Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A day to remember!!

Today, 12th July, is a special day for me for 2 reasons. 

The first reason is that 16 years ago we arrived on the Isle of Bute and moved into our new flat. I had never been here before and had only seen a few pictures that Terry had taken a few weeks earlier when he came up here to view some flats. He put in an offer on one, it was accepted the next day and 6 weeks later we arrived.

It was the start of a new life; living on a small island close to the sea (well ok, technically not the sea, but close enough for me!!) Peace & quiet,  lovely scenery, lots of walks along the beaches. Everything was perfect.

Then along came cancer and the reason why 12th July is special for another reason. 
8 years ago today I went  over to The Beatson in Glasgow for my last radiotherapy treatment; my treatment for womb cancer was finally over.

I’d like to say that since then things have returned to some sort of normality but the truth is it hasn’t. If you have been following my blogs or know me via FB then you will know that it’s not been that straightforward.

There are no more walks along the beaches; these days I can barely walk down the stairs to hang the washing out.

Every day when I get out of bed, I am reminded that cancer came into my life and I am still living with the after–effects.

Cancer does not care about who you are, how much money you earn,  what kind of person you are or what football team you follow!!

They reckon that by 2020, 1 in 2 people will have been diagnosed with cancer. That is a hell of a lot of people – you have a 50/50 chance of being one of them, if you haven’t already been diagnosed.

They also say that a positive attitude helps you deal with it all; well I tried to stay positive when I was going through it all 8 years ago but I have nothing to be positive about now, however hard I try.

So each year, 12th July will continue to be a reminder  that there are good things and bad things that happen to us in life. 

I guess you can’t really have one without the other.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Bring on the rain!!

Well, we rarely seem to get more than two or three days of decent sunny weather up here on west coast of Scotland but we are now into our 4th week I think it is of virtually wall to wall sunshine and high temperatures and the forecast is for at least another 2 weeks of the same.

Call me a moaner if you want, and quite a few people have already, but when you have chronic health conditions weather like this is unbearable and not nice in the slightest.
It can make existing health conditions worse and can also create new health issues yet many people just don't seem to care or understand how it affects us.

As someone who has never been one for sitting out in the sun anyway, I find it even harder to tolerate the heat and humidity since having my treatment for womb cancer back in 2010.

I can't understand, and never have, why people think its a good idea to strip off and basically fry themselves. They literally are "dying for a tan".

Cases of melanoma or skin cancer are on the rise and yet many people are unaware of the symptoms or basically just don't care.

We all know that Vitamin D is good for you and the best source is sunshine but that doesn't mean you should be sitting out in the sun for hours on end.

It amazes me that people who have already had cancer will happily sit out in blazing sunshine because they want a good tan. Do they not realise that having had cancer once you are more prone to getting it a second time? Or do they really not care anyway?

It also shocks me to see young children playing out in the hot sunshine without any protection like hats or long sleeves. And don't get me started on people who walk their dogs in this hot weather. 

It can take many years sometimes before skin cancer shows itself so you may get a good tan today but is it a price worth paying?

For more information check out the NHS website here 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Bits of Bute - Part 2

This weekend sees the very first Pride event on Isle of Bute. But do you know the history of Pride and why it exists?
I will admit that until recently I was not aware of the full story behind why Pride exists. I knew of Stonewall the organisation that campaigns for equality for all LGBT people but not much else.

Being a straight female I have always been a LGBT ally, that is someone who believes in equality for all; whether they be straight, gay, male, female, black, white, disabled or able bodied etc. We all live on this one planet and I have always believed that everyone should be treated with respect.

In 1950's America, things were not good for gay people, in fact they weren't good for gay people anywhere to be honest. If you were gay then your very existence was criminalised. You had very few rights as a gay person; you could be refused service in bars and restaurants, you could be sacked from your job if your employer found out you were gay.

On June 26th 1969  there was a police raid at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. Most raids were simply ones that shut bars down for a few days and they then re-opened until being raided again a few weeks later, But things got out of hand this night and it turned into a riot. People inside the bar were treated so badly by the police that many decided that the time was right to make a stand for LGBT rights.

Pride events take place around the world, usually in June every year to mark the events of that night and each year more cities, towns (and even small islands ) host their own Pride events.

This year, thanks to the guys at Scottish Honky Tonk Bute is holding its first ever Pride event and I am so looking forward to it. It has been a long time coming and I have no doubt there are people here who are not as enthusiastic about it as I am.

You may ask why we need Pride, after all, the events of 1969 are a long way off now and we live in different times. Well yes and no. It's true that many more people are more tolerant of LGBT people but that doesn't necessarily mean they accept they are entitled to equal rights just the same as straight people. LGBT people around the world still face incredible barriers in many areas, from healthcare, employment, marriage etc so there is still a long way to go to reach true equality.

You only have to look back at the events of June 12th 2016 at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida to see that Pride still needs to happen.

Pride events are a time to celebrate what has been achieved but also to campaign for what still needs to be achieved for true equality across the board and around the world.

As a LGBT ally, with friends and aquaintences of all shades of the rainbow, I am fully supportive of the fight for equality and will be there to see the Pride parade on Saturday in Rothesay with my rainbow badge on and my handmade rainbow earrings.

Huge admiration to the guys at the Scottish Honky Tonk for organising it and its good to see some of the local businesses getting onboard and putting out the rainbow flags.

        The West End Chippy
                                                                                                                                Our local Oxfam

There will hopefully be lots of people coming to Bute this weekend so fingers crossed that the weather is nice. We've had wall to wall sunshine for over 3 weeks then yesterday Storm Hector arrived. Lets hope he leaves before the parade on Saturday.

Rumour has it that even the BBC will be covering the event!!


So, hopefully I will have some pics to show you next time. if you get the chance to go to a Pride event then please do.
Show your support and spread the love.

Have fun.

For more details about the history and background to Pride and the Stonewall riots check out

Friday, 18 May 2018

#GetLippy about #wombcancer

I know now that there are 5 gynaecological cancers but back at the end of 2009 I had only ever heard of 2 – ovarian and cervical. So being diagnosed with a cancer I had never heard of came as a bit of a shock to say the least. When I was told I had endometrial carcinoma I actually had to ask my gynaecologist where exactly the cancer was!! I then decided to call it womb cancer because it was much less of a mouthful!!

I am now a bit more savvy when it comes to gynae cancers and now know that there are 5 of them. Just in case you don't know all 5 they are womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal - listed in order of numbers diagnosed.

After I finished my treatment in July 2010 I started doing some research and began to realise that even though womb cancer was the most common of the 5 gynae cancers there was very little awareness about it and even less research. There was also no dedicated womb cancer support groups out there so in 2011, I started Womb Cancer Support UK, which is an online based not for profit organisation.

It soon became apparent that many of the women who came to us for support had never heard of this cancer either before being diagnosed with it so I was determined to make sure that awareness was just as important as supporting those women who had already been diagnosed.

Over the past 7 years, not only have we supported many women who have been diagnosed but we have worked hard to raise awareness of womb cancer. Sadly there is this misconception that it is a cancer than only affects older women, mainly post-menopausal ones but we know from the women that come to us that it can affect women of all ages.

We know of at least 2 young women who were diagnosed before the age of 20; we also know of several young women in their 30’s who have died as a result of womb cancer;  I myself was told at 46 that I was on the young side to get womb cancer.

We need to make sure that all women (and GP’s) understand that a woman is #NeverTooYoung to get womb cancer. It can and does affect women of all ages.

Throughout the  month of May  The Eve Appeal is running their #GetLippy campaign to raise awareness of all 5 gynae cancers – the 3rd week of the month they are focussing on womb cancer so please get behind the campaign and help #GiveWombCancerAVoice.

We need all women to be aware of womb cancer and know that it could affect them. If you are experiencing any sudden heavy bleeding or bleeding between your normal periods or get any post-menopausal bleeding then please don’t ignore it like I did. Go see your GP and get checked out. It may not be womb cancer but if it is then the sooner it’s caught the better the outcome.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, either recently or in the past and want some support then you can check out our website or find us on Facebook.



Thursday, 15 March 2018

Bits of Bute - Part 1

This is the first in an occasional series of blog posts about things local to Isle of Bute, which is where I live. It’s a small island off the west coast of Scotland that I’ve called home for the past 15 years.

The Isle of Bute is often been seen as a nice quiet place to either live or come and visit. With lovely scenery and plenty of nice beaches, it is a relatively pleasant place to live. The population is around 6,500 and although a lot are older residents there are still a lot of younger people who live here. Outdoor activities range from bowls and shinty to football and bridge. Indoor activities include art clubs, highland dancing, a choir and a community brass band.

Recently a little piece of Bute, namely down at Ardbeg Point, has been rocking to a slightly more upbeat tune with the arrival of new owners at what was the Ardbeg Lodge, now known as The Scottish Honky Tonk.

The owners, Brody and Rima Jamieson, took over a couple of years ago and have turned this little part of Bute into a great little house of music, fun and food. As well as some great live music the SHT has a diner, called the R&B Rockabilly Diner, which serves good old US style food as well as all the usual food for the less adventurous.

They have regular live music events and this year they are really pulling out all the stops. At the end of this month there is a Pick-upTruck Rally and then in June they are organising Bute’s first ever Gay Pride event. Hopefully it will become a fixture for years to come, as will no doubt many of the other events that Brody & Rima have been busy organising.

It is great to see something different here on the island and whilst some of the events may not be to everyone’s taste, you can’t deny that they are providing a service that many do want and enjoy.

Whilst I’ve not been down to check out the place myself yet, (due to health issues) I have heard a lot of good things about what is going on down there so will make an effort to get there one day.

You can find out more by checking out the Facebook pages and also their website and if you ever come over to Bute then you have to take a drive out of Rothesay and down to Ardbeg and check out the Scottish Honky Tonk where you will no doubt be given a huge welcome, some great grub, some wicked moonshine and some great service!! And you may even find a visiting drag queen or two on the bill.
Check out the Welcome to Bute and What's on Bute FB pages for more details of all things related to Bute and for details of local events.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Information Super Highway.

Remember in the good old days when the only way to find out what was happening in the world was to sit down in front of the television and watch the evening news or sit at the breakfast table and read the daily paper?

These days, you are more likely to catch your dose of news updates whilst scrolling through Facebook or on Twitter. Social media seems to be where most of us find our news these days. Main stream media (MSM) in its traditional sense is struggling. Sales of newspapers are down and many papers now have online versions although with some of them you still have to pay to access their websites.

Of course, there is now the issue of so called "fake news" but I guess in a way we've always had that because even the MSM have always only printed what they wanted you to read and not always given the full story.
The easy access to news 24 hours a day should mean that we are all more informed about what is happening around the world but sadly it would seem that's not always the case.

Many people lead such seemingly busy lives - always on the go, rushing around etc. that sometimes things pass them by. Sure news of big events still reach them, like election results or who won Bake Off or Strictly Come Dancing but the things that should be important seem to pass them by.
Many people don't see what happens in other parts of the world as relevant to their lives but in the 21st century everything is interlinked - global trade and politics affects every part of our daily lives.

There are so many people around the world trying to make a difference and it's sad that for the most part no-one knows what they are doing.

Women working in rural parts of India and Africa to educate other women and young girls on menstruation and gynaecological issues and helping to alleviate period poverty; Mothers in parts of South America fighting hard to keep their children out of armed gangs; things like this are happening across the world yet very few people know anything about them.

I spend a lot of time online due to my work with Womb Cancer Support UK, searching for information and articles related to this issue to help raise awareness and also supporting those women who have been diagnosed. I come across a lot of other interesting stuff along the way and share as much as I can because I think it's important to do so.

Although the internet has made the world a much smaller place - we can connect with someone on the other side of the world instantly via messenger or Facebook and Twitter - it has also made us more distant from the things that are happening around us.
We scroll through our newsfeeds and yet do we actually read any of the stuff there? Most people are more likely to comment on a post from a friend talking about what they had for dinner than show any interest in a news article about some atrocity in a foreign country or the rape and murder of a young girl in rural India.

It seems the compassion and empathy has gone out of society and many people are so wrapped up in their own world that they don't have the time to care about anything or anyone else, and that is really sad.

If you have taken the time to read this, I thank you and I hope you will also take the time to read more posts and articles on social media that are of real importance. The lives of everyone on this planet are interconnected even if only in minute ways - but we all matter.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The art of writing a letter.

It would seem in these days of technology where everything is instant - emails, instagram and texts, that the simple pleasure of writing a letter has gone out of fashion.
I used to love getting letters from my Mom every week or so an so miss them not popping through the letter box anymore since she died at the end of 2013. Occasionally I will come across one of the notecards that she used to send me tucked away in a drawer an it makes me cry when I re-read them, knowing that I'll never get another on.

Think of all the love letters that have been exchange by couples over the years; some kept for decades as a reminder of lost love or of happier times. The letters of condolences after a bereavement. The letters tucked inside a Christmas card with an update of the previous years family activities etc. an who can forget all those letters written to Santa.

We often get letters from friends and family when we are ill wishing us a speedy recovery and these sometimes arrive if we are in hospital for some length of time an help keep us in touch with the outside world.

Being diagnosed with cancer can be a difficult time and also a lonely time as our everyday lives are suspended as we go through cancer but those around us, family, friends and work colleagues, move on without us.

I recently came across a lovely website which encourages people to write a letter to a cancer patient. It's as simple as that. For the cost of a stamp, you could make a real difference to the life of a cancer patient.

Please check out From me to You and if you don't feel like writing a letter then they are always looking for donations of lovely notecards that they can use.

Make someone smile today and write a letter.