Saturday, 30 April 2011

The moment we'd all been waiting for

Sealed with a loving kiss... Will and Kate

It's finally over. After months of hype and speculation, Royal Wedding fever reached its pitch yesterday - culminating in not one but two balcony snogs.

Having never been a royalist - and a few years too young to have experienced Charles and Diana's wedding - I found it impossible to understand what the fuss was all about.

Shrouded in secrecy... Kate's dress
But the second I switched on the TV I was hooked. The celeb guests. The outfits. The carriages. The lavish venue. The open-topped Aston Martin. The Cartier tiara. And who could ever forget that £250,000 Alexander McQueen dress. The opulence of the whole affair blew me away - so much so I found myself glued to the screen for hours watching re-runs and speculating whether Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie had actually looked in the mirror before they left the house or if Harry and Pippa would get it on at the after-party.

Never mind that every penny spent probably came out of the public purse. Normally I'd be up in arms about such blatant frivolity, but after years stuck in recession depression it was a breath of fresh air to see the country come together and celebrate. For a nation so unpatriotic we can't even be bothered to celebrate St George's day, it was endearing to see crowds out in force with smiles on their faces and flags in their hands.

But despite all the pomp and formalities, the best thing about the Royal Wedding was the fact the bride and groom are clearly very much in love. Unlike Princess Diana who - when not completely shrouded by her hideous meringue - looked miserable throughout her wedding celebrations. It just goes to show that, despite the issues and alleged cover-ups of the last 25 years, the royals are finally moving into the 21st century.

Plus Harry's still single so there's hope for us all yet!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Older but still none the wiser...

It all started a year ago today. This time 365 days ago, I pressed 'publish' on my first blog post and officially began my quest for journalistic fame. 

Starting out with zero page views and just one follower on Twitter, I never dreamt I could scratch the surface of the colossal and constantly expanding world wide web and make my tiny little blog stand out. However, a year and 25 blog posts later, I can finally see my work beginning to pay off and I've now got nearly 200 Twitter followers and well over 2,000 hits.

The past 12 months have been an emotional rollercoaster ride. I've felt elation every time I receive compliments on my blog - and when prolific journalists follow me on Twitter. I've felt frustration when it feels like I'm treading water and not getting anywhere. And I've felt rejection every time a job application  or email is ignored.

But if this industry has taught me anything it's to be persistent.

And what a difference a year makes!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Big C

Under the microscope... cancer cells

Cancer. It's a word society automatically associates with death and suffering. Yet, terrifyingly, a third of us will now contract the disease at some point in our lives.

Despite the statistics I naively thought it would never affect my family and instead cast it aside as being a terrible illness that only affected other people. The high-profile death of celebrities such as Jade Goody, Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett saddened me greatly, yet I still failed to register the shocking prevalence of the disease.

So, when my mum found a breast lump on the same day news reports announced one in eight women get breast cancer, I wasn't worried. I explained the lump away in my head; surely it would just be a benign cyst, a fatty lump, a bit of muscle. Anything but face up to the possibility it could be cancer. 

Looking back, I was in denial. I genuinely thought mum was indestructible. On the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer the news didn't really sink in. That very evening I attended a friend's birthday party as normal. Then the next day I went shopping. Whilst browsing the rails in River Island I spotted a lady with a scarf covering her head - she was clearly a cancer sufferer. I felt like I'd been smacked in the face as the enormity of what was happening to mum suddenly hit me.

 Samantha Jones' inspirational speech on SATC is a light-hearted take on cancer

The truth was, she could die. Tears streamed down my face as I contemplated life without her. Would she see me get married? Would she ever meet my children and see them grow up? The thought of losing her was more than I could bear.

But I had to stay strong for her so instead threw myself into learning about the disease. To my surprise, it has a very high survival rate and is easily treatable if caught early. Until mum had her lumpectomy we wouldn't know how advanced the cancer was or how far it had spread, so it was, quite literally, a waiting game. 

The lump was clearly visible by the time mum had surgery. I couldn't bring myself to look at it. Every time I did I thought of the cancer eating away at her which was just heart wrenching. Yet mum was so brave. She never once complained, even after surgery when her breast looked like something out of a horror movie. In fact, she held us all together - comforting my family when she must have been absolutely terrified herself.

Tragic... Jade's death encouraged young women to check for cancer
A week later we received results and discovered the cancer cells hadn't spread. Luckily it had been caught early and mum wouldn't need a mastectomy. A huge feeling of relief washed over me as I realised I wasn't going to lose her.

Six weeks on and mum has just had her second chemotherapy session. Chemo has been even more traumatising than surgery for mum, as losing her hair has been devastating. It had been falling out rapidly in chunks for days until eventually she decided to have it all shaved off. I was shocked to see her without hair, but I understand it's an unfortunate side-effect of a drug that will help her beat this horrific disease.

As always, there's a moral to my story. Don't ever take your mum (or your health) for granted. You never know when either could be taken away from you.

Happy mother's day mum. Get well soon. xxx