Friday, 20 December 2013

Happy Christmas? Oh yes…

christmas-menu I really don't like Christmas. It sort of sucks. Everyone being all 'happy' for no good reason. I lost both my lovely Dad and my sweet father-in-law round Christmas. I was diagnosed with cancer just after Christmas. I had a massive scan-scare last Christmas. So - actually Christmas for me? It's crap. I get sideswiped by sadness.

I will be sitting around doing something, then BOOM I am almost in tears. Or totally in tears. Just memories; thoughts of things shared in the past…just missing people. Missing the missing people.

Mostly my Dad - he liked a Real Ale at Christmas. He liked Stilton like I do, and the dark meat on the turkey like I do - and dark rum & raisin chocolate. And so on…tut, I am so like my father, so I am constantly reminded of him. Which is mostly a happy thing, but some days - a very sad thing.

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But this year has been interesting and amazing. I did the 400km cycle across Cuba [brilliant - but torturous!] - I have now raised over K12.5 for research - I am very proud of this! Plus I have a cupboard full of cycle medals - of which I am also proud.  I never EVER thought I would get a medal for anything!

And - we have a new little grand son…I honestly didn't think I'd live to see this Christmas. To actually be here to meet Joseph? It's incredible. Here he is with the very first Christmas gift of his life…and it made me cry to actually buy it - because I was so happy to still be here to do this.

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This year has been a catharsis for me. And this post is to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point. A point where I can actually now start to plan for the future [fingers crossed]. I know - it sounds insane. But until now I have been thinking 'wtf - I'll probably die before I finish [insert anything here]' - but it seems my mind has caught up with my healing body. Now I have plans!!

The garden needs an overhaul. The house does too - everything became frozen in time when I was diagnosed with cancer. Not so any more. It has taken over 5 years, but I am finally getting with the program. But even so, I still touch wood for every little thing. Expecting something to go wrong.

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So ~ thank you to everyone who has helped me. Thank you for the little things; my Mum donating to Kate instead of me, when we didn't think Kate would make the minimum amount for Cuba. Medhat, for donating his restaurant for an event that raised over £1000 even though it was FREEZING cold. Peachy Farmer for playing at that same event - they were absolutely amazing! Claremont Marquees for giving me a marquee…Liz for hosting a brunch that raised a fortune; Lindsey for raffling one of her paintings...on and on...I could fill the entire internet with a list of people who have been so kind. But I won't. You all know who you are. And you all know how grateful I am. And you all know you have my heart in your hands.

KBO then. As they say! Until the Ride the Night eh? ;)


Anns Armyt RTN 2014

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cuba. And things

DSC_0155 This is a long overdue post! The Cuba cycle was amazing - hard, but still, it should be hard. People sponsor us in the expectation that we will do something in return. That is what we promise. To cycle 400km in a foreign country so that they will sponsor us. And really - we did! We cycled each day in 40 degree heat and 90% humidity. Everyone was completely out of their comfort zone. You could NOT train for this in the UK.

But I am proud to say that I cycled every single sweaty kilometre! Much to my amazement. I really didn't think I'd trained enough. But patently I had, as I didn't end up in the bus, apart from at the stops, where I was leaping in with gay abandon to get my hot and sweaty self under the air conditioning vent!

We had to drink non stop and we had our heads soaked every afternoon to counteract the effect of the terribly draining humidity. For some reason I was lucky and it didn't affect me all that much - and I had crisps! SALT!! Very important. They do not have crisps in Cuba for some reason.

Cuba itself is stunning. Greener than the UK, and the people much more friendly.  The landscape is beautiful - Cuba is the island of landscapes; rolling hills, mountains, valleys and beautiful bays. And we cycled through them. Cursing the flats, not the hills. We were so glad of hills, as they gave us down hills - and a bit of a breeze.

The same day that I finished the cycle, I called the FH. He was so pleased for me - but at the same time he had to tell me that he was flying home from Grenada, where he was supposed to be having a relaxing break, to be with his father. Harold was in hospital and very, very ill. That day, I was out in a purple car with Helen. And I was so grateful that I was with her. We simply carried on. Helen understands loss. Even then, I knew we would lose him. It was heartbreaking.

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Monday, 11 November 2013

Jeremy 'H'unt

einstein So. I am never up to date with the news, as I never watch TV. I hate TV. Every time I DO watch it's either something that makes me feel like slightly killing myself or killing at least 12 other people. So I don't watch it. And the radio is just as bad - so my 'News' is garnered either by posts on Facebook or [if I feel really interested] by a Google search [of posts on Facebook] of what's happening today.

Subsequently, I was not 100% aware of the Saatchi Bill Fiasco. Until I had an email from Ovarian Cancer Action. I am one of their Voices, so possibly I SHOULD  be aware of this kind of thing. Well. I am now! And now I am Fuming!!

Why? Because some foolish man - Jeremy Hunt to be precise [Hunt?? Really? ok…], has stated that 'cancer already has a cure'. So we don't need the Saatchi Bill. Well, well! I totally missed the news headlines about that little miracle! Stupid man!! IF cancer has been cured, then how is it that there are still so many of my friends that are dying?? DO let me know Jeremy won't you?

It's astounding that a modern man can be so completely and  moronically out of touch. The treatment for ovarian cancer has not changed in the last 45 years. Oh, and DO correct me if I'm wrong! Thank God that we didn't have a 'Hunt' when Faber was trying to create a cure for cancer - imagine that! Hunt would have crushed chemotherapy and - oh joy! I and thousands of other cancer patients would now be dead thanks to his lack of foresight. Innovation is the only way forward you foolish man.

Do you think, Jeremy, that the women that Farber tested chemotherapy on in the 40's were like you? No. Of course they weren't. They were women who knew that if they didn't try something new - they would simply die. And dying is not an option for cancer patients - in OUR minds, survival is the only option. You make us sick [well - sicker]. And patently, you wish to REALLY make us sick, as in making us die - due to lack of CHOICE. We have to have a choice here - the facts being that IF there is a doctor who has a reasonable treatment, tested and tried in the lab - it should be OUR choice, as cancer patients, to allow that doctor to test his new and innovative treatment on us. NOT YOURS. IF we are at a point in our treatment that none of the traditional [as in chemo] tried and tested treatments will help, WHY is it that we should not be allowed to give permission to a doctor to trial his innovative treatment on us? WHY is it it YOUR decision?

Who do you think you ARE to decide for women whether or not we can live? Who do you think you are to decide that someone who has studied our disease should not be allowed to try to help us?

Why is it that you think you know what is best for women with Ovarian cancer? You have never had it. And never will. Do you think that if perhaps your wife or daughter had ovarian cancer [God forbid such a thing], and were at their very last choice, that you would not wish to have the help of an INNOVATIVE doctor - whom could perhaps save her life?

I truly believe that in that situation, you would definitely change your [at the moment] ridiculous and thoughtless point of view. IF there is already a 'cure for cancer' then DO share. I would love to tell the friends I have that are fighting this disease. I am sure it would make their bloody day to know.

"It has been reported that Jeremy Hunt at the Department of Health announced last week that it would object to the bill as there was "already a cure for cancer".

Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill is simply helping doctors innovate new treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. Why has it been refused? HOW can you object? How could anyone object?

Please. Share this information. Get people to see this. We deserve better than Hunt and his inane refusal. IF I were to have a recurrence, I would desperately want the choice of innovative treatment - the existing treatments we have are limited, and one's body can become immune to them. And the cancer cells can too.

Do NOT let Jeremy Hunt limit your choices. And by doing so, limit your life. Share.

saaatchi

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

tickled pink? not really…

Below the picture is a guest post by Joanne [pictured below], a breast cancer survivor who has something she'd like you to understand.
…just so you know…no-one is particularly 'tickled pink' if they've actually had breast cancer. I don't think I'd be very impressed with a 'Tickled Teal' campaign for ovarian cancer awareness either! Good grief - so, read on!

image October, traditionally known for Halloween, Autumn and harvest festivals, is now known as Breast Cancer Awareness month or 'Tickled Pink'.

I have no idea who came up with Tickled Pink but I seriously would like to bash their faces in. It's quite obvious, as with most things to raise awareness of breast cancer, e.g.: Facebook status to do with bra colour, handbags, gestation periods - that these people have never had to go through breast or any other cancers.

I don't get offended by many things but this offends me.

The strange thing is, because you have gone through it, your friends think you will automatically sign up to this shit and then they get all defensive when you set the record straight.

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There was a time when I would go around buying Tickled Pink stuff thinking I was doing my bit for breast cancer awareness (and let's be honest it's everywhere in Asda throughout October) and not really give it much thought. Then BANG! 2 years ago I heard the words "it's breast cancer" well feck me, doesn't your perspective change then.

One mastectomy later, a 6 inch scar where there used to be a breast, surgeries, more scars and I can tell you it certainly isn't pink, it isn't fluffy and it damn well isn't funny.

Then I got to thinking about Tickled Pink, just how much of the profit of all the products sold actually goes to breast cancer awareness or cancer research? Not the whole lot I would hazard a guess, the supermarket will take a cut, will it be gift aided? Now the sheer volume of products sold means the donation will look huge, but not as huge as if everyone donated what they would pay for these products directly to BCC or cancer research - the amount would be phenomenal.

Please don't buy into the crap, it's a supermarkets way of getting you to buy products you normally wouldn't so they make more money out of the misery that breast cancer causes and all they do is wrap it up with a pink and fluffy name.

I'm a survivor. Don't turn October pink in my name, donate straight to breast cancer care or cancer research or sponsor an event. That's how to make the biggest difference. There are plenty cancer charities out there. Put your money where it will be most effective, and instead of changing your Facebook status to a bra colour (really offensive if someone has no breasts), change it to one that says "For breast cancer awareness month I have donated £XXX to BCC or cancer research".

Thank you,
~ Joanne

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dear Boris?

Boris-Johnson Possibly not the best start to a letter – not sure whether to address it to Dear Boris, Dear Mr Johnson or Dear Mr Boris Johnson. Mr Mayor? Hmm. So, Dear Boris seems simplest! ‘Yo Boris’ just seemed rude. Bo-Jo just seems…well…let’s not go there eh?
Anyway – Mr BJ Mayor Type Person! We need and would really appreciate your help. In 2008, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer – the really crappy kind that sort of tries it’s best to kill you as soon as possible. BUT, I did the chemo thing [nuked the little suckers], I did the ‘omg I have no hair’ thing. And I did the ‘wth? I am very scared’ thing after treatment. Cancer does the most peculiar and irritating things to one’s head. But I am now doing the Survivor thing. Bring THAT on! Oh – and the cyclist thing. Lycra? Moi? Good Lord…
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Anyway – onward and upward to the Now.
My husband decided [in his wisdom] to get me to sign up for a 400km cycle across Kenya once I had recovered. I signed up in a moment of madness in 2010 [after a couple of glasses of fortifying Oyster Bay]. Since then, I have never looked back. Having cycled 400km across Kenya in 2011, including the Rift Valley, I am now cycling 400km across Cuba in October this year.
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These cycles are organised by a woman called Ann Frampton. Ann is a teeny weeny anti cancer bomb – the word ‘inspirational’ is overused and worn. But in this instance, it’s the only word to use. Ann is truly our inspiration – she climbs up and down Ben Nevis – she’s cycled across India, China, Kenya – she’s stormed through the desert burning her feet. She has encouraged literally thousands of women to join her cycles and treks to raise money and awareness for these three charities. Ann is a cervical cancer survivor herself. But that does not define her – she is an incredible person, doing incredible things.
But ‘Ah yes’, you cry – ‘lot’s of people are doing this kind of thing’. And you would be right! [of course – you’re Boris]. But our next challenge is interesting. For you.
I know you support cycling. So – read on young man!
We are doing the very FIRST women only cycle through London at night. It’s called the Women v Cancer Ride the Night.  We will cycle 100km through London to raise funds and awareness for Ovarian Cancer Action, Jo’s Cervical Trust and Breast Cancer Care. We will stay awake all day, cycle all night and curse the very idea of it on the afternoon after we finish. BUT – we will have done something incredible. We’ll have raised lots of money. And we’ll have raised awareness of the symptoms of all three cancers. Which means we’ll have saved at the very least – ONE woman’s life. And we will totter about on stiff legs for a week afterward. Chuckling all the while. Because it will be hilarious!
There will be 2000 women on this cycle. And we would like your good self to lead us out. Boris and 2000 women. How can you resist?
Oh, and if you could bring Arnie, that would be such fun ;)
Please get in touch – either through this blog by making a comment, or facebook or twitter. Or, answer Ann’s letter, which is winging it’s way toward you as you read this. Or call Ann on 0845 408 2698! Your People could talk to her People!
Thanks for reading – we’re looking forward to hearing from you!
l_optimiste
WVC Ride the Night

Monday, 12 August 2013

7 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour and counting!

the great shakespeare 2013

The Kenya crew, plus Kate and Rachel.

the great shakespeare 2013 02 Yesterday we did the Great Shakespeare 100km challenge ride, as a sort of training exercise for Cuba. The FH decided to give it a miss this year, so it was just Kate and me driving up to Stratford on Saturday afternoon for an early Sunday start. Missed him being there, but he must have had prescience! What chaos…

We hung the bikes on the back of the car, Kate left her dogs with various sitters, we stuffed all our belongings in and trundled off for what should have been a simple 3 hour drive up. We were so well prepared!! Ha.

On BOTH sides of the motorway there were burning vehicles [incredible], so the resultant traffic jam added 45 minutes to the trip. It was like being in a Mad Max film…at 2 miles per hour. Thank goodness we packed snacks! The bike rack became a bit rackety, so we pulled off, sorted it and and set off again. Two minutes after getting back onto the motorway I felt like someone was stubbing our their cigarette on the back of my thigh! More pulling off [rather FRANTICALLY] only to discover that a rather large red ant [apparently this was the Police speed enforcement ant] had crawled onto my dress at the sort-out-the-bike-rack stop, and was merrily biting the hell out of me! Suffice to say he died and we sallied forth once more into the breach!

Stopped for a coffee at Strensham Services – OMG!! All the Walmart people were there! 8 coach loads of them! Suffice to say we made a very swift rush to the Costa coffee, where we were served something rather resembling mud in a giant cardboard soup bowl. Rushed out into the car park, and in the frenzy to unlock the car before we were beamed up, I and managed to pop the boot, to which the cycle rack is attached. To open and slam it we’d have had to remove bikes and rack…never going to happen at this point. So we drove the rest of the way with the ‘your boot is open, fool!’ light on. By this point we actually didn’t care. We finally arrived at my friend Loraine’s lovely house in the Cotswolds at about 8.30. In one piece, astoundingly enough…

We had a fab dinner provided by Loraine and a catch up and all got to bed at quite a reasonable hour. Up at 6.00 to leave for the start, toast, coffee and bananas for brekkie then Loraine backed into me in the drive! Luckily just a scuff [bring out the T-Cut] and after a bit of manoeuvring we were off.

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Met up with the Crew at the hotel where the cycle starts, everyone was rather jolly, and we were all looking forward to the days ride.

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LITTLE DID WE KNOW! For some reason the day was torturous. Cycling into a head wind most of the time, which sort of takes the fun out of it. Instead of whizzing down hills, one cycles down them...at 9 miles per hour. Frustrating. And tiring.

Plus 5 million miles of wheat fields and cute cottages make one a tad disoriented…being in the Cotswolds for too long makes one feel like one has taken a hallucinogenic drug…

Kate and I decided to do The Hill – Larkspur...it’s horrible. No idea what we were thinking. It’s a 21% grade as far as I can remember. I was going so slowly that when a car came down I fell off into a hedge and have some lovely scratches to show for it. Thanks very much to the woman who raced by me shouting ‘get out of the way’ – which I tried to do and fell backwards. But she didn’t stop to see if I had died or not. Probably just as well, as I was a tad peeved at that point! Could have been messy…

Note to Cotswolds people – it’s FAR too cute there, and your roads are terrible! Full of holes and strewn with gravel. And cyclists heh heh

Kate keeled over at the second feed stop, a victim of stuffing far too much cake and bread at the first one. So we lounged about there for a while while she recovered, smoking and drinking coffee, supplied by the amazing ladies who, every year, are there smiling and supplying fab grub to over 600 cyclists.

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We finally lost the will to cycle after some fellow told us there were only 4 km to go, when actually there were still 12 to go! Met up with one of the other Cuba girls and we had a Team Spazz Out, then a mad jelly baby scoffing attack, girded our loins and got going – to find we only had another corner then it was 400 yards to the finish! Total disorientation.

But even with all the delays and chaos, I still beat my time from last year by half an hour, so it’s not all bad! Plus we DID drive for 8 hours, sleep for 5 and then cycle for 6. I’d say that’s a good training day, as we were still functioning this morning!

The Great Shakespeare Cycle is the best organised cycle we’ve done. This is the third year I’ve done it. I forget how hard it is each time. It’s so well organised, you get your time chip, excellent food, go out like the Tour and the marshalling and signage are brilliant. I’d recommend anyone to do it, plus it raises funds for an excellent charity.

If we do it again though, it’ll be a full weekend job, so we can rest before and afterward! Only 7 weeks to go until Cuba! So next weekend we will be mainly cycling up and down hills! In DEVON!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

statistics

Yesterday, I looked at some STATISTICS – and lost the plot a bit. Statistics always do that to me, and usually I avoid ‘seeing’ them if at all possible. Plus I usually don’t take any notice of them, because ‘statistically’ I should probably be dead. And as I’m not, I feel justified in ignoring them. A bit like weather reports. But the big bill board was a bit hard to NOT see, which led to the ‘omg! omg!’ attack. Fear creates anger in my head. Then I need to DO something, which is not always possible.

But, saying that, something useful DID come of my Statistic Shriek. I was reading an article [copied in below, as they sometimes disappear – actual article here] about the sad death of Pierce Brosnan's daughter, Charlotte, and I discovered that in the UK, women at high risk are eligible for annual screening once they reach the age of 35, or are five years away from when their youngest relative was diagnosed with the disease.

This is great! And why didn’t I know? Please share this information. It could save someone's life.

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Pierce Brosnan with his daughter Charlotte, who has died of ovarian cancer, aged 42

“Catch ovarian cancer before the disease catches you

By Max Pemberton

The death of Pierce Brosnan's daughter, Charlotte, from ovarian cancer must increase awareness of this often ignored disease.

The sad news last week that Pierce Brosnan’s daughter, Charlotte Emily, has died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42 has put this oft-ignored disease on the news agenda. It is the fifth most common cancer in women, with 7,000 cases diagnosed annually in the UK, yet it is rarely in the headlines compared with, say, breast or cervical cancer.
Ovarian cancer has been linked to certain genetic mutations that are also implicated in breast cancer; and the tragedy of Charlotte’s death was compounded by the fact that her mother Cassandra, Brosnan’s first wife, died of the same disease in 1991.
Whenever someone in the public eye is diagnosed with or dies from a disease, the number of anxious people visiting their GP with apparent symptoms rises. Often, these are the ''worried well’’, but in the case of ovarian cancer, not all women who may be at increased risk realise they are entitled to regular monitoring on the NHS.
If any good can come from this death, it is an increased awareness of the support and screening services available for women with a higher-than-average chance of developing the disease. They include those who have a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer (two or more close relatives from the same side of the family, such as a mother, sister or daughter, who are diagnosed under the age of 50). Such women may have inherited a mutation on the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and can be referred for genetic testing.
The chance of developing ovarian cancer for most women is one in 50, but for those with this mutation, the risk rises to between 15 and 45 per cent.

Women at high risk are eligible for annual screening once they reach the age of 35, or are five years away from when their youngest relative was diagnosed with the disease. Screening includes a blood test for a chemical that is sometimes produced by ovarian cancer cells and an ultrasound scan.
Anyone concerned about the risk of ovarian cancer should use the online information tool called Opera (http://www.macmillan.org.uk), which will help them decide whether they should seek medical advice.”

funDraising – it’s not ‘fun’ – the ‘d’ stands for desperate

I am starting to think that people assume that we are raising money for the fun of it.  Not me; my friends and family have been wonderfully supportive of my efforts – but recently I have been trying to help my friend and fellow Cuba cyclist, Kate, to reach her target. I have sent out emails to various business groups we have both been/are involved in – and the result has been A Resounding Silence from the majority of the recipients. Not all – but most.

And it’s  A Resounding Silence that makes me cross. And VERY disappointed. And very upset. It’s enough to make you cry. We are not fund raising for ourselves! This is not about personal gain. We are not fund raising because it’s ‘fun’. We are fund raising because the situation is desperate.

So it’s upsetting when people who you KNOW could afford a fiver, well – they just don’t. And yes, I know everyone has their own charity – but it doesn’t help me feeling that a tiny donation – a pound even? – would be kind. We are supposed to be a team – business networking is supposed to create that. Well. Pfft! To say I am disappointed with the Business Network ‘support’ is a huge understatement.

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Check this out – a woman dies EVERY TEN HOURS of ovarian cancer…every ten hours! FFS!! IT’S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU SCREAM WITH TERROR!

The treatment of ovarian cancer has not changed much in the last 10 years. This is not a good thing. EVERYTHING else has changed in that time. We have mobile phones that we can see each other when we call – we have electric cars; we have microwave ovens; using a machine-brain interface, researchers are making it possible for otherwise paralyzed humans to control neuroprostheses – essentially mechanical limbs that respond to human thought – allowing them to walk; the Eye of Gaia, a billion-pixel telescope will be sent into space this year to begin photographing and mapping the universe on a scale that was recently impossible; The Mars Science Laboratory – by August 2012, the next mission to Mars will reach the Martian surface with a new rover named Curiosity focusing on whether Mars could ever have supported life, and whether it might be able to in the future.

I ask this – is it more important to see if Mars ever supported life or is it more important to make life that we have already, less agonising when we pass or less agonising to survive??

Women who die of ovarian cancer do NOT go “gentle into that good night". They go kicking and screaming – they don’t want to die. Usually they are far too young – in my experience anyway. They leave behind children, husbands – life. But it takes them. It takes them and it does it in a hideous and painful way. Death by ovarian cancer us NOT a gentle passing.

So please. PLEASE help us? No donation is too small – yes – you have heard it all before, but every time you hear it, it’s meant. Every single charity DOES need and deserve our help. But in this instance, we are asking for just a little donation. EVERYONE will either suffer cancer themselves in their lives or have a dear relative or friend suffer it.

Kate’s justgiving address is HERE – please – if you can – as I said; no donation is too small.

Thank you. And thank you for reading too – and my apologies for the rage, but I feel so strongly about this…

Sunday, 23 June 2013

women rule!

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Between freelance work, which is buzzing merrily along at last [fingers firmly crossed about THAT - look! I even placed an advert! - my self confidence is at LAST reappearing.] And fund raising for Cuba and waiting for my check-up and trying [with limited success I might add] to TRAIN for Cuba, I haven’t much thought about an update on here. But due to some gentle nagging from various parties, here I am again.

I think the most important thing to the majority of followers of this rather lazily updated blog is that I am still NED! I had my check-up on the 11 June – it was the last 6 monthly check up I ever hope to have. In August, I reach my ‘5 year all clear’ [scary!] so my next one is in a year. Changing over to an annual check up is strangely disturbing. Like letting go of the hand that is supporting you. One wobbles a bit at first. I am still wavering between relief and panic. Mostly panic. Which I will get over. I still have a large risk of recurrence – but I also still have my amazing cancer team at the RD&E. So. Not thinking too much about that.

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In other news, I have made it to the semi-finals of the Venus Awards! Devon page here. My category is sponsored by The Old Bag Company. For the Inspirational Woman category, there were 307 nominations. I am so touched to have made it through to the semi finals! Amazing. I am not quite sure how many semi-finalists there are, but at the end of the day, just making it through AND being nominated at all is such an honour. Thank you Rita and sundry other friends for nominating me!

And I am cycling! Training for the 400km across Cuba – I even have a new bike, kindly sold to me at a stupid price by my fellow cyclist, Kate. This weekend coming, we will be sallying forth to do the 60 mile Force Cancer Charity ride. I am convinced I haven’t trained enough, but hey ho – we will do it! Check out the shirt design by Chameleon Design! This is Kate and me at the training weekend in the Cotswolds. Good fun!

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Other good news is that I have beaten my fundraising target! Thank you SO much all of you who went to brunches, bought raffle tickets, appeared at events and donated raffle prizes. It does mean a lot to me, and I note every single donation, no matter how small – every little helps! Thank you all!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Adventures of Ovacome in London - with pics!

The Ovacome tour of London! This is great – at last, someone is doing something about really getting a co-ordinated Awareness out there for ovarian cancer.

To help spread awareness of the first World Ovarian Cancer Day, Ovacome have been out and about shooting pictures with Skye Brackpool of Brighton Togs.

Here they are with David Lammy bearing the logo at The Houses of Parliament. 

20130507-World-Ovarian-Cancer-Day-32From left to right:  Ann Wiltshire, Lyn Howlett, Louise Bayne, David Lammy MP, Elizabeth Harrison, Ruth Grigg and Mary Raftery.

And here is Mary Raftery waving the logo herself! And wearing an Ovacome t-shirt [get in touch with Ovacome to get one of these]20130507-World-Ovarian-Cancer-Day-12-Mary-Raftery

And more banner bearers…Sisters Lyn Howlett (left) and Ann Wiltshire. Go ladies!

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The Houses of Parliament. again with Brid Carr…20130507-World-Ovarian-Cancer-Day-14-Brid-Carr

and, last but not least: Elizabeth Harrison with Big Ben too…and a nice big poster, which you can download here on the Ovacome website. Stick it on your car – on your house! Plaster it across your briefcase on the way to work – help us raise awareness of this very first World Ovarian Cancer Day! It could save a woman’s life…

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If you also want to help support World Ovarian Cancer Day then you can hand out leaflets, put up posters and send in pictures of activities taking place where you are. Posters are available to download from the Ovacome website. Send the pictures to Ovacome! They’d love to see them, and we’ll plaster you all over the internet :)

Pictures will be posted here and on the Ovacome facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ovacome

Also, see Ovacome on twitter: @Ovacome

And me on twitter! @l_optimiste

All photos are copyright Skye Brackpool of Brighton Togs.

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the Adventures of Ovacome in London!

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Ovacome did a tour of London today to help spread awareness of the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. They have been shooting pictures and handing out ribbons at various popular and iconic sites around London; London Bridge, Westminster, Green Park and the Transport Museum, Covent Garden.
If you want to help support World Ovarian Cancer Day then you can still hand out leaflets, put up posters and send in pictures of activities taking place where you are. Posters are available to download from the Ovacome website

Pictures will be posted here and on the Ovacome facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ovacome

Also, see Ovacome on twitter: @Ovacome

FIRST EVER WORLD OVARIAN CANCER DAY!!

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This is amazing! Breast Cancer Awareness month is always at the same time, all over the world – ovarian cancer awareness month is at different times. So we never seem to achieve quite the same ‘solidarity’ of cause that has been achieved by the breast cancer girls.

Well, tomorrow is the first time that there will be a Worldwide ‘day’ for ovarian cancer awareness!

Wednesday 8th May 2013 is the inaugural World Ovarian Cancer Day. Charities Target Ovarian Cancer, Ovarian Cancer Action, The Eve Appeal and Ovacome have come together to support this initiative, working together to raise awareness with the UK population.

Globally, 27 ovarian cancer organisations from 17 countries around the world have united to help educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. For women living with the disease, and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed annually in nearly a quarter of a million women globally, and is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared to up to 89% of women with breast cancer. In the UK, 7,000 women are diagnosed each year, and 4,300 women lose their lives each year. The UK has amongst the lowest survival rates in Europe.

A spokesperson representing the charities, said: “Realising a World Ovarian Cancer Day is remarkable, and we’re delighted that the UK is taking part. Uniting organisations around the globe with a focused message for the first time ever in support of ovarian cancer will get the attention that this disease needs. When people join together great things happen. Look at the success of breast cancer over the last 15 years – see what they have accomplished – it is time for ovarian cancer now.”

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay
Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY
Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

And watch this space for some photos of Ovacome in action today!! Coming soon!

Friday, 3 May 2013

World Ovarian Cancer Day: 8th May 2013

420674_586968141328018_171704838_nMay 8th marks the first World Ovarian Cancer Day where organisations from around the world will unite to educate their communities about ovarian cancer and its symptoms.

Ovacome along with other patient organisations from around the world came together at the initial meetings to discuss the common issues surrounding ovarian cancer and are please to be a part of the first global ovarian cancer awareness event which we hope will build a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

How can you get involved?

Join Ovacome for a tour of London on Tuesday to help spread awareness of the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. They will be taking pictures and handing out ribbons at various popular and iconic sites around London.

They will be meeting at 10.30am on Tuesday at the Ovacome offices and plan to head to London Bridge, Westminster, Green Park and finish at the Transport Museum, Covent Garden.

If you are free for a couple of hours then join them when you can and Ovacome will also provide Ovacome t-shirts for volunteers to wear and materials to hand out.

If you are unable to join Ovacome in London and still want to help support World Ovarian Cancer Day then you can still hand out leaflets, put up posters and send in pictures of activities taking place where you are!

Going Viral:

As this is global campaign we want to share our participation with the other global organisations involved so please help us to spread the word by using social media sites to inform others of how you are supporting the first World Ovarian Cancer Day. You can send you pictures or post them to Ovacome’s Facebook and Twitter pages so they can share them with their wider community.

on Facebook!

Use #WOCD #WorldOvarianCancerDay on Twitter to join the conversation.

http://www.ovacome.org.uk/

Saturday, 27 April 2013

the Venus awards!

inspirationalWell! I have been nominated for the Venus Awards 'Devon Inspirational Woman'. Startled [to say the very least] - and quite chuffed! I can’t think I've ever been ‘nominated’ for anything before in my life. How flattering is this? Very.
So, I've been looking into this award thing properly [as at first I thought it was spam!] - initially I thought it was some kind of joke - but it’s not.
*IF* I were to win this Venus Awards category, it would allow me lots of latitude for publicity etc and raising awareness. As you all know from my constant blathering on here, I am on a mission to raise both funds for research and awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. This would give me access to LOTS of business women! Which would give me the opportunity to share a lot of awareness. Bring it on.
Why not go to this web site and nominate an inspirational woman for this award [you need to select 'Inspirational Woman' from the list of Categories]. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

2013 Women v Cancer cycle from Havana to Santa Clara, Cuba


View Larger Map

We're all gearing up for the Cuba cycle now that the weather has improved a bit. Training has begun in earnest! The Facebook page is full of cycle rides and average speeds and worries. I thought I'd better update the actual map [I forgot to do it when I updated the itinerary].

This map of the Cuba cycle includes the bus transfer from Jaguey Grande [+/- 1.5 hours] to Cienfuegos to stay overnight. If you’re interested, the 'actual' cycle maps are on Mapmyride, split into three. Day 01 to 03, then we transfer by bus, then day 04, then days 05 to 06, as we have another bus transfer on the morning of day 05.

Best get out on the bike!!

Day 01 to 03 MAP 01

Day 04 MAP 02

Day 05 to 06 MAP 03

Sunday, 21 April 2013

here we go again!

where's Cuba Crittur?Today was the first ‘proper’ training cycle for the Cuba ride in October. I’ve been to a few spin classes, but even though they are brilliant for stamina, they are nothing compared to a road cycle. No wind, no rain etc. Check out the Cuba Creature in my Camelback – I really need a name for him. He is going to be photographed all over the place, a bit like Where’s Wally.

The FH and I cycled down to Exmouth and back, roughly 23 miles, at below average speed [for us] of 11.5 miles per hour. But, not too bad for a first run, as we had a head wind all the way out, and then we had it all the way back plus rain. And cold. My hands were freezing! Horrible – but I am glad I did it, as I have been very concerned about my ability to do Cuba. I almost got to the point of thinking I wouldn’t do it at all.

I have been fund raising like a maniac [probably driving everyone I know completely insane] and as always, I’ve had amazing support. At the moment, I am at 86% of my target, which is £5060.00 – just ten pounds more than I raised for the Kenya cycle. I’d really like to beat that! But even if I don’t, I’ve raised over the required minimum of £2900.00; at the moment I have raised £4,366.30. So now all I have to worry about is the training!

Doing this second fund raiser has been difficult and exhausting. I also have a job, and as a freelance designer, I am constantly glued to the computer. So social networking is a breeze, as I do it in between jobs…but ‘actual’ fund raising is pretty stressful. Organising people always is. BUT, it’s gone well! And, my friend Lindsey is doing an auction of one of her amazing paintings to raise funds too! Check this out – a beautiful painting she did whilst convalescing from surgery. The auction is on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/266147843521944/

paintingGoing back to the worry of doing Cuba – it has taken me 4 years to get back on my feet regarding my little freelance business. One year after diagnosis, my ongoing contract ended – gave me an excellent lesson – do not have only one client! Since then I have been networking, and now I actually know local people – even road names! I have built up a little client base, and they are all lovely. So I don’t want to risk losing them. But, I have to train.

So, weekends are now Designated Cycling times, and I am hoping to fit something in during the week if possible. At least after today’s cycle I remembered that I CAN cycle! And I WILL do Cuba.

On other things; I don’t have my check-up appointment. Shriek! What used to happen was one would make the appointment on the way out from the last one. Nice and simple. The sweet reception lady would give one a choice of times and dates. Fill in the card…boom, sorted. Then you could just forget about it until it was due.

NOW, some prat has changed the system  [I’m hoping they have a headache for a year actually] and we have to wait for an appointment to come through the post. What?? So, when will it come? Where is it?? I am having nightmares about missing it, dreams about calling and asking when it is… I need to know NOW. So that I don’t have to worry about it. Thinking I may call and ask – but it’s so unnecessary! The old system worked perfectly. Bah. Additional stress. Fools who changed the system. Slap to the head those people!!

So, mad check up attacks aside, please buy a raffle ticket! I am holding an on-line raffle here if you are on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/128509787338341/

If not, to buy tickets, please just donate to my JUSTGIVING account. Tickets are £2.50 per strip [five tickets]. I will email [please leave your email with justgiving – they do NOT share it] message or post your ticket numbers on the event wall and enter you in the draw. The draw will take place on the 6th May. The winner will be notified by email/ phone or through Facebook.

THE PRIZE is two nights accommodation with breakfast at The Waterman’s Arms Country Inn, Bow Bridge [dogs are welcome too!], kindly donated by the Waterman's Arms. PLUS!! A meal for two with a bottle of wine kindly donated by Scotties Electrical. This is worth a *minimum* of £250.00!! So, if you fancy a weekend away in Devon this year for the price of a raffle ticket, get buying.

 

Thanks for your support, and good luck!

event-banner

Friday, 5 April 2013

another life - another fund raiser

I am sitting here with tears running down my face. On Sunday 31st, Easter Sunday, my friend Laurel died of ovarian cancer – we knew each other for some time..she joined my little FaceBook group a long time ago. We went through lots together. She fought very hard…and it’s only just sunk in that she’s dead. Here she is with Di, another friend who was killed by ovarian cancer – Laurel would kill ME if she saw me post this pic – but I love it. She got so thin after this.

laurel and Di

On Easter Sunday I held an event at the Bar Venezia at Exeter Quay. Saturday, we went down and helped Wonderful William of Claremont Marquees to set up the full size marquee they lent me for the day [get that!! amazing!]. Without the marquee, the day would have been a lot less fun than it was!

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Sunday I woke up early, as I needed to be down at the Quay to ‘organise’ everyone. Before I left, I checked FaceBook. I saw posts all over the place about Laurel. I read them and read them and couldn’t believe my eyes. Then I saw a post by Kim, and I believed it. And I felt so sick. So, so sick. It was like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. And I wanted to just go back to bed and cry. But I couldn’t. I had the event. Then I became angry – and remembered why I am raising these funds. Because this shit shouldn’t happen! Laurel has two very young daughters. And now they have no mother. Because we can’t cure this disease.

So. I stomped off down to the Quay. And was rewarded with a glorious sunny morning. And masses of chirpy people. And free cake and coffee from Kitty at Exeter Cycles and Cafe…and the day went on.
We FROZE. We really did. It was so cold. But the event raised over £900 – mainly thanks to the raffle and the live music. It would have raised over £1100 – but the evening band charged us £180…and didn’t tell us until the night…grr. Oh well!

But in the afternoon, I had Mark Travis, Peachy Farmer and Jay Tamkin – all of them absolutely brilliant. And so kind to give their time to the fund raiser – none of them charged anything!! We had a good day. It didn’t rain. The FH spent his time selling raffle tickets and freezing his butt off.

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The venue was kindly donated by Medhat of the Bar Venezia [who is merrily selling his chairs to raise MORE funds this week!]. Thank you Med.

This is my favourite picture from the day – Peachy FarmerMark Travis – and me. These people were so happy! They really helped me to get through the day without bursting into tears.

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Photo: Sally Ewin

And of course, the girls supported me! Elaine came down – bloody marvellous – she raised funds and never stopped laughing all day. I imagine it took three days for her to recover – and she brought the lovely Helen…and Barb and Wendy appeared too. Seeing them was a serious test of my ‘Do Not Cry’ rule for the day.

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So the event was a success. I thought about Laurel all day, and imagined that she had sent me the sunshine.

We raised £950 – not even enough to pay for one session of chemo. BUT a lot of money nonetheless.

Thank you so much everyone who supported the event by buying raffle tickets if they couldn’t come, or by being there on the day; I really appreciate your support.

If you’d like to donate, please click the link below.No amount is to small.Thanks.
x

http://www.justgiving.com/sandhy-cycles-Cuba

Friday, 8 March 2013

it’s THAT month again

ovarian cancer can kill

Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. The disease is Ovarian cancer [clue is in the title] and the PLAN is to make women AWARE OF THE SYMPTOMS. Because many women aren’t, and as a result, they are misdiagnosed, and lives that could be saved – well, they’re lost.

This sucks.

So, ladies, get your sensible heads on. We have a responsibility for our own health, so check out the symptoms. Yes, it’s a bore. Yes, it’s a little frightening when you read them. And YES you SHOULD read them and think ‘yikes, I have that!’.

They are remarkably similar to IBS. They are easy to mistake for everyday tiredness. They are subtle, but also, not so subtle, because they are NOT a norm for your body. Listen to your body – if any of the following are persistent for 3 WEEKS OR MORE, get your little self to the GP. ASK the question. Most of the time, these symptoms are nothing to worry about, but if they are PERSISTANT, then get them checked out.

  • unexplained BLOATING
  • FEELING FULL quickly or loss of appetite
  • pelvic or stomach PAIN
  • needing to pee urgently or more frequently than normal

The chances are it’s nothing serious – but then again, it could be. So, be sensible.

Research has found that over half of ovarian cancer cases are misdiagnosed. According to Target Ovarian Cancer, up to 500 lives could be saved if the disease was diagnosed much earlier.

“Early diagnosis is at the core of our £750 million cancer strategy and plays a vital role in our aim to improve cancer survival rates and save an extra 5,000 lives every year by 2014.

This is why last week we launched the Be Clear on Cancer campaign to raise public awareness of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer and encourage those with the symptoms to visit their GP.”

– DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SPOKESMAN

So – get with the program!!

On a more cheerful note, I have reached my £3000 target for the Cuba cycle! I have a fabulous event coming up on Easter Sunday, so I am now going to try to beat what I raised last year. If you would like to help, please donate here – every penny counts!!

Thanks to everyone who has helped me! Especially my Bella :)

Saturday, 23 February 2013

whatever words I say…

will not help…

this post may be a bit demented. Today has been a bitch. BITCH!!

today I have been thinking about the day my friend Gaynor died. Of ovarian cancer – it simply grabbed her, shook her and didn't let go. It was like a monster. It IS a monster – but on this occasion, it was more monsterish than usual.

She fought like a tiger. And she really did; she did all the right things – green tea, the 'right' food, lots of exercise etc. She was a tiny little person with a ton of energy - she wore amazing shoes – she gave wonderful advice. She was a good friend to me in the short time we knew one another. 

What the fuck happened? Oh. Yes. Ovarian Cancer happened.

I am amazed – more than a whole year has passed since she was alive?? No. But – yes. Today was odd – I spent it thinking of her death – usually thoughts of Gaynor are of her life. She made a huge impression on me, helping me with my confidence with just one sentence.

But today my thoughts  were of death. Gaynor's death. And how unfair things can be sometimes.

louder than silence louder than bells…

Laurel – where are you my friend?

laurel and Di

Laurel with Diane :)

2013

rock bottom Far too much rambling going on here on this blog…but I wanted to say how grateful I am for a year so far where the worst thing that happened was I have had [and still have!] a virus. Coughing my guts up! But it’s the first time for years [literally] that we’ve been able to just worry about the usual things. Like coughs and colds.

And like how we’re going to lose the 3 kilos we gained from stuffing our faces with too much cheese and biscuits at Christmas!

Anyone with cancer who is reading this – have hope. Sometimes it takes ages, but sometimes things DO turn around. But it doesn’t just happen on it’s own unfortunately. And there’s lots of battering along the way usually too. But eventually, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I was diagnosed with stage 3B in 2008. Not a lot of hope of living more than 5 years – but I HAVE.

So far, so good.