Search This Blog

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Running - A Business

When I first closed my business, Missfit Creations it was from necessity as my kidney cancer had just introduced itself. It took over 12 months for me to start back up but my heart just hadn't been in the fashion business any longer and I closed Missfit finally earlier this year.
During my recovery I was introduced to yoga by my physiotherapist and also discovered running as a way of keeping fit and feeling good.  My love for this new found fitness lifestyle grew as did my running bug and pretty soon I was running 3 times a week and entering races. I'm an avid UKRunChat member and fashion apps have been replaced by run apps where I closely monitor my personal best. I'd never have thought I'd also be enjoying yoga classes but now a regular at Midlands Yoga I would rearrange my week in order never to miss a class.
Despite keeping fit and active there was still a gap in my life - work. I had an idea of where I wanted to head but spent way to long deliberating about new business names and directions. The obvious answer had been staring me in the face all along;

  • Where did my passion now lie - Health & Fitness
  • Which part of my business was already set up for this - Miss'Fit'
  • What was I waiting for...?
I've spent years explaining to customers 'No I'm not Miss Fit' and now, well I kind of least that is I will be selling a range of health and fitness clothing and accessories. As a designer I am working on a range of sportswear which will hopefully be ready early next year.
In the meantime, having found the benefits of foam rolling myself, the first stock into my online shop will be Trigger Point Grid Foam Rollers and these will be closely followed by a number of other niche and innovative fitness accessories.
Last week I spoke at a Kidney Cancer Patient Day in Birmingham (blog to follow...) and as my story hasn't been altogether plain sailing I felt I needed to find more positives to add to it. Well I reckon this is a start, a new business founded on a love of running and yoga that I found following cancer.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My 1st 10K Race

This post is a little overdue as I ran my first 10K race back on 6th September.
I chose the City of Birmingham 10K at Sutton Park as this location is one of my favourite places to run and I know the course so well. The event was put on by UKTriatholon so I knew it would be a well organised race and it would be my first experience of chip timing.

The only part of the run that I'd change in hindsight would be my starting position. When more serious runners going for times were asked to move forward I deliberately moved back in the crowd not wanting to put myself ahead of a 'proper runner'. However, knowing the course as I did I then found myself having to walk/jog for the first part of the race as there was simply no room which was a frustration.
I didn't do too badly though considering it was my first attempt (apart from a couple of trial 10ks). If you scan down the results you'll see me down there in 53rd place  although I prefer the fact I was 14th in my age category... My time was 57.39 which wasn't a personal best (that was 54.02) which is why I won't hover at the back next time. It has been noted that I obviously had more to give at the finish line as I appear to want to fly past!

What I learnt most from this event is that I am far more competitive than I'd imagined. My first outing had been running in Race for Life 5K which was predominantly a Fun Run but I'd still managed to finish in the top 10. This 10K was proof I wasn't running for fun, I was a serious competitor, I wanted to improve my time and earn my medal.
Apart from the competitive streak I've gained from running I also took part to support  The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer  In this instance the money raised would be going to Facing Up To Kidney Cancer   Inspired by Jon Birchalls' lifetime quest to raise awareness and vital funds for research into this often hidden disease.
I'm not sure that I would have started running were it not for my kidney cancer which has meant cancer has been life changing in many ways, not all negative. I certainly would never have believed that I could run 10K - let alone enjoy it.
Since this race I have run another 3 10K's and have now entered the Birmingham MoRun which is also held in Sutton Park. This time I'm not going to be as shy and start near the back, I reckon I may just about have earned 'proper runner' status.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Running For My Life

When I was about 10 years old I joined the local athletics club partly because I'd won a few sports day races and partly as my best friends Dad helped run it. Over the next few years it was decided by my trainer that 800m was my race and I continued to do well at school and county level.
That was until that same friend introduced me to Benson & Hedges and Merrydown cider which didn't compliment my sport and I began to lose interest. Although still only a teenager I thought I'd done enough and almost felt I'd grown out of athletics, if I knew then...
I really can't remember running again after that unless you count the kids parents race at school which was more wrestling than running. Oh and I did win a teeshirt from O'Neills some years ago for being fastest from the bar to the shoe shop opposite and back - not one of my finer sporting moments.
Whilst recovering from kidney cancer I've had continual back pain and issues related to my surgery which I have tried to help with physio and yoga. I still felt I could do more though, I needed to see how far I could push myself which is why I decided to try running again.
After 30 years it was a strange feeling getting back out running albeit on a road rather than a track but straight away I loved it. It was as if a light went back on and I remembered that feeling of exhilaration when you've reached a target.
As I've gradually increased my number of runs per week and my distance so it is I've relaxed into it and am feeling so many benefits. The health issues still lurk around in the background but when I'm running they pale into insignificance while I concentrate on everything but.
It's been 8 months now and I run 3 times a week usually 2.5 miles twice a week and then a 5k (I'm a dressmaker so mixing metric and imperial measurements is compulsory). I've begun to get 'the gear' even switching from my beloved adidas to asics and going out in lycra in daylight. Most essential has been my water bottle as I've discovered that one kidney needs that extra hydration, probably the only downside to running longer distances.
When I was an 800m runner and doing particularly well I had a wonderful gift from another school friend. My maiden name was Florence which led to a nickname of Flo and after a particularly good win Jenni presented me with a teeshirt with 'Seb Flo' printed on it as he was a hero of mine at the time. I mentioned my return to running to her recently and pointed out I've increased my distance and therefore I may need another teeshirt printing, maybe Flo Farah?
Earlier in the year I took part in Race For Life and completed the 5K coming in the top 10 much to my amazement. I couldn't believe the buzz I got from competing again although I know it's a charity event I was absolutely driven to keep going. I knew then I'd have to do it again which is why I've entered the City of Birmingham 10K.
Since entering I've had only one practice at the full distance with a couple of 4 mile runs thrown into my regular routine, I know it won't be easy. The thing is though, when I run everything else goes away and I'm totally in that zone, I have to keep going. I've written before that it's almost a feeling that if I keep going everything is all right, if I can run then cancer can't catch me. If only it were that simple but if ever there were a reason to run, I really am running for my life.
I'll be running my 1st (proper) 10K this weekend and money I raise through sponsorship will go towards a kidney cancer research project chosen by Facing Up to Kidney Cancer. I've received tremendous help and support from The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer and I hope I can help their charity at the same time as doing something I love.
I am running because I've had kidney cancer and not despite it and that is my biggest achievement.
If you want to donate please go to my Just Giving page.
Thanks, Debbie X

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Thorn In My Side

I was on my way to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham to have my cancer carrying kidney removed and put the car radio on to take my mind off 'things'. Thorn In My Side by Annie Lennox started playing which made me smile as it was so appropriate considering my 'predicament'.
At that time the tumor was a thorn in my side, it took my kidney and subsequently left me in poor health for some time. After two years it has become apparent that damage to my back may be irreparable and the road to recovery has taken far longer than I had anticipated.
Before kidney cancer I ran a business Missfit Creations  and life was a whirl of fashion shows, exhibitions and photoshoots which centred around my designs and sales. I was a confident, outgoing business owner who would walk the walk as far as the fashionista image went. After having multicoloured dreads for several years I had diversified to a pink mohican by the time I was suddenly taken ill.

I can't remember when it all changed because quite soon after my surgery and despite feelings of uncertainty I slipped back into the same routine. During my hospitalisation and recovery I was steadfast in my resolve that things would change most particularly my business. However, I returned to Missfit and the associations that it held and this was what would eventually become the real Thorn In My Side.
No matter how I tried, I couldn't shake the association of my business with the cancer that had changed my life. I just couldn't figure it out, I didn't fit the kidney cancer patient description, the check list was unticked in my case, why me? What if my lifestyle was the problem and that was predominantly my business.
Just a few weeks ago (I can't remember the exact date) I knew it was over. I made all the necessary calls needed and closed my business for good, Missfit Creations was no more. I thought I'd feel sadness, disappointment but nothing, just relief.
The website and logo remain in place until further notice as work on a new business is currently underway so my online presence will change shortly.
What I do still have is the remainder of my stock which all has to go asap. I could sell it all individually (and may still have to if it doesn't sell as whole stock...) but I have absolutely no incentive any more. So my aim is to sell the stock and donate 10% of the sale to The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer who have given me the support and advice I most needed when I needed it.
Cancer for me hasn't just been about surgery, it's not only the disease it has been the psychological aftermath. You don't bargain on the confidence cancer knocks out of you and in my case this impacted on my business.
I don't 'rock' a certain look anymore, the dreads and the mohawk have gone along with the outrageous clothes and all round 'out there' online image. I need to start again rather than pick up where I left off.
First though the issue of 200 items of vintage clothing & handmade designs...
10% of the sale will go to the James Whale Fund For Kidney Cancer 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Talking the Plank

Before my kidney tumour made itself known I was blissfully unaware I was even remotely unwell. In fact I was on a mission to improve my general health and wellbeing as far as I could and had been exercising regularly.
Now this didn't involve a gym and I hadn't started yoga or running at that time but I did walk about 10 miles a week. I would also do some general exercises which included, the plank.
The night before I was taken ill I had been on a decent walk and returned to do a few exercises and when it came to the plank I had pushed that bit further to 2 minutes (not bad eh)? I can't remember feeling any differently and in truth wouldn't know for sure that this was what kicked off the bleed but, in the absence of any other explanation it's a decent guess.
So many times I've asked the question 'Why?' and doctor's have said there's no solid explanation but they haven't dismissed that by pushing myself that bit further the night before the dreaded plank may have done me a favour.
Fast forward to February this year and I finally (after talking about it for ages) began a yoga class. I'd been having physiotherapy for pain in my lower back resulting from my surgery and yoga had been suggested as a way of helping manage that pain.
I went along to Midlands Yoga not really knowing what to expect but having a preconception that the moves would be very steady and relaxing. What I hadn't counted on was that one of those 'moves' would involve taking on 'The Plank'
Now don't get me wrong, the yoga class was fantastic so much so that I've returned weekly ever since, what I haven't done is reveal my fear of the plank. It wasn't until I came to strike that pose that I realised the significance of it, this is what could potentially have saved my life. The fear stems from knowing that it could possibly have helped start the massive hemorrhage that led to the discovery of my kidney cancer.
I guess I'll never know but this week, for the first time I went into plank position and that fear didn't cross my mind. Maybe I've finally overcome it, another psychological hurdle over.
Yoga for me has been about so many things, managing the back pain, strengthening muscles, better posture, helping with sleep and relaxation etc. One of my personal goals is to once again be able to touch my toes which I've not managed yet but I'm enjoying doing headstands again after over 35 years.
I hadn't imagined it would also help to take away some of the pain associated with my memories of when kidney cancer changed my life, but it has. (Thanks Gemma xxx)

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cut to The Chase

I'm way behind with this blog as recent events have meant me avoiding speaking about what is going on and therefore not saying (or writing) it out loud.
This whole breast cancer scare really knocked me back both physically and mentally, more than I'd imagined. I suppose I thought I was 'over the worst' and coping with the aftermath of cancer so the thought of facing another one freaked me out.
The wait for my CT scan results seemed an eternity, after a week I caved in and rang the hospital feeling very pathetic and asked if they could please just tell me. A very kind and sympathetic secretary gave me a call back to say the consultant had authorised that she give me the news all was clear. My letter arrived a couple of days later with the best medical jargon you could wish to receive;

I have since had to have another renal ultrasound scan as well as some chest xrays which means there's not a part of me or an angle that hasn't been looked at. Those results came in yesterday with another all clear, huge relief.
The pain continues to be monitored and I'll have to notify of any changes in the lumps and lymph nodes but whatever's going on, it's not cancer.
Another line drawn and another sigh of reflief.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Another Day, Another Scan

The date is 8th May and my destination Queens Hospital, Burton to have a CT scan. I'm not 100% sure when my last one was although I know I opted out at 12 months as I'd had 3 in close succession. I'd also had numerous XRays and a bone scan so figured I had been radiated quite enough and would soon glow in the dark.
I'm now just over 2 years on from kidney cancer and this CT has been requested following the lumps being found in my breast and my lymph nodes being raised. The fact I'm still in remission has obviously played a part in the consultant deciding I need a full body scan again. This time I didn't protest.
This is my first CT at Burton, previous scans were at Heartlands before I opted to move hospital but I've visited the unit with my Mom before.
I hadn't long booked in when I was called to go for blood tests, they need to make sure my lonesome kidney is functioning well and can cope with the dye I'm going to have pumped through me.
Next I'm seated in the scan waiting area and given a bottle of water with an iodine solution to drink which apparently helps show up my 'hollow areas'... I have an hour to drink this taking small sips every 10 minutes, the time passes quickly as I'm listening to various stories of why other patients are here.
By the time I'm called I'm bursting for a wee but not allowed to go obviously, this explains why everyone who's exited the scanning room heads straight for the toilet, this is not easy on your bladder! I forget to ask but presume my kidney is doing ok as they prepare to insert the canular in my arm.
CT scans don't require you wear a gown so I'm in leggings and a vest top and being me I am typically cold which must be apparent as I'm offered a blanket. Just my arm is out for the venflon to be inserted and then both arms have to be raised above my head.
The first 'go' through the tunnel is without dye and I hear the familiar 'Breathe in and hold breath out' as the whirry tunnel takes me through. After a couple of 'goes' I'm out again on the conveyor and the radiographer puts the dye through the venflon and reminds me of the sensation that you're weeing. I'm secretly praying I'm not because that sensation is so real. Another couple of goes and I'm back out and can climb from under my blanky and head for the loo, all done.
As I leave I get the nods and smiles from those still waiting and a couple of 'hope all is ok's' which is when I start thinking less about my bladder and more about why I'm there, Sh*t I hope it is ok.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Appointment Day

My appointment isn't until later this afternoon and my eldest daughter will be accompanying me which is a relief. Josie is a sister in the Emergency Dept at Burton Hospital where I'm headed and so she's back to work on her day off.
The Breast Care Clinic is a dedicated building for breast cancer patients and the clinic I'm attending is a 'New Patient Clinic'. The room soon fills up and with statistics being 1 in 8 women having breast cancer it's apparent that many will leave today with bad news.
It was weird being back here because this is where I brought my Mom for her appointments when she had breast cancer 6 years ago. I also felt as if judgement was being served on me as I've moaned about  the fact that there is so much more dedicated care and fundraising given to breast cancer than other lesser known cancers. My experience of kidney cancer left me feeling completely bewildered and alone.
That said I can't fault the NHS or the level of care given, this appointment has been fast tracked and the staff here are amazing.
I'm first called in to see the consultant who asks to examine me, confirms the lump and says that he can also feel that my lymph nodes are swollen. The first time this happened was 2 weeks before my kidney cancer introduced itself so I wasn't happy to hear they were back. However,  my lymph nodes have reappeared since with no sinister consequences. He takes some more information from me and then we're sent back to the waiting room.
Next I'm taken in for a mammogram which wasn't easy given my 32AA size...However it was done swiftly by 2 lovely radiographers and I was then taken for an ultrasound scan of the area. For this there were 2 nurses and a doctor who had a look at the mammogram images then started to scan me. Thankfully she very quickly confirmed that the lump I had felt was a benign cyst. It was said very matter of fact but the relief was immense. However she then asked the nurses to take a look at the images and explained that she wasn't happy with what she could see and I'd need another mammogram.
Back out to the waiting room with Josie who was obviously becoming concerned as I'd been a while in there already.  Once the room was free again I was called for a second mammogram for which I felt like a  contortionist the way I had to be positioned. Then the radiographers accompanied me in to have another ultrasound. Lying there with 5 professionals querying what they saw made me very nervous. Then the doctor said I could take a look, it appeared as though my upper right side was shadowy compared to the left. When they zoomed right in it looked as though I had several other cysts.
Once I was dressed again I was sent back out into the waiting room until I could see the  consultant again. Having learnt my lesson about wearing ridiculous clothing when attending hospital (although previously this had been in an ambulance) I'd attempted to take the lead from Lisanne Vos who wrote in her blog R U Kidneying Me about how she turned up for her surgery in gym gear with a positive mental attitude. For this appointment I looked like I'd arrived for a yoga class in leopard print Puma leggings and a fitted sports top - not easy to peel on and off for each examination,  another hospital clothing fail.
It wasn't long before I was called in to see the consultant and he got straight to the point saying that the good news was my lump was definitely  benign. He then went onto add that given my history and the fact my lymph nodes were swollen and the ultrasound scan uncertainty he was booking me in for a CT scan.
This was something I'd avoided since November 2013 after having 3 CT scans + a bone scan in close succession due to my kidney cancer. However, I now felt quite relieved, I just wanted to know if there was anything nasty lurking around inside me and so the saga continues.
Good news + unanswered questions = a continued state of limbo.
I had thought I'd got this cancer thing sorted but it had other ideas. Last time it arrived without warning, this scare has taken up the best part of a month and taught me I have no control over that C word. It can torment your head,  attack your body, stop you from sleeping and worst of all, keep you guessing.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


It's now Tuesday 28th April and I've skipped a couple of days writing. I asked my husband to open the letter for me on Sunday and now know my appointment is booked for tomorrow at 1.30pm
I'm a bit all over the place at the moment as you can imagine. I can't settle to do anything today. Sunday was a family day, Monday spent getting sorted after holiday so busy with washing, shopping etc and little time for idle thought. Oh, I did have an appointment for a cervical cancer check to attend yesterday,  great timing but I it has to be done, that's another letter that'll be in the post shortly.
Today however I'm so tired,  combination of a busy day yesterday and hardly any sleep last night. My feelings are divided between sensibility 'stop worrying and get on with things ' and fear ' what if...'
I've rationalised both scenarios. If everything is ok I'll breath as it of relief and crack on with life (after offering up a huge prayer of thanks). If the news is bad I'll probably shed a few tears and, crack on with life - I got through it once so I can do it again.
The real fear right now is not knowing, I feel my life is on hold. I've written previously about how fortunate I was to have fallen ill suddenly the first time, no waiting and worrying, no pain or suffering beforehand. This is excruciating especially at night when all my worst fears seem to close in.
What about my family, how will they cope, how will I walk our dogs,  I won't be able to go running, play netball, do yoga. It's not f***ing fair!

Goodbye Wales

We drove home through the mountains so we'd get to travel past Snowdonia. The weather hasn't improved but it just adds to the atmosphere, it's a wonderful journey taking in stunning scenery.
Arriving home the first thing I see is a pile of post on the stairs,  that can wait. It's amazing how quickly you slip back to routine, within no time I'm busy sorting, preparing and planning the week ahead. I easily  manage to dismiss my unopened post.
It'll be there in the morning.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Up and out for a run at 5.30am, it's a  sin not to take full advantage of scenery like this and the early morning is my favourite time to take it all in.
I didn't sleep particularly well again so it wasn't easy getting out of bed but boy was it worth it, I took nearly a minute off my time from Tuesday.  My normal distance is 2 miles of a morning and this run is just short at 1.8miles but I still ran a personal best time for the mile.
There is definitely something in the runners high feeling you get that motivates you into the day. When I'm running my thoughts are clearer and this morning I've had an idea...
Back to make some notes, stop wasting  energy worrying about might be's and start making plans.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Calm Before

Today is set to be the hottest day so far, already unseasonably  warm for April today's temperatures are set to reach 19 degrees.
Apart from the sea breeze it's quite still and I've settled down for a day sunbathing and reading. I have nothing to do and nowhere to be.
When I spoke to my daughter earlier this week she mentioned a 1st class letter from the hospital that had arrived for me. I am of course expecting my appointment  through but didn't want to tell her. She asked if I wanted her to open it in case it was anything  important, I said whatever it is will have to wait.
In between books, puzzles and the odd bit of work that crops up  (online retail never really has a holiday) my mind wanders. I have nothing to do and nowhere to be, yet I feel restless, maybe it's just my mind.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Keep On Running

Not a bad sleep but it's 5.30am and I'm wide awake so I get up and out and off for a run.
It's a spectacular setting, I'm running  along a straight,  flat footpath  along the coast  road with mountains ahead of me and the sea to my right. The tide is out and the sky is almost clear as the sun rises, it's cool right now but it'll be  another scorcher later.
The mountains ahead are known as the 3 sisters and as I reach the next village and turn to go back, I'm now heading towards the Snowdonia range with the sea coming in to my right.
On my left are farms with a patchwork of fields and the birds are trying to drown out the incoming tide with their dawn chorus.
I'm running, I feel good and my surroundings are just beautiful. There is absolutely nothing to fear, how could there be, this is the life.

Friday, 22 May 2015


I can't  pass a magpie without greeting it and all of its family and friends. The usual things are avoided, walking on cracks, going under ladders etc but then there's the 'made up ' ridiculous rituals that can drive you crazy. Only cooking with even numbers; 2 onions, 6 mushrooms, 4 potatoes etc, use 3 carrots and somethings bound to go wrong, right?  Never turning inside out clothes the right way round, asking for trouble.  Making sure the volume on the radio or tv  is an even number, touching every other lamp post on the way home,  I could go on but they only get more bizarre.
Being away from it all I am more relaxed plus there aren't any magpies and I'm not sure you need to greet seagulls. 
When I woke this morning and lay a moment, realising where I was and hearing the waves on the shore outside I felt a wonderful  sense of calm. Then I remembered the lump and that's when the superstition  game kicked in. If I feel to check it's still there, it's bad. If I can ignore it all day it's harmless. How f***ing ridiculous.
So its now gone 6pm and the games over, I check and the lumps still there but so are the waves crashing on the shore outside. Nothing's changed and no amount of even numbers, birds or cracked pavements will alter the outcome of this latest 'test'.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Last Day First Tears

Friday here, the last full day of our holiday. As I lay listening too the sea in the early morning a wave of sadness came over me, partly for what I was leaving and also for what I was returning to. I know the appointment has been made and the letter containing it waits for me.
Today has been the first without full sunshine, the clouds are heavy and the wind has picked up making the sea darker,  moodier.  I love the elements and the walk along the beach is exhilarating, you feel so alive with the sea roaring, wind against you and rain on your face. It's the perfect day for my own mood, my tears are coming.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Never Again...

Ugh...It must've been the 3rd glass but I woke with an awful headache at 3.30am. I did manage to get back to sleep for a while but 5.30am and I'm in the wide awake club with my mind in overdrive and my head pounding. Back to fruit juice from now on.
It's a another  beautiful sunny day here and with nothing to do and nowhere to go the mini hangover  is easy enough to shake off. Walks on the beach with the dogs, exploring the local lanes which lead towards the mountains and simply sunbathing has taken my mind (and headache) elsewhere.
This is the day where you find your way around,  get accustomed to the surroundings and start your holiday properly. Unpack, get organised and then relax. Just wish I hadn't packed that rose wine!
The evening has been spent listening to music and the sound of the waves outside the window, perfect. Tonight I'm  going go sleep well.


Saturday 18th April and we've arrived at our remote holiday bungalow on a beach in north Wales,it's breathtakingly beautiful. In front of us only a 100m away the sea, calm today as the weather is gorgeous. Behind us and at either side is the Snowdonia mountain range, it really is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
I haven't slept well for a few nights, unusual for me as I'm normally asleep within minutes of climbing into bed. No matter how much I try and push thoughts of my forthcoming breast cancer screening away, they seem to be able to creep back - mostly in the dead of night. Therefore I'm hoping being here, away from everything I will get a decent nights sleep, I am so tired.
I've not had any alcohol for a while, it wasn't a conscious decision, I suppose I simply got out of the habit. Prior to kidney cancer I was fond of a glass or 2 of red wine on week nights  (ok...occasionally 3) and could finish of several bottles of corona on a night out. Not drinking post surgery meant I gradually became a real lightweight in the drinking stakes until eventually I just stopped wanting a drink, mainly due to horrendous hangovers when I tried it. Now it simply doesn't bother me and I'm more partial to fruit juice than merlot.
However, I'm on holiday and having not slept for the past few nights I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a couple of glasses of wine . Therefore I've bought along some wishy washy rose,  I can handle that...


I am writing this as it unfolds but won't publish until I have an answer.
When I began my kidney cancer journey I recorded events as they occurred but made them public retrospectively. At that time, my cancer arrived unannounced and I needed time for the shock to sink in and so I wrote everything  down to help me take it all in. The purpose had not been to share this public diary but in doing so I hope it has helped others going through similar.
I didn't anticipate a second cancer scare but unfortunately this is what I'm facing right now.
The date is Friday 17th April and I've had to see a GP because I've found a lump in my right  breast. It was a couple of days ago and although I didn't dismiss it, I hesitated to say anything as I don't want to waste anyone's time.
The doctor examined me and  confirmed that she could feel a small lump there, I'd hoped she'd say it was something and nothing. However, given my medical history and that my Mom has had breast cancer it was inevitable I suppose that I would have to be referred.
The doctor requested an appointment  there and then for me to attend  Burton hospital asap. The problem is that I am due to go on holiday tomorrow so it'll have to wait a week, hence the limbo.
At this stage I've told no one except my husband as there's  really no point in worrying anyone else at this stage. I mean, it's all going to be fine, isn't it?

Friday, 27 March 2015

Two Years with 1 Kidney Just Keeps Getting Better

This time two years ago I was in an operating theatre having my left kidney removed in a surgery that lasted five and a half hours.
Today I was up and out at 5.30am for a 2 mile run and I'll shortly be off to yoga to rid some of the aches and pains I have from my first netball practice in 30 years this week. I haven't felt this fit and healthy since, well probably since I last played netball which was at school.
When I read back my blog post from 12 months ago I see that I wasn't in such a good place. Surgery did take it's toll on me and although I tried to deny it, so did cancer. Complications with back pain meant my journey back to health hasn't been as straightforward as I would want.
However, I was determined to put kidney cancer behind me and saw the best way to forge ahead was to become as fit as I possibly could.
My memories of the day I joined the 'Mono Kidney Club' are still clear. It was snowing and in the car on the way Thorn in my Side was playing (very apt...). I can recall the gown I wore, meeting the surgeon in a tiny room where I was fascinated with his tiny hands (a good thing for a surgeon I think) and he dropped all his paperwork on the floor (not a good thing...). Being led from room to room, being asked which kidney was being removed (a little freaky as I hoped they'd know) and then having to climb onto the operating table myself which seemed really bizarre.
One of the things that struck me most was the anaesthetist admiring my sleeve tattoo and preferring to hook my other arm up rather than pierce the tattooed one.
Since my surgery I have had more work done on my sleeve, in particular I've had a kidney tattooed into it. I chose to have a kidney made up of leaf shapes and coloured green as this is the colour that represents kidney cancer awareness.

Right now I'm in a far better place than I have been in over two years. Even before I became ill, albeit suddenly I wasn't aware of how precious my health was and looking back I can see I was complacent with life in general.
Today I feel stronger, more determined and happier than I have in a long time. There are many debates about the question of whether cancer can be affected by your state of mind and I'm not about to enter into any of them. I can only say that my own strength of mind has helped pull me through this cancer ordeal. As for healthy mind, healthy body, it 's working for me.

Friday, 13 March 2015

2 Years in the Mono Kidney Club

Today will mark 2 years since I discovered I had kidney cancer after waking up and hemorrhaging from the tumor inside my left kidney. Shortly after I had surgery to remove the cancer and the kidney and there began a new lease of life.
I have reread my 12 month reflection on  this life changing event and realise how much difference a year can make. Back then it was still raw in my mind and I was still suffering painful reminders with ongoing pain.
In an effort to put the experience behind me as far as I possibly could I had moved hospital trusts and been discharged from consultant care preferring to see only my GP. I didn't want continuing check up reminders nor did I want to return to a CT machine regularly. Instead I went for the 'if it ain't broken why fix it' option whereby I would seek medical advice if I was unwell rather than 'because' I'd been unwell.
When I read other accounts of cancer discoveries I'm struck by how often there is a prolonged waiting, suffering and not knowing period. I was lucky I din't know and didn't have to wait or suffer till I woke up on Wednesday 13th march 2013 and Wham!
In sharing my journey on this blog I have been fortunate to cross paths with others going through similar and follow their progress also. I am struck by how incredible some of those accounts are. In particular is Lisanne Vos who's own experience is awe inspiring and can be read here Are You Kidneying Me  I have kept in touch with other members of the 'Mono Kidney Club' who's stoicism and bravery is incredible and has without a doubt inspired me to push on when things have become tough.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when my cancer was discovered was from a GP who said, 'Don't Google It!' This was after leaving hospital following surgery and having 101 unanswered questions about kidney cancer. Unfortunately as is usually the case when someone says 'Don't do it...' I have to push that button. In my case though I skipped the patient information links and settled on The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer  This charity has been a Godsend and by it's phone help line and website advice has helped keep me informed and positive.
I was going to write a Hopes & Fears kind of blog today but the truth is the fears would just be stating the bleeding obvious.
As for hopes, I have many but I've learnt that sometimes sharing them isn't always a good idea, especially if they don't come to fruition. I have many though, hopes, dreams and goals. One of which I reached yesterday having starting running a few months ago I took 30 seconds off my personal best time which was a big achievement. I don't compare with other runners as I prefer to run my own race in my own time which I have done pretty much with this kidney cancer battle. Apart from the incredible love and support my family have given and some wonderful friends, this was a personal fight and one that only I can conquer.
My Mono Kidney Club experience has not been easy but 2 years on I can see that without it my life may not be as focused and positive as it is now. Losing a kidney to cancer isn't something I'd want to go through again but I have to take the positives and there are many.
2 years, 1 kidney, they're only numbers. The here and now is, I'm here and now is the time to get on with life and live it to the full.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Telling it Straight

I was a bit lost the last time I wrote this as being 18 months post surgery and still experiencing pain was beginning to grate. I've mentioned before that I am fortunate enough to have an excellent GP who referred me to an orthopedic consultant and the visit to her was enlightening, just before this though I had to have an MRI scan - which I found really traumatic
Having had 3 or 4 CT scans I thought the MRI would be straight forward but hadn't banked on the high pitched noise and my nerves which combined meant I ended up in tears asking them to stop it. So embarrassing...they had to restart once I'd composed myself. I'm still not sure why I got so upset as having gone through so much already I wouldn't have thought another scan would phase me but it hit me all of a sudden, freaky.
The results came through while I was with the orthopedic consultant and thankfully there was nothing irregular showing other than expected 'wear and tear'. I'd already learnt that my time on the operating table had meant being twisted and turned and that my kidney had been more difficult to remove due to the tumor hemorrhaging and causing it to stick...gross. So I can live with wear and tear, literally.
Fast forward to my first physio appointment and there was the biggest revelation, I was crooked! When asked to measure either side from the bottom of my ribcage to the top of my hipbone, the left hand side was significantly shorter than the right. I had in part been protecting my wound and then leaning to the left which was placing strain on my right hand side.
I can recall vividly the day after my surgery being asked by the ward physio to climb out of bed and walk to the window - 3 beds length. This had been the most difficult and excruciatingly painful experience and I'd had to sit at the end of each bed. Once accomplished, this was the extent of my post surgery physiotherapy and I was signed off. Although I spent a further 5 days in hospital I had no further physiotherapy and neither was it discussed. 
Once home I'd struggled to walk for some considerable time and so can see how I'd begun to lean over and protect the area most painful. I'm not going over again the issues I had with my consultant surgeon but lets just say his dismissal of any subsequent pain having anything to do with his surgery was absolute and final. This led to my dismissal of him and the reason I switched hospital trusts.
I have continued with physiotherapy exercises over the past 3 months and at my last appointment this week I was signed off. I think having shown that I was committed to doing the exercises regularly and the improvements these have made both led to my sign off as I have tremendous resolve and a great deal of will power to get back to 'normal'. The physiotherapist has given me a new lease of life in as much as I'm no longer afraid to try exercises and have a better understanding of where the pain is coming from. For this I am very grateful.
As far as pain goes I'm not entirely free, but there are other reasons for this. Going back to when the pain was unbearable, even to sit, I was prescribed Gabapentin which is, amongst other things to treat neuropathic pain such as I was experiencing. My dose gradually increased as the pain did and I was taking 900mg per day on top of which I would also have Tramadol when it became unbearable. From the day I started physiotherapy and learnt about my posture problems I decided that if I could correct what was wrong then I could wean myself off the painkillers. And I have.
Over the past few weeks I have gradually decreased the dosage until last week when I stopped taking them altogether. 
This is something I'm sharing on here before even telling the doctor, I've made an appointment but I needed to see if there were consequences before I confessed. I can't say the pain has gone as I can feel it even now however, I am managing it better. I truly believe that much of this is down to maintaining a positive outlook and a little is me being able to identify where the pain is and controlling it with movement. The one thing I couldn't face was the thought of being drug dependant indefinitely. Before I became ill I hardly ever took anything apart from the occasional anadin extra (usually for a hangover). Now I don't drink and I want to be mindful of what other toxins my remaining kidney may have to process and Gabapentin had to go.
I have every intention of continuing with a fitness regime as my confidence has grown with the physiotherapy and today I started yoga classes. I did attend one a few months back but just wasn't ready as I didn't know what was causing the pain or if I might be exacerbating it. I also began running last October and now average 9min per mile regularly running 3 times a week.
The next hurdle will be my 2 year scan in March but once I've skipped over that I'll be back on the straight and narrow, no turning back.