I've been meaning to do this segment on my blog for awhile. 'Wonderful Woman Wednesday' where I get to talk to everyday women like you and me, that happen to be doing wonderful and extraordinary things. I couldn't think of a more fabulous person to start with than my own mother.
My mother has always taught me to speak up for the things you believe in (even if they have gone against her own way of thinking). She currently campaigns for more awareness surrounding Pancreatic Cancer and let me question her about it below:
Mum, as you know I've wanted to start featuring 'ordinary women doing wonderful things' on my blog. It seems very natural to start with you. You do a lot of work raising awareness about pancreatic cancer. Can you tell us what your work currently involves and what inspired you to start raising awareness?
We lost our cousin in 2004 to Pancreatic Cancer just 12 days after diagnosis . It was a shock, but then 3 years later we lost Mum's brother to the same disease. It didn't stop there. Mum was diagnosed January 2010 with Pancreatic cancer and died 7 weeks later, March 11th. I couldn't accept that 3 of them could die from a disease that I hadn't heard much about. I started out Fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer UK for better support for patients and to raise awareness. It kind of escalated to me doing some media interviews, public speaking and helping campaign for a debate into funding at Westminster. Being naive I didn't realise health issues in Wales are devolved to Welsh Assembly, so am currently pushing for a debate on Survival Rates and earlier diagnosis with Welsh Assembly
What will a debate on survival rates and earlier diagnosis do for those who are and who will be affected by pancreatic cancer? What problems are there currently with diagnosis? How low are the survival rates after diagnosis at the moment?
Mam: Pancreatic Cancer is currently the deadliest common cancer. The survival rate at 1 year is around 23%, and to 5 years is just 5%. Every hour someone in the UK is diagnosed. The best chance of survival is surgery but....and it is a big but, it takes early diagnosis to have a chance of that....ideally at stage 1 or Stage 2 diagnosis. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, people are unlikely to get diagnosed until Stage 4, when the disease has spread to other organs. We need to raise awareness, and also equip our GP'S to recognise symptoms quicker.
What are symptoms to be aware of? Also you mention GP's need to be equipped to recognise symptoms, meaning currently they're being overlooked, do you think people should be straight forward with their GP's and say "look, I have these symptoms, I'm worried it could be PC"
Symptoms include upper abdominal pain just under the rib cage going around right side to back, (roughly where your bra strap is), unexplained weight loss, swollen tum, floating pale and smelly poo, dark urine, jaundice. Obviously some of these symptoms could be something less sinister, such as gallstones or other digestive problems, but the sooner you are checked the better.
For GP'S I think its difficult to diagnose in a 10 minute appointment, especially if the patient doesn't explain all the symptoms they are experiencing. If they are more aware in the first place then yes, asking the GP if it could be pancreas puts them on the right path. Surely it's better to rule out the worse case scenario first?
I completely agree. Since you've started campaigning, what have been your biggest 'wins'?
Being part of the team involved in getting the drug Abraxane approved. Although it only increases life expectancy by an average 2 months, with this disease that is almost doubling the time the patient has. It gives them a chance to put their affairs in order, and to spend precious extra time with loved ones. That and being invited to a garden party at Buckingham palace, where I got to talk to people from other charities at the same time as raising awareness about Pancreatic cancer. For me personally, my "win" is gaining confidence at speaking publicly to Politicians...its something I never thought I would be able to do. I'm no Politician or public speaker. Also, and probably the most important, setting up support groups. A diagnosis of cancer is terrifying. To be able to speak to others in the same position helps so much.
Tell me a bit more about the support groups you've set up.
The first one I helped to set up was on Facebook and we had 6 members after the first week. 7 years on we have almost 3,000, plus sister groups in USA, Scotland, and more recently Wales. I also run a face to face group in Cardiff that meets once a month. Its generally a coffee and a chat. If there is something concerning them about their diagnosis or treatment I put them in touch with Specialist Pancreatic Cancer Nurses. Sometimes it's just a relief for them to talk to a stranger as they worry their "chat" will upset family members.
That sounds really helpful, I remember when Nan was diagnosed and discussing any worries or fears with anyone close made me worried that people would fear I was giving up on her. Is it possible to have the links for the groups so anyone reading can join for support?
What you said about Nan is exactly right. One of the main topics that they struggle with is end of life care... not because they are giving up, but they want to be prepared for whatever comes next. Mam: On Facebook its Families In Support of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness or Team Wales for Pancreatic Cancer. They can also check out support groups in their area via website www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk or email me MrsLinda.firstname.lastname@example.org
What have you found most challenging/frustrating since you started campaigning and how do you ensure it doesn't de-motivate you and what you're fighting for?
It's the same answer every time. When people say its impossible to diagnose. Yes, it's tough to diagnose, tough to treat, but nothing is impossible. The very word itself says I'M POSSIBLE! Breast cancer, prostate cancer - they had low survival rates 40 years ago. They have improved so much with better funding. Breast cancer now has survival rates of 85% plus. That's down to better awareness of symptoms and seeing a GP earlier. Whenever I feel helpless I remember how hard my Mum fought to stay with us, how she campaigned for cancer awareness, animal rights etc and that makes it a no brainer for me. I have 3 amazing daughters, 3 beautiful grandkids. I have to keep fighting for change so that there is a better chance of survival in the future!
To nominate a wonderful woman that the world needs to know about message me - email@example.com
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Body positivity is now talked about a lot. However, if you're struggling with it, you're not alone & you're definitely not failing. Despite wanting to be positive, pressure to look a certain way is everywhere. It's no surprise that niggles are likely to keep in. Body positivity, self-praise and self-value is something we should always check in on.
You may be familiar with the phrase ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’ on the face of it, it appears to be saying ‘be kind to others’. But if you look more deeply at this phrase it assumes that we are already being kind to ourselves!
When alone in front of our mirrors, many of us say things to ourselves that we’d never dream of saying to our worst enemies. If you were saying the things you say to yourself to a friend, can you imagine how much that would chip away at them?
Learning to be kind to ourselves can be surprisingly difficult, so to start with this week, I just want you to notice when you are putting yourself down, try to catch yourself, try to stop yourself. Write how frequently you are doing this down in a notebook. After a few days revisit it and reply as you would if it were a friend saying those things about themselves. If you feel brave enough get a friend to reply to your self-critique. They often are quicker to see how fabulous you are! xxx
Walking with my family is so important to me, it's when we chat the most. When you are away from the distractions of technology, work, school and general responsibilities, It becomes very easy to chat about how we are feeling, what we are excited about, what we are worried about and things that are most important to us.
When looking for places to explore, it is so easy to forget what is on your own doorstep, despite living in Wales all my life (apart from a 4 year jaunt in Plymouth) I've never climbed the Garth. So we me, the husband and the 7 year old thought we'd give it a bash.
We started at the walk at Gwaelod y Garth Inn (CF15 9HH) There isn’t a car park (As far as we could see) but there is un-restrictricted parking just before and just after the Gwaelod y Garth Inn. To start the walk turn left just before the Gwaelod y Garth Inn and walk up the steep tarmac road.
When you get to the hairpin bend in the road, keep left and head upwards, for about half-a-mile. You will know that you are on the right route when you pass over a cattle grid.
As the road levels, you'll pass above an old barn on your left.
Follow the route marker sign on your right and head up a steep hillside track towards the mountain. The mountain track can be slightly tricky for small children as they may need help crossing a small stream and lifting their legs upto large steps.
You then go up a very steep (somehow the 7 year old was able to run up, while I struggled) grassy track towards a false summit (the actual summit is a mound with a concrete trig atop of it, a little further on)
The views from the false summit are ridiculously amazing. With not only Taffs Well, the river Taff and Cardiff, but also Somerset in the distance. You can see Aberthaw Power Station to the west and the Brecon Beacons to the north.
Veer left and take a straight route of around 730 metres to the summit (apparently it's 1007 feet) and trig point. On the signs it says it's a circular route but we simply headed back down the way we came.
As you can see according to the old Fitbit, this took us just over 2.5 hrs, this time also included us sitting near the top to have some snacks. I think next time we will have to stop in at the Gwaelod y Garth Inn as it looked loved and on nosing at their website I discovered they have vegan options. But being a Sunday we did need to get home and prep for the week.
Anyway, it's well worth a visit, changing scenery and beautiful views xxx
Yay, It's pancake day tomorrow! (P.s these are not American style pancakes, but the style served to me as a kid, I am from Wales, they are more like crepes if you're American)
Okay, so I know I'm not exactly selling these in the title but bear with me. I've had so many 'Protein Pancake' recipes recommended to me and they all taste like shit. It's made me lose my trust in human-kind almost because loads have people have sworn they have a recipe that "tastes amaaaazing" LIARS!!!
This was my last try at 'Vegan Protein Pancakes' theres a damn vegan food revolution going on right now, I can buy a vegan sausage roll at Greggs, GREGGS!
Anyway, the long and the short of it is, these were my last attempt and they didn't taste like shit, saying that, I don't enjoy non protein pancakes all that much so you may even find them tasty, but I am not making any promises xxx
What you need to do:
Serves 2 people, you get 2 pancakes each yippeeeeee.
Another week, another thing to help me try and help me sleep. I'll be honest with you guys, while my sleep is slightly more than usual, nothing has drastically improved it thus far.
After reading this article, I thought I'd give 5-HTP a bash. As well as helping to support a good mood, with it being indirectly involved in producing melatonin, a hormone that is critical for sleep, it should help with sleep.
I was fairly excited about this one, however I only saw an improvement of an average of 12 minutes, I still struggled to get to sleep and woke up a fair bit. However the difference I did see was my Resting heartrate. It is now at 67 BPM. So, like an actual human having a normal life heartrate, not the heart rate of someone trying to escape a zombie outbreak. So I may continue to use this but the hunt for a 'sleeping beauty potion'
Peace out Tough Mamas.
This week I tried a 'sleep spray' from simba.
First impressions, it's a bit pricey at £18 but after a week using it, the bottle it still almost full and I was waaaay generous with spraying this. The bottle is gorgeous, it's glass, proper fancy.
The smell, well, I have never been a fan of lavender to be honest, it was not my cup of tea. It made me make a face like I was smelling a bad fart if I'm honest, but some people adore lavender so that may just be me.
I can't say that this did anything to help me with my sleep, saying that I usually struggle to get 5 hrs and I did get an average of 6hrs 5 minutes over the week.
However, I woke regularly, spent the week feeling exhausted and my heart-rate was on average 7 bpm higher than it normally it. I don't think I'll be using this one again.
Here we are in week 2 of me attempting to sleep like a regular human woman. This week I am giving 'Simba Sleep Spray' a go. Fear not, it isn't made of a baby lion that has to rise up and overthrow an evil dictator that murdered his dad, that would not be ethically sound and I like ethical soundness.
It actually contains 'essential oils' (I'm not sure what they are actually essential for, I don't think anyone knows) such as lavender, mandarin etc. You're are supposed to spray 2-3 sprays on your pillow and it is supposed to improve the quality of your sleep.
At £18.00 for 100ml it's on the pricey side, but I guess it depends on how long it will last as to whether that's value for money. Also I'm not sure if I am alone here but lavender smells vile to me, we shall see.
Speak to you all in what hopefully will be a well rested week xxxxxx
Just updating you on my first complete week of my mission to sleep like a normal human being. As mentioned in my prior blogs, I have started out this mission using an app called 'Calm'. I did their '7 days of sleep' program which teaches you to be a better sleeper.
So true to the law of sod, the week I decide to make an active effort to improve my sleep happens to fall within the week of my kid being sick, the parents among you are probably aware that this usually means feck all sleep. I considered delaying my little sleep experiment. But life happens to all of us, so I soldiered on to see what would happen.
Now considering that I had a clingy, regularly waking, hot as a radiator child to contend with, the results were way better than I expected. I did get a few daytime snoozes in with the kid however, but usually it'd take me the length of his nap to actually fall asleep.
My weekly average total sleep was 6hr 44 min, as I've mentioned I usually struggle to get an average of 5 hrs.
The '7 days of sleep' was full of useful hints and tips of a good night sleep and I was able to use it alongside the short sleep meditations. I tried a few sleep stories too. My son especially loved the kid's sleep stories as well, though wasn't overly enthralled with the kids meditations.
So yeah, I really liked this app, I will definitely give it another go during an average week to see what the outcomes are too. Thumbs up xxxx
I moaned away to you all yesterday about my crappy sleep and explained that I was going to try something new each week to tackle it.
Quite a few people seemed to swear by meditation apps. So this week I am going to try the app ‘Calm’.
I noticed that calm have lots of 7 day guides. So as well as ‘7 days of sleep’ they have ‘7 days of managing stress’, ‘7 days of managing calm’ and others, they also have stand alone meditations and sleep stories. This week I am going to see if their ‘7 days of sleep’ helps me out
While my sleep still didn’t make it to 7 hours, this was the first night I tried it and there was definitely a noticeable improvement, 6hrs 26 mins it pretty awesome for me.
Also, I assumed that you had to listen to the 7 days of sleep just before bed, but I got the impression I was supposed to listen to 7 days of sleep at a different time during the day and then use one of the stand alone deep sleep meditations before bed. So I am going to try it that way today/tonight.
But yeah, it’s a nice start and I’ll keep you updated xxx
This Is me:
I’m Emma, I train women (Offline and Online) who may struggle with their confidence and self esteem. I believe that women need more options that suit different lifestyles and needs, some of us don't have time to stick to a rigid plan, some people are to scared to even set foot in a gym (I have been there).