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Google, cancer & kick-ass shoes

How lions, tigers & bears came into being.

So – my first post… I should probably introduce myself. My name is Emma and in case you hadn’t guessed, I’m the one wearing the hat.

I was diagnosed with stage II, grade 3 triple negative breast cancer in March 2017 just six months after my 40th birthday. I spent the next few weeks on a complete roller coaster of emotions – shock, fear, anger interspersed with a forced positivity which almost bordered on the psychotic. Because apparently it is important to have a “Positive Mental Attitude” in order to beat cancer, even when your world is falling apart!!

There were so many tests, what felt like endless hospital appointments and a total overload of information. I saw more doctors in the space of a few weeks than I had in my whole life, and felt horrifically overwhelmed and out of control. There were a lot of tears, not a lot of sleep and a lot of time spent endlessly searching Dr Google (not advised – this did nothing more than depress me and make me poor as explained below!)

However, from the outset, I was always very determined that I was not, and never will be, a victim. I’ve always been quite feisty (my husband would say a pain in the bum!) and right at the beginning of all of this decided that cancer was not going to control my life, and that I would carry on as normally as possible.

Since the initial few weeks, I have found a new normal. I still don’t sleep a lot. There have been days when I haven’t left the sofa for most of the day, there is not a single part of my body that hasn’t experienced some symptom or another since starting treatment and a severe case of chemo brain has definitely caused my family much hilarity – some days I laugh too, other days it makes me want to cry with frustration!

My life has taken on a new rhythm and routine in order to accommodate treatment, and 8 months on, I’m still not finished. But, I worked right the way through chemo, I carried on going to the gym and my kickboxing classes every week, I did the food shopping, the washing and all sorts of boring housework type stuff.  Seriously!?! I would’ve thought that having cancer would get me out of this stuff! I have learnt to live by lists and a brilliant app called Famcal that helps me keep track of everything I would otherwise forget!

I walk the dogs, hang out with the kids, go out and spend a lot of time with friends and family laughing and enjoying life. I’m planning a lot of holidays once treatment is finally finished! On balance, I feel like I am winning, and according to my oncologist, so far I am.

When I was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time researching treatment. N.B  I highly recommend the Macmillan website as a source of good quality information – there are a lot of crackpots out there. I looked into the benefits of turmeric, vitamin D, medical trials, diet, medical marijuana and some crazy alternative therapies. Could I still get my nails done? Should I go organic? You name it, I looked into it. My search history is all over the place!

I spent hours hunched over my iPad, looking at ways to make myself well. And, good little shopoholic that I am, bought all manner of “stuff” that I thought I would need to get through treatment – some of which was total tat, other things have actually proven to be really useful, and others (like a gorgeous pair of Tori Burch shoes) that were totally unnecessary but made me feel better anyway, that I love, and which make me smile every time I look at/wear them! By the way, if gorgeous shoes are your thing, a top tip is to spoil yourself with a pair of kick-ass shoes to kick ass out of cancer – it’s just good for the soul. And lets not forget how important that PMA is!

One of my biggest frustrations was that I was having to buy things from all around the world, with long lead times and the worry that the items were never going to show and that I was being scammed. It’s not that we don’t have disreputable scammers here within the UK, it is just adding international delivery into the mix that makes it a double whammy of concern. Plus, I’m sure that my postman must have had serious questions about what was going on with the massive increase of international parcels being delivered to my house. I got scammed (mostly wig related!) a couple of times, and wasted quite a lot of money on things that simply weren’t as useful as I thought they would be or that were cheap and nasty. I also had several friends and family who sent me gifts (I’m lucky to be surrounded by an amazing support network) but several of them told me that they had struggled to know what to get or to find suitable presents (they all did great regardless of this challenge) Thus the idea for Lions, Tigers and Bears was born.

The plan is to create a UK based online shop that caters to the practical, useful needs of someone dealing with all of the fun stuff like hair-loss, nausea, grey (literally!), dry, sensitive skin, steroid bloat, how to disguise a picc line so it doesn’t scream “patient” from a mile away and ways of covering up a baldy head without losing all sense of style, and also providing fab gifts for friends or family who are supporting fellow fighters and survivors as they join/continue their membership of (the not nearly exclusive enough) fight club.

As I come towards the end of my treatment, I have decided that there is no time like the present, and it is time to start turning my idea into a reality. Yikes!

I hope you enjoy the blog – and once the shop side of the website is launched, that too. If you have any suggestions for products that you would like to see on the site, then please get in touch.

In the meantime, wherever you (or your loved one) are on your journey, I wish you strong, positive vibes. Keep fighting! Stay fierce!

Emma x

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