Thursday, 31 March 2011

The A-Z challenge!

Oh dear, what have I let myself in for now?
Well, I was reading through a few blogs and I came across a blogging challenge called A to Z blogging challenge as featured by Arlee at Tossing it Out .  
I thought OK ill give it a try and see if it helps to improve my blogging skills and give me an incentive to post more often.  So what is this challenge?

The idea is you make 26 posts during the month of April, one every day for the whole month, except Sundays when you are allowed a day off :o)
Each post must follow the alphabet theme so on Day 1 you may blog about Apples and day 26 you may blog about Zebras.
I am blogger number 796 who has signed up to this challenge and last time I checked there were just over 852 bloggers signed up to the challenge.

Now I dont have a great deal of time for blogging but I thought id give this a go!  So look out April cos here I come!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Busy times!

Feels like ages since I have updated my blog so I thought I would come and share with you what I have been up to!
Planning for the tea party is going well!  I have lots of prizes for the stalls and amazing prizes for the raffle.  I visited the hall last week and I am really looking forward to it now.  My main concern is getting people through the door.  I have put so much effort into this and I will be gutted if no one comes :o(

Richards intrathecal chemotherapy seems to be going well,  he has had minimal side effects from the 2nd dose, just a few headaches.  He is half way through now and the end of all this treatment is finally in sight.  His hair is starting to return (although a little more grey than it was before perhaps) and he is starting to look more like "my Rich".  I still wander what will happen when we finish going back and fore to the hospital.  It has been part of our lives for such a long time now that I will feel a kind of emptiness when its all gone!
We were interviewed by the local paper this week which will hopefully help to raise awareness about Lymphoma and get the message out there that you dont have to be old or smoke to get cancer. I really hope I managed to get across everything I wanted to.

I have also been busy blogging for a very exciting new website La Roche Uk It was a fantastic opportunity that I couldn't let pass me by.  I have written 2 posts so far and the number of readers is going through the roof!  Please feel free to follow me over there too!
I feel as though our cancer journey is coming to an end but my blogging one is just beginning.  Something good to come out of the bad perhaps?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

So hospitals are supposed to be clean?

We have all heard the stories of dirty hospitals, stains on the walls, dirty floors etc but I have to admit up until now we have been very lucky with our experiences.  Our local hospital Withybush in Haverfordwest has been fantastic.  When we visit the chemo day unit it is always spotless, fresh, bright and welcoming.  The staff are fantastic and conscientious with their routines.  The cleaning ladies on the ward are lovely and they always come and make a big fuss over Richie when we bring him in with us and are must put out on the days when we dont!
When we visited the Royal Orthopedic in Birmingham we were also impressed with how clean it was.  Richard has his room cleaned every day and they even went around the bottom of the beds with special disinfectant wipes.
So imagine our surprise on Tuesday when we went to the University Hospital in Cardiff.  This is a HUGE hospital with a lovely little shopping and cafe area on the bottom floor.  We went up to the first floor and along the maze of corridors until we got to the Hematology day unit.  It was yet another long wait to be seen with no explanation as to why we have to wait over an hour before someone even speaks to us.  The whole atmosphere is very impersonal and the staff always seem too busy to have a chat unlike our lovely ward in Withybush.

Anyway when we were finally taken into the room where Rich was to have his lumbar puncture and spinal chemo I sat down on the chair next to him and we chatted until the Dr came to do her "stuff".  This time the process seemed to be quicker and Rich coped better as it wasnt so daunting being the 2nd session.  After the Dr had left the room he was made to lay on his back for half an hour.  During that time I noticed the shelf base of the bed had bits on it, there was a bit of plastic pipe which had been cut off something and lots of fluff, then i noticed it was actually thick with dust, so much so I actually wrote "clean me" and took the following photos

When we came out of the room there were no staff around to inform them of the state that the bed was in so we left.
I am shocked and disgusted that such a delicate chemo was undertaken in a room that was so unhygienic.
We are back at the hospital on the 2nd April and I really hope that my message is not still there for all to see on the base shelf of the bed!

My first blogging award!

It surprises me every day how much traffic I have to my blog, after all it is just the ramblings of an occasional mad woman who is trying to make sense of a lot of things in life so imagine my total surprise when I find I have been given a blogging award!!!

The Liebster award was given to me by fellow mummy blogger Mama Stokes.  It is an award for people with little blogs (less than 300 subscribers) to share blog love and spread the word. I dont think I have ever been given an award in my life so I am really chuffed to bits!  Now its my turn to award the blog to bloggers that I enjoy reading so here goes!

The rules are:

1. Post displaying the award, linking back to the person who awarded you (if someone could tell me how id be most grateful!)
2. Choose your own blog picks (below) and let them know they’re awarded
3. Hope everyone discovers some new favourites
4. Revel in the blog love!

I choose to award the following wonderful mummy bloggers:
Baby Rambles
Our handmade journey
Tracey - confessions of a mother
Random Mamma
Jo Jo's so called life

These are blogs that I enjoy reading regularly and I hope you will have a look and enjoy them as much as I do!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

What does £1000 mean to you?

For some of you reading this blog £1000 means a months wages, for some its a holiday, petrol for a few months,  I am sure you can think of loads of things you could think of spending £1000 on.
For me right now £1000 means the world, it means that there are a lot of people out there who taken time to take a look at our story and think I am worthy of sponsoring.

Running 5K is not a difficult thing to do, it takes a few months training and a lot of determination but on the whole is no big deal.  The messages of support have been phenomenal (get me spelling a big word!!) if im feeling down or lacking in motivation I sit and read them all, every single message and I smile because I have such lovely friends, so many people behind me, behind us, who have been there through every step of the journey.  Some people I have known for years, some people I have met along the way, some with their own stories to tell, both happy and sad, yet each of those people have given their support which in my book makes them the inspirational ones.

Friendship is a very special and amazing thing and sometimes it takes something bad to make you realise there is so much good in the world.  So thank you to each and every one of you amazing people who have sponsored me and taken the time to leave a lovely message of support.

It has taken me 2 months to reach £1000 sponsorship so lets run this race and kick cancer up the arse!!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The best of news!!

Yesterday I got a phone call to say that Richards spinal chemo for this week had been rescheduled for next Tuesday.  As he was due to go to our local hospital tomorrow for pre chemo bloods I phoned to cancel that appointment.  While I was on the phone I asked if they had received his PET scan results so the nurse put me through to the consultants secretary and she confirmed they had received them!
"Hello Mrs Ballard" she said, (I now give up correcting people that actually we are not married) "I posted his results today, give me a minute and ill get them up on screen"
At this point my heart with in my mouth and my hands were shaking so much I nearly dropped the phone!!  Then those words came over the phone.....
"He has had a positive response to the chemo and he has no positive cancer cells left, it's all gone!"
I dont quite remember what I said but I think I may have screamed with excitement and shouted yessssss as I punched the air!
Now its funny how things worked out because when we got the news that Rich first had cancer, he broke it to me over the phone as I wasn't home and didn't see him till late that night so in contrast yesterday I broke the news to him over the phone as he was out and yet again I didn't see him till late that night.

I had thought about this day so many times, and in my head the news would be given to us in the hospital and we would walk out holding hands and I would hug him with relief so the reality was a little disappointing but the news wasn't!
He was chuffed to bits when I told him, quite rightly so!!!  This is the outcome we wished for right from the beginning but......

.....and I feel a bit strange saying this.....

I feel like its a total anticlimax!  Please dont get me wrong, I am SOOOO happy, but today feels the same as yesterday, life is still basically the same.  I feel awful saying this as there are so many people out there that would give anything to have their loved ones back, I think especially of Laura who lost her mum and Val who lost her husband recently.

We have a 2nd chance now and must make the most of it.  3 more sessions of spinal chemo left and then we will live from one check up to the next.

I can not begin to thank each and every one of you for your support through this time.  I have really learnt the meaning of true friendship.  Also for reading this blog and letting me spill out my thoughts and feelings.  I am going to continue my blog with general randomness and the continued chaos in my life, I hope you will remain to follow xx

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Where am I heading?

I think this is a question I have asked myself more than any other.  Where am I heading in life and what do i want to do.  At the age of 31 I think I have finally reached a decision, well when I say "reached a decision" what I mean is finally had the guts to go for the job I have always wanted.

To date I have had a variety of jobs. I have never really settled in any of my jobs as I felt there was something missing, always a yearning to do a certain job and no matter what I did, that yearning never went so I have decided to give in and go for it!

What is this job?  I want to be a midwife!  I really have a huge fascination in the whole pregnancy and birth process.  It is just amazing what the human body can do and every aspect of the 9 months up to the birth and beyond is magical. I loved visiting the midwife during my last pregnancy as I knew so much more than I did when I was pregnant with my first and I could sit and have quite in depth conversation about the more technical aspects of birth and felt so in control.  My midwives inspired me to have THE most fantastic home birth, they empowered me to make choices and believe in my choices and having this fantastic experience was the deciding factor.

Now i am not naive and think that it is all joyful and wonderful.  Running a forum online with over 200 women has exposed me to a lot of different experiences.  As well as sharing in the joy of so many wonderful women who have given birth I have also seen the utter unfairness of infertility, the trauma of miscarriage, the painful memories of traumatic births and the devastation of still birth.  As upsetting as each of these experiences are it has only made me want to be a midwife even more.
I want to help women take charge of their pregnancies and births, I want to support them through the highs and the lows and I want to share in the joy and tears and I want to be there at the start of a babies journey through the world.

So where I am with this dream?  Well on the 23rd I have an interview for local college.  Its just an access to health course but I hope it is the foot in the door, the first rung of the ladder, the start of my long journey to become a midwife.  Fingers crossed!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Inspirational women

I was reading this blog about inspirational woman this week and it made me think about the woman that inspire me.

I have thought long and hard about this and the problem is there are so many women out there at the moment that inspire me that it would be impossible to cover them all but I wanted to mention a few.

First of all is my good friend and fellow blogger Caroline
I met Caroline in uni while we were training to be teachers.  When we left college we kept in touch sporadically through facebook then one day I noticed she was pregnant.  I was thrilled to bits for her and we started chatting more often.  As a mum of 2 already I had plenty of advice to give plus I fell pregnant not long afterwards so we had a special journey to share.  Weeks turned into months and both our pregnancies were developing well and we were both busy making plans and preparing for our births.
Unknown to me, Caroline's world was about to turn upside down.  On the 21st June 2010, Anabelle Violet Morgan was born sleeping.
I was totally and utterly speechless and sat and cried for hours, how on earth was this fair?  How could it happen to such a lovely couple as Caroline and her husband Jon.  I didnt know what to do but felt I couldnt not do anything so i sat and wrote a long letter to her.
Caroline and Jon laid their daughter to rest in a beautiful coffin and gave her a send off fit for a princess.
Since that day Caroline has been a mummy to an angel, she has had good days and bad, and this has changed her forever but through it all she has been there for when i needed someone to talk to.  She has thrown herself into raising awareness of still birth and fundraising in Belles memory.  She is an incredibly strong and inspirational woman and I am sure there are happier times to come.

Next on my list is another blogger Laura
Laura has such amazing strength and determination and i feel truly humbled by her.  I met Laura a few years ago through an internet forum.  She belongs to my "Pink world", a very special site I help to run online for women who are taking the journey through motherhood.  Laura's journey has been a tough one so far.  She lost her beautiful mum to cancer yet she got through it with strength and courage.  She has also struggled to conceive which has brought her so much heart ache in the past year or so yet she always bounces back.  She is always happy for others when they conceive or give birth yet it must be so painful for her.
Laura will soon be at the top of the list for IVF.  She is beautiful inside and out and anyone with a soul as beautiful as hers will be a fantastic mummy.  I have every faith that this time next year we will be celebrating with her.

Another lady I want to mention is also from my "pink world"  I shall refer to her as "Happy".  Happy is most definitely one of the most beautiful women I have ever set eyes on!  She has a gorgeous baby boy which she went to hell and back to conceive.  He has brought so much love and joy into her world and she is a fantastic mummy to him.
Happy has had a really tough time in the last year yet she has remained focused enough to start up her own fantastic business which I know she will be very successful with.
She has also shown immense strength and determination to get what she wants out of life and her marriage when others would have given up.  I know she does not see herself as inspirational but to me she is!

Finally I want to give a shout out to a few others, Dinah and her beautiful twins, Fran, SC, Lisa, Zarrie and Carrie for getting rid of the worlds biggest twunts, happy times ahead for you ladies and also Helen and Charmaine who took and cancer and wooped its ass!!

Every woman on this planet is inspirational to someone and they all deserve to be celebrated.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A day of nervousness!

Well today was the first session of Intrathecal Chemo for Rich.  He was very nervous about it and had been having dreams about the procedure.  He never shows this, he is like a swan, calm on the surface but paddling like crap underneath!
I on the other hand seem to have been a wreck the past few days, my head has been like a fuzzy cloud, I have been very lethargic and just not myself.  I try so hard to keep up the facade, the happy persona, the normal me cos thats what people expect isnt it.  When they ask how you are coping they dont really want to hear the truth, they dont want to know if you cry yourself to sleep, that you are struggling to function, that even getting out of bed in the morning is an achievement!  I dont even tell Rich how im feeling because its not his worry, he does not need to know when he has got so much going on in his own life.

I wonder if it is selfish of me to be struggling in this way when Rich seems to be sailing through it all.  I have the easy job, i dont have the pain, the sickness, the worry about the future that he does.  In comparison my life is easy.and i feel some kind of resentment towards myself for having these feelings but I cant help the way I feel.

In reality the chemo wasnt that bad, not as bad as the usual chemo, no sickness etc, just a little back ache.  I am so immensely proud of him, he is keeping it all together without the need for pills, without the dramas, the highs and the lows.  I guess this makes him the stronger person.

He has 3 more IT chemos to go and still waiting for the results of his PET scan.  I want this all to be over and done with now, i feel like everything is on hold.
I try and focus on a positive future for us all because its all I have right now.

Friday, 4 March 2011


So I have had a little blogging break for a while as I have been so busy with others things which makes a nice change.
Plans are going well for the Great British Tea Break/party that I am organising.  I have received some lovely raffle prizes so far and am in the process of sending out invitations!
The house we are building is finally taking shape which is very exciting.  I have painted our bedroom the most gorgeous colour and have so many plans in my head about how I want it to look and feel.  It is going to be a real child free haven!

So with all this excitement going on you may be wondering why the title to my post?  Well yesterday we went up to Cardiff for Richards PET scan.  This is probably THE most important scan he has had so far, this one will tell us if the cancer has gone and if the chemo has worked.  Up until now I have been optimistic about his treatment and condition but the niggles and doubts are starting to creep in.
The waiting is the worst thing, the not knowing, the what if's.  He is putting a brave face on as always, never fails to make me laugh and smile every day and I hope that even through all my worries and fears I am doing the same for him!

So now we sit and wait....and wait..... if i was at all religious I guess I would pray but im not so for now I will throw myself into my running and my planning for my tea party.
Thanks for reading my dribble :0)