Sue’s Blogging About… Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

prevention cervical cancer

This week is all about cervical cancer awareness. The theme for the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 is “Reduce your risk”.

One easy way to reduce your risk is to have regular smear tests.

In the UK women are invited by the NHS to have their first smear at the age of 25. Smear tests are estimated to save 4,000 lives every year, however screening is at the lowest it’s been for 20 years. In England more than 1.2 million women don’t take up offered appointments to have a smear.

So many women are not having their smear test when invited. Why is this?

I don’t know about you, but I found it embarrassing. The thought of having my legs akimbo in front of a relative stranger, albeit a medical professional, when I was first invited to have my smear was almost enough to put me off. But I went. And it was quick. Uncomfortable, sure, embarrassing, slightly, but it was done. And, after all, staff are trained to treat you with respect and dignity.

My second smear test came back with abnormal cells – a bit of a worry but it was swiftly followed up. I ended up with another smear test and then a trip to the hospital. There I had a LOOP operation which involved removing these abnormal cells and testing them further. Luckily, nothing else came of that and my smears since have been clear.


I’m glad I went because according to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust 75% of cervical cancer can be prevented just by regular smear tests. I believe I am in that 75%.

So I urge you, please go have your smear test when invited. Over 25, registered with a GP and not had an invite? Chase them up!

Statistics show that the number of women aged 25-29 years of age being screened for cervical cancer is the lowest in any age group and numbers attending for screening are falling year on year. This particular age group is more likely to have a full bikini wax – something that can be super painful, uncomfortable, waving your nether regions at a beautician, and you PAY for the pleasure – than have a smear test, which takes less time than a wax.

Cervical-screening bikini wax

Obviously, I am not naive enough to think that having regular smear tests stop you from getting cancer. However, if caught early enough cervical cancer can be treated and smears are the way to catch anything early.

Come on ladies, make time, don’t fear the smear and get yourself tested. It could literally save your life.


Sue’s Blogging about… 5 ways YouCan kickstart your Well-being in 2018


Happy new year everyone!

  1. YouCan Make a New Start

Wanting to start 2018 off with a bang? Everyone makes New Years Resolutions and it to be honest most of mine go out the window before Januarys end. But I’ve decided if I struggle one day I can start again tomorrow – so that makes my resolution not to give up straight away! And, as I found out last year when I started working out after treatment, resolutions can be made any time of the year, not just the start of the year.

Here’s a few tips that could help you out:


2. YouCan Exercise

Exercise is key in minimising the chances of re-occurrence of any cancer. It also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, mental health issues, obesity, just to name a few. My oncologist said that if exercise was the pill then she would prescribe it all the time it does so many things. In a nutshell, exercise is amazing. The thing is, pills are easy to take, exercise involves a bit more effort.


Getting back into exercise after treatment can be a struggle so keep it simple – a 15 min walk once a day can be a good starting off point. Then you can extend it, make your walk slightly longer or add some hills in to get your heart rate up. After my treatment I did just this and after about a month I was able to do a 45 min walk without my legs aching like bill-ee-oh.

I find that it helps to do something you enjoy as it gives you more motivation to keep going with it. I love dancing so I’ve decided to do Youtube Zumba videos at home and go to a Clubbersize class – you exercise to dance music with glow sticks! Gimmicky maybe, but it’s fun and gets my heart pumping.

YouCan offers a 12 week exercise programme with a Personal Trainer qualified to help people recovering from treatment. This can be done at your own pace too; I did the training once a week but you can do it as much or as little as you like. My PT, Marin, focused on exercises that built up my strength but also my stamina. Now I feel much stronger than I ever did before cancer.

If you would like more information about the 12 week programme or any other exercise classes we offer please email or call us on 01732 844874.

YouCan are also hosting a few events this year that you might like to take part in:

  • YouCan Bike Ride – 13th May 2018
  • YouCan Run
  • YouCan Golf Day

More information about these events will be posted in due course.


3. YouCan Eat Well

I don’t know about you, but I find eating the ‘right’ things all very stressful and confusing! There is so much conflicting advice out there it is difficult to know what to do for the best. I personally would choose something that fits in with your lifestyle. I know that for me, anything to complicated just puts me right off!eat well plate

I’ve been to a few talks in nutrition since my diagnosis. There is plenty of information on website, including the handy infographic here.


There are also lots of new cook books out this time of year that could give you some food inspiration which are all healthy. You can decide if you want to follow the meal plan recommended or not, I personally just pick and choose what I want to eat rather than follow a specific plan but it depends what works best for you. Body coach Joe Wicks now has three recipe books which includes exercise advice in them too but many of his recipes can be found online too:

He also has his own YouTube channel with lots of quick, easy HIIT workouts to try in the comfort of your own home:


When I was diagnosed I wanted more information about what I was eating if there was anyway to prevent re-occurrence with food. I invested in two cook books which I used during treatment – though I’ve used them a lot more since now everything tastes a lot better! They are:

  • Royal Marsden Cancer Cook Book – I used this during chemo, particularly the smoothies when I couldn’t stomach food.

  • The Living Well with Cancer Cook Book – This book was particularly helpful because it explained which foods are good and why during treatment as well as a few recipes.


4. YouCan Meditate

Meditation is very popular at the moment but has actually been practised for thousands of years. There are many benefits to your emotional well-being when you practise meditation:

  • Lessens worry, anxiety and impulsivity
  • Reduces stress, fear, loneliness and depression
  • Enhances self-esteem and self-acceptance
  • Improves resilience against pain and adversity
  • Increases optimism, relaxation and awareness
  • Helps promote a healthier lifestyle eg. Helps prevent emotional eating and smoking
  • Helps develop positive social connections
  • Improves your mood and emotional intelligence
  • Improves concentration
  • Studies have also shown that it can boost your immunity and lower your bloody pressure.

So, is meditation hard? No! There are so many apps out there such as Headspace and Calm which literally talk you through it. I personally used Headspace throughout my treatment and found it particularly useful. Do you have to spend a lot of time doing it? No! Just 10 minutes each day can help bring on the above benefits. There are lots of free meditations on youtube that you can access if the apps aren’t for you.


5. YouCan use the YouCan Wellbeing Zone

YouCan had its very own Wellbeing Resource available online and on an app. This dashboard has plenty of advice, articles and support available for free. Full details are in the flyer below. It also says how you can access it at the bottom.

youcan fluer app



YouCan’s yearly round up 2017

2017 gifAs 2017 comes to a close here at YouCan we have been looking back at the past year. And what a year it has been! Here is a little post with what we have got up to…

Pamper and Well-being Days

YouCan kicked off the year strong with a Pamper and Well-being Day in January, organised by Kate. With the help of one of YouCan’s wonderful therapists, Jeni, they organised a fabulous day with plenty of stalls and guided meditation and yoga sessions. There were many stall including Indian Head Massage, Shellac Nails, Reiki, Reflexology and mini facials. The day raised just under £1000 £and lots of awareness about the charity. This day was such a success that it was repeated in November again with the help of Jeni. The November Pamper day raised just over £1000! Amazing work Kate and Jeni.


Launch of exercise programme

Also, early this year the 12 week exercise programme was launched as well as weekly boot camp with one of our fab personal trainers, Shelley. I have taken part in both of these exercise options and feel like they have been invaluable to my recovery after cancer treatment.


Well-being Weekend

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES In April we hosted our second Well-being Weekend at Blue Door Barns, Lewes. A group of young people we support and their plus ones came to stay in this picturesque location for a weekend of rest, relaxation and amazing food. The weekend included:

  • a yoga session
  • a massage
  • a facial
  • a life coaching session
  • a morning with an amazing nutritionist in her shop Tina’s Kitchen learning about food
  • an art therapy session at the new Macmillian Centre in Brighton
  • amazing food cooked fresh by the owners of Blue Door Barns
  • quality time to spend with other people who just ‘get it’

A good time was had by all and Nat and Sarah really enjoyed organising it. Watch this space for well-being days and weekend coming up in 2018.


Opening of Hinton House

18882244_628948290633790_8323628476009560563_nOur massive news this year is the opening of Hinton House in June. Sue has blogged about the opening here:

Needless to say, we are super proud of the house and what it represents. Since the opening we have been fully booked with the young people we support and their families. We have had some excellent feedback from everyone and we are looking forward to more families and friends making memories in Hinton House in 2018. If you would like to make a booking please contact to register your interest or click for more information.


Swan Social

chequeThis summer we were lucky enough to be involved with The Swan, West Malling and their Summer Social. The event was held at Kentfield Country Estate and Nic Fanciulli and friends played disco and house whilst a BBQ and fizz was served. They raised over £3000 for us  – thank you so much guys!



Towards the end of this year we held our second YouCan Run at Leeds Castle. Again, Sue did a detailed blog about the event here:

The run raised over £11,000 this year. A massive thank you to everyone who took part and a particularly special thanks to those who were able to fundraise for us. This money has gone directly to help the young people we support.


Freddie’s Friends

FullSizeRender (1)Our support group, Freddie’s Friends, has gone from strength to strength this year. We have done lots of new activities this year:

  • Dinner at The Swan, West Malling
  • Dinner at Artimis Greek Restaurant, Maidstone
  • Pottery making
  • Reiki evenings
  • Reflexology evening
  • Nutrition and Exercise evening
  • Victoria Derbyshire Book Launch in London with dinner at Nandos
  • Look Good Feel Better Workshop
  • Chat and catch up evenings
  • Pub Quiz
  • Christmas Party

We have enjoyed working with the medical professionals at Maidstone Hospital to help run the Freddie’s Friends Support Group this past year. To find out what we will be up to in 2018 and if you would like to attend please click:


Our supporters

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has fundraised or donated any money to YouCan this year. You may not be aware but 100% of these donations go directly to the 60+ young adults and their families in the South East that we support, by way of alternative therapies, counselling, exercise classes, a seaside break but to name a few. So, we are saying a huge thank you to the individuals, groups, teams, businesses and community groups that between them have run, walked, cycled, shaved heads and organised events.  What stars you all are and what a difference you have made.  We literally couldn’t do it without you.

We would also like to say a special mention to three organisations who have made three rather large donations, most of which was spent on refurbishing and opening Hinton House. So a massive THANK YOU to:

  • The Friends of Shelby Newsted for donating £25,000
  • The Metropolitan Lodge for donating £25,000
  • Saint Pauls Lodge for donating £25,000


Our Ambassadors

18813948_628948373967115_7633460958248881555_nOur ambassadors have both donated money and time this year to YouCan. It was lovely to have both Victoria Derbyshire and Dave Berry in attendance at the opening of Hinton House. Victoria has also raised money and awareness on her book tour for ‘Dear Cancer, Love Victoria’.  Thank you Dave and Victoria for everything this past year.

We are also tremendously appreciative of people who have donated their time to us this year. We have had some amazing volunteers at our events, helping us renovate and upkeep Hinton House and some volunteers in the office. We had our first YouCan intern, Emily from the University of Kent, come and work with us this summer. She was very helpful around the office and wrote an extremely useful report about the benefits of alternative therapies and exercise. Thank you Emily! We also have had Sue come and volunteer with us the past few months. She has been assisting with the YouCan social media and has taken over our blog. We hope you like what she’s been writing for you all!


Panto Horse Race

25015272_202391603640631_7654229155717840896_n(1)We have just finished off our year with a little festive madness in the form of The London Pantomime Horse Race.  Great fun was had by all on the streets of Greenwich, even if it was the coldest day of the year and our feet are still thawing out!  But the event has raised £12,000 for YouCan so we must say a big thank you to the organiser, Mark Biddiss, for adopting us as the beneficiary charity and for putting on such a great event.


And finally, a few personal updates from the office team…

  • Kate got married this year! Congratulations Kate and Andy
  • Lola the Schnauzer was born. She’s a new office therapy dog! Good job she loves cuddles.
  • Sue is joining the team officially from January 2018. Welcome to the team Sue!

So, a massive thank you for all your support in 2017. Please like and share this post to help raise awareness for YouCan and help us support more young people impacted by cancer in 2018.





Sue’s Blogging About… Health Walks

walking to imprve your health

I love this time of year. It’s getting colder but it’s still dry – or at least in Kent it is! Perfect walking weather.

Getting back into just moving, let alone any other exercise, after my active treatment was a massive struggle. I was determined to shift the weight I’d piled on during chemotherapy (cheers steroids) but more importantly for me I wanted to get my independence and energy back.

Walking was a great starting off point for me. During chemo just walking up the stairs was a struggle so I knew I needed to start small and build up. I’m not a particularly patient person and I wanted to be fitter yesterday, but I persevered, starting at a slow 20 minute walk on flat paths and built up. My legs were in agony – those muscles hadn’t been used for months!- but I kept going.

walking gif

Leading an active lifestyle has become much more important to me post diagnosis (better late than never eh?!) and walking is a great place to start if you want to become more active. It’s a safe and easy way to become more active both during and after most types of cancer treatment.

I found out about Health Walks at my local GP surgery and thought I’d give it a go. Walking groups are a great way to meet new people in a friendly environment. Whilst I was the youngest there and, as far as I know, the only person coming to the end of a stint of chemo, I really enjoyed meeting everyone and the 40 minutes of walking flew by.

Laura and I recently went on another Health Walk around Leybourne Lakes. The people that run the walks in this area are extremely friendly, make sure that everyone goes at a suitable pace for them and that no one got left behind. Again, the hour flew by and we both felt super energised after it was done.


For those of us concerned about our bone health post treatment, brisk walking is a great low-impact weight bearing exercise to start with. It is recommended by health care professionals that you try and do 150 minutes of weight bearing exercise a week, so a Health Walk could be one way of getting those minutes in!

Having built up muscle mass and energy lost during treatment I’m starting to move on to jogging but I’m still walking most days – mainly because we got a puppy! Lola the Miniature Schnauzer loves walking, which helps keep me motivated too – she’s not as keen on Christmas jumpers though!


To find your nearest Health Walk please use the link below. Or walk with friends. Walking is a great way to exercise and socialise at the same time.

health walk glasto



Sue’s Blogging About… Hinton House Opening Summer 2017

The winter nights are setting in and it’s getting incredible cold… so I thought I’d do a post about when the weather was a lot warmer!

On Thursday 1st June 2017 YouCan’s incredible new holiday home was official opened!

Hinton House, located in the beautiful Westgate-on-Sea, is the perfect setting for a free holiday break. Opened to be used by young people impacted by cancer, their family and friends, Hinton House is a safe haven to have some time away from their day-to-day lives and the enormous stress and anxiety of living with cancer.  It is also going to be used for YouCan’s themed ‘Get Together’ weekends which we will be offering throughout the year.

The house is located a short walk from the beach, the train station, and more importantly, the chip shop!

The actual opening day was fantastic. I went down with a few members of Freddie’s Friends and we were joined by plenty of supporters – the house was full to the rafters as can be seen on the video below. The atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to see the now 4 bedroom house in all its glory.

The ambassadors for YouCan, Award-winning BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire and Radio DJ Dave Berry, joined many of the young people supported by YouCan and their families hoping to use the house, at the launch party. Also present were many people who donated their time, money and effort into making the house what it is.


Pictured: Dave Berry, Colin Thacker and Victoria Derbyshire

Colin Thacker, Founder and Trustee of YouCan said at the house launch, “Hinton House represents a significant step forward not just for the organisation itself but also in the provision of support and care for young people and their families, who have been impacted by cancer. This is a long overdue and very much needed facility that we expect to be occupied for the majority of the year by those who have been referred by their care professionals.

The fact remains that post-treatment support for younger people is vital to help them to return to a ’normal life’ – YouCan strives to achieve this through bespoke support programmes and the respite house, as well as offering support to those where treatment is no longer a viable option.  We make no charge for our services so donations are always welcomed however small or large, in order for us to be able to continue with our support work.

The Friends of Shelby Newstead raised an amazing amount of money which was put towards the restoration of Hinton House. Below is a video from their site, made by them and filmed on the opening day.



Inside Kent Magazine wrote about the opening here:

The house has been used by many families over the summer and autumn. I’ll be writing about those experiences later on in the blog so keep your eyes peeled.


Are you a young person who has been diagnosed with cancer, or are a family member or friend, who would like to book a stay in Hinton House totally free of charge? If you are then please email YouCan to register you interest at

Sue’s Blogging About… Mouth Cancer Action Month

mouth cancer logo

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month so I thought I’d do some research into what it means to be mouth aware.

So, what is mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can be cancer of the lips, tongue, checks and/or throat. Traditionally it was a cancer that mainly affected people over 40 and usually men, however in recent years this has changed and  younger people are getting diagnosed more regularly, including women. As with all cancer, early detection really can save lives, so it’s important to know what to look out for.

What are the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer?

As previously mentioned, it can be present in any part of your mouth, including in some cases your throat.

signs and symptoms of mouth cancer

Whilst a lot of these symptoms can be caused by other things, such a minor infections, if you are worried contact you GP as soon as possible. It is also important to have dental check ups at least once a year to keep on top of your oral hygiene but also to discuss any worries you may have with your dentist. I for one hate the dentists but it is reassuring that once a year my mouth is checked over by a medical professional. has created this comprehensive info-graphic which I have found very helpful as I feel it highlights all the important information you need to know about mouth cancer in the first instance.

mouth cancer awareness inforgraphic

Sue’s Blogging About… World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Panc Cancer pic

November is pancreatic cancer awareness month and yesterday was #pancreaticawarenessday2017.

Pancreatic Cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK but awareness groups say that there is not enough knowledge about the disease. I for one am totally in the dark about pancreatic cancer so I’ve done some research which will hopefully be helpful for you too.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas – a large gland that’s part of the digestive system. Just going back to basics – the pancreas is located just above the intestines.

pancreas has lots of information about pancreatic cancer. This information has been found on their website:

“Pancreatic cancers are divided into two main groups.

  • Exocrine cancers start in the exocrine cells. These cells make enzymes. About 95 out of 100 pancreatic cancers (95%) are exocrine tumours.
  • Endocrine cancers (also called neuroendocrine tumours or NETs) start in endocrine cells. These cells produce hormones. Less than 5 in 100 (5%) of all pancreatic cancers are neuroendocrine tumours….

Signs and symptoms.

Pancreatic cancer often doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages. This can make it hard to diagnose early. But as the cancer grows, it may start to cause symptoms. These will depend on the type of pancreatic cancer and where it is in the pancreas. The symptoms and how bad they are can vary for each person.

It’s important to remember that symptoms described here can be caused by more common things, such as indigestion or heartburn. They can also be caused by conditions such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, or hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). 

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that someone has pancreatic cancer. But if you have any symptoms that you’re worried about it’s important that you see your GP….

Pancreatic cancer is often referred to as a “silent cancer” because it is thought that the early symptoms can be vague and unrecognised.  Pancreatic cancer symptoms however can present themselves early in many cases.  Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:”


Pancreatic cancer is not common in younger people statistically but it still happens. Please be vigilant  and be aware of any of these symptoms. Please contact your GP in the first instance if you have any worries.

Sue’s Blogging About… Lung Cancer Awareness Month

lc awareness month bar

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The main aim is to encourage people displaying the common symptoms of lung cancer to visit their GP. As with all cancers, the earlier lung cancer is detected and treated, the better that chance of survival.

So, what are the symptoms?

You should see your doctor if you:

  • get out of breath doing the things you used to do without a problem
  • have any blood in your phlegm (sputum) or cough up blood
  • have a cough that is there most of the time or has changed
  • feel tired all the time
  • have lost your appetite or have weight loss
  • have pain in your chest or shoulder
  • have ongoing chest infections or a chest infection that doesn’t get better

Note – These symptoms may not be due to cancer but it is important to get checked by your GP.


Or, use the acronym BREATHE:


What is lung cancer?

There are two main types of primary lung cancer – small cell and non-small cell.

Non- small cell lung cancer is the most common type. There are three main types:

  • Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of lung cancer. It develops from mucus-producing cells that line the airways.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the cells that line the airways. It is usually caused by smoking.
  • Large cell carcinoma (sometimes called undifferentiated carcinoma) is named because of how the cancer cells look when examined under a microscope.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) also gets its name from how the cancer cells look when examined under a microscope. It’s usually caused by smoking, and very rarely develops in someone who has never smoked. SCLC usually grows quickly and can spread quickly.


There is a common misconception that only people who smoke get lung cancer. This is not the case. As detailed in this video, “anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.”







Sue’s Blogging about… Movember and testicular cancer


Happy 1st of Movember everyone! That’s right, it’s that time of year that the charity Movember take over and raise awareness about men’s health; specifically testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health issues. Since 2003, Movember has been committed to helping men live happier, longer and healthier lives.

Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. They fund projects all over the world to do just that. They have currently funded more than 1200 projects in 21 countries. These projects include research into testicular cancer reoccurrence and gathering the current research evidence and practical knowledge about the core elements of ‘what works for men and boys’ in mental health promotion, early intervention and stigma reduction in the UK.

For young men around the world, testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers for that age group.

Despite being the 2nd most common cancer in young men, testicular cancer is often a forgotten cancer due to early detection and treatment. Our projects look at underinvested areas such as improving access to healthcare services and treatment options for relapse” Paul Villanti, Executive Director, Programmes, Movember.

Early detection really does save lives, so get to know your nuts fellas!

Almost half the men diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK are under 35. Get to know your bodies and have a good check, especially if you have a history of testicular cancer in your family.

For more information about Movember and how you can get involved please go to

Here is a handy guide to tell you how:


Just like breasts, it is suggested that you do monthly ball checks to make sure you stay up to date with whats going on with your body.


A charity called It’s In The Bag also has lots of practical information about what to look for when checking yourself. There is lots of great resources on there too. Their website can be found here:


dt38logo.pngAnother charity advocating more education and awareness about testicular cancer is dt38, a charity set up in memory of Dylan Tombides, who played for West Ham – 38 was his shirt number. They have set up a number of amazing school projects that involve people coming into primary and secondary schools to educate about testicular cancer, as Dylan himself found his lump when he was just 17. His story can be found on the charity website here:

So again, happy Movember everyone, let’s raise some awareness and make 2017 the year everyone checks their balls!

Sue’s Blogging About… Dear Cancer, Love Victoria and Festifeel

FullSizeRender (3)

Did I mention October is Breast Cancer Awareness month?! Well, there have been a few events I’ve been to recently to help raise awareness and share a little bit of boob love around.

On 8th October an excited group of us from Freddie’s Friends, YouCan‘s support group, hopped on a coach and travelled into London for a truly special evening.

One of YouCans lovely ambassadors, Victoria Derbyshire, launched her book Dear Cancer, Love Victoria and we had tickets to the event.

Our evening began with a delicious meal at Nandos. Nandos is one of the companies that supports YouCan and we were lucky enough to get a private area with plenty of space. And the food was delicious – Nandos is a personal fave’ of mine.

Pic below – Freddie’s Friends enjoying a lovely Nandos

FullSizeRender (1)

Once fed and watered we headed over the The Other Place Theatre, Westminster. Victoria had some time before the show to come and do a short meet and greet with us and the other theatre goers. It was lovely for me to get to meet her again (we first met at the opening of Hinton House, which I will talk about in another blog post) and I know all of our group really appreciated her taking the time to come out and chat to us.

Pic below – Victoria meeting us all before the show.

FullSizeRender (2)

So, Victoria has written a book. It is based on the personal diary she kept during the year of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. She has written diaries since childhood and felt that this was one that would be useful to share.

In an interview, this is what she has said about the book:

Dear Cancer, Love Victoria is based on my diaries from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2016, documented in real time as events unfolded. When I read the entries back for the first time I cried, because I’d forgotten or blanked out some of the details. Everything is in there – the impact of the diagnosis, how we told our children, how I coped with the sometimes gruelling treatment, the distressing hair loss, my regret at cancelling our life insurance months before – everything, including some swearing, and quite a bit of drinking rosé wine.

It’s daunting to have something so personal published; I worry about the reaction. But that’s outweighed by my desire to speak openly and boldly about cancer to anyone who will listen.  Although two and a half million people in the UK live with cancer, the experience is still too often talked about in hushed tones and awkward clichés. It’s in the hope that my story helps demystify the reality, that I’m sharing the diary of my diagnosis and treatment with you.”

dear cancer love victoria

The book launch was a mini talk about her book, a short interval and then an opportunity for Q&A. In the first section of the show she detailed how she came to write the diaries, a little about her diaries in her formative years and a little about her life before her breast cancer diagnosis. She then read a few excepts from Dear Cancer, Love Victoria. One that was particularly moving was how she and her partner told her children about her cancer.

After a short interval (for wine!) we were invited back for a Q&A. Victoria promised to answer our questions honestly as long as we gave her the same courtesy. As the mic was passed from question to question, Victoria was true to her word. A couple of people stuck in my mind; one was an inspirational lady who spoke about her secondary breast cancer diagnosis and how she deals with that in day to day life. I know that touched a nerve with a few of us in our group and a few tears were shed. Another fab lady called Hannah asked if she could read a poem, which I have permission from her to post below. It offered some light relief from an emotional couple of hours, and I know I appreciated it.


Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I thought I wouldn’t miss it much
I thought I wouldn’t care
I’d always worn it short, you see
‘Til chemo took my hair

I’m trying to accept it
I know it has to be
But the bald woman in the mirror
Just really isn’t me

My hair was cropped before all this
A salt and pepper hue
More boy than girl and that’s a fact
They should have named me ‘Sue’

‘You have the right shaped head’
They said,’ it’ll suit you Han, it will’
I’m sorry but I don’t agree
And the baldness irks me still

I promise when it grows again
Right from the very start
I’ll never cut it – ever!
On that I cross my heart

To all you hairy buggers
With your curls and length and fringes
Be glad you’ve got your mop up there
Bed hair? Just stop those whinges!

By Hannah –

All in all it was an amazing, moving, inspirational evening and I can’t thank Victoria enough for writing truthfully and candidly about her experience. All the proceeds from the evening were donated to YouCan; just over £1000 – Thank you Victoria! That money will go towards supporting children, teenagers and young adults.


The other event I went to was Festifeel, hosted by the charity Coppafeel! The charity has been throwing the event for about 8 years and the past couple of years it’s taken place at The House of Vans, Waterloo. The event is curated by Fearne Cotton and there were some stellar performances from Will Heard, Pixie Lott, The Staves, Mystery Jets, Basement Jaxx and various other DJs.

Pic below – Coppafeel! co-found Kris and Fearne


The highlights for me were definitely seeing Busted – My friend H has loved them forever and was ridiculously excited! – and meeting Alice-May Purkiss, who is an amazing blogger that I’ve mentioned before – she was so lovely! I also saw wonder woman Kris Hallenga, Coppafeel! co-founder and fellow cancer warrior. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet her – she looked very busy and important every time I saw her – but it was awesome to be in the presence of such an amazing lady who is an inspiration to many after setting up Coppafeel! after her terminal breast cancer diagnosis in her 20s. The whole event was very light, fun, sparkly but most importantly got you thinking about your boobs. Really enjoyed it and can’t wait for next years Festifeel – bring on the glitter!

Pic below – (l-r) Ali, H, my sister Laura and me sporting our tit-tees – thanks @girlstolelondon


Coppafeel! have also just launched an advert to remind you to check your boobs. It’s the first time a female nipple has been used in an advert on UK tv and I met one of the ladies responsible of it at Festifeel. They are, quite rightly, very proud of it.  It can be found here:

So, ladies and gents PLEASE get to know your body! Please CHECK your chebs! No one knows your body better than you do. If you notice anything I can’t hurt to get it checked out by your GP.