I’ve let this week play out without any expectations apart from giving myself permission and space to feel anything and everything.

What happened was an honouring to all parts. The first day honouring the fight and exhaustion of 5 long years. Another day I woke up needing to grieve for but after an intense emotional release all I could think about was what I’d gained.

My life ‘before’ was magical. It was spontaneous, hedonistic and free but in reality, when I became a parent I wasn’t sure who I was. I found the change in identity so hard.

2 years later when they discovered my tumour, everything changed again, but this time it was completely different.

I woke up in hospital after I’d collapsed out the blue with a seizure at home, my world had changed again and all I could see was beauty. I didn’t know what was about to come and if I had I’m sure my outlook in that moment would have been different.

But the very first thing I felt was gratitude. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the world and everyone in it was. I was so fascinated that I set up this blog to document it all. In one of my first posts I describe it as “I have woken up in a different matrix. Maybe I have. The intensity of beauty in everything has been amplified to such extreme levels that I am in awe”. Everything was in hyperfocus, even strangers faces that I’d never met before felt different, I noticed every line in their face, every crease but especially the smiles. It was extraordinary and mind-blowing. I felt like a fog had been lifted and unveiled a world so enlightening that I had to go out and see everything, do everything, be alive.

That first year wasn’t easy but the gratitude it gave me, the immense determination and a drive to look at everything that might help to keep me in this glorious world. I honestly felt like I had new super-powers.

It’s not just gratitude either. Noticing everything means I feet so much more connected to others as well as nature. From that time onwards I’ve meditated and cold water swam almost every week. My obsession with trees is bordering creepy!

I’ve definitely changed and in answer to who I’m more comfortable with, who I feel is the real me, it’s 100% now, the ‘after’ version.

There’s the connections and reconnections its given me to so many beautiful friends as well. All through the impact of cancer but I treasure these beautiful friendships that are so deep and supportive. It’s another super-power, the ability to connect on such a deep level so quickly compared to life before when those types of friendships were much harder to form.

And then there’s the knowledge and sense of purpose I’ve gained – it started with this blog, followed by an introduced to Dr Jack Kreindler who helped navigate me to other treatment options that then led to people contacting me to know more. A while later, the German diagnostics company I used for my own sequencing asked me to work for them which gave me a much deeper understanding of how genomic sequencing and targeted treatment works.

While speaking to so many patients and caregivers I realised how much more guidance they still needed so we, Dr Jack and Marje (more on Marje shortly) set up a non – profit making company that offers navigation services to people that want to know more about options not available on the NHS or private healthcare.  Through this I gained a new friend that’s so dear to me she’s become my mentor, my confidant and chief partner in crime, my Marje!

Could you say that means cancer defines me? Maybe. But iIt has shown me who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m unbelievably proud of that person though so I’m ok with however I’m defined.

And so the last day of honouring was a celebration of what I’ve gained and everything else I’ve had the chance to do in the past 5 years.

Bang at the top has been watching Loli become the 7year old she is now, a source of constant surprise, joy and pride so what better moment than to be dancing with her celebrating 5 years of LIFE!