Fate, signs and being vigilant

Tatton Park (picture taken that day)

Sunday 27th August

I don’t know if you call it fate, serendipity, a sign or destiny but sometimes in life things seem to show themselves or occur at specific moments that you can’t help but go along with them. It was the bank holiday weekend and we had various catch ups with friends and family letting them know the news. It was great to see them and we are so lucky to have such a supportive network that have genuinely been our rocks over the past few months, however I was drained and for one day I just wanted to get away from it all and spend time with Ste and the kids.

We decided to go to Tatton Park. I don’t know why I chose there but we had heard good things and I had never been there before so we went. At this point in time the kids still didn’t know about my diagnosis and we hadn’t really planned if it would be this weekend we told them or not. We set off and had a great time. It’s an amazing place and there were plenty of things to do parks, games, archery and animals. Naively we didn’t come prepared with food or water with all that had been going on we just didn’t think, we just went. The sun was really hot that day and as we went to the animal farm bit I could feel it shine down on my head. It felt uncomfortable and now brought a whole new element of panic/thought than ever before “what if I get burnt?” “can I even go out on a sunny day?” “am I a vampire?”. My arms and body were covered but it was boiling hot and I was probably about the only person out of hundreds that were covered up that day sweating like a boil in the bag rice. I was conscious of it but what I was more conscious of was the fact that I’ve just been diagnosed with Stage 4 skin cancer and I’ve gone out for the day without taking any sun cream how careless am I?

See as a kid I always remember being constantly nagged to wear sun cream by my parents. Both me and my sister were fair skinned so my parents were always cautious wherever we went. Back in those days we didn’t have the luxury and variety of easy apply spray creams there seems to be available now. My childhood holidays brought memories of thick tubes of sun cream which rubbed in about as easily as a plasterers mix at the end of the day or a tub of sudocream left in the fridge for a week. It was often in a sandwich bag with grains of sand left in from the previous day and just in case the ratio of sand grit to cream wasn’t rough enough I had the threat of my dads sandpaper hands to help rub it in should we have refused to put it on properly. All this was in preparation for a 15 minute play at more than likely the Mediterranean destinations of Abersoch or Shell Island beaches (Wales and Cornwall to those who haven’t heard of them).

Should we have asked to go in the sea or pool then out came the swimming t-shirts. With white t-shirts, white sun cream layered bodies both me and my sister were like two little white buoys bobbing up and down in the sea. If that wasn’t enough we sometimes had to wear a cap in the sea to protect our heads. There was definitely no need to keep an eye on us in the sea we were visible from most satellite locations. It’s no wonder we were good swimmers otherwise we may have drowned from the sheer weight of our clothes had we been unable to tread water for a substantial amount of time. Once we were in the water it was difficult to get us out we would spend ages swimming up and down, playing (leaving a thick trail of oil as we swam). If there’s one thing I remember from my childhood holidays my parents always made sure we were protected from the sun as best they could. Now I’m not saying I should wear a full length t-shirt, cap and cream on a outdoor spa day mid February in Burnley but I realise I need to be more prepared not only for myself but for my children and Ste. I haven’t experienced a full summer knowing I have skin cancer and despite the undpredictibiltiy of the weather lately I’m sure that I’ll be a lot more vigilant when the sun finally does come out. That needs to include sun cap, glasses, sun cream, lip balms and plenty of water (I’ve probably missed something out).

The thing is we never are vigilant until something does happen and unfortunately sometimes it can be too late. It applies to so many areas of our lives our health our diets, our well being, our relationships, even our finances. Now I am in no means a vigilantly but being diagnosed with cancer has certainly changed my outlook and approach to a lot of areas of my life. I now look at all these aspects as a tools to hopefully prolong my life as much as I can whilst still making it fun an enjoyable enough to live without regrets. If by writing this blog I encourage someone to re-asses maybe one area of their life whether that be sun protection, ditching the sun beds, improving their diet, being positive or just generally looking at their overall wellbeing then who knows it might even help to prolong their lives.

For me it’s all about what I value most in life. I value my life the ability to spend time with my children, husband, friends and family and the threat of not being around to see all that is enough to evoke most changes which can help prolong this time. For example as much as I used to love a drink on the weekend however I’d sacrifice that for an increase in my odds any day of the week (even Pimms or a Koko Kanu and Diet Pepsi and that’s saying something). Will this change in the future, maybe but for now it’s worth the effort even when I have to listen to drunk friends repeating the same stories at the end of the night. It’s just an added bonus I can remind them of these moments when beer fear kicks in the day after (only joking I would never do that or would I?).  Now I’m not saying you should all stop drinking (I’d have no entertainment for starts) but what I am saying is that maybe it’s worth a think sometimes to assess what you value most and make that your priority in terms of retaining it just in case it ever was threatened, everything else is just a cheeky little bonus.

Walk of Hope

We had walked round the park for a while and we decided to get some dinner (lunch). We managed to get a seat outside in the courtyard so I was summonsed to go and get everyone’s dinners (lunch) whilst everyone else kept guard! It was then when I noticed a leaflet that caught my eye. I picked it up and my heart went to the back of my throat as I read the words that slowly sank in off the page. It was advertising the ‘Walk of Hope’ for families and friends of loved ones who had lost or who are battling with cancer. There was a picture of people with angel wings whilst doing the walk and I couldn’t help but think this was a sign/fate/destiny that I was there on that day and happened to see the leaflet. I couldn’t ignore it. I got everyone’s lunches sat on the bench showed Ste the leaflet and burst into tears I don’t know why but I think it must of hit me that my family and I were now one of those people who had joined the battle and if we were ever to stand a chance then it wasn’t going to be sitting about doing nothing.

I took the leaflet home and I told Ste how I really wanted to do it and that I was hoping we could do it as a family. It was on Saturday 16th September (just a couple of days after my first treatment) and was a 10K walk round Tatton Park for Manchester Christies Hospital (http://www.christies.org/the-christie-charity/). It wasn’t my local cancer centre but it’s a fantastic charity one which I remember from when one of my best friends sadly lost her fight to cancer almost 14 years ago. The money raised not only goes into care and treatment but also to research for future treatments. It was my way of starting to give something back and counter balancing the positives from the negatives of this awful disease. To me it was a sign, a sign that there is hope sometimes you just need to grab onto the those opportunities however subtle/minor they may seem.

I wanted to sign up to the walk straight away but there were a few minor obstacles that made this a bit more complicated than it seemed on face value. The first one being we hadn’t yet told the kids, I would need to do this if I was expecting them to join me on this walk. Secondly I hadn’t told many people about my diagnosis so the likely hood of getting any sponsors was pretty slim (there was some expectancy of sponsorship value from the charity) and thirdly A wasn’t exactly what you’d call a walker he was definitely more a talker (he would give most SAS soldiers a run for their money in the battle of wits and sheer determination to stand his ground…literally!). A few days later we broke the news to the kids (as mentioned in one of my earlier posts ‘What and When to tell the kids’).

We then mentioned that we would like to do this walk for charity and to help Mummy. Straight away D said yes. A on the other hand did say yes but then when he actually thought about it and realised there was an option to stand and support he went with that. I was looking forward to it and hopefully it would be a key milestone/memory both me and D not forgetting Ste and A could treasure together we just had to figure out how to get some sponsorship money without having to let the whole world know why we were doing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Chrisi Nicholson Bennett
    21/03/2018 / 13:40

    Love reading these Rach, it reminded me of when we turned up at Haigh Park in shorts and TShirts expecting sun, only to be greeted by wet windy weather haha Oh and then doing the high ropes, with D being the coolest, calmest customer ever! hahaha
    Ahhhh TShirts, Caps and thick sunscreen too, oh the joys haha
    Another great read, and as always funny too. Keep them coming, your doing AMAZING! xx BIG Hugs xx

    • Rachel
      Author
      03/04/2018 / 19:48

      Yes that was the weekend after… another great day even in the cold! x x

  2. Dad
    22/03/2018 / 16:04

    And I thought my hands were as smooth as a baby’s bottom!!

    Love Dad xxxx

  3. Lisa Gillibrand
    10/04/2018 / 06:40

    I remember you wearing your hat and tee shirt in the pool in Majorca in 1995, Rach. I’m in Lanzarote with Vicki now and it’s sun cream a-plenty. Great posts – serious message but comedic delivery. I’m enjoying keeping up with them. Let me know when you fancy that walk in the woods xx

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