Category: Life and Living

Prostate cancer is now the third deadliest cancer in the UK

Last week it was announced that more people in the UK are now dying from prostate cancer than breast cancer.

I find that quite shocking. Not purely because of the numbers, but because there is so little media coverage, advertising and awareness around men’s cancers in comparison to women’s.

Why is that? Perhaps women are more open about health issues, and more likely to discuss them openly (although recent figures around the decline in cervical smear tests may suggest otherwise – read my post about the importance of smear tests here).

Perhaps its because prostate cancer is seen as an old man’s illness, and not something for younger guys to worry about?

Indeed, the latest figures have been explained as resulting from an aging population where men are living longer than previous generations, and so the chances of them developing and dying from prostate cancer are higher than before. Previously, deaths resulting from prostate cancer have been more difficult to quantify, because an older man with prostate cancer may die of other causes (e.g heart attack, old age) before prostate cancer can be attributed as the cause of death.

Well, let me tell you, prostate cancer is not just an old man’s disease. And it doesn’t always have symptoms. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer aged 57, during a routine examination for another ailment, with no prior symptoms at all. By the time he was diagnosed it was already stage 4 and inoperable – all the NHS could do was offer life lengthening treatment. He died aged 59.

Today would have been his 7th wedding anniversary to his beautiful wife. They should have had many more anniversaries together, not just the 5 they had. They should have had many more years together; years of travelling, and eating, and enjoying life.

It’s time to stop only raising awareness of the “most popular” cancers, and time to stop an awareness bias mainly to women’s cancers. I’m not talking about funding and I’m not suggesting that women’s cancers don’t need to be highlighted. What I’m saying is that men, and the women in their lives, need to start being more open, talking about prostate cancer and proactively getting checked. Men over 50 are at risk, but aren’t offered a routine test by their doctor. It’s time to take control, ask for the test, and deal with the consequences.

Advanced prostate cancer can be treated with hormones to lower the development of testosterone which contributes to the cancer’s growth. Let me put that another way – its chemical castration. No man wants to hear those words.

Thanks as always for reading. x

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Friday feeling [26] – you’re never too old for a flatmate

Meet Alexandra and Florence – the housemates with a 68 year age difference.

95 year old Florence admits to being lonely after her husband passed away and so, when she saw a homesharing initiative in a local newspaper, aiming to tackle loneliness by matching older people looking for companionship with a younger person in need of somewhere to live, she decided to investigate.

What’s in it for the housemates?

It’s a simple transaction based on needs, really. The older person gets to have some company, someone to talk to and some help around the house, while the younger person gets a reduced rate of rent,in return; often meaning they can afford to live in an area or home that would otherwise be out of reach to them; like Alexandra who is originally from Newcastle but needs to study in London.

Florence has had a number of different flatmates over the course of the pat 10 years, and she and Alexandra class themselves as friends.

Listen to them talk about how the arrangement works, in the video below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p05rps8z/42428782

Not only is this a great practical idea, it also bridges barriers between old and young, and can lead to some unexpected friendships and helps to keep the past alive.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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The importance of cervical screening – have a smear test!

Yesterday I had a smear test. I haven’t had one in ages, but that wasn’t always the case. For a time, in my 20s, I had to have one every year, because I developed pre-cancerous cells.

I don’t remember how the discovery came about (not because I’ve blocked it out or anything, just because it was a long time ago), but I think it was just from a routine smear test (I’ve always been strict with myself about getting them done) where the results came back showing some abnormal cells. I do remember being referred to the hospital for a biopsy and not being overly excited at the thought of having a piece of my cervix taken away for further investigation. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t pleasant. The sight of the needle alone was enough to make my legs go wibbly, it seemed huge! (but when you think about how far inside they have to go, it makes sense) and seeing my post biopsy bleeding cervix on a TV screen wasn’t the best, but the nurses were incredibly kind, and my Mom held my hand throughout (actually, I held hers, very very tightly – yes I was in my 20s and yes I still wanted my Mom). And then I had to wait for the results.

Well, the first paragraph gave the game away as to what the results were; I had pre-cancerous cells. I asked the doctor what would happen if they weren’t treated; how long would it take to develop into cancer. I was told it could be 10-20 years but it would happen. Not that there was any doubt in my head to go ahead with the treatment to remove them. I was just curious.

The treatment (a colposcopy) involved me on a hospital bed with my feet in stirrups while the offending cells were cauterised (basically burnt away). Again it wasn’t overly pleasant, but I was so glad to be in that situation, with a potential problem having been identified early on, than the unthinkable alternative. I had a couple of days off work, couldn’t use tampons for a few weeks and that was pretty much that.

What’s the message here? Smear tests are very worth it. Even if an anomaly is identified, it’s better to catch it at an early stage than have to undergo invasive and life changing treatment further down the line. As I said, I was then called in for a yearly smear test, to make sure none of the cells had been missed during the procedure.

The importance of cervical screening

From what I can gather, the main reason people avoid going for a smear test is either embarrassment, or fear of discomfort. There’s nothing at all to be embarrassed about; these nurses and doctors look at hundreds of female genitalia every single year and they’re looking for physical and medical changes; not judging your pubic hair or anything else. As for the discomfort issue, well yes, it can be uncomfortable, but the worst thing you can do is tense up because that will only worsen the problem. No-one really enjoys having a cold speculum inserted by a stranger, but the procedure exists for your own well being, so that’s that.

My top tips:

  • Wear a skirt – you can just hitch it up around your waist and back down again once the procedure is done. It’s just easier then getting in and out of jeans or trousers and you feel a bit less exposed
  • Get an early morning appointment so you’ll feel clean and fresh after your morning shower. Not possible? Take some wetwipes with you for a quick freshen up before your appointment. Not that there’s anything to be ashamed of, but you’ll probably feel a bit more confident and at ease if you feel fresh (like when you brush your teeth before going to the dentist)
  • Relax. I know that’s easier said than done when a person you don’t know very well is coming at you with an unfamiliar object to shove inside, but it will definitely be less uncomfortable if you can try not to tense up. Follow the nurse’s instruction on positioning, take some deep breaths, and remember that any discomfort is only temporary. If something really hurts, speak out. Medical professionals want you to feel as comfortable as possible.
  • Don’t worry. The chances are that your results will come back completely clear. If you get called back for another test, it may just be because the first sample didn’t contain enough cells or there was a problem at the laboratory. If your results do come back showing issues, deal with it then rather than worrying in advance. Treatment is readily available, very successful and will be offered to you as a priority.

I’ll leave you with a funny story I read in JustSeventeen magazine (anyone remember that?) many many moons ago, about a girl who went for a smear test the day after eating indian curry. The doctor asked if she’d mind if a student doctor came in to observe the procedure, to which she agreed. The doctor stepped out of the room while she was still naked from the waist down, legs akimbo so she let out a cheeky bit of wind which – post curry – was rather stinky and filled the air, and the doctor came back with the student who was a ridiculously handsome young male doctor. You can imagine how mortified she felt!! Always makes me giggle when I go for a smear test!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Helping others in January

Remember when I posted about a reverse advent calendar which I was going to be doing throughout December to donate to a local foodbank?

Yeah, failed on that one. Not that I didn’t have the food items – I went above and beyond the 24 days of Christmas and had a box full of tinned foods, biscuits and dried goods ready to help out a family in need. But time ran away with me and in between work, going away for my birthday and last minute house renovations due to late running builders I missed the bloody deadline to donate my goods.

All is not lost, however, because the nature of the items I had put together means they don’t have a short shelf life, plus less fortunate people need help all year round, not just in December. So I’ll be donating them very shortly, and continuing with my resolution to collect and donate a food parcel every month throughout 2018.

Of course there are other ways to help, and many of them are never more relevant or easy than in January when many people have received nice new stuff for Christmas and are looking to part with older items that may have been replaced.

Helping others

This article from Emerald Street has some great suggestions. Getting rid of old warm coats or bedding? Homeless charities can distribute them to the needy in these cold winter months. Having a clear out of cosmetics? Women’s refuge charities are grateful for items that help women feel like women in the midst of their lives being turned upside down. They may seem like small things to you, but to people with nothing they’ll mean a lot.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier in this post, the need for donations doesn’t end when Christmas, or January, is over. If you can help these organisations throughout the year they’ll be very grateful, as will the people who rely on them. Food banks often have collection points in local supermarkets, and some charities will collect items from your home or work address; so why not ask friends, family and work colleagues to all chip in and put together a big donation between a group of you.

Are you planning on doing any of these things, or other charitable help? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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It’s been a while!

Hey lovely blog peeps! Last day of 2017; say what?! I haven’t posted in a while, been kinda busy at the end of the year, which I know is generally the way in the lead up to Christmas, but this was busy with bells on!

So, what have I been up to?

  • Saw Queen with Adam Lambert which was schamaze
  • Went to Rome for 4 days (also schamaze, expect multiple blog posts and all the photos in the New Year)
  • Turned 40 (holy shitballs!)
  • Made a one storey house into a two storey house (our builders finished work, kinda, by the time we got back from holiday, so we spent 48 hours moving sofas downstairs, beds upstairs, building a dining table and a TV unit, cleaning, drilling, you name it! I was in Ikea on Christmas Eve and up at 4.15am on Christmas Day finishing tree decorating. Again, more to come in a future post.)
  • Had my Mother in Law over for Christmas Day and night (love her)
  • Had my Mom, Step Dad, bruther and sister, dog, and Step Monster over for Boxing Day and the day after (love them all)
  • Lazed around, slept and wore pyjamas ever since. Crashed and burned after all the busy times, culminating in a(nother) night in wearing PJs tonight.

Screenshot_20171231-174730

However your 2017 journey went, I hope that today finds you in a happy and healthy place, surrounded by people who love you. And remember, no pressure. Today, tomorrow, the day after – just another day. A bad time doesn’t mean a bad week or bad year. Be kind to yourself and others, look after your mental health, and try not to judge others.

Much love to you all.

Kelly xx

 

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Friday Feeling [24] – gotta love Nans!

This should probably be renamed to Friday Funny, as I dare you not to giggle when you read this story!

Twitter user Alex’s 74 year old Nan bought some lovely new purple Christmas baubles to adorn her tree. Alex, on helping her Nan by decorating her tree, realised that the baubles could be opened, and each one contained a glittery purple g-string!

Friday Feeling Christmas

Bless Alex’s Nan for not realising!

Or, perhaps she did realise, and is looking forward to shaking her purple ass in 2018!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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An “alternative” snow picture

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t fail to notice that most of the UK has had some snow. You’ll have noticed this because it’s a fairly unusual occurrence in most parts of the country, so we all get a bit giddy and excitable, schools are closed, people take the day off work and we post ALL the snow pictures over social media.

Excuse me for jumping on the bandwagon, but this one is a little different.

A few years ago the Church of Scientology bought a building in Moseley, where I live, and they’ve just recently finished the grand refurbishment, spending millions of pounds in the process. The good sane majority of people in Moseley don’t welcome the presence of Scientology, mainly down to their cult ways (yes I did say cult!) and their propensity for wangling money out of vulnerable people.

So, it was with much mirth that I and the majority of Moseleyites came across this picture on a local Facebook forum.

Cock off, Scientology!

Church of Scientology Birmingham snow pic

Hope everyone is safe in the snow, and has been building more PC snow figures!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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My morning routine

I don’t trust anyone that says they’re a morning person. How can you be? How is it possible? Mornings are a shock to the system. There you are all nicely cocooned in the safety of sleep, only to be rudely reminded that real life demands your attention.

Weekends are the exception, obvs. Weekend mornings are things of beauty, when you can take your time to come round and re-engage with humanity, maybe having a little snooze or some breakfast in bed. Unless you work weekends.

As a Monday to Friday employee, I have five uninterrupted days of mornings.

Throw having builders working on our home into the mix, and things get messed up a little! There’s the worry that they might turn up early while you’re still in your leopard print dressing gown (me, meeting our new decorator for the first time yesterday morning), your usual routine being cut short by said early arrival (me, putting my make up on at work instead of at home yesterday) the feeling that you need to get out of their way (even though it’s your house – also me yesterday), the upheaval of having to empty rooms meaning you can’t find things (husband, looking for a work shirt this morning).

Currently I try to fit in the previous night’s washing up so we don’t look totally skanky (I never get round to it the night before – I CAN NOT WAIT to have a dishwasher again!), boil eggs for breakfast, pack lunches and snacks for me and the husband (on a good day it’s soup – so easy! Otherwise it’s salad which is more time consuming), shower, choose an outfit (I’m not one of these organised people who plan the night before) and put on a bit of make up. Some days you can add in trying to find my keys or mobile phone, packing up an online shopping order for return, or changing my outfit at the last minute.

All while the husband is seemingly everywhere I want to be (in the shower, ironing in the bedroom, at the sink in the kitchen).

I genuinely don’t know how people with kids ever manage to get out of the door, ever!

On the plus side, all this activity means that we’re getting closer to our home being finished. We’re getting a front door tomorrow, after weeks of having a gaping hole in the front of the house, and I’m definitely more excited about this than I am about Christmas so far!

And my new kitchen gets started on Friday, which will give me a home for my new succulents (and pots and pans, plates and bowls, and cutlery).

Succulent plants

Of course, the end of the project will also mean a new morning routine, as we’ll be living on two levels for the first time in almost 12 years. It’s going to be strange…

Read about our house buying/converting/building journey here

Are you a morning person? Do you plan in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants like me?! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

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Reverse advent calendar – for people less fortunate

I recently saw this idea posted by someone on Facebook and thought it would be a really nice way to do something to help others this Christmas.

Advent calendar

The premise is that you get a box, and every day you put in an item of non perishable food – tinned goods, pasta, teabags; that kind of thing – and then you donate it to a food bank so it can be distributed to people who need it.

There’s a couple of impracticalities – the first being that donating it on Christmas Eve doesn’t leave enough time for it to be donated to people to eat over Christmas, and the second that a lot of people don’t go to the shops everyday to buy or put an item in the box. So I’m going to bastardise the idea a little bit, with the same result. I’m going to put together a box of items over the lead up to Christmas, and then donate it the week before so it can reach needy folk ready for the big day.

I’ve also made an early New Years resolution that I’m going to put together a box every month in 2018; helping people not just at Christmas but the whole year through. It’s a travesty that food banks need to exist, and worse that even more people are relying on them, and not just people you may expect, like those who are unemployed or unable to work. There have been news stories about nurses needing to use them to supplement their families, and that’s a shocking state of affairs. The husband and I are lucky to be in a fortunate position, and a few pounds on our shopping bill isn’t going to change our lives, but it could help someone else.

If you’re interested in doing this, I suggest looking into local causes and finding out what they need (food stuffs, personal items, etc). They’ll sometimes offer a collection service, or local supermarkets may have a donation point too. Homeless charities will be grateful for warm clothes and bedding donations, and again are often able to collect.

This is also a great idea for people with children I think, to teach kids the importance of giving, as well as receiving.

Have you ever done anything like this? Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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My house just had it’s Pinocchio moment!

When we bought our house earlier this year, it certainly wasn’t for it’s charming good looks!

In fact, it was such a strange building that we’d been scrolling past it on RightMove for almost 4 months, dismissing it completely out of hand. It was in the postcode we wanted, but that’s where the appeal ended. It was marketed as a 2 bedroom apartment with a private garden and 3 garages. And it looked like this.

Our house when we bought it

We assumed that, as an apartment, it would be leasehold; that it was some type of commercial property; and that the 3 garages were probably rented out or, if not, what the hell were they there for?! Plus we were moving out of a 2 bedroom place, and specifically wanted a 3 bed.

It wasn’t until the husband, in a fit of back to work after Christmas boredom, had a proper look at it that it even became a possibility. He came home from work and told me it was actually freehold, all of the garages belonged to and were being sold with the property and, looking on Google maps, it was in a very secluded area. Also, it had potential for planning permission. Bubbles of excitement started to develop.

The other thing to say here is that we had a very limited search area. When Phil & Kirsty talk about Location, Location, Location – we embody that! We had perhaps a square mile area where we wanted to live, and we were struggling to consider other towns or locations. The problem with that square mile area was that there weren’t really many properties that matched our needs. There’s lots of flats (which, as I say, we were moving away from), lots of Victorian houses which don’t have a garage (essential for the husband’s Harley) and very poor street parking which is high in demand, and lots of really big multi bedroom houses which were way way out of our price range. There really weren’t a lot of properties which were going to meet our (strict) requirements.

So, when the funny apartment with 3 garages started to tick some boxes, we began to wonder whether, in the absence of something available that matched our wants and needs, we could actually part build something instead?

I won’t bore you with the tumultuous offer process, estate agent dealings or price negotiations. Or the planning permission, rules and regulations. Obviously there was a happy ending because we bought the property, and we’re now making it into a traditional house. We’re converting the double garage (leaving the 3rd garage in place for the husband’s motorbike), knocking that through into what was a really big porch, and building an extension to the side which will open out on to the garden. Downstairs will be fully open plan, with an L shaped kitchen and lounge area in the (former) garage, a dining space in the extension, and the large hall/walkway up for discussion! The layout of upstairs will remain the same, but we’ll repurpose the space – what’s currently the lounge will become our bedroom, the kitchen will be a laundry/utility room, and we’ll have 2 more bedrooms and the bathroom as is.

The builders have been on site for 5 weeks and it’s been a stressful and exciting time. Every morning at 8am we hear them starting work and every evening we get home wondering what will have changed that day. On the plus side, because the property was a 2 bedroom apartment, we’re living relatively undisturbed upstairs with no building mess or interruption (although we still have a lot of boxes and bags that we didn’t unpack after the move because we didn’t have space to put everything!)

You’re probably wondering about the Pinocchio moment I mentioned in the title of this post? Remember when Pinocchio the puppet gets his wish, turns to Geppetto and says “look, I’m a real boy!”

Pinocchio I'm a real boy

Well, where once was 2 garage doors is now 2 proper, double glazed, uPVC framed opening windows. And we have the rudiments of a canopy over what will be our new front door. I feel like our property is saying “look, people who saw past the weirdness, I’m a real house!”

Our house now

Unfortunately, for now, that’s as far as it goes, because we have to wait for the extension glazing and the front door to be manufactured, delivered and fitted. The builders have downed tools for a few weeks because they can’t proceed with doing anything inside until everything is watertight. But we’ve picked and ordered our kitchen and worktops, interior doors and flooring, and it’s SO EXCITING! Still clinging on to the hope that we’ll be done before Christmas (god knows I’ll be cracking the whip on those builders!) and then I get to do all the exciting stuff like cushions and pictures and pretties, which is far more interesting than plasterboard and wall insulation.

When we moved into the flat 11 and a half years ago, we had a bit of work done then – redesigned kitchen and an interior wall knocked down. It was so stressful and messy that we swore we’d never move anywhere that needed big work doing again. You can see how that vow worked out!

I’m sure I’ll be boring bombarding you with lots more pictures in the weeks to come, as we start the decorating and dressing of the new rooms!

Have you ever taken on a building project? Done lots of work to a property? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

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