Yesterday morning I woke up at 5am in the worst pain. My body shivered, every joint ached, head pounded and my heart was pumping fast. I stumbled to the bathroom to find myself lying on the freezing cold tiles. If I stood up I knew I would be sick. hours later I was the same, only this time vomiting. My heart rate wouldn’t go below 100. I noticed a rash on my leg. I called the dr and he told me to get to the hospital. By the time I got there I had a high fever. I had to wait to be seen in a consultant room as the staff were afraid I had covid-19. It turns out I was very sick. Cellulitis had progressed to sepsis. I’m still in hospital now and will likely be here for another 5-6 days.
Since being diagnosed, I’ve never mentioned the cancer word to my children. They are too young to understand. All they know is that mummy has some bad skin that has made me sick. I wrote this poem so that one day they can look back and understand why I made the decision to protect them from the horrible truth.
Since my diagnosis I’ve looked at the sun and sunbathing in a different way. I used to be a sun worshiper. Whenever I had the chance I would lay in the sun. I wouldn’t tan, just burn and peel. I never learned. Until now.
As the weather is glorious in the UK, I watch on social media numerous posts of people sitting in their garden, soaking up the rays. I’ve seen some posts of people showing off their tan lines and even their sunburns. I watch and I feel sick. Just because this was me. Even up until last year. I knew the warnings, but I refused to listen. Maybe it’s too late for me. Don’t let it be too late for you.
I am often asked the question ‘will you lose your hair?’ People automatically think of chemotherapy when I say I’m having cancer treatment. When I tell them I’m receiving immunotherapy it starts a whole new discussion. So I decided to try and write an educational poem to describe what it is. I wanted to keep it short and not too technical. I hope this helps people to understand what immunotherapy does.
May 13th 2020 I completed cycle 5 of my immunotherapy. I was happily informed by my oncologist that we are now quarter way through the treatment. After cycle 6 I will have scans to see if everything is ok. Today was also a special day for me. On May 13th 2019 I lost a very special lady, my lovely nan. It’s been one year since her passing. It was weird but I felt her presence more than ever today. She was with me, holding my hand. I wasn’t afraid and it was the first time during treatment that I didn’t cry. Here is a poem I wrote.
Feeling like a burden. Complaining that your hurting. Always in pain but trying to hide it. This is how I feel at the moment. I’m constantly being asked if I’m ok. It doesn’t offend me, it’s a perfectly acceptable question. But it’s hard to be honest. This poem explains why.
Moving to Hong Kong almost 13 years ago I remember looking for self tan. I was baffled. I couldn’t find any. I went to all the same cosmetic companies I knew sold the products from back home in the UK but I couldn’t believe that instead of self tanning products they sold skin whitening products. I soon learned that the trend was the reverse here. People would envy my pale complexion. I was laughed at when I asked for self tan. Why would I want to have darker skin? They were also baffled.
I wrote this poem when reflecting on the different trends. Why can’t we just be happy in the skin that we were given?
When you are told you have cancer you immediately ask yourself, will I die? Before I was staged, all I could think of was my girls and what would happen if they lost me. The thought of it would make me feel anxious. I couldn’t even look at them without thinking ‘what if I can’t see you grow up?’
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but for the time being I feel that I could happily stay at stage 3. I’m hoping my immunotherapy will keep this monster at bay and that once treatment finishes we can go back to some normality. But really truthfully thinking about it, I will always be checking and worrying if this will return. I have hundreds of moles on my body. It’s scary. So with this in mind you can’t really blame me for thinking the way I do at times. This is a poem I wrote at a time that I was fearful for the future. Xx
I’m sure you are all feeling the same. Social isolation; not being able to see friends and family, stuck at home. It sucks. It’s sucks that I had to break the news to my 6 and almost 8 year old that they won’t get to go to England this summer; the highlight of their year. It’s sucks that I won’t get to hug my mum and dad, something I need right now. Everything about it’s sucks. I understand why it has to happen but there are so many consequences of social isolation. I recently learned that in the UK the NHS are having to stop cancer treatments in certain areas, it’s become a bit of a postcode lottery. This is unacceptable and shocking. It makes me really appreciate the care I have out here in Hong Kong.
This is a poem I wrote about the current situation regarding covid-19.
In 2019 I became a newly qualified teacher. I had embarked on a new career at the age of 38. I had worked in schools for over five years and after much persuasion from colleagues and friends, I decided to do my PGCE. I was so lucky to get my first teaching job at an international school in Hong Kong.
I’m not just saying this but I totally lucked out with my team. Every single one of them are amazing. So when I found out I had melanoma and knew I would be taking time off for surgery I felt so guilty. I felt bad that I was increasing their workload. But then I was covered by a supply teacher which eased it all for them and made me feel less guilty. When Covid-19 arrived and schools closed (since end of January here in HK) we had to switch to online learning. So although my surgeries continued, I felt I was able to work from home sooner after surgery as lessons were online. If I had been needed physically in a classroom it would not have been possible.
This is a poem that I wrote about this experience and how I felt guilty on my team for not being ‘present’ for some of the school year due to my surgeries and treatment appointments. Enjoy.