Keeping Strong!

It’s been a year now since I received the news of my Cancer diagnosis. I entered the consultants room in the hospital knowing deep down that something wasn’t right with my health. I didn’t have the symptoms that you read about, I didn’t lose weight or have bleeding but I did feel tired a lot and fought with fatigue. I just knew that the lump that I was feeling wasn’t right. I knew deep down that it was bad. I didn’t want my family to come with me to hear the words but I couldn’t stop them from being with me.

I came out of the diagnostics room a different person. Hearing the consultant tell me that I had Cancer changed my life and my family’s life. After going through every emotion possible, which took a good few months, and crying for what seemed like eternity I became stronger. I became to realise that I could allow this disease to beat me or I could stand up and fight it with every little piece of energy that I have.

Keeping strong is the only way to carry on with this disease.

I only have one focus in life now and that it to be around for as long as I can for the sake of my children.

It’s easy to keep strong with the support of my family and friends.

I am no longer Angela. I am now Angela who has Cancer. I am now Angela who is stronger.

I need now to not look back on the what ifs but to look forward and to stay positive. To keep my head clear of any negative thoughts.

I may have had the diagnosis that we all dread to hear but I am still here, I am still a Mum to 3 wonderful children. Cancer doesn’t stop that and will never take it away from me. No matter what I will always be a Mum. Being a Mum is what has made me strong, It is what made me fight for my life.

Having Cancer has made me realise that we need to enjoy life, enjoy each others company, stay focused for here and now.  I make more plans than I did before, I don’t hold back on doing something. I need to look after myself more, not only keeping my body strong but my mind too.

There are times when it all becomes a little too much. When I think back to my time in hospital I used to thank god that every morning I woke up. I thought that it was my time. I never thought that I could pull through, But I did. Slowly I became stronger. I tell myself now that I am still here and I am still Angela, I am still a Mum and I am still someones daughter, sister, cousin, aunty, friend or colleague.

I would like to thank everyone for the support that you have all given me, either through social media or personally. Without you all I wouldn’t be able to stay focused and learn to look after myself.

I will keep my head clear of any negative thoughts, I will keep a smile on my face and I will keep on being strong.

 

Our tricks to make children feel better when unwell #VicksTricks

This post is an entry for the #vickstricks campaign

The cold and flu season is well and truly on us. It’s that time of year when the snuffles, aches and pains begin to surface. Not that there is any particular time to catch a cold as it seems my children can come down with the symptoms of a cold any time of the year.

Being a family of five, when one comes down with the sniffles, we all do. It can go round the family faster than Usain Bolt running 100ms. Working in a school myself, I can be sneezed in the face up to 10 times in one day. I understand the importance of keeping our immune systems strong in order to fight any nasty germs that may want to enter our bodies. That is why we make sure that we eat our five a day to keep our immune systems healthy and we always drink lots of water. I have to be extra careful not to catch any nasty bugs going around due to the Cancer treatment that I have received. Radiotherapy can damage many of your organs and cause many problems like lowering your immune system. I make sure that we take multivitamins and cook with fresh ingredients, adding in garlic and turmeric which help with fighting bad bacteria

When our children are feeling poorly, as parents we try every trick in the book to keep them entertained and make them feel better, especially when they need to be back in school so that they don’t miss out on too much class work.

Britmums have set a VicksTricks challenge, they want to know what I do to entertain my children when they are ill and make them feel better, as well as wanting to hear what my parents did to soothe me when I was young and not feeling too good.

I was sent a parcel to help me with this challenge. Inside was a story book, a selection of fun finger puppets and a bottle of first defense.

Firstly as a family we try our best to stop a cold from developing. As soon as I hear a sniffle or a sneeze we do the following

  • Drink as much water as possible. Warm water is best and always place a slice of lemon into it to flavour it up but it also helps strengthen the immune system. Keeping yourself hydrated will help the congestion and keep the nasal passageways clear

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  • Take a tsp of warm honey in the morning. This helps with sore throats and reduces the coughing
  • Up the intake of fresh fruit especially apples, bananas and oranges. Did you know that one apple has an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1500mg vitamin C. Bananas are a good food source for fatigue and help keeps our bones strong. A good way of getting all this goodness into the children is by a smoothie. Blend it all up and drink away. I also find that if the child helps make the smoothie they will be more inclined to drink it especially if it’s a funny colour. This helps support the immune system.
  • Mug cakes are ideal to make with the children. We make one made from bananas, peanut butter, cacao and honey. Not only do they taste good but they keep the children entertained without stimulating them too much, the least sugar the better. They are nice and warm and healthy too.

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  • Place some Vicks Vaporub on the underneath of their pillows and rub a little onto their backs. This helps them breathe a little better, which is always worse at night when they become congested up from laying on their backs and helps them drift into a good nights sleep. It has one of those smells that you remember from your child hood and it is a staple product that is always in our bathroom cabinet

Vicks Vaporub Infographic

  • For us adults, at the first sign of a sniffle or sore throat we drink our special home remedy of garlic, ginger, lemon and honey in hot water. Sounds horrible, tastes not as bad as it sounds but works well.

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  • Also plenty of rest helps our bodies fight the infection. We always bring the bedding down to the sofa, turn the tv on and watch a good feel good movie.
  • Lots of love and affection. There is nothing more than a cuddle from your parent when you feel under the weather. Research shows that a kiss and cuddle from a parent can releases oxytocin and endorphins, which are ‘feel good’ neurochemicals. I am 38 yrs old and still to this day yearn for a hug from my Mum, it makes me feel warm and loved.
  • Time together. When snuggled under the blanket, with a hot water bottle and vicks vaporub rubbed onto the back we lay down and read a book. We often fall asleep before we finish it but sleep plays a good part of the healing process. Children do not need anything that will over stimulate them when they are feeling unwell. Company of a loved one is enough. Colouring is always very good too as it relaxes the children and takes their minds off of the sniffles and sneezes

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I remember when I was a child, my Mum used to give us a glass of warm milk before bedtime whilst she read us a story. The one thing i will never forget is the time she spent with my siblings and I when we was ill, she would keep us busy when our strength was back with making crafts or baking cakes.

Vicks believes that traditional love, fun and laughter are the key to comfort your children when they aren’t feeling themselves. That’s why Vicks have developed a series of sharable #VicksTricks magic videos that are simple, easy and great fun to replicate at home! Laughter is good for the soul, just as Katherine Mills explains in this magic video. watch what she does with a banana

Vicks consumer research looks at the most common home remedies with British parents. Here are the findings:

• Over half (52%) of parents said that rest was the most important thing for making children feel better
• This was followed by ‘medicine’, which 40% of parents rely on
• More than a third of parents (36%) believe in the power of TLC
And when it comes to keeping children entertained:
• Three out of four (75%) British parents put on the TV or a DVD
• Over a quarter (27%) read to their children
• 1 in 10 parents get really creative; either telling jokes (8%) or even do magic tricks (2%)
Family Psychologist Corinne Sweet highlights that “one of the most powerful antidotes to sickness developing further, is parental care and concern.”
Corinne advises that “listening to a story or watching a film is a good idea, as it is soothing and promotes laughter (an immune booster). But don’t let them play video games, watch scary films or spend hours on screens. This will keep their minds over-stimulated, when their immune systems need gentler stimulation and rest.”
Laughter and Love is the best medicine needed to gain strength to fight bad bacteria oh with a little help from Vicks Vaporub too 😉
This post is the entry for the #vickstricks campaign. Photos and words are my own. 

 

 

Dear Cancer I’m not ready to Die

I hate writing this. But this is how I am feeling at the moment.

With tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart.

I think about who I would leave behind

I dread the thought of being told that I am going to die.

I have always feared death. Always cried about dying. Having children made it all become a little bit more real.

Having Cancer has made it all the more real for me. It has made me think more and more of death.

Right or wrong. Positive or not. You can not allow your brain to not think of it.

I have three beautiful children who I adore so much. I have so much to give them. So many more memories. So many more cuddles and kisses.

I want to be able to see them grow into handsome young men.

I want to see them graduate from University

I want to hold their hands through the good and the bad.

I want to watch them fall in love and enjoy life

I want to watch them walk down the aisle and I want to hold my grandchild in my arms

I am not ready to die.

I am not ready to leave my family behind to cope with me not being around.

I have so many more bumps and bruises to kiss better

So many more bedtime stories to read.

So many more experiences to enjoy with my boys

Death is a horrible thing and I know we all will die eventually. This has always scared me. I’ve always been upset about leaving my children, young or old, behind.

Coping with having Cancer has made it all real.

I am not ready for my body to give up. I am not ready to leave my boys without a Mummy.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know. Its how I am feeling. It’s what I am thinking.

It’s in my thoughts all the time. I don’t want it to be there. I want to enjoy the time I have with my family.

So many people tell me to enjoy my life, but It’s so hard. Cancer takes over.

I want to take control of my thoughts and body. I do not want it to win.

Am I feeling down? Am I depressed? YES

I want to be healthy and I want to live a long and good life

I want my children to enjoy growing up with their Mum around to guide them and teach them right from wrong. What Mum wouldn’t?

They need a strong Mum and a happy one.

I will carry on fighting with every inch of my body for the sake of my boys. I will try to keep strong and not allow them to see the weak me, the depressed me, the unhappy me. I will not let this defeat me without giving everything I have.

 

 

 

 

 

Bowel Surgery My Story Part 1

It’s been a long, hard struggle, but fingers crossed I’m on the road to recovery.

I was admitted into hospital last November 9th, for a scheduled bowel removal operation. I was in good spirits as i arrived to the hospital at 7am in the morning. I had my suitcase packed with a few essential items of clothing, magazines, books and a few snacks for the evenings whilst I was in hospital. I was due to stay in for 7-10 days but all depending on the rate of my recovery. I was told by my surgeon that there wasn’t many risks to the surgery for someone as fit and healthy like myself.

As I laid on the hospital bed waiting to be called into theatre, my surgeon came by to see me, I was in a positive mood and was hopeful that my surgery would be a success. I had tried hard not to think too much about the surgery but had researched the type of surgery I was having. I knew that my rectum was going to be removed as the tumour was sitting on the sphincter muscle, which meant if the rectum was left intact then I would not be able to control when I wanted to release my stools. My surgeon shook my hand and told me that I was first into theatre. I got dressed into my gown and had a last minute trip to the toilet before being wheeled into theatre.

I remember the lights were so bright, everything seemed to be gleaming. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed in theatre and the nurses and anaesthesist running around me, all doing something important. They all seemed to be really busy and I was just sitting there like a little lost lamb. Not sure what to do or say. I remember watching the nurses gather together the surgery tools, placing them onto a trolley, all lined out in a specific way and thinking how shiny and sharp they looked. I took a bug gulp. A deep breath and closed my eyes. I thought about my children at home and how they would be feeling today, how they would wake up and notice mummy not there. I remember a nurse coming over and fitting in a cannula to my hand and a needle into the base of my back (I believe this was an epidural, but I’m not sure). I remember the anaesthesist commenting on how calm and collected I was. How I seemed to be composed and ready. I didn’t feel it. I was then told to lay down. And that was it. I can not remember anything more until I woke up 6 hours later

I was in a different room this time, different people running around me. There was a nurse sitting on a chair next to my bed. When I opened my eyes she asked me how I was feeling. I felt fine. I felt no pain. I felt OK. I didn’t want to look down at my tummy, I didn’t want to see what they had done. I remember feeling hungry and thirsty so the nurse went and got me a yoghurt and some water. It felt so good to eat it.

I had a catheter to help drain the bladder of urine. I also had a colostomy bag on the left hand side of my abdomen. I had a drain attached, coming out of my bottom collecting blood/fluid. I also had 3 little incisions where they had performed a laparoscopy to remove my rectum and lymph nodes.

My parents had come with me to the hospital that morning and I hadn’t seen my Mum since they wheeled me down to theatre, I wanted to let her know I was OK. A nurse told me that My parents were waiting outside in the waiting room and wanted to know how I was. I wanted to see them but they wasn’t allowed through to the recovery room. After an hour or so they were allowed to come through and see me for a quick cuddle and to see how I was. It was good to see them, I held them tight

At about 6 in the evening I was taken upstairs to the surgery ward where a bed was waiting for me. I don’t remember much, I was very tired and kept drifting in and out sleep. Paul was with me and then it was time for him to go home. I didn’t want to be on my own. I slept. I awoke in the middle of the night in immense pain, screaming out to the nurses for help. I can not describe the pain but I remember it being so strong, I was crying. I wanted it to stop. I don’t even know where the pain was coming from, I just know that whatever the nurses gave me it wasn’t strong enough to take it away.

I don’t when, but they hooked me up to a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) where I was in control of when I administered morphine for the pain by pressing a button. This way I was able to control my pain whenever I needed to.

I don’t remember when I got up and out of bed. The days went by in a whirl. I slept so much. All I wanted to do was sleep.

I asked the nurses if I could get up and walk around but they said that I needed to be assessed by the physiotherapy team first.

I remember asking to get out of bed so I can sit in the chair. One of the nurses helped me out and then just as he was walking away I remember feeling really weak, sweating and then nothing. I must have blacked out. The next I remember was being carried into my bed and being hooked up to a saline drip. I believe that my blood pressure was low and that is why i fainted after getting out of bed.

I wanted to try again. I wanted to get better. But I was so scared I would faint again. I felt weak.

Days went by and I was soon feeling stronger. I was eating and drinking but not enough. The food was horrid. Tasteless.

My parents came to visit everyday. My mum helped me wash and when I gained enough strength to get out of bed she helped my shower. I hated seeing myself in the mirror. Who was the person looking back at me. A thinner, weaker version of myself.

My boys came in to see me, but I didn’t want them to see me so ill and weak. My eldest son came to visit after school, on his way home. Most days he would just sit next to my bed holding my hand whilst I slept, other days we would talk about school and his brothers. I hated seeing the hurt in their eyes. I would cry when they went home. I wanted to gold them close but my wounds and stoma meant I couldn’t have them close to me incase they knocked the tummy.

Where my rectum had been removed I had been stitched on the bottom. I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bottom for longer than 10 minutes. It felt weird. I had to keep moving from one side to the other every half hour. Sleeping was uncomfortable. My pert bottom was gone and in replace was a disgusting looking flat piece of skin that covered some bones.

It took over a week for the stoma to start to work. I was told I was constipated and that I needed to drink more but I just couldn’t take in anymore that what I was drinking.  I was given an enema to help. My first stools were watery. I was taught from the stoma nurse how to change the bag and what equipment to use. It didn’t seem too bad.

I was told what I could and couldn’t eat. So much of my normal diet was a no go. I went off of food and could only manage a few mouthfuls at a time. I began to feel sick and started to throw up whatever I was taking in.

I wanted to go home so much. I wanted to be with my boys. I hadn’t seen much of them whilst I was in hospital. So when a doctor came round to see me two weeks after surgery and asked me if I wanted to go home, I obviously said yes. I knew I was being sick but if they thought I was well enough to go then I was happy to do so.

We waited around for the discharge papers. Two hours later I was sitting in the passenger seat of the car and ready to set off home.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t stop here. Read part 2 later on this week. 

Thank you for reading.

2017 Please Be Kind To Me

Dear 2017,

Last year was not a very good year to many people, me included. 2016 was pretty shit, to put it lightly.

Many people lost their lives through illnesses or disasters in 2016. To be honest I didn’t spend much time watching the news or reading the papers about what was going on around me as I was in my own little nightmare.

This year I would like you to be kinder to me and my family, please.

We have been through so much and deserve just a little break.

2016 saw me being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, adeno carcinoma, an unusual cancer for a young woman of my age to get. In fact it is rare and there are only two of us diagnosed with such cancer in the hospital that I received my treatment at.

Last year I under went 5 and a half weeks of radiotherapy and taking chemotherapy tablets.

Last year I spent 8 days in hospital with an internal infection due to the radiotherapy harming my bladder and bowel.

Last year I had my tumour taken away (well what was left of it).

On top of everything that I went through in the space of 5 months, you decided that you would throw a little more at me.

After my first surgery, I had complications and just 2 weeks later I had to have an emergency operation on my small bowel.

You see 2016, I am stronger than what you think I am.

In 7 months I went through hell and back, physically and emotionally. Not only did I suffer but it effected family and friends.

So this year, 2017, I would like you to take into account on what I went through last year and take pity on an underweight Mummy who just wants to be here for her children.

I would like to laugh again. A real good belly laugh.

I would like to be fear free.

I would like to spend precious time with my boys without thinking about time.

2017, I would like to be left alone please. Let me be. Allow me to be who I want to be.

I want to have tears of happiness. I want the tears to roll down my face and onto a smile

I don’t want any more sadness or bad news. I want to be hopeful.

Dear 2017, please be kind to me.

Much Love

A very tired, but hopeful Angela

No One Should Walk Alone

Cancer is lonely

No matter how much support you have around you

No matter how many people offer you help

You always feel lonely

You try to keep strong for everyone else around you. For your family, for your friends and especially for your children

You try to hold it all together

You tell people that you are fine

But you are not!

Family and friends love you, they offer help and visit you when they can

But they do not understand how lonely cancer can be

I cry

I cry when I am alone, in fact I sob

I have no control over the tears, they sometimes just roll down my cheeks and I have no control over them

I am jealous of others and their future

Why me?

I Live in fear every second, every hour of every day

Of what the future holds for me

Your emotions are all over the place

Like a rollercoaster, they are up and down

No one understands

How can they?

Words go in but you are not listening

Your mind wanders

Having Cancer you feel isolated

The treatment is gruelling and tiring

You have a good support network but they can not go through your emotions and treatment with you

You alone are in the radiotherapy machine

You alone are laying on the bed waiting for surgery

You alone are recovering from surgery

You alone feel the pain, the tiredness, the sickness and the fatigue

Cancer is a lonely path

No one should walk alone, but Cancer has a way of making you feel lonely

Cutting down on sugar in your diet

Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet isn’t just for losing weight but it’s also very healthy on your body.  Sugar fuels inflammation and has a direct impact on your blood sugar levels. It is highly addictive, even more than cocaine and cause you to binge eat.

As a family for the past year or so we have continually been cutting down on our refined sugar intake in the foods that we eat. We have been sticking to the natural sugars that you find in fruit. We have done lots of research over the months on what is best for our bodies and although we are still learning we can see a difference in our health. Cutting down on refined sugar was really for the children health at first, I want them to lose that yearning for sweetness. Not only is it good for their health but also their teeth and skin. It became a big part of my diet when I received my cancer diagnosis. It is known that Cancer cells thrive a lot more on the bad sugar in our bodies. It can also help with our emotional and mental health.

You don’t have to cut out the white stuff completely but cutting down on it will improve your health. You just have to make simple changes in the way that you eat. Take a gradual process and try reducing your sugar intake daily.

Cutting down on refined sugar means taking the processed foods out of your daily diet. You will be surprised on how many products contain sugar. It is becoming easier now to shop for sugar-free products, especially with health shops popping up all over and there are so many online shops that sell sugar-free too. Supermarkets are jumping onto the bandwagon now and have a good selection of sugar-free foods.

Here are some ideas that we put into place to cut down on the sugar intake

  • Swap fruit juices for flavoured water. Add fresh fruit into your water to flavour it up. I like sliced lemons and limes. Try cucumber and mint, lemon and lime, ginger and organic honey. We have a water dispenser that we bought from Dunelm Mill. We fill up with filtered water, ice and add in the fruits in the morning then it is already to be poured out by all the family throughout the day. We also have a soda machine for the times that we fancy a carbonated drink, we add fruit to this too.
  • Eat more fruit, fresh preferably. If you do buy canned try to stay away from the fruits that are in syrup and only buy tins that have fruit in water.
  • Read through the list of ingredients on processed food. Sugar has many different names, normally ending in’ose’ like maltose and sucrose.
  • Fructose and lactose are natural occurring sugars
  • Try adding fruit to your cereal to get that sweetness. Bananas are ideal or strawberries.
  • Don’t keep sugary drinks in the house, if they are not there then there will be no temptation. The same as chocolate and sweets
  • Cut down on using sauces and condiments at dinner time, they are full of sugar especially sweet chilli sauce. You could try making your own or try to buy bottles that are sugar free.
  • Snack on nuts, oatcakes, corn cakes, fruit and houmous.
  • Buy dark chocolate the darker the better for that chocolate fix. I use cacao nibs and powder. We add the nibs into breakfast or cakes and the powder for smoothies and hot chocolate
  • Avoid adding sugar to your meals by using spices and herbs instead.
  • Substitute cakes with sugar-free jelly
  • Replace the refined sugar in your cupboard with coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • Make up your own treats for the children by using dates, oats and bananas, Try our raw date snack bars here

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  • Reduce or skip our using condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings. Try making them yourselves.
  • Introduce more greens into your diet either by eating or drinking them. Green vegetables alkalizes your body and detoxes it of unwanted toxins. They are full of minerals and nutrients. Juice up your vegetables for a healthy alternative to a cup of coffee or tea.
  • Buy wholefoods like nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, legumes, brown rice, quinoa and beans.
  • Cut down on white bread and bagels.

Sugar Free Breakfast

Breakfast is an essential meal of the day and should not be missed. It provides protein and carbohydrates which are important for growth and energy, especially for children. Cereal doesn’t have to be the only option in the morning for breakfast, yes it is quicker just an extra 5 minutes for breakfast will do

  • Eggs are packed with protein and ideal for breakfast. They are quick to make and can be made in many different variations, scrambled, poached, omelette and boiled. You can add so many things into to like avocado and salmon.
  • Swap honey and sugar to maple syrup and agave nectar
  • Mix up a smoothie. Experiment with the ingredients, there are so many different recipes to try. We like strawberry and coconut

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  • A fruit salad made up from a selection of fruit.
  • Organic porridge oats instead of eating cereal from a box that has added sugar in them.
  • Make up some breakfast pots made up from Natural organic yoghurt with oats, dates, agave nectar, flaxseed and chia seeds. These can be made the night before and stored in the fridge or taken into work with you.
  • Coconut is a good alternative to refined sugar. We use coconut sugar and coconut flakes.
  • After time you will feel the benefits of cutting down on sugar. Your taste buds will change and you will no longer crave the sweetness of food, instead you will choose healthier foods instead of junk. Your teeth will feel so much more cleaner, run your tongue over your teeth and feel how smooth they are, you won’t feel a build up or tartar.

You don’t need to stop baking either, just find a good replacement that suits your taste. Sugar replacement can be expensive. Sugar gives cakes the crumbly texture and it also prolongs the shelf life so when taking the sugar away remember to cover the cake in cling film to stop it from drying out. Replace the sugar content with:

  • Fruits, especially banana. Apple puree, dates and pineapple
  • A good sugar substitute for the cupboard is xylitol and stevia. They both have fewer calories. Both are produced from extracts of tree and plant leaves. When using stevia you don’t have to use as much as refined sugar as it is very sweet. Both do not cause tooth decay and both do not impact on your blood sugar levels
  • Coconut Sugar and Agave Nectar. These are popular in my cupboard. In fact we use them in most of our cooking. We even use coconut oil for our cooking and making our own chocolate. Here is our recipe

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  • Try using sweet potato or pureed applesauce in recipes, you will get the sweetness with out the sugar rush

Since cutting down on sugar we have seen a big impact on the children’s behaviour and our own mental states. Our teeth are much cleaner and our general health is so much better. I find that cooking with organic fresh foods is an ideal way of cutting down on refined sugar. That way you know what ingredients are in your meals. We always have an ever flowing bowl of fruit and lots of raw and organic snack bars.

Are you ready to cut down on refined sugar?