Friday, 30 May 2014

How My Friends Reacted To My Cancer Diagnosis..


This statement is incredibly true. It's during the tough times that your true friends will be revealed and you will fully understand what it means to have those friends there for you.

As I mentioned in my previous post 'How I Told My Friends I Had Cancer' I pretty much dropped my leukaemia diagnosis into conversation like it was no big deal. I didn't really know what to expect from my friends. I was a bit of a mess over the whole situation so I genuinely had no idea how they'd react, or what they'd say.. if anything. The majority of my friends were so lovely about the whole situation, yes it upset them, but they all wanted me to know how much they loved me and really.. if I was going to be okay. I had lots of cards and little presents arrive with 'get well soon' wishes and lovely messages from my friends and family friends. It always brightened up my day when I had an animal themed card delivered to my room! Haha!

But, all the caring and genuine messages come with bad and the maybe not so genuine... I received messages from old friends who I hadn't heard from in a while, which was lovely of them to get in touch. However there were people who I classed as my 'close friends' who I heard nothing from. There was no message, no phone call, no anything and they still haven't spoken to me much since my diagnosis, or since being told I was in remission.. it's weird how people you classed as your best friends, people who you thought would be there for you suddenly vanish. I know that suddenly finding out that someone you care about has cancer is tough, it's hard to deal with and some people can't deal with it and push you away instead, so maybe that was it. But it was a hard realisation that people who I thought would always be there, suddenly weren't. As well as this sudden realisation, I also received messages from people who hadn't made my life easy in the past. People who had been really horrid to me and had ultimately caused me to move schools.. saying that they couldn't believe what had happened, (news which they'd heard through mutual friends) and they were now 'thinking about me.' Now don't get me wrong, maybe their intentions were genuine when they chose to get in contact and maybe they genuinely couldn't remember how rubbish and hell like they'd made my life in the past. But these messages I chose not to respond to. I wasn't going to let myself get drawn in by them.

I will never understand why when someone becomes seriously ill, those who hurt them before will suddenly pop up, acting like nothing ever happened. They never hurt you. They were never mean to you. They act like everything is just peachy. It's a behaviour that baffles me now and probably always will.

Having cancer has taught me a lot. It's taught me who I can and can't trust. Who will always be there when I need them... and those who are only there when it benefits them. It's a hard lesson to learn when you're extremely ill, however I'm glad I now know who the genuine people are in my life.


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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hair Growth Update - May

Every month I do one of these posts, and each time I take the photos I think that my hair hasn't grown at all... then I compare with the photos from the month before and do a little happy dance.. because it is growing! There isn't really much to say growth wise, because it's growing.. which means it's getting longer haha. But it is still super curly as you can see from the photos, with a thicker texture, really... it's just a mass of hair! I'm still hoping that as it does get more length on it, it will start to straighten out a bit and not as tightly curled and out of control! But I'll just have to wait and see!

My hair care routine is still the same as it has been since my hair started growing back October time last year. I am using the Lee Stafford 'Hair Growth' range, which has a shampoo, treatment pot (that you use after the shampoo) and a conditioner. There is also a leave in spray bottle in the hair growth range, which you can spritz onto your hair after you step out the shower, however I have only used this little bottle a couple of times since October. I normally just use the other three products I mentioned first.

Overall, I am still really happy with how quickly my hair seems to be growing! I just can't wait for it to be back to its pre-cancer length!

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Saturday, 24 May 2014

How I Told My Friends I Had Cancer...

Taken 6 days before I was diagnosed.
I was thinking back the other day, about when and how I told my friends that I had cancer.. in hindsight I probably could have handled it better and probably should have told them straight away. But I didn't. Telling my friends that I had been diagnosed with cancer, I knew, wasn't going to be easy. I'm not one of those people who likes to tell others every single last detail of their personal life, or 'you'll never guess what happened to me today.. well I'm going to tell you!' kind of person... I see a lot of people, especially on facebook, documenting every single little thing that has happened to them either with a 'selfie' or a picture of the incident taken literally as soon as it has happened... be it a nosebleed, a paper cut or falling down the stairs.
So when it came to me telling my friends, I literally just dropped it into conversation like it was completely normal and something that happened on a daily basis. I was diagnosed on the 20th June 2013 and the majority of my friends didn't find out until the 1st July 2013... so a good 12 days later. I put up a status on my facebook profile, thanking the handful of friends who already knew about my leukaemia diagnosis for their love and support. The exact message was..

 'Just wanted to say a massive thank you for the love and support since I came into hospital with Leukemia. I really appreciate the messages and I shall get back to you as soon as I can, so thank you.  xxx'

Now, I know putting it up on Facebook a lot of people won't agree with. Something as serious as cancer should probably be told in person or over the phone, not something to be stumbled upon as your friends are scrolling through their newsfeed. However, I didn't want to call anyone. I didn't want to say that I was in hospital. I didn't want to see anyone. I just didn't want to have to verbally communicate with any of my friends. I knew that if I called one person, I'd have to call them all... and in doing that each call would end up progressively worse than the last and I would have ended up either a hysterical mess at the end of the conversation, or a complete mess as soon as they picked up the phone, unable to get any words out.

Prior to breaking my cancer diagnosis to my friends, I'd been texting them whilst I was in hospital acting like everything was wonderful... conversations of, 'How are you?' and 'How has your day been?' My response was, 'I'm great thanks! How are you lovely?!' and 'Yeah, it's been pretty boring actually! Ha! You had a good day?' ...for me this was so much easier to do than actually a) acknowledge the situation I was in, or b) send back an essay of a message, all about my day of lying in bed, being checked over by doctors and nurses and continuously having blood and platelets and drugs pumped into me. I didn't want to bother anyone. I didn't want to burden them with how my life had suddenly been turned upside down. I didn't want them to have to feel how I was feeling... so for me, it was easier to act like nothing was going on and I was lounging about at home like I'd normally be doing during the summer, watching Jeremy Kyle and Honey Boo Boo! Ha! A handful of my close friends did find out several days after I was diagnosed as my Mum had sent them a message, although she had asked them not to say anything until I was ready, as I was reluctant for her to tell anybody in the first place.

Once more and more people started to find out, there were messages, cards, presents and 'get well' wishes... one thing about being critically ill, is that a lot of people start to pop up who you haven't spoken to in years... people who you know weren't bothered about you before.. people who had treated you really badly.. so why were they bothered now?! But I'll post about that at a later date..

I don't know if there is a right or wrong way to go about telling your friends when you're critically or seriously ill. For me, this was the only way I could deal with telling people. If it happens to me all over again, honestly, I think I'll end up doing exactly the same thing and won't tell anybody until I feel like I'm ready to tell them, or I feel that they should know what is going on. I'm good at putting on a smile and acting like everything is okay. I don't want to put my friends in a situation where I know that they'll feel upset or scared for me. All those emotions that I went through when I was first diagnosed... the tears, the sleepless nights, the fears that I wouldn't see tomorrow... I didn't want them to feel the same way, which was why I held off telling them.

It's always going to be hard, no matter how you tell people.

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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Fixing Broken Makeup - Step by Step

I'm sure that everyone who owns makeup has ended up dropping their powder at some point... so it smashes into hundreds of itty bitty pieces. Your first thought? Bin it... I can't use it now. That is where you're wrong, because there is a way to fix that smashed powder...

Step 1 - You're going to need you're broken powder, rubbing alcohol, a spatula and some kitchen roll.

Step 2 - Take your broken powder and using the spatula, start to break it up. (If you're worried about getting it everywhere, you can tightly wrap your powder and case in cling film and break it up inside the cling film.)

Step 3 - You want to break your powder up until it's all been broken into teeny tiny pieces.

Step 4 - Start off by adding a couple of drops of the rubbing alcohol to the powder. (Remember it's easier to add the liquid than take it away. You want to do it bit by bit and try avoid flooding the compact with liquid.)

Step 5 - Mix the broken powder and the rubbing alcohol together. This will take a while and it will be quite clumpy at first, but keep adding the rubbing alcohol bit by bit and eventually it'll get easier to mix.

Step 6 - Once it's all mixed together into a paste (not too watery, you want to keep it reasonably thick.) Spread it out evenly into your compact and smooth out.

Step 7 - Pop a piece of kitchen roll onto your powder mixture, (I folded mine over twice to make a little square!) Then put a similar sized mug to that of the powder on top and leave it so the kitchen roll has time to soak up any excess rubbing alcohol.

Step 8 - Remove the kitchen roll and you'll see that it has soaked up most of the excess liquid. You can also clean up the edges of the compact if you haven't already!

Step 9 - Ta da! Leave your newly done powder out to dry and that's it!

As you can see, my powder at the end has a dotted pattern on... this was simply because the kitchen roll I used had a dotty pattern on it also, so it transferred. Which I actually really like as it adds a bit of decorative texture to my new powder! This method works for any powder... whether it be eye shadow, bronzer, or any other pressed powder... so no need to throw a smashed powder away ever again!

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Bone Marrow Biopsy

Considering the amount of biopsies I've had done and that I still have to have done, (every 3 months for the next 3 years.) I haven't really mentioned them before now.. my first experience of a bone marrow biopsy was pretty soon after I was admitted... I cried the whole way through it, pretty hysterically, whilst holding tightly onto the nurse's hand by the bed and covering the white pillow case with my black mascara tears.

I listened to the doctor explaining to me how the biopsy procedure would go, how it would be performed, that they were hoping to get a specific diagnosis out of it, the possible risks.. essentially everything I needed to know. I signed the consent form after everything had been explained, but if I'm honest, I was such a mess that I hadn't really taken on board any of the information I'd just been told. I understood, but I didn't want to. I never really wanted to know how bad my cancer was, or that it was indeed cancer. I just wanted to curl up and for everything to be done and dusted. Just like that. Life back to normal... but it doesn't work like that.
To date, I've probably had around 9 or 10 biopsies... I had one when I was admitted, one after my first cycle of treatment, one after my second cycle of treatment, one after my third cycle of treatment and one after my fourth cycle of treatment and I've had several more biopsies since then. Initially I was having my biopsies under a local anaesthetic, which is the standard procedure... you have a couple of shots in the skin/tissue of your back and then a couple more deeper down.. the needle goes in, (around those nobbly bobbly bits you can feel on your lower back) right into the bone and then your marrow gets sucked out, with a bit of pushing and pulling. With the pushing and pulling and having the needle in your back in general, I experienced a lot of discomfort. The pain shot from my back, straight down my leg and it was a very weird, uncomfortable and persistent sensation, with sharp shots of pain popping up every now and then to add to the pain that was already there. It's really hard for me to accurately describe the pain I experience... but I wouldn't wish it on anybody. Sometimes it wasn't as bad, but other times it was just unbearable and I'd kick out without intending to and have to have my legs held down until the needle was out. The more times I had the biopsy, the more I anticipated the pain and the tenser I got beforehand which didn't help at all. The first couple of times, I felt so rough that I don't think I was fully aware of the pain. It does also depend on who's doing the procedure, as some doctors put more anaesthetic in than others... there is also the option of having gas and air, but that didn't really work for me. For the majority of my biopsies I was crying so much that I was a big mess of tears, snot and dribble, I couldn't really grasp the whole 'breathe in breathe out' technique, as well as squeezing my Mum's hand and trying not to concentrate on the pain... I wasn't very good at multitasking. It might be because of my lack of multitasking, or because my pain tolerance got progressively worse with each biopsy, that the last two I've actually had done under a general anaesthetic. I'm slightly torn by this, as it does mean I spend the majority of my morning in hospital, (arrive at 7am, then I get home by about 12/1ish) although I am fast asleep and pain free with no clue what's going on during the procedure.. however a part of me thinks it might be easier to grit my teeth and just cry my heart out for 20/30 minutes, then I can run off home straight afterwards.

Obviously, everyone's pain threshold is different.. you might be reading this about to go for your bone marrow biospy, go in, have it done and then come out thinking that I must be one of those people who cry when they tread on a lego brick. I've sat on the day unit waiting to go in and have seen people three times my age go in and out of the room for their biopsy like it was nothing. It totally depends on the person and mine have definitely gotten worse the more I've had done, but that is probably down to me working myself up over it days before I know it's going to happen. For the type of cancer I had (Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia) now that I'm in remission, having a bone marrow biopsy done every three months is the easiest and most effective way of monitoring the cancer if it comes back, which is why I have the biopsy and bloods done and not just blood tests.

It may not be as bad as you think it will be, my first handful of biopsies, pain wise, were bearable.. they just got worse with time. As with all procedures, if you're worried about scarring, it isn't too noticeable... like a faded dot to dot along your lower back!

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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

IMATS Opportunity - Please Vote!

Last month Crown Brush, (who have been manufacturing the highest of quality makeup brushes, at affordable prices for over 20 years) launched a big competition. An opportunity for a makeup artist to assist their head of makeup (Zoe Newlove,) on the Crown Brush stand at this year's London IMATS. For anyone who doesn't know, IMATS stands for International Makeup Arist Trade Show and is a pretty big deal in the makeup world, popping up in Vancouver, Sydney, Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London! 

This was the entry I submitted and incredibly I have been selected as one of the 5 makeup artists who have been short listed to assist Zoe in June. Now, they've put the final 5 up for public voting, which is where I need your help! The other makeup artists nominated have an amazing portfolio work, so I'm up against some really beautiful and tough competition, which is why I'd love it if you could spare a moment to vote for me!

To vote, you need to have some form of social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) then you can go onto the Crown Brush account and comment with my name 'Emily Eva Alice' if you like my entry enough to vote! I've posted the links below to the Crown Brush Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, which will take you straight to the voting pages.

Vote on Facebook

Vote on Twitter

Vote on Instagram

Thank you to anyone who votes for me, it is an incredible opportunity and I am so happy to have just been short listed!

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