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Friday, 10 January 2014

Cancer & Fashion

Ok, so two words that don't go together are Cancer and Fashion right?
Why not? I try to avoid statistics so without giving percentages, there's a hell of a lot of us affected by this disease one way or another. Not only does it f**k up your health, it can play havoc with your wardrobe.
I'm really not being flippant here. You ask someone who's had the trauma of mastectomy about bra shopping or a person who's undergone abdominal surgery about waistbands. This is without even going down the chemo route and how hair loss affects your confidence in how you look.
From the hospital bed to the supermarket aisle, no matter where we are - how you look will undoubtedly affect how you feel.
I am embarking on a project to work with the Sharon Fox Cancer Centre to develop clothing and accessories that are made for cancer patients with a fashion conscience. Just because you receive that dreaded diagnosis does not mean you have to abandon your dress sense and forget about your individuality.
There are many wonderful products available that are designed specifically with cancer patients in mind, the difference I would like to add is individuality.
To start this off we are planning to run some headscarf workshops to show some simple ways to make and accessorise headware. With the focus on individuality it'll be a chance to experiment with a range of fabrics so we can design for everything from punks to princesses. As well as the scarves we will be looking at ways to disguise those awful drips an drains for those of us that have had to endure one or the other during hospital treatment. I personally had an 'irrigation system' which I preferred to call my 'Juicy Couture'.
The workshops will be a chance to meet, chat and make and will hopefully provide a chance to sit and relax while making something that can benefit either the maker or the centre. At the same time it can be a useful source of information and ideas of how we as a group can put cancer firmly on the fashion map. Lets not allow cancer to dictate how we look, we really can 'make' a difference.

All Change

First of all, Happy New Year to those of you who have read my blog since last year - I hope and pray for a healthy, happy and positive year for us all.
My friend Lisanne Vos who writes RUKidneyingMe Blog and is herself a recent kidney cancer patient and who has been a huge inspiration, asked me what my word for 2014 will be. Lisanne has chosen 'Magnificent' and so was a hard act to follow...I kept coming back to the same word, 'Positivity' and so have stuck with this. So here's to that + sign!
As far as my treatment goes, I have now successfully changed hospital trusts thanks to the help and advice from my GP. My first appointment with new consultant was just before Christmas and was a pleasant experience which is a first, previous encounters have not been as good. The consultant couldn't examine me as she had no record of my treatment as none of the notes had been transferred from Heartlands and she therefore had no history of my case. As introductions go though it was very nice, I even got 2 hugs off her.
She explained that she would attend a meeting with other specialists on 9th January where - providing my notes had been received, they would discuss my case and possible treatment. I wait to hear for news of this now.
The back pain has continued and although I'd like to say there's some improvement I'm afraid it's pretty much the same, the pain has also moved up to just underneath my ribs at the front. I find sitting down uncomfortable for any lengthy period and need to move around frequently to relieve the pain. I am trying not to rely on painkillers and so rarely take them, only usually at night time if the pain interrupts my sleep. It's a mystery still which is why I'm keen to know what the new consultant makes of this. One thing I know for sure, I had no back pain prior to my surgery, it has started since.
I have an ultrasound scan booked later this month but don't want another ct scan just yet, I've had 3 now in 10 months plus a bone scan so no more radioactivity for me thank you.
To try and alleviate the pain I have tried McKenzie back exercises as advised by my GP and more recently pilates and yoga. I am persevering with the yoga though only at home, the class I attended with a friend just resulted in us giggling the whole time!
I have continued to draw a lot of positivity from friends and family and from other people I've met through this blog since my diagnosis. It still amazes me how truly inspiring some people are and as such I do plan to give back something of this positive vibe through my work. More on that in my next post...
Here and now I am still thankful to be rid of my cancer and fit and able enough to get up and out and about so no excuses - time to get back to work and make a difference.