Ten Years

It has been ten years.

Ten years since my dad died. Ten years. How did that happen? I can remember so much but also so little. My daughter grows up having never met him.

Taken away too young by cancer. Bowel cancer which had spread to his liver. Too late to save him.

Only 64. He had all the signs, and yet nobody thought it could be that. He had tests and more tests until they revealed the truth. “a matter of months” was what they said. Four months later it was over. Friday 13th October 2006.

We were there. Sitting in the hospital, in our own room. York hospital didn’t have a cancer ward at that time. My Dad was on a ward where people go after having hip replacements. It was a happy positive place which was quite nice to go in and out of. It wasn’t a place someone went to die.

We stayed awake with dad. He was barely conscious, having uttered his last words to us on the Monday, breathing his last breaths.

I hate cancer. I hate that it has affected my family, and will continue to do so. My mum (who is still alive) has had it twice. H has been  brought up knowing what she needs to look out for. By the time she’s an adult there will be a cure, I hope.

Ten years though. What has changed in the last ten years? I’m not sure. Are you seen quicker by a doctor these days? When dad got his diagnosis his treatment started. He had chemotherapy, to try and shrink the tumour.

Back then he was considered too young for the regular bowel cancer screening, as you had to be 65. These days the age is lower. I’ve had various tests offered to me at 46 underfunded wonderful NHS.

Things are changing, People are still dying.

Ten years though. How? Please read the Beating Bowel Cancer links above, pass them on to a parent. If it helps save a life then that’s a good thing.

Dad at Marston Moor

Smear for Smear

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. Smear tests are important. Today, Sunday 25th January marks the start of a campaign to raise awareness, Smear for Smear, in conjunction with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week starts today. The Smear for Smear campaign is simple enough – put on some lipstick, and smear it, take a picture and upload it to whichever social media channel you choose, using the hashtag #smearforsmear – and tag some friends. (disclaimer : I’m not taking part in the photo, but I am doing my bit in spreading the word)

You see, regular smear tests are important. Cervical Cancer is one of the few cancers which can be prevented. 1 in 3 women between the ages of 23-29 do not take up their smear test invitation. Nine women are diagnosed every day.

My mum had cervical cancer. She had a hysterectomy and is still with us. Smear tests are important, and I know I need to help spread the word.

Here’s the press release :

Smear campaign against cervical cancer launches as over one million women fail to attend screening

  • 1 in 3 young women aged 25-29 fail to attend screening when invited
  • Over a quarter of young women delay screening because they worry the test will be painful or embarrassing
  • 20% of young women think cervical screening is an unnecessary health test

The UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity is calling on women (and men) to join #smearforsmear – a campaign which aims to help reverse the downward trend in numbers of women attending their smear test (cervical screening) and in so doing stop the rise in numbers of women diagnosed with the disease.

Launched at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW, 25th – 31st January 2015), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to smear lipstick across their face, snap a picture for social media and remind their friends of the importance of smear tests.

Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited – a test that detects abnormal cells on the cervix before they develop into cancer – and this number rises to 1 in 3 for young women aged 25-29 who are the first age group to be invited. In fact 36.7%[1] of 25-29 year olds in England failed to attend screening when invited last year. Worryingly the most recent figures in numbers diagnosed show a rise from 352 cases in 2010 to 427 cases reported in the UK in 2011.

A survey[2] by the charity has revealed some of the reasons young women give for delaying attendance include seeing cervical screening as an unnecessary health test (20%), concerns it would be painful (26.2%) and embarrassing (26.6%).

The charity is also concerned about the general lack of knowledge surrounding the test amongst younger women. Over half (56%) of this age group didn’t identify the cause of the disease as the human papillomavirus (HPV). One in ten thought it was a test for sexually transmitted infections and 13.5% thought it was a test for Ovarian cancer. Giving a voice to cervical cancer prevention is also vital as 48% said they never openly discuss smear tests with their friends or family.

Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic. It’s now time that we see a shift in awareness of cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests.

“We hope the public get fully behind this fun and simple campaign. The more women who take this life saving five minute test, the fewer who will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”

How to share your lipstick smear:

  1. Apply your lipstick, smear it across your cheek and take a photo
  2. Tag #smearforsmear and @JoTrust in your message.
  3. Add the names of the people you want to nominate
  4. Post onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  5. For more info on the campaign visit: Jo’s Campaign (this is last year’s link)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.

Lift the Lid on Bowel Cancer

Will you take up the challenge and join Beating Bowel Cancer to Lift the Lid on bowel cancer? Bowels, bottoms and poo are still a taboo and they need our help during April as they Lift the Lid on all things bowel cancer.

Lift The Lid on Bowel Cancer

My dad died over seven years ago due to Bowel Cancer. It was something nobody expected him to have, yet he ticked all the boxes as far as symptoms go. We had four months from diagnosis until he died in October 2006. Things which make sense in retrospect made no sense at the time. He had secondary tumours in his liver which left him at Stage 4. Beating Bowel Cancer campaign every year to help raise awareness of Bowel Cancer, and symptoms we may not want to talk about. As a parent I can happily talk about H’s poo, but myself? Difficult. Please read on.

One in four of us have been affected by bowel cancer in some way, either personally or through family or friends. Yet how often do you think we talk about it? The truth is, not often enough.

Whilst this may not be easy, we want you to open up and get a conversation going during April.

We need you to start your own conversation and Lift the Lid – whether it’s with family members, friends, workmates or neighbours. All we need you to do is share the message that bowel cancer, bums and poo are nothing to be embarrassed about, and that learning the symptoms and acting on them can save lives.

Beating Bowel Cancer have designated Wednesday 16 April as Lift the Lid Day when they’ll be making lots of noise and encouraging everyone to get involved.

There’s lots we can help with; from putting up posters in your community, watching our video, spreading the word through social media and getting involved in activities around the UK.

All of these conversations could be lifesaving, so please help us to Lift the Lid. So what are you waiting for? Visit www.beatingbowelcancer.org/liftthelid

How you can Lift the Lid:

– Download the Lift the Lid and symptoms posters to put at work or in your community

– On Wednesday 16 April get involved and show your support on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LiftTheLidDay

– Text LIFT14 £3 to 70070 to donate £3 or visit donation page for more options

– Have a collection or awareness event in your community
More info

– Watch the awareness video and share it so more people can learn about the symptoms

Every conversation you have and every time you Lift the Lid, you’re moving us all closer to beating bowel cancer.

New Cancer Research Retro Range

I love things which have a retro feel though I don’t like the prices it often comes with. This afternoon we went wandering around the shops locally as we don’t get a chance to do that often any more.

Our favourite shop Calladoodles is currently being refurbished so we had to skip there (but it’ll be open again in two weeks) but happily our Cancer Research shop was open.

Cancer is something which has affected a lot of people. My dad died due to Bowel Cancer, my mum has had two different kinds, and various family members have been affected. A lot of friends are going through it at the moment. This is why I’ll always shop at Cancer Research shops – the money is put into Cancer Research in the hope one day a cure will be found. They have a lovely range of things in-store too. I’ve done Race for Life several times (I didn’t do it last year) and am thinking about doing the Dryathlon, though I’d find it quite easy not to drink for the whole of January.

Here’s the Cancer Research retro range, and the things which I’m going to go back and buy some of…

Cancer Research retro cosmetic purse

I do not need another cosmetic purse, however, at just £2.99 I need this.

Cancer Research retro notepadsI can never have too many notepads. Actually, I never have enough as H steals them.

Cancer Research Retro Purse

This purse has plenty of card compartments and a separate zip area for coins, etc. Only £7.99 too!

Cancer Research retro toiletries bag

What better than a matching toiletries bag?

Cancer Research retro wellies

If I really wanted to go for the overkill effect I’d also wear these wellies. At £18.99 they’re not cheap, and only go up to size 7, so may not fit me… but still, lovely!

These are all available now at Cancer Research stores and online. Go and check them out!