Lost & Found

On 1st June 1998 I lost something. Oddly, unlike most things you lose, I never wanted to find it again.

The thing I lost was a cancerous lump in my left breast – felt like a pea, just above my left nipple. It’s a weird thing actually finding a lump. But for me, I sensed straight away that it was cancer. I was 29. Once I had been diagnosed (it was over a period of 3 weeks and to this day I feel fortunate to have had private healthcare as my GP wasn’t going to refer me to anyone due to my age), things moved quickly and my operation was scheduled. The weekend before the op I  distinctly remember being at a club and in the women’s toilets with other women asking me questions and taking it in turns to feel my breast and the lump! Under any other circumstances it was a porn film waiting to happen!

The operation was only the beginning of a 8 month journey (hate using the word “journey”, but fuck it, it’s been a tough road!), but the operation was also the start of a new life for me. Jonathan Roberts, my surgeon at the London Bridge Hospital, cut the beast out of my breast on 1st June 1998. And then followed on with Paul Ellis my oncologist, who took me through 6 months of chemotherapy, followed by 6 weeks of radiotherapy. I was very lucky, I didn’t lose my hair with the chemo (gutted, anyone that knows me knows that I love my wigs!) and my girlie bits remained intact, so much so that to add to my two kids, Courtney & Taylor, I went onto have 2 more children, Morgan & Matti after all my treatment. Ovaries of steel!! However, don’t get me wrong, the chemotherapy was utterly shit – I worked throughout but I felt like utter crap. Radiotherapy was utterly exhausting going to the hospital every day for 6 weeks and then I took Tamoxifen for 5 years and turned into a raving fucking lunatic. It wasn’t a good time.

But it was a time that I found something. I found life. Since being diagnosed, I have set about living and enjoying. You don’t get second chances, so why not live the life that YOU want to live. I’ve enjoyed holidays, I’ve made new friends and I’ve said goodbye to people, but I have never ever had any regrets. Life is too short. I need to say thank you to a few people

Robin – my ex-husband whom I married in 1999 & divorced some years later. Whatever happened between us, he stood by me throughout my treatment and was an absolute rock. Thank you.

Maria – an old friend with whom I have lost touch. Made me laugh. Made me cry. Was there throughout. Thanks mate.

Jonathan Roberts & Paul Ellis plus all the medical team at London Bridge Hospital – thank you for keeping me alive.

Friends, family, old & new – thank you to everyone. Whether I have known you all my life or for a few years, you have all listened to me. You have all supported me.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and I look forward to celebrating with those of you who can get to my Boobie Bubbles on 9th June – there will be boobies, boogie-ing and more than a few bubbles!!

Today is 1st June 2018 and  I am 20 years clear of cancer.

WhatsApp Image 2018-06-01 at 13.13.03

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Independent women?

Warning….. Picture of female breast…..

There you go. That’s my breast. Well. Half of one of my breasts. It’s to make up for the bit of breast I have missing as a result of breast cancer. Reminds me of dinner last night. Chicken. Are you offended? Am I objectified? The answers to the first question should be no. The answer to the second is definitely not.

The war cry of women in 2018 appears to be #metoo or #timesup & I say war cry as some women appear to be waging a war on men, sex and god forbid, any interaction or touching. I should make it clear from the outset that I do not condone sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or sexual attacks – but the fact I have to make it clear shows how blurred and to a certain extent, how trivialised the events of recent months have become.

It all kicked off with Harvey Weinstein a few months ago now – I blogged at the time and it should be noted that whilst I don’t disbelieve the accusers, at this point, charges have yet to be brought. This opened up the floodgates for women, and in some cases men, to come forward with details of sexual harassment at varying levels. Whilst I absolutely understand that lesser known actresses and staff might be concerned about impacting their career and they made an educated choice to not go public, the likes of Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet, to name but a few, whilst eloquent on political issues, ambassadors to the UN and other causes, remained quiet, throughout their careers, choosing to not speak out about the issues in the industry until the bandwagon appeared for them to jump on. Why? These 3 women and others like them, are powerful, successful women in Hollywood. And yet they chose to not speak out and just continue to work (in the alleged case of Harvey Weinstein) with a man, known for unwanted advances. Why? Women known for being outspoken yet afraid to make a difference.

More women are coming forward at being offended or harassed. Men and women flirt. In bars, at work, everywhere, they flirt. Sometimes a knee is touched. Someone might make a pass. This doesn’t constitute sexual harassment. If the touching is, for example, someone grabbing a woman’s breast or reaching into a man’s crotch and the advance is repeated and undesired, then quite obviously we are moving into harassment and assault territory. However, I’d like to think that most people can differentiate between a clumsy flirtatious pass and repeated, unwanted attention. Otherwise as a society, the future of dating is screwed. I don’t want to think that women are accusing in order to gain attention but certainly for some of the accusations, I’m not sure how we can deal with issues that are quite literally based in a different time with a different set of ideals and with no evidence apart from a “he says, she’s says” – again, I am NOT referring to assault or harassment.

Everyone seems to becoming increasingly a moral judge and those who dare to be different are ostracised. Declarations of women being “objectified” because they parade in skimpy outfits at events such as darts or racing. It’s a choice, possibly some women have little other career choices but who the hell are we to judge if they want to flaunt their god given gifts?? I’d love to have a figure where I was paid for people to look at me and be objectified because guess what? I have a brain as well. Is a woman in a sequined bikini better off working in the bikini and paying for her university education or supporting her household or is it better that she doesn’t work, because god forbid, someone might find her easy on the eye.

As I write this post, I’ve just seen a report that women attending to the BAFTAs this year have been asked, in kinship with the Golden Globes, to wear black. Yup. That’s going to help everyone ladies. Do as you are told. Don’t dare be different. Opposing and unique opinions are not welcome. You either agree or you stay quiet. Who’s the oppressor now?

OhMiGosh – it’s my last year in my 40s!

Wow. I’m 49. How the hell did that happen?

Weirdly, the idea of being in the final year of my 40s, doesn’t fill me with dread. As any of my friends will tell you, I’m already planning my 50th birthday and am HUGELY excited by it!! I feel more alive and importantly more happy than I have been in a long time. Of course I have had some utterly shit points over the past year, I think we’d all be hard pushed to say our lives were constantly blissful! Naturally, Facebook paints a different picture – people will assume I’m the 24/7 Lewisham party girl….(trust me, I don’t have the energy)! However, I’ve genuinely had some brilliant high points and lots of fun.

Family and Friends, new and old, are the core of my happiness (and the occasional annoyance!). 

My family – my kids, my sister, nieces & nephews, are wonderfully different and unique. They make me laugh, cry, proud & give me headaches in equal measures. And it’s why I love them all.

My friends are amazing. Whether I talk to them daily, weekly, monthly or once a year, they are my friends because we are there for each other. 

Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. Take a moment today to be grateful. To think of what makes you happy. Focus on that and not the negatives. Too much horrible shit happens.  For one day, forget about it. Smile. Love. Be happy. Just for me. Cos it’s my birthday 🙂

One For Sorrow…

Tonight I cried. I cried tears of absolute joy. And do you know why? Because I saw my favourite band in concert. Is it someone cool? No. A fantastic musician? I’m sure most would argue no also. Who were these musical maestros who moved me to tears? They were none other than Steps, 90’s cheese masters celebrating their 20th anniversary of making wonderfully, fantastically, cheesy pop music.

I don’t know why I first became a fan of Steps, I really don’t. But I do know that I have always loved their music. It’s fun, it has silly dance routines and it’s just great to sing along to. It’s never going to win an Ivor Novello award and the only Brit award they one was one that was probably invented for them – Best Selling British Live Act. But I DON’T CARE! Tonight, at the O2 in London, there was barely an empty seat in the house. 20,000 men, women and kids, all singing and dancing their hearts out in unison, and all smiling. It was simply joyous. And I got completely wrapped up in the moment and started crying when they sung a particular favourite tune of mine. And I simply do not care what people think, I really don’t. Because it was 100% fun.

With all the sadness in the world, the fighting, the poverty, people in unhappy relationships, people with depression, people who are physically ill – we need happiness, we need things to make us laugh, we need things to make us smile. There are two things that I want. To be happy and to be in love. Being in love will take some time, but being happy – tonight was it. Take the piss, say what you like, but I’d rather be happy and dancing to cheesy pop than sitting at home depressed.

Claire, Faye, Lisa, H & Lee, Steps, see you in another 20 years x

(A LONG time ago in a TV Studio far far away!!)

A Matter Of Time

I recently wrote a post about the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal which offered a different point of view to the vast majority that I have seen.  Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a proliferation of accusations towards public figures in the entertainment industry and politics to name a few, that have pointed the finger with regard to accusations of varying degrees of sexual impropriety. I don’t doubt the bravery behind the individuals involved as whilst I have never been a victim myself, I am sure that, if proven to be true, the circumstances were harrowing. But again, there is the thing – “proven to be true”. I am absolutely not belittling what alleged victims have gone through. However, neither am I joining the mob mentality vilifying the alleged accused.

Mob mentality has been demonstrated throughout the ages. the Salem Witch trials, McCarthyism in the 1950s, which, let us not forget, that wasn’t just directed at alleged communists but also sought to out and oust homosexuals in US government, later known as the Lavender Scare.

However, we are in a very new era where the mob mentality can present itself in a very powerful and consuming way – social media. Imagine if you are one of the accused and imagine, hard as it may seem right now, that you are innocent. You are surrounded by people judging you on Facebook, on Twitter, on internet sites, in newspapers. These people don’t know you. They don’t know your family. They don’t even know your accuser. But they are certain you are guilty and they have no qualms about telling you and hounding you and making your life as miserable as hell. What do you do? Do you run? Where to. A desert island where there is no internet? Not possible. Do you hide? They may not find you, but you still have to read the diatribe being published about you, after all, you are guilty until proven innocent. What does your employer do? Do they wait for the official investigation? Or do they sack you, because, you know, you must be guilty. Can you even imagine what it is like if you are not guilty? Or even if you are guilty, who the hell are we, the general public, to make that judgement and hound you like a dog?

One man has found out what to do. He killed himself. He was accused. He was judged by his employer. He was judged by his peers. He was judged by the public. He didn’t even have the chance of a fair trial. We may never know if Carl Sargeant is guilty or innocent. Because he is dead.

There will be some that say good riddance. There will be others, his family, who have lost a loved one. It was a matter of time.

He Who is Without Sin 

No. I haven’t suddenly found religion and I’m not about to preach the gospel to you (although I often describe myself as “oddly” religious, but that is another blog post).

I haven’t blogged in a while and those who know/ read my blog will realise that it’s generally me venting about life, the universe & everything. It’s not that I havent had much to say, I just haven’t had enough to say. But today I feel the need. Today I have an opinion that I feel very strongly about. Today I have something to say about Harvey Weinstein – and it may surprise you. 

Much has been written over the past week since the Weinstein story broke. For those not up to date, he is a Hollywood producer who stands accused of varying levels of sexual assault. The precise details can be found via just about any major news outlet. Hollywood actresses are coming out, fast and furious, with their personal stories and in many cases, allegations. Many others, male and female, have been quick to take sides (mainly siding with alleged victims) to give opinion, to distance themselves from Mr Weinstein. His wife has left him. His employer has sacked him. The Hollywood community have pretty much ostracised him.  It’s a done deal. He’s as guilty as fuck. 

But there lies my problem. Trial by media. Trial by social media. Trial by your peers. Trial by any medium other than a court of law. Yes, authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating allegations. But No, he has yet to stand trial for his alleged actions. But he has been judged. He is guilty. It’s a common theme on Facebook and Twitter. Someone posts and video or picture or a story. And then the floodgates open. It doesn’t matter if you know the person or persons in the story, you make a subjective judgement, and in the main, it’s mob mentality. Everyone suddenly goes all Lord of the Flies….. “Kill the pig! Bash him in!”. Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism – it’s not new but it’s much more virulent. And it’s ugly.

Here’s the thing. People aren’t always guilty. Do I personally think Harvey Weinstein is guilty? Subjectively speaking, yes I do. But I’m not a judge, nor am I a jury. And I don’t believe in assassinating someone just because everyone else thinks it’s the right thing to do. Mistakes happen. Lives are ruined. Even judges get it wrong. So before you judge, step back and think. It’s not just the person who stands accused. It’s their family. It’s their friends. It’s their life. 

Simply Trump & Brexit

I have spent the day pondering the outcome of the election in the US. Unlike many people, I do not wish to vilify Donald Trump or his supporters. A democratic process was followed and whether the outcome was something I or the majority of my friends personally agree with is neither here nor there, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Like many people in the UK and outside of the US, I of course have questions – how was someone with no political history, able to run for and be elected to one of the most powerful political positions in the world? Is it simply a case in the US that money buys power? A frightening thought. The other thing that has struck me about this, and the EU referendum in the UK is how we have moved from a genuine political debate, allowing both sides to declare policies and evidence based discussion, to one that has employed scare tactics, lies and opposition humiliation. I have no doubt that in both recent elections, there were academics and business analysts who supported the winning sides but moreover, it seemed to be the individuals made up of the general populous who were more susceptible to this “misinformation” tactic.

I am still unsure whether Brexit is a huge mistake or the potential a real opportunity for Britain. I voted Remain, but only because there was little tangible information that would allow me to accurately understand both sides of the debate and make an informed decision that I was comfortable with. Likewise for the American election. Over in the UK, like so many, I followed the media reportage of the candidates and I struggled to hear anything other than the despicable rhetoric from both sides (yes, Clinton AND Trump), with regard to the personal attacks on each other, and particular with Trump, his wild claims, bizarre anti-environmental ideas and seemingly xenophobic policies.

The future is unclear. But I’m not going to panic and buy into the doom and gloom being predicted. Life is too short, there is always hope and love. May it shine through and may we all learn for the future.