizarre now to be afraid of scans, but I suppose they held my fate at the time. Nowadays I enjoy a good MRI! I can even provide tripadvisor style reviews of the facilities in various hospitals.

Reviews

January was the month of appointments and IVF. And probably most importantly I was referred to Dr Shepherd

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Ahem.. I mean, Prof Shepherd. 😉

I think it was when I had my first appointment with Prof Shepherd, and got the all clear back on the MRI and CAT scans that things felt different. It was from then that I felt optimistic that it was going to be all right, that the cancer was small and early and I was in good hands. Maybe the 9 embryos helped, but my normal optimism came back sometime in January, after really struggling in December. I actually had a bit of a breakdown at work in January and went to see a counsellor. She told me to stop doing anything I ‘should’ and only what I had to. That was a great relief, as I think I needed someone to say to me – stop trying to keep everything normal. This isn’t a normal situation, so stop trying to make it seem normal! It was great advice.

January to June:

Well, that’s all covered in the rest of this blog really. Operations, and another one , lots of daytime TV (including a wedding!), some travel, fundraising for Macmillan and Cancer Research UK (thanks!) and then back to work.

After June:

The last post I had was in June, and a lot has happened since then. My MRI in June came back clear, but I was really knocked sideways when my friends didn’t.  It just feels so incredibly unfair for me to be fine, and for her to have to continue down the next steps. It reminds me both how lucky I am, and how random and heartless cancer is. But that is not my story to tell.

Then things got a bit quiet as I returned to reality. Getting back to work was ok. As always I rushed it a bit, thinking I would be able to hit the ground running, but it did take about 3 months (my manager may say more!) to get back into the rhythm of things. My boss said he struggled to manage me to start with as my attitude has changed – which I would have to agree with. I enjoy my work, but I’ve definitely got less desire to constantly be pushing ahead. Things that would annoy (such as missing out on an important project or meeting) just don’t bother me much anymore. I think I appreciate more now that I have a nice job, lovely people, not too many hours and well paid. Why was I ever pushing for more!!?

October:

As the year progressed a minor problem/side effect from the operation has become more and more of an issue. I understand now that treatment for cancer means the cancer goes away, but your body will be changed by it forever.

(Warning – Womens parts discussion approaching!) 

Basically there is now scar tissue causing a partial blockage where my cervix used to be. That has resulted in blood being trapped inside me, random bleeding/hemorrhaging (oh what fun that day at work was) and generally the need to have another operation to try to fix it.  I’ve now had two quite minor operations to try to fix it with limited success. But I’m optimistic the doctors will find a way! The procedures themselves are not too bad, and easy to recover from, it’s just frustrating that I am not allowed to move forward until it is finally resolved.

We did in fact look at attempting IVF, but after much excitement it all came to a grinding halt due to this blood blockage  issue. We will hopefully get to try it in 2014, but I think we have learned not to try to plan too much, as plans fail and it’s just depressing. Hope can be very cruel!

But – despite such negativity – I know things will improve – so BRING ON 2014!

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2103 has been a tough year overall for my family. Without going into details, Cancer wasn’t the worst thing we had to deal with! Generally everything that could go wrong did go wrong. On the flip side, I was also successfully treated, my sister found her dream job, and while there are still problems lets hope 2014 brings better luck!

But – back to the point of this post – basically Happy New Year!!

I will celebrate the New Year tomorrow with a hope for a better 2014, and a celebration that 2013 is finally over, thinking particularly of all the ladies who have contacted me through this blog, who are at various stages of their treatment and recovery.

So, to everyone who passes by this blog – here’s to a healthy and happy 2014!

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7 April Afternoon Tea Fundraiser and Celebration

1 Apr

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This Sunday, 7 April, I am opening up my little flat to have an Afternoon Tea Fundraiser, and general celebration of getting better! Technically this week is my last week of sick leave, then we are headed off to Spain for a proper holiday. I go back to work on the 22nd of April, so the end of my long winter ‘holiday’!

It won’t be too posh, but I can promise homemade scones, cakes, various savouries, and Disney movies to keep the little people distracted if needed! And, of course, alcoholic beverages to keep the adults distracted.

Devonshire Tea

 

The cakes and champagne will be laid out from 2pm, and if you are in the area I would love to see anyone who I may not have already spoken to directly. Please get in touch on kmmr99@hotmail.com and I’ll send you all the details. While I have pretty much given up all my sense of privacy these days on this blog, I’m not quite there with giving out my address!

If you can’t make it – then can I please ask you to have a read of the posts below and make a small donation.

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The importance of Research

1 Apr

The other important thing is research.

Since Mr Papanicolaou first created a screening test for cervical cancer, a series of steps was being prepared to ensure I got through this whole thing as safely and healthily as possible – by an army of researches. Without that test, I wouldn’t have known I had cancer, I’d still have it now – but it would have doubled in size and would be preparing to properly kill me. My cancer was about 2-3cm in size, and doubles every 3 months or so – so it really was discovered just in time.

Without research into less invasive treatments, I would have had an instant full hysterectomy, as well as a good blast of chemo and radiation. Leaving me infertile, in menopause, missing key functions (like bladder and bowels), and a much shorter life expectancy.

Instead, I am happy and healthy now. With a good chance of still having kids, and a normal life.

I am SO grateful for everything that brought me here today.

I have said before, but in so many ways I feel incredibly lucky, lucky it was found, lucky I could get the best treatment, lucky I was referred to Prof Shepherd, and lucky the operations have all gone so well.  I could say I was unlucky to get cancer, but you can’t have it all!

Here is the link to the donation page for my fundraiser for cancerresearch

As I am the one who benefited most from both of these charities I will also match any donations between the two charities – up to £1000 – so please give generously!

As you can see, its for an Afternoon tea this weekend, and if you are in the West London area feel free to get in touch as all are welcome. Contact me on kmmr99@hotmail.com

The importance of Support

1 Apr

Hi all,

I’m doing a little fundraising in support of the two most important parts of cancer treatment (in my limited experience). So the next two posts are explaining why and how to help. I’m also doing an Afternoon Tea this Sunday, and will put up details of that from those who may be able to attend.

1. Support.

This ad started recently, and it reminded me so much of the whole experience.

My experience was very similar. The doctor started with ‘Ok – well, we have a problem. There is a tumor, lets get the word out’. And then gave lots of information, and suddenly I went from being fine, to fairly non-stop crying. The fear that hits you, and I think a form of grief. Sort of loss of a simple life that you used to have, and entering a world where you don’t know anything, and the doctors keep asking if you have any questions!  That sadness, not overwhelming terror or anguish, but a general sadness is what stays around all the time – like you’ve forgotten how to be happy. And it hits again and again.  I’ve sat on the tube, on buses, at work, at home, and regularly at night just not able to stop the tears.

The questions you want to know are, how bad is it, how long will it take, will I die from this, how bad are the side effects, can I ever had children, and will I come out of it with most of my body intact. But… they can’t answer that, and that is what is so scary.

The next step, having to tell friends and family is almost as hard – as you are bringing this horrible thing into their world. Finding the words was so difficult – telling your parents you have cancer isn’t a fun conversation. I remember sitting with the whole family in Australia when we arrived, and I literally couldn’t start the sentence, it was too unreal, too hard to tell them something that I knew would cause them pain, and that I couldn’t easily solve.  Telling friends was the same, I felt like I had the ‘fun-destroyer’ grenade to throw into every situation.

But, what made it possible was the support I had.

Eric was there from day 1 at every appointment, and there to help me ask the questions I needed to ask. And then to help me tell people, and to find the words when I couldn’t. And especially to just let me cry and be there in the long nights we both went through.

My family and friends were, and still are, very supportive, rarely a day goes by without a message, a whatsapp, or email, or blog post (or flowers!) or something. And of course, Susan, who delivered herself to us in January, and has been a massive help over the last few months – making sure I don’t wallow in self-pity, and keeping up a regular schedule of spa visits and afternoon teas!

And while I don’t always say it, I really appreciate it – every single time. Sometimes I don’t answer as I don’t have much good to say, but I do know that without everyone’s support this would have been a even scarier and lonelier experience.

Which brings me back to this MacMillan campaign. The Campaign is called ‘Not Alone’, and ensures that everyone who gets cancer has the support they need. So, although I didn’t actually didn’t need to make much use of their services (thankfully) I would like to raise a little money to ensure that no-one has to go through cancer alone.

Afternoon Tea Fundraising page

As I am the one who benefited most from both of these charities I will also match any donations between the two charities – up to £1000 – so please give generously!

(MacMillan, for reasons unknown, make it very hard to donate directly to them! So this is a ‘tribute’ fund technically, but don’t worry – I am alive and kicking! They have agreed to funnel the money to the Not Alone campaign for me)

That is the first charity, and I will put the details of the next one in the next post. Both are equally important in my opinion, so feel free to choose which one you would prefer to donate to.