Friday, 6 December 2013

Let's talk about sex...

Oh yeah now I remember!  I knew that I had forgotten or lost something I just wasn't sure what it was..  I have been going around this last few months thinking, what have I forgotten, have I have lost something? Now I realise what it is, my libido!  I’ve lost my libido!  Wow!  When did this happen?  Where did it go?  Who stole it?  I don’t know, I don’t know!!! Help!!!! I want my libido back.  I hadn’t even realised that it had gone, but yet I want it back, why? Well because I want to be me.  My sex drive was a part of who I am or was and I don’t want to change, I don’t want to become the person that I don’t know.  

Maybe this is what happens to you when you go into menopause, but the difference is that menopausal women have the time for their bodies and minds to adjust and get used to it, and time to know that it is a natural course of nature, so they don’t make a big deal about the change in their sexual drive, or they are too embarrassed to talk about it.  I however have been forced very quickly into it.  

So it's frustrating, this change in my sexual life, this loss of libido, of "those urges," but if you think about it I've lost both my breasts, I'm constantly worrying, I've not much energy, always tired, hurt in new places, it's no bloody wonder I'm not feeling sexy!!!!!

Now, although husband is loving, patient, and we are both willing to try, I just can't seem to enjoy sex as I used to do.  I am grateful that I am alive and cancer free, but I miss the enjoyment I used to take for granted..  Why did no one warn me that loss of sex drive and difficulty having sex are common complaints among breast cancer survivors.  Fact: More than two-thirds of surveyed survivors reported that they were still having sexual function problems two years after diagnosis, and most described their sex lives as satisfying before breast cancer.

“From the moment the surgeon takes a knife to your breast -- unless you have superhuman self-esteem -- there is an impact on sexuality.” 

So mentally it affects the enjoyment of having your breasts touched during sex because it reminds you of cancer and treatment.  Physically foreplay/sex no longer involves the breasts, (well not for me) and when that's always been an important part of your love making routine - it's hard - excuse the pun!

So even though breast reconstruction restores the shape of the breast, it cannot restore normal breast sensation. The nerve that supplies feeling to the nipple runs through the deep breast tissue, and it gets disconnected during surgery.  In a reconstructed breast, the feeling of pleasure from touching the nipple is lost, and a rebuilt nipple has much less feeling or none, as in my case.  They say in time, the skin on the reconstructed breast will regain some sensitivity (here's hoping!) but probably it will not give the same kind of pleasure as before mastectomy.  So whilst breast reconstruction often makes women more comfortable with their bodies, and helps them feel more attractive and normal on the outside, the inside is still a mass of confusion.

Thank goodness for intimacy, and intimacy doesn't just mean sex.  Intimacy is where 2 people exchange thoughts, share ideas, enjoy similarities and differences, it's when you comfortably share your feelings with each other or empathise with each other's feelings.  It's a sense that you have a special bond joining you together, trusting your partner completely, caring for each other and sharing affection and secrets, your most inner private thoughts - communication is a must!  We have to communicate, and I have learnt that going through Cancer diagnosis & treatment, communication is more important than ever.

If you were to ask me what I think a relationship is based on, I will answer without hesitation. To me, a relationship is based on three things, the first two are very important and without them the relationship won’t work.  The third is unimportant but if you’ve got it, it’s a bonus.  These three things are; Friendship, Trust and Sex.

Looking forward to meeting up with my long lost friend again soon.......... Xxx


Friday, 8 November 2013

What a year.....

Another month passes & as always the C word is still a huge part of my life... only now I'm embracing it, now I'm in control & now I am using the nasty word for a greater cause.  I'm taking advantage of the fact I was ill to spread awareness & help others, if I can save even one persons life then all has not been in vain.

I'm constantly getting emails from other women who've been diagnosed, they've either read my blog, or someone's told them about me & passed on my info.  These women can relate to me, I'm a friend of a friend, similar in age, (under 40, just), with a young family & most importantly I've been through it & come out the other side.  It feels good to be able to give advice & help others, I've never had the opportunity to do something this meaningful before, it's funny but apart from my children, my life feels like it has more purpose now. 

So most of my blogging will be less about me & more about what I can do to help others in our strive towards a future without Breast Cancer.  This will include sharing stories of hope, informative websites & information, but most importantly raising funds to help find a cure for this terrible disease.  

As you all know I'm performing in Grease in March 2014, rehearsals are coming along brilliantly & it's all very exciting.  Tickets have already gone on sale & are selling out like "greased lightening".  Please call the Impact box office on 07770914425 & mention my name.  Saturday matinee is always the first to sell out so if you are thinking of bringing kids get booking now!  It's all for a very good cause, firstly I'm in it :) & secondly we are supporting 2 amazing charities Future Dreams & Breakthrough Breast Cancer.  If you are interested in placing an ad in our souvenir programme/ brochure either on a personal or company level, please contact one of our brochure team, or call Daniel on 07780 602 618.  The show is likely to be seen by 1,500 people over five days and we estimate a total of 750 – 1,000 brochures will be handed out over this period.  THANK YOU!

Whilst writing I have to mention a gorgeous beauty salon in Harpenden my bestie Katie introduced me to last week - Total Looks is a mother & daughter run business & it really is very unique.  They do fantastic treatments, sell gorgeous products & as a very special act of kindness give away free beauty packages to women with breast cancer to help them to feel beautiful & confident during their treatment.  It is the most quaint special place so if you fancy being really pampered & treating yourself call them up for an appointment.

It feels good to know that my treatment is ending, but sadly the guarantee is not.  Whilst I may be at a lot lower risk of getting breast cancer than the average woman with her natural breasts, I'm still in the high percentage of getting ovarian cancer which is a lot harder to prevent.  So last week I was back at the hospital not in the breast clinic this time, but 2 floors down at the X-Ray department having an internal scan, which is not the most delightful way to spend an afternoon.. basically a camera on the end of a long thin stick wriggled around inside you.  Thankfully all was clear & my 6 monthly checks of my ovaries & Fallopian tubes is underway & the concern of needing them removed in the not too distance future is quietly looming.

Then Friday's fun trip out was to Harley Street to have the final stage of my nipple tattoo done at The Nouveau Beauty Group by Karen Betts 
Anyone who is needing any kind of cosmetic tattooing this is the place to go.  Obviously as my tattoo was for medical purpose & I have private health care my treatment was paid for, but not all women are in that position.  So If you have a friend, family or client who has had breast cancer or reconstructive surgery and would be interested in free nipple tattoo reconstruction, they do training days which offers this tattooing for FREE!  Thousands of women have these treatments after suffering from medical conditions, and for these people medical tattooing can help provide a solution to their changed appearance. This treatment provides a replication of realistic looking areola, which creates the illusion of nipple protrusion for clients who have had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.  People coping with illness or disfigurement often feel like they’ve lost their femininity, their confidence, their self-esteem so this treatment really can change their lives for the better – it helps restore appearance and confidence after having to deal psychologically with an altered body image, in addition to the effects of chemotherapy and surgery.  If you would like to find out more about the treatment, which is completely free of charge, please call Jordana at Karen Betts Professional on 0844 801 6838

Big thank you to my special friend Mel who accompanied me today & held my hand as husband had to work.

This hopefully marked the end of my treatment from diagnosis to date, a year in total.  Wow I had to just stop typing & take a moment to reflect with a lump in my throat....

WHAT A YEAR.....!!!!!

Today however I am fit & healthy, I'm singing, dancing, yoga- ing, pampering & blogging!

Keep sharing & checking ....


Friday, 4 October 2013

All things Pink!!

Hello friends sorry haven't been in touch for a while, I have been quite busy and have so much to share this month and it's only the 6th day in... 

My first big exciting news, after 3 weeks of intense, extremely nerve wracking and difficult auditions, we were finally given our parts to play in 'Grease 2014'.  Unfortunately I didn't get Sandy, I can hear you all "ahhhhh shame", but if i'm being honest it was never really mine to get, and as most people who have seen me perform previous will know, I do always end up playing the comic roles, aka the dumb blonde with the high pitched squeaky voice.  (NOT STEREOTYPED)  So get dates in your diaries folks as I will be playing the role of Frenchie in 'Grease The Musical' @ The Arts Depot Wednesday 19th - Saturday 22nd March 2014 with Impact Theatre Company for more information and if any of you know any men with a secret desire to sing and dance I think the male ensemble is still open for auditions!

As always everything I do has an alteria motive normally something to do with Breast Cancer and this is no different, we will be raising money from the ticket sales for 2 charities very close to my heart, Future Dreams and Breakthrough Breastcancer

Talking of Future Dreams and as this month is Breast Cancer awareness month 'PINKTOBER' I feel it's my duty to dedicate my blog to all things Pink, starting with the fabulous lunch I attended last week at The Dorchester Hotel.  'Dream A Dream' was organised by my extremely clever beautiful friend Pippa Collins & her amazing team 'Future Dreams' committee, who together with a lot of wonderful people raised over £265,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer & The Haven  Darling Pippa, Sylvie and Dan would be so proud of all your achievements and definitely read my blog.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer is a world leader in Breast Cancer research, and the money raised will go towards research into life saving treatments for secondary Breast Cancer.  The Haven is an amazing place where patients & their families can go for support and therapies that deliver encouragement, strength and real health benefits to aid recovery from a diagnosis and treatment from Breast Cancer.  

Now for the stats:-

Fact: 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime
Fact: Nearly 12,000 people die from Breast Cancer in the UK every year
Fact: 50,000 daughters, mothers, sisters & friends are diagnosed with Breast Cancer every year in the UK, that's the equivalent of 150 people every day or one person every 10 mins!
Fact: Currently in the UK there are over half a million people living with a diagnosis of Breast Cancer 
Fact: More women than ever in the UK are surviving Breast Cancer thanks to better awareness, better screening & better treatments
Fact: Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is an early form of Breast Cancer, (it's what I had) sometimes described as Anintra-Ductal or non invasive cancer.
Fact: Early diagnosis saves lives!!!!

I've said it before and I'm going to keep on repeating myself. so please TLC - TOUCH LOOK CHECK  go to the website for more information on how to check your boobies. you can also call the breakthrough breast cancer info line for free on 08080 100 200

Someone said to me when I mentioned I had to write this months insert, "I thought as you're better now you'd finished writing your blog".  I replied it's never finished.. I may be clear from Cancer, with no further treatment needed and no more hospital appointments (apart from check ups), but whilst there are people/women/family/friends around me who are fighting or at risk from this terrible disease, there is awareness to spread, money to raise and a blog to write.

So I'm back to hospital on Tuesday for a check up and next month for 2nd part of my nipple tattoo.  I'm not in any pain or uncomfortableness (apart from lying on my front during yoga), but as always some days are harder than others, and still a struggle mentally and occasionally physically.  I forget about things for a while and then when I collapse in a heap not knowing why I'm so exhausted and emotional, I remember.... 

Whilst writing I want to share some happy news and to say big huge congrats to my besties Lucie & Terry on their engagement, also Jo & Jason on their wedding next month, so much to look forward to..  

Finally a special PINK celebration for my oldest friends Joanna & Mark, on the birth of Baby Angel Mimi yesterday!!!!!!! So so happy for you and cannot wait for a cuddle.  

It is so wonderful to have lovely events to celebrate, it really does put everything into perspective and make it even more important to be healthy and well.

With love & all things Pink !!!! 


Thursday, 29 August 2013

The end is nigh...

I am now the proud owner of a tattoo!!! Ok it's not a cryptic personal message from my beloved engraved in a wreath of hearts, nor my little boys name written in Hebrew script, or even a spiritual meaningful colourful sign with stars, rainbows & the like.. No today I had my nipple tattooed.. ouch i hear you flinch.  Not the nipple itself but actually the area around it (Areola is the correct name).

I think I was more nervous for this today than any of my previous treatments, because I knew I was going to be awake throughout & definitely the thought of a needle, all be it a tattoo needle, piercing a very delicate area that has already got a scar across it, did frighten the life out of me.  That's the problem with the unknown, fear of the unknown is often worse than the fear itself (if you get what I mean).  In my thoughts I had built up this experience to be much worse than it actually was.  

My appointment was in a very nice cosmetic clinic in Harley street, by a lovely lady technician called Karen Betts (  After completing medical & consent forms she then matched up the colour to my natural nipple and drew it on with a lip liner, I then laid down and she began to tattoo!!! I was squeezing husbands hand so hard, crying, trying to zone out, control my breathing and relax all at the same time, when I realised I couldn't feel anything.  Well for most of it, there were a couple of stinging seconds and then it was done. Never have I felt such relief and the bonus prize is It looks like an areola/nipple.  Of course it's still doesn't feel like one (it doesn't feel anything or anyone as I've moaned & ranted about in previous blogs) but if I was to take up glamour modelling or decided for some inane reason I wanted to sunbathe topless (never again tooooo dangerous) I wouldn't look out of place or like a nippleless freak.. At last I look the same as everyone else...ish

Talking of sunbathing I have just come back from a week 'alone' in Spain!! My gorgeous generous kind unselfish husband sent me & I had a blissful few days relaxing in the sun with NO ONE TO LOOK AFTER!!  I mean by this the child was left at home (obviously not on his own) as was the husband & I had some precious quality time with my daddy & then some girly fun with my gorgeous friend Dani.

As I mentioned in my last blog I've been trying really hard to keep healthy & fit, by eating well & exercising, all part of my cancer prevention plan.  So last week I started 'hot yoga' which is amazing!! 
A bloody hard 90 mins workout in a very hot room, but my thighs are thanking me for it (most of you don't know but I have a bit of an obsession with thin toned thighs). is a gorgeous new yoga studio which has opened up 2 mins from my house, so I have no excuse, & I am trying to get my butt there at least twice a week.  

Whilst writing I wanted to take the opportunity to thank a few people (may as well do it publicly).  First and foremost as usual the most important man in my life 'husband' - big huge massive thank you for my 'alone' holiday, and also for being with me every step of the way throughout this tough, emotional, frightening journey. I couldn't of done this or come this far without you.. You are my rock, my hero, my love.

Secondly my parents & inlaws (my other mum), there are no thanks enough for the help, love & support we get from you all, especially with your grandchildren!!! So please know how eternally grateful I am with every babysitting chore, meal cooked & general overhaul of love & affection!

I also have to mention my fab hairdresser Lara ( who cut my hair off last week & as always made me feel like a new woman.. You have truly helped throughout my recovery more than you know, with our make overs & gossip sessions & your help looking after Harry when I've had no one else to ask. 

Lastly & as always my wonderful friends (you know who you are), just a general thank you for always being there, caring & supporting me in all I do.

So as I am nearing the end of this horrific experience, ( just one more tattoo touch up appointment in November & another follow up appoint with the hospital in October),  I can start to reflect on the past year & how it has changed my life dramatically.  

I can maybe start to live again without constant Doctor and hospital appointments, with a better outlook to the future & really start to enjoy all the good things that are coming my way without the grey cloud hanging over.  

However in no means can I slack for even a second when it comes to worrying, checking & helping to bring awareness regarding breast cancer.  It's everywhere, it's affecting more & more women & young girls every day!! It's an epidemic that is taking over the world!!! Male, female, young, old, Cancer doesn't care who you are, only you can care for yourselves and help protect your bodies!! 

Please check your boobs today.. Do it now whilst you're reading this, or in the shower tonight, or for a bit of fun get your partner to do it ;) Please just do it.. you could be saving your life!

Love, peace & healthy boobs...


Ps. Husband is taking part in 'Tri for life' next week, raising money for breakthrough breast cancer so if you want to sponsor him pls go to

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bikini bliss....

So today I write this in very different surroundings, I've just spent a blissful morning sunbathing on the end of a jetty half way out into the Mediterranean Sea, the warm breeze blowing my hair, & the hot Turkish sun beating down on me...  For the first time in a long while I was able to fully relax - mind, body & soul :)

For those of you interested in the bikini saga, you'll be pleased to know all is ok!!  A sigh of relief - I haven't let the fashionable people down.. Lol. Now don't get me wrong I would have my old boobs back in a heart beat, but as that is unable to happen, 2nd best is feeling happy with how I'm looking whilst sunning myself.  My bikinis fit well (primark rocks) whilst hiding a multitude of sins, my boobs actually look very pert.  A killer cleavage if I do say so myself..  All that worrying in John Lewis & trailing the Internet for post reconstructive surgery swimwear, for nothing.

The weirdest sensation is swimming, for some reason it's quite difficult as my chest area feels very tight in the water & even a few strokes are proving tiring & awkward.  There goes my promise of 50 lengths a day.. Ok so it was 30. I want to say huge big thanks to my lovely pool buddies Hayley & Nic nic for their words of encouragement & flattery every morning as I disrobe.

As you've guessed I'm on my well deserved holiday & having a truly wonderful time, the kids are behaving beautifully & with so much for them to do it's just fab.  The  best bit of all for me is not having to cook or clear up, it may sound ridiculous but for someone with my level of OCD, the fact I can walk away from a table full of dirty plates & glasses is heaven itself!

With only a few more days to go then back home to reality & the continuing saga of my story I have to face my next upcoming event -my nipple tattooing is booked in for a couple of weeks time.  I am generally very nervous about this even though my well inked husband has told me it won't hurt "that much!!!!" and the surrounding area being slightly numb, but with my fear of needles & obviously another trip to hospital (albeit a cosmetic one this time) I'm still feeling anxious & frightened.

Whilst writing this I can't not mention a HUGE congratulations to my oldest friend Sara & her lovely new fiancé Malcom on their engagement!!!  May the coming months bring you strength, hope & an abundance of love.. 

Also for any of you needing a little bit of inspiration in your life right now, including some healthy eating & way of life tips please follow my beautiful friend 'Chica Yoga' on Facebook, I'm using her to help turn my life around into a healthier, happier new & improved me, you can too!

So for now it's back to the sun lounger as got some work to do... On my tan :)


Sunday, 23 June 2013

Titty titty bang BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wikipedia: NIPPLE:-

In its most general form, a nipple is a structure from which a fluid emanates. More specifically, it is the projection on the breasts or udder of a mammal by which breast milk is delivered to a mother's young. In this sense, it is often called a teat, especially when referring to non-humans, and the medical term used to refer to it is papilla. The rubber mouthpiece of a baby bottle or pacifier may also be referred to as a "nipple" or a "teat". In many cultures, female nipples are considered an erogenous zone and it is considered a public indecency to uncover them in public.

It has been 3 weeks since my last op, & during this time I've been getting acquainted with my new body part.. Yes say hello to my little friend... Monsieur Nipple!

You may be wondering why I have taken to using the opposite sex to describe my new papilla, let's just say in comparison to the other one (my own original nip) it looks, how can I put this... BLOODY HUGE! & manly. There I've said it, & now when anyone sees me please don't worry I won't be offended if u want a look, or if I casually find you glancing at the area.. Roll up, roll up come & see the one nippled (is that a word) woman..

Ok I am slightly exaggerating it isn't that bad but compared to the other one, it's very different. But I guess you can't have it all, & I should be feeling grateful & lucky I've managed to keep at least one, & that they've managed to reconstruct a fake one for me. Fake being the operative word.
See above:-
1) no breast milk being delivered anytime soon :(
2) no erogenous zone being found or used anytime soon.. Booooooo
3) no topless flashing anytime soon.. As it would still be indecent for me to get them out in public - yeay 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Surgery was ok, recovery time was much quicker than before, & after a few days I was pretty much back to normal. Apart from being bruised & a bit battered (physically & emotionally), my stomach was black & blue from where they sucked the fat out. The nipple area is numb with no feeling or sensation anyway so that healed without any discomfort. It was my mind that took most of the assault this time, the healing process is definitely slower up there! but as someone once said to me "it don't go to your boots!"

I think going back into hospital where the first op was performed all those months ago brought back a lot of emotional baggage, not that it had ever gone away, it was just lurking at the back of my mind waiting to make the big debut & cause havoc... which is consequently what happened, home was definitely not where the heart was that week!

My recent bra & bikini shopping expedition was probably not the best of ideas, as the lingerie saleswoman in John Lewis could tell you. A full length mirror, no sexy, stylish, young masectomy bikinis on offer (there is a huge gap in the market if anyone wants to go into business with me?) back to Primarchė it is then... Found 2, great fit, shape & style for a bargain total of £8!

So mentally I'm doing better, physically I'm quite fine, I haven't been back to my Xtend barre class yet, which I'm devastated about but I don't want to push it. I kept off the dance floor at a party we went to last weekend, but - I was there, in a tight fitting dress, very high heels & feeling pretty good - it was dark no one noticed the nipple...

My scaring is pretty minimal (fab surgeon) & the lovely kind people at Bio Oil sent me a free sample :) so I will carry on using it to help improve the appearance of the scars & keep the skin soft & rehydrated, I've also started using it on my face to help smooth & tone, better than expensive face cream.

The next part of my journey is the nipple tattooing which is booked for the end of August, until then here's hoping for a little normality....

Friday, 31 May 2013

Just giving page

Made a mistake with hubbies just giving page - if you would like to donate pls go to 

Many thanks x

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Here we go again..

Thursday 30th May & 2 days to go before I'm back in hospital for the 2nd part of my reconstruction. For some reason I'm more nervous this time, even though I know it's a much smaller procedure, with a shorter recovery time & way less pain, but for some reason I have this worrying niggling feeling nestling in the depth of my stomach..

There is of course the anaesthetic to worry about, even though I will be having a lot less & be unconscious for a much shorter period, then there's the cost, as mentioned before my insurance company is only paying for the one breast! Then there's the recovery period at home with my little boy - what and how much will I be able to do?? So as you can see that little nub of anxiety floating around in my stomach/chest has every right to be there.

On the upside from Saturday night I will have not 1 but 2 nipples, woo hoo! & hopefully start to feel somewhat "normal" again...

Whilst writing I want to say a few thank you's. Firstly to my aunt Angela in Montreal for having us last week & what a wonderful time we had. My 96 year old grandma celebrated her birthday & 4 generations of us were there. Secondly to my mum & dad for supporting me in all I say & do - mum you are my right hand, my support system, my aupair, My ROCK! thank you for looking after Harry as much as you do & for always being there for us when we need you. Dad thank you for our special times together, our fun days out & for your constant love & affection. My wonderful mother in law Elaine, you surpass any stereotype & my appreciation for your help & love with our kids is endless.

Last but by no means least my wonderful, caring, supportive gorgeous FIT husband! I couldn't face another day without you helping me through it.. You truly are my bestest friend & I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do & put up with. Everyone please sponser my super athletic husband as he is taking part in the Virgin London Triathlon in July to raise money for Children with Cancer -

To all of you reading this now, thank you for your continued support in reading & sharing this blog, you are all helping to raise awareness towards a life without breast cancer :)


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Boobie saga part deux

It's been 4 months 6 days since my op & I'm once again back at the hospital for another check up & hopefully be given a date for the next part in my breast reconstruction.

This bit involves an overnight stay for the nipple to be reconstructed on the right breast & fat transference from my stomach & love handles (I requested that) to both breasts.

My smiley happy surgeon seems very pleased with my recovery & yeay can book me in next month, he suggests I have as little done to them as poss to reduce the risk of infection (so there goes the enlargement 'Katie Price' style tits I was hoping for... Damn!!!)

I've got one slightly bigger than the other (haven't we all??), so asked if he could even them up, he said with regard to recovery time, pain & reduced risk of infection (he keeps repeating this, slightly worrying) I should have as little surgery as possible done & not have them cut open again, so I'm listening to him, they're big enough as it is.. (well one is!!) Plus this fat transfer option sounds interesting & hopefully will even them up. Maybe I should ask him if I need to eat a few more cakes & chips this month in preparation???

I did however ask him again when & if the numbness was going to fade & if I'm going to get any feeling back ?? He said the same answer im sure he's said before, "probably not" . Oh ok then... He said something about over time the nerves in the top of the arm knit together first then work their way down towards the breast.. Husband made some joke about shaking my hand vigorously ... Ha ha bloody ha!

So Saturday June 1st I'm booked in & hopefully all will be a success - NO INFECTION!!

On another note I've started working out & enjoying a fab class called Xtend Barre @ The Wellness Centre in Welwyn Gardnen City - I absolutely love it & my thighs are thanking me too! The wellness centre is a fab place for anyone recovering from an injury or surgery, & want to have a personal hands on approach to fitness & well being.

This week i've also been working with the Future Dreams charity in getting their twitter & facebook pages up & running, so please follow us on twitter @futuredreamss & our fb page: FutureDreams Charity - for all the up to date information on exciting forthcoming events.

Whilst i'm on the charity buzz my friend Abi is doing a collection of old bras for .. you guessed it.. Breast Cancer! Now I know I have many a bra in my drawer which has never fitted or def doesn't now!! So you must have too, & by doing this you are helping to raise vital funds for dedicated research to improve detection and survival. BCR Global Textiles who help small businesses in Africa, are preventing valuable textiles going to landfill & giving them a new lease of life in developing countries across Africa, where bra's remain too expensive to produce. BCR are donating £1,000 to research for every tonne of textiles they collect, that's only 9,000 bras! With over 30 million women in the UK we could really help make a difference! When you Donate your illfitting or unwanted underwear it will be whisked away to start a new life on the other side of the world, where traders support their families selling textiles locally. Successful ventures like this keep many families in developing countries out of poverty whilst providing employment for people at home in the UK. Any bras that are genuinely beyond redemption are dismantled and disposed of properly. Pls contact for the address to send them too.

Last but not least a big huge thank you to the lovely ladies who made me feel confident, sexy & beautiful about myself again... Long time coming!! I had a fabulous day last week taking part in a glam photo shoot for the lovely Jaimie J salon - - using extension professional hair - - with photos shot by the very talented Leanne Benson -

Anyone thinking of having hair extensions this is who you need to see!

Whilst I'm writing I want to send big love out to my friend Lucy Pearl who is a massive inspiration to all that know her, & to tell her publicly how beautiful she looks!!!!

Have a nice few weeks & I'll let you know the outcome of boobie saga part deux!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Are you listening???

13 weeks since my op & pretty much everything is back to normal, well as normal as life can be beyond post preventative Breast Cancer surgery.

I use the term ‘beyond’ breast cancer in strict contrast to the term ‘after’ breast cancer. There’s no getting over it, pulling your socks up and getting back to before, because life as before isn’t there any more. At least, not the before that was before the word ‘Cancer’.

I just have to accept that now day to day life will involve that word. It will be there every day. It’s there when I bathe, it’s there when I look in the mirror, it’s my wardrobe, my sex life, it's in my conversations, on my twitter & Facebook, this blog & in the very depths of my being.

Last time I blogged I know I was whinging on about no one understanding how I felt & how everyone presumed I was all better just because I looked fine (amazing what a full head of highlights & a great mascara can do). I also said how I thought I needed therapy to help me through all of this, someone to wave their magic therapist wand & make me feel like me again. Well this time i'm gonna blog about still looking fabulous & feeling much much better with it, & i've only had one session! but in typical Joanna style that was enough.. let me explain..

I always presumed therapy was for people that needed help to talk about stuff, to sit & have a professional person do whatever it is they're trained to do to help people bring to the surface their deep dark thoughts that never normally get to see the light of day. Maybe they need this help because they have no one else to talk to, or maybe they just bottle everything up inside having done so for years & then find it difficult to open up & talk about what they're going through, their feelings, worries & fears etc..

That's not me.

As you've probably gathered I'm not one to mince my words, or find it difficult to share.. Never have done, if anything I find it hard to stop talking.. Like now!

So my first & only therapy session begins with me telling the very nice lady sitting opposite me my story, how I'm feeling, what upsets me, what worries me etc. The reaction I got was a room full of uncomfortable silence which caused me to babble on a bit more, until i've actually started to bore myself & she then tells me my time is up!

It probably would have been just as helpful to have sat in front of a mirror.

Maybe that's it, maybe I've counselled myself! What with this blog, my amazing husband, family & friends, the random emails & conversations with others in my position, friends of friends wanting to talk to me at parties, lunches, the street!!

Maybe I just don't need to share anymore, maybe I just needed to have the therapy to realise, I don't actually need it!

Maybe... Well I've got session 2 next week with someone else - just to make sure!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

10 steps forward.. 20 steps back...

Week 10 that's where we are.. It seems a lot longer, I can't actually believe how well I now feel compared to how poorly I felt only 10 weeks ago!!

Unbelievable how quickly the body heals, how quickly you get back to normal, how quickly you forget the intensity of the pain, that feeling of constant aching, soreness & weakness, all gone in a matter of weeks.

It's amazing how in such a short space of time your strength is restored, your bruises fade & normality seeps back into your life as if she was never far away..

However, what replaces all of that, what hits you like a ton of bricks & takes over your mind, body & soul in abundance, is a cascading waterfall of self loathing, worry, & general sadness. Something that can only be described as mental realisation, emotional breakdown, bitterness & anger. Feelings that were pushed far away so that your mind could cope with the physical pain & anxiety it had thrust upon it - now leaving it wide & open to be saturated with... depression.

Now I personally don't think I'm that depressed, ok I cry once a day, everyday, but only for a few minutes, & I still laugh at stuff on the tv or husbands jokes. I try to get on with stuff/life (even though some days it's bloody hard to even get out of bed), without anyone knowing what's going on inside, so I'm in fact hiding my real emotions, I'm bottling it all up & I know from experience that there's only one way for it to come out & it ain't gonna be pretty.

It was bound to happen, I think when you're actually going through something, something so traumatic & awful, when your actually in it enduring the pain & suffering, you tend to deal with it. It's a case of fight or flight - toughen up & face it head on with positivity flowing through your veins, helping you to cope mentally & physically. Or lay down & give up (not a chance).

Added to that if you're lucky enough to be surrounded by family & friends, looking after you, helping you, making a fuss of you. It tends to make the reality slightly blurred, slightly foggy, slightly un realistic. Then when you're faced with it again on your own that's when your actual feelings, the ones you were supposed to have, set in.

Sooooooo that's where I am, i'm going to take a stand & take advantage of the advice & help offered. I've made an appointment to start having counselling, because as strong as I think I am, I can't do this alone, I need a bit of help in taking those 10 steps forward again!!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Life goes on....

6 weeks & counting! Still living at my mums.. Thought I'd be strong enough by now & my house would be ready to move into but alas no. 1 more week to go then I'm on my own. No more grandma to help at breakfast (so I can have an extra hour in bed), no more grandma to help at bathtime (so I can go have a lie down before I fall down), no more grandma to help at 3/5/6 am wake up calls whilst I sleep soundly in the other room.. Tell me again why I want to leave... ??????

It all has to come to an end, we've been thoroughly spoilt with this help on tap & my poor mum is ready for a breakdown! So back to reality & standing on my own 2 feet.

Meanwhile i've been keeping busy as life still goes on - nursery runs, play dates & parties (a 2 year old with a very full social life), and me well I've been focussing on creating something positive out of this negative situation.. Tonight i'm off to a committee meeting for Future Dreams charity with regard to a big fundraiser they're planning, last week I had an interview with the JC newspaper 'telling my story' so hoping that will go to print, & also waiting on a call back regarding a media volunteering programme for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

However there still is no getting away from the fact only 6 weeks ago I had major surgery, I had a double mastectomy, & part of my body is just not my own. Pushing it to the back of your mind, or trying to be positive is fine, but even that's difficult to do 24/7. So I've made an earlier hospital appointment for Monday just to check everything is healing ok, as I think not, maybe I'm just being paranoid or over cautious, but as previous experience has shown me, better to be safe than sorry!

I just want to mention my new friend to be Bex ;) I know she's reading this, & writing her own blog - - "Everyday a positive thought" - Cancer really does affect us all in many different ways... sending strength & love your way, you incredibly brave girl!!

I know I keep saying it but please check yourselves girls & boys!!

Please read, follow & share these blogs, to help raise awareness in the fight towards a cancer free world.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Alternative therapies rock!

It's been 5 weeks today since my op & I'm happy to say i'm most definitely over the worst. This week for the first time I haven't felt that sore or achy, even though my boobs by 6pm feel like pumped up balloons ready to explode off my chest (swelling & fluid), & I get these random piercing shooting pains between the skin & implant (the nerves knitting together), but compared to how I felt 2 weeks ago it's bloody brilliant!

So today as there is no complaints, I'm going to tell you about the fantastic alternative treatment I've been having. The Lymphatic drainage massage at Chai Cancer Care in Hendon which I have mentioned before, is definitely helping to drain the fluid naturally back into my body, & my therapists soft gentle touch is just delightful. Who knew that your Lymphatic vessels are positioned just under your skin & feather like pressure is all you need to open them. Every woman should go for Lymphatic draining (or look it up on internet how to do it yourself), as lymph nodes are important in the proper functioning of the immune system, & rids your breasts of any excess fluid that can cause aches, pains, & who knows what else...

On Wednesday I had some spiritual healing by my very kind, beautiful friend Nicola Novack - - an experience which I can only describe as INTENSE, AMAZING & POWERFUL! After my treatment she gave me an Amethyst crystal (for protection) to wear at all times in my bra (whatever works). I highly recommend anyone who is poorly or just not feeling right no matter how big or small the problem, make an appointment & hopefully get some comfort.

The best news of all happened just this morning, for the first time since I said goodbye to him the night before going into hospital, I had proper cuddles with my little boy, a real body to body clench & it was wonderful. Those little things like carrying & hugging him that I took for granted, I have missed so much. Although I doubt he's noticed as everyone else has been so full on with him, but as his mummy it has been very hard on me.

As I'm feeling so much better I think I'll start driving again, maybe tomorrow.. my friends have had a baby & I'm desperate to visit them. Huge congrats mama & dada Swerin!xxx

Last & by no means least a massive thank you to my mum - best nurse ever! for looking after me & taking such good care of us, it's been emotional - but i'm soooooo looking forward to going back to my own (newly refurbished) home next week, how exciting!

Once I'm back home, back to reality & back to thankfully getting on with the rest of my cancer free life (until my next check up in 5 weeks), I can hopefully start to see this blip as a distant memory. In the meantime I will continue to enhance my being, whilst using the enjoyable, alternative, homeopathic & spiritual therapies, as they totally rock!!!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

It's all about me...!

Trauma affects people in different ways, some relish it, can't do enough, need/want to be close or involved, others feel awkward, useless & prefer to stay away. Perhaps they're going through their own trauma & don't want to burden, or perhaps they just don't want to be made to feel any worse.  Either way it's funny how the ones you want around are there & make a fuss & it makes you appreciate them & their friendship even more, & the ones that don't, well I have bigger fish to fry, more important things to think & worry about. I need to channel all my energies into coping day to day with the said trauma, whilst physically & mentally trying to heal.

So excuse me if I'm being a bit selfish at the moment but yes for now it is all about ME!

Anyway to everyone who is interested & does care.. I will keep you up to date with what's been going on, & my have I been busy!!

Firstly I went back to the hospital yesterday for a check up & my surgeon is very pleased. Everything's healing nicely, still a bit of fluid inside (hence why swollen & sore + I can feel the implants moving around.. YUK!!) but over time that will drain back into the body naturally, plus with the lymphatic drainage massage treatment I'm having at Chai Cancer Care (amazing place) it is starting to feel a lot easier.  Then once the Stratis mesh joins with my skin, the implant will slot into place & then the whole breast will tighten & lift. I won't have the actual results of what it's all going to look like for about 3 months, as that's when everything should be settled, but if I'm still not happy they can be tweaked!! That's also when they will make & tattoo the nipple, but everything has to be completely healed & in its correct place - heaven forbid after all this I should have a wonky nipple! I still have to keep doing my exercises 3x a day & to come back & see him in 6 weeks!

After hearing all of that I'm feeling slightly better, now knowing that shallow as it might sound, I could have half decent boobs at the end of all this :)

Secondly last week I had some FANTASTIC news!! For those of you that don't know I'm a bit of a drama queen.... "Who me??? Never!!!!!" well in more sense than one, I actually sing, dance & act, have done for years, fully trained from a young age & belong to an AMAZING amateur dramatics company based in Finchley called 'Impact Theatre Company' -

For the past 10 years (give or take a few shows) I have fulfilled my performance potential & loved every minute of it, with this fabulous & talented group of people, with this year being no exception.

To my delight I received an email from the director telling us that our next show which will be in March next year, with auditions & rehearsals to start in September is going to be.......... "Grease"!!!!!!!!!! Now to some of you this might mean nothing, I hear you saying what's the big deal?  But to those of you who know me well will understand this is a VERRRRY big deal, HUGE!!! Years of pent up Pink Ladies syndrome bubbling underneath the surface since the very first time I laid my eyes on John Travolta & Olivia Newton John in that 80's classic.. So to say I am beyond excited is an understatement.  Plus I have something to focus on & to be completely healed & physically fit for.

I have also joined 'Tonights the Night' charity committee, who in conjunction with 'Future Dreams' another charity close to my heart, both who do fantastic work to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, are taking on the fund raising aspect of the show, & together we are going to make lots of money, spread awareness & help strive towards a future without breast cancer!!!

Last but by no means least on Wednesday my gorgeous divine little chap turned 2 & we had a fab party for him at the weekend, with balloons, cake, presents, wonderful friends & the hugely talented Natasha @ Hartbeeps - who kept the littlens' & mummies gloriously entertained! Anyone who's thinking of having a birthday soon (obviously under the age of 5) you must book her!!!

As you can see I must be improving, but I'm going to carry on blogging, so please lovely people keep reading & sharing as this helps so many, but don't forget.....

Friday, 18 January 2013

Pamela Anderson eat your heart out....

Friday 4th Jan 2013 the date my life changed forever.  I wasn't a Cancer patient in the truest sense anymore.  I had just undergone a skin sparing double mastectomy & reconstruction.

After a 4 hour operation + 1hr in recovery I'm back in my room, I can hear talking, mobile phone ringing, I'm not really with it,  I've had an awful lot of anaesthetic, it's going to take a while to get over this.

I don't remember waking up in any pain, just a bit sore where the 2 drains are attached to me draining fluid, no bandages just plasters over the stitches on each breast.  Mum says all has been a success & the surgeon is very pleased.  There were no cells in my lymph nodes which is fantastic news, it means nothing has spread, will have to wait for results of the rest but he seemed confident everything removed was clear but they have to test just to be 100% sure. 

Now to follow 4 days of pain & pills, nurses & nightmares, sleeping & sobbing.. Extensive menus I had to fill out for meals which I couldn't eat, husband & mum bored out of their heads sitting next to me day & night, flowers, balloons, presents, phone calls, a few friends visits, then it was time to leave.

Back at my mums pretty much the same routine without the remote controlled bed & the button for room service.. still mum & husband doing a pretty good job running up & down the stairs, just without a uniform!

Few days in & the pain though not so intense has becomes more of an ache & a sore tender swollen sensation (which is still there 2 weeks later), mainly under my right arm where the lymph nodes were removed.  Thus coupled with 2 big heavy alien mounds planted on my chest, life has proven to be very uncomfortable, & hence why it's taken so long to type this latest blog, that & my mental state of mind (will get to that in a min)..  Plus the more I do the more it hurts, but with a 2 year old around it's hard not to pick up toys, or change a nappy.  Unfortunately pain killers don't really help so I kicked them & just took paracetamol. 

The worst bit was the crying constantly, I couldn't stop, I know the anaesthetic is partly to blame, but this was more than drugs messing with my head, this was deep rooted realisation & shock..  I hadn't prepared myself for all of this, the pain, the feelings I would encounter after the op, the questions I had, the boobs themselves especially the right one with no nipple! The overall general feeling sorry for myself.

Why was I feeling sorry for myself when I had survived this thing? There were so many people worse off than me who never had the chance to be at this point in the journey. It was an endless cycle of being cross and angry with myself, beating myself up for not pulling myself together, sobbing to mum, husband, friends, I needed to get a grip!

It's 2 weeks today, I've been back to see my surgeon twice & he's happy with my healing, the results back from the lab were clear, no further treatment needed.  The crying has subsided apart from the odd sniffle in the bath or getting undressed & I am faced with them.  Anyone who thinks as I did that you would have magnificent boobs after breast reconstruction due to breast cancer is naive. I had convinced myself that this was my 'gift with purchase', my 'silver lining' for going through it all. Reality is, they will never be perfect, but they will be ok because they will have to be, they're the only boobs I've got & they're cancer-free. I'm not going to lie, it's the most horrific, mentally challenging, saddest thing that I've ever had to experience, & my journey isn't even half way yet, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative!

A word of advice if you are considering this route, do not envision  Pamela Anderson, Elle MacPherson or any other perfectly chested woman you know.. Keep your expectations realistic, & be grateful that you are able to have reconstructive surgery, & that you're alive!!  Be thankful for family, friends, faith & health.  Try to stay strong, tough & brave - you will get through it.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Goodbye boobs...

This is weird, I'm at my mums in my old bed, last time I was here was the night before my wedding, also with a feeling of anxious anticipation, but obviously much much happier about the impending day ahead & not silently praying that all will be ok..

Saying goodbye to my little boy was the hardest thing ever, I practically sobbed the whole way in the car, it's not the leaving him, that I've done lots of times, but the thought that... well let's not even go there!

I have to be at the hospital by 7am, around 8 i'll be taken somewhere for a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, & then the operation is at 11, it should take a couple of hours, an hour in recovery & back in my room by 3pm.

So before I try & get some sleep, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my wonderful family & friends for their unconditional love & support. It's because of you all that I'm able to face this journey with courage, faith & humour.

To everyone reading & sharing my blog, a huge thanks as you are helping to raise awareness, and strive towards a future free from the fear of Breast Cancer.

Goodnight everyone & see you on the other side!