Happy Boob-A-Versay! One year after my mastectomy

Hello, did you miss me? I’m really sorry it’s been so long, but I promise, I’ve not had much to say… not on the topic of boobs anyhow.

However, today is my Boob-A-Versay! What’s that I hear you cry? One whole year since I decided to chop my boobs off, even though I don’t have cancer (please refer to previous posts for the rationale and to ensure I’m not crazy).

No news is good news

For those of us involved in online communities of high risk women making prophylactic choices, you often only read about when things go wrong with surgery. It’s not surprising really. So few people understand what you’re going through and you’re more likely to reach out and share your bad experiences, rather than the good ones. But that’s why these communities have been set up in the first place and they are an absolute God send.

However, for every bad experience shared, there’s a load of good ones that are gratefully and quietly held dear. And that’s pretty much what I have been lucky enough to go through, and why it’s been so blummin long since we talked. However, on my Boob-A-Versary I wanted to share my positive update to help reassure anyone out there thinking about, or about to embark on prophylactic surgery that it can be a relatively stress free process, and the world’s greatest gift.

One year on: How are my boobs?

In a word, they are great. I have gone from a 32B to a 32D (Mr F calls it the world’s most traumatic and expensive boob job – I promise you that it wasn’t the reason). They look good in clothes and even better in a bra. My scars are still pretty visible, but only if I lift my arms up and they could be better, if I could be bothered to massage them more; I get bored.

The artist formerly known as the total eclipse of the nipple is now only about 75% nipple and a bit wonky on top, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest and I treasure it like a war wound.

I see my plastic and breast surgeon every 6 months, but other than that, the constant trips to the hospital have subsided.

One year on: What can I do?

Pretty much anything. 2 months after my exchange surgery, in November, I was signed off to do any exercise. After a good burst before Christmas, and an indulgent trip to the UK in between, I have been going to boot camp 3 – 4 times a week. And word up ladies with muscles for boobs, I did 100 push ups on my toes last week. Ace!

One year on: What else has happened?

I won’t bore you too much, but here’s the here and now in a snapshot. You may remember I talked about signing up to become a life-coach.  Well I did. My course is up and running and it’s awesome. And Mr F… remember him? Well the most wonderful and supportive man who was by my side every step of my boob chopping journey; he only went and proposed didn’t he!  Of course I said yes and we are busy planning two weddings for this September.

Wrapping up

So that’s it really.  I probably won’t write to you for a while. Like I said, I really don’t have much to talk about and I’m even getting to the point where I barely think about the bad boys any more. What I will say is that last year was one of the best years of my life. I’m so proud of myself, so unbelievably lucky and grateful for this precious gift my mum wasn’t lucky enough to even consider.

If you are a high risk woman and are considering prophylactic surgery, I promise it’s not all scare stories and there are women who have positive experiences with very minor, if any complications. I hope my experience can help give you the encouragement to make the bravest decision of your life.

To the rest of you, thanks so much for your support and love.  I couldn’t have done it without you x

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Where the hell have you been?

 where-are-you-now

 Well, in short, probably at work…!

But as some of you know, I have been quiet for a while. So I thought it was time to a) write and b) tell you how I’m doing. So, why haven’t I written…?

Work:

The overriding reason why I haven’t written is work. It has literally taken over my life in the last 2 months and my time-off post-operation seems like an age away. I like my job, but there are aspects that make me wonder how long I can physically do it for.

At times work can be so busy – from the moment you get in to the moment you leave you can honestly not stop – no time for Facebook, other people will get your lunch and you often forget to pee until your bladder starts prodding you, threatening to burst. In busy times this ridiculousness can start from 7.30am in the morning, through to 11pm at night and into the weekend.  This week I was writing emails on a cross trainer at 6am in the morning – I was another person I would generally refer to as a complete idiot.

The pressure can also be so intense. I work in a service industry of sorts (Public Relations) where you are tasked with meeting very high expectations set by other people. This can mean that the volume, nature and direction of your work load are out of your control and constantly changing. Combined with the fact that in PR, regardless of how hard you work, the outcome you want is not guaranteed means your anxiety levels can be at a constant high.

Finally, the last element of pressure can come from managing the team. I’m relatively senior and the welfare of my team is often my primary concern. This is great if they are doing well, but if they are not it involves having difficult conversations pretty much every day. Difficult conversations in a high pressure atmosphere is a fertile environment for tears – lots of tears! My team work really, really hard, but regardless, sometimes I still need to have difficult conversations that may upset people. These don’t sit easily with me and I regularly come home hating myself; conflicted between trying to a good job, but also being somewhat responsible for other people’s stress and unhappiness.

Don’t get me wrong- none of the above is a shock. I’ve done this gig for 10 years and am a big girl. I know what I do. But when the shit hits the fan I shut down. Social arrangements are non-existent, along with my relationship with my boyfriend.

Taking a respite from my tits:

The other reason I’ve been absent is that for the last 9 months to a year all I have talked about is my tits. Yawn. After a while this gets BOR-ING!

My last 2 fills were pretty painful and the day after my last one I got on a plane to Bali to go to a wedding.  This physical break has allowed me to take a metaphorical break from the subject of my artificial mammaries.

To be honest I think I needed it. There comes a point when over-talking and thinking about one thing for so long becomes counter-therapeutic. So stop I did.

I’m also not sure how I feel about my boobs and how they will look post exchange. I like them at the moment.  They are 400cc and nice and round. In tight tops they look sensational and they are pert as hell. However, they are nowhere as big as I would like them to be. Dimension wise they might be, but how they sit, they feel small. Then I keep on hearing how my exchange implants will sit differently and smaller. Well I don’t really know how I feel about that.

So while I am processing my expected disappointment, I’ve not really felt I’ve wanted to verbalise what’s going on in my head.

How am I doing?

Apart from my A4 moan above I am absolutely fine. Those who know me will know I like a winge so please don’t read too much into the above.

It’s two months before my exchange surgery and in preparation I am back on my healthy straight. I am cleaning up my diet again (it’s mostly pretty good – when I say cleaning up I mean I won’t be drinking 5 nights out of 7) and bringing yoga back into my fitness routine more regularly.

I have also started acupuncture to try and ease my stress levels and get my body back in balance again.  I have only done it twice but loving it.

I’m really looking forward to the exchange – perversely as I’ll have some time off work – and also so I can live a life where my boobs are not the most interesting thing about me.

Anyway, that’s me. How the hell have you lot been?

GETTING TESTED FOR THE BRCA MUTATION

Since starting this blog and especially since Angelina’s BRCA mutation and subsequent prophylactic mastectomy hit the news, there has been more interest from friends and family who might be considering being tested.

The process isn’t necessarily complicated, but there are things that I discovered along the way, that you might not read in a manual or that your Dr will tell you. With this in mind I thought it would be a good idea to outline what I did (and should have done) when I got tested for the BRCA mutation.

I will say that this is my experience and my experience in Australia (with a bit of the UK health service thrown in). This is not a definitive guide and I have listed reference points at the bottom of this article where you can go for more information. If any Aussies want to tell me their experiences I will continue to update this post to make sure it’s relevant.

Before you do anything, sort out your admin

Before you think about getting tested it’s worth sorting out certain things you may not have already and may need further down the road.

If you don’t have life insurance, it’s probably a good idea to sort that out before you get tested so a positive result isn’t taken into consideration when calculating your premiums, or working out whether or not they will insure you.

More important than this, GET DECENT HEALTH INSURANCE.  I cannot stress this enough. I had some health insurance, which meant I was somewhat covered when it came to my operation. But my poor level of health insurance affected some of my decisions, including what hospital I could choose and what surgeons were available to me. Also, as a non-permanent Australian resident, as I am, you also need health insurance, otherwise you won’t be eligible for any rebate under the reciprocal Medicare agreement.

You need the health insurance before you get tested otherwise the BRCA mutation or any surgery resulting from a positive result will be seen as a predetermined condition and your insurance company may not cover you.

Know your family history

In order to qualify for testing, you will need to demonstrate why you might be eligible i.e. you have high incidence of cancer in your family. You will be asked this from the start and then time and time again if you do test positive and decide to undergo surgery.

Speak to your family members and find out who in your family has had cancer, what cancer they have had and what age they were diagnosed.

This quiz will help you determine whether you are at high risk, and shows you some of the questions your Drs will be asking to determine whether you are a candidate for testing. They include a family or personal history of breast cancer before the age of 50, incidence in two or more relatives, breast cancer in a male relative, cancer in both breasts or twice in the same breast, breast cancer and Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jewish ancestry and ovarian cancer at any age.

http://www.inheritedrisk.com/inherit-risk-cancer/

If you have not had cancer but think you may be at risk, find out if anyone in your family has tested positive for the mutation and request a copy of their pathology results.

If no one in your family has been tested, but you have surviving relatives who have had cancer, you may want to request that they get tested first. The reason for this is a little complicated but this extract explains why quite succinctly:

Genetic testing for mutations in the ‘cancer protection’ genes is complex. First, the mutation has to be identified in a family member who has or had the cancer.  This is called a mutation search and may take considerable time.

Second, and only if a mutation is found, other family members without cancer can be tested to determine if they have inherited the faulty gene. This is called predictive genetic testing (see Genetics Fact Sheet 21)”

http://www.genetics.edu.au/Information/Genetics-Fact-Sheets/Cancer-Genes-and-Inherited-Predisposition-Overview-Cancer-Genetics-1-FS47/view

My Dr explained it by saying, looking for a gene mutation is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But if someone gives you a map – in the form of your relative’s genetic mutation make-up – it makes it easier to determine an accurate result.

Speak to your Dr

To get the process in motion, I first went to my GP, explained my family history and that I wanted to talk to someone about testing. They referred me to the Hereditary Cancer Clinic in Randwick but your Dr will refer you to the best place for you.

Armed with my family history, my uncle’s pathology results and the name of the clinic where he was tested, the Drs at the Hereditary Cancer Clinic were able to put the wheels in motion.

Before you sign a piece of paper and give your blood to be tested, the clinic will ensure you have talked to a genetic counsellor.  They aren’t like normal counsellor in any way shape or form.  Their job is to ensure you have enough information about testing, what a positive result means for your risk, its implications and the options that are available if you do test positive.

Then when you are sure you sign a piece of paper and the testing process begins.

It takes about a month (if not less) to get the results. Mine was longer as they were getting my uncle’s blood from the UK and the NHS didn’t make this very easy for them.

Get some support

As a lot of you know I am a stubborn person who is determined to do everything by myself. Looking back I wish I’d sorted my support system a lot sooner. I have great friends, but you need people who get it. It didn’t help for me that I broke up with my boyfriend and got made redundant couple of days before I got my results.

Pink Hope are the Australian charity that helps women with both support and resources and I have met amazing people through them who told me things I needed to know, but would have never asked.

Other Facebook groups I’m a member of are called Previvors and the BRCA Sisterhood group.  These are closed groups and you may have to explain why you are qualified to join. I would say, these groups are brilliant, but I am glad I didn’t join these particular groups until I was ready to have my preventative mastectomy. Culturally American groups are very different from Aussie and UK groups – we are a lot more conservative and less likely to share so honestly, or visually. This is brilliant for when you’re going into surgery, but at the BRCA testing stage I’m not sure how helpful it is to see women’s reconstructed breasts. The ‘freak-out’ potential is a little too much.

I started seeing someone professionally following my diagnosis. I only went a few times but I do think it was useful to help try to process everything.

Results day

Take someone with you and get them to drive you.

Despite having broken up with Mr F a couple of days before the test, he was the person I wanted to come with me.  Go figure huh.

Just having someone there immediately after helps avoid those feelings of despair and the opportunity to overthink.  We went and had a lot of wine and spoke about everything other than my new BRCA status and our relationship.

A positive result

Remember throughout all of this, you may not test positive.  But if you do, it’s not a death sentence. You need to remember you don’t have cancer and chances are, you may not get it any time soon. Take your time deciding what you do next and like I said, lean on everyone you can for support.

Resources

–          http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/34/2/49/51#.UZoFQ7Vgd2A

–          http://www.genetics.edu.au/Information/Genetics-Fact-Sheets/Cancer-Genes-and-Inherited-Predisposition-Overview-Cancer-Genetics-1-FS47/view

–     http://www.genetics.edu.au/Information/PublicationsBrochuresandPamphlets/Genetic%20Tests%20for%20Breast%20and%20Ovarian%20Cancer%20Decision%20Aid

–          http://pinkhope.org.au/

–          http://www.mydestiny-us.com/

5th Expansion: 350 CC and at capacity

EXLODING BOOBS

I had my capacity fill this week.  Come Tuesday and I was already nervous about this time round. 300CC had been tight and my boobs had never smelt so good as I repeatedly massaged cocoa butter into them through the day. Mr F finds this habit a little off-putting when I am in the middle of a conversation with him, but needs must. 

‘Pump me up’ Wednesday arrives and I jump out of bed at 6am to go to spin. By 9am I want my body to be numb to any external stimuli so I pop 2 Panadols. By 8am I am ready to get on the bus to the hospital and I pop 2 more. I proudly relay my strategy to the Silver Fox PS’s lovely nurse and she seems a little alarmed and tells me to prolong my frequency to every 4 hours. But SF PS isn’t too fazed.

So far, so good.  I can now physically feel the needle puncturing my muscle on booth breasts, it is very tight and it feels that the saline has been replaced by lead, but it’s OK… tight as hell, but OK.

metal breasts

Until about 1pm.

I’m so dosed up on Panadol that I shouldn’t be able to feel a sledge hammer coming towards me, but it’s not the muscle discomfort.  My actual boobs are fine.  The sensation is partly the feeling that I am in a vice that has been tightened just enough to let me breathe. But only just enough.  On top of this is a nerve pain in my back and arms that is similar to the back pain I felt in hospital when I had my Seroma. It’s so intense, and a pain that has no location it increases my anxiety and feelings of discomfort tenfold.

I like to think of myself as a pretty tough chick.  Which is part of the reason I was probably single for a good chunk of my late 20s?  I never admit I need help and I can do anything I set my mind to, all by myself! I know that if the pain is too intense I can call my PS and arrange to go get some saline taken out- but for me, that = regression and I am a big advocate of progress.

But by 3pm when I find myself sitting at my desk sobbing, I at least decide to go to the chemist.

He gives me PanafenPlus which is a combination of ibuprofen to stop inflammation and codeine for the pain.  He says I can also double this up with Panadene if I’m still struggling.

All this would be enough to deal with, but I also have a work event scheduled for this evening. I know my team are completely across things, but the owner of the company has flown in from Russia and it really doesn’t look good for me not to be there, so I call my client and let her know that I’ll just be staying until everyone sits down for dinner.

By the time I get there the Panafen has started to kick in and the pain is less intense when I’m actually doing something so I crack on and decide to stay for dinner.

This is when I sit down and have a glass of wine…

Now I’m really sorry, this isn’t very PC or clever or anything that a medical professional would advise to do, or anything I would recommend for anyone to do.  i.e. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS BASED ON THIS POST.

But wow, the pain suddenly became bearable.  You can see why celebs get addicted to painkillers and a nice glass (or 5) of Shiraz. For the first time that day I don’t feel the anxiety, the pressure or any pain.

Anyway, wino advice over. This extreme pain has subsided.  I am waking up in the morning with the feeling that my breasts have been left out in the sun all night and the skin has tightened up over my angry expanders.  I also can’t sleep on my left side as both yesterday and today I have woken up with pins and needles all down my left arm which doesn’t abate until the afternoon.

This coming Wednesday I need to choose whether I want to try and over-expand the expander. The capacity is 350 but SF PS says they could try to push it further. For the sake of slightly bigger boobs do I want a few more days of pain and the risk of getting on a plane to Bali that evening with a load of pain killers and a face full of tears? We will see.

#thejoysofbuildingbreastsfromscratch.

 

 

 

Things that are different since having a mastectomy: #5 Pumping up tires

When I was a little girl my brother would make tunes in the sound of farts via his armpits. I thought this was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and was unbelievably jealous.

However hard I tried and closely I copied his actions, I could never make the same sound via my armpit.

Fast-forward 30ish years and I decide to take advantage of Sydney’s amazing autumn day by going for my first, post-op bike ride.

Any road-bike rider worth their salt knows that pumped up tires = a good ride. My poor bike had neglectfully been sitting in my work for the past 3 months and both tires were in need of filling.  So obviously the first thing I decide to do before getting back on the saddle is pump up my tires.

The motions and process of pumping up the tires is the same, albeit a little tougher than it was pre-mastectomy.  The main difference was the sound my armpit made, every time I inserted more air into the tire and my expander made contact with my pit.

Yes…it was the sound of a child-like parp.

So you see, child-hood dreams really do come true.  As long as you wait long enough and decide to get both your breasts removed…

If this is just a creation of my warped upbringing and imagination and you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is some kid on the internet mastering this skill:

Booby Dysmorphic Disorder™

huge_boobs

Most of us who were small fry, pre-mastectomy, seem to want to be bigger post-chop. Never say never, but it’s unlikely I would have opted for a boob job BF (in the time ‘Before Foobs’), had I not found my deformed gene.

Some of you know my feelings about drawing comparisons between a prophylactic mastectomy and a breast augmentation. If wanting bigger boobs was my motivation, I could have found a load more pleasant means to get them… Eating lots of pies, chicken fillets and, if I really, really wanted them, a run of the mill boob job, which would have been a much more pleasant and less psychologically treacherous stroll in the park than the route I have chosen.

However, if I have had to have my boobs lopped off, one small payback is going to be the opportunity to increase the size of my love jugs.

I’m currently at 300CC in my expansion process.  This last fill has been the most uncomfortable to date. I wake up each morning feeling like my breasts might explode through my armpits and I have pins and needles where my bra straps would normally be on my back. They are also so hard I feel like I’m wearing a bra stuffed with shot-puts. (The irony is, and you can ask Mr F, I am very much not wearing a bra at the moment. Well, it hurts like hell! We now have a morning game where we anticipate how visible my nipples will be in the day’s choice of clothing… anyway, I digress)

My point is, even though they feel like the biggest breasts in the world, I currently have no real idea how big they are which is why I have diagnosed myself as suffering from Booby Dysmorphic Disorder™. Like the body version, I think my view of how big my boobs are, is pretty out of whack with how they actually look.

How big are my boobs?

I don’t know? But they are definitely bigger. I put on a shirt the other day and for the first time in my history (apart from when I’m carrying a little holiday weight) the buttons were in danger of taking out a few eyeballs. Then I also almost got stuck trying to get my sports bra over my Foobs, which was quite embarrassing as I was with a relatively new colleague. It was so tight that when I took it off my right boob was a squashed oblong (I swiftly reached for the cocoa butter and began to desperately massage it back to ‘normal’).

But as head to my final fill next week, I’m a little sad not to keep going. Maybe if they were squishy and pendulous they’d feel more substantial?  I’m also worried that when I make the exchange to the softer, more realistic implants, I’ll lose some of the fullness that my current shot-puts provide. After everything you go through, I really don’t want to feel ‘deflated’ (pardon the pun) with the final result.

But… will they look ridiculous? I’m only 5’3” and a UK 8 – 10. In reality am I modelling myself on Barbara Windsor? Who knows? I am suffering from Booby Dysmorphic Disorder after all.

Barbara Windsor

Taking over-sharing to a new level

JoliTweet

Today I went on national TV and talked about getting my boobs chopped off. I almost cried when I talked about my mum, and I now want to remove a mole I have on my face but apparently I did very well. I managed to get a plug in for http://www.pinkhope.org.au and am chuffed that I did my bit to get our story out and raise awareness of BRCA. I’ll try to get a clip and post it up here.

The other highlight was that Angelina Jolie ‘favorited’ my tweet to her. We’re so going to be BFFs forevs and evs.

Angelina; Helping Previvors find their place

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So it appears that I have more in common with Angelina Jolie than I ever thought possible. No, it’s not a gaggle of children, adopted from the far corners of the world. We’re both women who have voluntarily decided to undergo mastectomies in order to prolong our lives and reduce our risks of breast cancer. And like Ange, I also have a (better looking) version of Brad Pitt in my rock, Mr F.

Her letter to the New York Times about her decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy following her BRCA1 diagnosis is beautifully written. I applaud her for using her celebrity status to raise awareness and understanding of what it means to be a Previvor and the choices we have available. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/opinion/my-medical-choice.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2&

Finding our place

Part of the reason I think that Angelina’s sharing her experience with the world is so important is because as Previvors, we’re a bit of a funny bunch that don’t neatly fit anywhere. We’ve not actually had cancer, but at the same time, face a different reality and decisions from your genetically favoured, Josephine Bloggs.

Not cancer enough

When people first found out about my decision to get my boobs chopped off many, very kind and generous friends offered to put me in touch with people they knew who had been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone a mastectomy.  I found this generous offer a difficult one to reply to, or explain.

Most Previvors will be too familiar with the heartbreaking effects of cancer and many will have lost more than one family member to the disease. But we haven’t actually had cancer. We’re the lucky ones who were given a choice and could take a part in somewhat guiding our fate. Many of us have no idea what cancer personally feels like and hopefully, if we follow the course of continued expulsion (boobs, followed by ovaries or Fallopian tubes), never will.  At low points, when things get tough during this experience, I often feel ashamed that this fact is not front of mind.

Our surgery follows a similar course, but aesthetically, physically and mentally, a Previvor’s journey is much more straightforward. We don’t have to endure chemo or radio-therapy and as a result, things are much easier.  So for me at the time, talking to a cancer survivor to help me come to terms with my experience felt a little insensitive.

Not quite healthy enough

For many of us, we’re not sick at all and could be living extremely healthy lives. However, we don’t fit into the genetically favoured crew either.

Imagine waking up each morning with the mindset that one day you’ll get cancer. Not maybe, but you will definitely get cancer? I’m not saying statistically this is the case, but there is a really high probability that you will and for me, mentally, it was definitely going happen.

Many Previvors have had to face their mortality from a very young age. I avoided mine throughout my twenties, but I was always running from it. For those who do face up to it, how young is too young to put the information you have been blessed with to good use?

You see, we have been given a gift. The gift of information and more fool us if we don’t use that information responsibly. If we are diagnosed with carrying a BRCA mutation and continue to smoke and drink too much alcohol, are we complete idiots? Should we never take the contraceptive pill because we know the risks? And if we don’t decide to get our boobs chopped off and we get breast cancer, is it our fault for waiting too long and not acting?

On the subject of breeding, am I selfish for wanting to reproduce the normal way and just hope for the best? Will I be able to forgive myself if I pass my faulty gene to my daughter who has to undergo a mastectomy in her twenties?  Will I be able to watch her make decisions about freezing her eggs just in case she doesn’t meet Mr Right before she has to have her ovaries removed?

I’m not playing my small violin and complaining about it, it’s just, we don’t quite fit here either.

The Previvor crew.

Thank goodness for my crew, the Previvors. Like any group of people, we’re a disparate bunch spread all over the world and our stories are all different.  Some women are happy to share their experience along with their post-op booby pictures, and others aren’t. We’re all at different stages in our lives and being BRCA positive has different implications for each of us. What we do share is a huge level of compassion and a willingness to be there for each other. We are all, in our own ways, pulling together to form a strong community. To be there for each other and help others understand us too.

So thank you Angelina, for helping more women like us find our crew and know they are not alone. As well as helping the rest of the world understand where we fit too.

COMMITMENTS TO HEALTH: PROGRESS REPORT

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Last week I made a couple of commitments to help me get out of my post-mastectomy fug and cheer the heck up.

They were to;

–          keep my stress levels to a minimum, stop sweating the small stuff and meditate once a week

–          go see a Dr about my painful periods, and

–          be grateful

This week I  have;

–          been ridiculously stressed and not particularly easy to work or live with. I have been impatient with people, snapped at a few others and upset one person (in my defence, I wasn’t mean. I just had to have a difficult conversation with someone, which was upsetting. Still, it’s not nice to see someone upset as a result of something you’ve said)

–          not mediated once. I worked late on the night I was going to go to meditation class. Viciouscircle.com.au

–          I got my period… It didn’t hurt for two days then BAM. In hospital after the op the nurses would ask me to rate my pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10. I always replied that it was less than my period pain. Mr F has very little sympathy for me as he says I get them every month and know they are painful so I should a) be used to this by now and b) be more prepared and take pain-killers before the pain comes

–          Been miserable and full of ugly self-pity

Progress report? Must do better.

I have all weekend to rectify this situation.

Jobs to do before Sunday evening;

–          Meditate before the end of Sunday if not today? Maybe go to yoga? Whatever, just chill out!

–          Cheer up and stop feeling sorry for myself that I work so hard and woe is me… (Read- smash up my tiny, scratchy violin)

–          Take painkillers repeatedly and think about making an appointment at the Drs at some point before the end of June

–          Smile

I’ll let you know how I go.

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

inspirational blogger

The only award I have every received was a highly commended certificate for my handwriting at a St. David’s Day Eisteddfod in primary school.  Those of you who know me, and especially those who work me will know that I have the most appalling hand-writing known to man. I blame my Dad who has passed on his Drs scrawl, combined with a flamboyant and creative mind. Anyway, I think they made a big mistake.

So, it is with great humility and pleasure that I accept what I believe in my first ever, legitimate recognition with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

One of the brilliant things about bogging has been connecting with people from all over the world in similar situations to myself. My very first ever blogging friend was Mogatos who writes, Saying NOPE to Breast Cancer http://bilateralmastectomy.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/very-inspiring-blogger-award/. Her blog is brilliant and very informative and she has been a great support to me over the last few months, including very kindly nominating me. She’s also a couple of months ahead of me in her journey so she gives me a bit of a heads up as to what to expect.

One of the conditions in accepting the award is to tell people 7 things about yourself. If you know me you already know I am a massive over-sharer so it’s difficult to find 7 I won’t have already shared, but here goes:

–          I am 34, female and live in Australia. I grew up in Wales and class myself as Welsh

–          I can only say a few, rude phrases in Welsh

–          I have 3 tattoos. One is my mother’s name written in Thai, one is a set of stars that I got done in Selfridges in London and the last is now a splodge I obtained from a questionable establishment in Swansea

–          I’m a pretty good singer. I don’t really sing any more but I used to a lot and won lots of beer T-shirts in university Karaoke competitions. I even won a ‘pager’ in the days before everyone owned a mobile phone

–          I starred in a reality TV program when I was 19. It was on Sky 1 in the UK and it was filmed over 2 weeks in Malouf. This is all you need to know

–          I love coffee so much and my morning cup, in a nice coffee shop whilst reading my kindle is my favourite part of the day

–          My mum was and still is my absolute hero and I can’t believe how much I still miss her 12 years since she died

OK, there are probably a few more than 7 facts there.

The other condition is that I have to nominate other bloggers and tell them about it. So my nomination goes to Lissie Bendy who writes about her journey with breast cancer at 37 on http://shittytittiebangbang.com/. Lissie’s humour and courage is incredibly inspiring and I love her Shittietitttie Chemo Cuts Reveal Challenge. The challenge inspires people to make positive changes in their life and share their commitment with others. Every time ten people share their commitment, she gets a new haircut. And despite sporting new locks that would challenge the best of us, she always looks sensational. http://shittytittiebangbang.com/2013/04/08/the-shittietittie-chemo-cuts-reveal-challenge/.

So along with my nomination, here are my commitments to make positive changes in my life.  I commit to keeping my stress levels to a minimum, to stop sweating the small stuff and to meditate at least once a week in order to achieve this. I will go see a Dr about my really painful periods to put my mind at rest rather than worrying about it. And finally I will thank my lucky stars every single day that I was able to take at least a little bit of control over my future and will so enjoy this life I have to its maximum limit.