Malteser Muffins

My youngest sister is currently working her way through her mock A Levels. She has been working her butt off with revision and like so many other children her age, has been feeling very nervous and apprehensive about the exams.

When I took my exams I remember feeling a similar sense of worry, alongside a determination to prove myself. I use to find exams extremely difficult, no matter how hard I revised. I think my nerves got the better of me. Luckily back then course work was a large chunk of the A level and this always brought my final grade up. Sadly this isn’t the case anymore, which I think is very sad.

I’m a teacher myself and I understand that exams have a valid place in the educational system. That said, I believe different factors should be used to assess a child’s knowledge, understanding and skill in an area. We are all unique and learn in different ways. Some people find it extremely hard to recall their revision whilst sat behind a desk in complete silence. The echo of a school hall, the clicking of pens and the sound of passing footsteps is enough to put anyone off!

Image result for animal poster educational system

I wanted to make my sister a little pick me up during this hard time. I couldn’t do anything about the revision or exams but I could make her smile after a tough day. She loves chocolate (it runs in the family) so I used this as the basis of my invention! I made a basic chocolate muffin recipe which I found online and then added my own flare to it!

Check out the video for the recipe!

Birth and Death and the Space in Between

Today my best friend gave birth to a beautiful, bundle of joy. His little face appeared on my phone in the early hours of the morning and I cried with joy. He was here in this world, safe and healthy, and my wonderful friend made it through the tough and exhausting journey to get him here. Seeing his little screwed up face filled me with so much happiness. So much love. So much hope.

Fast forward to 13 hours later and I was given the news that a friend’s husband hadn’t survived his fight with pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed late and sadly the cancer had spread. He wasn’t given much time and nor were his family. I’m not overly close to this friend, more of an acquaintance really, and I had never met her husband. But this news kicked me in the stomach and winded me. I’ve never had a reaction like this before. I’m not sure if it’s all a bit raw for me at the moment or whether the blow was harder because it hit me up on cloud 9.

It got me thinking about birth, death and the time that lies in between. Some of us are sadly dealt a shorter time span on this earth, whereas others are given the opportunity to grow old and grey. We had no control over when we were born and we have no control over when we will die but the time in between is all ours. May we use it wisely, doing the things that we love, with the people we cherish. Who knows when the ticking hands will stop but let’s enjoy it whilst the motor is still running. 

My Story

I’ve been sat here for ages, trying to figure out an interesting way of introducing myself. I began rewriting lyrics to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ but gave up defeated. Who was I kidding! The truth is it’s hard to jazz up statistics – they are just facts after all.

So here goes…… name is Chloe and I’m a mother and wife who is embracing life in her dirty thirties. I was recently diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) which is a type of blood cancer. It rocked my world in ways I never imagined were possible. After living through a range of emotions, I got this surge to fight. A determination to not let anything stand in my way of living. We have one life and it’s not to be wasted.

I started to write a diary to channel my emotions and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. A friend of mine suggested starting an online blog and that brings us up to now. I’m using this space as a personal outlet and as a way of raising awareness. When I was diagnosed it was hard to find any blogs written by my age group on this illness. I hope that one day this page can bring comfort, reassurance and guidance to newly diagnosed individuals. Life should be embraced and Cancer is a journey which can bring great empowerment and self discovery.

Six Month Update

I’ve just had my results from the hospital and I am OVER THE MOON!! My PCR data came back and the abnormal white blood cells have gone from 2.5% to 0.156%. I couldn’t quite believe it when my consultant told me.

Remission is getting closer and the realisation that I’m truly kicking cancer’s butt has become apparent. I’ve been so fortunate that the medication is working with my body to kill off these cancerous cells and the side effects are very minimal now.

I’m starting to get my life back and I am so thankful. I’m in talks with work about starting a phased return and my social life is beginning to pick up again. I’ve started to book in meals out and theatre trips. I’m not quite ready for an all night bender but I’m at least I’m able to stay up past 9pm – just!

Don’t get me wrong the fatigue is still an issue but it’s no longer holding me back. I’ve learnt to listen to my body and rest when I need to. I don’t fear the tiredness anymore and instead I embrace it. I’ve learnt to lean on others for support when I need it and have learnt the ability to say ‘no’ when I need to. Something which I used to find quite difficult. I hate to let people down or miss out on things. I’ve realised that it’s not about quantity but quality. I’m better off using my time and energy for things that truly matter to me and my family.

Today I am wearing my warrior hair.
I am fierce, I am fearless. I am fabulous.

Three Month Update

After I was diagnosed my consultant started me on a chemotherapy TKI drug called Nilotinib (Tasigna). I’m fortunate that this type of treatment can be taken at home and it comes in a pill format. I take two tablets, twice a day, and stop all food two hours before and one hour after. It sounds quite complicated but you would be surprised how quickly you get into a rhythm.

The first two weeks were the toughest I would say. My body responded to the treatment in a variety of ways. I became very tired (even more so than usual) and I had flu like aches in different parts of my body. I had regular headaches but this was normal for me at this stage. The worst side effect I had was a sharp pain in my spleen. I had an ultrasound and they couldn’t detect anything abnormal. It was most likely my spleen reacting and getting use to the treatment.

After about two weeks most of those side effects stopped. I’m three months in now and all that I have is fatigue and the odd ache here and there. I’ve had a little hair thinning but nothing too drastic. Just a bit more hair on my brush and in the plug hole!

I had a PCR blood test two weeks ago and have finally received the results. My BCR-ABL levels have gone from 98% to 2.5%. I am literally OVER THE MOON. The results mean that the drugs are working and they are working well.

The PCR test is looking at the amount of abnormal blood cells in a sample of my blood. When I was diagnosed 98% of my white blood cells were abnormal (cancerous). Three months in the same test has been repeated and only 2.5% of the cells are abnormal. Amazing progress! I am one happy lady, who is feeling so very thankful and blessed.

How it all Began

It’s quite amazing how your life can change in a split second. I know that sounds cliche but it’s so incredibly true.

Six months ago I had it all figured out. I was enjoying my last few weeks of maternity leave, I had plans sorted at work, events scheduled with friends and we were already discussing baby number two. Then the headaches started… five weeks of feeling like an elastic band was tied around my head. After seeing a doctor and receiving a blood test, it turned out my white blood count was 44,000. The average person has between 4,000 – 10,000 white blood cells in their body, so it was at this point that I knew something was wrong.

The next twelve days were crammed full of blood tests, haematology consultations, a shit load of Googling and a god awful bone marrow biopsy! The worst bit of it all was the waiting. I was living life in a limbo land of fear, anger, sadness and regret.

I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and the big C word was then casually dropped into conversation. Just like that my life had done a 360 and I found myself on a completely different path, with no idea where I was heading.

As the weeks have passed I have found myself growing in determination, positivity and strength. I know I’m only at the beginning of this war, but Cancer sure as hell picked the wrong chick to mess with. This Leukette won’t go down without a fight!

Getting the Creative Juices Flowing

Art and creativity have always been big aspects of my life. I studied art throughout school and then specialised in it at university, alongside a teaching degree. I went straight into work after uni and life became more focused on building a home, getting married and having children. I found myself dismissing the art activities I use to love doing and chose to spend my time on other things.

After being diagnosed I suddenly had lots more time on my hands and was determined not to waste it. Although I knew I needed to rest my body, I equally wanted to keep my brain stimulated and focussed. I started doing little projects around the house and found the activities both comforting, and therapeutic.

My love for creativity is back and I am now pushing myself (in a great way) to learn new things and perfect my skills and knowledge.

It Started with a Cupcake

You might be reading this thinking what a plonker…. this chick has just been told she has cancer and the first thing she wants to do is learn to bake! It may seem strange to many but baking is one of those achievements that I have always wanted to master at some point. 

For many years I’ve had this vision of being a mum that bakes cakes for the school fetes and for her children’s birthday parties. It was something I thought I would learn to do ‘in the future’ or when I had the time. Even writing this makes me laugh out loud. You see when you’re given life altering news, you realise that the future isn’t guaranteed or promised. Time is a gift and should be cherished and used wisely. 

I have no idea how my life will pan out but I sure as hell know one thing…I’m not going to waste another minute putting things aside for ‘when I have the time’. 

So here goes! First stop…..cupcakes! Wish me luck peeps!