Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It is time to press reset...

I can't wait to slam the door on 2014 but before I do I will flick through this twisty, turvy, stormy year.

I started it with a
Caribbean suntan and was awash with plans to celebrate my 50th year of life! But instead days full of curtain closed darkness crept in when a consultant said the words breast cancer. To me. To my face. My breast.

But rather than dwell on those dark days I shall end the way I started; in the sunshine...

The good things:
I got the chance to get bald. Stripped back to my baby self. Today I want to stand on the spot, hold my arms out and whirl. Shout I am free,  I love my new funky style!

I launched myself into a world full of hats! Tried out styles I would never have dared before, I wore jaunty berets, Downton cloches; a c
aribbean calypso of colours... a life without hats is a thing of the past.

Friends and family drove for hours just to sit and listen; to take me to see the sea and to stand on a beach. They made torturous traffic logged journeys to get me to oncology and back...Thank you are two words which could never show what these things mean to me!

I have learnt to keep my cortisol levels in check and stress levels on empty. Because hand in hand with rest and a focused calm mind (achieved through mindfulness and meditation), they allow my body to heal, kick start my immune system and create space for my mind to refresh.

I have a third chance to get on with living! To let my heart sing. Another reminder that EVERY moment COUNTS! Every single second! I shall wrap myself in every smile. Cherish my family and every friendship. Drink in the beauty of every sunset. Treasure every breath shared with My Mr H...

Thank you my friends and social media family for staying with me this year. 
Thank you for your tweets, messages and emails of support. 
Thank you for telling me my Blog gives you hope and that it helps you to keep going when your own strength is being tested.
Thank you for giving me a chance to become the best individual health Blog 2015...

It's time for me to press reset and start a new chapter...
and wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Are you with the wheelchair?...

Mr H is my legs as we reach airport security on our way to a wedding...

...with a wave of her arm, a suited lady directs fellow travellers to a queue to be scanned. She glances down at me, stripped of my coat, scarf, bags, belt, all metal objects except the plate in my head, then steals my smile as she asks Mr H

Are you with the wheelchair?

Aha. I had forgotten once I sit in a wheelchair I am a wheelchair! journey with airport special assistance has begun... 

The smiling ground crew collect me from the gate and with fellow wheelchair users they escort us to lifts, then across the Tarmac to the aircraft ambulift which awaits us...

Yippee we all shout as the fridge like lift whirs us into the air to rest level with the closed aircraft's side door. Our entry into the warmth. Our man knocks. We wait. Tap tap. We wait, shivering in our coats. Knock knock knock...

Then out of our window we spot the able passengers beginning to snake their way out to the aircraft. We all know that they will now be allowed into the warmth before us even though we were there first.

Fifteen more shivering minutes pass with us suspended mid air in our ice cold, wind chilled, fridge. We watch with opened mouths as the aircraft is hooked onto the tug. I bang on the window and shout

wait for us

No one looks up!

Our man hammers loudly on the closed aircraft door. We wait. Knocks louder... then to squeals of teeth chartering relief the door is opened.

Do we get an apology? Not on your life!

When we land we are told to stay seated so the able bodied passengers can get off first. They climb aboard a waiting warm cosy bus to be transported from the aircraft to the airport terminal. 

At last we are ambulifted onto the Tarmac only to become a three carriage train: Mr H is my driver, a mother pushes her young child as he clutches his Spider-Man toy and an elderly man struggles with his wife in her chair. It is a long dark walk as we are escorted along the normally unseen outside trails of Bristol airport on a wind chilled winter evening...

Shivering we pop out by the luggage carousels to collect our lonely suitcases. Everyone else has already left!

But when the Groom jumps in early with his eager I do and love glistens in his brides eyes, the journey I have travelled this year to witness such joy becomes a distant memory...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Now the storm has passed...

Barry white's words are singing in my may be winter outside but in my heart it's spring...because when I saw my oncologist he said your bones are cancer clear. One simple sentence which like a red traffic light,  brought our jumble of fear, questions about the future and sleepless nights to a stop. 

Once again I have a future, it will be filled with an extra scan each year, but I know how to do annual scans, my brain tumour.saw to that.

Mr H and I keep casting glances at each other and grinning like lottery winners. We are lottery winners! Bad news has left us alone for Christmas. Mr H keeps hugging me extra hard and when he comes back from a run, with sweaty tears he declares his utter joy and love for me. 

Its a GTBA week all round. We are off to a wedding. This wedding has dangled like a golden carrot as I have trudged my way through this year of cancer.  I won't need an excuse to wear a hat and eat cake!!

...and I have made it onto the short list for the UK Blog Awards 2015 - Individual Health Bloggers Category. 
Thank you all for your votes which got me to this point! 
I raise my glass to you...and to further raising awareness of the impact that brain tumours and breast cancer have but showing that even with these life can be enjoyed

Oh and before I go... GTBA is my term for Its Good To Be Alive

Dance, Smile, Giggle, Marvel, Trust, Hope, Love, Wish, Believe. Most of all enjoy every moment of the journey and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.

Mandy Hale

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Having a hat of a time!

In Oncology I cannot pass the hat shop without dipping into my purse, in fact I have to plan hat buying time into my visits. Last week I spied a purple and red one...

I need it I told Rachael as I treated her to my hat buying grin. It is getting colder and it will match my coat...

I used to think hats were for wimps and when I rambled around the country I refused to cover my head unless the ground was winter white! But having no hair has thrown me into a playground of hats! I spend hours hat browsing on Amazon then watch with glee as the postman slides them through the letterbox and grab what I can when Accessorise have their 70% sale. 

Some have rain protecting brims, others are cosy warm wool, one has a feather and a few are just because I couldn't live without them!  

Each day I pick one out with care, a colour to complement my outfit and thickness to match the temperature outside. Then I do my mirror-look test before I leave the house.

I have inside hats too and as the evenings get colder Mr H often exclaims my little Eskimo you do make me I lie on the settee, a thick woolly hat on my head, scarf round my neck and blanket wrapped around me. The cancer treatment has stolen my body heat. 

I have a wedding coming up and am in a hat war with my sister in law. I know I will win! Although I have given her a hat start by declaring my hat wearing head...

When the clouds are grey a rainbow of colour brightens my day. 
I am having a hat of a time.