Friday, 29 November 2013

My 1st Birthday


Before I start this post I just want to wish 2 of my best girlies HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY KATHLEEN AND CHARLOTTE. Char's birthday was yesterday and Kath's is today! 
I can't believe that today is MY 1ST BIRTHDAY, a year ago since I had my Allogeneic stem cell transplant. Well what can I say... I am really over the moon. I couldn't have got this far without the huge support from EVERYONE! Seriously all my family, friends, nurses, neighbours, teachers and friends of friends. I am shocked how many people have supported me since the beginning of this long journey and I am so grateful for it!  It has been a bloody hard journey but I am so happy to be alive today! 
Last night I went for a meal with all my close family & friends to celebrate my 1st birthday. I had a great time and stuffed my face with delicious food! I also had an amazing cake made for me by Funky was delicious. There are so many kind people in this world, yesterday I went to have my nails shellacked by a lady called Michelle Searle, she heard about me by Funky Mammas ( Tracey) and offered a free shallac. Amazing! Also other people have donated some cupcakes and a ferrero roche tree. Amazing support! Thank you so much! 
My amazing cake!

The main reason I am alive today is all down to my superhero brother, Kieran. A truly amazing lad. Yes he's my annoying little 17 year brother but god not many 17 year olds can say they saved their big sisters life can they? I can't thank him enough for what he has done for me and now we have a huge connection as we share the gift of life. His blood cells are keeping me is pretty fascinating! I don't thank him enough for what he has done for me.
Back to the very start..when I was diagnosed we were told my plan of treatment, this was to have chemotherapy and the last resort was a stem cell transplant which I was not expected to have. I was told in August that due to my cancer being a pain in the ass, being an aggressive form and returning that I would need a stem cell transplant. When me and my family were told that there was only a 1 in 4 chance my sibling would be a match we instantly thought there's no chance he will be. He was tested the next week and n the 21st August me and my family were told Kieran was a 10/10 match. We were gob smacked and could not believe it! Having my younger brother as my donor is really amazing and we will always share a special bond.
TODAY I seriously feel better than ever. I have a great family, great friends and great health what more do I need?  
My recovery from the transplant is still ongoing. My consultant said that having a transplant and the preparation for transplant (having chemotherapy & total body radiotherapy) really knocks the life out of you and people recover very differently. I suffer from chronic fatigue and get tired really easily! I also suffer with muscle and joint pain and am told this should ease in the future. I don't beat myself up about this too much. Yes I will be on tablets for the rest of my life and have a lot of hospital check ups but I am enormously grateful to be alive today. 
Over the last year I have done some amazing things and met some amazing people. I have met a lot of young people who are fighting cancer who are an inspiration to me. I don't take life for granted as you never know what is around the corner. 
Future Plans
When I have fully recovered from my transplant I am hoping to return to college to complete an access to nursing course. Before I go back into education, I would love to travel. Next year I am definitely planning on going away on another girls holiday and a family holiday. I also would love to go to New York with mum, when I was in hospital we always said we would but money is the main issue...the flights are super expensive! As much as I want to achieve goals and go to university etc, I now feel that after fighting cancer life is too short and I want to rush and go travelling wherever I want. Don't let anything or anyone stop you doing what you want to do. 
I think about everything differently after having cancer. Yes I live in the fast lane and I think a lot of people live this way as I have spoke to others who agree with me. After being in hospital for 8 months I feel like I missed a year and I want to make up for that. I keep myself busy and want to plan to do things every day, my body on the other hand doesn't feel the same so this results in me pushing myself too much. My family and friends are always telling me to rest and rest but I tend to not listen. Silly I know!  I haven't got 'the all clear' and will feel a lot more 'safe' once I have. I feel like I'm living in limbo but I try not to dwell on this too much. This time next year I shall be saying those words! 'all clear' Yes there are many future complications that can arise and hopefully I will avoid these. 
Some people may question my emotions. I will never forget I had cancer and the journey I was faced with. It will affect me emotionally for the rest of my life but I see it as a positive thing. It has made me a stronger person and I feel different in myself. It has changed me but for the best. I get days where I will sit and think about everything I have been through and compare myself how I felt then to how well I am doing and feel today.  
I really can't believe how time flys by. This year has gone super fast and I think the fact I have kept myself constantly busy has helped me a lot!

Kieran, I can't thank you enough for helping me out when times were tough, 
You stepped in when my neutrophils were zero, Thank you so much for being my hero!
Health Update
I have to have all my 'baby' immunizations in a few weeks to help my new immune system. Which is crazy to think jabs I had 20 years ago are no longer in my blood?
My Iron levels are slowly dropping and should take another 6 months of venesections for my level to be 'normal which is great news. :)
I am taking a pill that helps to control my HRT side effects, so hopefully less hot flushes! Yay
I have my next clinic appointment next year! Sounds crazy to say that but such good news!
 I am looking forward to celebrating many more birthday's in the future. I will celebrate this date every year as it really is a very special day and I am so grateful...all thanks to my brother! 
 I am going to Bristol this afternoon for the weekend with all the girls to celebrate kath and cj's 21st. I will also have a celebratory drink to celebrate my 1st Birthday!
 Celebrations All around, I can't wait!

Always smiling x


Friday, 22 November 2013

Feeling Festive

It's 33 days until Christmas and I am feeling pretty festive already. People are lacking Christmas spirit this year! It is my favourite time of year as me and my family go all out. I feel like this Christmas is much more exciting than last year as I was in hospital so couldn't go Christmas shopping etc. This year I have definitely made up for it. This is one of the main reasons I am feeling really festive.
 Last weekend I went away with family and family friends to Birmingham. My parents go every year at Christmas to do a lot of their Christmas shopping. I have never been before so me and Kate decided to go this year and it was great. We shopped until we dropped...literally. We stayed at the copthorne hotel which is located across the road from Westfield Merry Hill shopping centre in Dudley. Three days of shopping, 7 hours a day was pretty crazy and super tiring. My feet swelled up and I have rested so much this week. I had a great weekend and have nearly finished my Christmas shopping...were not even in December. I'm doing pretty well I think! 

Winter is one of my favourite times of year. I love wrapping up warm and going for walks but also love being snug and cosy with the fire on. 
 I have been to see Santa and his reindeer's arrive and have also started to play my Christmas album in my car. Never too early is it. A few of my friends have put up their Christmas trees and decorations! Crazy!
 I love The John Lewis advert this year, it's very sad but really love Lilly Allen's version of Somewhere only we know. I don't know if it beats the snowman one from last year though! Hmmm....The Sainsbury's Christmas advert also makes me cry :'(.
 As you can see, this post is just me ranting on about how much I love Christmas! I love giving at Christmas. Seeing the smile on someone face and knowing I have made them smile means so much to me. 
I hope this post has made all you Scrooges start to feel festive and excited for Christmas!
Just realised I have said the word Christmas 13 times in this post. Excited much?

Always smiling x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Busy bee

These past few months have flown by and this is probably due to me keeping myself busy. Even though I need to rest and family and friends tell me not to push myself, I feel like after missing out on last year I have to do everything I want to do NOW. Well this isn't the way forward as I have realised my body tells me to stop. In August I had this urge that I wanted to go back to college. As some of you may know that before I was diagnosed I was in the middle of completing a business apprenticeship....that went down the drain as I was too poorly to complete it. So this year I have had a new change to heart and now would love to be a nurse. I think part of wanting to do this is due to the fact I spent a year in hospital last year and the nurses who looked after me have inspired me. I went for an interview to start a full time access course in September and luckily I got accepted for a place. I was super excited to get back into education and start getting back to a 'normal' life. 
I was really busy in September. The second week of September, me and my auntie took little Esme away to Hendra holiday park in her camper van for a few nights. I had a lovely time and had a nice relaxing weekend. We took Esme to Newquay zoo and she loved it. I think me and my auntie enjoyed it as much as her as we were allowed to feed the penguins! It was my first time at Newquay zoo and would go again as it wasn't too big and hilly as our local zoo in Paignton. 

 The week after coming back from Hendra,me and the girls went to Newquay to celebrate Ash's 21. We had a great weekend! It was nice to spend time together before everyone went back to uni and college. 

After these eventful few weeks, It was time to start college. I settled in pretty well, made a lot of friends and already started a Biology assignment. Unfortunately I started to feel really tired and my mouth flared up in ulcers. I booked a clinic check up with my consultant and she said that my mouth ulcers were a sign of my body telling me to slow down. She said my immune system is still new and not even a year old. For this reason I have decided to defer my place at college and continue with the course next September, my health is more important right now. I think that being out of hospital I want to rush and get back to some normal life but this is going to take a while and I wasn't expecting this. The college were really understanding and said I can 100% continue next year. Even though I was only there for a month or so, I made some great friends who support and understand I still stay in touch with them and wish them all the luck that they complete the course and gain their chosen course at university. 
After my recent clinic appointment I have been told that I have to have all of my baby injections again. As I now have a new immune system all my previous jabs are no longer there. I have to have some of the jabs a year after transplant and the live ones two years after. I am also still having venesections for my iron overload and am not sure of the ferritin level but I am guessing it's still high because my consultant said it will most likely take months before it starts to drop. Due to the level being extremely high this affects my tiredness and my joints and bones aching a lot. Thank god for co-codamol pain killers, even though they make me super sleepy, they ease the pain. 
Since leaving college I am now focussing on MYSELF and health, I have returned to swimming once a week and do get tired after swimming a few laps of the pool but I am determined to regain my strength and increase my energy levels. I am looking forward to the future I have and although I want to rush and get back to normality, it will take time. I need to keep reminding myself that I have my whole life ahead of me. 
Always smiling x