Friday, 30 October 2009
I had sent these days apart from each other and they both got printed today.
I have still not won anything for my letters but with my persistance, determination I will one day.
Best wishes to everyone and good luck with writing ventures.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
This was handy in some ways as we were off to Sheffield the following day and would be returning home on Wednesday evening.
The visit to Sheffield was very worthwhile and one I may be repeating in the near future. The main purpose of the visit was to help a national department store implement a mastectomy range of lingerie and they required input from the "experts". There were four from the local breast cancer support group, myself, one lady from Manchester and another lady from Leeds.
Each one of us had a different story to tell as to how we had come to needing a mastectomy or in some cases a double mastectomy.
The main thing we all agreed on was at present there is a lack of style, fashion and colour in the mastectomy ranges currently offered.
This will no doubt be changing next September when the mastectomy range gets launched by this retailer.
Today we received a telephone call from my nephew's girlfriend advising us he should be attending Hereford Hospital today and that his social worker would be taking him from Llandrindod Wells.
We woke him up and got organised to head to Llandrindod in plenty of time to meet the social worker to get him to the hospital on time. Things never seem to go according to plan in my family and this was no exception through no fault of our own.
A farmer had been walking on the opposite side of the road with a dog not on a lead. There were two cars in front us and we all slowed down. The dog ran into the road whereupon the car two cars in front of us braked hard, the car behind did the same but was unable to avoid a collision.
All I saw was a spray of something go up in the air, I assumed it was feathers to start with but then it dawned on me it was glass.
It then sank in what had happened. My nephew and I got out of the car and went to the cars in front to make sure the occupants were ok. They were alive and able to talk but they were not 100%. I instructed my husband to ring for an ambulance.
The occupant of one of the cars was able to get herself out and came over to me. I could see she was shaken by what had happened. Both cars were a mess, one was leaking fluid and both had filled with smoke from when the airbags had gone off.
She said she felt faint so I led her to our car where I instructed her to sit down and put her head between her knees. She kept insisting on going to the other car to see that the occupants of that car were ok. I told her they were ok and talking but were shaken up just like she was.
The first ambulance arrived and took over they gave her oxgen and asked me to stay with her. I was more than happy to help. We were both told an ambulance from Knighton was coming to deal with her shortly. I kept an eye on the oxygen cylinder to make sure it didn't hit the red area and need replacing. During this time she told me her legs felt funny and were hurting her. I tried to attract the attention of the first ambulance crew but by this time they were busy with the occupants of the other car.
I tried telephoning her father for her as she kept saying she wanted him told but knew he would be angry about the car. I kept reassuring her by saying that a car could eventually be replaced but she couldn't be. She was on her way to sign on at the Job Centre and was really anxious about this. She asked me "Will you do me a huge favour?" I wondered what it could be. She then said would I go to the Job Centre and let them know she wouldn't be signing on today and what happened. I promised I would do this as soon as I reached Llandrindod.
When the ambulance from Knighton arrived I tried to get it to stop behind our car. It didn't realise what I was trying to do and went too far ahead. The crew reversed it back when they realised I was attending to their patient.
I left them to it when they got the stretcher and put her in the ambulance. A bit later the ambulance crew beckoned with their hand. I looked dumb then realised they were asking for me. As they were male crew they wanted a female to reassure their patient while they examined her in the ambulance and as we had a rapport going they asked for me. So in I went. The poor girl had to have her jeans cut. I joked and said it was a good excuse to get her mum to buy her a new pair.
Then a police lady entered the ambulance I told the patient not to worry too much about things and to answer the questions honestly. She was so very brave. Then she burst into tears asking if the occupants of the other car were ok. The police lady reassured her and even told her not to worry too much this was an accident and we all have them sooner or later.
Meanwhile my husband and nephew had given statements to the police and a description of the person with the dog.
I imagine if we hadn't stopped or if someone else hadn't stopped yet witnessed the accident the police would be baffled about "there was a dog honest but it has gone now".
That is exactly what had happened the person and the dog had disappeared soon after the impact.
We all felt it was our duty to stay and help those injured until the ambulance arrived. Other cars stopped to help too.
One thing we did find strange was one chap ambled up past me towards the damaged cars, the police officers asked if they could help him. He was a foreigner and wanted to go further on to the main accident. The police advised him to get back in his car. Initially he refused and just stood on the verge.
Eventually he listened to the police warning him to go back to his car or further action would be taken.
I stayed in the ambulance until they were ready to depart to Hereford. I left the young lady with the words "You are in safe hands now".
I kept my promise and went to the Job Centre. I explained who I had come on behalf of and why she couldn't sign on. The person I spoke to said "You had better hang on and we will give you some forms for her to sign as to why she can't be here". I explained I was a stranger and had no idea where she lived or how to pass the forms on to her. Then my husband and I left the job centre.
Under these circumstances I thought the job centre would realise it was a genuine reason why someone could not sign on for benefits and that the last thing on their mind would be how to obtain further forms to sign while they are being transported by ambulance to hospital.
As you can see from above my life is never dull or boring.
I wish all the occupants of the car crash a speedy recovery.
It makes you wonder if this happened to you would anyone else stop to help?
Best wishes to everyone
Sunday, 25 October 2009
I decided to write a book to help others. I knew my aims, my goals and what I wanted to achieve. My biggest problem was how to go about it. Not being a professional writer I didn't have a clue.
I wrote a beginning, middle and an end, three chapters in total. Thinking that says what I want I will get that small book published easily. How wrong was I? I sent it to a non-fiction publisher not knowing the protocol I should have followed.
I was fortunate as this publisher was very kind in his reply and I will never forget the email response I received. His advice was to get the Writers and Artists Handbook for the current year and try and find an agent. It was then I searched the internet and found the NAWG and decided to join a writing group.
I wish I had known the right path to take but I didn't. I have learnt the hard way.
I have been bashing my words out on my computer for nearly two years now and what a journey I am on.
My friends had no idea what I was trying to achieve, I kept it secret as I was worried of failing or being ridiculed I suppose. Friday brought a pleasant surprise I have a prospective publisher interested in my work. With this news my husband told my friends.
Last night these friends came around to look at my "book". I showed them the synopsis which I had revamped on Friday morning and then sent out to this prospective publisher before going to hospital. On returning from hospital I had an email and telephone message left by the prospective publisher.
I wish I had shown the "book" to my friends before but I was unsure of the standard of work and until someone gave me positive feedback I was nervous to show it to anyone other than my husband.
These wonderful friends gave me feedback on my book. I know my writing style has changed over the last couple of years with improvement happening with the more I write. This was borne out last night with their comments. There will certainly need to be a lot of editing done on the book in the form it is in now but that will be able to be overcome. My determination is kicking in to get this book published.
One of my friends said he couldn't have done what I have.
If the prospective publisher does not want to proceed further I will spend the writing retreat revamping my book and editing it along the way.
If I had only shown the book to my friends before sending the book off I would have had the editing done by now and I perhaps I would have felt happier with the standard of work. I am kicking myself for being so naive.
I hope that this blog post is useful to someone and that this encourages them to get out there and ask for help if they need it.
I wish I had done it earlier instead of being sat alone bashing out the words that meant so much to me and the story I wanted to tell.
I am certainly learning the writing path the hard way but life is full of challenges and I am rising to this one.
Best wishes and good luck to everyone.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Remember to set your clocks back an hour tonight and enjoy an extra hour in bed.
Looking back over the summer what have I done. Well there has been Attingham Park weekend with Wrekin Writers that was inspirational.
There has been poetrystreet and finding another link on that website Mypoetry4U. There has been a confidence building session when I attended Drayton Writer's Open Mike day in June.
I have been to my very first pop concert of Boyzone and thoroughly enjoyed that.
September I was busy with the Cancer Research UK Relay for Life event in Shrewsbury. (See previous blog posts)
Two weeks ago I attended a Macmillan Cancer Voices conference in Gatwick.
Last week I was at Westminster for Breakthrough Campaign Advocacy Network (CAN) where I lobbied my MP and asked a question to Professor Mike Richards.
Now winter is heading our way what will I do? I will continue to work on my writing and get my book published.
The leaves are turning red on the trees and the season is going to be colourful. My language most probably will be too as I challenge myself in many different ways with my writing and what I expect of myself.
Next month I will be going on my first ever writing retreat and I am really looking forward to this experience. I have learnt a lot but realise I have so much more to learn.
The biggest lesson I have learnt over the summer is not to be afraid to ask questions or seek advice when not sure of how to approach something.
I have received wonderful support from my writing group and I know this will continue.
I am not sure what the future holds but one thing for sure is I love writing, meeting people and helping others.
December brings the chance to have various meals out with friends and socialising. The biggest thing I have learnt this year is money doesn't matter a rich person is one with many friends. I am so lucky to have wonderful friends and therefore my life is very rich.
Best wishes to everyone over the winter months and see what we can all achieve with whatever our goals are.
Friday, 23 October 2009
Well I am back from Westminster. Yes I got there in one piece. The experience has been surreal in some ways but really useful in others.
Did I achieve what I set out to do? Yes I met with my MP. I informed of the lobby issue I was most interested in. I followed advice from my writing group and chose a topice I knew about.
My MP was very easy to talk to, extremely approachable and very honest. I spent twenty minutes with him and it was time very well used. I got my point across, what we wanted to achieve and what I needed to be done by him.
I received training in a workshop prior to the meeting to make sure I knew what I was doing.
Yesterday morning at my first ever Westminster Fly-In I stood up in front of the whole conference and asked Professor Mike Richards a question concerning younger breast patients. I was nervous doing this but felt it had to be asked. If I didn't ask it would it be asked, probably not so I stood there with the microphone and did it.
Later I met my MP waiting around made me nervous but as soon as I saw him appear climbing up the steps to the building I was reassured. I felt in control and lead the way.
Am I proud of myself. YES, you bet I am. I never knew I could do this.
Will I do this again next year? Most probably if given the chance as I love helping others and the way to make issues heard is to raise them.
At the end of the day yesterday we had a group photo. Starting a few stairs up. Most of us headed for the back thinking we wouldn't be seen. LOL. A crafty photographer guessed this ploy and took the picture looking down on us all. Hee Hee.
It was a super time and I have made new friends and contacts. I even got mothered without asking to be. I now know I have to be kind to myself as well as campaigning.
Have I learnt a lot? Yes lots far more than I could ever have imagined. Will I use this experience in my writing and future projects you bet I will.
Best wishes to you all.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
I have had to pack a various range of clothes as I am not sure exactly what the standard of dress is for dinner with MPs. So I have packed some comfortable clothes too and will wait and see what others choose to wear so I don't make a mistake.
I have packed a smart comfortable suit for Thursday's workshops.
I also went for my hair makeover today. I will post photos on my return so watch this space.
I am tired now and have an early start in the morning and facing the dreaded M25 later in the morning so will hopefully beat the queues of traffic.
I just hope things go smoothly and I do ok.
I am going to try and cope with one walking pole and my luggage. Now I am packed I know this is happening.
I am really nervous and hope I manage to sleep well tonight.
I will post again late on Friday hopefully as I have a hospital appointment in the morning. Back to reality with a bump.
Best wishes to everyone.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
I have been knocking on various stores doors to implement bra fitting service or other services for mastectomy patients. Now one is finally listening to me. It has taken over two years to achieve this contact but the outcome is going to be positive.
Patience is a virtue and I am learning this the hard way.
Next week I am off to Westminster see previous post. The following week I am off to Sheffield to help a lingerie department in a well known store incorporate mastectomy lingerie. With input from various mastectomy patients we should be able to achieve a very worthwhile product.
I suppose my writing journey will be the same as this one a very long wait and then wham everything will happen all at once and my feet won't touch the ground.
So last week was Gatwick, next week Westminster, the following week Sheffield it sounds like a tour of a band LOL.
In the meantime I keep my writing up and one day my book will get published. I have had two rejections of it so far but who knows what the future holds.
Hold on this is a roller coaster ride so for those that follow this blog be prepared.
Then I found another sale item which was black but with a pink interior. Well too much of a good thing would spoil the theme.
While we were in Debenhams we saw too gentleman sitting on exercise bicycles. I wondered what they were doing but as soon as I saw one was wearing a black and pink fascinator and the other had a bright pink hand bag on his shoulder while pedalling it dawned on me Breast Cancer Awareness month. We gave a donation and headed off upstairs. It was then I discovered the evening bag.
There were some bright pink ones but they were not suitable for the purpose I wanted so I decided practicality was the best option.
I can imagine some of the men reading this post and looking at the pink items groaning. That is exactly what my darling husband did. At least I know he won't dare borrow the suitcase.
I bought some other pink items for going away with but won't show you pictures.
A few weeks back I had visited the local hospital foyer and bought from a charity a hairbrush and comb set with a pink banana clip in it.
We also went to Boots to obtain some medications I needed to take with me as a precautionary measure during this transaction I was given a voucher for £5 off No7. I decided I wanted nail varnish. I will leave you all to guess what colour. With the voucher off we only had to pay £1.25 for said item.
So I have had a brilliant pink day without even thinking about it.
I am being pampered next week. I am having a luxury manicure on Monday. A hair makeover on the Tuesday prior to setting off for Westminster.
I am really looking forward to the conference now and hope everyone can have a giggle over my choice of colours.
Life would be dull if we couldn't have a laugh and that is exactly what Steve and I have done today had lots of giggles.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I only found out about this organisation last Friday at a Macmillan Cancer Voices conference. It was a wonderful inspiring conference and has spurred me on to do far more to help others.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
One of his guests during his interview used "You know" a dozen times. Is it just me or does this get anyone else's back up.
When Steve and I first appeared on Trisha and we watched that episode back it hit Steve that he said it a few times. After that he now watches what he says. The reason people ask questions is because they don't know.
It infuriates me to such a point that as soon as I notice someone doing this I count the number of times they do it. If it is addressed at me I tell that person how many times they said "You Know" to me.
I wonder how many of you notice this in forthcoming conversations.
As I turn around to Steve and say "I don't know that is why I am asking you".
Sunday, 11 October 2009
I took the advice I had received from Wrekin Writers "write about something you know". I went to the groups I knew I could contribute to rather than sit there without offering anything.
The first workshop I attended was to do with financial matters. We discussed ways forward of how to get the DWP to listen to the needs of cancer patients and to accept letters from consultants rather than be forced to attend medical assessments and have the professionals overuled. As that is what appears to be happening. I suggested inviting MPs to Macmillan conferences even if they don't turn up at least they know what is happening. The two male Macmillan staff conducting this workshop were amazed at the input each and every person in that room gave to this workshop.
That evening we had a welcome group which was really well attended so much so they had to keep fetching more chairs. It was a very emotional weekend for many but without the emotions would be so passionate about what we want to achieve? The answer to that is "No".
Dinner was a lively event meeting new people and understanding their needs and concerns.
I dressed up a bit for this event and felt much better for making an effort with makeup and putting my hair up.
Yesterday morning was an early start for most. Registration was to be 9 am prompt with breakfast to be over and done with as well as all rooms vacated which meant everyone had to be packed by this time. We all succeeded in these tasks.
The second workshop I attended was how to tell your story.
The trainer said how would you get your story out in 60 seconds. This meant we had to be punchy and we had to get the audience's attention. One lady (it wasn't me honest!) suggested getting her prothesis out of her bra and throwing it to the audience. We all laughed but it would work.
There was a teenager in our group during this workshop and I was so proud to have met her. She was so very brave with her story. She wasn't a cancer patient but her mother had been. Instead of being honest with her family the mother had decided to cope with the whole cancer journey on her own. (How many times have I felt I could cope better without involving Steve or anyone else? Too many to mention). The teenager had felt lied to and betrayed, untrustworthy and had completely fallen apart.
Her story hit me hard. After the workshop I went up to her and told her I was so proud to have met her and that she should be proud of herself.
Then it was lunchtime. Again I met different people and got talking to them. We exchanged frank and valid views from all aspects of treatment and family matters and I was amazed at how I had been able to contribute towards the workshops so far.
The third and final workshop I attended was how to become a cancer voice and what could be achieved. There were several experienced cancer voices in this workshop, myself included. I didn't tell them everything I had done for Macmillan I told them bits of what I had been able to achieve and the appearances I had made on behalf of Macmillan. Others said what they had achieved too.
There were so many people who were unsure of whether to become cancer voices or not I decided to take a shot at a way in Macmillan offer courses which are free to attend and receive training one of these is Network Site Specific Groups (NSSGs) relating to various cancer types e.g. skin, breast etc.
I explained I had attended this training recently even though I do attend a Breast NSSG in my local area. The reason I had attended was things change, I could always learn something new, I could support new members and offer them my experience.
I mentioned that a professional had attended this training as consultants, pathologists, radiologists and others involved in cancer have to attend the NSSGs. He said after this training he didn't realise he could contribute so much himself to a NSSG, he had felt in the past that he had to just attend and listen to what was happening around him.
This just shows that the training is doing what it should it is making people empowered to take control themselves and have a positive input to a meeting.
When I spoke about my experience of NSSG the whole room was quiet I had no idea the impact I would have or did have on others in that group. Comments were made on what I had said and I felt overwhelmed with such a positive response.
I then went off to the final closing of the conference and filled out our feedback forms.
Many people came to say goodbye some knelt in front of my wheelchair to speak to me. I had been determined not to use it but the distance to the bedrooms had meant I had no choice yesterday as my back hurt. This made me realise I wasn't been talked down to I was being classed as an equal. It just shows how body language means such a lot.
I have a lot of email addresses and websites to add to my collection. I am so glad I went now, despite my nerves the night before it was well worth it. I feel now I have a lot to contribute to helping others and to make sure that things change in the future for those that follow.
It is surprising the little hints and tips I pick up on my journey from various places can be used as a whole in one place. Examples "write about what you know". In my case "talk about what you know". Empowerment give people options; two are not going to work but the third one is, so when you give someone the three choices they feel they have made the decision and not you.
In the last two years I have learnt the above and I am still learning. That is what life is about you learn something new everyday and if you don't it is boring.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
The story that has touched me most is this one. I suppose being at a similar age to Kris at the time I found my first lump makes her story more poignant. http://coppafeel.org/
Kris is one of the patients in the Cancer Research UK advert for donations and is the last one on the screen.
Instead of feeling sorry for herself Kris is doing all she can to get the message across to young women that they need to check themselves and don't be fobbed off by doctors due to your age.
I will never forget at 32 the doctors telling me because of my age it wouldn't be cancer. Well they were wrong and it was. My biggest fear is that every lump I have is going to be ignored and will turn aggressive. That fear for me will never go away. If I felt listened to I would perhaps feel less apprehensive about the future, but each visit to hospital brings the dread that I will hear the words again.
Kris is not only battling breast cancer but secondary cancer in her spine. She is putting all her energies into her website and I truly admire her.
It is strange how when the illness hits instead of thinking of ourselves we want to prevent this happening to others in what small way we can. We want to help others through a horrid journey and make it easier for those that follow.
This is just one of the small achievements I have made on my two year path so far http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/7561369.stm by agreeing to help Macmillan Cancer Support with their campaigns.
Without cancer patients speaking out the cancer charities have no voice to help get their campaigns across. It is the real lives that matter now and in the future.
It is people like Kris that I want to help so that young lives aren't devastated by the horrid illness.
Yes I know I am passionate about this subject but shouldn't everyone care a little bit more. Shouldn't we all stop and think what would we do in that situation? How would we cope? Would we feel sorry for ourselves or get out there and live life to the full and make if fulfilling for others?
These are the choices we face and Kris and I have answered our dilemmas. Sometimes it just never is enough and someone young dies due to doctors not listening to them.
It is for this reason I do what I do.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Well I now have the voucher and have booked my free hairdressing appointment. As I am off to Westminster towards the end of this month I decided to book it the day before I go.
Steve has booked it for me so there is no giving the prize away now. I am not sure what to do with my locks and may well just leave it up to the hairdressers. So watch this space for the results.
I have read a few newspapers this morning and one story got me so irate I emailled a letter off straight away. I wait to see if it will get printed. I emailled other letters off too.
So it is now the waiting game to see what gets accepted and published.
I am now looking forward to the weekend.
Best wishes to everyone and good luck with writing ventures.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Getting published whether it be on a website or in a magazine or newspaper really means something.
One day I hope to get letter of the day or week.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
I have written a few letters today. I have also had another poem published on Poetry Street today.
I have attempted a short story and decided to leave the idea alone for now. I hope to go back to it at a later date.
Since I started my writing journey I have learnt such a lot. Finding the right magazines for helpful hints and tips. Having bought Jane Wenham Jones' "Wannabe a Writer" I know I didn't waste my money with that. With encouragement from the writing group I write about what I know and what affects me. I found a magazine for disabled writers called ABLE this is a positive magazine which suits me.
So the negativity has vanished for now.
I also received a telephone call from the Trisha Show. Yes I know its been axed and repeats are on tv at present. Well our final show is going to be shown on the 14th October at 10.45 am on Channel 5 (I can hear freeview viewers moaning well those that can't obtain channel 5!).
Never mind it is on You Tube courtesy of Ricky from Trisha.
I can't believe a year has almost gone by already. This time last year I was away on my odyssey holiday (see previous post) and Steve was in charge of sending out the wedding invitations. Thank goodness I haven't got that stress this year.
The only stress I really have now is my writing and my own self doubts.
Knowing that my letters are getting published is a huge boost. So onwards and upwards.
I managed to retune the Freeview box yesterday HOORAY.
Received The Writing Magazine along with Writers News. I noticed Julie had got her letter in the magazine but didn't think to look in the letters page of Writers News until much later on. Doh felt stupid.
Received confirmation of Macmillan Conference in London. Not long to go until that happens. This month is going to be a busy one.
Trying desperately to stay positive with all that is going on with family stuff. Life can be very cruel at times.
I watched the Secret Lives of Twins last night on BBC1. It amused me to see the reactions of other twins looking at the others. Why? When I was in primary school there were 8 sets of twins including me in the same year. When we went to high school other sets of twins joined us again in the same year. We played tricks on the teachers as they couldn't tell who was who from the identical twins. Not sure if I am identical or fraternal. We look alike but act totally different. My sibling is left handed I am right handed. We got different marks in everything maybe because I worked harder and decided to learn rather than play up.
Some things have happened in the same year to us but with six months difference. I knew she had had her first baby before she even telephoned with the news. I felt her labour pains. I know this sounds weird but its true. I got home for the weekend and asked mum if there was any news. There wasn't any. I told her when my sister had had the baby but couldn't tell her anymore than that. Within a few minutes the phone rang. "Hello Grandma".
Mum's reply was you have the wrong number and put the phone down. Telephone rang again. This time it sunk in. I was right. The baby had been born at the time I said.
When we were at college we came home for the holidays. We unpacked our suitcases and would you believe it we had bought the same colour and similar style clothes while we had been away from each other.
When we were younger we decided to dress differently. We had bedrooms next to each other. One morning we walked to the stairs looked at each other we were wearing the same. We went back into our rooms changed and again were wearing the same clothes. In the end one of us changed while the other stayed in what they had on.
Mum and Dad used to buy us similar clothes but in different colours we thought they must know us apart by now so swapped tops. No! They called us by the colour of our tops. This made us laugh so we did it a few times more until we got bored or grew up.
When it came to birthday parties the other sets of twins would come to the party. I will never forget the time we went into the garden we had a large garden at the back of the house with apple trees, fruit bushes etc. This particular year we picked the apples and ate them. Mum was cross as there were not many left for her to pick and use as she had wished. We were only 6/7 at the time.
As the years have gone by our lives have changed. Each determined to live their own life and be as independent from the other as possible for various reasons.
I wonder what the other sets of twins are doing now. Are some as inseparable as they were years ago or have they too grown apart?
Life is strange that is for sure.