I raised over £2200 for CLIC Sargent this weekend and it was incredible.
Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I struggle with my own health as well as this years hell with Ellis.
Living with a cancer diagnosis is something that will follow you around forever. From health declaration forms and travel insurance to the inability to give blood or donate stem cells.
It limits you in ways you would have never thought about pre diagnosis.
Things that matter now, never used to and vice versa.
When it’s over, you are entered into a weird club of survivors. People who have fought and won. Forever feeling scared, felling lucky and a lot of the time feeling guilty.
What did I do that made me beat it?
What made me the lucky one?
I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s incredible. To know the very same body that malfunctioned and grew cancer is the very same body that fought back and got rid of it.
But I always think of the people who are left behind. The ones still fighting. The ones who grew too tired.
Two very good friends children are still fighting their battle. How can I possibly be happy when I know that. Their battles are longer, there has been more scares, more hurdles. I’ve never met these people in person, but they have quickly become family.
When they both finish, we all finish.
No one gets left behind.
When we celebrated Ellis’ end of treatment bell ringing and being told he was in remission…. I didn’t cry. Of course I was so happy. I can’t even explain the feeling of relief and sheer elation. But I didn’t cry.
You see things on tv where families receive the news and it’s huge. They cry, they hug. There is snot by the bucket load and everyone is so overwhelmed.
That wasn’t us.
And why? Because it’s all still there. It’s all still raw. Knowing that there were children on the ward you were in, who shared the same bay as you…. who didn’t make it. They weren’t as lucky.
Like a soldier coming out of war, knowing victory has been made, but still struggling with the things they have seen, the things they have heard.
We didn’t skip over the finish line, we crawled. With battle scars, emotional wounds and baggage that will stay around forever.
But yesterday, I truly felt peace.
Peace for the first time in a very long time.
After the initial adrenaline rush, we drifted down to the ground at a pace that felt like we weren’t moving. I could see France, London… there was no limit.
It was breathtaking.
It was the clearest day, not a single breeze in sight either. Perfect for being pushed out of a plane!
That part was my favourite. It felt like I was up there hours, soaking up the views, relishing in the peace and quiet.
It was my moment.
My moment to draw a line under it all and to move on.
7 years of fear, hospitals, emotional rollercoasters, tears…. finished.
This has had a really weird effect on me today and possibly why I’ve not felt great all weekend.
I don’t feel anything. But for the first time in 7 years, it’s not because I’m numb. It’s because I have accepted it’s over.
I sat with a friend tonight and looked at pictures of this past year. We spoke about the bits I’ve not shared with anyone. The boring bits that never made it to my blogs or social media, talking about little funny moments, the really hard moments and all the insignificant bits in between. Even the bits that probably made no sense to someone else, but to me it was all I knew for 9 months. The drug names, pictures of the ward, the parents kitchen, the lift lobby were I spent hours by myself looking out over London. I’m pretty sure to them, it was boring, but to me it meant everything. To be able to start talking about it and say these things out loud, to be able to process what’s gone on are tiny building blocks in accepting it and moving on. To look back on pictures from the beginning and reflect on how I felt, was therapeutic. I realised how far I have come and how much I have changed.
I am feeling much more positive since my last blog. I’ve started back at work, the kids have gone back to school and things are finally feeling more normal.
I had my first encounter with an internet troll this week, which could have broken me, but it didn’t. I felt compassion for her. She has been following my story for nearly a year and has chronic illness herself. She lives in America, where the covid situation is very different to ours. She knew this. But she still chose to steal my picture from Instagram and post it to a silly Facebook page- you know, the ones where people make fun of others to make themselves look good.
She posted about how irresponsible it was for Ellis to go back to school and how I’ve had parties with ‘hundreds’ of people to celebrate.
At first I read every single comment. Comments telling me to die. Comments telling me I should have my children taken away from me… all because he went back to school.
She took a post from an already broken mum, a post admitting I was so scared and nervous about him going and changed it to boost her ego. It’s very sad how someone could be that heartless.
At first I was angry, I had just come out of the hardest two weeks of my life, where I felt I was on the verge of a breakdown. As soon as I saw it, my heart sank. I felt sick. At that point, I was terrified I would go back to that place.
But then something happened. Something beautiful and amazing.
All of a sudden, those nasty vile messages were replaced with positive encouraging messages praising me and my choices, praising me as a mum and telling her she was wrong for doing what she did.
That was the moment I knew I would be ok.
I had a whole army behind me. Nearly 200 messages in my inbox supporting me and picking me back up. Some I knew, some are my girls who I know have always got my back ❤️ But some were strangers. People I had never met or spoken to, telling me how without realising it, I had lifted them up when they needed it the most. The words were so empowering it was humbling.
This is why I over share.
My Instagram and blogs are honest and raw. I strongly believe life is better when you’re honest, so I try to love my life by that.
So this is a thank you, to everyone who has been behind me. It wasn’t a case of taking sides, it was girls empowering girls (and some boys 😜) and making someone feel so supported, not because you had to but because you wanted to.
I feel on top of the world today. I feel like I am on the right path to getting better and finding me again. I feel strong.
And that’s because of my friends. People I’ve known my whole life, people I’ve only known a few months and people I have actually never even met, but who are only ever a message away.
So remember how powerful your words can be. If you see someone struggling, message them. It’s not about finding the right words to say, it’s about saying any words you can to make sure they know you’re thinking of them.
I’m not sure if I’m even going to publish this or whether it’s just going to help me process it all. Either way, I’m writing it out.
I’m struggling at the moment, more than I have ever have.
The thing that has got me through this last year is the end goal. The bit after treatment where we can be normal. I longed for those day’s back.
But I didn’t bank on normal not being there anymore.
I feel so guilty that I’ve missed such a huge chunk in the girls lives. I miss being a mum, a proper mum. I miss knowing what they like to eat, how iris likes her bedtime routine, what Lily’s been up to. I feel so detached from them it hurts. They have grown up and have changed. Yes they are resilient, beautiful little ladies, but I’ve missed all that. I’ve missed the goodnight kisses, the lazy mornings, the trips to the park.
This is huge chunk of my life and their lives that I can never get back.
How do I go back to normal when everything is so different?
How do I feel at home in a house where it’s all changed.
I’ve hit rock bottom. Didn’t think pain like this existed, but here I am. I’m defeated. I’m exhausted and I’m weak.
I have been looking back at photos from America which was only last October. Little did I know this was the best time of my whole life. I had the most amazing job lined up, I was processing and learning to have a life without my Grandads. The kids were doing so well at school.
It was over.
My hell of a journey, my end point. I had reached it.
Looking at the photos and seeing the smiles, the laughs, the memories…. it doesn’t make me happy, it makes me sad.
I want that. I need that. But I don’t know how to get it again.
I long to feel the normal mundane routines of school and work. I long for those huge genuine cuddles from my girls because they’ve missed me, not a subtle head turn away from the TV because they are so used to me not being there.
I can’t imagine life being the same again. Well it’s not, I know that. But similar at least.
I feel like everything is spiralling around me. There is so much noise, so much panic and rushing.
I need to be still.
I have been talking to a lovely Macmillan counsellor and he has really helped me understand a few bits.
I need to take some control back in my life, this isn’t me. I make bold decisions based on trusting myself, I challenge myself to fight harder, I do things that scare me to laugh in the face of all things cancer. If I carry on like this it’s won again. I know this.
I don’t want cancer to be my enemy anymore. I don’t want it to be something I have to beat.
I am ready to roll over and accept it. That doesn’t mean it wins, maybe it was never a competition in the first place.
The last 7 years of my life have been consumed by it. I’ve blamed it, I’ve hated it and I’ve feared it.
Maybe it didn’t take anything from me after all, maybe it was just a by product of the situation. Maybe it was lessons that I needed to learn. Maybe it was lessons that have set me up for new challenges in my life life my job, new friendships.
I am not the person I was 7 years ago, so I think I’ve been pretty unfair on myself to feel guilty that I’m not the same person I was before Ellis’ diagnosis.
I want to be better, I want to grab life with both hands and shake the fuck out of it. I want to go on amazing holidays, eat amazing food, laugh so much I can’t breathe.
But my main focus now is finding me again. The new me. The girl who actually, against all odds is still standing. The girl who has learn that it’s ok to show that I’m vulnerable and that I’m sometimes not ok. The girl who feels lost and doesn’t know where to start.
The year that the summer holidays were meant to be the best.
Treatment was due to be over, PICC line out and I was determined to have as much fun as possible to make up for the last 9 months.
But in reality, it doesn’t work out like that. It never does. Things very rarely go as you planned, especially when you put so much pressure on yourself to achieve it.
I felt as if I had something to prove almost, not to anyone else but to myself. I felt like I had let them all down with this disaster of a year and wanted to make it up to them.
This resulted in me nearly having a breakdown last week. Ironically, I have never felt so low.
This summer in reality has been more tests than we’ve had since January, the uncertainty of potential blood transfusions, another call from the cardiologist asking to see him because something has shown up in his last echocardiogram. It’s been a mixture of relief, guilt, anger, sadness.
Someone close to me last week helped me verbalise why I am feeling this way.
Imagine you are at a Theme Park. You queue up for the biggest, scariest ride. You know it’s going to make you shit your pants but you are already in the queue so you have no choice other than to ride it. You build yourself up with all of these emotions, you are terrified but pretend to act cool like you’ve got your shit together. You can’t back out as the queue is one way, so you have to just carry on. As you get closer, the fear intensifies. The ride itself goes relatively quickly… you just go through the motions and accept it for what it is. As long as there are no complications that is. Then once the ride has finished, you get off. Back to the same place you were before, but with a tonne of emotions and adrenaline rushing through your body. You try to walk but your legs feel like jelly and you’re heart is pounding. That’s where I am.
During last week, when I was already feeling low, someone from my past contacted me. I was told that I was a joke plastering my life all over social media. I was told that Ellis would grow up embarrassed by me because I share his life.
That sat with me for a few days, eating me up inside.
It made me really question everything. Was he right? Was I bad Mum? It very nearly was the straw that broke the camels back. I nearly deleted all my blogs and social media thinking he was right when he said everyone is laughing at me.
I spoke to Ellis about it. He reads all my blogs anyway so knows what I share. I have never shared the intimate details, it has always been my account of what has happened. He looked at me and said “He’s not even important, just ignore him. I don’t know why you even reply.”
He is right. As always. This man, a man who hasn’t been in my life for 13 years, his opinion actually didn’t matter. Pretty sad to think that after so long he still sees satisfaction in trying to bring me down. Why anyone would take pleasure in tearing someone down is something I will never understand, especially when its very clear that they are already struggling. But last week, I was doing more damage to myself than you ever could, so nice try.
But I am worth more than some random mans opinion.
My kids are proud of me, my family and friends are proud of me. It took his comments to make me sort myself out.
My blogs have been read over 11,000 times worldwide.
Not that I have to justify myself to anyone. Especially a sad lonely man with anger issues.
I don’t seek validity in others anymore, I make sure that I am true to myself. If you don’t like me, don’t talk to me. It’s simple. But I will never change based on someones opinion.
I am slowly learning to be honest with people too. We had a great day Saturday with a picnic to celebrate Ellis’ 13th birthday and his end of treatment. So many amazing people came to celebrate with us, it was very humbling.
I was asked by lots how I was and I answered honestly. Im not great, I am struggling, but I’m getting there.
What I have learnt this summer is that things take time. You can’t box feelings up in a neatly organised time frame. Feelings fluctuate, one day I feel on top of the world, the next I am googling self admission to mental homes because I feel like I am losing my shit.
We all paint this ideal picture in our heads about how life should be. When we meet someone new it’s always the same questions. Are you married? What job do you do? Do you drive? We suss each other out based on a made up scale of success that is rooted deeply in our society.
But when was the last time you asked someone if they are happy? Surely that’s a much more accurate scale of success?
These last 9 months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. One day I feel powerful and on top of the world and the next I feel like crying. Today is that day.
Nothing has happened, Ellis had his last two appointments yesterday at UCLH and all we are waiting on now is PICC line removal. It’s his birthday Thursday and we have a picnic celebration Saturday.
I don’t feel like celebrating.
I know that sounds silly. All I’ve done for the past 9 months is moan that I want it to be over, now it is I feel I don’t have to right to moan.
I feel like I should be having the best summer ever, making the most of our time off together but the truth is, most days I have lacked motivation to even get up.
I’m tired. Not the kind of tired where you can get an early night, the kind where your soul is tired.
I still haven’t cried yet. Not since the beginning. I desperately feel like I need to, but I can’t.
I feel like I’m stuck in limbo land where I just can’t feel anything.
I’ve been a shit mum this summer, I’ve not done much with the girls, not done much with Ellis on the days he’s been home. I see other families having days out, laughing, being silly. I want that. I don’t even have an excuse not to have that anymore.
I feel like I need to talk about the past 9 months, like really talk it through but to who? My counsellor is still not working due to COVID-19. Everyone else is so busy. I have the most amazing people around me, but I feel like a burden to them if I talk to them about it. Afterall, who would want to sit for hours listening to me going on? It probably wouldn’t make sense anyway. It will just be me talking about the really boring parts, the bits that never made it to the blogs. The everyday stuff. The stuff that I know I need to process in order to be ok.
I feel different. I feel like I have changed. I want more from life than to just get by. Life can change so so quickly. Would I be happy as I am if things changed again? Absolutely not.
I think about Christmas this year, that has always been my goal the whole way through. Last year I was so scared. I thought that he wouldn’t be here. I felt guilty for even thinking it, like somehow I was letting him down. I know that sounds silly.
I have put so much pressure on this summer and Christmas being perfect that it’s made it so much harder.
Nothing is ever perfect. Not the Facebook filtered lives you see, not the Instagram perfect pictures of how life should be. Life is fucking hard.
So why do I continue to raise the bar and push myself into making a ‘perfect’ life. That’s not me.
I just want a break. I want to empty my mind of hospitals, tests, children hen pecking me 24/7 that they are hungry or she looked at her the wrong way.
I want to feel like me again.
Not a hospital mum, not a super woman who has to do everything, just me.
I want to laugh so much that my belly hurts.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
This is such a moany blog, but when I feel I need to write, I write. No filters, no editing. Just writing.
I don’t even have a witty ending for this one. This is just it.
So this week I have been a bit quiet in the world of social media. I’m still alive, I’m not in an alcohol induced coma, don’t worry. I’ve been a real life grown up this week.
I have been concentrating and working hard on something that means a lot to me.
When Ellis was discharged from intensive care at Great Ormond Street and back to our local hospital, we were picked up by two lovely men from St John Ambulance, because Covid-19 meant that the NHS has been stretched to its limit. The two men were amazing. They put us both at ease, one was even commenting on how cool Ellis’ scar is and making him laugh. They were genuinely nice people.
These men were volunteers. They did what they did because they wanted to. That blew me away.
In a worldwide pandemic, where most peoples first thought is to run and hide, these men had voluntarily put themselves on the front line.
It made me think about how unique my situation was. I had been in hospitals during the whole pandemic, I know the ins and outs of the hospitals Covid-19 procedures and I’ve lived and breathed a Covid-19 positive environment.
Just like Cancer, Covid-19 doesn’t scare me.
I could help.
With that along with my vastly growing skill set of mental health nursing and counselling I genuinely think it would be something I could use to give back.
So last month I signed up to enquire about volunteering for them.
And today, after a month of interviews, inductions and training courses I’ve done it. I have qualified as a SJA First Aider ❤️
Without Covid-19 I would be getting ready to go to events to provide first aid with an amazing team, but they have all stopped. SJA volunteers are being called on in hospitals, care homes, blood donation facilities…. anywhere help is needed. This is where I will be going.
I have had the most surreal time getting to this point. I have made some amazing new friends who have kept me sane during some surreal moments 😂 and reassured me on days like today where I have been terrified of failing.
I have ordered my uniform, ready for me to get stuck in.
2020 hasn’t all been shit.
It’s been the year where I lost everything, but gained so much more.
A year where possibly, I might have got a bit carried away with filling up my spare time…. working full time, completing my counselling course and now being a SJA First Aider.
But hey, it wouldn’t be my life if it wasn’t a tad bit excessive and out of the ordinary 😂
I’m happy. Happier than I’ve been in 9 long months. I’ve used the dark days and turned them into something amazing.
I am proud of myself and I’m not ashamed to say it.
So we are now exactly a week after Ellis’ last chemo.
The highs of last week have long gone and the stresses of end of treatment tests, scans and trying to somehow pick life back up has taken over.
Negotiating multiple London and Stanmore trips, working out childcare, trying to remember who I need to talk to about referrals and when.
It feels like the very beginning again. The uncertainty of who we are seeing next, the logistics of living so bloody far away from all the appointments. Trying to split myself 4 ways, to make up for the time I’ve lost with the girls as well as making it a summer to remember for us all. We deserve this summer.
I’m trying to get Ellis back to full mobility, which is difficult when he’s so lazy. I had to bribe him with bacon so that he washed this week. No really. Teenagers are gross.
Trying to sort out school uniform, for the boy who’s gone up 3 shoe sizes in a year, the 12 year old who now wears age 16-17 trousers 😳. One daughter changing schools, the other stressing about her Kent Test… it’s all go.
There is no time to reflect.
No time to breathe, relax and process it all.
I’ve been asked a lot this week by my lovely friends, what it feels like now it’s all over. It must be amazing, right?!
Is it bad that it’s not?
Not seeing Ellis feeling poorly due the chemo is the best. I can’t describe it. But not having medical experts on hand to answer my silly questions or not having the lovely UCLH staff to chat to us is tough.
I feel a huge shift in responsibility from the team to me. All on me.
I’m trying to pick life back up where we left it way back in December, which is hard. Trying to get some normality back to bedtimes now I’m here all the time, trying to have dinner on time and actually cooking for us all for a full week and making sure everything is in place for September.
I just wish there was a little gap. A little time after end of treatment to really sit and accept it. To focus on what’s been and what’s yet to come.
But I can’t do that if I’m constantly running at full speed.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge advocate for wellbeing and looking after your mental health. But again, impossible to do that during summer holidays with kids at home.
I’m just moaning for the sake of moaning today I think. I don’t even know what the point was to the blog.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t forget about families like us. The ones who have reached the end and celebrated. Because even though we made it, it still affects us.
Because once you have had cancer, the scars stay with you forever. It changes how you think, how you live, your whole outlook on life. It makes you look at things differently, look at people differently.
No matter how free you think you are, you’re not. You’re a life long member of an exclusive club that got to say ‘I survived‘
But surviving and living are two different things.
Life is not a given, it should never be taken for granted. One day, your whole world can be turned upside down with no prior warning.
Maybe I’m not dealing with it all very well this week, but that’s ok.
And just like that after nearly 9 months of operations, chemo, hospital stays and much much more…. it’s over.
Ellis has finished his chemotherapy for Osteosarcoma.
I didn’t cry yesterday, I thought I would. But I was so preoccupied with making sure it all went smoothly that it didn’t really sink in. I will have a moment, I’m sure.
But, it’s finally over. We did it.
We looked cancer right in the eye and kicked it’s arse. AGAIN!!!!
Back in December when he was diagnosed, I never thought this day would come. I was terrified beyond words that he wouldn’t make it. He wouldn’t be the 55% to beat it.
The nights I laid awake terrified of what lie ahead, desperately going to my GP to ask for something to help me from spiralling. My first ever counselling session because I knew in order for the kids to be ok, I needed to be ok. The times I shut out friends and family because I was angry that they were carrying on with life, I was so jealous of that. My life was falling apart underneath my feet, yet others were allowed to be ok. The fears of my new job being ripped from underneath me again, as with everything in the devestating wake of cancer.
I have felt so angry during this. Why my son? Why my family again. Why the boy who never complains, who just gets on with it. Why my girls, who have not only had to be told their Mum had cancer, but their brother too.
I have felt guilty. This is the one that gets me the most. It’s my job to protect him, to protect them all. And I haven’t. I have felt guilty when he has broken down and cried. I have felt guilty when Iris has cried because she didn’t want me to leave her yet again. I have felt guilty that I haven’t had time to spend with each of them.
I have been in denial a lot of the time. Like if I can pretend it’s not happening, then it won’t be real. Even during Scans and tests at the beginning, I was telling myself it would be nothing and I was overreacting.
Cancer has tried to destroy us twice now. And twice we have fought back with every single ounce of fight.
As I sit here today, trying to digest all that’s happened I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude to everyone who has helped us get to where we are today.
To the nurses, physios, play therapists and everyone at UCLH, GOSH and QEQM. For making us feel so safe not only during chemo, but during the pandemic. The enthusiasm for their Jobs shines through and the passion and care they have for each and every child in their care is humbling. I will never be able to thank them enough for what they have done for us.
To my Mum. For being my best friend. She is the first person I called when the doctor phoned me, the first person I tell any new news too. She has soooo many grandchildren, but always manages to make each one feel special. She never judges and will always just listen to my rants and my pointless phone calls just to check in. She knows all the chemo names, all the meds and she knew the treatment plan as well as we did. She did one chemo stay with Ellis pre-Covid, to give me a break and because she wanted to help. The best Mum and Grandma ever.
To Ellis, for being the person who has kept everyone going. Not once has he doubted himself and his ability to fight it. He was up and out of bed the very next day after his operation, walking on day 2, walking up stairs on day 3 and home day 4. He was riding his bike (secretly behind his physios back) on week 9. He is resilient, tough and a real force to be reckoned with. He has inspired me to become better, to become less scared of things. I am in awe of him.
To Beth, for being so understanding. Not seeing her has been so tough. But understanding that we had to shield for Ellis to keep him safe helped me when I felt the worst. She has been the best big sister to Ellis, Lily and Iris and I am super proud of the beautiful, thoughtful woman she is becoming.
To Iris, for using this time to learn. She has struggled the most during this past year. She has learnt that she is resilient and she has been OK even when she was scared. She has learnt all about hospitals and what it takes to look after someone. She is empathetic and wonderfully inquisitive.
To Lily, for being Lily. She just gets on with things, takes things in her stride. She is not afraid to ask questions and will go out of her way to make me feel appreciated. She is always learning, always creating and always challenging herself.
To Glenn, for being my team. Scans, appointments, dates, travels… we’ve done it together. For looking after the girls all those times I couldn’t. For consoling Iris when she wanted me, for sitting with Lily on those nights when I wasn’t there and she couldn’t sleep because she was worried. For saving the day over and over again when transport let us down and when Covid meant you became our taxi, driving to and from London twice a week, unable to get out of the car at the other end.
To Gavin, for being the best co-parent and friend. Most families would give anything to have there relationship we all have. From the boys only fishing with you, Ellis and Glenn to spending Christmas Eve with me in a cold, dark hospital miles away from home making sure I was OK. For never making things awkward and for always putting the kids first. We’ve done it together and for that I will never be able to thank him enough. We have the luckiest kids in the whole world.
To my sisters, Hannah, Vicki and Sophie. For being there no matter what. For keeping Ellis going with the sweets, the homemade lasagne and at the beginning before Covid, sitting with him for me waiting for the nurse. For going out of their way to make me know I wasn’t alone.
To my friends. Oh my friends. They are all fowl mouthed, wine drinking, mums who have kept me sane! From the bottles of wine, to the tea, the cream eggs, the presents, the cards… but mostly the texts. The ones that simply say “thinking of you”. 2020 has given me my very own army. I love it. Thank you.
To the ladies I have met during Ellis treatment, Victoria and Hannah. You are both incredible. We have shared our highs, our lows, our frustration and every single milestone. You have kept me going with conversations that only other cancer Mums will understand. You are the strongest women I have ever met and this shines through in Dom and Phoebe. Just because we have reached the end, doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere. I am so looking forward to seeing both of them ring the bell when it is their turn. Friends for life.
To everyone else. Thank you. Messages from people I used to go to school with who I haven’t spoke to in years, new colleagues who have quickly become friends, you have all helped too. We have felt so supported and so loved. We really are so lucky. They say it takes a small village to raise a child and this has never been more true.
I am ready to get the end of treatment tests out of the way and close this chapter once and for all. I am ready to move forward. I will forever carry things I have learnt during this time, qualities in myself that I have carved and new found ways of making sure my wellbeing and mental health is the best it can possibly be. Life is good. It’s actually more than good. Life is just beginning and I am excited to see what I will achieve.
Whatever life throws at us next (and I’m sure it will) we will be ok. Because in the end, we always are.
Something I have been told lately by someone close to me.
Well of course I have, wouldn’t anyone?
Having faced my worst fears as a parent head on and still coming out the other side is pretty life changing. From that dark day in December when Ellis was first diagnosed to now- nearly at the end of his treatment has provided me with a huge shift in mentality.
Seeing what I have seen, witnessing my boy so close to death right in front of my nose will have a lasting impact forever. The way I process it is, if the worst had happened, if he had died that day in PICU, right at that moment I couldn’t have been anymore scared. I had reached my limit.
This was my 10 moment. The top of my scale.
When you have a life changing illness or condition, you get used to rating your fears and pain on the scale of 1-10. For questionnaires, for yourself, for doctors. Even in my darkest days of my treatment, I never gave a score of higher than a 9. The day I scored 9, was the day I heard the word “You have cancer”. I didn’t give it that score because I was scared for me, I gave it that score because I was scared for my babies. I was terrified I would die and they would grow up without me. I wasn’t done teaching them about the world, shaping them into resilient little people or telling them I loved them. I wasn’t ready. All that pain and I still only scored it a 9.
I was saving my 10, hoping I would never have to use it. But that day, I did. I didn’t realise until that day just how different 10 was from 9. It was a million miles away.
So from here, it has to get better. I have faced my 10 and I am still here. I am still me, just with a different outlook on life. I am a work in progress, evolving and learning. And I love it.
It has got me thinking about blame and responsibility. Two very different things, but too often treated the same.
The blame for this year lied with Ellis’ cancer. But it is not the cancer’s responsibility to determine how I react to it and how I move forward. That responsibility lies with me.
For the past month or so I have been putting lots of effort into making sure I am mentally balanced. I have been re reading an old favourite book of mine called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k’ It was recommended to me a few years ago from an amazing friend who always has my back. 2-3am when I cant sleep, I know I can always talk to him. We studied Mental Health together 7 years ago, so he knew me just before my own diagnosis. There are not many people who I can truly say are my friend for life, but he is. And I am eternally grateful to him for being a friend and for understanding me on a level not many people do.
In the book, the author, Mark Manson, talk a lot about how life is easier when you actually learn not to give a f**k. It’s so true. Not necessarily about peoples opinion of you, but how you view the world, why you do what you do and generally makes you question yourself. I love that. With me, it has taught me that I am in control of my life, the situation isn’t. Things happen, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but ultimately I am in charge of how I chose to feel.
And this year, I choose happy. Despite everything that has happened, despite the fears of what still may happen, I still chose happy.
Does this mean I don’t care? No.
Does this mean I’m not scared? Absolutely not. I still have days where I cry because I am scared or days I can’t eat. It is still very real and current for me.
I am just not letting that define my life. They are parts of my life that unfortunately now will always be there. Every new pain, every new lump and bump with me, Ellis or any of the kids will always be a challenge for me, but I recognise that and accept it for what it is. What is isn’t is something that stops me from achieving my goals, from reaching for the stars and from fulfilling my dreams.
Life the way I see it, is like a game of poker.
You can be dealt the worst hand in the game, but still go on to win. You can beat the best of hands purely based on your attitude, your choice and how much you are willing to risk.
It’s how you play the game. That’s the secret.
I can’t change what has happened this year, I can only learn from it. Out of something so horrendously difficult, I have gained a whole plethora of influential experiences, which I am using for personal growth.
Why are some of the nastiest words we hear from ourselves?
Self love is not about thinking you are better than anyone. It’s not even about thinking you are stunningly gorgeous. It’s accepting yourself for who you are.
My body is far from perfect and its taken me a long time to accept that actually, that’s ok. I have stretch marks, imperfections, a scar across my neck and definitely more chafe than thigh gap…(Because… cake)
But what this means is that it has carried 4 incredibly amazing children, it’s beaten cancer and survived some really dark times.
And I finally love it.
It makes me so sad to see people who are not happy in their own skin, people who avoid doing things they love because of they way they feel about themselves. People who are insecure about the very body that keeps them alive.
One small nasty comment years ago that has shaped your view of yourself or stuck in a relationship where it has become the norm to be put down and not appreciated. Hang ups you have about parts of your body you hate, because someone irrelevant once told you so out of spite. Parts of your body you wish her smaller, bigger, more toned, less toned……
It’s not about looking in the mirror and telling ourselves we are perfect. It’s about knowing that it doesn’t even matter that we are not. No one is. Ok well apart from Phillip Schofield, but I mean he is god.
Perfect is manufactured from magazines and media. Naturally beautiful girls being photoshopped within an inch of their lives to become more appealing to this weird ideal that everyone so badly craves. Everyone is worth more than that.
I am lucky enough to know some of the most kindest people, who will pour kindness into others, but will be hard on themselves.
If this is you, stop. Turn your kind words back onto yourself and listen to them.
The things you love about your partner, or the things you find endearing in the person you like- you have these qualities in you, too. The things you wish you were, you already are them and more.
Why is life somehow ruled by the size of someone’s arms or the length of their legs?
Life is about fun, adventure, meeting new people and connecting in ways you never dreamed possible. It’s about laughing so hard until your cheeks hurt. It’s about those moments that take your breath away and also the hard moments that make you who you are.
Life is like a book.
Our past is our story and our bodies are the illustrations.