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Friday, 19 July 2013

Awareness is the word

It is the word that we hear all the time, so closely connected to breast cancer that it is almost a mantra.  Early detection saves lives; roll up, roll up, get your mammogram here; be Aware of The Symptoms.

But Awareness only seems to go along with the symptoms and catching it early.  Where is the Awareness when it is no longer and Early Stage form that can have a happy outcome?  How about some Awareness that even when cancer has become Late Stage that there is still a possibility of life and happiness even if you are considered to have incurable cancer.

My father died of emphysema less than three weeks after my 18th birthday.  I grew up witnessing and living alongside a disease that could not be cured and which was killing my father, so I guess I have always thought that there could be come sort of a life after a diagnosis of death.  What I find so difficult is the way that those of use living in the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death are not seen as being in a valley that can have sun as well as shadow; that can have beautiful and life affirming days even when we are traveling through it.  The path from one end of the valley to the other is not straight and although the terrain can be difficult there can be those days when you just have to smile at being alive and able to enjoy living.  I was driving out from Oxford to Witney earlier this week and I was just thinking what a perfect day it was and how amazing it was just to be there.  It was the kind of day where I could just have kept heading west into the Cotswolds and wandered around the villages that my ancestors inhabited.  But that world is also in my mind and my soul.  I may not be able to walk through the countryside as once I could, but my mind can still walk through those fields and along those roads just as many of my family did before me.

There is nothing new under the sun ... perhaps, but there are new things for me to do, or places to go because today is a new day that I have not lived before.

Awareness of breast cancer has to be about understanding an excepting the whole journey.  It is about being aware that things can go to plan and the patient can be a survivor, but in some cases it just doesn't work out the way that we would all like it to be.  Awareness is about not only supporting the 'winners' but also the 'losers' and making sure that they get the support that they need.  Why is it that all the support goes to those who, hopefully, will be ok?  Why do we have to sit and listen to people going on about how stressful it is knowing that your cancer might come back, that there might be a recurrence or progression.  Of course once you are in the Valley Of The Shadow you don't need help, understanding or support because ... well you're dead already - WRONG.  Those of us who are Valley-dwellers don't want anyone else to be part of Our Club.  We want to be exclusive, we want to be the last of the last but others keep turning up and joining in.  I have lived with Metastatic Breast Cancer for 66 months.  I didn't die the day I was diagnosed.  I didn't cease to exist, to have feelings or to need support and understanding and yet I, and so many others who live with MBC feel as though we are invisible and unwanted, having become some sort of Zombie - the walking dead.  I am alive, I can kick and I do exists - so get over it!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

7 July 2013

At the beginning of the day the 7th of July was probably best known for being the anniversary of the London Underground and Bus Bombings.  By the end of today it is best known for the first time in 77 years that a British man has won the Men's Singles at Wimbledon.  It is one of those where were you on that sporting day, kind of days.  Do you remember when England won the World Cup in 1966?  The first sub-4 minute mile?  Botham's Ashes (going over to Ireland on a ferry for a friend's wedding and losing the coverage half way when he was taking wickets every over - or so it seemed).  Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett breaking world records in the 800m, 1500m and the mile, then slogging it out in the Moscow Olympics in 1980.  Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in rowing; last summer's Olympics in London.

I didn't watch the match live, I have to admit, but I have just watched the highlights programme and I have to say I am impressed.  I gave up watching tennis because it seemed to be all big-serves and no rallies but it was actually a great game to watch with some excellent play.  Epic is a word that could be used.

A British man winning Wimbledon has been one of those 'Holy Grails' of British sport that I, for one, never really thought would come about in my life time.  It is one of those things that has Britain applauding the loser with a sense of here we go again ... until today!  It has happened!  Today we got to applaud the home grown winner and commiserate with a foreign loser; it is all rather alien to the British psyche.  British ... sport ... winner.  These have not often been synonymous.  However the irony is that those who are paid the most and who are pampered and preened the most are the least successful.  After all the last time England won the World Cup was in 1966 - 47 years ago, so if it is anything like Tennis we will have to wait another 30 years for a national football team that can actually win something.  Or maybe Brazil 2014?  Or maybe not.

Well done Andy Murray.  Huzzah.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Pure foods for babies

It is really worrying that so many companies are putting Genetically Modified foods into baby formulas and foods.  How can the companies that have produced these foods claim that they are the same as normal corn or soya when the term for them is Genetically MODIFIED, and they protect that modification with patents that, surely, can only be granted to a unique development or invention.



Also go to http://www.robynobrien.com/ and look at the TEDx talk that she did which is on the front page of the site.

The purity of our food is vital to dealing with a cancer diagnosis and good farming practices are essential for the environment and the biodiversity of this planet.  After all we have to protect this planet - it is the only one with Chocolate!