World Cancer Day

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For World Cancer Day I wanted to share with you all a little more about my niece, Lily, and her cancer. All of my friends, and you lovely people that have taken the time to read my Dying Matters post, know that my niece died on 9th July 2015, aged 21.

She was infested with cancer and we were told, fairly soon after her diagnosis, to expect the worse. She was so determined to fight and it was only when she was told there was no hope of having treatment she gave up and died a few days later.

The cancer she was diagnosed with was a neuroendocrine cancer which is not normally found in younger people. She didn’t have the normal signs and symptoms of cancer. It all started with a pain in her side…she had been unwell for a few weeks and had been given Naproxen tablets for a muscular pain by her GP. She was rushed into hospital as the tablets had given her stomach ulcers and they had burst. She was being treated for the ulcers when they thought that she had a thyroid problem, it wasn’t. Then it was something different, on and on it went; with them looking at different parts of her on a daily basis. 

That was when they found the tumours on her ovaries and we thought all she had to worry about was having treatment and being able to get on with her life. We all had thought that she could be fixed. We were very wrong. The cancer was spreading at an alarming rate and had already been found in other organs. She had to wait for tests to be completed and it took two weeks to find out what kind of cancer it was, where it had originated, if it could be treated and how. It was hard for us as a family, I honestly can’t imagine how hard it was for her, wondering if all the hopes and dreams she had would be able to be fulfilled. 

When we found out she that she couldn’t have treatment as she was just too ill, I believe we all died a little inside. I know that it felt like I was losing a major part of myself and I couldn’t even imagine what her mum and sister were going through. 

From her official diagnosis to her death it was only a matter of weeks. We had no time to prepare ourselves or Lily for anything that was to come.we were all in denial and so very angry that this should happen to her. She hadn’t smoked, drank alcohol or taken any drugs. It was unfair. 

While she was in hospital she decided that she wanted to have her relationship blessed. She looked beautiful as always. Although you could see by then just how ill she was.

Lily’s blessing

I like to think that had she lived she would be continuing to create her art and running her etsy shop. She had written a lot of poetry and written what was meant to be a set of three children’s books, she was upset that she had only written two. She really wanted these published and I hope that we manage to do this for her. 

That she could have had the opportunity to do everything she had wanted to. She was modelling for a photographer friend and was in a drama group too. She loved dressing up, she was incredibly photogenic and was amazing with make up.

She was terrified of what would happen when she died, if there was somewhere or something after you go. If her Grandad and Nanny would be with her. This is all something a girl of her age shouldn’t have to contemplate. She was so very strong for everyone and suffered too much.

She was loved a lot and has left a huge hole in everyone’s life. She is thought about and missed every day. 

New Year….nearly new me

I have decided that new years resolutions are only there to tempt you to break them as soon as possible. So I have not made any. 

I have since then had a bit of a health issues that has scared me into losing some weight and eating healthily. So this isn’t a resolution it needs to be a total lifestyle change. 

I’m currently looking at some different changes I can make to improve my health but not be total pain in the rear. In other words I don’t want to have to cook different meals for everyone as that would be stressful and expensive. 

I have decided to give Slimpod another go and actually stick at as it worked for me last time I did it. You listen to Slimpod and make some short term goals and long term goals. However the major difference is you don’t weigh yourself!! Use a ribbon and watch it get smaller each time you measure (which is only at certain weeks in the 12 week plan). 

Many of my friends know that I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome. Which means my body can’t make its own collagen. My joints are very bendy and I can dislocate easily. Unfortunately this also has further health complications as there is a lot of ligaments throughout the body not just at the joints. The dentist is a total joy for me as the local anaesthetic they use doesn’t work on me, then add in jaw subluxation (it slips out of place but doesn’t dislocate) if they move it the wrong way. 

I have very generously passed this condition onto my daughter as it’s genetic. At least this allows her to be given help as she needs it. We are lucky that the school she attends already has another child with the same condition so is very aware of the limitations she has and they also have access to an occupational therapist and physiotherapist within the school setting. 

Thanks for reading!

Switchblade review

Jess was given the opportunity to write a review of Airhogs Switchblade. Which she was uber excited about until it came to the actual writing bit! so you will to make do with mine. Sooooo……


This little beauty arrived a while ago and I managed to get Jess to wait while it charged up for its first flight. I have to say that it was a total delight that you can charge this via a phone charger cable. I have found with other helicopters and cars we’ve had, that charging them from the batteries in the handset makes it costly.

I haven’t got any photos of it flying as I was busy trying to avoid being hit by it. which she obviously found hilarious! However it flysheet smoothly and we were able to get it to change directions. 

This has proved to be a popular addition to our multitude of remote control objects.

I can highly recommend the Airhogs Switchblade for anyone’s Christmas list. 

TFL

Barb x

Palmiers

I’ve recently started a full time job so I haven’t managed to join in yet this year with the Great Bloggers Bake Off. Semi-final and here I am….finally. I was going to make a savarin buuuuttt I knew I needed to make something fairly quickly and easy as I am very pushed for time at the weekends. I have used bought puff pastry as I have many more things I can do with those precious hours, and if it’s good enough for Mary Berry then it’s good enough for me!

So I decided to go for palmiers and I’m going home one step further and using a recipe I stole from my sister! I really like this recipe it’s a quick mix, slap, roll and bake. Hey presto palmiers. And to make it even better…..”how?” I hear you ask. Well by adding courgettes I can get an extra vegetable into the child without them knowing. So here is my pilfered recipe (I’m fairly sure she won’t mind me sharing it!)

Hey Pesto Palmiers

1 packet of puff pastry

1 courgette, grated

Red Pesto

Cheese, grated

  • Dry off the grated courgette slightly
  • Add half the jar of Pesto
  • Mix in the cheese, as much as you like (within reason!)

  • Smooth the mixture all over the puff pastry and roll one side into the middle and then the other side.

  • Pop this into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Now cut the palmiers into slices about half an inch thick.
  • Bake at Gas 6/180°fan for 15-20 minutes until cooked through
  • Eat!!

I couldn’t bring myself to make two different savoury palmiers. So I made biscoff spread ones. It sounds a bit odd but wow they are gooood.

Biscoff Palmiers

1 packet of puff pastry 

Jar of biscoff spread

  • Spread the biscoff onto the pastry
  • Roll up as above and pop them into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Slice and bake at Gas 6/180°fan for 15-20 minutes until cooked and golden *be careful the filling is very hot!*
  • Enjoy

These ones didn’t turn out very good but they were yummy.

I was given the opportunity to work with tesco for this bake. They have a variety of fantastic recipes on their website.

It’s not too late to join the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016. 

School holiday baking part 1

Today we had to wait in for my beautiful HUGE new bed to be delivered. Jess was harassing me, which is totally normal during school holidays, to “do” something.

We said to her Grandad yesterday that we would make some honeycomb for him. So out came the biggest pan I could find and I spent ages finding a recipe that seemed to make sense – I had looked through a few and I don’t want to know what other people are doing when they make it, I want a tried and tested recipe. I found one, yay, and apart from a little freaking out when it started to puff up when the bicarbonate of soda was added it looks as it should do. 

Honeycomb 

375g caster sugar

225g golden syrup

125ml water

15g bicarbonate of soda

The largest pan you have!

• Prepare your baking tray with a double layer of greaseproof paper, lightly oiled

• In your saucepan put the water, sugar and syrup in and gently heat until you the sugar has dissolved

• When this has dissolved, turn up the heat until you have a good boil going. Then if, like me, you don’t have a sugar thermometer, set a timer for 10 minutes. This allows for a gorgeous caramel colour.

• Remove from the heat and quickly whisk the bicarb in. It will fizz up and you will think it’s going to go over the edge. It shouldn’t (which is why you need a large pan!)

• Pour onto the tray you prepared and leave it to set. 

• Break it into pieces

Tips- if you are a fiddler take the spoon out when the mix starts to boil. I will be covering mine in melted chocolate when it’s finished.

Random Acts of Unkindness

I’m really excited about reading this book. I love Karen Rose and Angela Marsons so this sounds like a perfect read for me. I think there is nothing nicer in the summer than sitting outside enjoying the last bit of sunshine with a good book and a glass of wine.

Look out for my review of this book in the next few weeks!

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How far would you go to find your child?

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.

Jan uses Bessy’s information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones.

Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels.

If youd like to read it then you can buy it from Amazon.

About the Author

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Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Jacqueline won Kindle Scout in 2016 and her crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness, will be published by Amazon Publishing imprint Kindle Press. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016. Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

Dying Matters

I’m not sure how to start or what to say which isn’t like me in the slightest.

Last month, at work, there was a “Dying Matters” week advertised and they were asking people to join in the Big Conversation, which was all about making sure that people know what you want to happen to you when you die. This made me think about writing this as any of us could be taken at any time. It’s not a nice thing to talk about with your loved ones but it is such an important thing that needs to be discussed.

The people that know me, know that this last year has been the worst year of my life. It’s been hard and we’ve all felt desperate, heart broken and unable to process what happened.

It has been nearly a year since Lily died. She had an untreatable form neuro endocrine cancer that had, by the time that had found it, infected virtually every organ of my beautiful 21 year old niece’s body.

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Lily

We have struggled to comprehend how quickly she was taken. And I’m so angry with people that say that she was only my niece so I shouldn’t be so affected by this. But I have always loved Lily and her sister, Amber, as though they are my own children. And I never expect to meet anyone like Lily again. She was easy to love, as proved by everyone that met her.

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She had managed to do many things in her short life, yet somehow not enough. She was an amazing artist, loved acting, taught art to children and even wrote a children’s book(unpublished at the moment so if anyone is reading this that knows how to get this done please shout up). She was a bit kooky (aren’t we all in some way?) but sweet. She started her own business, called the Octopode Factory when she left school selling her artwork digitally and became famous within the world of mixed media crafters. I’m proud to say I have her first watercolour painting which she painted with me.

Having had this happen to my family recently it has brought forward so many questions about death and what we would like to happen to us when we die. I know that I’ve struggled to talk about this. One of the things that remember debating with my sister when we were told Lily was terminally ill was that she had no idea how to approach Lily and ask her what she wanted to happen to her when she had gone. She was too young to have even thought about it. And she was too ill to have a full discussion.

I’ve had to answer all sorts of questions from medical ones to a simple “why?”. I say simple, but it’s one of the hardest questions to answer when it’s a child trying to understand the death of a loved one. She still doesn’t understand why Lily has been taken. She worries about what will happen to her if either of her parents die. And she worries about dying herself. At 10 years old she is far too young to discuss her choices about cremation or burial. But it is something that I will be discussing with her when she’s ready.

I have had my “big conversation” and made sure that I have made my final wishes known. I urge you all to do the same.

Lily passed away on 9th July 2015.

I walk past people that helped to care for Lily on the different wards she was in. Most days are difficult if not excruciatingly painful. It hasn’t lessened my emptiness. I still miss her every single day.

Make the most of every day you have with the people you love.

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Lily and Amber