Call Off The Search!

Call Off The Search!

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, back in 2005, the selection of products promising to help nurture and nourish my wellbeing were slim, at best. 


I was a twenty six year old girl and beauty, make up and skin care were rather high up the priority list! When it came to the subject of hair loss, chemo skin, radiotherapy burn and nail care, I had always taken pride in my appearance and initially the idea of having to contend with wigs and headscarves didn’t phase me.  After all, Kylie was doing it! 


That was, until that second session of chemo, when my scalp felt so sore and my hairbrush looked like it had just been raked through Big Foot on a bad hair day! The discomfort was like nothing I had ever experienced before and so started the rather temporary but traumatic decline of my femininity, identity and general twenty something appearance! 


Then I met Jennifer Young. While undergoing treatment for my third diagnosis, nine years later, I became aware of how much things were changing and how much more conscious healthcare workers were of the side effects on patients wellbeing and appearance, as well as those living beyond cancer. 


Jennifer and I met through a mutual friend back in 2012, and after hearing her story and the background of the Defiant Beauty products, I was hooked. 
Seven years later, Jennifer Young and Beauty Despite Cancer have collaborated with Cancer Research UK in a pioneering new venture, making these natural and luxurious indulgent products even more accessible to cancer patients throughout the UK, as well as those living beyond treatment. The dry scalp treatment  is a permanent gift for anyone I know now going through chemo and the itchy skin oil is brilliant!


Jennifer has worked so hard to promote this amazing skin care range and in addition, has developed accredited professional qualifications for spas and therapists. These qualifications are accredited by a number of internationally recognised professional bodies. The team deliver CPD courses for a number of organisations as well as delivering training to healthcare professionals. Last Summer, I had a wonderfully nurturing full body massage treatment in London.  I felt so pampered and my skin felt nourished for days.  


Jennifer Young products and services can be found in a number of UK hospitals, hospices and support centres. They were created with the help of those affected by cancer and their healthcare teams. Jennifer has a BSc (Hons) in Biology and is an experienced microbiologist, a nutritional therapist, an associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, a qualified aromatherapist, beauty therapist and product formulator. She is a wonder woman, a superhero who, after being asked to create a specialist skincare and cosmetic range for those going through cancer treatment at her local hospital, discovered the harsh reality of the side effects of the drugs for patients skin. Jennifer recognised a demand for products that could help patients feel pampered and nurtured, without fear of adding more chemicals to the skin. 


Cancer Research UK is the worlds leading cancer charity, priding itself on saving lives through research and pioneering work into prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s aim is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
Cancer care, in general, has improved hugely over the last ten years. I can absolutely vouch for this after having had three breast cancer diagnosis within the last twelve years. When I speak to other patients and survivors who have had more recent experiences, I am encouraged that more is being done to support patients wider needs. Health and wellbeing are at the forefront of cancer care now with more of a focus being given to the broader concerns of younger patients in particular. It isn’t just older people who get cancer and a woman is still a woman despite cancer. 


In 2015 I had the opportunity to speak alongside my own breast cancer consultant at The Royal Society of Medicine in London at a conference for medical professionals focusing on breast cancer in the young, the pregnant and with a family history. 


The comfort I felt seeing and hearing a growing appreciation, from medical professionals, for a patients wellbeing during and after cancer treatment and the necessity of managing their broader needs, was huge. 
Holistic support through reflexology, acupuncture and reiki, emotional support and access to mental health professionals and counselling, physical care such as physiotherapy, fertility advice and services, wig specialists and dermatologists, as well as a continuity of care from specific cancer care nurses through and beyond cancer. The entire cancer support team illustrated through an enormous circular diagram all drawn around one smaller one, the patient, on a slide, lit by a projector on a big screen. 


With the amazing work that charities like Cancer Research UK are doing, as well as pioneering health, wellbeing and beauty products like Beauty Despite Cancer, patients have an expanding wealth of services and support to tap into. A collaboration like this, for anyone going through or living with and beyond cancer, is game changing. 


For someone like me, who has witnessed a constantly changing landscape of cancer treatment over the last twelve years, and knows, only too well, the complex and far reaching side effects of cancer treatment, it is a remarkable step forward for patients wellbeing. It will continue the crucial conversation between patients and healthcare professionals, and encourage, improve and develop the patients experience. 


We can stop the search folks, we can still be, and feel, beautiful despite cancer.  

Body Positivity Coaching

Body Positivity Coaching

Be careful what you say to yourself ..your brain is listening to it all!

That might sound a bit dramatic, but it really is true. When you vocalise negative thoughts about yourself, you’re giving them the power to grow and to nurture more negative self talk.

I have started this short blog with the above statement as it’s one of the statements I use most often with my clients.
Even when we say negative things about ourselves as a joke, it still sinks into that sneaky little negative side of our brain to grow and fester into something much more harmful to our self esteem.

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What is Body Positivity Anyway?!

Body Positivity is an often misunderstood term covering so many areas of our lives but I use it as an overarching term to describe my passion for guiding people through the wide variety of areas contributing to their self-esteem, self-perception and their ability to become the most authentic version of themselves.

It’s most definitely not just about size or clothes, but it is about acceptance of the real you and your individuality, particularly following big life changes such as serious illness, the menopause, childbirth or bereavement.

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When you’re slipping down that rabbit hole of low mood as a result of a life change or a lifetime of negative reinforcement, it can seem too difficult to even begin to deal with the symptoms; so being prepared for such challenges empowers you to be able to retain control and move forward to a more positive place.

I am the eternal pragmatic optimist but don’t let that fool you! I haven’t led a life filled with flowers and champagne! I’ve worked very hard to change my own self perception and to tackle my own self esteem and now I coach and guide others to be able to make those changes for themselves.

I’m known as Mrs Positivity.. and for good reason!

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I was once shocked by a friend’s comment to me soon after I split from my first husband in 2000. I had been separated for a few months and had recently met the man I have now been with for over 18 years – great news!

Her comment?

“I’m surprised you don’t have flat feet Jane: you land on them so often!”

Hmmm… interesting point of view and let’s be honest here: that hurt a lot at the time but I chose to ignore it and now I flip that comment in my head so I can see that this person was offering me a compliment by highlighting my ability to make the best of a negative situation.

I only use the above as an example of how other people’s perceptions of you can affect how you feel about yourself and how you can control your feelings every single day.

Like any challenging life event, you can’t always control the actual event or stop it from happening BUT you can control how you respond to it and how you move forward.

Below you will see my top 5 reasons why you’re making yourself miserable. You are responsible for your happiness and, by welcoming that responsibility you will feel free from stress and uncertainty by being able to tackle challenges as they arise.

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You’re continually comparing yourself to others: One of my favourite sayings (developed by me!) is “There’s only one you so who are you comparing yourself with anyway”?! The continual comparisons with people you know or the apparently perfect beings on social media (!) will never result in you feeling great about you. Not only that but it’s such a waste of time. Instead of spending ANY time comparing – why not do something that makes you feel amazing – go for a run, read a book, write a story, have a cuppa with a friend (choose your most positive friend)

You buy clothes that don’t fit you or suit you: When I was young in the 1980’s, I would squeeze into the on trend mini skirts and drainpipe trousers which were uncomfortable and most definitely did not make the most of my body shape or personal style. These days, I do things differently and every day I encourage women to only fill their wardrobes with clothes that fit them and suit their individuality. It’s very difficult to be content with yourself when you’re wearing clothes that are too small because ‘you’re always a size 12 so why does this size 12 top feel so tight?!’

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You keep trying to ‘fit in’: You get into the habit of side-lining your own needs and personality traits in favour of pleasing others and fitting in with others’ expectations of you. Many times, you’re not even aware that you’re doing it. The result of this is that you are never content with the person you see in the mirror every day. Wherever you go and whoever you try to be – the real you will ALWAYS be there waiting to be invited back – Try letting her in and see what happens.

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You apologise all the time: All you people pleasers out there – This is for you. I bet you apologise when someone spills a drink on you. I bet you apologise when someone steps on your toe and I bet you apologise when someone lets you down? – It’s lovely that you care about others’ feelings but by apologising for no valid reason, you are giving others permission to de value your needs and telling yourself that you are not worthy. (I refer you back to the statement at the beginning of this blog).

Try to just take a second to breath in before that apology slips out – If it’s appropriate for you to apologise then your logical mind will help you out but if you jump in too quickly, that emotional side of you may send you down the wrong path.

You keep dieting in an unhealthy way: When you starve yourself or eat in an unhealthy way, your brain quite simply cannot function properly and your sense of happiness and reason are hugely diminished. I have worked with people with anorexia and in many cases they were so malnourished there was no ability to even begin to build a new self esteem until nutrition was addressed. This applies to both under and overeating for different reasons but the key message is that diets are destructive and healthy eating is a lifestyle. (and this is nothing to do with weight, size or body shape). If you get this right you’re half way to sorting your self esteem.

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Reframing Negativity

I recently considered the reframing of negativity that I’ve experienced over the years. From teen days until my 40s, I experienced a lot of less than positive comments regarding how people (mainly girls/women) perceived me.

“You talk too much” “You’re a bit much for me”

“You’re selfish”
“You’re just lucky”
“You’re not as nice as: (insert name here)”
BUT…

  1. I was surrounding myself with women who didn’t support or value me
  2. I was surrounding myself with women who didn’t ‘get me’
  3. I was surrounding myself with women who had made assumptionsabout me
  4. I was surrounding myself with women who used me to make themselvesfeel better

Don’t get me wrong – I take my share of responsibility for that!

  1. I allowed those women to treat me like that
  2. I made assumptions about myself! and didn’t get to know myself wellenough
  3. I didn’t respect my own needs and feelings
  4. I wasn’t allowing others to see the real me

Importantly! I didn’t realise that not everyone is going to like me!

and that’s ok.

It’s so important to find your clan – find your tribe – find the ones who like/love you for you and like/love you BECAUSE of your quirks, not despite them.

So let’s consider the reframe of those comments because I know the
truth 
about me just as you do about you. I’m in charge of my own perception and you’re in charge of yours!
This reframe still feels challenging as we’re taught not to ‘big ourselves up’ and not to be self indulgent but, think of this as your personal CV.

Sell your fabulousness (is that a word?!) and let’s see you shine.

Here’s my reframe to get my CV started … Read it then have a go at yours…

“You talk too much”

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I learnt a long time ago that I needed to be chatty to make friends as I was always the new girl at school. I’m now a sociable adult (although perhaps a bit of an early discloser!) and my true friends love the energy I bring to an event.

You’re a bit much for me”
I try very hard to be my best self for those around me to ensure they feel at ease. I am passionate about many things and yes! I’m loud but my natural empathy makes me easy to talk to about literally anything – If that’s not your thing then I understand and can recommend loads of fabulous associates and friends who will be more in keeping with what you need.

“You’re selfish”

Looking after myself is most emphatically NOT selfish – It’s not possible to be a supportive friend, mother, daughter, wife if you don’t look after your own needs first

“You’re just lucky”

I personally don’t believe in luck but regardless; in my case, I have created all the good in my life by accepting help, taking risks, educating myself, surrounding myself with good people, removing negativity and not staying down when I fall. If that’s lucky then ok! I’m just lucky.

“You’re not as nice as …..”
Hmmm… this is a difficult one as it feels so personal – In reality, what the person should have said was “You’re nothing like …” and I’d have to agree

because I’m unique and there’s no-one like me! – thanks for noticing

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So…My 3 reframing tips are:

1. DoyourownpersonalCV–it’snoteasytoblowyourowntrumpetbuttake this as permission from me to do so. (You are amazingly you and no-one should bring you down)

2. Neverbeafraidtoremovenegativepeoplefromyourlife!Youdeservetobe understood for who you really are.

3. Ifnegativityisrollingaroundthatlargestoragespaceinyourbrainthenwrite it down and reframe it based on the facts of who you are.

I think you get the gist of what I’m all about and what to expect from me so if you want to hop onto a free discovery call to see what changes you can make then email me on: jane@bodypositivitycoach.co.uk or
go old school and call me on: 07944 811939

Feel free to join my fab free closed facebook group on

https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensbodypositivitynetwork/

Follow me on Instagram: @therealbodypositivitycoach Jane x

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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.

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