Mums Tree

Mums Tree

This is the first time I’ve written a blog that’s not just for me. I’m feeling very honoured that SamSpaces even asked me. I’ve been thinking about what to write for a while. My life and my volunteering at the hummingbird cancer centre has led me here.

We often hear things like cancer journey, the cancer rollercoaster, cancer being our mountain to climb and how having cancer changes us. I like to call it my cancer story. This tiny play on words makes me feel like I have a bit of control and choice in my cancer world, even if it’s just choosing when to start the next chapter, turn the next page, even when you know there’s stormy cancer pages ahead.

This year I will have had cancer in my life for ten years. In August 2009, we were told the words. ( I can’t even remember the actual words used anymore.) I was thirty five with four young children. People like me don’t get cancer. I thought it will be ok, this is not gonna change me.  In fact, I remember saying those actual words to this day.

Seven operations, six chemos and hormone therapy later, battling just living, well, surviving each day, takes its toll. Our whole daily life changed. I no longer did every school run, I never cooked every dinner. I was in the hospital when my youngest lost his first tooth but, we hugged and played. I was given the all clear of breast cancer after the ops and the chemo. Six years later (in 2016) the sneaky little bugger came back, this time in my lung  (he’s called NORMAN) and many of my central nodes. We can’t fix or remove Norman, So I choose to live with my body squatter the best I can.

The week I found out I had stage 4 cancer was the scariest of my life. I was planning my funeral in my head. I pictured myself in the hospice and I was terrified beyond belief. I was back on the cancer rollercoaster. I am however very very lucky. With treatment, Norman is staying locked up in his solid metal box, and my nodes are behaving. I’ve had a bad scan, even found cancer in my bones, but we’ve kicked that in the butt with treatment.

I now live my life very very differently, but hopefully in a good way. Once I started to see both Norman and myself could live together, I got brave, I  climbed out of my “being scared of living” box. I have the most scariest thing living inside me. I can’t always make every day count, we all need duvet days and that’s ok. but other days I live my best days possible. I live better now than I ever have done.

  I started a blog to help others understand, to hopefully help those newly diagnosed feel less scared. It’s not really my thing, being a dyslexic and also a fairly private person.  I am living my dreams. I’ve been trained in cancer hair care and help as many people as I can. I climbed a mountain just because I could, I wanted to prove to myself that I’m still in charge, I’m living my story, not Normans.

Last year I took part in the London Moonwalk, 26.2 miles in the night walking London in a bra, I was even filmed for the One Show. We even planned and had a wedding blessing last year, the best day of my life, so far. I’m not sure what challenges we are doing this year. To be honest, I’m just loving life! My husbands got a campervan, we are exploring new places, enjoying waking up with sea views. It’s very simple but I love it.

Having cancer makes me see the world differently to how I did. I want to cherish everything. I do often have times when I feel like I can’t cope, like I’m sinking into dark places, with no simple way out. I’ve found nature and spaces to be a great source of grounding when I feel like this.

When I have a duvet day, I  have a tree that I watch. It gets blown around and is standing bare right now, but it will blossom beautiful pink blossoms in the spring. It just stays standing tall. The tree’s branches change, but the core of the tree stays the same.

My cancer story is much like a tree. During cancer treatment. my tree is bare, it’s having to cope with many storms, wind, rain and snow while standing naked.  Cancer brings us many storms, and at times we don’t feel strong, but we somehow survive just like the tree does.  I have fruit trees in my garden. They need a little TLC each year, to remove the dead branches, so they can flourish, When we have  cancer we feel like we lose a lot of things. I know that I lost friends that I thought were close, and things like housework are never at the top of my to-do list. I think maybe before cancer my tree was a little overgrown. I was trying to care for too many branches. I now have fewer branches, but try to care for the strong ones.

A tree seems like something very simple. It just stands tall in its own space, whether that’s by the side of the road, on a beachfront, or in a garden. A tree has all it needs, roots for water, rain and sunlight. The storms help the trees to remove dead branches or blow seeds into the ground, for new growth. It’s all amazing and yet very simple at the same time. When we have cancer all our needs are usually met medically, but emotionally it’s a different story. We come away feeling like we’ve changed, not really knowing our place, being a little scared and battered to stand tall in our place. We question our roots, what was once important to us, might not be any more. How does a tree do it??

The tree’s roots have to travel through dark and often lonely places, but these roots are strong and find all that the tree needs. I have some amazing friends around me, the friendships have very strong roots, they need to, as sometimes it’s hard to stay standing tall.

I think cancer has changed me, just like the seasons change the trees, but my tree trunk, my core, my true me is still me. LOVE and HONESTY, have always been me and they still are. Cancer takes away some of our branches. We even lose our blossom for a bit and we have to stand naked in the storm. Sometimes it feels like winter will last forever. but given time and love, all our trees can flourish.

Trees are amazing, even those trees at the roadside can blossom. However, the trees that get extra TLC and care do the best. Cancer is a terrible hard storm, often we don’t realise the damage done until the storm is over. This is often when the normal world thinks we are ok, but when we need the most care.

I’ve been looking at lots of trees and some of the most interesting ones are the ones with branches covered in ivy. Their branches look thick and tough, they look protected by armour. I think these branches are pretending to be ok, they are trying hard to cope, to find their sunshine through the ivy which is putting the branch into darkness, but even that’s ok. The tree has other branches, it has its core and its roots but maybe today it needs to feel covered, feel that the ivy is hugging it. These branches look the strongest, but are actually the weakest. Always always be kind to yourself. The ivy won’t get your good branches.

One of the biggest things cancer has taught me is that its easier with help. Talk, shout, scream, climb a mountain, climb a tree. but please know your happy place is still there, your tree trunk core is still strong. and given some sunshine, your tree will blossom.

By Lucie Joels

FB; @Lucie Joels

All I Want For Treatment

All I Want For Treatment

I have been asked so many times, by friends and family, what they can buy for people going through a cancer diagnosis.

First and foremost, I would always say, your time, patience and love, but you can’t wrap that up with funky wrapping paper and leave on a doorstep with a card, and sometimes just the action of handing over a surprise in a pretty bag, is enough to bring a big smile and feelings of gratitude, importance and happiness.

For friends and family, it can be really tough watching someone they love going through a diagnosis and treatment but to have a list of practical, useful and recommended, as well as thoughtful gift ideas, can be a real comfort to them, helping them to feel a little more useful, pro active and positive.

Below is a list I often send to anyone who asks for inspiration. I will often make a little First Aid/Cancer Survival kit for friends at the beginning of their treatment with face wipes, healthy snacks, straws, lavender oil, arnica and a magazine for any hospital stays or periods of convalescence. It doesn’t need to be anything snazzy, just a reused paper bag with a little ribbon is enough. I would then, if they lived near by, leave a little something on their doorstep every chemo session, or beginning of a new week of radiotherapy, scan days or times when they had important appointments. It could be anything from a bag of chocolate balls to a simple card.

Any of the below ideas will bring a smile and a sense of spoiling;

1. The website Beauty Despite Cancer has an amazing range of beauty products specifically for patients to help with itchy bald heads, sore dry chapped hands and skin etc etc. They have published a book which is all about recognising yourself through treatment; surgery, radio and chemo and hair loss and would make a lovely pressie for a close friend going through it who might want a little resource to have to hand.
The website has amazing products specifically for people going through cancer treatment and the itchy skin oil is amazing for a bald head or just anywhere that may become irritated. Chemo really dries out the skin so the hand and nail balm could be useful too;
2. An Itunes voucher (from any supermarket, so they can download audio books or movies etc)
3. A good book. A trilogy is always a good idea!
4. A lovely cashmere beanie hat (if they have lost hair) or a lovely poncho in a bright lovely colour. Birds Of Paradise have some lovely ones on line and really useful for pulling on and off with hot flushes/hormonal temperature changes.
5. Green and Black chocolate (you can get the mini ones in a set)
6. Worthers Original toffee (you get a horrid taste in your mouth sometimes and these are genius!)
7. Ginger tea bags (really helps with any nausea) Pukka do some brilliant tea’s and their boxes are gorgeous too!
8. Lavender oil – always!!
9. A really good website for cards that say just the right thing and other useful gift ideas is; http://www.notanotherbunchofflowers.com
10. A nice pair of slippers or cosy socks! Always a winner and something you can go to town with!
11. A note book and nice pen (if they like writing or want to keep a journal)
12. A voucher for some reflexology or indian head massage or just a manicure? Always such a treat and some pampering always works.
13. A lavender heat pack (that you can pop in the microwave and cuddle up with)
14. A little teapot and matching mug/cup with a packet of biccies.
16. Organic Rosehip oil is great for any scaring and nourishing dry or sore skin. Available on Amazon.
17. A candle (you can never go wrong)
18. A good pair of ear phones
19. Milk thistle and acidophilus are vital for supporting gut health as the treatment and surgery drugs can play havoc with our tums. Bio health are one of the most reliable brands.
20. There are some lovely cookbooks that can be useful too;
Nourish & Flourish, recipes and nutrition to challenge cancer by Samantha Ford

The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly
The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz
21. An eye mask
22. A 1:1 yoga voucher for when they feel stronger
23. Box Of Hugs is also a brilliant website with some lovely collections that can be ordered and sent straight to them.
24. DoTerra are fabulous healing essential oils. Ty Bollinger suggests Frankincense, Myrrh, Tumeric and Peppermint in addition to Lavender as excellent cancer fighting oils. They can be dropped in the bath, humidifiers, on a tissue, rubbed in the palms of hands or on the pillow at night to help sleep.
25. A nutribullet or simple blender for smoothies, soups and dips.
26. Seedlip (as a non alcoholic alternative to Gin and full of botanicals!)
27. A magazine subscription (Breathe is a brilliant one)
28. Mouth wash, to help teeth hygiene and help with any horrid tasting drugs
29. A letter box flower delivery subscription.
30. A cuddly toy (well why not?!)
I will update and revise this list as often as possible, so please do comment below if there is anything you may like to add. It would be wonderful to hear from you and offer as many ideas as possible.
Ticking Off Breast Cancer

Ticking Off Breast Cancer

Before cancer, I was certainly not a writer. I’ve never had any inclination to write. No novel burning deep inside me nor any aspirations to write anything. But, somehow or other, writing has become a big part of my life since my breast cancer diagnosis. In fact, over the course of the past couple of years, I have set up a website, www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com, which consists of practical tips and advice for someone going through breast cancer treatment; I regularly write blog posts and articles for other cancer organisations and charities; and I have written a book about my breast cancer experience (also called Ticking Off Breast Cancer) which is due out September 2019.

So, I suppose the question is, how did I go from being someone who didn’t write and had no interest in writing, to being someone who just can’t stop writing.

Well, there is a bit of story there. Towards the end of chemotherapy, a friend told me that another friend of hers had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She asked whether I would have a chat with her – we were of a similar age, had children the same age, lived in the same town and as it is fairly uncommon to get breast cancer in your early forties, she didn’t have anyone to talk to who had been through it. I said of course. So, we arranged a time for her to pop over to my house for a cup of tea and a chat. In advance of her coming over, I thought that it would be helpful to retrace the previous few months and work out what I could tell her about. Her breast cancer was the same type as mine and she would be having similar treatment. I asked myself, what would I have wanted someone to tell me had I spoken to someone after I was diagnosed but before my treatment started.

I would have wanted someone to give me:

  • Practical advice to help get me through the treatment,
  • A little heads up on what to expect through the treatment,
  • And I would have wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me that although it was going to be a tough road ahead, I would be able to do it and I would get to the other side.

So, I started to make a few notes about the things that I could talk to her about. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. There was so much to say. I realised that over the previous seven months, I had picked up many practical tips about getting through breast cancer treatment. And to cut a long story short, I decided to use these notes (together with the results of some extensive online research where I’d found some amazing resources for people going through breast cancer) to set up www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com. 

I found it very therapeutic writing out these practical tips. And so, I also started to write out an account of my life from the day I was diagnosed and throughout treatment. I’d been journaling anyway, so I took my whole experience – what had happened at each step of the way, how I felt about it all and all the chaotic, confused, anxious thoughts and reflections that were crowding my brain, and popped them into a written narrative.

It was a form of therapy in a way. All the stress, anxiety and difficulties I had faced since October 2016 were leaving my head and going onto my laptop. I was able to put my thoughts and feelings into some sort of order by writing them down. And there were a lot of thoughts and feelings – I was scared, anxious, sad, up and down a lot, overwhelmed constantly by the whole experience. Writing was a way of taking back a little bit of control. It was as if, by writing about everything, I was gradually lifting a weight off my shoulders and off my chest. There is a saying that by talking about something you can get it off your chest. Well, for anyone who suffers with anxiety you will know how it feels to physically have the weight of anxiety pushing on your chest. Writing has most certainly got a lot of anxiety off my chest. And, this personal breast cancer account is going to be published in September this year, in the form of a book by the same name: Ticking Off Breast Cancer.

I know that reading accounts of other people’s cancer experiences is incredibly supportive. You realise that you are not alone:

Someone else has felt the way you do

Someone else has had the side effects that you have had

Someone else has worried about the same things as you.

Someone else has struggled with the same issues as you.

Someone else has had the same fears as you.

And when you know that someone else has felt, thought and worried in the same way as you, you feel less alone. You feel comforted by that fact and you can take strength from those personal accounts to keep going through the tough times. I really hope that my book will provide this support to someone who is going through breast cancer themselves, and their family and friends.

And this is also why I have opened up www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com to guest blogs from other people going through breast cancer. People who may not have written anything before, but have written something and would like to share it. And people who have their own breast cancer blog but would like to share their writing with a different audience. Everyone is welcome to contribute. Just get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Sara is the founder of www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com, a website dedicated to helping people through their breast cancer treatment from diagnosis to living life to the full once treatment ends. Aged 42 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Sara decided to set up the website to support those who do not know which way to turn for help after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis; those who are overwhelmed by the breast cancer resources online; those who may be scared to go online for fear of what they might find; and those just looking for a comfortable, safe, calm place to turn for help. The website provides practical advice for each step of the way, together with many links and signposts to other online resources. Follow her on FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram. Sara’s book of the same name, Ticking Off Breast Cancer, is due out September 2019.

Beauty and Sole

Beauty and Sole

Hi, I’m Caroline and I just wanted to share with you how Tropic changed my life and my skin. I trained as a beauty therapist over 25 years ago and in that time, I worked with a lot of skincare ranges, some very expensive! Over the years my skin became increasingly sensitive particularly with outbreaks of eczema on my hands, and neck from working with fragranced products that unfortunately my hands became so red raw with eczema that I had to give up being a beauty therapist all together, which for me was heart breaking.

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Only last year I heard about Tropic through a friend so I thought I might as well give it a go. I was always on the lookout for something natural and without irritants but I could never seem to find it, in the past I’d tried so many creams but to no avail. The lovely Tropic lady recommended that I should try the Super Deluxe box which came with the cleanser and bamboo cloth, spray toner, moisturiser and exfoliator, and apparently THE amazing “Super Greens” serum to help repair my skin, so I decided to give it a whirl, the results were truly amazing. Within a few days my skin was noticeably different, it appeared smoother, visibly nourished and my redness just seemed to vanish, even my friends noticed!  And guess what? my eczema went from my hands!  It really was a life changer for me, so within 6 weeks I joined Tropic and started my own beauty salon up from home doing what I loved best, treatments! I couldn’t be happier and I love spreading the Tropic love of “Good for you” skin care to my clients and I’ve never looked back!

Tropic is created by the inspirational and passionate Susie Ma who is about “greener beauty with a conscience”. All her products are FREE FROM: – parabens, alcohol, mineral oils, methylisothiazolinone, Triclosan, Talc, Lanolin, Gluten, Petrochemicals, Beeswax, Phthalates, Microbeads, phthalates, toxic chemicals, and more… …Also, Tropic is made locally in Surrey and freshly made for you so it’s never more than 2 weeks old when you receive them so beautifully fresh. Tropic is the fastest growing skin care in the UK and they have won over 70 awards and still being added to.

Tropic is also vegan and cruelty free. “Pure, Honest and Effective.

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I love everything about Tropic and there are so many gorgeous products to choose from including body washes, body smooth exfoliator, whipped body butters to self-tans, body shimmers, body and bath oils, and lavender pillow midst to help you sleep! Tropic also has natural bare mineral makeup and hair care that is silicone and sulphate free and still new products to be released this September, so can’t wait for that.

I would love you to give Tropic a go because I know they are truly amazing products, nothing hidden just great products and they always offer a 30-day money back guarantee so nothing to lose.

Here are some details of my favourite products;

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“SUPER GREENS”

This is one of my favourite products! This is a gorgeous serum that helps reduce redness, repair and nourish the skin and contains all those Super Greens including Kale, Maca root, Tamanu and Marula oil. 

It’s literally a smoothie for your skin, love it…….

This has won so many awards!

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BODY SMOOTH – This was Susie’s first ever family recipe which she recreated. A beautiful exfoliator using sea salt, lemon myrtle, macadamia oils golden jojoba, bergamot and lime essential oils. Leaves your skin feeling unbelievably soft!

BODY LOVE – This is another favourite of mine and smells divine! With cocoa butters, pink peppercorn, hibiscus, coconut oil and lemon essential oils. 

Ooh La la!

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“SUN DISCOVERY KIT”

Don’t forget summer is here! I love this collection as it contains everything you need for your holiday  

SPF 30 (100ml)

SPF 50 (100ml)

Sun Soothe after sun (100ml)

SPF 50 Sun balm for areas prone to burning.

Great for children/adults with eczema.

*Sun products also available in 200ml

 If you need help and advice my number is 07775 896233. I would love to hear from you!

My website is www.beautyandsole.co.uk

“Happy Browsing!”

Caroline x

P.S. Download the “Think Dirty” app and find out what’s in your skin care products, you might be quite surprised……

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Last weekend, I was literally on top of the world! By climbing to the top of one mountain, I achieved so much more than just reaching the summit. Being fortunate to have a birds eye view over that little corner of the world, gave me perspective. It was a realisation of how far each of us can go, physically and mentally, despite all the dips in the road, boulders and U turns we have to face, not just in every day life but in business and in ourselves.

After speaking at a wellbeing day with The Lewis Foundation last year, I had been talking to the amazing Lucie Joels, who climbed Snowdon with one of our Samspace bracelets and agreed that to actually take on the real deal myself, would be a fantastic experience and something worth doing.

Climbing an actual real mountain, four months post hysterectomy, seemed a little punchy but six weeks after my operation in February, I met up with Sarah, one of my Safespace women, who said she was going to climb Snowdon with two mutual friends from our yoga group, for the Pituitary Foundation.

 

Sarah is an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, after being diagnosed with this more rarer cancer a few years ago, in the form of a tumour. She lives with the physical and physiological effects every day; on her hormone system and body temperature, which, in turn, affect hair loss, bone health degeneration and an increased sensitivity to stress, among other things. In Sarah’s case it cannot be operated on. After radiotherapy and chemo and a consistent ongoing maintenance treatment, alongside holistic approaches, she has continued as active a lifestyle as she can.  As well as working for herself, she comes to yoga three times a week and her positivity shines. She says Samspaces has totally changed her outlook as a person and given her confidence and the unique type of support post treatment, that she was looking for.

So as the sun rose last Saturday, 23rd June, a large army of orange ants wound its way up this ‘little’ Welsh mountain, like something out of the Noahs Ark, all marching in two’s, side by side, carrying their climbing essentials in their backpacks, like little tortoise with their shells, waving the flag for Pituitary Cancer. The charity is only twenty-five years old with no official funding except all the efforts of local and national fundraising. Jay does an incredible job organising it all and trying to keep momentum going. No easy task! Yet, for this event, the sky had never looked so blue, the grass so green. Nature in all of her splendour. The path snaked away in front of us and all I wanted to do was follow it to the top.

It was beautiful. I won’t waffle on about every view and photo opportunity. Suffice to say, there were a lot of them, but as we began the ascent and followed the uneven and often rocky pathway to each meeting point, I was amazed at the magnificence of nature. I revelled in feeling so small and insignificant. A mere ant. The vastness of the sky and the expanse of the land around me, was space optimised. There was a sense of surrender and the rawness of the surroundings gave me a greater connection with what was happening right at that moment.

Reaching the top, conquering that last steep incline, was a phenomenal feeling. Heidi had nothing on me, marching up those practically vertical paths! Thankfully I saved the public my rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ but only because i was out of breath!! I felt so energised and happy. Maybe there is something in that mountain air after all? I remember thinking, everyone up here is smiling. Not one person looked sad or unhappy. It was pretty crowded but there was such a sense of achievement. The sense of space was empowering and exhilarating and never before has my Sutra quote on my home page been so apt!!

What made it even better was that Sarah’s train arrived at the same time we had. Due to a knee injury, she was sadly unable to walk and her metaphorical mountain had definitely been a huge climb emotionally in the lead up. It is never easy being told we cant do something when we had our hearts so set on it and were so determined. However, the body is a fragile and precious thing, and it was clear that the far reaching side effects of her pituitary condition were still prevalent and this needed to be respected.

 

It was important for Sarah to be there though, not just for the foundation, but for us and for herself. It was still a journey for every individual there; a challenge for mind and body, strength and resilience. Meeting her at the top was wonderful. It didn’t matter if you had walked, run, cycled (yup, no, I’m not kidding!) flew (see glider picture below!) or taken the train to the top. You were there, breathing in the clean air, staring at the incredible scenery, standing on a flipping mountain top, 3,560ft above sea level! Trying to stand on the summit for a photo was a separate challenge in itself! Everyone jostling for position, both for feet and selfie sticks! Oh to have had that summit to ourselves.

After a hasty cup of hot steaming tea, the best egg mayo sarnie I think I have ever tasted  and a change of socks (fantastic advice from a dear friend!) the descent beckoned. It had been much cooler at the top. The sun had disappeared while we fought for photo space on the edge of precarious vistas, but as we started downward and became more sheltered again, it became warmer and the on/off fleece, stayed off!

I spoke to some amazing people that day. It was one of the most inspiring experiences I have had. I can stay true to my talks and presentations with the knowledge that walking down a mountain IS harder than walking up! Yet, walking together, listening to such courage and learning about other peoples conditions, illustrated to me that those faced with adversity can always find a way to rise again, bigger, better, stronger and even more determined and having a hand to hold helps ease that journey. Having a focus, a goal, can make a fundamental difference and generate a much greater sense of positivity. There was only equality and integrity on that mountain, every orange ant helping the other; caring, sharing and coming together to celebrate life. Not so insignificant after all.

Arriving back on tarmac was a slight shock to the lower back! I was getting strangely used to the rocks and cobbles! Thanks to Lou and a fabulous chap from our group, I didn’t have to carry my backpack for the last ten minutes as my tum was sore but boy, did it feel amazing turning to look back up to where we had just climbed. Our group raised a fabulous £4,000 for The Pituitary Foundation that day and I am so grateful to everyone who sponsored us. This money will help quicker diagnosis, more support and better treatment as well as raising much needed awareness. After a quick drink and thank you with the guides and some of the other climbers, we drifted back to our little cabin to rest, eat and nurse our aching legs.

One large bowl of macaroni cheese, chilli and Bridesmaids on Netflix viewing later, as I was wondering how to navigate the ‘child friendly’ ladder of the bunk beds I was sleeping on the top of, I moved my phone and saw I had a message.

The gorgeous Gemma, who I met last year but feel I have known forever, had gone to the MPower award ceremony in London as she had been nominated for her incredible Ways Gone By products. Due to my commitment to climb, I had been unable to go. I had been so incredibly honoured to have been a finalist and the love and support for us all had been so amazing, but as the phone beckoned with its ‘LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME NOW light’ I saw the message, ‘I won and so did you!!!’

I double and triple looked and let out some weird scream. The girls thought perhaps some kind of man eating spider had gate crashed my top bunk manoeuvring routine but I flew into the sitting area and suddenly the aching thighs, sore feet and throbbing groin miraculously disappeared and I was jumping up and down, punching the air, laughing, crying (or was that the pain and sheer fatigue?!) like a mad woman. The pride was overwhelming and thrilling.

Needless to say the eyes were wide, the mind was buzzing and the heart was thumping (not just from finally managing to heave myself into my top bunk!) and since those are such perfect conditions for deep sleep, not, there was a longer wait than I had anticipated for some rest and recuperation to wash over me that night, but as I lay there, on my cosy top bunk, I felt so grateful.

Samspaces started as my handwritten journal and scrap book, marking every metaphorical climb, descent and pot hole. Then it morphed into a blog to offer some solidarity to younger patients. Then a website to provide inspiration and practical tips for empowering our recovery. It grew from there into a support group, then came the idea of meeting for practical wellbeing workshops. A network developed and now an active community with a growing doula extension. We have come so far.

I wrote in my last blog about power and passion, why the nomination had meant so much in the first place, but to win is not just recognition, it is an acknowledgment of the awareness society need for those adjusting to life after cancer and the complexities of this, with an appreciation of the bigger picture. Sarah’s knee, my hysterectomy, these are just prime examples of the far reaching effects. Cancer doesn’t always end when the treatment does.

As I listened to those awe inspiring people, climbing that mountain after facing a life threatening diagnosis, some as recently as a couple of months ago, and fully appreciating every fear and hope they may have had, I felt so proud. Proud of them, proud of the friends I have made through Safespace and proud of who we all are after facing any adversity. Breathing that air, looking at such beauty in a view that cost nothing, I felt unbelievably respectful of human strength, nature and all its wonders.

Human nature is awesome. The kindness, support, solidarity and care that I saw that weekend warmed my heart so much and gave me faith. Winning the award gave me faith too. Faith in women, empowerment, recovery and healing and belief in a new genre of business and in myself. Cancer gave me a reason, writing gave me a purpose, climbing gave me a goal and winning gave me a dream come true.

There just aint no mountain high enough to climb up, and maybe more importantly, down, now!

If you haven’t had a chance to donate yet but would still like to, click here for our Just Giving page.

Thank you to everyone for your generosity and support.xx

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