Thursday 25th January 2018

Happy New Year all!

I haven’t posted for a while. I’m still here, just up until now there hasn’t been much to report really! Plus I’ve been quiet busy trying to get on with life as best I can….

We’ve had some much needed family time together, Freya helped Santa around our village, we’ve had fun in the snow, lots of doggy walks and snuggles.  I finally managed to finish Josh’s Minecraft quilt in time for Christmas – which he loved! We even managed to decorate Freya’s bedroom and we made a huge dreamcatcher for her to ward off any bad dreams!
















But now, to stop me just bumbling along…….

Unfortunately (or may be fortunately in the long run), these last few days I have received some important news that I need to share.

If you’ve been following my blog you will remember that last year I was discussing diep surgery and removal of a painful implant.  My cousin had just been diagnosed with a breast cancer lump too. I had a dilemma as I really wanted to have both the boobies removed and rebuilt as preventative as I was convinced that the cancer could be hereditary as my mum, my auntie June and my cousin had all had breast cancer.  Not to mention more further related relatives.  My team agreed that it probably was genetic but they didn’t have the tests available to be more specific and to back it up. Evidence was needed.  Plus it wasn’t solely up to them to make this decision – this depends where you live and if you are NHS or private (obviously private you get whatever you can pay for).  For me, to get this decision made it had to go to a board meeting that only happened a few times a year and be backed up with solid evidence – my team needed to put a case together!  This is a good thing really as it’s a group discussion to work out what is the best at that time and what is possible – they discuss and weigh up all the pros and cons. So, because of this my surgery was delayed, I had genetic testing, counselling, meetings etc.  I didn’t fall into the category for automatic genetic testing on the NHS as I was over 40, we didn’t have ovarian cancer directly in our family and my sister had escaped cancer so far – lots of boxes have to be ticked.  But my team managed to get me on a study running that would test me for BRCA 1, BRCA 2, and PALB2 genes – it took a little longer to get results but this was the best thing to do – all tests came back negative.  So I accepted that, and the decision was made to do just the one side.

PALB2 is a relatively new abnormal gene that has been found that increases the chance of developing breast cancer considerably. I won’t bore you about the ins and outs of genetics but I’m sure you’ve all heard about the BRCA genes and Angelina Jolie and the preventative surgery etc. If you want to read more take a look at or the – lots of info on line and more is being discovered with the PALB2 so you may see bits in the news.  I am one of the people helping with this research study now!

So I received a letter totally out of the blue that further testing had been made due to more updated testing methods and systems and it had now been found to have an alteration.  Oh! This meant my result was now positive – I knew straight away that this was going to change a few things.  You can always tell with the NHS when you get a pretty urgent hospital appointment through and they want to see you face-to-face.  Still 4 weeks away though!  So I called the genetics department in London directly and spoke to the consultant and she explained that it was important that my mum and my sister needed further testing as soon as possible.  They knew the PALB2 was in me but they need to do further tests to confirm it had been passed down from my mum, and to see if my sister had it too.  I have had to break this news to them.  And to my Freya. And my boys. Men can get breast cancer too. This could also potentially affect my cousins and their children too.

Once my mum is tested and we know more – if it is definitely passed from my mum’s side, it will also be important that my cousins get tested.  So cousins – here is the copy of the letter you will need that has the contact details for you to get your doctor to refer you on the NHS for PALB2 testing (Emma is on maternity leave so it’s now Dr Ahmed, who is just as lovely)….

I am thinking of this as positive.  As deep down we all knew it must be hereditary.  At least we know for sure now and my family will be closely monitored.  One test at a time at the moment – difficult to stop our minds from running away though.  Freya won’t be tested until she’s a lot older and things are changing all the time so I’ve explained this to her.  She will just need to be aware from an early age – it doesn’t seem fair but that’s how it is for my family now.  Breast Cancer is definitely affecting us all and it’s a horrible feeling.

So keep checking for abnormalities! Remember those lemons!

And what now?  Well I spoke to the Genetic consultant directly and looks like instead of a ‘tweaking’ op it will now be another big ‘removal’ op for me – risk reducing mastectomy.  Not sure when as this will be discussed at the big meeting in March.  More meetings and discussions and planning will be needed. February/March is going to be busy!

The consolation I have is that there wasn’t enough fat from my stomach to do both boobies last summer anyway -would have been really gutting if they’d thrown away half my stomach tissue!  At least they’ve found out now and hopefully boob can be gone before more cancer comes back – bit of a waiting game here. I am feeling a little anxious about this to say the least.  My consultant has said to contact him straight away with any changes at all in the remaining boob.  I seriously feel like a ticking time bomb now.  But I hopefully have time to try my best to keep growing more fat in the hope Mr Griffiths may be able to use from my bottom or my inner thigh.   Lucky I love porridge eh! Trying not to think of the bad stuff. Reality sucks big time.

And just as I was starting to plan the future a little more. Mum was going to take us girls on holiday this year.  All shook up now!

So, it’s coming up to 3 years since my diagnosis. I feel lucky and thankful but it’s a struggle as it’s still so ongoing – especially now.

So how am I in myself? I’m doing as well as I can be.  I still have to live with a lot of pain – throbbing joint and bone pain, fibromyalgia muscle aches and fatigue, menopause symptoms (ongoing – hot flashes, light headed, nauseous, headaches, mood swings etc), racing heart beat, post-op pain – mostly if I over do it I have a lot of pain across my chest and stomach – not sure if this will ease with time but I hope so.  General nerve pain – especially in hands and feet.  Basically there isn’t much that doesn’t hurt – I am a total basket case. I can carry on with a list of ailments but I am sure you get the idea, and add in all the emotional anxiety then it’s pretty pants really.  Sounds worse seeing it on paper – bit like when you open the piece of paper with medication that has a list of side effects on that you don’t really want to look at and acknowledge.

I am getting really good at coping, carrying on and ignoring – not sure if this is good or bad but it’s working for me.  So long as I don’t stop. Stopping is painful – sitting/standing in a position for a long time is so bad for me as I basically seize up – it’s even difficult for me to sleep in one position so I have to move a lot throughout the night and get up a lot to move and add in the hot sweats too! omg! I can almost block out the pain to an extent now if I keep busy and I can act like I’m pretty normal so most people don’t notice which helps me too.  ‘Normal’ is good.  The mind can be amazing and I think our tolerance as humans is astounding. I continue to meet some amazing people that I can now really relate to – and a lot of them are coping with a lot worse than I am.  One particular lady I work with really humbles me – I draw so much strength from her and I hope I help her a little in return too – Zintra  x

To cope with my ‘new normal’ me I found I was often taking conventional meds to either dull the pain or help me sleep or whatever – these all have their side effects and very addictive.  As many of you know I worked in a pharmacy for a while and I learnt so much.  I also saw a large number of people who were on huge amounts of drugs because they needed even more to combat the side effects of the drugs they needed to be on! Also people who had become addicted to their medications.  I’ve always been really aware of this and been really careful myself but I knew that I needed to do something to help myself with this long term and constant pain I suffer.  I knew I didn’t want to have to depend on conventional meds with the terrible side effects – basically when I take meds to help ease pain to help sleep I wake up really tired and groggy.  If I take any during the day I am not safe to drive which means no going to work so I try and work through the pain and keep going.  Plus your body works up an immunity so they don’t work so well and hence larger doses are needed.  I wanted to find something natural if I was going to need something long term.  Every medical doctor I see seems to agree with me – but all they can do is prescribe meds – they can’t do any more – I feel things need to change – maybe one day? So it’s been up to me to help myself.

Things had got desperate for me, I had been seriously looking into growing my own Cannabis plants to learn how to produce a CBD medicinal oil for my own use – but this worried me a little as it’s a bit illegal to grow plants here.

While beginning my research I kept finding Copaiba oil being compared to CBD and how it has recently been found to have amazing benefits to ease pain and to calm and reduce anxiety.  Then one of my friends mentioned she was using for her migraines and had I heard of it?  I already belong to Doterra Essential Oil group – these are food grade organic and regulated essential oils – they are the best I have ever used and worth it.  Anyway, I asked my contact about the Copaiba oil and if she could get hold of some for me as it wasn’t available in the UK via Doterra yet.  I really wanted a food grade version as I felt I needed to try this oil topically but also to take in tablet form for widespread pain. Everything was pointing it out to me……

If you’ve been reading my blog from the start, or know me personally, you will know that I like to experiment for myself. All comes from being a reflexologist and helping others to help themselves but also proof that it works!

I am sceptical until I’ve tried things properly for myself. So for the past few months I have stopped using conventional pain relief meds as my first point of call.  Obviously I have to take the Exemestane (keep cancer away drug that causes so many awful side effects for me) and obviously there are times when I need conventional drugs as well.  Sometimes I am in so much pain that I have to take something more – even if it’s to dull the pain so I can sleep as without sleep everything is even worse! So I needed something to compliment and work with – I think that’s important – balance!

So back to my experimenting.  Copaiba oil has many benefits but the one I was interested in is to calm sensitivities and pain receptors, reduce inflammation, relax, aid sleep and it also works as a magnifier to more expensive oils such as frankincense, and lots more! I have been having some great results that is so exciting.  I almost don’t want to tell people as this oil isn’t available in the UK until about May. But the good thing is when it is available here it won’t be that expensive either (about £30/£40 for 15ml which lasts for months).

So how am I using it?  For topical pain to ease my joints – I apply one drop neat to each painful joint – this gives almost immediate relief – it really does work well it is quite unbelievable.  I have continuous throbbing pain all over my body which varies and this oil is definitely helping to take the edge off this pain.  It’s enough for me to get some sleep and enough that I can continue on a daily basis and as far as I’m concerned I haven’t had any adverse side effects from it at all. On bad days when the all over pain is so bad I add a few drops of Copaiba, winter green, eucalyptus, lavender to my bath with Epsom salts and just relax. It’s not magic and it doesn’t work all the time but it’s definitely the best natural product I’ve tried so far – and maybe my brain is super powerful and it just ‘thinks’ it’s helping – who knows, but it is.

I also have a mixture of some other oils for pain relief and inflammation in a roller bottle  (eucalyptus, rosemary, marjoram, winter green etc) or I use the Deep Blue blend and the Copaiba oil helps these oils work better – like a magnifier.  I also use frankincense topically across my chest as an anti inflammatory and to hopefully help keep cancer away! (I can’t say if this actually works though but I feel it doesn’t hurt to try – it smells nice too).

I also put 2 drops of Copaiba, 2 drops of Frankincense and 2 drops of Rosemary into a capsule and take daily.  This helps internally and for all over pain.

Everyone is different and everyone responds differently.  You can’t believe everything on the internet.  Who knows if it reduces risk of cancer or makes cancer go.  I can’t tell you that.  But I can share with you what is helping me – most of the time.  And it doesn’t take much to knock me over the ‘just coping’ edge, even using the oils there are times when they are not enough.  But they are definitely helping.  Without a doubt.  And at the moment Copaiba is one of my favourites!

Please follow our Facebook page to find out more of how I am using these wonderful oils that I now couldn’t do without! Plus we will be posting ways to use the oils and when we can get hold of Copaiba in the spring here.

Essential oils and how to use them for support and wellbeing…..

Meanwhile, keep positive – all these ‘blips’ add to our strength.  I am going to be pretty strong eh?


I know what one I will be choosing……will update as soon as I know more.





Wednesday 1st November 2017

Today is my birthday!

I am 46! I actually forgot it was my birthday this morning as we celebrated with a meal out on Friday evening so everyone could make it (all of us, mum, sis, Paul, girls etc too). Today has been a normal work/school/college day for everyone and with the morning rush it wasn’t until I was about to leave that Phil suddenly remembered!

So on one hand every year counts and my birthdays are special, but also on the other hand it’s been an average day. Weird really. Although we have finished the day enjoying a take away pizza and watching the latest Lucifer as a family, altogether, dogs and all! Perfect! We are a bit like the Walton’s sometimes! Oh and Nathan bought me some lovely Sea soap from Lush – omg I love it! It’s the little things you appreciate the most really.  I don’t feel I need ‘material things’ and presents – time together is the best present of all. Maybe it’s age too!

So I thought I’d finish this evening with a quick update and and early night as I’m exhausted (no change there then!).  Unfortunately, still suffering all the normal symptoms I’m now left with forevermore.  The super hot flash meltdowns are particularly bad, but life adapts and I’m still plodding along and tolerating everything.  The bone/body pain and fatigue is always there but manageable at the moment – it’s amazing what you can get used to.  My brain wants to do so much but my body keeps putting a halt to things and reins be back!

But to update you….. I’ve had a few hospital appointments and have a few more to come – just check ups and routine scans really. The main one was with Mr Griffiths, plastic surgeon, last week. This was to check his work of the new belly boob (DIEP) and to discuss what’s the next plan of action.

I must admit I have got to the point of feeling ‘enough is enough’. I feel like Sally from Nightmare before Christmas……

She’s all sewn together and I look the same.  But it’s now 4 months since surgery and the new belly boob is settling, it’s soft and although not big enough to move it does have flexibility.  Unlike the rock boob implant.  Mr Griffiths said this was the ‘gold standard’ of breast surgery and it definitely feels it.  100% better than the implant.  It doesn’t look so great but it’s the feel that counts more and although I’m still sore and I’m still having a lot of nerve pain and twinges, it is so much better and more comfortable.

Back to our appointment though.  We had a few things to discuss.  Firstly I still have a lump towards the centre of my chest where the blood vessels were connected in surgery.  This area is still very tender and I was concerned about this.  Mr Griffiths did an ultrasound to double check there wasn’t anything untoward.  It showed extra tissue and my rib slightly prominent – so that’s ok in the whole scheme of things.  With any further surgery this may be eased but no promises.

I also have a large crease in the new boob which he said is some excess skin that needs to be sorted as I didn’t have enough belly fat to fill.  He needs to adjust this. The plan was originally to do some fat grafting to plump up the new boob to fill the skin and even it up with the other, but he feels I don’t actually have much fat to use at the moment.

So he’s going to first, reduce my good boob (left side), as this is a couple of cup sizes larger and quite obvious.  I’m at the point that I really don’t worry about a cup size, I just need comfort, less pain and more ‘even’ would be nice – I like balance.  I explained to him that I wasn’t sure I wanted more surgery.  I needed to weigh up if it would be worth it.  How much difference it was going to make vs the risk of even more surgery and recovery etc.  I asked him his honest opinion.

He said that he could do a number of things all at the same time and he felt that it would make a considerable difference in a positive way and was definitely worth me having done.

The surgery should only be 1 or 2 days in hospital.  He will reduce my good boob (quite a bit of chopping!) He has to cut around my nipple for this and he said that he may as well cut it in half and nipple share with my belly boob side.  I’ve never been bothered about having a nipple reconstructed but he said he may as well as it’s getting chopped about anyway.  So I’ve agreed.  So I’ll be reduced considerably on my left side, nippled chopped and repositioned.  The new belly boob (right side), with have the top scar and excess skin sorted and half a nipple added.  He may also be able to readjust the sore lump of excess skin while he’s there. Doesn’t sound simple to me but he made it sound all reassuring and matter of fact.  We have a plan. I trust him.

So I’m on his waiting list for next year.  I’ve asked for Mr Griffiths to do my surgery – I have confidence in him and feel comfortable with him re-sculpting me again. It’s not urgent so I have some time to heal completely ready for the next stage.  I can at least have the next few months trying to get back to some sort of post-cancer-normal.  I’ll have some more appointments for planning before all this but I’ve decided that it will be worth it.

I’ve also had some issues with some of my scars – particular one of my moles that he removed and around my new belly button.  This is called hypertrophic scarring.  It’s where the scars have too much growth and excessive amounts of collagen is produced which gives rise to a raised scar.  I had to have some steroid injections into these scars to stop them getting larger and much worse.  This was interesting as it was rather ‘ouch’ for my mole scar by my shoulder.  But I couldn’t feel the needles at all around my belly button scar.  Still no feeling or sensitivity here.  I’m actually thinking of having a belly button piercing while it’s still numb! Will make it prettier! Although my belly doesn’t come out to the air much at my age! ha ha!

So that’s the update for now. Will write again whenever there is more news.


Saturday 14th October 2017

Hello All!

I haven’t updated for ages! Partly because there’s not been much change medically – I’ve been focusing on healing and not messing anything up by over doing it, but also because it’s all been crazy busy too!

As most of you will know I’ve been healing from my surgery all over the summer which has been really tough going. It’s now been over 3 months since my op. I healed enough to return to work at the beginning of September (I had to as my job restarts every September but it gave me something to aim towards), and it has been really busy with lots of new students to get to know. I love my job but it’s been challenging returning, as I still have constant pain of a manageable degree and it doesn’t take much for me to feel totally exhausted. I’m repairing but still sore from surgery too.  Plus I’ve had to push myself and do more hours to help us financially while Phil sets up the new business (which is going well, thank you everyone for your support).

My hair is growing and I can pretty much get it straight now with blowdrying and straighteners. And I can easily plait it and twist it up etc. If it dries naturally it’s still curly like I’ve stuck my finger in a plug socket but with a bit of product in even that can be tamed now.  Lots of people are commenting that I’m looking more like I used to hair wise.  I’ve missed my hair.


We have also managed to catch up with some friends. Going out takes it out of me big time but hey, sometimes it’s worth it.  We had another ‘Come Dine’ at Mel and Deans – the theme was Africa.  I was a zebra! Scarily there were 4 hunters! ha ha!

Lewis is now 15! He is so tall and growing up fast. We celebrated with a special chinese meal out at Banquet1408 in Colchester (his choice) and of course chocolate cake!  He seems so much older some days.

But best thing of all is we also got the go ahead from my medical team for me to travel, I managed to get travel insurance agreed too. So I immediately got agreement from work, school and college for us to have a week out to go away as soon as possible and I booked us a holiday. As Phil now works for himself it was great as he didn’t have to get permission from anyone! ha ha! Makes a change! So on Tuesday 3rd October we set off for a luxury all inclusive holiday for a week – which we normally wouldn’t have been able to afford but because it was term time we could.

We had a wonderful time. The heat is different over there and it eased my pain so much. My body constantly throbs with varying degrees of pain, which I have gotten used to and manage to tolerate so I hope that most people don’t notice that often but it is wearing and takes it toll on me. While I laid on a sunbed, listening to the sea and totally relaxed in the warmth of the Turkish sun and I actually didn’t hurt. I have forgotten what it’s like not to hurt. It was weird but wonderful. But unfortunately short lived as we had some rainy days and before I knew it an agonising journey home.

It was great to have a week with my family – I am so lucky and so proud of them all. We told the boys they could have freedom to come and go and do what they wanted but they actually chose to spend all their time with us altogether.  This made me so happy. As there were no ps4’s we had lots of time to chat – it made me sad to realise how hard it’s been for them and how much we all needed this holiday to get away – they needed it as much as I did.  We rested, read, sunbathed, swam, chatted, shopped, played cards and ate obscene amounts of food! We had a fabulous week together and here are a few pics……

We stayed in a beautiful villa with a private pool for just a few guests. There were also a few other pool areas but we preferred the beach and the grounds. The resort was set amongst a stunning forest beneath the hills with pine, palms and pomegranate trees – it felt so spacious and calm.  And the Turkish people can’t do enough for you – they were all so lovely. I hope one day we may go back again.

It was quiet and full of older people this time of year which was perfect for us for what we needed.  It’s interesting having the time to people watch! I actually felt a little jealous that these people in their 70/80s looked healthier than I felt and could go on holiday so often to keep themselves healthy.  I had to snap myself back to the now and remind myself how lucky and grateful I was to be there. It’s strange how your mind can wander. Sometimes it’s best not to think too much!

It was so nice to have a proper rest and not have to think what was going to be for dinner, or go to work or walk the dogs, or clean or shop etc….just to get away from the normal everyday chores that seem to take up so much of our lives.  We didn’t even have to make our own beds – the kids absolutely loved this! omg how spoilt! I think we could all get used to this luxury all inclusive.  I wish.

While on holiday I actually managed to read a book!  Thanks to my friend, Katherine I am totally addicted to Jack Reacher! OMG if you love action/crime you must read – it was a real page turner.  The character in the book isn’t quite described as Tom Cruise in the movie but it worked to visualise him anyway! ha ha.  I love it how Jack can take so much but just keep on going and save the day! As there are 20 more books in this series by Lee Child I think this could be my answer to making me sit down and relax. I may not get much else done though!

With the help of great TV at the moment too…. Strictly, Our Girl, Cold Feet, GBBO etc! so much to sit and watch! I could become extremely sedatory and lazy! May do me good.

I’m also working on a new quilt for my nephew…. but it’s a surprise so no pictures yet.

So what’s next? I see Dr Loo, my oncologist, on Tuesday for a catch up – this will be mainly to discuss how I’m coping on the Exemestane (keep cancer away drug) – these are the meds which cause me extreme joint pain but needs must as it’s more important to keep the cancer at bay.  When or if I get through this menopause (the hot flashes, nausea and dizziness are awful still) I could have the option to change onto another drug but they all have side effects of pain so I will stay on this one for as long as I can tolerate.  I’m still using the Doterra essential oils to help with the pain – especially the Deep Blue range, along with a mix of Winter Green, Majoram, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Lavender etc – it takes the edge off for a while.

Then in half term week I will be seeing Dr Griffiths, my plastic surgeon, to discuss the next surgery.  This will be to tweak to new boob as they won’t do anything to match the other one up until they are sure the new belly boob is done and ok.  It has a big dent where I didn’t have enough fat to plump out, which I could live with really.  But I also have a painful lump where my stomach blood vessels were joined in my chest.  This is still very sore and I have to be careful not to lift or overstretch and handstands are a definitely no no! I’m still not able to weight bear or yoga yet. Now the swelling has subsided and settled Dr Griffiths will be able to assess if there is any way he can help this.  We shall see.  I’ve had enough of surgery so I really need to discuss the benefits of more surgery. But I am definitely pleased I had this done as it feels so much better than the implant. I can’t believe how long I tolerated the pain and uncomfort the implant caused.

To heal my scars and keep my skin in good condition I have been using Rosehip oil, lavender and Frankincense.  I was also using Helichrysum but that’s run out now and really expensive.  As you can see I’ve healed well.  I still look like a patchwork quilt but I only get in a bikini on holidays! Plus with all the food I’ve managed to put some weight on.  My belly button is very strange and a bit off centre but again, I don’t get my midriff out much! ha ha!

Thank you to everyone who helped with the holiday organising from the support from school/college and work, Mandy for helping with the Doggie’s holiday, Mum for looking after our home and house animals etc, Hannah and John for picking up the dogs for us and Gwenie (Phil’s mum) for giving us some spending money which the children enjoyed buying fake clothing in Turkey with!

Now we are home, we will be catching up with friends and family.

Today my dad has been gone for 13 years already! I miss him terribly.  But loosing him has always made me appreciate and value my family.  Here’s him on my wedding day….

I have my 46th birthday approaching too – I appreciate every year and every birthday so much more now.  I’m hoping to organise afternoon tea to celebrate but getting my family all available on the same day is so difficult.  I may have to compromise this one. And then before we know it will be Christmas already! Time goes far too fast!

So until next blog post make time for your family and friends and enjoy each other xxx







Friday 25th August 2017

How am I doing?

Thank you to everyone that has messaged me and asked and sent various lovely gifts, flowers, cards etc – I am so grateful that you can all still be bothered to be honest!  Sorry if I haven’t sent you all long messages but to be honest I’m getting a bit bored myself with this whole thing so it must be boring for you lot.  It all just feels like it’s going on and on – the aftermath of cancer is so much more than you realise, although in my case at least I am so lucky that the cancer is staying away and I have an aftermath!  I’m over 2 and a half years on and I feel so lucky. Lucky but still bored with it all.  So here we are…..

It’s been just over 6 weeks since the ‘big op’ – Implant explant and DIEP.  Every week has got better.  It’s been tough and extremely painful but ok. Although I am really pushing myself and trying my best to speed up my recovery as I know I need to get back to work in September.  I can do this too.

As a lot have you have seen (or not seen!) I got a copy of my surgery photographs through.  I have uploaded these to the medical pictures section of the blog – it’s like a horror movie and once you look it’s difficult to unsee so be warned and feel free to share but please warn people first.

Many of you may wonder why I am being so public with everything? It’s because I have found very little online myself that has helped me.  So if writing this and sharing my experience can help others then it in turn helps me to know it’s all worthwhile.  It gives this whole cancer thing a reason. I suppose it’s my way of coping? Maybe, I’m meant to go through all this to help others? Who knows? There are far too many of us having to go through so much and it’s horrible. And I know from the amazing messages I have received that it has already helped so many, so thank you for sharing and commenting.

So, yes, I still hurt and I’m still very sore but it’s all manageable. I can walk upright now and I look ok which is good. Looking normal helps – although sometimes I need to remind my family I still need help! I am totally fed up with TV, the sofa and trying to rest.  I am not good at resting at all!

So I’ve been pottering, this is my way of resting….

Lots of walking! Moving helps with the circulation which in turn helps the blood supply to heal wounds, so straight away I’ve been walking as calf muscles work as a pump….

 I love my Thermomix TM5 even more now – without it I wouldn’t have been able to cook much at all, or without a lot of help. I’m going to have a little get together to learn more about my machine in September so if anyone is curious then you are welcome too.

I’ve been drinking lots of tea with friends and family, cooking, baking, sewing,  pottering around the garden – I still have lots and lots of aloe vera plants if anyone wants one for free just pop by (they are the best plants in so many ways). I’ve been cleaning and sorting the house (carefully). And recently I managed an afternoon out in colchester with my family.  I enjoyed this so much. I’m driving short distances which is great but sore (but I can deal with sore)! And best of all I’ve managed to get back swimming – very gently and only every other day.  It’s good for gentle stretching but I’ve had to adapt my breast stroke and swim slow but it’s been so good to get back in the water. I even bought myself a new swimsuit which is pretty cool – fire and ice!  It’s the most wonderful feeling ever – I neeeeeeed to swim!


Kaspers was brilliant after a few hours shopping! everyone needs chocolate some days – I really think we need one of these in our village. We must take the boys here….

I know I’ve probably been doing far far too much but it’s important to keep the mind and spirits up – again, all about balance!  Unfortunately I know from a bad experience what ‘too much’ feels like though…..

A few weeks ago I thought I’d sit and scrape the weeds from my block paving – nice and relaxing I thought. Freya helped and it was actually quite therapeutic.  But by that evening I had terrible deep nerve pain across my body – mainly my chest.  It was like a deep burning itch or millions of insects inside me that I couldn’t get at.  And sharp sensations shooting across the new boob. I tried everything to relieve this – it was pure torture and would make me jump around literally like I had ants in my body.  I tried frozen aloe vera which eased it a little, I took quinine as that helps with restless legs – and some tonic water! I tried the oils – deep blue mix, eucalyptus, peppermint – didn’t do it, I tried reflexology – no, massage and pressure – no.  It was awful – nothing topical worked as it was deeper.  In fact the only thing that gave me some relief was a double dose of amitriptyline (advised from my doctor) – it worked by dulling the nerve responses and helped me sleep too. I finally found out online that it was something called dysesthesia – to do with the nerves healing but basically I had overstretched the nerves that were healing and they didn’t like it! Payback time.  So now I am being extremely careful what I do!

I’m trying to do things and get back to some sort of normal, and if it hurts I stop.  Good rule.  In fact I try and stop before it hurts.  For example picking up the washing basket of wet clothes – so not a good idea! I now kick it across the room. I have found some interesting ways to do things. And I still get very tired so I have to rest a lot. So what not to do? Don’t carry anything heavier than a milk bottle, or pull/push anything heavy! Although now have a knack to vacuuming (needs must). Don’t over stretch or reach – this means definitely no yoga for at least another 6 weeks.  Except for sleepy yoga where I just lay in corpse pose ha ha.  I can do legs but definitely no weight bearing so no down dogs or planks for me!  Sitting in one position for too long is not good either as you tighten up and it hurts so much, roll over or twist very carefully too! And bed changing or bath cleaning very tricky.  And no to mopping or window cleaning! ha ha. unfortunately the list goes on but I am being very good and I know I’ll gradually get there.

Needless to say my family were fed up of being nurses/servants within the first few days so I have had to start doing things quicker than I should have but needs must!  So I’m listening to my body. Phil has been doing as much as he can but he’s been busy with the new business.

This week I had my final physio appointment at the hospital which I have now been signed off from – all movement is good.  My shoulders and arms ache tremendously but that’s it.  Probably partly the fibromyalgia and joint pain for me too – everything overlaps.  But it was worth doing all the exercises they give you. Broomfield hospital have been brilliant with the aftercare and advice.

I’ve been using lots of combinations of the Doterra Essential oils to help with the scar healing too.  I am quite amazed myself at how quickly I have healed.  I’ve been drinking lots of herbal teas and water to hydrate well and eating pretty well but to be honest not as well as I usually do.  But I am loving Miso soup!

All the staff have asked what I’ve been using on my skin – along with massage techniques they’ve told us to do, so here goes…..

I’ve made my own mix of Shea butter, coconut oil and a little caster oil as a base to mix with the oils…..

Helichrysum, lavender, frankincense and tea tree for wound healing and infection

Marjoram, rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint for pain

Citrus – orange, lime, lemon, bergamot for calming and stress – I diffuse these so the house smells nice.

Please contact me if you want to know more as my experimenting is going really well with these oils. As they are all food grade I have also been taking some of their tablets for cellular healing….

I have ordered some Rosehip oil from Neals Yard too – this is amazing for scar healing.  I did look into making my own as there are tons of rosehips about this time of year but I need it soon so I’m buying!

Yesterday, I saw Mr Griffiths and a colleague who assisted in my surgery (she’s lovely and pretty but I can’t remember her name).  I am healing extremely well, they are very happy with my progress! I still need to be very careful as it’s only been 6 weeks.  There is still some swelling which will take ages to go down. But all good.  But the fab news is by the end of September we can fly on holiday to somewhere in Europe! They both said it’s a very good idea but just be sensible – not a long flight, high factor lotion over scars, drink lots of water etc etc but most of all the rest will do us all good. A holiday advised my the NHS! yay! Just need to get it all ok’d from work/school/college.

So all good.  Just continue what I’m doing, keep healing, get back to work and book a holiday! Will update soon!



Tuesday 25th July 2017

Over the worst maybe?

So it’s been exactly 2 weeks since my surgery.  I’ve posted photos of my new body under the medical picture section of the blog and more details of surgery if anyone wants to look.  I’ll upload some actual surgery pictures when I get them too so keep checking if you like the gore!

So how was it?

As you know from my last post I was pretty scared.  Surgery is always a risk and always scary but this was different as it was my choice to have it done and I had nothing to go by as to whether it would leave me better or worse off.   But I decided, with the help of my consultants, that it was worth taking the risk as the condition of the implant, if left, would only worsen as it had been damaged due to the radiotherapy.

The day before surgery went well.  I was all marked up and forms filled and ready to go.  No beds so plan was to go home to sleep and return to ward by 7am the next day.  We were at the hospital for 4 hours! So tiring, but just before we were due to leave a registrar came and told us that they were urgently trying to contact my surgeon as it was highly possible that my surgery was going to be cancelled as no beds available!  I had been quite calm up until then.  Unbelievable how things can change so quickly.  So that night was not calm at all.  In fact we were all very anxious as it’s the not knowing, again!  I had to go to hospital the next day and just wait and see.  So Phil dropped me off with my bag and  I went to a waiting room with about ten or so other patients.  Some in for major surgery, some just for the day.  I was feeling ok.  At this point we still had no idea whether surgery was happening or not.  But then by 7.30am I was called up first and whisked away to my bed where Mr Griffiths was waiting saying…. hurry up, aren’t you ready yet??? I’m waiting for you! ha ha! He has a great sense of humour! So quickly quickly I got changed, leapt on the bed and we were off.  I quickly messaged Phil to say my surgery was happening and I was on my way now! It was like something from a carry on film! I had no time to worry……..

I had a canular fitted ready for my anesthetic and they explained how they would give my body physio throughout my surgery where they could to help with stiffness afterwards.  I was in good hands……

and then I woke up after surgery and opened my eyes to my lovely surgeon Mr Matt Griffiths at the end of my bed.  He was asking me how I felt?  I remember him telling me the surgery was easy and straightforward for him and all went perfectly well.  He said my anaesthetist had given me extra pain killer directly into my stomach to help with the pain.  All good.  I felt amazing.  In fact I couldn’t feel anything at all! My whole body was pain free.  This was great! All happy, I should be back on ward in no time, was I dreaming????…….

I was still in recovery when about half an hour later and suddenly with no warning the pain kicked in.  In fact my whole body was in intense pain like I’ve never felt in my whole life. I can’t even compare it to anything.  I couldn’t breath, or speak or move or anything. I think this is how I would feel if I was being sliced up in Game of Thrones! The poor recovery nurse was frantically getting some pain relief into me.  She didn’t understand why this was happening – I had been fine. I had tears running down my face that I couldn’t control – pain tears.  What was going on?  I couldn’t have morphine as it makes me extremely sick and with a stomach op that wouldn’t be good, but they gave me a synthetic drug instead (which I can’t remember) but it worked for a bit.  So when that kicked in I was ok again.  For a bit – just normal uncomfortable pain that was expected. But then again that wore off and again I was in sudden intense pain.  This went on and on without gradual warning for the next few hours until finally on Tuesday evening my body stabilised and I was able to return to the ward. Not a nice experience but it’s done now. My body just doesn’t seem to react well after surgery – it must be the hypersensitivity and it takes a while for my body to normalise it’s senses.  Who knows? But it’s over.

So the op went well.  Mr Griffiths said it was the smallest tummy he had ever removed and the smallest boob he had ever made! Quite funny really.  Although it hurt to laugh! I hadn’t given him much to sculpt with.  But my stomach muscle was good and he had managed to lift it to get to the blood vessels – this was great news as it meant he hadn’t had to cut into it – less to heal.  He also said that my ribs were well spaced (must be the yoga!) so when it came to connecting the blood vessels in my chest he was able to work between my ribs instead of having to break or remove one.  Yay! This was great news for me too.

So, yes at this point my body did feel like I had been trampled by wild horses or run over by a bus or whatever.  But immediately I felt the relief of having the tightness of the implant rock boob removed which was great.  I no longer feel I have a rock sewn to my chest – even after surgery it feels so much better. My bones hurt a lot – did they have a party on me? Or hang me upside down and use me as a piñata? It sure felt like it.  But apparently this is normal.  Plus I already have the joint pain and fibromyalgia to contend with – this just intensifies things.  I felt I could just sleep forever, but even laying down, moving or breathing hurt – but it was manageable hurt now. I needed to rest and repair.

Thank goodness for electric beds in hospital! Plus we were on high dependancy care which meant every half an hour our nurse checked us.  Over the first few days this gradually went down to every hour to then every two hours etc.  The nurses were so lovely and caring but it really felt wrong to have them do everything for us.  Literally! even putting the straw to our mouths to have a drink, or moving a pillow.

So over the next few day we were encouraged to get out of bed and try and stand, walk, sit in a chair and gradually get to the toilet and have a shower. At the beginning every time I stood up I threw up! Not so good but this eased over a few days. The staff and nurses on Stock Ward in Broomfield (Chelmsford) hospital were amazing. I can’t fault the care I had at all. Even when my veins decided to pop they stopped immediately.  It makes such a difference to have the right people looking after you.

There were 4 of us ladies together, all been through similar ops on the same day – Lou, Anne, Lorna and myself. It really helped as we each knew how the other was feeling and encouraged each other. It’s wonderful the bond you form with others so quickly when you can relate to each other.  They made hospital too much fun when it really shouldn’t have been! Plus laughing hurt a lot! And coughing and don’t even mention sneezing!

Anyway, by Sunday I was allowed home.  We had to be able to have all pipework out (cannulas, drains, catheters etc), and be able to walk and shower ourselves.  We had a particular focus to keep us going in the form of a prisoner chained to his bed further up the ward.  Far too nosey for our own good we all took it in turns to check out, it was difficult not to feel sorry for him.  We had felt chained to our beds after surgery but that was due to all the equipment.  Must have been awful actually being physically chained to the hospital bed with guards!

Having the stomach drain out was the worst.  I had one that stretched from one side of my body to the other to drain excess fluid.  When drains are removed they just feel uncomfortable and tugging but when this one was removed it was painful – very strange pain that made me feel sick.  Wouldn’t recommend that feeling again!

So since being home my family are looking after me well.  I missed the fur babies so much and they missed me.  Clover wouldn’t leave my side!

I’m gradually pottering about and I’m doing good.  The wounds are healing well, still sore but all ok.  And in clothing the boobs look more even already……

I can pretty much stand straight now – at first I was bent over.  My stomach is so stretched like a trampoline – very tight indeed – you can’t even see my ribs! And apparently there is swelling underneath still! Don’t know where that is!  Mr Griffiths said he had some private patients that would pay thousands for a stomach like mine! I was quite happy with my old stomach but needs must eh! If I eat too much or move awkwardly it feels like it could pop open at any moment and an alien appear!!!! Not nice.  This op is definitely a better option if you have more flesh to work with than I had. But now I’m home I’m allowed to massage and moisturise to help the itching and tightness. I still have to wear the compression band which will help support the stomach wound.  I’m meant to wear this 24 hours for weeks!!!

I’m also using these essential oils for healing of wounds, skin and bruising and to fight any infection… far they are helping amazingly but I’ll update you with this.

My family have been wonderful and we have even been able to celebrate my mum’s birthday! Ok I wasn’t able to cook or anything but ‘make your own baguettes’ worked well!

Yesterday I saw Mr Griffiths and he’s happy with my healing and said I’m doing well, but to continue to listen to my body and not to do handstands yet!!!! Funny! Last thing I feel like doing!

He has peeled away the mesh across my stomach and new belly button so all is revealed.  All looks good so far.  A little sore still but it’s neat, 9/10 for the sewing so far!  He’s even given me the ok to pick off the surgical glue over the new stomach-boob!  I still look like frankensteins monster but give it a few more weeks the bruising and swelling should settle down.  It’s very sore across my chest from where the vessels were connected and I have some fat necrosis lumps, which he said is where he stuffed my stomach into the boob – it’s better to have too much and remove rather than add.  But it should even out and subside a little.  So after just 2 weeks I’m feeling better than I thought I would.  I actually think my own pain tolerance is amazing now.

Today I’ve been hanging out at the hospital again for more physio and wound checking.  Exciting life I’m leading at the moment! Can you tell I’m bored?

I think I’ll be ready for some lunches out and some visitors soon! please!

And thank you for all the lovely flowers, cards and gifts – they are helping me so so much….

I am so grateful. Every day.  So let’s hope I continue to heal with no complications.  Slowly does it.  And maybe, just maybe I’m over the worst? I really hope so.  But the for the moment, I’m still doing one day at a time still.  Although I am doing a little holiday research while I’m resting!!!!  Apparently I’ll be able to travel by the end of September.

Thank you all for your support.  Please continue to share my blog – if it can help others then it makes all this worth it!

Much love x














Sunday 9th July 2017

Wish me luck! Scary times ahead….

Surgery day has come round fast! Good in a way as I’ve been too busy organising my family and home to worry too much. It’s a bit like organising before going away on holiday. But without the excitement, or the beach. I should get lots of rest time but that’s about it. It’s also a bit like being told the world could end in a few days too. It’s a strange feeling. So I’ve been cramming a lot in.

I’ve finished college work for the summer – it’s worked out great timing as I don’t have the guilt of letting people down or having time off work.  So I’ve had these last two weeks to frantically catch up on everything and everyone. I know I say this often but I feel like the luckiest girl ever when it comes to friends and family – near and far, old and new – everyone.  I am so grateful every day for you all and we are going to be needing everyone a lot these coming months of my recovery – thank you all in advance!

It’s been busy here setting up the new business “Better Call Britten”.  For any of you that may have watched Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul will see how we came up with the name.  We are trying to persuade Phil to do an advert so watch this space!  He is getting bookings from friends already but we will start the business properly in September.  Please can everyone share and support us – we still need to eat and pay the mortgage! But so long as he’s smiling then that’s what’s important.

We are lucky enough to have great friends, with parents who have a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and a lovely garden! Thank you Jane and Andy, (and your mum and dad of course!) – who needs a holiday eh? Check out my beautiful Mermaid Freya! I’m going to miss swimming with her as it’s going to be a long time til I can swim again.

We’ve managed to fit in some strawberry picking too…..

…delicious! love strawberries! and of course we had to test quite a few as we picked…. mmmmmmm!

I’ve been out for some driving practice with Nathan too. He is doing so well! Really impressed and proud of him! Phil will be taking over from now though.

We managed to fit in a Doterra Oil evening to spread the word of these wonderful oils which was great fun.  Tiring for me but worth it.  And needless to say I will be using them a lot to aid my healing and recovery – I will keep you updated on my progress.  Please contact Jennie 07967060236 or Steve Varney 07802450187 while I am busy with my hospital stuff if anyone would like to order or need advice – you can find them via my Facebook too. Or you can go to my link

I’ve been using the oils to help Dillon heal too….Lavender is amazing for dogs! Needless to say he didn’t like the “Cone of Shame”, bless him but he made us all laugh.  He is doing well and his wound is slowly healing, so long as he stops scratching it, naughty puppy.  I’m going to miss our fur babies while I’m in hospital.  Wish they could come and visit me too! Hospitals should have a dog visiting area as dogs = happiness = healing.

I am looking forward to trying this special oil after surgery….

Helichrysum is best known for its restorative properties to the skin. Also referred to as the Everlasting or Immortal Flower.  I’ll be taking in lots of others too……

The whole ward is going to smell devine! I had no idea my interest in natural healing would be so useful! I can honestly say that everything I have ever done in my life is coming together to help me and my family.

Which brings me to another thing people often say……”I suppose you write your blog as therapy for yourself“….. not really……

I started this blog as a way of communicating what was going on with the cancer crap.  I have family and friends all over the place and I didn’t want to put everything on Facebook or email everyone or call. Or put added pressure on myself or my family to have to repeat stuff all the time.  I needed a way to let people know what was happening without things getting distorted, plus I can type faster than I speak! I am seriously super fast! Which means I can type even when I’m really really poorly – even faster with an apple keyboard! I’m a bit pants on my phone though!

But it has now evolved….. yes, it helps me a little, it’s good for my family to have everything written down – like a diary I suppose for reference if ever needed, and it gets the info out there to those of you that are interested and need to know.  I haven’t ever read my past posts – maybe one day but I can’t yet.

But most of all it helps me to know how much I can help so many others – so much I have been through and still to go through can be compared to so many other things.  Doesn’t just have to be all about cancer – it’s so much bigger.  It’s a journey of healing inside and out as naturally and healthily as possible.  Keeping a focus and positive thinking.

I now know that cancer happened to me to enable me to help others even more than I already did, but also to help myself too. So please continue to share.

So back to surgery….. am I worried? of course! I am a worrier anyway! But I am trying to keep busy, be organised and stay calm.  What will be will be and I will do the best I can to get through this.

The NHS food has worried me but luckily I have a wonderful friend who actually works at Broomfield in the catering who is going to help me – for example if I bring in my own sweet potatoes the chef said he can bake them for me etc. It’s all the little stuff that will help me recover – sweet potatoes are amazing for skin cell renewal and repair. Plus I can’t wait to catch up with Clara – see you soon lovely lady. There’s always a positive! I’m hoping to use my resting time to catch up with friends – not sure how coherent I will be but at least I will have some spare time!

We spent an epic day at the hospital on Friday, starting at 8.30am! Questionnaires, medical for pre op (apparently I am a perfect patient!), bloods, heart checks, medical photographs.  Phil even got used for a bit of computer sorting! It always happens! ha ha.

My heart is healthy for surgery, all the swimming and healthy stuff has paid off….

I have to be in on Monday for more meetings and preparations – it’s all been such a rush.  I’ll stay over night ready for surgery all day – about 6 or so hours if all goes well – on the Tuesday.  I will have my phone and I’ll post via Facebook to let you all know I’m ok.  I will also be posting some before, after, healing staged photos under the Medical section if anyone wants to see the gory stuff!


So many of you have been asking me what exactly I’m having done now?? I know, it feels endless to me too. On and on and on. But it’s taken so long as it’s major, it needs organisation and it isn’t to do with the cancer – it’s just the aftermath. It’s like my body has had a major disaster hit and it then takes years to put back together, if ever.

So here goes……

Firstly some of you that have read my blog throughout may remember that 2 years ago I had immediate reconstruction with a strattice implant.  Basically I had a right mastectomy to remove my breast, the cancer and lymph removal, then at the same time I had an implant put in under my muscle and supported by a strattice mesh (instead of using muscle from my back like they used to).

At the time I had lost so much weight from complications with chemotherapy so this meant that I didn’t have options as to what type of surgery I could have – I was too skinny and the cancer had to be removed fast.  Plus this was the surgery that was done at Colchester at the time – all in one.  It was a better option than having a complete mastectomy as it was skin sparing.  Plus although there were risks that radiotherapy could ruin the implant it was worth trying anyway.  What we didn’t know was how my body would react to the implant! No one knew this. Since then I have been in constant pain, which I have got used to living with, but it’s not great believe me!  So basically the Radiotherapy has caused the implant to capsulate, meaning to harden and form scar tissue around the implant, which is only going to worsen in time and distort the implant and cause more pain.  My consultants also think that my body is so sensitive to the implant that it could also be causing the widespread body pain I suffer – fibromyalgia or Implant Illness (where your immune system fights against the foreign body implant).  But we would only know this for sure if the implant was removed.

So I had the decision of do I live with this pain and see how long I can take it knowing it will only get worse? Or do I risk having surgery to remove and replace with a homegrown boob from my tummy tissue.  But this is a huge risk in itself as due to the pain sensitivity I suffer (basically my brain doesn’t turn off the pain sensation very well!), and the fibromyalgia – which may or may not ease? and add on the joint pain, fatigue etc etc bla bla bla…… equals big huge decision as I could be so much worse off – I could end up with boob and tummy pain.  Not to mention all sorts of whatever else could go wrong! But I’m not going there so google that yourselves!

Anyway, with delays in between, finally I have a date for surgery with Dr Matt Griffiths my plastic surgeon…..

He is quite popular in North Essex! Every nurse, secretary, or anyone I meet or speak to seems to totally adore him!  I think this is a good sign! I trust him, he’s got many years experience, he is honest and direct.  No fluffing around. I like him!

Although I haven’t found the exact combination of surgery I will be having online to watch via youtube Mr Griffiths has done in the past with a few patients.  Check out his website for more info if anyone is interested…

So this is the man, with his team of course, who is going to be chopping me up on Tuesday…..or re-sculpturing my body….or trying to mend me, whatever way you look at it. This is horror movie stuff – I hate horror movies!

After the removal of the implant, strattice and scar tissue – which in effect is another mastectomy with less blood, I will be having a DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator) surgery to replace – eeeek!

This diagram may help you understand. Basically remove right breast implant, cut chunk of tummy, reposition belly button, sew up, connect tummy blood vessels to chest and sculpt (or stuff out) a boob shape with tummy tissue. Sew up. Ta da!

It’s huge! I’ve been told 6 months recovery to back to normal.  I have 2 months to do this! I need to get back to work in September! But Dr Griffiths has emphasised I must not have any expectations at all.  And I will have quite a few more tweaking operations to follow.  I can do this.

I am really trying to keep positive and focused but I am scared.  There are so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could happens’ and the totally unknown.  I have nothing to compare to and I’m doing this voluntarily – sort of.  Am I mad?

I am worried about leaving my family.  I’ve never even been away from them except when I’ve been in hospital! I hate us being apart – we are a team. And now I need to leave again and I don’t like it.

Phil and Nathan are taking everything in their stride.  It helps that Phil is off work – it’s worked out good he was made redundant! Everything happens for a reasons! Although ask me again in 6 months.  Nathan only has a week left of college and both school and college have been really supportive.  But Lewis is not good at the moment – things are getting to him – it’s hard to reassure him.  What you see is not what you get with Lewis – he’s a sensitive soul.  It’s so tough on the kids.  And to top it off Freya and Nathan are both poorly with a rotten cough and cold.  Phil will have to look after them until I can help again – he is amazing and will be fine and I have my mum near to help now too (thanks mum). I love my family x

Please everyone support them – we have a tough time ahead as a family.

So enough about my worries! I am sure you all understand – it’s horrible.  But I am in good hands and everything will be fine.

I hope to have some of my close family and friends visit me so if anyone needs to know I will be at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford on E320 Stock Ward under Mr Matt Griffiths.  Visiting is between 2pm to 8pm but please message or text me first 07817 645486 – no surprises!

Thank you all for your support, kindness and well wishes – I will let you all know how I am as soon as I am able, much love xxx


Thursday 22nd June 2017

Well the last few months have been crazy! Someone up there is sure throwing stuff at my family! So here’s the update…..

So just to recap…. my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. She is doing well and was caught early so she’s had a double mastectomy and reconstruction and is lucky enough not to have to go through chemo or radiotherapy. Couldn’t ask for better news!

Keep checking those boobies girls! Early diagnosis is crucial and remember sometimes there isn’t anything visible like me, so go with your gut feeling and don’t hang around getting checked. These lemons are a great guide!

Because of my cousin, my consultants decided to delay my surgery and await further genetic testing as 4 out of 6 of us had now been diagnosed with breast cancer! I have already had BRCA testing and the results were negative. This time I had PALB2 testing and I found out last week that this is negative. Again, brilliant news for my family – especially Freya.

We needed to wait as if the cancer had been genetic then my ‘good’ boob would need to be removed too and if this had been the case my tummy tissue would have needed to be shared between the two. As I have said in the past, if it was my choice alone I would opt to have had both removed as a precaution.  Unfortunately, under North Essex it’s not the hospitals policy to do this unless the cancer is found to be genetic.  But it would have been silly to go through such big surgery without finding out first.

Anyway, today we had an appointment to see my Breast Consultant – Dr Liptay-Wagner and he has booked my surgery to be on Tuesday 11th July with Dr Matt Griffiths – my plastic surgeon.  That’s in 3 weeks! This will now be the original surgery plan – which is to remove the implant and the capsule and replace with my tummy fat on the right side only.  Then at a later date when the new (hopefully less painful boob) has settled and been tweaked etc, I will then have ‘symmetry surgery’ on the left side to even up.  As my tummy won’t be needed for this surgery, as the breast tissue will not need to be removed now, it makes much more sense to do at a later date.  This should reduce recovery time for me too.

So what else has happened you ask?

Only that Phil got made redundant! OMG! What a shock – RBS literally shut London office apart from some skeleton staff.  The saying “it never rains but it pours” springs to mind!  But we can do this! We are a strong family and we’ve been through worse.  So things have been busy here building a plan of action! And the other saying “every cloud has a silver lining” comes to mind too! I have focusing on this one more!

Firstly I’ve been trying to work some extra hours as I finish for the summer tomorrow!  I am tired! But this warm weather eases my bone and joint pain a little so I’m finding I have a bit more energy.

Another big positive is that I got to see my students through to the end of the year. Here’s a few pictures of their end of year Art exhibition…..


It has also been very sad as my friends in the Art, Fashion, Photography and Music departments are relocating to Colchester.  Unfortunately I won’t be relocating with them at this point – maybe in the future, who knows.  But at the moment I need, and want to stay in Braintree Campus.  So who knows where I’ll be supporting in September.  Maybe bricklaying? or engineering? or evening with the electricians? The main thing is this gives me a focus to heal and mend after surgery to get back to work in September.

It also means that we won’t be getting away on a holiday but maybe at a later date, we shall see. Will give us something to aim and look forward to in the future.

So plan for Phil?  He doesn’t want to return to office work! At first I thought OMG! How are we going to afford to live, feed the forever hungry family, pay the mortgage etc etc.  But then I calmed down and thought the most important thing is that my husband is happy! Happiness is important as hopefully it will help to keep him healthy too! His health is very important now.

So he’s starting a few new ventures.  I’ll inform you more as they happen but to start with he will be freelancing in odd jobs to see what he actually enjoys and wants to do…. lawn mowing, bicycle repairs and servicing, car washing and valeting (have you seen how sparkly our cars always are!), house clearance or taking to charity, setting up new computers for people or advice etc etc or just an extra hand to build a shed or whatever!  He’s very useful and I’ve decided to rent him out for the summer and share him with you all!!! ha ha!

Please checkout his Facebook page “Holiday Help” and share for him…….

Over the summer this will also work well with Freya’s Animal Holiday Hotel and Care business.  That’s how he came up with the idea.  So many people go on holidays over the next few months.  Freya has quite a few bookings already.  But we always go along to help her out – especially with the multiple animal feeding and quite often the grass and garden get overgrown or need watering or odd jobs could be done.  This way people come home to a lovely garden and home and happy animals too! It means that I most probably won’t be able to help out much this year – who knows but at least Phil will be about now.

Our family life is important and I hated it when Phil had to work such long hours in London or travelling when the boys were little. I appreciate how hard it is as a single parent as I might as well have been then.  He’s been lucky that he’s been able to work from home all these years and especially while I’ve been sick but it would be unlikely in a new job if he stayed in IT.  We may never have lots of money but at least we’ll be rich in family time! And who knows he may dip in and out of IT locally – he’s an excellent project manager!

There has been lots of other minor stuff happen too that I won’t bore you all with – but the other major thing was our little (or quite big and fluffy now) Dill dog has been so poorly again.  He’s had a grass seed or something work its way to his neck.  Remember Lewis’ thorn in his hand last year? Well similar.  He’s been on antibiotics, he’s had surgery to flush, but they couldn’t find what was causing the abscess.  Today he has had his stitches out and now we have to wait to see if it swells again.  Fingers crossed.  Silver lining? he’s insured and it’s not cancer! Yay! But he’s also become very clingy to his humans and has been sleeping on our white sheets in this sweltering heat! Nice for him, not much sleep for us! ha ha.

Please universe stop throwing stuff our way now.

So put 11th July on the calendar please all those close to me! I will be in hospital for at least a week or two at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford and I would love some visitors if anyone fancies a chat and a catch up from a hospital bed?  I will update you more about surgery after my next meeting with Plastics. Until then, thank you for all your love and support – please don’t get bored as I still have a long way to go!