27. Magical moments ❄️☃️❄️

I am sitting in my dining room, watching the snow fall. In fact this is my view right now. Although you can’t see the snow falling, it is, and it’s beautiful.

And now my family have joined me

It’s inspired me to write my blog today. This is because this was always written for the boys. The boys I have just got from school, as it closed early 🙌

As they play with the dog and their cousins in the snow, I am reminiscing why this blog started in the first place.

It was to show them that they can find joy in difficult times. I hope that it has done this, although they are not old enough to read it yet, so time will tell.

The biggest thing I have learned this year as a mummy with cancer is the magic of memories. I thank Cancer for this. On the way home from school, we giggled in the snow. We made skidding moves. We caught snowflakes on our tongues and generally just loved the moment of leaving school early due to lots and lots of SNOW! I realise now that making something magical of a moment, any moment, is so important. While many people may always have known this, I don’t think I fully appreciated it.

So boys when you where 7 and 4, on the day it officially turned from winter to spring, the whole of the UK froze. In true UK fashion, everything ground to a halt. Your school was amazing and was the only one open in Thames Ditton, but they did let you go home early.

For many, this time has meant some serious hardship. For the homeless, the aged the frail and the sick, it is tough and it’s at these times the vulnerable in our society are hit the hardest. Our emergency services work tirelessly and our hospitals are stretched to their limits, as are the staff.

However, for children it is magical. Snowmen, sledging, snow ball fights and school closures. Hot chocolate all round and families bedding in together. The boys may never have another snow like this in their childhood, or it could be the start of the norm. Who knows. What I do know is they will remember this moment from their childhood, for as long as they live. The week the UK froze, and they played and spent lots of times with their loved ones. It gave us all downtime with our families when it should have been just a normal week.

So what are we going to do? Probably the same as you. Watch a movie, roast some marshmallows, have lots of snuggles on the sofa, maybe a board game or two, and fall out about it 🤣 We shall also remember others by donating some food to food banks and cash to homeless charities.

Cherish the moment, and enjoy the memories.

Happy Snow week everyone


26. Love is…….

If someone asked you to write down what love meant in one sentence, what would you write? Would you find it easy? Would one sentence be enough? While I have no idea what people would say, I do know that they would not be one, single, universal sentence. Whilst we all need love, how it manifests itself is deeply personal, and different depending on the relationship.

As I feel the relief of a clear scan flow through my veins, like a shot of sunshine has been injected into me, (whilst also feeling guilty as so many don’t get a clear scan) I am enjoying the mundane. Today that was buying a meal deal in preparation for Valentine’s Day, as Love is on my mind.

I couldn’t sum up love in one sentence, and trying to put it into words is quite hard, but I have had a go below.

Love is a warm blanket wrapped round me, giving me warmth, strength, security and happiness.

Love is putting my arms around my boys and husband and knowing I am home.

Love is basically everything Winnie the Pooh says!

I didn’t need to have had cancer to make me feel loved, but I think, maybe, it has made me appreciate it. To understand how powerful it is, and how life is all about love.

I used to think the most powerful emotion was Hope, but of course it is Love. Love is the emotion that gets you through tough times, because love is what makes you hope, and gives you strength you didn’t know you had.

This last year I have felt love, more than ever before. So this year there will definitely be chocolates for all on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is not everyone’s thing. However I will be celebrating with my boys, my family and my husband. Love is not one thing with one person after all! This is because I never want to stop telling them all I love them. Life is too short to not celebrate as often as you can, about anything you want, with those you love.

And beyond Valentine’s Day, with my boys in mind, as Cancer has brought a lot of reflection, I am going to show my boys how much I love them, by trying to …..

  • Push for more hugs rather than more time
  • Smile more and be stern less
  • Embrace arts and crafts more, so I finger paint not finger point
  • Prioritise serious play, rather than serious routine
  • Focus on my boys rather than the state of my house
  • Connect with my boys not with my wifi
  • Teach them the power of love, not the love of power

So they know you can never, in no particular order…..

Care too much, Laugh too much, Love too much, Hope too much, Live too much

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone


25. A day full of wonders

The sun wasn’t just bright on Friday morning, there was warmth in its rays, as it shone on my face like a comforting touch from a loved one. The beauty of the day wasn’t lost on me.

That is because Friday was scan day, and because of this, laughter was louder than usual, hugs from my boys stronger than normal, the beauty of the little things sparkled around me.

I had been falling out with myself about the Scan. Trying to let my rational brain win over my emotional brain in a private mental battle. I know concern should only raise its head on results day, but I couldn’t stop the disquiet from settling around me.

The radiologists had an air of nervousness around them too, because of my veins. I have terrible veins, it stresses my health professionals out, trying to put a cannula in. I tried to put them at ease, letting them know that it is fine to poke about a bit, that I was used to it, that everyone struggles with my veins. I pointed out the best places for them to try. I cracked my tried and tested joke about how I would have been a terrible drug addict, which always brings a polite laugh. They kept me warm by tucking a blanket around me, stroking my hand and smiling at me, telling me they wouldn’t be long, asking me if I came on my own, and would I be okay going home. Fussing over me, focused on my care, making me feel calm. They shouldn’t have doubted themselves. The cannula went in first time, I gave them huge congratulations on this, its so rare to get it first time.

My arms were gently placed above my head, and then the radiologists left the room as the CT scanner whirred to life and started to talk to me. Breath in, now breath normally, breathe in, now breath normally. Half way through the radiologist re-entered the room to add the iodine, administered through the cannula. As it started to flow, it warmed each part of my body as it passed through, till it reached my toes and disappeared. Then the machine stopped, it was all done.

You have to fast for four hours before a scan, so I had an almond croissant in my bag, as a treat to myself while I waited the 10 minutes it takes for them to check the scan had worked and remove the cannula. Then it was home time.

Now I wait, wait to hear from Mr J that all is clear 🤞🤞. The unknown settles over me, like a blanket, wrapping itself around me, but not offering any warmth or comfort; nor is it letting me shake it off. While I sing to myself ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave’

When I write my blog, I don’t really spend a lot of time on the details, as I don’t think it’s that interesting. However, as it was world cancer day yesterday, I thought today was a good day to give you a little insight into how I feel when treatment or checking occurs.

And now as it is World Nutella Day 🙌🙌 I am off to have a large spoon…






24. Keeping your sh*t together somehow

I went back to work this week 🙌

It was good to be Anna again, not Damo’s wife or Sam and Oliver’s mummy. Just Anna. This has always been a key reason for loving work. However the return to work has also bought along new emotions.

Once treatment ended and I got the all clear, and the elation of that passed, anxiety and worry creeped in. During treatment, I felt I was always actively doing something about the cancer. Now I feel I have moved into no mans land. Waiting to see if it returns or not. I think this feeling will pass once I have a few clear (hopefully) scans back.

I am feeling this way as 2017 was a full on year and so when treatment ended, I had to process what had happened, to deal with it all. Chemo had put me in a nice little fog, once fully woken up from that fog, I had time to think about it all. Luckily while thinking about it, I realised 2017 had been far more FAB than f***ed 😀

Going back to work was the final step of going back to normal. It is a really good thing, and I am so lucky to be well and can go back to my ‘old’ life. I am very aware so many are not this lucky. As a result I need to give myself a good talking to, when the voice in my head says, don’t go back to work in case it comes back, and you will regret not spending every second possible with the children…….. I don’t think, for me, that is a healthy thing to do. I need to live. Not worry about something that may never happen!

It’s strangely quite hard to do though, this is because it has left me feeling quite vulnerable. Nervous about the future. Wanting to do stuff now, not risk leaving it till when the boys are older. Again, to deal with this, I have a word with myself, as I have a future, it’s gone, it could be gone for good, so get a grip and get on with it Anna! After 9 months of keeping your sh*t together, don’t loose it now! It makes me think how this is just part of life’s journey. Damian has always said when we have discussed work ‘Stress is relative. You can’t avoid it. So you may as well get paid for it’. This is true for the whole of life isn’t it? Unless you avoid living, you are, at some point, maybe several times, going to feel fear, despair, depression, anxiety etc. Just like you will feel love, joy, happiness, excitement etc.

The important thing is to remember that you can control your life, even though at times it feels impossible. As while you can’t control everything that happens to you, you can control how you react to it. You always have that choice. I choose to keep my sh*t together, take a deep breadth, process emotions as they hit me, accept there will remain an element of feeling vulnerable and scared for a little while yet, and enjoy having my life back.

Happy 2018 everyone. Thanks for reading my brain dumps. It has really helped writing it all down.


23. Embracing Change

There is a prayer that I said many times in my childhood, due to going to a convent school, that has appeared back in my life, now our children go to catholic school.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”

I honestly don’t know what I think about religion or God or any of that stuff, and I am not going to go into it here! However I like the message in this prayer, and it is pertinent to me and my situation right now.

After a 2.5 week wait for my scan results, I had decided that no news was good news and my scan would be clear. I was wrong. My scan showed a dodgy lymph node near my pancreas that needs investigating.

I was warned this would happen. Things would show up and need to be tested. As a result everyone seems confident that it will be nothing as it is not in a ‘cancer spread path’ and I am not to worry. (Although I have been told not to worry about a lot of things recently, all of which have happened, so it is hard not too)

So ‘Grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change‘ is going round in my head.

Luckily for me this weeks ‘don’t worry’ news was nicely cancelled out by a fantastic night of fundraising for Bowel Cancer UK organised by some wonderful friends. Firmly sitting within the ‘change the things I can’ side or the prayer. Doing something to raise money for cancer. As research really does make a difference.

It reminds me of my earlier ‘it takes a village’ blog post. How when women come together, amazing things happen. Around £700 has been raised, and boxes are still being collected so it could be more! Amazing! Helen x 2, Vicky, Lu, Georgina, and Suzanne; thank you ladies for organising something that was really good fun, while being for a good cause.

So on with my cancer journey I go. This time to the Hammersmith hospital for a endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy, that hopefully I will be fast asleep for throughout! Let’s hope it says all is ok.

In the meantime plan and look forward to Christmas. Our first in our current home. Here’s to a bit too much food and wine. To singing carols and watching nativity plays. To putting up our Xmas trees and stressing about the lights. To log burning fires, warming stews and mulled wine. Let’s not forget lots of chocolate and cheesy movies. All spent with family and friends. Here’s to ending 2017 on a high. It’s been a rough one, but also a good one, full of love, laughter and living.


22. It’s been emotional!  

Who knows how any of us will react when we hit one of life’s road blocks. All we know is none of us is going to sail through life without at least a couple of bumps in the road. As I finish my chemo cycle, which right now has left me feeling pretty 💩, and await my scan 🤞🤞🤞, I am thinking of all the things that I have come to appreciate through this whole Cancer crap…..

Life isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful

Life can be tough at times, but so am I and so are you

You don’t have to be perfect to be strong and happy

You are stronger than you realise you are

Be the reason someone smiles; be kind

I long for my relationship with Cancer to end, but the lyrics of Hotel California by The Eagles, ring in my ears.

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before. ‘Relax’ said the night man, We are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!’

This is because I have 5 years ahead of me of scans, scares and hope, to get to the amazing finish line of NED. No Evidence of Disease. That is the end point we all hope for and sadly and heartbreakingly, not all, are able to get to. 

Over the next five years, if all goes to plan, I will get 6 monthly scans for the first two years, then yearly after that, alongside yearly colonoscopy’s till I reach the 5 year mark. If all doesn’t go to plan, then I will just have to deal with that if it happens. 

I saw the below the other day on Pinterest and, I have to admit, I like a little bit of star sign fluff. I am Sagittarius, it made me chuckle. I think I am definitely optimistic, but not necessarily indifferent! I think cancer has made me a bit soft, I keep telling everyone that I love them! 😂

This is because this year has been life changing. It has taken away and given, in the most bizarre, heartbreaking and amazing way. It has been raw and dark and painful and scary. However it has also been a year of love and honesty and strength and hope. That is why the lyrics ‘You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!’ Ring in my ears so clearly, for the reasons below. 

  1. Cancer doesn’t just go away. It goes into remission, and you have to wait and see if it awakens. It doesn’t let u just check out and walk away. 
  2. Cancer changes you. Like anything major that happens in life, it leaves its mark, both good and bad. You can’t go back to what and where you were before it all started. 

So with all the above rocking around in my head, I take all of the strength that I have found within myself, take a deep breadth and step into the next stage….. 

21. Over it ?!?

I have a cold, when you are on chemo this feels like u have been hit by a bus. Maybe I finally realise what ‘man flu’ is like 🤧😷🤒🤣.

The hardest thing I have found with having cancer is the mental battle I have had to fight with myself. I tell myself…..Get out of bed. Smile and be a happy mummy around the boys. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, it’s not that bad. Get a grip.

However, right now, feeling like crap. I am just really BORED OF MYSELF and totally over it. I am over feeling ‘meh’. I am over blood tests, 100s of tablets, diarrhoea, nausea, peeling skin, sore feet, tiredness. I am tired, all the time 🙄🙄 💤…….. And you all maybe ‘over’ this blog 😂

I think I am feeling this way because I am hoping that this is all going to end soon. That a potential finish line is in sight. Of course it will always be with me. Many scans and tests and scares will be coming my way. However, the ‘no treatment for a while’ horizon is so close!

It makes me think about how many people, right now, are thinking, feeling, hoping the same things as me. How many people are  reaching their 5 year clear mark. How many people are facing devastating news and huge setbacks.

This is because 1 in 2 of us, yes 1 in 2, will get cancer in our lifetime! It’s a depressing figure. As a result it is the second biggest killer in the UK.


However, more and more people are surviving cancer and living with cancer. This is because of the amount of research that is done in regards to cancer. Cancer gets a lot of attention due to its common appearance in our lives, no one is not touched by it. As a result lots of fundraising happens for it. Not all diseases are that fortunate.

One thing we have learnt, through research, is how we can look after our bodies to help ourselves in preventing cancer.


Sadly it is not a way to avoid it all together. I am not overweight, do not eat a lot of red meat, am relatively active. However I could reduce my alcohol intake and I did used to smoke 🤔. So these learnings have helped and do help.

If we focus on my cancer, bowel cancer, you can see how much a difference clinical trials and research does make.


Having been affected by cancer and learning how individual it is, how every case seems to be different, that it maybe a lazy cell growth or the devil itself, has taught me that they may never be a cure. However it has also taught me that the money people give and raise for this horribly common disease, really does make a difference.

It makes a difference to me, as it gives me hope. It has enabled  me to have my treatment at home. It has meant I can live, love and laugh for hopefully a while yet. It tells me to get a grip and stop being ‘over it’, because I am, so far, responding to treatment and doing really well.

So thank you for all the marathons that are run, the cakes that are baked, the beards that are grown, the multitude of challenges undertaken, the money given. It really does make a difference. It really is driving change.

Look after yourselves as best you can XX




20. Hairy armpits anyone? 

Sam asked me the other day why it is ok that daddy has hairy armpits and hairy legs   and I have to shave mine. 

I was a bit stumped how to answer this. In the quick moment that passed, I said “I liked to do it because it makes me feel nice. Women don’t have to do it, and not all do, but I like to.” He was happy with this response, thank god, and ran off to have some hot chocolate with his partner in crime, Oliver. 

It got me thinking, how we choose to present ourselves to the world reflects who we are on the inside. E.g I like a rule, and don’t like to stand out too much, one of the physical manifestations of this is, I shave my armpits! Cancer can be so cruel that it can physically really effect you. Meaning you loose the ability to manage this! I was so lucky that I didn’t loose my hair, or loose / gain weight etc… I could still feel like me, and the reflection in the mirror didn’t change. I Could match how my outside self looks with my inside self. It would have been so much tougher if this has not been the case. A reality for so many cancer patients. 

With this in mind, and as the end of my treatment comes ever closer (well the end of Capceptabine chemo anyway!) I am thinking about how Bowel Cancer a.k.a SID THE SOD, has changed me on the inside.

Surprisingly it has given as many positives as negatives. Let’s get the negatives out the way. Cancer is a killer, it is different for everyone, so no control or clarity on how to treat it. It is something they never tell you that you are cured from. It brings uncertainty, fear, sadness. For the lucky cancer patients, years of follow ups and treatment and possible reoccurrence, and for the unlucky cancer patients, the loss of life. 

Quickly moving on to the positives. It makes you love life. It makes the sun shine brighter, the air smell fresher, the humdrum of the everyday, magical. It makes you hug everyone more often, get in contact with everyone you love, and tell them you love them. It makes you smile and laugh and appreciate your life. It makes you grateful and thankful for the life you have lived, and focus on how to be a nicer, kinder, better person if you get to stay around. 

So SID THE SOD literally took out a lot of my insides, but he didn’t take anything I can’t live without and his presence, I hope, has made me a kinder, more patient person who is more appreciative and thankful. 

SID, I wish u hadn’t come along, but I think, you have probably done me some good. So to move forward, I will keep a few quotes in my mind to see where it takes me…. maybe to hairy armpits 🤣

19. 1 in 19

1 in 19 women and 1 in 14 men will get bowel cancer in their lifetime. I am one of them. 

Over half of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This is a pretty depressing statistics, when you are 1 of the 19, and when early stage detection is curable and later stage, often, is not. As a result of this BOWEL CANCER UK have launched a #getpersonal campaign to help address this issue. 

“Through the Get Personal campaign we are determined to make real change happen for people diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer” 

Bowel Cancer UK

It makes me think of my journey. How easy and simple it has been for me, because I had personalised care. I have my sister Vicky, my personal guardian angel, more accurately, my personal warrior. 

Vicky has been by my side, all the way, navigating the system, that I had no understanding of. Getting me the right people at the right time and quickly. Having cancer is shit. Your cancer being bowel cancer, when your sister is the manager of The Polyposis Registry at St Mark’s, is bloody lucky!

  1. Who else knows you should ignore your GP, and tells you to go to a specialist so your cancer is identified at stage 3, not stage 4 (advanced) 
  2. Vicky knew who she wanted to be my radiographer and my surgeon. Who else gets such amazing reassurance about who is looking after them? 
  3. Who else has a Vicky in their hospital meetings to question and check things you don’t understand, or are too numb and in shock to think to ask?
  4. Who else has a person, who understands the treatment path chosen for you, and can reassure you it is the right one? 
  5. Who else has a sister who nurses you back to health in the hospital, and when you are back at home. Making sure you feel safe when you are feeling your most vulnerable? 

I tell you who else does this. Specialist Nurses. This is why we need more of them, this is why the #getpersonal campaign by BOWEL CANCER UK is so important! There are simply not enough of them.

I know this because I see how much Vicky  cares for all her patients in The Polyposis Registry, I see how heartbroken she gets, when one of her patients becomes unwell. 

NHS staff want to give personal care, and work very long hours to do the best they can in a system that is complicated and under immense financial pressure. Vicky often works on her days off and also raises money for her department in her ‘spare time’, along with her team, to get more money for better patient care… while having 3 children and me to look after too! No wonder she gets stressed!

How lucky I am to have my own guardian angel and personal warrior. Thank you Vicky 😘 

As a result, I think  #getpersonal is an amazing campaign, that I will support however I can. Thanks BOWEL CANCER UK for driving another great initiative forward x

18. Just Kiss them & Be Kind 

I am sitting on my couch with Oliver. We have Tom and Jerry (or if you are my boys… Jerry and the mouse 😂😂) on TV. I am wearing a dress that is the same fabric of my couch (see below 🤣) and I am feeling pretty rough. I have a bad tummy today and lots of cramping and nausea to go with it. Sigh. But only 1 round left to go!!!! (Hopefully… scan dependant !) 

I also had a not too successful school run this morning. Where I lost my temper at Sam,  he kept arguing with me till I screamed (yes one above shouting !!) DO AS U ARE TOLD AND DO NOT ANSWER ME BACK… which made him cry and me feel like the worst mother. But then again ……

When you have cancer, everyone is constantly supporting you. Whereas it’s tough being a parent. There is a lot of  judgement and you feel you are constantly being told how you should / could be doing better.

(Applicable to dads too….)

Within all this grrrrrrr, something wonderful happened 4 days ago, that makes me feel all lovely and warm and glow inside. My Nephew, Oscar, was born 😍

(Missing is mummy to Oscar… just given birth and funnily enough was happy to get dressed in peace while we all gushed over Oscar..)

Holding him for the first time, in all his wrinkly, perfect, newborn gorgeousness, reminded me, that they days can be (sooooooooo) long (don’t even get me started on the nights!) and the years far too short. That it was 4.5 and nearly 7 years since my babies were this small. That while it does seem a while ago, it also seems like yesterday. That my babies are actually boys, and only on loan to me for such a short time.

All of the above has put me into a reflective mood about parenting.

Firstly, what is the most important thing I need to try and get through to my children as their parent? I hope I get them to understand how important it is to be kind, loving, honest and true, so that these things will come to them too. 

And that they need to try there best, and try again when they fail. So that they can be happy and deal with what life brings their way. 


Secondly, for us parents. Why are we all doubting ourselves so much? We are all, just simply, trying our best, to bring up our children to be their best. We need a little less judgment and opinion and a little more kindness. As it is not what we say, but what we do, that is how our children will learn. 

So sorry Sam that mummy screamed, I should have kept it at stern 😂.

To my brother and sister in law, who will be inundated with advice and opinions about what is best for Oscar….if in any doubt, follow what mum said to me when both mine were born… Just kiss them and be kind. 😘


Spike Milligan