‘And now, the end is near…’

Well, the end is kind of near.

I have just started my last dose of steroids, as it’s the day before my last chemo session.  I never thought that I’d be excited to go and sit on the unit, but tomorrow should be THE LAST TIME.  I’m delighted.  I’m off to get my bloods done this morning and, as long as they come back okay, tomorrow I will be saying goodbye to the lovely chemotherapy nurses who have done such a great job.

Though my treatment is far from over, the ‘active’ part almost is.  One more session of chemo using the drug Taxotere (more about the evils of this later), fifteen sessions of radiotherapy and perhaps five boosters to follow it.  That is active treatment DONE. It will hopefully be complete around mid November.  After that it’s ten years of a drug called Tamoxifen, which basically shuts my ovaries down, as my tumours were pretty much the most hormone receptive they could be.  I also have to have Herceptin injections for the next year (I’ve had two so far – the first one gave me sciatica for three days and was not the most fun I’ve ever had) and maybe another drug called Zoladex, which is yet to be decided.

So, even though I still have a way to go, chemo has been the hardest part and I can’t wait to get this round done and recover from it.  Taxotere has been crappy.  The first round was the worst and it took me almost two weeks to recover from it.  Two weeks!  I was exhausted and couldn’t move from the sofa – some days I would wake at eight am and couldn’t move from my bed until midday at least.  That level of exhaustion is just bizarre, especially when you have physically done nothing to achieve it, and it’s as if your body won’t respond to your brain.  Your body isn’t your own at all.  Those two weeks were horrible and included a day in hospital at the infectious diseases unit, as I broke out in a mystery full body rash.  That was a great day out.  It was itchy and red and I looked like I’d rolled in a nettle patch.  I was on so many drugs that the doctors weren’t sure what it was.  I was so dehydrated that it took four attempts to take my blood and in the end they had to take it from the veins in my inner wrist.  Now, I’m not overly squeamish or a fainter, but I had to lie down for that one.  I jokingly asked the doctor if I could bleed to death if he took blood from there…his answer of ‘I hope not’ wasn’t the best.  Eventually I was sent home with some antihistamines and another week of steroids (I bloody hate steroids) which sorted me out.  So far we think I was allergic to the antibiotics I was on for a skin infection, which makes sense, as I was taking twelve tablets a day, a massive dose.  It cleared up and hasn’t made an appearance since thankfully!

As well as the attractive rash, I developed sciatica from my hip to my knee from my first Herceptin, which I’d had at the same time as the Tax.  I spent three days knocking back codeine, pacing around the house and yelping in pain.  That was NOT FUN.  I also developed a tongue like the poorly Triceratops in Jurassic Park and lost my taste buds COMPLETELY.  I tried to eat some sweets and it was like chewing a rubber tyre.  It’s not fun to try and eat when your mouth feels like sandpaper and you can’t taste anything.  Thankfully my taste returned and, though part of it disappeared on the second round, I could still taste some things and it’s back to normal now.  The first parts that tends to go are my salt receptors though, which is horrible.  I love salt.  I had a little cry over a roast chicken at one point and it has definitely confirmed that I really do love food as much as I thought I did.

Tax has also taken its toll on my hair, unfortunately.  I’ve kept up with the cold cap, and still have a good head of hair, though a lot more of it has come out.  It’s really thin on top now and I’m praying that I make it through the next few weeks without looking like a medieval monk!  My eyebrows and lashes are long gone, which is fine, because I can draw them on (make-up is my friend right now) but it’s still strange looking in the mirror to a bald face.  My eyes also weep constantly, or get really dry and sore, as I only have very teeny lashes that do bugger all to protect my eyes.  I still have the stubbly shape of my brows though, which is great as God knows what they’d end up looking like if I had free reign with an eyebrow pencil.  My face has ballooned too, which makes the lack of brows and lashes look even stranger.  They call it ‘Moon Face’ and that lovely side effect is down to the steroids.  I take such a huge dose with every chemo that they blow you up.  I feel like a big, lumpy potato at the moment and have put on weight very quickly over the last six weeks or so.  This is partly down to the steroids making me a crazed hungry person who just wants carbs for a week and partly because I’m too tired and achy to do much of anything.  I can’t wait to get exercising again, or, more accurately, have the energy to exercise again!

Apologies, as this has quickly turned into a rant against chemo, but hopefully you can see how glad I am that I only have to do this one more time.  I’m looking forward to a bit of a break before radiotherapy and also get to see my surgeon again in a couple of weeks, to determine any more surgery.

I feel like it’s nearly over and that really is an unbelievable feeling.



Chemo – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly…

Well, hi there!

I’m acutely aware that I haven’t posted in aaaages, so I thought I’d bore you all with the ins and outs of chemo.  Lucky you!

It’s been six weeks since I started chemo and yesterday saw the end of the first round of drugs, which marks the physical treatment being halfway through (though technically I’m half way after my three week recovery, which starts today.) I’ve tolerated it pretty well, with just a few rubbish side effects.  I’m hoping that the next round of drugs is as kind, though I’ve heard it can be pretty horrific.  I guess we’ll see!

So, as promised…the good, bad and ugly.


I’m not bald!  I’ve worn the cold cap three times now and still have a good head of hair, which I’m both crazily grateful for and is also driving me crazy.  It’s thinning a little every day, though some are worse than others, and I have one tiny little bald patch, but it’s doing really well.  It’s a bit like a game of roulette though…every time I have the drugs I’m exposed to the hair loss again, so we won’t really know until the end.  Some ladies see hair regrowth on the second drug though, so hopefully by the end of July I’ll be over the worst!

I recover after about a week, and am generally so grateful that I get a little bit manic.  I’ve raided Ikea, built furniture, painted fences and redesigned my garden.  Anything physical is good and, honestly, feels amazing!

I haven’t had a sore mouth or lost my taste buds (yet, anyway) which I was really dreading.  I do like fizzy drinks and carbs more in recovery week though…

No shaving!  I’ve had smooth underarms for weeks and my legs have gone the same way.  I’d be happy for that to carry on once treatment is done 🙂

Exercise!  I’ve been running a grand total of twice, though I’ve managed a non-stop mile each time.  I’ve really missed it and am hoping the weather gets better so I don’t have to worry about catching a chill and can go out more!  I’ve also been going to pilates for seven weeks now, which is helping me stretch out after surgery and is very good for my mental health – an hour or two a week of breathing and focus is really good for my brain.

Game of Thrones rewatch.  I’ve hooked hubby in now too.  Only on season two though, and I’ve not seen 4-6, so no spoilers PLEASE!

Weekend away!  We managed a little break to Edinburgh, where I got dressed up, ate gooood food, had a few beers and even managed to do something with my hair.  I felt normal and it was wonderful.  Big thank you to my gorgeous hubs for having a ball with me – roll on the next one!


As I said above, it takes me about a week to recover from what can only be described as the world’s worst hangover, without any of the fun before it.  Seriously kids, don’t do drugs, especially if this is what it feels like after.  Yuk.

Hair, again.  Yes, I’m insanely grateful to have mine left, but it also drives me bonkers. I can’t use anything on it (though I found a natural dry shampoo, which is amazing) and I can’t dry it, straighten it etc.  It looks decent for around 24 hours, then it’s scraped up and greasy, or shedding all over my house like a dog that’s malting.  Add to that the fact I feel like a bit of a fraud for keeping so much.  Meh, can’t win.

Fatigue.  The more the treatment progresses, the more tired I get.  Yes, I have good days, where I get loads done, but I’m not sure of my limits yet, so often tire myself out.  I need to learn to stretch out my activities better!


Look away now (though it’s not that bad…)

Hot flashes.  Just, ergh.  They make me panic and reach for my thermometer and then I look like a tomato for an hour or so.  I only get them in the morning so far…I hope that’s where they stay!

Nosebleeds and crusty blood bogies (sorry).  Again, not many, and they’re more annoying than anything.  Putting them down to low white blood cells. Plus a runny nose as my nasal hairs have done one!

Aches and pains.  Two days after my first chemo, I felt like I’d been hit by a car.  I’d like to say I was exaggerating, but I’ve actually been hit by a car, so could compare the two pretty well. It lasted for a few days and luckily I didn’t get it on round two, so here’s hoping it was a one off.

Chemo brain.  It’s tough to concentrate, especially in week one.  I’ve managed a lot of reading in my good weeks, but my writing is struggling.  Actually, it’s non-existent.  I have the ideas and I WANT to do it…I just can’t.  I’m also a bit dozy and forgetful, which I’m hoping is down to the fatigue and isn’t long lasting!  Oh, okay, so the doziness may always have been there…

Down days.  They’re a little more common than they were, but again, I think it’s frustration and tiredness.  I have a little meltdown at the end of my ‘bad’ week, but I’ve learnt to see that as the start of my good week!  I also get a bit down the day before the next chemo, knowing what’s coming and generally not wanting to do it.  But, I have no real choice.  I wouldn’t feel I’d fought my best battle without it, so I carry on.  Plus, I’m half way through now, so the light is starting to peek through at the end of the tunnel…


Okay, so ramble done!  Thanks for putting up with me as usual 😉


Two final things before I go and carry on with my Charmed marathon (Phoebe kills a crop top, my new style inspiration, ha!)

One – My Race for Life is on Sunday, so if you have a few pennies to spare, a donation would be greatly appreciated.  I’m running the 11am race, but have also been asked to open the 2:30pm race…scared but honoured!  Massive thanks to my gang and I can’t wait to see you all there!


Two – Cancer Research interviewed me and two other women about my blog (Shout out to Katy and Karina).  The Bury Times have published it online, so have a little peek if you can!



Lots of love,

Cyn xxx


Tommy v Cancer Blog Tour

Good morning!

A bit of a different post from me today.  I thought I’d give you all a break from my rambling to do something a little bit pro-active.  Let me explain…

If you’ve stuck with me since the start of this blog (God bless you if you have), then you’ll know that I found my cancer the day before I met my literary agent.  Well, another author, Tommy Donvaband, is currently going through the same, er, challenges that I am, only he has throat cancer.  There’s a hugely active MG and YA author/reader/reviewer community over on Twitter and they put together a blog tour to raise awareness and support for Tommy.  As an author, a lot of his income comes from talks and school visits, but the treatment he is receiving has robbed him of his voice.  So, the lovely Viv of Serendipity Reviews asked bloggers to review one of Tommy’s books and I offered to be included, as both books and cancer treatment are massive things in my life right now.

So, for my review, I read the first Scream Street book, ‘Fang of the Vampire.’  As a teacher of primary age boys, it was irresistible.  Without too many spoilers, Luke Watson, who is an ‘unusual’ boy himself, is thrown into a creepy neighbourhood, a place where vampires and mummies are the norm.  It reminded me of the Goosebumps books I’d been reading to my students before I finished work, and I kept imagining how I would read it to them…all dramatic pauses and loud bangs.  In fact, it’s first on my list of things to do when I get back to work – I can’t wait to see their reactions!

If you have a reluctant reader in your life, I recommend looking the series up.  It’s definitely a series for little ones to read with a torch under the covers, especially in this stormy weather…

I’d like to wish Tommy good luck and strength for the rest of his treatment…you can do it, though there may be days you feel like you can’t.

There’s some more info about Tommy and the blog tour below, but for now, I’m off for a nap.  Normal (ranty/moany) service will resume later in the week…

Tommy is the author of the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US.  His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform (winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award) for Barrington Stoke, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties (How To Books), and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).

Tommy lives in Lancashire with his wife and two sons.  He is a HUGE fan of all things Doctor Who, plays blues harmonica, and makes a mean balloon poodle.  He sees sleep as a waste of good writing time.

Website: www.tommyvcancer.com

Patreon Link: http://www.tommyvcancer.com/support/

Hair Today…

I did it…

pre-cut hair


bob hair


Saturday, 28th May 2016 was the first time in fourteen years that I had a short hair cut, and I LOVE it!  My hairdresser did a fab job and was very generous, refusing to charge me for the cut. I think she was just glad to have me out of the place in less than five hours!  The Little Princess Trust got 14 inches of hair, which was tons more than I thought! I played with different styles all weekend, as now the chemo has started, I can’t do anything with it if I want to keep it. (Meaning, I’ll need a wig just to hide the greaseball beneath, ha!)

Chemo started yesterday.  In typical me fashion, I also had an MRI on the same day, so was completely shattered from getting to and enduring two different appointments.  The MRI was the same as last time – read, boob holes – and it’s checking to make sure that my left breast was biopsied in the correct place last time.  When a biopsy of something suspicious is done, but not too suspicious (E.g.not a cancer with teeth and hair, like the Critters),they leave a little titanium clip in there for future scans.  As another biopsy wasn’t taken yesterday, I’m hoping that means they were happy with the placement and the correct part was biopsied last time.  I had a little panic as I slid into the machine, which didn’t happen last time, but this was more of an ‘Oh my God, please let it be okay, I can’t do this sh*t again’ kind of a panic.  I quickly snapped myself out of it, as I knew if I pressed the button to get me out, I’d cry.If I cried, the next time would be worse.

And I had chemo to be getting on with.

So.  1:30pm on Wednesday 1st June (I like that it started at a nice, neat number.  Does that make me weird?!) hubby and I rocked up to the unit where I’d be treated.  I met my oncologist and signed the consent forms, before going upstairs to the chemotherapy suite.  I’d already been with my mum on the Friday, so knew what to expect and honestly, I just wanted to get the first one done! No one knows what the side effects will be until they have it, so I’m curious to see how the next three weeks pan out, to be prepared for next time.

Anyway, I sat on a pink, squishy recliner, while my arm was propped on a pillow and a heat pack placed on the back of my hand in order to get a nice, juicy vein.  Thank God, as in my last procedure (fertility – let’s not talk about that one…) it took them FOUR tries to get the cannula in and that was before they sedated me.  Ouch!  This one went in nice and easily and I was hooked up to a bag of fluid, as the drugs can dehydrate you.

Then came the cold cap.  The nurse soaked my roots and then placed the cap, a fetching hot pink helmet, directly on to the wet hair.  It’s a similar temperature to a freezer and, true to what I’ve read, the first fifteen minutes were the worst and then you surprisingly get used to it.  The cap was pulled really tight, until I had attractive chipmunk face and jaw ache, and left on for half an hour before treatment.

Treatment itself, without sounding too blase about the whole thing, was a breeze!  I annoyed the nurse with questions as she squeezed four syringes of drugs into me (Two drugs, two VERY BIG syringes each) Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide.  The E-one was red and stung my vein a little, but the nurse massaged it when I told her.  The C-one was clear and very cold, so I got the heat pad back for that one.  There were no side effects as it went in, no dizziness or funny tastes, which I was grateful for.  I think my head was probably too frozen.  The cap stayed on for ninety minutes afterwards, so 2.5 hours in total.  We went home, I managed dinner and so far (touch wood) I’ve just been very tired, so my anti-sickness tablets must be working.  It’s very early days yet though,so anything could happen over the next three weeks.

I was sent home with a bag of ‘goodies’, which contained anti-sickness drugs, a medicated mouth wash and also some injections to stimulate my bone marrow to produce white blood cells and keep my immune system as strong as it can be.  I’m trying to help them along, having a handful of vitamins (C, D and B12) a freshly squeezed orange juice and green smoothie each day.  I’ve heard Manuka honey is great, as long as it’s 20+, so that’s on the list too!  

I did my first injection today and, as I dropped the spent needle into the sharps box, I started thinking about the statistics of cancer treatment.I can’t even imagine how much my treatment is costing, but my God, am I grateful for the NHS!!!  I’ve put together a little list below of my journey so far…


Hospital appointments: I’m guessing 40ish – I can only find letters for 30 but a lot have been phone appointments or booked in person.

MRIs: 2

Full body CT scans: 1

Surgeries: 2 minor (20-30mins, home same day), 1 major (8 hrs, 5 days in hospital).

New ‘foobs’: 1

Scars: 7

Injections given to myself: 53 so far.  Approx. 20 more to go (that I know of!)

Rounds of chemo: 1 down, 5 to go!

Number of anti-sickness drugs sent home with: 4

Radiation after chemo: 20 rounds, one every weekday for a month.

Revision surgery: 1 before Christmas.

Post-chemo drugs: 2.  Herceptin injections, once a month for a year and Tamoxifen tablets, 1 a day for 5 to 10 YEARS!


A hell of lot,right?

But here’s the best one…

Years left to live my dreams when it’s all over: Countless.



Next Steps…

Apologies for the radio silence over the last few weeks.  Mainly it has been due to the fact that I’ve had hardly any appointments and have been resting up and healing, which doesn’t exactly make for exciting blog content!  The visits to hospital have started to come in thick and fast again over the last week though, so the cancer merry-go-round is starting up again…

First, a surgery update.  I’m five weeks post-op now and feeling pretty much back to my normal self.  We’ve been to a couple of concerts, had a weekend away (in Wales, so not too far, but still gorgeous) and had friends round for tea and shenanigans.  I’ve had a ton of visitors, all who bring food (my kind of friends) or gifts, and I’m doing everyday things again.  I can even sleep on my side now, which is kind of a big deal.  In fact, last week when I first rolled over and it didn’t pull or hurt, the grin on my face was ridiculous.  Small pleasures, hey?  Oh, and I can stretch too!  Not a full, arms in the air, arched back stretch, but a decent one.  The first couple of weeks after surgery I would wake up and my body would do a tiny little kitten stretch, completely involuntarily, and it drove me mad, especially when hubs started to sing R Kelly lyrics at me…’My mind’s tellin’ me no…’. Those who grew up in a certain era, you get the picture!

Basically, I’ve healed ridiculously well.  My wounds were pretty much closed after week two and I’ve been lucky enough to have no complications with them.  The suture lines are neat and I’ve been massaging my scars and putting Bio-Oil out of business.  I’m really glad I went on a little health kick before surgery and kept exercising, though not as much as usual.  It definitely helped me recover very quickly.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my down days, where I’ve been fed up, cried, felt like I was looking at Frankenstein’s monster in the mirror, but I HAVE TO stay positive.  I have to thank whichever God is looking out for me that I’m alive, that I caught the bugger early and that the rest is now maintenance.

Which brings me to the next step.


Because I’ve healed so well, chemo is right up there on the agenda.  In fact, I start it two weeks today, on June 1st.  I’m pooing my pants, for want of a more sophisticated phrase.  It’s an eighteen week process, where the chemo itself is once every three weeks, which is called a cycle.  So, six cycles all together, one drug during the first three cycles and a second drug for the final three.  My oncologist (cancer specialist) has warned me that I might feel crappy for the days following the infusion (sounds like a fancy cocktail-is really not) and my immune system is going to be blown to smithereens.  She is hopeful that I will deal with it well, though I did wonder if she says that to everyone!  The middle week will be the one where I’m most vulnerable to bugs and infections and by the third week I’ll be feeling okay again, just in time to go back and get blasted again.  Yay!  I will get sore gums and ulcers and my hair might fall out – I say might because I’m going to try the cold cap, so there is a 50/50 chance I will keep it.  I will be tired.  I will probably be sick.  But I have to do it, because if I don’t then the cancer might come back, somewhere else, potentially somewhere worse.  And I do not like the idea of a death sentence hanging over my head, thank you very much.

The cycles will be finished by the start of October, when I plan to get very drunk and eat all the things I’m not allowed to have during chemo (sushi is one – grapefruit is another?!) Then, once my body has recovered from that, I’ll be having a month of radiation.  EVERY DAY, apart from weekends.  The good thing about that is I will be able to drive myself and it’s relatively quick with few side effects.  I’ll look into it more when the time comes, as my head is pretty full at the minute.

Weirdly, I feel better now I know it’s starting.  A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through my hospital paperwork for something and found the information leaflets for the chemotherapy drugs I’ll be taking (Taxotere and Epirubicin for those who are curious/in the know) and I burst into tears.The fear of the unknown is awful and I came downstairs to my husband, asking him hadn’t I already been through enough with surgery.  I am scared, but I want the first one out of the way so I know what I’m dealing with, then I can form a plan to deal with it.  So, that’s how I’ve been keeping positive; I’ve been making plans.  I have a chemo checklist of things which I’ve been ordering, for instance, all of the toiletries I will use once it starts are paraben free and I will only drink water that has been filtered.  I’ve started something called the Miracle Morning where I will take time to meditate, focus on my goals for the day and exercise first thing in the morning.  I’ve even started writing again.  Plus, I entered the ballot for the London Marathon – wish me luck!

Oh, and I’ve booked a hair cut.  I’m going for a longish bob (which I last had at the age of eighteen) and am going to donate the part I cut off to The Little Princess Trust, who make wigs for children having chemo.  I can’t think of anything better to do with it.  So, if you see me around a week on Saturday and I have short hair, please tell me how fabulous I look, even if I really look like I’m about to go and sing a solo with the church choir.

In retrospect, looking back over what I’ve just written, some of these things may sound vain or silly, but it’s helping me cope.  Knowing I’ll have a gentle shampoo that might stop some hair falling out keeps me positive. Ordering face cream that will stop me from looking like I’m a ninety year old bald man is pretty nice, too.  So, please don’t read it as vanity.  Read it as trying to keep hold of a normal life, and remember that I have to look at myself every day.

Before I go, I want to do a couple of shout outs.  I have a friend who I’ve known for a VERY long time, but who I don’t see that often.  She lives abroad and we’ve formed different friendship groups as the years have gone by.  I met her and another old friend two weeks ago and she gave me a card, filled with donations from people, some of whom I haven’t seen in years.  She had set up a ‘secret group’ to fund me getting a decent wig, should all of my hair decide it’s had enough.  It was so overwhelming that I haven’t gotten around to saying thank you to everyone who contributed – it’s a very strange feeling to be on the other side of fundraising – so THANK YOU to Katrina’s secret wig gang.  The fact that you are even thinking of me is very humbling and I feel very blessed.  Thank you.

The second one is to my lovely work colleagues.  I was visited by the lovely Lucy, present genius, last week and they had bought me a beauty set that has been specially formulated for people having chemotherapy.  It’s gorgeous.  If you know anyone in the same situation as me and you’d like to get them something to ease them through it, have a look for Defiant Beauty online – I was over the moon with it.  Thanks BGSB, I miss you guys!

Last one now – promise.  My gorgeous family and friends, I love you.  Thanks for cooking Sunday dinner, visiting me with food and flowers, watching movies with me and texting to check how I’m doing, even when you’ve got your own stuff going on, like giving birth.  You’re all wonderful.  Thanks most of all to my hubby, for putting up with me, for making endless cups of tea and learning how to use the oven 😉 For telling me I’ll be fine and for wishing you could protect me from it all.  You are the best and, despite cancer, I know I’m a very, very lucky woman.

If you’re still with me through the vom-fest above, wow, well done you!  I’ll post again soon now things are rolling.  Just a reminder about RACE FOR LIFE to people who have been asking – if you want to register for the 5k on Sunday 17th July, if you do it through the link below you’ll automatically be entered into my group, so we can all run (walk, hobble, etc.) together.





Home, healthy and healing.


First of all, let me say a huge THANK YOU!  The amount of support and good wishes I’ve had over the last few weeks has been amazing, and all the positivity has certainly helped me through the last ten days, so, thank you.

It has been nine days since I went in for surgery and the time has flown by.  The morning of the surgery itself was pretty scary, but I was more worried for the people around me than for myself, if that makes sense.  After all, I was about to spend eight hours in an induced sleep and wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.  Everyone else, however, had to wait.

My (beautiful, wonderful) husband left me at the theatre doors.  Looking at his face as I was taken in, I was so close to telling the nurse I couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t really want to do it.  I haven’t chosen this path for myself and I’ve never had major treatment for anything.  In short, I was terrified.

I spent a lot of the time during my pre-op trying not to cry, mainly because I knew if I started, I wouldn’t stop.  I’ve found that the waiting around has been the worst bit.  As soon as a health professional enters the room and I can ask my questions, or be talked through the next step, then I’m fine.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m one of those patients who wants to know everything.  I know not everyone wants the details, but I found it has really helped to be prepared.

Anyway, once I was taken through the double doors, I was given a gown and asked to change, turn my phone off and put my things in a locker.  I locked myself in the little changing room and text my mum and husband, telling them I loved them.  My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t wake up from the surgery and I would leave them behind.  How I didn’t cry then I have no idea, because I’m sniffling just writing this!  I’m forever grateful that it all went well.

Once I was changed, I saw the team that would be operating on me.  They were wonderful, and once I made the anaesthetist promise that he would keep me asleep until it was over, and then wake me up, I was ready to go.  Due to my op being so long, I had to go straight into theatre.  That was scary, but when I saw the amount of people who would be working together, I felt better about it all.  There was no going back now.  A cannula was inserted on my hand and I was given something to make me feel spacey.  I got settled on the bed I was on and that was it…

I woke up at around 5:30pm.  I had been dreaming (about what I sadly don’t remember, as I bet with all the drugs in my system it would’ve made a great book) and remember being annoyed I was waking up, until I remembered what I was waking up from.  I think I smiled from that second on for the rest of the evening.  Once I’d come round, I was wheeled to the ward, where my mum and hubby were waiting for me.  They’ve both said since they couldn’t believe how with it I was!  Apart from being a little sick, I was fine, and they both got to stay with me until visiting hours were over.  I was genuinely just happy to be alive!

My first couple of days are a bit of a blur now, especially the first night.  I was exhausted, covered in a special blanket that was heated to twenty eight degrees and attached to a heart monitor, a drip, four drains full of absolute ick coming from various areas of my body, and the worst, a catheter.  My stomach wound and new breast had to be checked regularly – in fact, for the first twelve hours, my breast was checked every 30 minutes.  They used a little ultrasound wand called a Doppler, and I soon learnt to listen for a whooshing sound.  That noise meant that the blood vessels that had been stitched together during microsurgery were working properly – if that sound wasn’t there, then the blood wasn’t flowing well and I might have to rush back to surgery.  I did NOT want that to happen!  The nursing staff who looked after me for those first, critical 48 hours were nothing short of amazing.  I never once felt worried or in pain and I was able to chat to them whilst they were checking my blood pressure and whatever – that made such a difference to my stay.  The next few days I was up and about, shuffling down to the shower room and sitting in my chair instead of the bed.  My hubby visited every day and by Sunday, just five days after a major surgery, I was allowed to go home!

Our house has never looked so beautiful, let me tell you.  Home really is where the heart is. Since I’ve been back, I’ve improved every day.  I’m almost standing up straight (because a chunk of skin was removed from my stomach and I was stitched back together, it has to slowly stretch itself out to cover the area, so I’ve been really hunched over) and I can potter around the house.  I’ve read a book, watched movies and rubbish TV, eaten lots of chocolate and generally feel pretty good.  In fact, I’ve only taken two paracetamol so far today!

So, right now, I’m looking forward to getting back to myself and having a bit of a break.  I had my dressings changed on Tuesday and got to see my wounds – they’re pretty big but not too bad.  The one on my stomach is hip to hip, but neat enough, and once I’m all stretched out it should be hidden pretty well.  I have also got the flattest stomach I’ve ever, ever had, and cant stop looking at it!  As vain as it may sound, I can’t wait to go shopping when I’m well enough!  Poor Tallulah took a bit of a battering – her legs were chopped off and she’s much further down my body, so  I’m planning a cover up as we speak.  My breast looks pretty amazing too.  It’s a little bigger than planned, and a bit bruised and swollen, but it looks like me.  All my skin is still there, apart from the nipple, which looks a bit strange, as my very pale stomach skin is there instead.  I still have a couple of procedures to go, way down the line, to make them match, but all in all, I’m delighted with the results.

The cancer has GONE, I’m healing well and I am happy.


Murphy’s Law.

You know the saying, ‘What can go wrong, will go wrong’?


Let’s start at the beginning. Last time I checked in, I was prepping for a small surgery. Well, that went without a hitch. Honestly, the worst bit was all the hanging around before hand (I arrived at hospital at 8:30am and was operated on just after 4pm😴). I had a radioactive injection (!) and then sat in the day patient waiting room, until I was called in to get changed. I donned my glamorous gown and a very fetching pair of bottle green compression stockings, before being walked to theatre. I lay on the trolley, had a cannula inserted into my hand and took some deep breaths. 

Then I woke up. All done and feeling nice and fuzzy. I’ve never been so relieved! I took a few days to get back to normal, as the anaesthetic really kicked my ass in terms of tired/wibbly-ness, but now I just have a small incision under my armpit. I took the weekend to recover and geared up for appointment with my surgeon on Monday morning.

Which is where Murphy’s Law kicked in.

I arrived at The Christie with my hubby and we were seated in a little room to wait. I was already pretty anxious, after all, this would be the last time I’d get to chat with the surgeon before the actual op, so the fact that hubs decided it was a good idea to have a rummage in the supply trolley didn’t really help… Anyway! We waited for a little bit and when the surgeon arrived he had bad news.

He wasn’t allowed to do the operation and, to be completely fair to him, he was not happy about it.

I still don’t know how I felt at that moment. I nodded and asked questions – hubby was pretty mad. Essentially, it boiled down to politics between hospitals. Two surgeons would be working on me on the day, one undertaking the mastectomy and the other performing the reconstruction. They come from different trusts but have worked together in the past, so there never seemed to be an issue. This time, however, only one hospital would be paid for the procedure-and it wouldn’t be The Christie.

So they cancelled my surgery.

I think I’ve been through the full range of emotions since then. I’ve been so angry I could have set several small fires (erm, not really for any law enforcement people reading), I’ve cried, I’ve had the ‘Why is this happening to me’ rant. I just couldn’t believe that a hospital that prides itself on its excellent standards of care, would cancel something that I have now found out is classed as an emergency operation. Emergency. As in, life saving. As in, if you don’t get this shit out of me ASAP I’m going to be a very poorly person. I kept thinking, if this was a book, or a movie, I’d find out the name of the person who wouldn’t sign for my surgery and I’d go round to their house. I’d show them that I’m a good person, that I deserve to have this surgery and they’d be won over by my passion and my sassy attitude. Then they’d sign the paperwork with a pen I just happened to have handy.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work like that.

So, what now? Well, I’m glad to say that my consultant is the most organised man ever. By Tuesday morning, he had me booked in with another surgeon at another hospital, which I’m delighted to say is one of the best in this field. They have women from all over the UK there for this kind of surgery 3 or 4 times a week. When I got the call, though, I cried after. The surgery is a day earlier than planned, which I now know is amazing, and they have gone above and beyond to accommodate me, but I initially felt like I was losing a day of normalcy. It’s scary to think that my body won’t be my own for a while and I hate the thought of being so dependant on people, but I’m so grateful to those who I know I can depend on. The thought that some people go through this with little or no support breaks my heart, and I know how fortunate I am. Unfortunately for them, I also know how stubborn I am, so apologies for being a nightmare in advance!!!

So, Murphy’s Law…what can go wrong, will go wrong.

But I’d like to make an amendment to it; Cynthia Murphy’s Law. What can go wrong, will go wrong…but there will ALWAYS be a solution. Otherwise know as Serendipity; Finding something more suited to your needs without looking for it.

I met my new surgeon this morning and he was brilliant. He even has the same surname as my brother and sister-in-law, so that has to be a good sign! I feel more confident about this surgery than I ever have and that, in itself, is a blessing. All of those prayers and positive energies are doing their thing, so keep them coming for Tuesday please!

I have some lovely plans for my last pre-op weekend and fully intend to enjoy it, I hope you all do too and thanks for reading…

Cyn x

Making Plans.

Everyone who knows me well, knows I LOVE a good list.

My husband calls them ‘Power lists’ (my maiden name is Power☺️) and I write them for everything. Work, writing, trips. I particularly enjoy writing lists of things to pack when we go away. I even – don’t judge me – often write something I’ve already done, just so I can tick it off and get that lovely feeling of accomplishment.

If you’re a list writer, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you’re not…as I said, reserve the judgement until you’ve had a go!

I have been thinking about the future a lot recently. Natural, I suppose, when you find out you have a long slog ahead. The holiday we had booked for July has now been cancelled. The one we were planning for October is looking very iffy. So, guess what’s first on my list, post-recovery?

One bloody brilliant holiday.

That’s a while off though. I do have a few other things on my list before that, but for once, I can’t bring myself to jot them down. I don’t know if it’s because if I do, they will seem real, or if it’s because it might be one list I don’t enjoy. There are two things I would like to share though, as they are a couple of the positives that are keeping me up at the moment. They are my way of taking control during a time when I am being physically and mentally pushed and pulled, like one of those Stretch Armstrong toys I know you had as a kid.

First; I’m going to cut my hair. I have had long hair for agggggges-I think the last time it was anywhere close to shoulder length I was eighteen (which is longer ago than I’d care to admit, people). It’s been blonde, red, brown, pink…but always, always long. 

A few months ago, one of my best friends cut off her long hair and did something wonderful – she donated it. There are various charities, one called the Little Princess Trust, who take donations of long, healthy hair and turn them into wigs for children going through chemotherapy. I thought this was the most wonderful thing I’d ever heard and I’ve thought about it many times, though in all honesty, my vanity kept me from doing it. Who would I be without my hair?! Now that choice has been taken out of my hands, I feel like I need to do something useful. So, once I’m recovered from surgery in a month or two, I am going to go and get the trendiest haircut I can possibly manage, donating the length before the chemo drugs can get to it. And you know what? I feel pretty good about it.

Second; I’m going to enter the race for life. My sister is already doing it and last week I had a gorgeous message from a girl I did drama at college with, who now lives miles away. She said she was training for her local race and asked if she could wear my name. I got this as I was walking into a hospital appointment to get the results of yet another biopsy, so I was really moved. Thanks HA, you really made my day!

Our local run is in mid July. I should be fully (?!) recovered from my surgery by then and on my second or third round of chemo. I had signed up to run the Manchester half marathon in October (that’s still on the list…let’s see how I go😳) so this would be perfect for me in between. It’s 5k, so if I can’t run it I will certainly walk it and I’m hoping that setting a date to do something physical after surgery will get me up and about when I’m feeling a bit rubbish. If any local ladies reading this would like to sign up and do it with me (or race ahead and meet me for a coffee at the end), please get in touch and let me know. It could be a really fun day out to look forward to.

(NOTE: I’ve just signed up (no backing out now) and got the option to set up a group. If you would like to join me, follow the link below and sign up for Sunday 17th July at 11am. If not, wish me luck!!!)


Just a quick note to say I’m not sure when my next update will be. I have a small operation tomorrow (a sentinel node biopsy for those of you ‘in the know’) and I’m planning to sleep the day away on Friday! It could affect my arm mobility for a few days, so I can see a lot of movies and no typing in my immediate future. I’m slightly nervous, as I’ve never been put to sleep before, so I’ll be very happy when I wake up!

So, that’s my list for now. I feel a bit better after writing it down, so maybe I’ll break out the post-it notes later…

Love yourself!

This last week has been a pretty good one as, after a bit of a scare, I got the all clear on my left breast. All those prayers and positive thoughts are clearly working, so keep them coming please!  So, sorry to disappoint, but no rants this week.

Well…not many 😉

I started the week meeting my surgeon at The Christie in Manchester. I’ve said this before, but the fact that I have such outstanding, world-class cancer care on my doorstep is amazing. I thank my lucky stars for it every day. My surgery is now booked in for mid April and even though I’m mildly terrified about being cut open for eight hours, the things they can do are amazing! I’m having a procedure called a DIEP flap, where the excess fat from my stomach will be cut out and used to rebuild my breast…as a result I’m under doctor’s orders not to lose any weight, so Easter weekend couldn’t have come at a better time! If you see me around over the next couple of weeks, I will probably have a piece of cake in my hand.

This procedure has really got me thinking about my body. As a woman (well, I think as anyone who is inundated with media’s obsession with perfection) I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. I like my eyes but I hate my nose. I have slim arms that tone up fairly quickly but a stomach I generally hide. I have cellulite on my thighs, broken veins on my left foot…I could go on. Over the last year and a half I started running, mainly because I never could and I felt like setting myself a personal challenge. The process was fairly slow but by this January I could run five miles, which I was bloody delighted with! The result was that I became prouder of my body than I had ever been. I could see how strong it could be and, even though I still had those bits I really didn’t like, for the first time I went on holiday in a bikini and was comfortable. When I look back at that holiday I am insanely grateful, as the next time I do it I will bear the scars of my surgery.

The scars don’t really bother me that much. The one on my stomach will be pretty huge, but should be hidden below my bikini line. If it isn’t, I’m already looking at tattoos that will cover it beautifully. Any excuse for some new ink! In the process of the operation though, I will lose my first tattoo. I got it when I was seventeen, young and silly, and not much thought went into it. It’s absolutely crap in all honesty, but I love it. She’s a fairy, called Tallulah, and after surgery she’ll be gone. I won’t go into more detail for those of you who are queasy (like my lovely hubby, who pales at the mention of the DIEP procedure) but if you’re curious, google it…it’s amazing!  The loss of my tattoo may seem insignificant compared to losing my breast, but as I’m opting for an immediate reconstruction, it won’t be as obvious. My stomach, though it will now be flatter than it has ever been naturally, will be bare, and the tiny fairy that has decorated it for the last fifteen years will be in a surgical bin somewhere. And strangely, I find that really, really sad. 

I think I’m rambling now, but here’s the point-love your body. Look after it. If you’re not happy with it look at why. Some things you can change through diet and exercise, IF YOU WANT TO, (though I urge you not to jump on faddy bandwagons but do it all healthily) others you can’t. Try to love them anyway. Stop looking at Beyonce’s abs or Kim K’s arse, those women work out as a full time job. Your body is a magical, wonderful thing that you have been blessed with. I can’t help looking in the mirror at the moment, wondering what I’ll look like in a few months time. I will be scarred, one nipple will be gone the same way as Tallulah and I may even be bald. But you know what? I’ll be alive. My scars will be testament to the fact that I beat cancer, I will be a tiger who has earned her stripes.

And come summer, I’ll be flashing that newly flat stomach to anyone who wants to see it, scars and all ☺️

Facing the future.

I can’t believe the response my first blog post received on Monday. Thanks to everyone who read it and those who shared it – it was read over 1000 times in less than 24 hours and has had almost 1500 hits up to now. If it helped anyone in any way, it was worth writing.

This last week has been a long one. I’ve had appointments every day, ranging from discussions about surgery to fertility stuff, which, to be honest, I’m not too comfortable talking about. One thing I will say on that is please, please think before you ask a couple of a certain age when they’re going to have kids. It’s never been on my agenda, apart from knowing I wanted to do it one day. Well, that option might be lost to me now (odds are it won’t be, but chemo can leave you infertile). It’s not a nice question to ask anyway, in my opinion, and if I am ever asked that question again I will quite bluntly tell that person EXACTLY why I don’t have children yet. Then I will politely request that they shove their question where the sun doesn’t shine.


I’ve been in and out of hospitals (four in total) this week. I’ve had blood tests, been shown how to give myself injections and had to manoeuvre myself into the boob holes of an MRI machine. I’m sure there’s a fancy name for that, but boob holes does it for me. I’ve got to admit, I laughed out loud when the nurses showed me how to position myself for that one! On Thursday I visited The Christie in Withington, which is a world renowned cancer treatment and research facility. I sat there in the waiting room, the youngest person by at least 30 years, and thanked my lucky stars that I had this place on my doorstep, on the NHS. I met with my oncologist, who left me feeling incredibly positive. Everything I’m facing in the next six months is designed not only to get the cancer out of me, but make sure it doesn’t come back again. With that in mind, I felt like I could tackle this head on-it would be six months of crap but I would come out of the other side healthy and well. 

Thursday was a good day.

Then Friday burst my bubble a little bit. I went for a pre-op assessment, as I should have been having a small surgery on Monday, where they remove a couple of lymph nodes to be certain the cancer hasn’t spread. Whilst I was sat waiting, one of the Macmillan nurses appeared and took us off into an empty room. The MRI had shown up something in my left breast that needs further investigation. After weeks of research and reading and feeling I have come to terms with what’s ahead, this was a total curve ball. I’ve already had the left side biopsied, something that took two attempts as I passed out the first time (that has NEVER happened to me before) so I’d thought it was all clear. I was half deflated at the thought of going through it all again and half happy that they had seen something and want to be certain what it is before making any big surgical decisions. My doctors are certainly on the ball.

So, last night I went out for a few drinks. Then, a few more. I spoke to some people who are close and who know what to say and when to let me talk and when to change the subject. I even spoke to someone in a really similar situation to me and my hubby and I think it helped us both a little. And that was nice-it really helps. When it’s on my terms. 

But I also spoke to some people who wanted to tell me how worried they were about me even though they barely know me and their stories of family member having cancer and the hard times they’ve been through. Now, that’s fine. I’m a nice person who will help others in any way they can, but let me give you a piece of advice; do not be that person. Do not be the person who wants sympathy and advice from a person whose world has just been dropped from a great height. Yes, I’m positive about things, but that does not mean that you can offload your stress and worry onto me. I’m tired and I will probably tell you to feck off. By all means, ask me how I’m feeling. If I want to discuss it, I will. But don’t tell me about your mate/granny/second cousin twice removed who lost their fight and certainly don’t make me reassure you that I’m not going to die, FFS. 

So, apologies for the rant today and please don’t take it that I’m a miserable cow who doesn’t want to talk to you. I’m not-there’s just a hell of a lot going on at the moment! Thank you for the outpouring of love and support this week, I’ve loved hearing from people I haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s an amazing feeling to know so many of you care.

Just don’t tell me about your uncle Frank’ mate who died a miserable and painful death, okay?!