Monday, 17 April 2017

It's me, your body, can you pick up please?

Before I contracted cancer, I rarely noticed changes in my body. I'm not sure if I was just too busy to think about it, or whether there weren't any that were dramatic enough to attract my attention. Now, I'm hyper-conscious of every tiny twinge, ache and sensation. Whilst I appreciate that nobody really thinks about the indicators of cancer until they or someone else is experiencing them, I can't express enough how important it is to observe these small notifications from your body. You wouldn't ignore a notification from a friend on social media, so why ignore your body when it's trying to tell you something? Me and my body have had a few fall-outs in recent years. It thoroughly hated the chemo and whole-brain radiotherapy. It wasn't keen on the deeply uncomfortable 'steroid years'. It didn't like having all its energy sapped out of it and the sustained surprise attacks from cancer really kept my body on its toes. I can understand why we stopped listening to each other for a while.

So I'm asking everyone today, well urging you really, to LISTEN to what your body is saying to you. Most people ignore the nagging feeling that something's wrong, but bodies are cleverer than us, they keep trying to get the message across. So why not put a shell to your ear and think about what you hear.

Have you noticed any changes in your breasts?
Are there any changes to your toilet habits?
Can you feel any lumps or bumps in places where they shouldn't be?
Are you suffering from headaches or visual disturbances?
Is there blood where there shouldn't be?
Have you lost weight without trying?
Are you having difficulty getting up stairs without being breathless?

If the answer's 'yes', then pester your GP. That's what they're there for. When I was working as an Early Detection of Cancer volunteer (ever so slightly serendipitous would you agree?), I watched a video of a young bowel cancer. It was like a little white pustule. As it was small, it was easy to snip away with minimal surgery. We then looked at an advanced bowel cancer which was wrapped tightly round the bowel and the bowel was barely distinguishable from the growth. I will never forget that image. So, don't ignore your body. Work in partnership with it. Check your body regularly. Go to your GP if you find anything unusual. Be a team. Most worries are simply that - worries. But some are the real deal and you'll be glad you listened.


Monday, 3 April 2017

The big little things

So, this week I celebrated a little thing. Well, to me, and others in the same boat, it was a rather big thing. I actually tied my hair back! You may remember that a few months ago, I made a significant move in re-capturing the 'old me' by getting hair extensions. The great thing about them is that your own hair continues to grow whilst your extensions conceal the unruly little tufts that hide beneath them. My real hair at the top is now reaching just below my ears and under the hair at the back (which would, without extensions make a fine mullet that the even older me, circa 1985 would be proud of) has grown to collar length. Ergo...I can now tie it back! It's such a trivial thing set against the backdrop of the last few years, but somehow, it really matters. For cancer sufferers it's big little things like this that give you a little buzz. And, it's another step along the way to getting back to me.


Me, before I tied my hair back this morning