The Big C


Cancer awareness is something I value highly as my mum passed away from cancer 9 years ago today when I was 10 years old after an 18 month long battle. Today I am writing about a woman who has defied the odds and is currently thriving, living life to the full, today I am writing to you to share the story of Heather Von St. James, and hopefully raise some awareness about mesothelioma, a cancer which is caused only by asbestos exposure and which is entirely a preventable cancer.


Heather Von St. James is a rare mesothelioma cancer survivor who 8 years ago defied all odds when she was given just 15 months to live. 8 years ago, when her new daughter was only 3 months old Heather and her husband Cameron received the devastating news that Heather had cancer. A time of happiness and joy soon turned into something no family should ever have to experience, a time of fear, worry and thoughts of death. With treatment and life saving surgery which removed Heathers left lung she became a survivor and 8 years later is enjoying a happy life with her husband Cameron and her daughter Lily.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer. With three different types this cancer can affect the lining of the lungs, abdomen or the heart. This disease is the most serious of all diseases which is cause by exposure to asbestos, a group of naturally occurring chemicals which are resistant to both heat and chemicals. This cancer is often difficult for doctors to diagnose as its symptoms often mimic those of other common illness.
                                                                                                                                                                                      
If you wish to find out more information regarding Mesothelioma check out this website: http://www.mesothelioma.com

A step in the right direction


I recently began my medication reduction with the aim of coming off my antidepressants completely. This is a huge step for me and has been a long time coming. I was initially out on this medication just before I went into hospital in 2011 after my first antidepressants fails to help improve my mood. After going into hospital my medication was increased something, which happened quiet often, and a month or two after being discharged from hospital it was increased to the highest dose possible. So after spending almost three years on these meds I am absolute delighted to have finally begun my reduction with the support of my GP.

Despite the sense of security my meds provided me for many years I have wanted to come off them for a while but all the doctors and nurses I have been seeing over the years always felt it wasn’t the right time, but then again is there ever a right time to come off medication. Not really sure if there is ever a good time to come off antidepressants now was a good a time as any, I have been doing good lately with very few bad days and I haven’t self-harmed in over three months, a huge achievement for me.

This decision to come off my medication under medical supervision, slowly over a course of a few months was a hard decision despite wanting to come off them for so long now. I have been taking these meds everyday for almost three years, they have helped improve my mood, allowed me to gain control of my thoughts and helped me get out of a really dark place so I think it goes without saying that they created a sense of security within me, a feeling of hope and made me more positive about battle my mental health issues. I had to make this decision for myself, no doctor or nurse could decide for me because after all they don’t know what’s going on in my head, I am the only person who can really and truly know if it is a good idea to begin med reduction. Without the support of my doctor though I would not have been able to begin this process because at the end of the day it is dangerous and stupid to try and reduce antidepressants without medical supervision. 

Despite getting off to a positive start on the lower dose of medication I do still fear I could go back to my old ways, self-harming, having very bad days and being depressed but that is a risk I needed to take, it is the fear of going back to my old ways which has helped me to focus and ensure that does not happen and taking this risk to fight my battles without medication eventually is something which I needed to take in order to truly deal with and overcome my mental health issues. So yeah I’m scared but that fear is what is driving me to ensure I do not go back to my old ways for as long as possible.

I honestly don’t know how this will go, if I will come off my meds completely or if I will need to be on a lower dose or if I cant function without being on the highest dose, I really don’t know and to be honest I am not going to attempt to predict the future because right now I’m taking a step in the right direction, starting a road which is covered with fog and they only way to know what lies ahead is to take it one step at a time, dealing with issues as they arise and learning from my mistakes.

Photo of the day. :)





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Reconnecting


Something happened to me about a week and a half ago, something which I never expected to happen and something which was really out of the blue, about a week and a half ago a family member from my mothers side made contact with me. I know you may be thinking what is so surprising about that but you have to understand that my interaction with my mothers side of the family decreased incredibly after her death.

A week and a half ago I received a friend request of Facebook from my godmother who also happens to be one of my mums cousins. Now initially I wasn't sure who the person was as a result of the change in last name but after a few moments it clicked with me who she was. Now I'm not great with building relationships and it is something which I have spent a lot of time working on both personally and professionally as a result of the nature of youth work but again it is still something which I can often struggle with. When accepting this friend request I didn't think anything would come from it, maybe a how are you here and there but nothing really and that's not because of the person who contacted me, it was because of the 9 year gap of not being in contact and my anxieties about engaging with my mothers side of the family for a fear of bringing up painful memories associated with her death etc.

Soon after I accepted the friend request a conversation was initiated on her behalf and in next to know time arrangements were made to meet up for coffee and a chat. I didn't have time to allow my anxieties to prevent me from saying yes to meeting up, which is something I am grateful for.  Not only did this coffee date allow me to have a chat with my godmother and get an insight into her life and that of her mother as she was also there it also allowed me establish further contact with that side of the family, contact which I intend to ensure continues. This chat which lasted for just an hour done something to me, it allowed something to develop, it created this sense of security, a sense of love and most of all it created a sense of closeness to my mum, something which I haven't felt for a while, something which I have been longing for but didn't quite know it until now.

Reflecting over the interaction with my mums side of the family and basically the whole process of my godmother taking the time to get in contact with me, despite the 9 year gap which was unpreventable as a result of family circumstances has really triggered something within me, it has allowed me to have a more positive aspect on life and it really and truly means the world to me. What has happened to me internally as a result of this reconnection with my mums side of the families something which words cannot describe and I would urge anybody who has lost touch with family or friends to take the first step and make the initiate contact, I only wish I could have been the one to initiate communication with my godmother but nonetheless it really can have an amazing effect on you internally as a person, it did for me and there is no reason it shouldn't for you.


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