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White Girls Can’t Jump

22 Apr
'Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick'

‘Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’

Despite a small fear of heights, I’ve always had an incline to do a bungee jump and a skydive and always just thought I would get round to doing them in Australia. But then a few months ago I thought ‘why wait until Australia?’ and went about finding where I could bungee jump in Scotland.

I came across Highland Fling (what a brilliant name for a bungee jump company!) based in Killiecrankie, just 3 miles from Pitlochry, and they boast at 132 ft, the only bridge bungee jump in Scotland. Preferring the idea of jumping over water, rather than concrete, this was the one for me.

Team Bungee

Team Bungee

Along side the jump, myself and two friends, Allana and Valerie, decided to raise some money for a local charity close to us all – Ayrshire Cancer Support. Our initial target was £500, but thanks to some very generous donations from our friends and family, we smashed that target and raised over £2,500! Wow.

So on the first Saturday in April, we went up to the bridge over the River Garry in Killiecrankie and jumped off it! Despite being nervous before hand, when I got up to the platform suspended underneath the bridge and saw all the jumpers getting harnessed in, and all the safety routines and checks carried out by the 5 guys, all my fears went away and I was ready to enjoy it. So on the final words of my guide, ‘spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’, I jumped!

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No More Blood To Give.

17 Jan

I went down to my local town hall last night to give blood and was told that because I’ve had cancer, I’ll never be able to donate blood again. This makes me very sad. So much so that I cried in front of the nurse – what a numpty!

On a serious note though, I really am gutted. The nurse said it’s because they don’t yet know how cancer spreads through the body (which is probably why I can’t have a massage for the next 5 years either), so until further research is done on this I can’t donate any more blood.

I have tried to donate blood regularly since I was eligible to do so when I turned 18, and knowing that it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be able to donate again (or get a free Tuc biscuit) is just shit.

Tuc biscuits were my favourite post blood donation snack

Tuc biscuits were my favourite post blood donation snack

Having got the all clear 4 months ago, I was indescribably relieved and ecstatic. So to find that there are still going to be limitations and implications on what I can do due to the fact that I had cancer in the past is hard to accept but something that I’m going to have to learn to deal with in the coming months and years. Just another wee hurdle to jump over.

I’ll just need to ramp up my 10k runs to marathons (choke) and raise more sponsor money instead of giving blood…

If anyone wants to find out more information on giving blood visit the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service website. The fact that only 5% of the Scottish population give blood, you really are  making a HUGE difference to someone’s life.

82 days of Cancer

1 Oct

I found out a few weeks ago, 25 days to be exact, that I got the ALL CLEAR from cervical cancer. I’m absolutely over the moon! I spent the first hour immediately after I found out in tears. I feel unbelievably lucky and relieved and delighted. All that’s left to remind me is a few tiny scars from my keyhole surgery.

It’s been 82 days from the day I was diagnosed to the day I got the all clear, not that long really. I feel so fortunate only to have skirted round the edges of cancer and not had to endure the devastation of some of the more severe treatments. I’m delighted that I can still have children and that the decision has not been taken away from me, I’ll never be able to thank the doctors enough.

I keep waiting for my new outlook on life to hit me, but it hasn’t, I’ve just carried on as before.

I think that’s why I feel a bit like a fraud. Because I haven’t had to go through the likes of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, I feel like I don’t deserve to be labelled a ‘survivor’ or that I ‘won the fight’, because in all honesty, I didn’t have to put up much of a fight. Sure it messed with my emotions BIG time, but all I did was try to think positive, as best I could, and hope for the best. And it worked.

If anything, thinking positively about my experience, is knowing that my diagnosis made a few women close to me go for a smear test they’ve been putting off. And if it stops one of them having to go on the cancer rollercoaster, then that’s good enough for  me.

With that being said, I’m still completely over the moon that I’m by with the whole mess. It’s an experience I never want to have to go through again. All the worrying and not knowing was mentally exhausting. But the sad fact is, if it’s not me, it’ll be someone very close to me who has to go through it and when that day comes I’ll be right beside them all the way just as everyone was there for me. There’s nothing else for it.

Flowers, flowers everywhere…

4 Sep

Flowers, my house is full of flowers. It’s nice. It’s a reminder of all the love my family and friends have been showering me with. I had my first surgery nearly two weeks ago at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, since being diagnosed with cancer. It was fertility conserving surgery, a combination of LLETZ and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove some lymph nodes in my pelvic area to test for spreading.

I’m now at home recovering and patiently waiting on the results. My surgeon said everything went well, and I was even discharged the day after my operation, but it still hasn’t stopped me thinking the worst. I’ve been more emotional these past few weeks than I have been and I think that’s because the severity of the disease is finally starting to sink in. It’s devastating to think I might need a hysterectomy and therefore unable to have children. However, there’s no point dwelling on the ‘what ifs’. Here’s to getting the all clear!

‘Flowers in a beer mug’ – one of my many bouquets of flowers


							

A big stooshie!

1 Aug

I have been back in Scotland just over a month now and all I seem to be doing is waiting… waiting to see this specialist, waiting for this scan, waiting to see that consultant, which makes me feel like I’m still in limbo. But on a much better note, I’ve had some great news since I came home.

I saw the specialist at Crosshouse Hospital the week after I returned home, and having brought my biopsy samples home with me from Korea for the pathologist to re-test in Scotland (yes I brought my cancer home in my hand luggage) the doctor told me that the cancer is still at a very early stage 1B. He said the tumour was tiny and that it’s completely curable – the only downside is maybe the price I’ll have to pay i.e. my fertility. He also said that it’s unlikely that I’ll need any chemotherapy or radiotherapy. As you can imagine I was delighted to hear this news! In fact delighted doesn’t even begin to cover it, it was the best news I’d had since this whole malarky started!

Having had this news I feel like my life is no longer on hold and I can start to plan things again and look for a job.  Since that appointment I’ve had an MRI scan (the doctor was happy that the cancer hasn’t spread) and I’ve been referred to a specialist at Stobhill hospital in Glasgow. After a consultation with him, I’ll have another cone biopsy, similar to what I had in Korea (to make sure they have removed all the cancer) and I think they also plan to take out a few lymph nodes to test to check that the cancer hasn’t spread to them. And as far as I’m aware that might be all the treatment I’ll need. If that is the case then I feel like I’ve caused a big stooshie over nothing!

Nonetheless, until I’ve had the all-clear the war paint stays firm!

Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart

Where have the last 9 months gone?

28 Jun

Snowboarding at High1 Resort, Korea, December 2011


I remember arriving in Korea last September scared and anxious, sad to leave my family and  friends back home, hoping I’d like it enough to stay the year.

Well I can now honestly say it was better than I could have ever anticipated! I met amazing people, I tried new things, I went on lots of adventures and most importantly to me, I learned to adapt in a country entirely different to Scotland. I taught English to children, even though I’d never taught a class before in my life, I made friends with people who don’t speak the same language, I tried so much new food to remember and I even learned to read Korean!

I’ve had lots of ‘firsts’: my first taekwondo class, my first baseball game, my first time on a snowboard, my first time at a shooting range, my first taste of roller derby and my first sailing lesson. I reckon I’m the first ‘Derval lassie’ to visit North Korea, I went to a Buddhist funeral and  I appeared on Korean TV. I ran a 10k race in a different continent and I was lucky to have 3 people come visit me whilst I was in Korea. I learned how to converse with the crazy Korean taxi drivers, I can order 600 grams of pork at a Korean bbq. I’ve tried roasted silk worms, chicken feet and pigs lungs, but sadly no dog. And even though my time in Korea was cut short and I didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to do (I was going to see the Stone Roses at a Korean music festival, cake myself in mud at Mudfest, jump off a tower and lie on the famous white beach in the Philippines) I’m grateful for every new friend I made in Korea, every new experience I had and everything I’ve learned in the past 9 months. I can confidently say I gave it my all.

Sailing course in Busan, May 2012


So I’ve been back home in Scotland for 5 days now and I’m about to embark on a new ‘adventure’. Sure cancer is terrifying, I might loose my hair and I might not be able to have kids, but trying to think positively, it’ll be interesting to see what I’ll learn about myself and how I’ll view the world differently when I come out the other end.

Wish me luck!