Period.

So, as it turns out, men don’t read my blogs.  To be fair, I don’t think my husband reads them.  He dutifully likes and shares them but I don’t think he gets much past the first sentence.

With this in mind, this blog makes me smile.  This is about periods.  I’m hoping that, despite the title men will read this.  I doubt it though!

Over the last couple of days I have snapped.  Snap, snap, snap.  Snap at everyone.  Snapped at family, snapped at friends, snapped on the school-run.  I didn’t realise I was snapping until 9:23am this morning when my period came and it all made sense.  Why don’t I see it coming?  Every month, without fail, it catches me by surprise. The signs are always there: the sore boobs, the spots that hit the mirror, the fatigue and the mood changes but I can never manage to see the ‘whole’ me.  I also never have any tampons.

And then it comes.  Not sure if it is my age or having had three children but my periods are now quite tremendous.  The blood loss seems and feels far more than a teaspoon; it leaves my body with such force. Whilst it now only lasts for a couple of days, it requires full-time attention to manage it.  It is impossible to be away from a toilet for more than half an hour which has a huge impact for work and travel.

I hope that some open-minded men read this.  I know there are an abundance of jokes out there about periods and PMT and yes, we get them every month so we ought to be used to them but they are tough and they seem to be getting tougher (or I’m just getting older).

I am currently sat here with spots on my chin the size of my son’s head, a sanitary towel so thick that it’s like having a duvet between my legs and bazooka boobs as tender as marshmallows.

To anyone who has crossed my path in the last 48 hours … sorry.

To anyone concerned I was looking bit washed out today … it’s my period.

To all the wonderful men out there … we know it’s PMT but telling us doesn’t make it stop.

I love being a woman, I am proud to be a woman but I bloody hate periods!

Women, please feel free to comment or add to this tirade.  Men, thank you for reading!

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365 days later

I knew I had to pen a blog to mark the day of diagnosis.

I thought about sharing the emotional and physical trauma of the last year; the physical screams caused by pain, the emotional tears of desperation or the withdrawal caused by  despair experienced not only by my son but by everyone who loves him.  I considered documenting the number of surgeries, anaesthetics, lumbar punctures, blood draws, IV chemo, oral chemo, steroids, the sickness, overnight stays, dressings on, dressings off, the leg pain, the steroid rage, the excruciating mouth ulcers, the hair loss, the absence from school, the alienation from reality but that what would that achieve?

Instead this blog, to mark the year anniversary since Felix was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, is written to give hope.  Hope to everyone affected by any form of childhood illness.  To see a child suffering and being unable to take away their pain, discomfort or distress is the most difficult thing in the world.  However, the strength that you find is phenomenal.

I can remember, quite early on after Felix was diagnosed wandering around Tescos.  Felix had been admitted with an infection.  He was bloated because of the steroids, looked so poorly because of the infection and was tired, tired of it all.  I was so worried, scared really.  I walked up and down the aisles in a trance.  I was using all of the emotional and physical reserves I had.  That day I wondered if there was a limit to how much stress, anxiety and fear my body could take.  I really didn’t think my body could physically cope with much more.

But it did.  That inner strength came from somewhere and we made it through that particularly tough time.  This is what I wanted to share to mark the day of diagnosis.  We can do it, you can do it.  You have to and from somewhere surges an undefeatable strength and determination.

  • Your child will display more resilience, character and positivity than you knew they had.  You will be so proud of them.  They will astonish you every step of the way.
  • Their brother or sister will cope.  They will still love, fight and laugh.  They will find things hard at times but they will become even more united through the battle.
  • Friends and family will be there to help support your towers of strength when they buckle.  Some friends and family won’t know what do and may well fall by the wayside during this time.  That’s normal.  Let them go.  Concentrate on your towers.
  • There will be people out there who do understand how you feel and will be there for you.  They will make you feel humbled, loved and often reduce you to tears because of their kindness. These are your scaffolding, don’t take this down too early, in fact try not to take it down at all.
  • You can do this thing.  You might feel like you don’t have the strength, that you are scared beyond words and that you are petrified of the future.  Look at time in segments.  When you get through that five minutes, that hour, recognise it and then look towards your next period of time.  Your love, passion and determination will get you through this.

Today is just a day I know but I’m glad it’s here.  I woke up this morning, opened my eyes and realised that yes, it’s just another day.  We are different people compared to the ones we were a year ago.  We have been honoured to meet some amazing people and children on the way.  We have experienced the extremities of emotions in the last year; huge highs and desperate lows.  But throughout it all we continue to be grateful and hopeful.  We are more content, we are more at ease, we are stronger in so many ways.

We have 820 days to go.  Let’s do today, and the next day and the next day.  Let’s do it with love, passion and determination!

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Life is a collection of phases

This was the most valuable parenting advice I ever received.  It was a nugget that someone gave my sister and continues to help me when things seem hard. Whether it’s a bout of teething, relentless early mornings or teenager tantrums, it will pass.

Don’t relax too much though as we all know there is another phase just round the corner!

#dailydot #2 #parenting daily-dot-2

Ice, Ice Baby

The oohs and the aahs from his friends when my 8-year-old rocked up to school with this lump of ice yesterday gave him Ice Man status for about 3 minutes.  Boy, did he relish those 3 minutes.  The devastation when he realised that he would lose his Ice Man status once the ice melted was clear.  So yes, I carried it home and put it in the freezer!

When I got home, I took time to actually look at the ice; its total transparency, the crystal formations inside, it’s polished and glossy exterior which I have not seen replicated anywhere else in nature.

So, eyes wide today everyone; take note of the normal, it’s probably pretty remarkable!

#mrsbrownsdailydot #awe #wonder #parenting

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Mrs Brown’s Daily Dot

OK, so we are slowly meandering towards the year anniversary of Diagnosis Day.  How do I feel about it?  A little bit weird actually.

It’s not the date of 28th January so much, but the sensory associations that are paramount at the moment.  There is the sense of the sun setting just a little bit later each night; the aromas of log fires and cold, crisp air; an impending excitement that spring is just around the corner.  All of these associations are really vivid at the moment.  Each time I encounter a memory or feeling from this time last year, it automatically links to the knowledge that things come to a sudden and abrupt stop soon.

I look at photos of how things were this time last year and I looking for signs, something that we missed, something that we overlooked.  But there is nothing.  Only a boy who looks truly innocent and happy.  A boy who has never really endured pain or suffering or distress.  I look at him now and I know he has changed.  I am trying to work out if this change is just the natural progression of age or if it is the emotional effects of the last 12 months.  It depends on what sort of day it has been but I always veer towards the natural progression of age.  He’s doing so well and for this we are eternally grateful; other kids aren’t and this is always something that isn’t far from my mind.

So, back to anniversaries.  Yes, there are the ones to be celebrated but here are also the ones which cause distress.  It’s so easy to focus on a day which was a turning point in life; if this was a tough change then the run up can be as distressing as the day itself.  And that’s what I’m finding difficult at the moment.

I can’t let this happen though.  There are too many things to be grateful for.  There are too many things in this world to be happy about.  There are too many wonderful people in the world that want me to be happy.  These were my thoughts today.  And from my thoughts, as usual, ideas spiral out of control.  I had to put something in place to distract from pondering too much on where we were this time last year.  So this is what I came up with.  A daily something to focus on.  Sometimes, because of the tough stuff we’re dealing with, we lack motivation and fail to see the goodness around us.  Have you ever seen a baby lack motivation when trying to stand for the first time?  Have you seen the enthusiasm that a toddler puts into a tantrum? This is now my reference point.  We were born with ambition and a natural curiosity of the world.  I intend to refocus on this.

My aim is to focus on a daily dot each day.  I could wait until 28th January to mark the anniversary in a positive way but why?  I intend to start now.

So this is the start of Mrs Brown’s Daily Dot.  It will be about everything and anything.  It will be about the awe and wonder in the world; the people around us; the philosophies of life.  It will be about us, humanity and what makes us tick.

I’m quite looking forward to the anniversary of Diagnosis Day now!  #mrsbrownsdailydot

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The Good, the Kind and the Different

This is what being a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2017 means to me.

It is a celebration of the goodness and kindness in people all around us and a recognition of the difference that exists among us.

This difference is often overlooked and dismissed yet it is a crucial factor and central to humanity’s ability to be good and kind.

We are all different.  As parents we are different, our children are different, our philosophies are different as are our personal ethics and morals.  It is this recognition of difference which I believe enables people to be good and kind towards each other.  We have been fortunate to have received the ultimate taste of human kindness and to truly see the good in people.

What I love most about my blog being a finalist in the UK Blog Awards, is that it is enabling the story of childhood cancer to be heard on a mainstream platform.  It means that our story will be shared with an audience beyond the oncology families within which it usually resides.  It will be read and shared by other parents and finalists.  Each skim read, each share, each reference to Mrs Brown’s Blogs will raise awareness;   awareness about diagnosis, about treatment, about stigma, about symptoms, about outcomes.  Awareness about families in our community, children nationwide, individuals internationally who are facing the challenge of, and living with childhood cancer.

I can’t wait to travel to London in April to attend the UK Blog Awards.  I will relish the opportunity to interact with other finalists and hear their stories of the good, the kind and the different.  I know I will learn and grow just by being a part of it.  I know that the campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer will benefit from it.  I know that there will be families internationally who will be applauding the fact that one family’s story has made it onto a public stage.

A huge and massive thank you to all who voted.  Your support means the world.  Here’s to taking the good, the kind and the different to London!

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