And still I rise…

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

By Maya Angelou

I am painfully aware that Maya Angelou’s poem is all about the African-American Civil Rights struggle, and would never want to fall in the trap of cultural appropriation to make a point, after all I have not had my dignity and rights as a human being thrashed or denied … nevertheless her words resonate so much with me as a woman, the defiance, ever rising against adversity and so the reason for the quote.

My blogging has diminished as my living in the real world has increased… a lot has happened since my last post, some events I am happy to report here, others will have to wait a little before they make it to the blogosphere.

Firstly, I am aware that I kept quiet a very serious event which took place on 11 November 2016; it has taken me all this time to process what really happened and to absorb it.  So now I am ready to talk about it more openly.  I ran 10 Miles for Neuroendocrine Cancer on 10 November 2016; as it turned out I got lost at the beginning of the run and ended up running a half-marathon instead.  I felt great at the end of my run as I had a lot of support from friends, people from the three charities I was fundraising for and staff at Poole Hospital.  I finished the day on a high.  Nevertheless early in the morning of 11 November I woke up in excruciating pain and was rushed to hospital with a suspected bowel obstruction, which after five days of investigations, tests and scans turned out to be a perforated small intestine.  Thankfully the consultants and nurses at Poole Hospital were amazing and took care of me with expertise and kindness. I was looked after by the Intensive Care Unit and after a total stay of 15 days I was home recovering from the second major surgery in six months.  Needless to say this was too much for my body to handle and I have only begun to feel myself again in the last couple of months.

I also had some of my closest friends step in and step up to support me and my children (and the dog) in what were really traumatic circumstances.  I am forever grateful for their generosity in time and effort as well as their love for us.

According to my consultant, what happened to me was just sheer bad luck, in no way linked to running, unpredictable and unpreventable.

There are unpleasant side-effects to this latest surgery, some psychologycal, others physical, all manageable but not without challenge.  I continue to see a counsellor on a regular basis as I have been doing for the last four years.  She is a very supportive, professional and intiuitve woman, who by now knows me so well that all I have to do is enter the room and she can guess my mood without me uttering a single word.  She’s a treasure to me.

So a little over six months I am running regularly again, getting faster and actually enjoying it.  Today I set a new PB (personal best for the non-runners) at my local parkrun of 26:39.  I am absolutely delighted to say the least as only in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine runing 5Km this fast.

In the meantime, my children continue to delight and surprise me with their maturity, their kindess and ability to just go with the flow.

Eldest daughter is in the middle of her final exams…. complete social media blackout, I keep sending her the most positive of my thoughts and energy which I hope go a little way in helping her get through this latest stage of her studies.

My son is now a fully fledged army cadet, an activity he is relishing and taking on with gusto.  Company weekends seem to be a favourite where he gets to experience life as a soldier, scrubbing floors! Yes he can and knows how to, can I get him to do it at home? You guessed right, nope! Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that the experience is having a positive impact on him as his bedroom is permanently (mostly) tidy.

Youngest daughter is a happy go lucky girl, enjoying school life, with the usual moans about how lessons are soooo boring.  She however managed to fracture her right arm whilst playing rough at school; a very painful experience for her and a very stressful episode for me as it happened just two days before we were due to fly out to Italy for a short break.

We were fortunate to visit Oslo, Norway for the Easter holidays and Lippiano (Umbria), Italy for a long weekend at the end of April beginning of May.  Both amazing and unique experiences which I’d recommend anyone to do.

In Oslo, amongst many things we learnt how far the Vikings really did travel, all the way to India bringing Buddhism back to Scandinavia, visited the Kon-Tiki museum, learnt about Edward Munch‘s life and what lead him to paint the Scream and were truly humbled by the stories of all the Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Lippiano on the other hand was a more relaxed and nourishing experience; we stayed in Villa Pia a beautiful house on the border of Umbria and Tuscany, surrounded by the most spectacular scenery, with delicious food and coffee served throughout the day, helpful and caring staff and a beauty therapist (Maria Giovanna) who gave me the most amazing massage.  HIghly recommended.

In other news, I have started to do some renovating work to the house, which after nearly five years of neglect really needs it, decluttering, new windows, painting, garden reorganisation, the list is long but I am determined to get through it to make sure I add value to the biggest asset I am likely to pass on to my children.

I continue to face the prospect of further invasive treatment to deal wih the remaining tumours in my liver.  At present there are no specific dates but it is definitely hapenning this year, so I will keep you posted.

More news to follow…thank you for reading, with all my love

Counting days

10k medal

Today is an awful day for me. It’s one year exactly since I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer.  Just two days before I had run my first half-marathon surprising myself by completing it a good 13 minutes faster than my predicted time. So as you can imagine a cancer diagnosis was not what I had expected to receive when I was asked by the consultant endocrinologist to return to the hospital two weeks after a CT scan.

Since that fateful Tuesday all I ever  seem to do is count the days till the next appointment, or the days since I last felt well, or the days till the next injection. My life now revolves around meticulously recording symptoms and side effects so next time I see my oncologist or specialist nurse I can discuss at length whether the treatment is working or not. But the truth is no one knows, the truth is I must wait until the next scan where they will be able to see or not whether the cancer has spread. There’s no guarantee and sometimes the severity of the side effects is such that makes me ask myself is it really worth it? How much time is all of this actually buying me? I have been told many times “there’s no cure, your cancer is advanced”.

Having seen my husband suffer through so much invasive and debilitating treatment, I don’t think I want to go through yet more unnecessary pain and discomfort, nor do I want to be spending precious time away from my children whilst undergoing yet more treatment. I want quality of life.

I’ve had a whirlwind of emotions brewing up in the run up of this anniversary, compounded by my having to drive my eldest daughter back to her university accommodation earlier last week, as she prepares to return to the world of academia after a well deserved break following Michael’s death. I was able to keep it together all the way there, however once I was on the way back I cried constantly until I parked my car at home. I was emotionally drained for a few days after that.

At the end of last week I endured a heart wrenching 24 hours period when I realised I had lost my engagement and Michael’s wedding rings. I have been wearing his ring on my ring finger together with my engagement and wedding rings as well as one his ancestors wedding ring. That’s four rings on one finger. Luckily after posting a public appeal on Facebook a local couple contacted me to let me know they’d found them and I was reunited with my rings 24 hours after realising I had lost them. After this experience I’m now looking into how I can get four rings customised into one or two rings to make sure I never go through this horrible experience again. If you know of a jeweller in the sunny South of the UK who’d be up for the challenge, please let me know by commenting below, thank you.

img_8275As a last-minute decision I entered the 10k race part of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. My aims were to:

  • test my body
  • complete the race injury free
  • run the distance without stopping
  • get round in 63 minutes

Well I can report I achieved three of the four aims. I ran the whole course, non-stop in 64:50 minutes and I’m injury free, I’ve got the medal to prove it too!. All of this just five months after surgery. I believe these are all good signs that my body will be able to cope with the 10 miles on 10 November; I’m counting the days.

Finally today has also been a reminder of how awful this grieving process is.  If the only way people can understand grief is to experience the loss of a loved one I wish I had a superpower that allowed me to stop anyone ever to have to go through it.

Last night the kids started complaining that he house felt cold, well of course it’s october and whilst the days are still mild, the nights are definitely not and as soon as the sun sets a chilly air enters our home.  So I started up the central heating system.

There’s a process involved with it, which Michael used to be in charge of, mainly by calling a plumber who would spend a good hour going up and down our attic, up and down our staircase, checking each radiator, firing up the boiler, turning off the boiler, etc, etc, etc. Michael (or I) never bothered to check what the plumber did, just paid the guy and off he went never to be seen again for another year.

Well this year I realised perhaps I had left it too late to call anyone in, they’re all already fully booked and I’d probably have to wait at least a week before someone could come in to get the heating going. Mmmmhh… maybe it was time to take action.  I bled the radiators, I knew that was an essential, I also knew that if I shut down all the radiators but the one furthest from the boiler any air bubbles would travel to the one still switched on and it would be easier to get the air out.  Well this radiator happens to be in the upstairs bathroom so cue frantic running up and down the stairs, checking the boiler, bleeding the radiator, switching on, switching off, back upstairs, back downstairs, whilst kids complaining it is still cold mummy!

Last night I was knackered, it was 9:30 pm, I hadn’t yet had a shower after cooking dinner, coming back from a run, feeding the children, the dog had yet to be walked, aaaaarrrrgh! so I gave up, but not for long.  This morning, I gave up my yoga class as I was determined to get the heating going before the children came back from school.  I did some research, Mr Google and Mr YouTube are lifesavers, found out that probably there wasn’t enough water in the system, checked the tank, aha! that’s why the plumber goes in the attic! Tank refilled, I proceeded to repeat all of last night’s actions until tadah! the heating started working.  Hence the reason I can sit comfortably in the study to type this post.

However at the end of this (minor) ordeal I sat down and cried, I suddenly missed Michael so much I ached all over.  He would have been so proud, he would have given me a big hug and a kiss and would have said that because I had saved him £40 on call out charges, he’d take me out to dinner or go out and get me flowers, or both.  I miss him, it hurts.

Instead I’m off to the hospital to be reminded once again how ill I am, to be given a very painful injection, which purports to be keeping the cancer at bay, to start counting the days until I must have the next one.

I’m a zebra

Hello and welcome to my latest post in which:

  • I explain some of the side effects of my treatment
  • There’s a preview of what I’ll be wearing to run #10MilesForNETs, and
  • I say thank you to those who have contributed to my fundraising.


I am not drunk, promise

I have been trying to clock as many training miles as possible in preparation for #10MilesForNETs but my efforts are being hampered by some nasty side effects from my latest Lanreotide injection, the main one being severe fatigue.

Severe fatigue for me means that I wake up in the morning feeling as if I am drunk. Now if you don’t know me you would probably assume that I’ve been on the bottle and therefore shouldn’t be complaining about the side effects of indulging in a drink too many; however the truth is that I hardly ever drink. I gave up drinking wine of any kind over ten years ago as even a drop left me feeling awful and nauseated. I can tolerate real ale and vodka but in small quantities, typically no more than two in one evening and definitely no more than once a week.

Severe fatigue also means that after waking up I have a two to three hours window within which I have a reasonable amount of energy to do essential things such as showering and getting dressed, preparing and eating breakfast, seeing my children off to school, feeding the dog, tidying up around the house, taking the dog for a walk before I collapse in a heap and need around two to three hours of very deep sleep to recover, and then the whole cycle starts again in the afternoon with children back from school, evening meal to be prepared, driving the children to the different activities, walking the dog, paperwork and bills to sort out, food shopping, before I start flagging again and need to sleep and it is not bed time yet! Sometimes I push myself beyond the point of exhaustion and go for a run even though my whole body is screaming STOP!!!

Some of the other side effects are not very pleasant to describe here but it involves getting acquainted with the colour of the walls and tiles in my bathroom, if you get the gist.


And all of this because I am a zebra. Whatdayamean?! I hear you shout, a ZEBRA?!

Let me explain. In medicine, the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition, like Neuroendocrine (NET) Cancers.

Medical students are thought to assume that the simplest explanation is usually the best, in other words, it is usually correct to look for common rather than exotic causes for disease.

Doctors learn to expect common conditions, hence the phrase
“If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” (, so there, I am a zebra. I always knew I was different!

This is the reason why I will be wearing all over zebra print when I run the 10 miles on 10 November and you lucky people get to have a sneaky preview of my outfit.

I might be biased but, I think the lovely Jackie over at Festival Running has excelled herself by making an outfit that will make me look stylish whilst I’m out there pounding the pavements.

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou

My fundraising efforts have taken off and I am really grateful to those of you who have contributed; a thousand thank yous coming your way.

Woman holding pink flower
A thousand thankyous

I have also had offers of people wanting to join me for part of the route, which I really appreciate as well as it would make the run much more enjoyable.  Others have offered to be at the start  and finish lines and I have also had offers of cake! It all helps.

The charities I have chosen to support are not very big, they do not have the benefit of huge budgets to spend on advertising campaigns and they do things which make a real difference to patients’ lives.

Every penny donated is put to good use and not spent on running costs, so your donations really make a difference.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to donate there is still plenty of time visit

To find out more about the work the charities do, please visit:

NET Patient Foundation:


Poole Hospital Charity



The route

So here’s the route for 10 Miles for Neuroendocrine Cancer.

There are three versions:


Static version

You might be able to right click and save the image to your device or print it

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 22.06.06

Dynamic version

I used MapMyRun© to create the route and thankfully they provide the code to embed a link on this page. Click here to view it

Step by step description

If you want to cheer me on, or join me for a section of the run this is probably your best option.  I will be running at around 10:30 min/mile pace (or 6:30 min/km) or slower at times.
0 mi Head east
0.02 mi Turn right
0.06 mi Enter the roundabout
0.06 mi Head southwest on Deansleigh Rd toward Castle Ln E/A3060
0.14 mi Continue onto Chaseside
0.14 mi Head southwest on Chaseside
0.2 mi Enter the roundabout
0.21 mi Head southwest toward Chaseside
0.22 mi Exit the roundabout onto Chaseside
0.42 mi Head southwest on Chaseside toward Cowell Dr
0.43 mi Turn left onto Cowell Dr
0.44 mi Turn right Destination will be on the left
0.46 mi Head southwest
0.71 mi Head southwest toward Harewood Ave
1.12 mi Head southwest toward King’s Park Dr
1.47 mi Head southwest toward Ashley Rd/A3049
1.48 mi Turn left onto Ashley Rd/A3049
1.64 mi Turn right onto Tower Rd
1.65 mi Head west on Tower Rd toward Barham Cl
1.79 mi Turn left onto Palmerston Rd
1.85 mi Turn right onto Borthwick Rd
1.85 mi Head southwest on Borthwick Rd toward Churchill Rd
1.97 mi Head southwest on Borthwick Rd toward Walpole Rd
1.98 mi Turn left onto Walpole Rd
2.04 mi Turn right onto Carysfort Rd
2.15 mi Head southeast on Hamilton Rd toward Christchurch Rd/A35
2.31 mi Turn right onto Christchurch Rd/A35
2.45 mi Head southwest on Christchurch Rd/A35
2.45 mi Turn left
2.55 mi Head southeast
2.74 mi Sharp right
2.75 mi Head east
2.8 mi At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Undercliff Dr
2.83 mi Head southwest on Undercliff Dr toward Toft Zig Zag
3.38 mi Head west on Undercliff Dr toward E Cliff Zig Zag
4.26 mi Head west toward W Undercliff Promenade
4.27 mi Turn right at W Undercliff Promenade
4.27 mi Turn left toward St Michael’s Rd
4.57 mi Continue straight onto St Michael’s Rd
4.6 mi Head northwest on St Michael’s Rd toward W Hill Rd
4.6 mi Turn left onto W Hill Rd
4.63 mi Slight right
4.67 mi Head west
4.81 mi Head west
4.82 mi Turn right onto Durley Gardens
4.91 mi Turn left onto W Cliff Rd
4.92 mi Head west on W Cliff Rd toward Chine Cres
5.46 mi Head northwest on W Cliff Rd toward W Overcliff Dr
5.62 mi Turn left onto Alum Chine Rd
5.76 mi At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Western Rd
5.98 mi Head west on Western Rd toward The Avenue/B3065
5.99 mi Turn left onto The Avenue/B3065
6 mi Turn right onto Western Rd
6.3 mi Turn right
6.3 mi Head south toward Western Rd
6.31 mi Turn right at Western Rd
6.34 mi Turn right onto Leicester Rd
6.54 mi Head northwest on Leicester Rd toward Bury Rd
6.97 mi Turn left onto Canford Cliffs Rd
6.97 mi Head north on Canford Cliffs Rd toward Leicester Rd
6.97 mi Turn left onto Penn Hill Ave
7.56 mi Continue onto Woodside Rd
7.7 mi Turn right onto Sandecotes Rd
7.71 mi Head northwest on Sandecotes Rd toward Balmoral Rd
7.75 mi Turn left onto Balmoral Rd
7.86 mi Balmoral Rd turns slightly right and becomes Windsor Rd
7.88 mi Continue onto Osborne Rd
7.96 mi Head northwest toward Alton Rd
7.98 mi Continue onto Station Rd
8.22 mi Head northwest on Station Rd toward Commercial Rd/A35
8.23 mi Turn left onto Commercial Rd/A35 Continue to follow A35
8.74 mi Head southwest on Parkstone Rd/A35 toward Sandbanks Rd
8.76 mi Turn left onto Sandbanks Rd/A35
8.77 mi Turn right onto Parkstone Rd
8.79 mi Sharp left
8.82 mi Head northwest
8.83 mi Sharp left
9.03 mi Head southwest
9.3 mi Head southwest toward Kingland Rd
9.45 mi Slight right onto Kingland Rd
9.5 mi Enter the roundabout
9.5 mi Head northeast on Mount Pleasant Rd toward Seldown
9.55 mi Slight left to stay on Mount Pleasant Rd
9.56 mi Continue onto Seldown Rd
9.64 mi Head northeast on Seldown Rd toward Parkstone Rd
9.69 mi Turn left onto Parkstone Rd
9.79 mi Head west on Elizabeth Rd/B3068 toward B3068
9.83 mi Turn left onto Elizabeth Rd
9.84 mi Head north on High St N/B3068 toward Shaftesbury Rd Continue to follow B3068
10.01 mi FINISH (approx 13:00) – POOLE HOSPITAL

10 Miles For Neuroendocrine Cancer

10 November is Neuroendocrine Cancer Day and to mark it I will be running ten miles between my two local hospitals dressed in zebra print to raise awareness of Neuroendocrine Cancers and money for three charities, PLANETS, NET Patient Foundation and Poole Hospital Charity.

I would really welcome your support either by sharing this post as widely as possible or by putting your hand in your pocket to donate as much or as little as you can through

#WearSomethingYellow day

Friday 17th June is “wear something yellow day” to raise awareness of the great work hospices do in looking after patients with life limiting and terminal illnesses as well as their families.
I will be doing my bit by wearing something yellow; watch this space!

Forest Holme Hospice


So on Friday 17th:

  1. wear something yellow
  2. take a selfie, post it on social media with the hashtag #WearSomethingYellow
  3. donate £1 to Forest Holme by visiting my Justgiving page, that’s it easy peassy, squeeze the lemon!

Running for survival

So I’m a runner; nothing remarkable in that, you’d say. But, you see dear reader, just five years ago I could not describe myself as a runner.

Five years ago I was someone who did a bit of exercise, you know, going to a couple of Zumba classes every now and then, entering charity runs, cycling a bit, walking and, in between, weight yo-yoing (not a sport I’d encourage anyone to partake). I was not unfit but was definitely not fit.

Out of nowhere, I was hit by depression. The worst kind you can imagine. The one where despite all the good things in my life I could only see the negative. The “I do not want to get out of bed” kind. The “it’s a beautiful sunny summer’s day, kids are playing in the garden and laughing, but I cannot be bothered to join them” kind. And worse, but I will spare you the details.

In retrospect I can now see what triggered my depression. I was nearing the big 40. I started to look back at my life and evaluate it. It did not come up to my exprectations.

My life was good at that point, I was married to someone I loved and who loved me, I had a job with good career prospects, I had my three, beautiful, healthy, funny children, I had a roof over my head, I had good friends and no debts. What more could a woman want?

As a child of the 70s and a teenager in the 80s, I had mapped out my life, following lofty ideals of success and achievement. I had set some expectations for myself and had been encouraged to do so by the influential adults in my life. It wasn’t just the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” type of exprectations, it was more detailed, down to the colour of my car, the way my house would look, what type of house I’d have, where I’d be going on holidays, etc.. I’m sure you get the picture. “Mapping” my life was supposed to give me focus, drive me to achieve and ultimately make me happy, or so was the theory.

So when I stopped and evaluated my life as such a big birthday got nearer, the reality did no match my mapped expectations.  I now realise that it was the chasm between the fantasy of what I had expected and the reality of what I had achieved that triggered my depression.

After a lot of counselling, medication, and support from my husband and my dearest friends, I recovered. This was the year of 2013, the big 40 had been and gone and I had survived, but with a re-assessment of my life I realised I had got my priorities wrong, because of what I had expected rather than what I had hoped for my life.

Then, cancer came knocking at my husband’s door. I can safely say that this was a whole new ball game, one where the rules were only known to one side, the alien invader, whilst the other side, our family, were trying desperately to work out those rules. Not a fair game by any stretch of the imagination; despite, at my husband’s behest, putting on our brave faces and trying out our best moves,  we clearly were the underdogs. Just when we thought we were getting on top of the opposition’s tactics, cancer decided to change the rules several times in succession so that it felt as if we were attempting to play the game blindfolded.

Realising that cancer has no qualms in attacking the body,  destroying the soul, testing relationships and distorting all that resembles normality, I decided to run for survival. I started running as far and as often as I could, this time with no expectations, just hope. Hoping that the runs would help me sleep better, improve my mood and work out stuff in my head. Not always succeeding but never giving up the hope.

And eventually running did help; it made me fitter so that I could take on the extra responsibilities that came with caring for my husband, as well as still going to work and being there for my children. It made me calmer so that I could think clearly in stressful situations, and it gave me some space and “me” time to be alone with my thoughts and emotions.

Since deciding to run for survival, I have also dealt with my own cancer diagnosis and the death of my beloved Michael. Widowhood and cancer together is not a combination I would wish fall upon anyone, not even my worst enemies.

Today marks 4 months (121 days exactly) of the death of my Michael, I haven’t stopped running even through the darkest days; I believe he would have been proud. Nowadays I can’t run fast (I was never “Speedy Gonzalez”) but I can still run far and this knowledge brings me satisfaction, because despite the alien invader’s best attempts and the pain of losing my love, I’m still running, I’m still surviving, never expecting, always hoping.

Runner’s envy


Another year of the London Marathon and as I watched on TV and tracked my running friends online I felt what is known as ‘runner’s envy’.

Searching the internet I couldn’t find an official definition for runner’s envy, so I am going to describe it as:

The desire or longing felt by runners when witnessing other runners compete in a race they themselves can’t take part in, either due to injury or through lack of securing a place.

I’m sure runner’s envy is not limited to the circumstances I’ve described here, however that is the type of feeling I experienced today.

On the other hand my runner’s envy was quickly satiated by watching the following newsworthy episodes:

  • Jemima Sumgong falling and eventually winning the women’s race
  • Kipchoge missing the world record by 8 seconds
  • Aly Dixon, Sonia Samuels, Callum Hawkins and Tsegay Tewelde qualifying for GB Team and Rio 2016

And of course as I write this post there will be many out there still running their marathon, with extraordinary stories to tell, raising millions of pounds for charity.

Maybe it will be my turn to do so next year; here’s to runner’s envy.