Proud Auntie

Patience is a virtue. Today I’m not feeling particular virtuous. The erratic and unpredictable bowel movements are getting worse. I have had a whole week of ‘taking it easy’ which basically means no sport. Apart from a quick game of table tennis and a run around at Inverleith park I have been limiting my after work duties to recharging my batteries. On Tuesday I was back in the confines of our loo. It is on days like those where I welcome a colonoscopy! The familiar view below is one I have come to hate:

  
I can’t complain however. The frustration of not doing sport was compensated yesterday when I got to play proud Auntie. Conor and Ryan, along with their cousins, competed in their first organised sporting event: the Vale of Leven toddler fun run! Between them they have surpassed any records in the Williams’ household by being the youngest to wear a running number.

   
 

Following the fun run the spotlight was on my older brother Owain who took to compete in the Vale of Leven 10k. I must admit I had slight envy and regret for not signing up. However those feelings quickly disappeared when Owain revealed his shirt which proudly boasted a Welsh Dragon and Saltire on either sleeve with a bold #FUCancer on the back.

   
 

Proud auntie, proud sister!  

#FUCancer

Advertisements

Race For Life

It goes without saying that Cancer Research are an incredible charity; the work they do literally saves lives.

Cancer Research are continually discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Did you know that in the 1970s, the 10-year survival rate was as low as one in four? Today, thanks to Cancer Research, half of people diagnosed will survive for 10 years or more. They are committed to ‘beating cancer sooner’ and whilst they work towards that goal they also develop evidence-based policy to inform Government decisions related to cancer and research. All of which they do without any government funding! Incredible. So given my experience with #FUCancer I wanted to share my story beyond the confines of wordpress. Today, I was invited to Cancer Research’s Race For Life at Hopetoun House to do exactly that.

http://content.jp-publications.co.uk/frontend/dynamicAssets?e=t726121A84C6AF31FAD4D9CEAA2350430E3B0B9337D783EA07AA356C176140B0B17BA3BE7CD1DAD597DA43946AF4A695952DFCE0684554610DE6FE67C0D69CE07FE609943EF74CBF9132CCBCF891D2E02DD361579596D736C0253BA5028D2892F1529F1C069EBAB2F77C37DC347CB75EB893EF10A47A613C9609BE24DC74A7350E70338B2CD0D0474EEEC1DEC16BE58D44B26ABE3DDF126A2

After signing up for the 5k I recruited a team of friends to unite as Team #FUCancer to run, march, skip and dance the route together. At the start of the day I was welcomed on stage by Heart FM’s Paul Harper to give a brief overview of what my family and I had endured in the past year. The crowd were very supportive but I think the warm reception was down to Parsnip being on stage. That dog loves the limelight! It was inspiring to see an army of women, children and dogs dressed in pink gathered for the same goal: beat cancer! I had the huge honour of starting the race.

As I ran around the course I found myself casting back to this time last year when I was in the midst of treatment and beginning to experience the menopause. It was tough. I have come to realise I am reminising a lot at the moment. I know they say you shouldn’t look back but I find it a huge motivator in enthusing me to move forward. So that is exactly what I did, I ran towards the finish line. I owe a huge amount to Cancer Research and today was only a small part of how I intend to show my gratitude. It was privilege to signal the start of the race and I am so proud to have been a part of it along with my friends.

#FUCancer

DSC_0876

DSC_0881

DSC_0883

DSC_0921

DSC_0930

DSC_0935

DSC_0944

DSC_0970

DSC_0890

DSC_0902

DSC_0904

DSC_0928

DSC_0970

DSC_0974

Project 30 Begins: 30 photos in 30 days (and then some!)

27th March it begins! My first item of Project 30 (https://hevewilliams.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/project-30-happy-new-year/) is to take a photo everyday for 30 days. The challenge here is to make them interesting… Eek! So here is number 1  :

IMG_5985

Number 1 – 27.3.15, 9am on the Embankment near Tower Bridge in London waiting for my photoshoot with Marie Claire #FUCancer

Processed with Moldiv

Number 2 – 28.3.15, Silly o’clock at Guille Dhu for my Hen night!

IMG_6021

Number 3 – 29.3.15, the day after the night before! Feeling rough but what a night!!

IMG_6032

Number 4 – 30.3.15, 9am enjoying a good breakfast with my team at work!

IMG_6037-1 IMG_6046-1

 

Number 5 – 31.3.15, Out of office is on and it’s time to say goodbye to the Funny Boy and Parsnip the Wonderdog. The Funny Boy seems to like his Wedding Countdown Calendar.

IMG_6050-0

Number 6 – 1.4.15, Pinch and a punch for the first of the month! Pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Iceberg and I are jetting off on serious wedding business…

IMG_6056-0

Number 7 – 2.4.15, Soaking up the Fuertaventura sun! Time to relax!

  Number 8 – 3.4.15, Post-workout shot! Check the vest #FUCancer

IMG_6085

Number 9 – 4.4.15, Only one week left as a single lady! I better get my Beyoncé on but struggling to get out of bed. Pelvic pain strikes again!

IMG_6064

Number 10 – 5.4.15, Braving it in the pool. The water is surprisingly chilly!

IMG_6124

Number 11 – 6.4.15, Bridal bodywork in progress. I love running in the sun!

IMG_6134

Number 12 – 7.4.15, As the Iceberg and I are flying home tomorrow we decide to celebrate my cancerversary a day early. And what better way to celebrate than with a cocktail?!

IMG_6142

Number 13 – 8.4.15, Iceberg and I waving goodbye to sunny Corralejo and hello to final wedding prep!

IMG_6151

Number 14 – 9.4.15, Even Parsnip is helping with the wedding prep as she adds the finishing touches to our totem pole!

   

  IMG_6174

Number 15 – 10.4.15, Wedding eve spent with Team Bride who have travelled from as far as Toronto! Final sleep as a single lady….

  IMG_0295   IMG_0296

  
Number 16 – 11.4.15, Introducing Mr & Mrs Duff!

IMG_0275

Number 17 – 12.4.15, Evidence to prove the wedding continued into the early hours of the next day!

IMG_6255

Number 18 – 13.4.15, At the departure gate with the Funny Boy who is now my Funny Husband!

IMG_6279

   
 Number 19 – 14.4.15, After a 19 hour flight the Funny Boy and I arrive in Bangkok where Songkran celebrations are in full flow. First meal of the trip is Cabbages and Condoms. I highly recommend it!

DSCN0075        DSCN0048     DSCN0072

Number 20 – 15.4.15, How much can you squeeze into 24 hours in Bangkok? Sky train to the Golden Temple, Tuk tuk to visit the temple of the reclining Buddha, walk along to the Chinese Market and finally a trip on the river boat to the Asiatique Market!

DSCN0081  DSCN0204

Number 21 – 16.4.15, Next stop – Chiang Mai! Walk into the Old Town, quick visit to the Night Bazaar and another green curry at the Riverside Restaurant.

DSCN0104  DSCN0101 DSCN0122 DSCN0113

Number 22 – 17.4.15,  A personalised tour to Doi Suthep where the views are incredible, buildings are fascinating and the hill tribe children are adorable!

DSCN0211 DSCN0176  DSCN0181

Number 23 – 18.4.15, Today’s focus was for Gordon to tick an item off of his bucket list: EAT BUGS! Meanwhile I found the best margarita!

DSCN0421

Number 24 – 19.4.15, Next stop – Phuket!

DSCN0314  DSCN0328 DSCN0295

Number 25 – 20.4.15, After a brief bout of diarrhoea we are at the Elephant Hills safari. This place is beautiful! Today I met, fed, washed and played with several elephants!

DSCN0366  DSCN0410  DSCN0359

Number 26 – 21.4.15, I made the Funny Boy search our tent for snakes after hearing our neighbour found an unwelcome visitor in hers last night! Today we took a tour along the mangroves meeting various wildlife before kayaking our way to lunch on a junk ship. We spent our afternoon on a deserted island. Bliss!

DSCN0396 DSCN0407 DSCN0375

Number 27 – 22.4.15, Our final day in the Elephant Hills was spent trekking through the Rain Forest.

DSCN0416 DSCN0417  DSCN0419

Number 28 – 23.4.15, Arrived at our final destination, La Flora in Koah Lak!

DSCN0431

Number 29 – 24.4.15, Exploring our home for the next fortnight and discover this. A military boat which was forced 3km inland during the 2004 Tsunami. A permanent reminder of the devastation caused by the natural disaster.

IMG_0303

Number 30 – 25.4.15, A day trip to the Similan Islands where we met Nemo and a bunch of his pals underwater and a Sea Turtle whilst snorkelling!! Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence but we do have a video!

DSCN0578  DSCN0591

Number 31 – 26.4.15, On this occasion the Funny Boy and I made the most of the £1.50 cocktails. The night was very enjoyable but the hangover that followed was certainly not!

DSCN0516

Number 32 – 27.4.15, This picture speaks for itself!

DSCN0470 

Number 33 – 28.4.15, Another day spent in paradise with the Funny Boy!

DSCN0681  DSCN0706 DSCN0676

Number 34 – 29.4.15, Jumping on Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay!

DSCN0612

Number 35 – 30.4.15, Jumping in the Bangniang Sunset!

DSCN0535 DSCN0530

Number 36 – 1.5.15, Chilling by the pool and the Funny Boy makes a friend!

DSCN0615

Number 37 – 2.5.15, The heat is so fierce during the day! The only time we seem to take photos is in the evening on our way to dinner. Beautiful sunset as always!

DSCN0731

Number 38 – 3.5.15, Making a wish as we light our Good Luck lantern!

DSCN0662

Number 39 – 4.4.15, This is Pepsi a very friendly gibbon!

  IMG_6420

Number 40 – 5.5.15, Final day of our honeymoon! Goodbye Thailand, Hello ‘Happy Ever After’!

So, there you have it! My 30 photos over 30 days. It has been incredible but I am pleased to be reunited with Parsnip the Wonderdog! Who, if you haven’t guessed was the ring bearer on our special day!

#FUCancer

DSCN0752

 

 

What is a Cancerversary?

What is a cancerversary?

According to my brief research online, a cancerversary is a significant date within someone’s journey with cancer. It could be diagnosis, remission or the beginning of treatment, or it could be the date of someone losing a friend or family member. It could be one date or several. The definition of a cancerversary is unique to each individual which is no surprise because everyone’s experience with cancer is different.

As I write this I am sat by the pool wearing nothing more than a bikini and factor 30 sun cream. I am on day #6 of my pre wedding getaway with the Iceberg in Corralejo. With a wedding only days away and a honeymoon directly after, it’s hard to answer: can life get much better than this? But despite the bright future ahead of me and the lavish life I am living in the here and now, I do find myself contrasting with where I was this time last year. It was on this date in 2014 that my life changed forever.

I don’t dwell about my experience with cancer but I do try to talk openly about it, welcoming questions in a bid to make people more aware and more comfortable. On a few occasions I have been told ‘It’s all behind you now, you need to focus on your future’ and although I agree with the latter part of that statement I regret to say the first part is far from the truth. There is not a day that has gone by since the 8th April 2014 where I have not thought about cancer. A day hasn’t gone by without realising the implications it has had on my life and those I care about. I struggle to put into words how my life changed, it was if the world beneath my feet ceased to exist. It stripped me of everything I prioritised and left me at point zero. Yet, as I celebrate my first cancerversary (and, yes I am celebrating) I feel grounded and stronger than I ever dreamed of being. Cancer has allowed me to detox my life. In all the cliche terms you can imagine it has given me a new perspective on love, family, friendships and work. I believe it has taught me how to live life more efficiently and, effectively, how to be happy. Now – if that is not a good enough reason to celebrate then what is!?

So for me, my first cancerversary (I have two) is marked by the date I was diagnosed. This was the date I began the marathon I didn’t sign up for, when I launched my fight for #FUCancer and when I fully began appreciating the people in my life. I doubt there ever will be a day where I am not reminded of cancer but why would I want to forget something that has already taught me so much? So happy cancerversary to me! Let’s hope I make it to the next milestone on the 27th of August which will mark a year in remission.

#FUCancer
#cancerversary

Arrow Launch

Whilst going through treatment and particularly during the aftermath in remission I found myself depending on the support provided by Maggie’s. All the staff had this unique ability to verbalise feelings and frustrations in a simple way which could be relayed to friends and family. One analogy which has stuck with me is this:

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.

Upon diagnosis I felt like life had simply stopped. In remission, it felt like I regressed into a vulnerable child. I was reliant on my parents and the funny boy. I lost my confidence. I felt useless. Hopeless with no idea where to start.

The crazy thing is, I am now entering my 7th month in remission and I don’t know where the time has gone. I feel like I am back on an upward trajectory. In the past 5 months I have secured a new job, been selected to participate in the Women in Sport Leadership Academy and I am even getting my fitness back. I have planned and delivered a boccia festival, a conference and, in two weeks, I can hopefully add a wedding to that list. What’s more I am already working towards raising the profile of cancer awareness and particularly the reality of remission which I think often gets overlooked. I am volunteering with Cancer Research who featured my story in the Sunday Mail and today I attended a photo shoot for Marie Claire who will be doing a small article in June’s issue. Life is crazy. Crazy good!

So, as always the staff at Maggie’s were right! I do believe cancer thwarted my original plan but the journey I am on now definitely feels like the right one. And dare I say it? It’s even more exciting!! 

To mark this occasion I am going to start one of the items on my bucketlist which is to take a photo everyday for 30 days! Here is a dreaded selfie of me pre-photo shoot. 

#FUCancer

#30thingsbefore30

   

#FUCANCER

My Emotional Thermometer

With my wedding day happening in a matter of weeks I find myself being overly aware of time. It has been nearly 10 months since I was diagnosed. On Wednesday I return to the hospital for my 6 month check up. My grasp of time is divided: on one hand I can’t believe this whole marathon (which is ongoing) has not even been a year in the making. I feel so much has happened in the short space of time. On the other hand it feels like time is going very slowly. I sense this has something to do with an over zealous ambition of wanting everything to be normal.

In the grand scheme of things I am doing great. I am fully into the swing of things at work with a new job  I enjoy. I have returned to my daily workouts which leaving me feeling energised. The wedding to do list is under control. I recently got selected for the Women in Sport Leadership Academy and I no longer feel completely out of control of my life.  Considering the year I have had – I would say I am doing pretty well. However I do have days where everything can change in the blink of an eye. When my emotional thermometer goes from a comfortable room temperature to breaking point in a matter of moments. When this happens I, once again, find myself feeling vulnerable, out of control and, much like the thermometer, at breaking point.

I am currently in the final stages of preparation for a conference I am hosting for work which brings its own stresses. Couple that with my impending nuptials and a 6 month check up at my oncologist then it is no surprise that the past fortnight has left my feeling a little stressed. Someone once told me the definition of stress is fear of something not getting done. Until recently I probably would have continued to believe that but not anymore. The conference and wedding bring pressure but they do not cause stress. I know that all the deadlines for the organisation and planning will be met and ultimately will result in a well orchestrated event. Stress for me is fear of the unknown. Fear of the uncontrollable. There is literally nothing within my power I can do to secure a good result on Wednesday. That is what causes me stress. However I am beginning to learn ways to control it. Exercise is a massive ali of mine and being able to talk openly helps. I doubt there is anyone who knows me who is unaware of what I have been through and the lasting effects it has brought. I know it makes some people feel uncomfortable but I have come to accept that it is their issue. Cancer, much like mental health, is a taboo subject and this is something I am keen to challenge. Furthermore, I think it is important that people around me know that although I am doing the normal things, for me life is still far from it.

For example, this week I found myself working at an event targeting children and young people in care. My infertility is a grieving process which I am still going through. As much as I loved working at the event and meeting the children and their carers, I found myself feeling emotional on the drive home. In my ‘normal life’ I knew that if the Funny Boy and I wanted to have children it would simply involve us taking our clothes off and having a good time. Now, I have no idea where to start. That makes me frustrated. What hurts even more is the prospect that the fact I have had cancer could prevent me ever being a mother. I have read horror stories online where adoption agencies have used it against people who are looking to adopt. Is it possible that Cancer could deny me ever being a mum?

I do my best to stay positive. I try to focus on the facts and ignore any negative thoughts. With the stress of my 6 month check up slowly mounting I set my attention to areas within my control. As it is the weekend, I had planned to do some training for the half marathon I am doing in March and tick a few errands off the wedding to do list. At 9am this morning I could be found in the midst of a nine mile run at the top of Arthur Seat. The sun was shining above me, Edinburgh was looking beautiful below me and I was feeling fit. As far as Saturday mornings go – this was picture perfect. I met the Funny Boy and Parsnip at Portobello beach where we stopped for a well-earned breakfast which was intended to fuel us for wedding tasks. Unfortunately the happy mood was not set to last. A phone call to our travel agents to enquire about our honeymoon led me to breaking point. Bad customer service, a broken promise and an additional uncontrollable stress led me to tears. My emotional thermometer had reached breaking point and once again, I found myself feeling unable to cope.

It may seem like an over exaggeration but this is what my new normal is like. My life is now measured in three-monthly increments. As each date draws nearer I find myself hoping, wishing and praying that all is ok. On one hand I welcome any appointment so I can breathe a sigh of relief. On the other the prospect of another three months vacant from doctors, nurses and tests is a treat because at least ignorance is bliss. Regardless this is the new norm that I am growing accustomed to. I refuse to let Cancer deny me the good things in life. It may have left me with a set of redundant ovaries and a faulty emotional thermometer but I am stronger. In light of my fascination of time I have plenty to look forward to:

2 weeks til my Hen Weekend

5 weeks til my Hen Night

6 weeks til my holiday with the Iceberg

8 weeks til I say I do….

#FUCancer

Emotional Thermometer