Sunday, 19 June 2016

Cancer Survivor day

Today is cancer survivor day so what better day to write a post update. It's been six months since I last wrote and in just six months a lot has happened. 
Firstly I want to say if you are a cancer survivor then well done! You did it! You beat the big C, the biggest shit of all shits! If you are fighting cancer right now then I send out so much love to you right.  Keep fighting and stay strong and positive and know that you can kick its arse! 

I feel like a cat who has nine lives. I honestly didn't realise how lucky I was to be alive until I got two messages off friends who had lost their friends to breast cancer and had exactly the same type as me. I've always been a little laid back about stuff in the past and was convinced I was invincible like most young people do and even today I still have to remind myself how lucky I actually am to be here today. Even when I had cancer I was never scared that I wouldn't beat it. I'm not sure if that's a bit of ignorance on my part though as I hadn't experienced anyone close to me having or dying of cancer. I was never going to give up though and knew the only way was to try and stay positive and get through it.

This year I decided to go to Thailand to do some animal volunteer work. I'm a approaching 37 this year and with no family of my own I started to feel a little lost. I'm what some of you may call a free spirit or nomad and haven't settled down, found a husband, had kids or even gone for the big career path. I move around a lot, like to try new things, see new places and meet new people. I guess my biological clock is ticking now and even though I'm not the biggest maternal person it's definitely in me and as a woman I think it's naturaly kicking in. I started to feel I was lacking a sense of purpose to my life in the last year. After I gave up my vintage shop and split from Joe I couldn't seem to find my way back to what I loved. I had a few years of stuff I felt I had to grieve and there was still a lot deep inside I really hadn't sorted out emotionally. The last year has definitely been about that and I am feeling a 100% better compared to last year. Anyway I digress, so this sense of purpose I was lacking and not being able to get back into what I loved I decided to go and help animals. I've always been a huge animal lover. I turned veggie when I was nine and probably prefered the company of animals to humans quite a lot. I have been working in a pub on and off for 2 years and was starting to get tired of people. It can be a very draining job, especially for women and as all women barpersons know we put up with a lot of shit! If your not emotionally 100% it can be the worst job in the world. 

I did one last photo shoot for M&S the delay before I left, which was great! A little bit of glamour before I was shovelling animal shit in 40 degrees heat!

SO off to Thailand I went. Six days a week, six O'clock morning starts 7 hours in 40 degrees heat it was no easy job BUT I loved every minute of it and was the happiest I had been in a while. It felt amazing to help injured and homeless cats and dogs. It was the most rewarding thing I had ever done. Here was my new sense of purpose! 
It was tough though to say the least. I knew the day would come when one of the animals died on me and it's heartbreaking to see the conditions some of these animals came in. I was looking after a kitten call Smelly. He was indeed very smelly and was an absolute mess when he was found. He had no life in him and looked like he just wanted to give up. I started to clean his matted hair up. He was a long haired kitten and had dried muck all over him. One day I got a tiny meow out of him. I was over the moon and felt like I was doing a great job caring for him. One morning I went to feed him and I found him lying incredibly floppy in his cage. I picked him up and he clearly had no life in him. He had suddenly deteriorated. I ran and got the vet. She tried to find a vein so she could attach a drip but he was so skinny that it was impossible to do. He was not going to survive without it and so she had to put poor Smelly down. I was absolutely heartbroken and it took me a few days to get over it. I just had to take comfort in that I looked after him as best I could and cared and loved him for him in his last days. 

 That was one of  the sad stories. There were extremely good and rewarding stories too like the kitten Forrest I looked after. She was the tiniest and most terrified little thing I'd ever seen. She had no use of her back legs and one of her eyes lids didn't work. The vets were not sure why so we just made sure she was fed, looked after and healthy. Each day she would be less terrified and more confident. She would drag herself along and just about manage to use the litter tray and get in and out of her bed. She was absolutely adorable! She was fit and healthy enough to come out of isolation and one of the volunteers looked after her in their room. I had been away from the welfare for a couple of weeks and when I went back I couldn't believe my eyes! She came running out the door and ran all the way up the balcony like speedy Gonzales! She was using both her back legs again!! It was the most amazing site and I was overjoyed with happiness for this little kittie! She had turned from terrified and dragging herself around to confident and wanting to race around everywhere! This was one of the great stories!!

So, my nine lives..... Well after one of my weeks working Thailand had hit the hottest temperatures that had ever reached in over 50 years! I'd finished my last shift of the week and bicycled back home 2 miles in over 40 degrees heat. I didn't have an air con room and the tide was out at the beach and very rocky. I was desperate to cool off somewhere. One of the guys who was staying in the same guest house was riding over to Long beach where there was lots of beautiful ocean to swim in, so I jumped on the back of his scooter.  I cooled down with the longest dip in the sea, watched the sun set and headed home. It was rush hour on the island and the guy riding the bike was overtaking. A Tuk Tuk pulled out in front of us and the next thing I knew I was lying on the ground with lots of people surrounding me. I must of passed out again as then woke up in a clinic. I was being asked where I hurt and they put a head brace and leg brace on me. It was like a dream, well nightmare but I don't really remember how I felt. I was put into the ambulance and taken to a hospital on the mainland.This was two drives and a ferry ride away. About 4 hours later I arrive at the mainland hospital and have a head scan. They put me in intensive care after they find I have three hematomas and a fractured skull. I am absolutely terrified at this point and can't believe what is going on. Alex messaged my boss at work to tell her I won't be coming into work next week and I message my Dad and Nathan back home to tell them what's going on. Nathan and my dad talk and Nathan is on the next flight he can get on to be with me. I was in intensive care for two days till I begged them to put me in a private ward. I was surrounded by what sounded like dying people. I was always the worst patient in the world and I couldn't cope being there. I was meat to be resting but couldn't rest. They agreed it would be ok and I had been in there so they could keep a beady eye on me as I was at high risk of a seizure. 

I was happier to be in a private room and got checked regularly by the nurses. My head was pounding!!! I felt so swore. The two days in intensive care on my own were horrible. I hate hospitals even more so now after having cancer as they bring back such horrible memories and not having any family to come and visit me was so upsetting. I couldn't believe what had happened and was so upset and angry at first. That was my trip over. Yes I was very lucky to be alive and didn't ever not think that for a second but I felt like I had to worst luck in the world and the universe just wouldn't let me get on with anything without some massive distrusption. 

I was so relieved when Nathan arrived and really don't know what I would have done without him! I was feeling rather sorry for myself as well as feeling very sore. I was barely able to walk to the bathroom on my own without feeling extreme dizzy and hated all the drugs I was having to take,. One I had to take through a cannula which for me is the worst thing in the world as it reminded me of having chemo. My veins hurt and the feeling was unbearable so I asked if I could have the medication in tablet form instead. As my surgery was all on my left hand side I can not use my left arm for giving  blood or taking drips and medication so everything has to be done on the right side. I was already on a drip and having blood taken from that side so my poor veins couldn't cope with more. Even thinking about it makes my veins feel funny.

I was lucky the hospital was modern and very clean. The nurses were lovely and I had the sweetest female Doctor who would come and talk to me and who was also updating my parents with what was going on. I was glad to get out of there when I was stable enough too. I laid in a hotel bed for a further  few days before I felt ready to be a little bit more mobile. I wasn't fit to fly for a while and was not in the nicest of cities in Thailand so I decided I wanted to go back to Koh Lanta, recoup on a beautiful island and see the animals again!

The journey was long and tough but got there Ok and was so happy to be back! Nathan had booked a beautiful hut on the beach were I could relax and convalesce peacefully. We eventually moved back to the beach I was originally living on. It was great to be back and see everyone and visit the welfare and see all the cats and dogs again! Everyone couldn't believe I had managed to go back to visit and as I didn't really have any visible scars they also couldn't believe what I had just been through. I was very lucky I didn't have any visable scars and am quite amazed as had seen so many people out there head to toe in bandages and I managed to get  away with only two scrapes although I guess my internal injuries made up for them.

I missed working at Lanta Animal Welfare but even while I was recovering I managed to still help Thai cats! One of those cats whom we adopted and Nathan found a temporary home for in America till be flies out there, Squirrel.  I was also feeding a cat who had a kitten and a pregnant cat who ended up in our room. I'ts not unknown for cats to turn up on my door step.

So I'm not sure how many lives I've used up now but it feels like a fair few. I don't think I've ever been travelling where something bad has not happened to me or something has brought me back to the UK. I always wanted to go travelling and be away for a long time and even stay out there to live but it seems that the universe has other plans for me as it always brings me back.

I would love to go back out again and do more animal volunteer work but this time I think I need to listen to the universe and perhaps stay put for a while, find what I love to do again and have a go at making it into something bigger. 

So I came back and recovered some more. Frustrating as it was having to lie around doing nothing with a sore head still. I'm a bad patient who has no patience. I suffered at first a bit with social anxiety. I guess I was nervous being out and about and also wasn't ready to be back home. I had lost interest in anything to do with being social and just wanted to hide away. It can be downward spiral though and I had to be careful I didn't start to get really depressed. Another little surprise that came from the head injury was that I lost my sense of taste and smell. They don't tell you about this. It's called Anosmia. I was able to eat a massive spoonful of marmite and barely taste it. My taste started to come back faintly but my smell never did. It's very weird not to be able to smell. I miss the smell of coffee and my perfume, freshly washed clothes and even my cat! One day I woke up and I could smell but it wasn't very pleasant. I started to smell and taste the same thing. It was and still is horrible! I can't describe to you what the smell and taste is. I could cope without smell and even a slight taste. I would pick food for the texture and the stronger the flavour the better as now the stronger the flavour  the worse the taste is.  At first it made me so miserable, I dreaded meal times and skipped a few at first but I couldn't carry on doing this as I've never been able to function without food. I need to eat all the time. I've started to eat a lot of fish and certain fruit as its the least offensive. I can not eat chocolate or anything artificially sweet, diary and wheat is really bad and even something like red peppers and strawberries  are disgusting!  I've always loved my food and apart from being on a strict diet when I had cancer I've never had a problem with eating or dieting. It's one of my biggest pleasures. I am so sick of smelling this one smell. Imagine something you hate the smell and taste of an that's all you can taste and smell all day everyday! It's pretty grim. I know there are worst things in life to go through but it's something you just can't avoid. I never go out of meals anymore and it's affecting my social life. On the plus side I'm not really drinking alcohol and I've cut out a lot of bad things from my diet like sugar and dairy and I must say I do feel a lot better for it but I do miss chocolate, cheese, cider and coffee! I'm fed up of eating bland food and it's getting very limiting.

I'm getting referred to an ear nose and throat clinic and Im praying they can help! I've heard stories of people that just have to live with this. I really hope it doesn't come to that!

It certainly does feel like it's one thing after another. I seem to get one thing sorted out in my life and bang Im hit with another problem! I guess thats life though and I'm still here physically and mentally and it all makes us stronger in the end!

Apart from all that I've been very happy to have got myself back into sewing again and selling my cushions and vintage clothing at markets. I never fully got into it again after I had my shop and thought I'd lost my passion for it and needed to find something new to do. I'm relieved that it's still there and that  it's making me happy once again. The plan is to build it up again and try and earn as much money from it as I can and see where I can take it.

Since I've been back and got myself well and got back into the swing of things again,  I got some pretty bad news from my Dad. He told me he had been diagnosed with prostate Cancer. I was absolutely distraught to hear the news. I prayed that none of my family would get cancer. I never wanted any of them to go through what I had. After a cry he told me that the good news is that its treatable and there is going to be no surgery and chemo. I was relieved for him as the chemo and surgery were the worst parts of having cancer. He's having hormone treatment which isn't much fun and obviously changes a few things, like with me the hormone treatment put me into a fake early menopause. Not something an 30 year old girl wants to have to go through before they have too. He will also have radiotherapy everyday for  7 weeks. It's a tiring  process and can zap you of your energy. I am sad that cancer is in the family again but am relieved that it's not as bad as it could be. My mum is obviously keeping a beady eye on him now and making sure he eats extremely healthy and doing everything to help him fight this cancer. My mum did the best job she could looking after me when I was ill and is already prepared to do the same with my dad. My dad also have five daughters who will always make sure he's doing ok now and I expect will forever get nagged at, lovingly now to stay fit and healthy. I've no doubt he will get through this and kick cancers ass like I did!! Also my little sis and I haven't got married yet or had kids so he needs to stick around to see that although I expect he'll be waiting a long time for me, haha! 

It's been a strange year with a lot of famous people dying of cancer. It's scary how many lives it seems to take now and makes me so sad and angry! All we an do is be aware of it and try and stay as healthy as we can, use as little chemicals we can, eat organic, exercise, remain positive and live as stress free as possible as hard as it is in this modern world. 

To all the cancer survivors out there, well done! You did it and never forget how amazing you are!