Under wraps

Dear readers, it’s fair to say blog posts have been hard to come by lately for me. What with the unexpected death of my dear friend Rach in February I find myself immersed in grief and selfishly only doing things for myself. Gardening and creativity.

But, some days, for all your experience, all your wisdom, and for all your just knowing things the way only women do, you walk into a situation where you cannot be other than belittled and patronised. Just like I did last week. I  wished and wished I could have shared this experience with Rach, I can just imagine her response. And, equally, I can also hear her saying, ‘You have to blog about this Sarah, you just have to!’ I know she would say that.

Here’s what happened.

The other week I received a phone message out of the blue from a film producer who’s making a documentary about ‘the dangers of breast screening’ – his words. He’s someone who I know in Liverpool and very occasionally, like every few years, will bump into him, but we’re only on that level of knowing each other. I’m intrigued by his message Continue reading

Why don’t they just ban it then?

Water: free, clean and safe - 'let's take back the tap'

One day last summer I was shopping in a camping shop. I find the product I want and go to pay. At the till I am offered a special deal – a half price product from a selected range of items which include a very attractive clear plastic drinks bottle. I express interest in it and the assistant hands it to me. You see, I’m interested in drinking bottles because I  replaced our refillable aluminium water bottles for lightweight stainless steel ones. Why did I do that?

Well, the previous bottles we used, the aluminium ones, are lined with a coating to ‘ensure a fresh, clean taste and no metallic aftertaste’. And the manufacturer of those bottles reassuringly say that the chemicals that make this coating are now ‘non toxic and fully compliant with all EU and FDA regulations.’  Although given the slow rate of legislation I wouldn’t be convinced that means they’re completely safe.

More importantly though the lining of the new bottles don’t contain the chemical BPA or Bisphenol-A. I’ve written about BPA before. It’s widely used in plastics that come into contact with food and is implicated in breast cancer and other diseases. Throughout Europe it is being banned for use in baby bottles, because of concern that the heating of the bottle makes the chemical more harmful. Amongst the campaigners I know there is a general concensus that the baby bottle ban is just the start, and that a total ban on BPA will follow. Continue reading

World without cancer

Some days chocolate is a necessity. Real friends know when.

Let’s face it, Facebook has redefined what we mean by ‘Friends’. You know when someone asks if you know so and so, and maybe you reply, ‘Well I do know her/him, I mean she/he is my friend, well my friend on Facebook that is.’

Does it mean anything?

I’m one of those people who have in the past accepted every friend request on Facebook, only to regret it days later when my News Feed is filled up with Farmville requests or some other Jewel type annoying games. Well I think they’re annoying anyway. That’s not what I want to use Facebook for. Or announcements about what you’re watching on TV right now. No thanks, I’m just not interested. And it amazes me how the most banal comment can attract 28 comments. I just can’t do trivial. I mean I love to engage with real lives, and lives lived in joy and delight. And I do enjoy ‘normal’ now a lot more than I ever thought I could. But sometimes I feel that my world is filling up with trivia that doesn’t enhance it, and anyway, really how can anyone have 1,159 friends? Or 159? Maybe 59 at most? If you are seriously going to engage with them and have meaningful conversations as well as some fun. By the way, I don’t know the right answer. I hate those Facebook messages that go ‘post this if you’re really my friend, let’s see who is paying attention’, because what I think is well, no actually, if you’re really my friend – TALK TO ME.

So, I’m one of those Facebook users who does cull their Friend list. Yup, I unfriend people. And you know when I unfriend someone with 2,543 friends, I know they won’t even notice. If I wrote on their wall, would they even notice? And when I get a Friend Request, I respond with a message, ‘Do I know you? Have we met? Do we have something in common?’ Because I’m not interested in becoming ‘friends’ with someone if we don’t have something to talk about. I mean, real friends, that is people I know in the flesh, I interact with them, I chat, heck I even have lunch with them sometimes. And I am careful who I spend my time with. Because I know that time is limited. I feel that more keenly now. No, I’m not being a miserable cancer patient who’s predicting doom and gloom that will result in my early death. That’s not what I mean. I also know that I have less energy now too, and the energy I do have I want to spend it wisely. Not waste it. I can’t. It would be unfair on myself.

What I mean is, that doing this blogaday has shown me something. It has shown me how deeply affected I am by the conversations I have when they are real. Continue reading

Pink’s not wrong. It’s just not right enough.

Today’s post is by my partner Ronnie Hughes. Ronnie’s guest post last month about being my carer throughout breast cancer treatment  was extremely well viewed and resonated very deeply for many people. 

Here Ronnie gets into a political persona to discuss the subject of  ‘pink’.

“The United States may not have much of a healthcare system (Hello, American readers) compared to our NHS. But you are brilliant at some things, like music and TV. In fact, for the last couple of years, having finished The Sopranos, Sarah and I have been working our way through the magnificent ‘The West Wing’, really feeling like we know all the major, fictional White House characters. Particularly admiring ace political Democrat strategist Josh Lyman.

After watching an episode a while back, Sarah turned to me and said, ‘You know all this pink stuff, what would Josh make of it?’ And in full-on Josh mode I replied ‘It’s not wrong, it’s just not right enough.’

‘Think about it.’ Staying in Josh mode, bear with me here, ‘Well obviously all the pink products are junk. But what we see here with all this pink activity is both needs and opportunities.’

‘The need to do something, to combine, to help, to empathise. To be with other breast cancer patients, or their carers, or their friends and family. People like you. The need to feel you can contribute something towards sorting this disease out. And the need to celebrate sometimes, all together.’ Continue reading

I want more

Nearly October. Autumn is here.

I was looking back through my recent blog posts and thinking that it actually looks like I’ve been having a good time lately. And yes, I suppose I have. But I recognise that they are good times. There’s plenty of other times when I’m worrying or being annoyed about the admin of sorting out medical appointments – yes, still. But on the whole, mostly, this summer has been good for me. And I’m glad.

And now it’s autumn. The evenings are noticeably shorter and cooler now, the curtains drawn before 8pm. The leaves are turning. And soon it will be October.

Ah, October. Breast cancer awareness month. You’d think I’d like that wouldn’t you? What with wanting us to eradicate breast cancer forever. Well, yes awareness is good. But awareness of what? That there are so many pink charities and pink events out there that if you contribute to one of them then you’re helping us, people like me. That we’re nearly there – winning the war on breast cancer. Well, actually, we’re not. Continue reading