Let’s talk about breasts urged Sarah as she asked for my help in promoting her efforts to help other women. She has a strong story speaking to women, of all ages about what a mastectomy is and the unseen challenges faced by those who have this surgery. Mastect Expect is bold, different and a breath of fresh air to those on the google mission to find more information about breast cancer surgery. Sarah was a woman I wanted to know more about and I hope you enjoy hearing about her journey.
Breasts

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years?

Change is not something new to me as moving house almost became a bit of a hobby in my teenage years! I was born in the Midlands and lived in Sapcote, Leicestershire for the first few years of my life. We then moved up to Cheshire where I attended primary school and the first two years of secondary school. At Lymm High School we had swimming lessons and were asked who would be interested in joining a synchronized swimming team, about 8 girls put their hands up, including me. At this stage of my swimming life I could have passed as a synchronized swimmer with the amount of splashing and time spent underwater, however this was when I was attempting to swim a simple length of front crawl. My enthusiasm to join a synchronized swimming team was probably one of shock to my coach and in my first few sessions I would receive the sympathetic, ‘bless, at least she is trying’ look. However, with resilience and a lot of time spent in a swimming pool it became a huge part of my life. As a teenager when peers went shopping or to sleepovers I would be training. I had fantastic opportunities and have a collection of medals ranging from bronze to golds that I will treasure forever.

At 13 we then moved up to Dumfries, Scotland where apart from the first day when I cried and refused to speak to the deputy head because I was petrified of moving school, all went well. We then (we have moved a lot) moved to Amersham in Buckinghamshire when I was 15 and ready to sit my GCSE’s. With a quick, ‘oh my goodness your entire History coursework is on the highland clearances, that is not quite what we study in England’ panic, I started my academic studies at the Amersham school. I went on to get good GCSE’s and strong A-Level grades which enabled me to study at the University of Portsmouth.  

 Please tell us about your first job?

 My first job out of university was at Chesham Park Community College as a cover supervisor. Nothing quite like being fresh out of university and dealing with hormonal teenagers on a day to day basis! This sparked my passion for working with young people and helping then reach their potential. I gained qualified teacher status through the GTP programme and have not looked back since. 8 years on and I have seen the school change in to an academy, worked with a whole host of fantastic teachers and also seen many young people achieve great things. As expected I have also witnessed teenager behaviour at its best and at its worst, I have learnt the meanings of words which I am sure are not featured in the oxford dictionary and the craze of ‘flossing’ is something I cannot get away from.

 What  health issues have you faced?

 Regarding health issues, I am starting to believe that walking over three drains or a mirror smashing may bring bad fortune as it does seem to follow me around. These have ranged from being accident prone to unforeseeable issues. Asides the usual childhood knocks I have had a sneaky cyst on my ankle which was discovered on an xray after my trampoline skills were much to be desired. This turned out to be benign but did result in a plaster cast for what felt like years. As I have got older I have faced a few issues but I am not a dweller. The obvious and recent one is my genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Breast cancer has always been a feature in my life, with women from both my mother and father’s side of the family being diagnosed. After the death of my auntie I explored genetic testing as I did not want to continue to feel like a sitting duck. At the time (2007) genetic testing was not as advanced as it is today so I was instructed to come back in a few years where there may have been more options. Following this advice I returned a few years later to find out that I was ‘NICE high risk category’ of developing the disease. The advice given to me was to have risk reducing surgery in the form a double mastectomy as soon as possible and then have my ovaries removed after I turned 35. A lot to take in! Following this I had my double mastectomy and reconstruction in August 2016 at the age of 27. I refer to it as a hurdle in life. I knew it was going to be difficult to get over it but if I worked hard and stayed focused, then it was achievable.

Breasts

 Who has supported you during your challenging times?

 During these more challenging times I have had amazing support from both friends and family. I am not one for grand gestures of affection or what I would describe as ‘mushy’ comments but throughout the mastectomy process my husband was incredible. He helped me with the practical bits like changing, washing and brushing hair but he also helped me laugh and feel chirpy when the odds were against it. My family and friends cooked, helped me get through significant amounts of chocolate, helped me chuckle and get through lots of movies! Horror films whilst you still have drains in is not advisable, jumping with fright isn’t ideal when you’ve got sore boobs and alien like tubes coming out of you. My Mum moved in for a week post surgery to help however in a bizaare (but funny looking back at it now all is ok) twist of fate, I was admitted back into hospital for that entire week due to an infection!

What led to you setting  up Mastect Expect?

 Before my surgery I was a keyboard warrior trying to find out what to expect from the surgery. I was looking for practical advice to help manage my expectations but also help me prepare. After my operation, I decided to start documenting my experiences and from there, Mastect Expect was born. I started to build a website, which was a challenge as I wouldn’t put myself under the heading of tech savvy. However, the more people I spoke to, the more it became obvious that a central go to resource focused on mastectomy surgery and recovery was needed. The practical advice rather than medical jargon was freshing for women because it gave them a place to ask questions that were not necessarily suitable for their surgeon or on the radar for their surgeon. Following the launch of the Mastect Expect website I started to get emails from women across the globe. This spurred me on to continue to blog my experiences, update the website but also build a presence on social media so I could reach others that could benefit from Mastect Expect.

Breasts

Why do you feel it is important to talk about serious health issues with humour sometimes?

 You only live once, and there are always going to be obstacles in life, you can either face them with doom and gloom or you can make the best out of a bad situation. I use humour for lots of reasons, my first is that it is a natural position for me, I am very much half glass full. The other is that I believe it can help encourage people to engage and talk about things that they might find difficult. Talking about mastectomies can be difficult, whether it is about yourself or a loved one, people can find it awkward to talk about boobs, giving a bit of humour can help put people at ease and make them feel more comfortable with asking questions. I very much believe it is better for someone to feel like they could ask a question rather than the anxiety build up inside of them. In addition, people worry, which is natural, giving a bit of laughter can help make them feel better about a difficult situation.

 What do you want to change via Mastect Expect?

I want Mastect Expect to be able to support women on the mastectomy journey. I want people to feel comfortable talking about mastectomies and be able to find down to earth practical advice. It is very easy to come across horror surgery stories or medical jargon that makes no sense to the everyday person, but why isn’t it easy to locate friendly useful advice that will help put anxieties at ease? Mastectomy surgery is daunting, it can be frightening and it is the unknown. If someone breaks their leg or has a cold, you know what to do, but what about a mastectomy? I want to give people confidence in their mastectomy journey, whether it is their journey or the journey of a loved one. It does not need to be the area of the unknown, it can be known using Mastect Expect and knowledge can help people, families and friends in feeling supported and ready to embark on their next hurdle in life.

If you could recommend one book to a woman, what would it be and why?

 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. As you read about Eleanor’s life, you see that she doesn’t fit with what would be considered the ‘norm’. As a reader you become invested in her life and as she goes through her routines and her thoughts, you start to relate. Everyone has part of them that can relate to Eleanor Oliphant and she makes you feel good. She makes you realise that everyone is different and that is ok, you almost become her cheerleader as you want everything to turn out well for her.

If you could recommend one website other than your own to a woman, what would it be and why?

A topical website would be tickingoffbreastcancer.com as it’s a fantastic hub of links and knowledge about all aspects of breast cancer.

 

3 Little Buttons
Cuddle Fairy

I am short-sighted and after years of wearing glasses I am tempted to get some contact lenses. For whatever reason I was into my late teens before my parents worked out I had issues with my eyes. I remember the optician saying they wondered how I had got such good exam results when I could not possibly have been able to see the blackboard. With my own children, they have had regular eye checks and two of them are very short-sighted and wear glasses.

My history with glasses and contact lenses

My first pair of glasses was so ugly and it was not long before I decided to try contact lenses. I thought I looked better in them but this was back in the Eighties and I found them uncomfortable to put in and wear. There is an infamous occasion where on a date my contact lenses were playing up so badly that my eyes were streaming with tears which must have made my date a little uncomfortable. It was not long after that that I went back to wearing glasses.

Considering contact lenses again

In my last couple of eye tests, my optician has mentioned the possibility of me using contact lenses again. At first I was against the idea remembering the hassles of yesteryear. However, it only takes someone to mention an idea a couple of times for it to make me wonder. Contact lenses sound so much better these days. There is only one way to find out for sure so I am going to give them a whirl.

Focus Dailies contact lenses

I like to do my research before making decisions. I am considering Focus Dailies contact lenses available from Vision Direct who are a respected brand. Having put off the whole idea of contact lenses for years, it is brilliant to know that I can get next day delivery to start my new adventure with them. Initial ordering is simple and reordering just involves 3 clicks from email. You can even reorder by text which is super convenient in my busy life.  You have the freedom to order the amount you need when you need them. When comparing with high street opticians, the same brands seem to be available but Vision Direct seems to offer better value. As a newbie to new style contact lenses the fact that customer service is available 24 hours per day 7 days per week is hugely reassuring.

Conclusion

I have spoken to friends who wear contact lenses. They tell me contact lenses are definitely the way forward. It seems they combine good vision with comfort and convenience. Wish me luck on my new contact lenses adventure.

My Random Musings

With more and more skincare regimes, products and treatments on the market every year, picking the right one to achieve what you want is increasingly challenging. If you have the time, it can be a fun challenge to face, trying out new treatments at places like Skinsmiths Belgravia Cosmetic Clinic until you’re able to find the perfect one that makes you look great, feel amazing and project perfect confidence.

If you don’t have the time to sample the full menu, you’ll need to narrow in quickly on what’s right for you, so today we’re looking at two easily confused forms of skin treatment: infusions and injections.

Skincare Injections

Skin has evolved to be a barrier between our bodies and the outside world: it keeps out water, it keeps out dirt, it keeps out toxins and poisons. Unfortunately, it also keeps out medicines and treatments that could do it a great deal of good!

A lot of people would be a lot happier if things like inoculations, travel immunisations and anaesthetics could be delivered without the use of a needle – if you could take a pill to immunise yourself against measles, or knock yourself out for an operation, going to the doctor would be a lot less stressful!

What that means, as you may already have guessed, is that some of the most effective treatments for your skin need to be injected under the epidermis to have their best effect. Collagen, for example, has a miraculous effect on the skin, making it seem younger, firmer and stronger, but it’s made up of large molecules, and they simply can’t make it past your skins protections to be absorbed efficiently enough without injection!

There are a variety of different things that need to be injected to treat the skin – it’s a method of delivery rather than a treatment in itself, so talk to your clinician about what you want to achieve, and they can provide the right injection to make it a reality

Skincare Infusions

If you’re looking for a less invasive skincare treatment that still has the potential radically improve your skin, then this high-tech solution could be the perfect answer!

True skincare infusions are more than simply a cream that you could apply in your own home. In a clinic, a specialist can assess your needs a pick a mix of treatments to help rejuvenate your skin, make it firmer or softer, reduce redness or stimulate cell turnover. They then use soundwaves or LED treatments to infuse this unique blend into your skin, producing instant and dramatic results, without the need for injections.

What to Choose?

If you’re looking for a non-invasive, soothing treatment as part of a relaxing spa day, then a skin infusion is the winner hands down. The only drawback is that the results last only a few days. Regular treatments can have a more permanent effect but if you’re looking for a longer term solution, you may have to opt for a more dramatic injection!

Friendship is a concept I have reflected on deeply recently. Let’s start by saying that I have rarely found it at all easy to make friends. I am shy by nature although some people argue with this idea strongly so perhaps I mask it well on occasion. I was different as a young person in various ways – adopted, travelled a lot at weekends, had older parents and grown-up brothers and had an annoying habit of often coming top of the class. Oh and I was rubbish at sport. Was I rejected or did I just expect it to happen so pushed people away first? Probably a mix of the two to be fair.

Is it important to have friends in your life?

I watch my daughter and see that she is pretty self-sufficient. She does not need a load of people in her life. She used to entertain herself with drawing and now that is supplemented with online art and design and her passions around Japan, myths and things that capture her interest in our home education journey. Perhaps it is absolutely OK to live a more solitary life if you are happy? My youngest son is great at socialising but equally happy doing his own thing. My teenager is the most bothered about having friends around him. My husband likes having acquaintances but does not let anyone really get close. I guess we are all different. Although I love having  friends, I can find too many overwhelming and would not want a host of people calling around to see me all the time. Like my mum,  I like to do my socialising away from my home and then return to my safe sanctuary when I am ready to do so.

Facebook friendship

Right from the start, I have struggled with the “friends” label on Facebook. My friends tend to be people I know. My husband’s tend to be people he has “met” through online games which I find odd. How can they possibly be defined as friends? My friends tend to be heartfelt ones and people I feel a genuine connection with. Of course because of blogging I make online friends and it is difficult to turn down a friends request but on the whole if I was true to myself my Facebook friends would only be people I had met in real life. Online and offline friends are different in my view except in the arena where you meet online but life throws you together in the real world and you bond.

What I want from a friend

It’s all about heart for me. I am not really interested in just chatting or in collecting friends to prove how popular I am. I want a friend who is willing to get to know me and to let me get to know them deeply too. I want loyalty and someone who will not bad-mouth me behind my back. Recently I have realised that people I used to know at school or college really aren’t that bothered about seeing me again ever and might ignore me online too. That hurts hugely. If I suggest a meeting at some point and it is just blanked or navigated around, I have to fight myself to not define myself as worthless. I am beyond such thinking but when friends let me down, I have to steel  myself and remind myself that I am an amazing and lovely person. If certain people can’t see that and value me, so be it. Needless to say, I love to laugh and converse so my best friends tend to have those qualities. The best of all I can spot even before we become friends. These thoughts make me wonder if I should end some friendships. If someone does not leap at the chance to see me again, do they really care? If someone does not respond to messages on Facebook, are they really saying they don’t want to communicate with me again? I  don’t want to force myself on people however much I would like to have them in my life in some way.

Thinking positively

I don’t want to end this post on a downer so am thinking positively as I conclude. You never know where you will find those heartfelt friends so it is an exciting journey. For years I thought my time for making friends was over as I struggled with depression and all the challenges of parenting and other close relationships. Blogging led to new friends first online and then up close and personal. I moved last year and have a load of male friends probably for the first time since college days recently. I am a good friend. I am loyal. I will be there for you when you need me. I will go out of my way to help. I hope I am a good laugh and these days I can even do hugs and kisses with aplomb.

The truth is however much I love them it is probably high time I let some old friends go. Perhaps some friendship is just for a short time and perhaps however much I struggle with that, it is fundamentally OK. There are so many people in the world and these days I am confident enough to know that new friends really are just around the corner. Friendship is a wonderful thing when you get it right and that takes the two of you trying hard or waving goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Little Buttons

Confessions of a New Mummy

Linking up with Triumphant Tales

Kate on thin ice

Cuddle Fairy

Reflections from me

Winnettes

If you are bullied in the workplace, it can make your whole life a nightmare. We spend so much time at work. If someone is getting at you at work, the stress spills over into family life too. So when it has got to a point where you dread going to work every day, what can you do to move forwards positively? This might involve speaking out or pursuing legal rights perhaps with the help of someone like Prosperity Law or via an advice agency.

Acknowledge you are being bullied

Being bullied can eat away  at your self-esteem. Your bully may make fun of you for being over-sensitive. Whilst it is fine for a boss to highlight any poor performance or wrongdoing on your part, it is not OK to belittle you or to pile on pressure. Bullying can sometimes be identified by its repetitive nature and it can be done to you in so many ways and face-to-face, over the telephone and in written communications via text and email.

Examples of bullying behaviours

  • Rudeness
  • Insults
  • Gossip
  • Ignoring
  • Excluding
  • Victimising
  • Giving degrading, demeaning or pointless tasks
  • Threats
  • Sexual abuse
  • Blocking access to training or promotion

Feelings on being bullied

Being bullied can lead to various negatives in your life. These might include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of confidence
  • Stress
  • Depression

There are no excuses for bullying and the bully is often in a powerful position but it is important to stand up to them.

What to do if you are being  bullied

Initially you could try speaking to the person who you feel is bullying you. Sometimes and only sometimes, the person does not realise their behaviour is out of order. Sometimes just telling someone how you feel can help a relationship work better. I say this because I once was amazed to see one boss and I get through a troublesome time once we started to understand each other that bit better. You could ask a colleague to be with you when you confront the other person. If this does not work, you can talk to your line manager or the Human Resources Department.

Taking legal action

You could put in a grievance about the situation. All too often though, grievances end up with you being on a disciplinary charge. This is when you would be well advised to contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for support. which comes free of charge.

Sometimes bullies go as far as sacking you in which case you will need employment law advice about unfair dismissal. In other situations, you may find the situation so intolerable that you choose to leave yourself and then you can look into claiming constructive unfair dismissal.

In conclusion, always know that bullying in any environment is unacceptable. It always defines the bully rather than yourself. Do not suffer in silence and respect yourself enough to reach out for support. That is a sign of strength.

Bullied In The Workplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger