So we are now half way through the first month of 2017! 2017…where has time gone?
I started writing this blog in 2013, as a way to digest, and reflect on my cancer diagnosis, or rather, on my life post cancer treatment…back then everything was still quite raw, reading through my blog, I can see how I have moved further and further away from being the girl that had cancer…but no matter what happens, I know deep down that it is this cancer diagnosis that has given me the kick up my arse to look for the good things in life- so I might no longer be the girl that talks tits all the time…but I am the girl that says yes to life, because she had a brush with death!
That said, I feel it is time to appreciate 2016!
2016 was the year of doing new things for me, the year of change! When I was visiting my sister Christmas 2015 I had vowed to find leave my job by August 2016! I felt 5 years at the same company was enough, and desperately wanted to move abroad again, and start working in the hospitality sector again…and guess what- I did it!
But before we get to that, August 2016, there was still a lot in between going on…
For one thing, there was the running! Whilst I was not aiming to beat any records, run a bizillion races in 2016, I ran a lot, this time round just for myself. Running was no longer just about showing cancer who is the boss, but more about feeling free, and enjoying the moment.
Just before leaving the UK, I did do one last charity run, with my old company, my lasting legacy at TP Orthodontics will be the 3 Leeds10ks that were run, inspiring my fellow colleagues to done on their running shoes 🙂 I still get messages and pictures from some of them, showing of their new found love for running… This year I was particularly proud of those that ran the Leeds10k with me, as I had already left my job, and did not early expect anyone to honour their commitment…So big massiv thank you to everyone who made this happen!
As I am sat here in Chad, I have to say, I do miss my team boobs outfit, and I definitely miss my giant boob…I know I told my friends that I would not be doing anymore charity races…but as I look at this picture, I do feel a very real urg to start training for “one last fundraising event”…and dust of my team boobs shirt and blow up the balloons to stuff that boob…keep your eyes open 😉
2016 was also a great year for travelling…after having been to Turkey, China and Brazil, all in the space of three months in 2015, I had vowed to continue to visit at least one new country each year. So when my parents expressed their interest in spending Easter with me, I suggested that we should travel to Poland. I had never been there before, and it was a fairly affordable and easy place to get too. Poland, really blew my mind, the Baltic coast there is AMAZING! Long sandy beaches,where you can walk for miles and miles, allowing you to get rid of all those cob webs. The north east of Poland is also still fairly traditional, and rural, giving you the space to step down a gear, and slow down to enjoy life a little more. I will be back.
As I said 2016 was the year of trying new things…including hiking through the Alps with one of my close friends…although, the trek we did the one time should not be called hiking…but rather scrambling/climbing! I am not the greatest fan of heights, and I am also known for being slightly clumsy…so when my friend suggested we should hike up the Hohenstaufen, which she described as a challenging HIKE, I said Yes…hiking I can do… What it turned out to be was more than hiking…with moments where, I as a novice scrambler did not know where to put my feet…which resulted in my friend coining one of the best phrases ever…”hug the mountain as if you wants to f#%ck it” But honestly I am so grateful to my friend for taking me up there- allowing me to prove to myself that no matter how scary something is, you can do it!
And then of course 2016 was about the silverlining, the silverlining of breast cancer that came in the form of volunteering at some pretty cool, and when I say pretty cool events, I mean, mind-bogglingly cool, cool events. Two other Boobettes and me, got to volunteer at a CoppaFeel! fundraising event that had been organised by the sister of one of the Snow Patrol members…but nobody had told us this until the day…I had just said yes to volunteering at this event, as I love CoppaFeel! and tend to say yes to each and to everything they throw my way. It turned out to be one the most amazing nights of my life, I was stood 2 meters away from the stage, at a private Snow Patrol gig, and moreover, I got to meet Courtney Cox, Monica from Friends- not too forget helping at an event that helped to raise thousands of pounds for a charity that is so close to my heart.
And then there was the new job in 2016, back to hospitality, July 23rd 2016! In a new country, a country that hitherto I had hardly heard about…Chad…I only knew that they had a former president that had been in th news for crimes against humanity…but back to the new job. In July 2016, I started back again with the Hilton, in November 2015, I stayed at the Hilton in Istanbul, and my mind was set for me to get back, I wanted to restart my career, which had been put on hold due to breast cancer…so now here I am, working in one of the most difficult countries in the world, but enjoying the challenge- as I know that adversity grows you more, then when you are working within your comfort zone. Everyday has its challenges, but the idea is to rise to these challenges, and not let them overwhelme you.
2016 was the year where I got to meet someone who I now consider a close friend, a girl who just like me has lived abroad most her life, a girl that I envy for her ability to speak bizillion foreign languages, a girl that was so kind to listen to me beg her to take me to the East of Chad, as I was desperate to get to know the country, and see more than just my golden cage.
Thanks to Amanda, I got to go to Bitkine and Mongo, and I got to meet some of the kindest people I have met in a long time. Amanda works for IAS, an NGO that drills wells in areas where people are struggling to find water. They also have self help groups for women in and around Bitkine, which we visited. Meeting these women was humbling, despite all the hardship and adversities they face, they laughed, smiled and were genuinely happy and excited to see us. These ladies could teach a lot of us some very important lessons…life is not about the things you own, life cannot be measured by material things…life is about sharing it with people you love, and making memories.
Whilst 2016 was a great year, it also had its down sides…one in particular, that hit me hard! We, the Boobettes, a group of young women that all share one thing, they were either diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, or where affected by it in another way, and use our stories to spread the CoppaFeel! message of the importance of getting to know your boobs and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, we lost one of our brightest stars. Alex, who is now shining down on us, wishing us on, reminding us to enjoy life, to take it day by day, and remember that we define what we are, not the circumstances that we find ourselves in. As much as cancer has taken a back step in my life, moments like these make it all so real again! Nothing in life is certain, and that’s why we can’t take anything for granted, bust must strive to step out of comfort zone, ignore the perceived boundaries, say yes to life and make sure that we LIVE.