learning to accept my Body Insecurities

At some point in our lives we all feel a little insecure about our bodies. We are all different with our own little flaws; we are not exact copies of each other, nor do we look like those airbrushed photos that are shared in the media.

From an early age we are all exposed to what, we think, we should look like on social media, TV and magazines; it’s not surprising that we feel insecure with our bodies.

The flaws on our body are what makes us. They are our make-up.

They tell a journey of life.

Many women have marks on their body that show a journey from a girl into a woman.

I have stretch marks, like many women, they are a reminder of how my body adjusted in order to grow my three wonderful children.

For years I suffered fighting my own demons on how I thought others perceived my body image. I was always worried about what I looked like, lacking confidence and having a low self-esteem of myself. I may be small in size, but I hated not having bigger breasts and don’t get me started on my hips/backside. I didn’t see what others saw although, I thought others saw worse.

Looking back I had no different flaws to any other person, I just wished I didn’t waste my time and energy in telling myself that I was no good. Looking back to how I used to feel makes me realise how normal I was.

I have a choice; feel bad about my body or learn to accept ‘I am who I am’. I am not model but I am perfect to my children and family, that’s all that matters.

I used to question my partners attention to other women;questioning my own looks and  figure but never my personality. That is something I have never had a problem with. I love who I am on the inside it was what was on the outside that I struggled with.

In order to love my self I have to let go of that ‘socially ideal image’ that I see as perfect and accept who I am.

It is taking time but I am getting there.

I need to shut out all of the negative thoughts and feelings about my body image and focus on the positive ones. I  need to recognize my strengths as well as personal value and worth.

A year ago I had bowel surgery to remove a tumour, this has resulted in me now having a permanent stoma. It’s not something I like to talk about. I don’t see having a stoma as a bad thing but I believe others do. People, in general do not understand what others have been through, they see it as weird and un-natural to have a bowel opening on your abdomen.  I am learning to accept my body once more. I have my moments where I struggle to accept this ‘thing’ on my tummy. Some days I hate it. Some days I accept it. One thing for sure, is that I just wish I could tell my younger self to not waste time in torturing myself over my body image and to appreciate the health that I had instead of putting myself down all the time.

Having Cancer and two major surgeries have made me realise how precious my body is. How precious life is. It’s too short to worry about how I look like and how others see me.

I need to find me again, from within. I am trying to gain a positive outlook and to focus on my unique qualities instead of what I see in the mirror. Finding my identity that isn’t based on just looks or a body image.

I am building my confidence up focusing on improving my self on the inside as well as the outside. Last year I enrolled on a course to better myself within my work. I have joined a gym, which adds to having a positive body image; leading an active lifestyle and making healthier nutritional choices. And, I am teaching myself, as well as my children, meditation and yoga.

But, most of all I have set myself a goal. I will no longer have the body that I had pre-operation (pre-cancer), I have learnt to accept that no amount of exercise will reduce my post-op swelling and no scars will disappear. I am learning to see me for who I am. I refuse to fight the demons anymore. My scars tell a journey of my existance and what I have fought.

I have overcome many challenges over the past couple of years and I am sure there will be many more. I have found confidence from within and my own ways to cope with social situations.

By sharing my experience I am hoping that it will encourage others to believe in themselves.

Self-acceptance is hard but it is possible with the right mindset. I understand where my weaknesses and strength lie. It’s accepting who I am, not who I think I am supposed to be.

I am not quite ready to share a body image of myself yet. But you never know, watch this space…

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A Snowy World Book Day

It’s the 1st March, otherwise known as World Book Day. A day where chidlren all over dress up as their favourite book characters.

Today schools up and down the country closed due to heavy snow fall. The children have been looking forward to dressing up for the past few weeks. No one could have anticipated that World Bok day would actually become a national ‘No School Snow Day’

As soon as the children heard that school was closed, they immediately got upset; not because they would be missing lessons. No, it was because they wanted to show off their outfits. So, Even though the school has postponed World Book Day, it hasn’t stopped my boys still adorning their outfits today and going out into the snow for a little photo shoot.

This year the boys opted for Newt Scamandar and Peter Rabbit

If your school closed today, did your children still get dressed up?

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Mum, Are You Proud Of Me?

There is nothing more that makes me proud of any of my three children than just being themselves.

I have three boys aged from 6 to 15 and they are all individuals, exceeding in different areas with talents and interests that are not the same as each other. That’s what makes them individuals.

There are no words that can describe how much each of them mean to me, I was blessed with three amazing young boys, who, without a doubt, I know will grow into three incredible young men. Being a Mum to these boys has given me a purpose in life and has shown me a new sense of being. They are why my heart beats and why blood runs through my veins. They give me energy like no other.

I am proud of all three of them and even though I tell them how much they all make me proud, the other day my middle boy (I actually hate calling him my middle boy, because they say that it’s always the middle child that gets left out and I am always conscious of that) asked me if he made me proud of him.

These 5 words stung my eyes.

There is nothing more that makes me proud of my boys than who they are. But, obviously my son was feeling a little left out.

We had had a couple of hours together doing something that he absolutely enjoys with a passion, we had gone cycling around the country park. He loves nature and the outdoors. So we spent some time, just him and I, cycling through the park looking at tress, listening to the birds and looking out across the lake at the birds swooping down to catch the fish.

He is such a sensitive soul and the most caring boy I know, he may not be outstanding academically but he is full of knowledge.

He can tell you so much about animals and their habitats. He can talk about them for hours.

He knows all about countries, there flags and where about they are in the world.

He can read a book of 600 pages, re-telling the story with passion, remembering every part of it.

He has his own fashion style, he always likes to look smart and likes to wear quirky clothes. He enjoys being different.

He is adventurous, courageous, intuitive, sensitive and loving.

I could go on describing how perfect he is to me, but like I said there really are not enough words.

I told him all this, all of the above and more.

I told him how much he means to me and that it makes me sad that he even had to ask me if he makes me proud.

I tell him and his brothers often how proud I am of them. Even for the little things. Like offering to hold the door open for someone, carrying my bag when they can see me struggling or for their caring nature.

Being proud of them doesn’t mean that they have to achieve something that is extra-ordinary or special. It’s seeing them grow. It’s watching them achieve personal goals. It’s those small moments that are giant steps of success. I give them praise when it matters and talk about the obstacles that they have overcome.

I held my son so tight and looked him in the eye and told him just look at me, with no words. Because no words could describe how proud of him I was, only the look of love and pride in my eyes could. That’s how we stood. In the middle of a country park, faces cupped into each others hands. Staring into each others eyes. (this in itself was an achievement for my son, as he finds it hard to keep eye contact) After a few moments we let go of our contact and cuddled each other. He just smiled at me and said that he saw the love nd adoration I had for him.

I myself, saw a little boy who was struggling to find a place for himself amongst the world around him. I saw a boy who needed Love. I told him whenever he needs that whenever he is feeling sad and alone to just remember the look in my eyes

I hope now he realises that words are not needed to show how proud I am of him.

 

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Funny things children say and do – Just deflating

There are times when my boys have me in fits of giggles with the things that they say and do. I am not sure where they get it from, and even though sometimes I am horrified with what they come out with I can not help myself holding back the laughter (although, sometimes I have to refrain from it, especially when they say things beyond their years)

The other day we were all sitting around the dining table, talking about the day that we had had and eating our dinner. There was silence and we all heard, what I can only describe as a high pitch noise, a bit like a balloon that has just been let off to fly around the room. We all just stared at each other wondering where the sound came from, when my son said “Sorry, I was just deflating!” His face was so serious, that we all just burst into fits of giggles.

 

My eldest was talking about his running training and why his coach had cancelled the weekends training session. My youngest misheard completely what he was saying

“Gary is taking his wife to a football match” What the eldest said

“What’s a Call the Midwife game?” Is what the youngest thought he said

 

My mum fractured her ankle and we have just got back from spending a few days with her. She has got it in cast and is struggling using the crutches that the hospital gave to her. My eldest -who is 15- decided to spend the whole time whilst we were there, on a crutch as well. He said it was to make his Nan feel better about herself. He even put on a limp when he didn’t have the crutch with him.

But, this one tops them all. It was about 9.30 in the evening and I had just gone into the boy bedroom to give them a kiss goodnight. They were sleeping soundly, but it’s something that I always do before I go to bed. My middle boy sleeps in a high bunker, so I climbed the ladder and crawled into his bed for a quick cuddle and a kiss. He stirred a little so I softly whispered to him that it’s ok and Mummy was just kissing him goodnight. I got myself ready for bed and as I turned my bedroom light and just snuggled into my duvet, I felt someone creep into my bed beside me. My son, then said that he wasn’t feeling very well and felt very tired. I gave him a hug and said he will be ok and to go back to bed. He got up out of the bed and turned the light on. It was then that I noticed he had his school uniform on. He thought that I had woke him up for school! That’s not all of it though, before coming in to me, he had gone downstairs to the bathroom and as he passed the dining room he saw his older brother sitting at the table in there. He asked him to make him some cereal and that he would be back soon for it. He then went back up to his bedroom and got dressed and then came into me. He had only been asleep for an hour and a half, no wonder he still felt very tired lol

What have your little scallywags been up to lately?

 

 

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Travelling With Your Child Who Has a Different Surname to You

It is not uncommon for a parent to have a different surname to their child. I for one, do not share the same surname with my boys. My children’s father and I are not married so I still have my maiden name but my children’s surname is the same as their fathers. There are  millions of children living with cohabiting, unmarried parents.
This can become a problem when travelling abroad with your children and your partner is not with you.

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Two years ago I was travelling from Malta with my three boys and my mum. At the passport control I was asked what my relationship to the boys were. I told them I was their Mum and they asked why I had a different surname to them. I had to explain that I was not married to their father and that myself and my mum had been on holiday with the boys for half term and their father was at home in England. They even asked my son, who was 8 at the time, who I was to him. He answered without a thought, looking rather puzzled by the whole situation but later on he did ask me why they were asking him such questions.

I was lucky on this occasion that I was not turned away, but they do have the right to refuse entry/exit as a duty of care to protect children and to screen for child abduction.

The passport system does not recognise that children might have different surnames. The child’s passport only lists their name, date and place of birth. There is nothing on their that shows the border control who their parents are. The passports are out of date and have not kept up with the modern family.

The man at border control said that by looking at the children he could tell that they were comfortable in being with me and that next time he strongly advises me to bring along documentation to prove that they are my children and a letter from their father stating that I can take them out of the country.

The madness of it all was that I had already got them out of the country with no problems but it was getting back home that was the problem. If I was refused to exit the country then I wouldn’t have been able to bring my boys home to their father.

UK passports should make it easier for families to travel, not make it difficult. It isn’t the most important issue but it can delay the process at the border control and it can be very humiliating experience. Not only for yourselves but a knock on effect in delaying the people behind you. It’s stressful enough travelling with young children and then you have to prove that your own offsprings belong to you in front of others around you. It’s unfair that unmarried parents are being subjected to harassment and delays because they choose not have the same surname as their children. What if a parent is divorced in a unpleasant situation?

Last year I travelled to Paris with my children, again on my own and not with their Father. I took along their birth certificates –  which has my name on them, proving that I am their Mother. We travelled via Eurostar and changed at Lille. We managed to get through the border control for France without them asking any questions but taking only a few steps and we was at the UK border control where they asked for proof that the children were mine. This time I had come prepared and handed over their birth cerificates and although they were happy with the documents I was handing over they advised me to also carry a signed letter from their Dad. How this makes a difference, I don’t know! Anyone can write a letter and pretend that they are the other parent to the child. Maybe it would have to be signed in front of officials in order for it be acknowledged as parental proof.

Parents do not have to go through this embarrassment of proving their parental right if a simple piece of data was added on to the child’s passport. In order for me to apply for the children’s passports I had to send of both parents passports and details to the passport agency. So, it should be on file somewhere, and it’s no good being on file in an office in England if it can not be used at border control. I don’t want to carry the child’s birth certificates with me whilst travelling, but to save the embarrassment of being harassed at border control, I have to.

 

 

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What a Difference A Year Makes

The past two years have been hard on the family,  I have had many hurdles to get over and many life changing decisions to make. The Year before was fighting emotional barriers, the past year have been trying to gain weight and muscle back from my nightmare hospital stay.

I lost a lot of weight during my hospital stay after the operations and was discharged on the 28th December 2016, weighing under 5 stone. My weight before I fell ill was always between 7 and a half to 8 stone.

A few days after my first operation
A few days after my first operation

During my time in hospital I had days where I didn’t eat or drink, I was told I was Nil by Mouth by a doctor over the weekend and then my doctor would come back on shift and tell me to eat. Eventually, eating and drinking became a chore and I struggled to even take sips of water. A dietician ordered for me to have a TPN fitted; a Total Parental Nutrition. It was administered into a PICC line, through a main vein, as a way of giving my body the essential nutrients needed to stay healthy.

I quickly became weak after my second operation and the weight began to drop
I quickly became weak after my second operation and the weight began to drop

I suffered quite significant changes to my physical and emotional health. I was inactive for over 2 months, just laying in a hospital bed and I could only manage a few trips around the ward. My strength was weak and I struggled to walk without help. Most of the time I used my drip stand for support, other times I was helped by a member of the family. I needed the nutrition to aid the recovery after surgery but also to gain strength. My muscles became weak and my joints stiff.

Christmas Day in hospital
Christmas Day in hospital

When family or friends visited, I covered myself up in my dressing gown to hide away how I looked.

It was hard to recover from my critical illness and 2 serious operations, the process was difficult and slow. Whilst I was in hospital I must have vomited every day. Family and staff believed I was doing it to myself, but it was hard to explain that my body was rejecting it. I could no longer swallow a glass of water, only managing a few sips every hour or so. Every time I ate; I was sick. I was given nutrition drinks called Fortisip but they were too sweet and they didn’t stay down too long before they was being brought back up. I lost my appetite, although I yearned to eat good food. I could no longer taste food.

My bones poked through my skin and hurt. This was just before Christmas day
My bones poked through my skin and hurt. This was just before Christmas day

Nutrition was the key to building back up my body strength and natural defences. I needed to build strength, boost my immune system, gain weight and restore my overall health and well-being. I was losing faith in myself and the doctors didn’t have the answers as to why my body was refusing food/drink. It was down to me. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying, seeing a stranger looking back at me looking frail and withdrawn

My pain was being managed by 1/2 paracetamol four times a day. I wasn’t allowed anything stronger due to me weight.

A few days after Christmas my surgeon asked me if I wanted to go home. Of coarse I said yes. He signed my discharge papers and I was allowed home. He said that I needed to be home to recover.

Once at home my journey began.

I couldn’t walk up the stairs without being carried up. I had to sleep on the sofa downstairs as the bed was too hard for my skin. I slept on two soft filled toppers plus cushions.

With the help of my family being around me all day long, I began to take regular sips of water. Slowly my intake increased.

I had a choice of my own food, when i wanted it.

I ate every so often.

I wanted to gain weight but didn’t want to eat junk food to do it. I ate five/six small meals a day. Drank smoothies and weight gaining shakes. Ate yoghurt and snacked on fruit.

Gradually with the help of my family, I started to gain weight. It was weird as it was New Year and everyone else was dieting and I was trying my hardest to gain weight. My social media time lines were full of dieting and slimming clubs, where i was doing the opposite and eating high calorie foods to put the weight on. I downloaded an app that counted up the intake of my meals, it gave me a daily run down of calorie and protein.

22 days being home
22 days being home

Now my weight was slowly increasing I had to look at my  strength. I began to integrate exercise into my daily routines. My first was A short walk down the road, just a few hundred metres with the help of my son. It wasn’t long and I was taking longer walks. Even though I could walk, I needed help to sit down and stand up. My joints stiffened after a few seconds. I couldn’t bend down without being assisted. I began to see a physiotherapist who helped with building back my muscles. I was given  exercises to do and after 6 weeks was shown how to use gym equipment to help.

A year after the first operation
A year after the first operation

It has taken some time but I now feel like I am getting there. I still have work on the muscles in my legs, specifically around the knees but it’s a gradual process.

I now attend the gym a couple of times a year. Something I have never done before and I enjoy it. I don’t stand on the scales to weigh myself, It’s not needed. I only have to look at myself to know that my weight is fine.

I am happy with where I am today. I am proud of my development. But, I wouldn’t be where I am without the perseverance and help that I received from my family and friends.

Me now
Me now

The past year has been one hell of a journey.

I wonder what this year will bring?

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Marathon of bedtime

Bedtime is chaotic in this household

It’s a constant battle to get the children to sleep.

You just about think your winning. They’re in their beds all tucked up and looking like little angels and just as you take a foot over the threshold of the bedroom door, thinking of how you are going to spend the last couple of quiet hours of your evening, when you hear…

“I need a wee”

“I’m thirsty”

“I’m not tired”

“Just one more story”

“I’ve got a belly ache”

Anything to stay awake for those extra few minutes of the evening

The longer they stay awake the more tired and irritable I become. I was so close to the finish line of relaxation.

For a moment there I could see it, but yet I was so far away.

Our bedtime routine can sometimes be a fast one, with  no arguments but most of the time it can take up to over an hour to get the little rascals into bed. So I set myself a goal of reducing it to half an hour by setting up a routine.

We have always had a bedtime routine but it seemed to have lapsed the older they got. Before we moved home, the boys all shared a room. They now have a room to them selves which makes it easier to stagger their bedtime. It is always hard to keep to a routine when the children get older as they attend after school clubs that normally finish near to their bedtime.

Our newest routine consists of

  • Wind down time, removing any electrical equipment from them about an hour before bedtime. I sometimes have to hide them in my bedroom away from their sneaking hands
  • An hour before bed they can have a small glass of water. Any more than that and they will be up in the night going to the toilet
  • Half hour before bedtime they are told to have a shower/wash and to brush their teeth, I give constant count down reminders about what they are doing next.
  • They get there clothes ready for the next day, placed neatly into a pile near to their bed
  • They can choose a book to read to themselves for 10 minutes
  • Once in bed I then sit down and read a book to them. This is a book that both boys have chosen. We are currently reading Harry Potter together. I normally read them a chapter a night. The two younger boys have a connecting room, so this is easy to do whilst both boys are in bed
  • I always end the day with a cuddle and a kiss and give them a praise about their day. Falling asleep on a positive note relaxes them and encourages a good nights sleep
  • Tuck them up in bed and turn off the lights

I try to keep the landing light off too, as this seems to keep them awake. Also talking a calm voice and not rushing them along helps them to the routine running smoothly.

I must admit this doesn’t always go to plan and I still get the odd shout from the boys bedroom about them not being tired enough for sleep. We’re not all perfect after all!

 

 

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Utter Delicious Coconut Bites Recipe

This recipe is simple and easy to make and tastes deliciously smooth. The coconut bites are ideal to give as treats to the little ones or to wrap up and take out on days out. I like to keep them stored in the fridge, they are a great for a nibble or with a nice cup of coffee.

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They are not entirely a healthy treat but contain no added sugar. A nice crispy chocolate coating with a moist creamy filling

Ingredients:

  • Tin of coconut milk 400ml
  • 250g desiccated Coconut
  • 3 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Brown Rice Syrup or 3tbsp of sweetener
  • 200g Dark Chocolate (The darker the better)

Method:

Add the coconut milk to a pan and heat up over a medium heat. Add in the coconut oil and sweetener. Once heated up add in the desiccated coconut and combine well. Keep mixing until it thickens and clumps together.

Take away from the heat and place the mixture into a square tray. Press down to compress the mixture.

Place in the freezer for 1 hour until the mixture sets and becomes hard.

Melt the chocolate in a pan with a tbsp of coconut oil.

Take the coconut mixture out of the freezer and cut up into squares, about an inch by an inch.

Place the coconut chunks into the chocolate, once all coated take them out and place onto a piece of parchment paper.

Put the coconut bites into the fridge to set.

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Now enjoy! Your own little taste of paradise

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My Personal Experience of Radiotherapy

Back in 2016 I was diagnosed with a rare form of Bowel Cancer, there were only 2 cases of it at the hospital where I was under. My Oncologist explained all the details about the diagnosis but I think I found out more by doing my own research. As a part of my treatment I was offered chemo-radiation, this is a treatment that means I was to have radiotherapy alongside taking chemotherapy tablets.

Radiotherapy is the use of controlled, high – energy radiation. It is offered alongside chemotherapy as it makes the cancerous cells more sensitive to the radiation.

I was told that I would have radiotherapy first to try to shrink the tumour before surgery, as this would make it easier for the surgeon to remove it. My tumor measured at 3 cms and was close to my rectum, sitting on the sphincter muscle – which controlled the movement of the bowel. The tumor was very close to the skin, so close that it could be felt from the outside.

From receiving my diagnosis til the first day of my radiotherapy it took two weeks. Those two weeks were the longest and slowest ever. Just think, You have been told that you have cancer and then you have to wait a few weeks until you can start you r treatment. All I kept thinking was, that it was more time for it to grow and worsen my diagnosis. Within that time I had a colonoscopy, an ultra sound on the local lymph and I had to be measured up to the radiotherapy machine.

Meeting Linac 

A Linear accelerator machine used to treat all parts of the body by delivering high energy beams/electrons to the region of the tumour. It has several built-in safety measures to ensure that it does not deliver a higher dose and is routinely checked by a medical physicist to ensure that it working properly. Everyone has their own personal treatment plan that has been decided by the doctors on how to deliver the prescribed dosage and calculated time that you will be under the machine.

Tattoo for life Before meeting LINAC I had to be measured up in a CT Scanner. This is when i received a tattoo, which was marked on my body by a small pen. This tattoo never fades and is a sign of what you have been through. A mark that will never let you forget. These marks were where the beams would be directed and used to take measurements for the plan of treatment. I was given three little dots on my skin; one above my pelvis, and one either side of my pelvis. The radiographer used red laser beams to measure them up. I laid down on a couch that had a scanner around it. This would be the position that I would be laying in for all of my treatments. I was under the machine for about 3o minutes. I didn’t feel anything, just heard the sound of the machine.

For my treatment I had to have 25 sessions of radiotherapy. That was every day, monday to friday, for five weeks. I had the weekends to rest up.

Before my first radiotherapy appointment I was able to sit down with someone from the radiographer team and discuss what time of the day would suit me for my daily treatments. I was given a leaflet which told me about the process, what to expect and what side effects I could get. I asked for early morning sessions as then it would be easier for me to get some rest before the children came home from school.

As my tumour was in a very sensitive area, I was told to expect some very severe soreness after week 3. A mould was made to place over the skin to protect it. This was made up for me.

I was given my time-table with all the dates and times printed on it and what LINAC I would be on. The hospital had a few.

I had to drink 750ml of water 45 minutes before going in the machine. I had to hold this in my bladder until the session had finished. This was so that I kept my body hydrated and so the scanner could create detailed images of inside my body. When I turned up to my appointment I was told when to drink by the radiographer. This I found easy for the first few weeks, it then started to become harder as the time went on. I was struggling to hold my bladder as the radiotherapy was burning away my insides.

My first session felt like it went on forever. I remember laying in the machine and counting how many times it went round me and guessing in what direction it would take next. I was in the machine for about 15-20 minutes, It took a while to make sure that I was in the correct position so the whole process could take up to 30 minutes.

My family decided between them that I wasn’t to attend my sessions alone, so there was always someone waiting for me outside in the waiting room. Ready to have a normal conversation with or just be there for me.

I remember talking to the machine as it went round me. Telling it how I just wanted more time with my family, how I hoped that It wouldn’t miss a cell and to make sure that they all went. As I laid there I began to think it was answering me back. Listening to me. I remember the sound of it going round and round. I could hear music in the background. I told the machine to be nice to me and I would sing to it. Silly eh! How can a machine listen to you. It felt like it was the only place I could talk about my feelings without being judged or told to stop being silly. I had to lay there as still as I could, which is hard when you have to think about it. You always get an itch somewhere or feel a twitch in your leg.

Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The staff was helpful and friendly and always smiling. The other patients in the waiting room made conversation, even if it was talking about what brand of coffee they were drinking, it was small talk and just what everyone wanted. There was a sense of calm in the oncology department, quiet at times when you needed it. I almost felt like I belonged in there. People around me who I could relate to, who could understand what I was going through. It was as if I could see them walking around with a big question mark hovering over their heads. We all had the same thoughts, thoughts that we didn’t share with close family and friends but what we transmitted through our eyes. Sadness and hope.

I had lost hope in my body, I had lost my way in life. It was like the waiting room was my refuge. I needed to find strength from the people around me, the strangers in the waiting room and from within.

Hours quickly fell into days and the days into weeks. Not long and I had been going for a month. It seemed normal to get up and make my way to the hospital. The oncology department was at the back of the hospital, away from the busy part, almost a different building. It was like we were being hidden away from everyone. Kept to one side away from normality.

Side effects  The side effects were harsh. The last week I laid in bed crying and only got out for the appointments and to got to the toilet. I didn’t want to drink as it burned when i passed urine and walking became impossible with pain. My skin was so sore that it was blistering and peeling. I was given a cream to apply to the area, but that was only because a friend advised me on what to ask for. I was told that my skin would become red like it would do from sunburn, but I didn’t expect it to literally burn away. The only ease i got was when I let air to it and applied the cream. I gave up on wearing underwear and only wore loose clothing. I had to take imodium tablets as it was playing havoc on my bowels. I was so tired all of the time and some days slept for hours. I could be having a conversation one minute and then asleep the next. I welcomed the weekends as it came me respite from the treatment and by sunday evening I was becoming to feel normal again, only to go back to treatment the next morning.

I had to drink as much as I could in order to stay hydrated, I tried to drink at least 2 litres a day.

Long term effects  My bladder became weak and I could no longer hold in my urine, It felt full all of the time making leaving the house hard. I can no longer have children as my tubes have been burned away and I suffer from hot flushes. I have weaker bone structures and have had physio to build it back.

Two months after treatment finished I spent 10 days in hospital due to having an Abscess due to the effects of radiation. I lost all possible feeling to go to the toilet and was in severe pain. This resulted in my operation to remove the tumor forward by Two months.

It’s been 18 months since the last day of radiotherapy and I am now nearly back to full health. I know I can no longer produce eggs to have more children, but I already have three wonderful boys, so that’s not a problem for me. I still suffer from hot flushes but they say that I may be going through my menopause early due to radiotherapy.  I often get tired, but I just remember to take it easy and rest. I drink at least 2 litres of water a day and eat a healthy balanced diet (although I stay away from processed meats and pre prepared meals). It’s hard to look back and reflect. I need  to share my experience, not only for myself but for others too.

 Please feel free to contact me if you want support.
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Mind The Gap – Travelling on the tube with children

Travelling on the underground in London can be daunting for any adult who has never done it before. It can also be very stressful, especially during the busy rush hour, but it needn’t be if you prepare your self.

Living on the outskirts of London means that we travel into London a lot of times. Sometimes we go after school during the week to get to auditions and other times we travel on a weekend just for a day out. We are so used to travelling during the rush hour that it just seems natural to us. There are some stations and routes that we will avoid at the busy times, which may mean walking through the streets to get to the next station  but they are never that far away from each other.

Travelling with a baby or young children across London can be every adults nightmare, It can also be very challenging but it is definitely possible and enjoyable.

Here are some of our tips on travelling with children on the underground

  • Grab your self and Oyster card or if you can use your phone or bank card if cantactless is set up on it.

-Children under 11 travel free on the tube, overground, DLR , TFL rail and buses if they have a 5-10 Zip or travelling with an adult (under 5 travel free)

-Children aged 11-15 can travel with a Zip oyster photocard. They travel for free on buses and trams and get a reduced rate on all other TFL service

-If you’re visiting London and travelling with children aged 11-15 who haven’t got a Zip Oyster photo card, you can still benefit from reduced rate travel for them. You can get a discount set on an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card that will allow them to pay as you go at half adult-rate for up to 14 days.

Apply for these cards online prior to visiting

  • Remember always to tap in and out at the stations on the yellow card reader with your card. If you manage to walk through a barrier without tapping out after your journey, you will be charged the maximum fare
  • Plan your route. Take a look at the underground map online or download an app. We find the app to be very useful, not only does it tell you if there are any delays on any of the routes but it also plans your route for you and tells you how long each journey will be.
  • Grab a map at the station and give to your child to look at and study. When on the train tell them your destination and see if they can work out the route.
  • Try to avoid travelling during rush hour. With commuters moving around the city, expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening. This said, I have also found some stations on particular routes in zone 1 to start getting busy at 4.30.
  • When travelling with babies, try taking a light fold away buggy/stroller or use a sling. It will make your trip a lot more easier
  • Be prepared to walk up lots of stairs. There are also lots of escalators to use.
  • When using the escalator stand on the right as people walk up on them on the left. Keep young children in front of you.
  • Take a look on the map for step free access stations. Sometimes its easier to travel to your destination by using the nearest step free station and walking the rest
  • If you are travelling with more than one child, tell them that as soon as you get off of the train and on to the platform to wait against the wall. Platforms can become extremely busy. You don’t want to be dragged along with the crowd not knowing what direction you actually want to go. We always wait against the wall and then look for the way out sign or where to go for the next line.
  • I know it’s scary but I have always told my children that IF they ever get left on the train to get off at the next station and wait on the platform against the wall for me to get them. I also tell them that if they get off of the train without me to wait on that platform and I will come back for them. This has never happened to us, but the trains do get very busy and sometimes a small child could become disoriented within a crowd of people.
  • Tell your children to always wait behind the yellow line until the train has stopped.
  • If there are two adults when travelling, always have one at the front and one at the back when walking through the stations and even through London streets. Think of a sandwich, keeping the children in the middle. I travel with my three children, who are now 15, 10 and 6. It is always me first and my eldest last.
  • Walk around London from one station to the next, instead of going by tube. For example; although travelling from Oxford Circus to Piccardilly Circus can take a few minutes on the train, it does only take 11 minutes by foot. Think of all those lovely shops and building that you will see.
  • Carry water with you. The trains can become stuffy and hot, especially in the summer. Also have a snack in your bag.
  • If you are going to be on the train for a while, play some games with them to keep them occupied. We like to play the station alphabet game or I-Spy
  • When standing on the platform waiting for the train to approach, wave to the driver. they always wave back and the children love it.
  • Use the wider ticket barriers, they will have much more room for the family to get through. They are marked with a blue wheelchair symbol and normally have an attendant close by.

Remember where ever you go in London; on bus, tram, tube or river boat to enjoy your self. Have a great trip and Mind the Gap!

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