Thursday, 4 February 2016

World Cancer Day



There seems to be a day for everything these days, but today is an important day for me.  It is World Cancer Day.  Today is my day off, a break in the week when I can stop thinking about cancer.  Sadly for many people they don't get to have a day off from cancer.  Living with cancer is a term that is being spoken more often as survival figures climb, longer remissions possible.  Yet there is still so much to do.  Treatments are harsh, symptoms limiting quality of life and side effects changing peoples lives beyond treatment finishing.  Research is key not only for reducing the percentage of people likely to have cancer but for improving treatments and just as importantly improving care, service and information delivery.  Treatments are becoming evermore personalised yet we still have a long way to go in tailoring information to individuals.  

As part of the ICanWeCan project for World Cancer Day, I Can help every patient I treat cope with their radiotherapy treatment.  Of course I already do this and will continue to do this. But in the coming years I want to help my profession make improvements to service delivery, tailoring information to individuals, finding ways to help patients living with short and long term side effects of radiotherapy get the quality of life they deserve.  Even though I am a newly qualified Band 5 therapeutic radiographer I already have ideas and will research project ideas in coming months to see if they are actually viable. 

So what you can you do for the ICanWeCan project?  You can book that smear test, check your breasts, give up smoking.  You can take a friend who is living with cancer out for coffee and a catch up or head out for a walk with them, fresh air is good for the soul as well as relieving fatigue. You could make some meals for the freezer of a friend or relative currently having cancer treatment for their family, so they don't have to worry that everybody is getting fed.  Whilst we could all give a fixed amount to the various charities, which of course means we can make changes, improve treatments and save more lives.  Giving the gift of time, whether for ourselves to get checked or spend with a friend or family member living with cancer, or making a friends life a little easier whilst they receive treatment, is worth more than any donation.  

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Thursday, 28 January 2016

January Round Up



Whilst I have planned on monthly round up posts before I never seem to quite get around to it.  So this year I have decided to try and collate a round up as each month closes, sharing what I have been doing, reading, listening to and even watching.  

Reading  - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
In an effort to declutter and tidy the house properly once and for all I have turned to the tidying godess that has received high praise across social media in the recent months.  So fingers crossed her magic works on me!

Doing - Business Planning
This month has seen me helping my husband make plans for creating a business that fits around our family and gives him a way to share his talents.  To be honest I have thoroughly enjoyed this, donning my creative and marketing hats again.  Also one of the ideas will mean I can collaborate with him.  Watch this space.....

Listening - Adele, Foxes and Jo Whiley
This month I have continued to play Adele's new album, 25, whilst in the car.  A damn good sing along on my long drives home from work have been the tonic I needed as the dark evenings have become a little depressing.  My other love this month has been Foxes, I absolutely love this band and have added them to my various playlists this month.  Also this month I have been making sure I listen to Jo Whiley's Radio 2 show as much as possible, whether this is live or on catch up.  For me Jo's show is a celebration of talented musicians, old and new, whilst catching up with an old friend or big sister.  

Watching - War and Peace and Call The Midwife
After spending so much in the company of Dr McDreamy and the cast of Greys Anatomy whilst I devoured box set after box set on Amazon Prime, I needed a new fix.  This time it wasn't a hospital based medical drama, the only blood to be seen is on the battle field, or in childbirth. Having never read War and Peace, I know a terrible admission for a literature graduate, I was intrigued by the new adaptation.  Thankfully this does not disappoint and I am loving the character development, drama and beautiful location and costume of this epic.  Call The Midwife has become a firm favourite with myself and the girls, making time every Thursday after school to watch an episode in the wintry months, so we are thrilled that January saw it's return.  

What have you been up to this month? Any recommendations?!

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 25 January 2016

New Approaches In Womens Healthcare

This week marks the start of the annual Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, with Jo's Trust aiming to run campaigns to better inform the female population about this and encourage women to attend appointments for smear tests.  Oh yes those dreaded two words, something we try and avoid, completly dislike and wish we didn't have go at all.  Yet we should all know how important it is to make sure we attend that dreaded appointment every three years.  Early detection can save lives.  Really it can, it's not just a scaremongering tactic.  But I know how difficult it is to get an appointment at exactly the right time of the month.  

Recently I have been thinking about barriers in healthcare again, particularly womens healthcare.  Since turning forty I know my body will start to change, with the promise of menopause on the horizon and not many more years until I get my first letter to attend for a  mammogram.  But what should I really be expecting from the next few years?  Yes I am aware of the breast screening programme, but more through my job than being told this is what will happen in your mid forties onwards.  As for the menopause my knowledge is limited, unless I search for information or blog posts or magazine articles about it, there is not a fixed appointment with my GP to advise me about what to expect.  In amongst the national screening programmes and making sure we know the importance of early detection for cancer, we seem to have forgotten about the things that affect all women, or certainly the majority of us.  Female health seems very much to still be a bit of a taboo subject.  I am sure there are some of us who readily discuss changes in our bodies with friends or family but not everybody is fortunate enough or comfortable enough to discuss periods, breast changes, the menopause or fertility issues, or body changes after pregnancy and birth.  

So what can we do to change this?  Attitudes will need to change, but this takes time, gently feeding the need for information through blogs, magazines and newspapers.  Womens health issues need to not be whispered about but openly discussed.  I don't mean that we chat loudly on the bus, or in the supermarket queue, but that we have confidence to talk about our bodies and it's changes and problems.  No longer avoiding a trip to the doctors if something isn't quite right.  But this is where I feel there is a big barrier in us receving the healthcare we deserve and need.  With many surgeries having only one or two female GP's that often work part time, it is a real battle to get an appointment with a female GP.  Recently I was informed by letter that our family doctor had changed ad I was delighted we had a female GP.  However she only works part time and her hours sadly don't coincide with my day off, so the delight was short lived.  

Over the past few years Nurse Practioners have become an invaluable part of the surgery, offering knowledgeable advice and healthcare for so many of us.  So why doesn't every surgery have a Female Health Nurse Practioner?  This nurse could be available part or full time, covering more than one surgery in smaller towns or be full time in surgeries covering a larger radius or busier town.  We can visit with our concerns about periods, menopause and the many other gynaecological issues we have.  These nurses could also make sure we don't miss our smear tests or mammogram appointments, provide information about the risks and benefits of HRT or get us the help we need for incontinence after childbirth.  Having a friendly face at our surgery that understands the issues of the female body and knows where to get us the help we need or simply reassure us that it's quite normal would be huge bonus to the service provided.  Yes I know that this would cost money, something the NHS is always short of, but think how much it would save in the long term.  Women could readily access this service, preventing issues progressing to a level that requires more expensive healthcare.  Personally I know that I would happily make an appointment.

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Note To Final Year Radiography Students

To All Final Year Radiography Students,

Right now it seems like there are not enough hours in the day I'm sure.  With a dissertation deadline getting closer and closer and clinical placement competencies to be met.  Nevermind trying to write your personal statement for job applications, with little time to actually search for Band 5 jobs.  On top of all that you are probably struggling to find time for friends and family, people moaning that you're a rubbish friend, sister, brother, mum or dad.  Everyday you wonder if you are doing the right thing, not even sure you will make that distant day in the summer when you will collect your results, qualify as a radiographer, start that first post as a band 5.  

Now stop, breathe, give yourself a little time off.  Even just half an hour to sit with a cup of tea and watch some rubbish telly, flick through a magazine, wrap up warm and go for a walk.  I know you have so much to cope with right now, but sometimes we need to take a short pause.  Everything will still be there when you press play again but taking time out will help, I promise.  Maybe that paragraph you've been struggling to write will now make sense, you will think of a way to manage your time better, making a plan of action or even feel better prepared to cope with a difficult supervisor on your current placement.  Little things can suddenly seem huge when you are stresssed, difficult mountains to get over.  Taking time out each week will be a huge benefit to you now.  So no more thinking I don't have time to stop.  Make time, write it in your diary, add it to your outlook calendar to make sure you have a little time out.  No more excuses, you need to take care of yourself to make it through the next few weeks.  

Good luck and take care,
Zoe
xo

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Wardrobe Staple = Breton Stripes



For the Love of Stripes

Oh yes I do love a breton stripe.  Like so many women across the nation, the world, the universe, I have a rather nice collection of these perfectly striped tops.  Navy and white perfection that is now a staple part of my wardrobe, whatever the weather. Teamed with jeans, cigarette pants or tucked neatly under a denim tunic dress, I really cannot live without breton stripes.   With the likes of Boden and Gap now offering a rainbow of stripes I am seriously considering making a few colourful stripey additions to my wardrobe soon.  Yet will I really stray away from the traditional navy and white combo?

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Monday, 11 January 2016

Thoughts of Summer Sun



After a unseasonably warm festive period it would seem winter has decided to arrive as this first week of January closes.  Sat at my desk with a snuggly cardi and fluffy socks to stave of the chill in avoidance of putting the heating on, I am browsing holidays ideas, with dreams of summer sun gently kissing my skin.  Whilst I am ever grateful of living somewhere with four different seasons, sometimes seen all in one day, I do love the warmer days of late spring and summer.  Having already booked my annual leave for the latter weeks of August it's time to think about where we would like to spend these.  As we are not sure if the boys will be joining us this year it does make it a little easier to  find a holiday and of course a little cheaper.  Yet there have always been options having a large family, whether its under canvas, in a cottage but fewer hotel options.  Apart from a trip to Disneyland Paris we have always taken the self catering option, making it easier to feed our brood the food they like and at times that suit us.  Now with palates adapted to a more diverse diet and more flexibility in meal times maybe an all inclusive option could be considered.  

Whilst I would love a fly and flop style holiday, I am not sure how long it would actually be a lovely holiday once there.  As a family we are not used to just sitting around, slowing down a bit during these shorter winter months, so a relaxing holiday probably isn't really for us,  However the option for slower paced days are definitely part of my holiday plans.  So for now I will continue to browse, in and of course out of budget....well a girl can dream can't she!

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Delicious Drinks - Hot Chocolate

With the days turning chilly, walks on the beach or in the forest are being finished with flasks filled with hot chocolate or coffee.  Over the years I have created for the children chocolaty goodness topped with marshmallows, squirty cream and even a sprinkling of tiny gingerbread men.  Hands wrapped around a steaming mug to warm them from a walk on a cold winters day or after school, snuggled under a blanket watching cartoons.  There is definitely something warm and cosy about a mug of hot chocolate don't you think?  And remember to put the marshmallows under the cream so they can melt in to the hot chocolate.  Here are a couple of great hot chocolate recipes if you fancy making your own instead of an instant one.


from Luvo





Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo