I've missed you.
I'm sat at my computer desk, with a little cat called Betty, who is walking over the keyboard and head-butting my hands, making it very tricky to type.
This is Betty...
I know. She's a doll.
Betty and I got acquainted in May, when she decided to take up residence in my shed and have her three kittens in there.
We got further acquainted when I managed to bring her and the kittens safely into my home (with the help of the RSPCA and a very supportive local animal welfare society).
I fell in love with her when she developed a severe case of peritonitis after being neutered, and I very nearly lost her.
Here she is this week.
Ernie the cat has a big ole crush on her. Eric the cat is 15lbs of wibbling mess in her presence. Terrified. Of. Her. She weighs 6lbs. You do the maths.
I will tell you Betty's full story in my next post. Today, I wanted to tell you about something else.
A few days ago, a very dear friend of mine came to visit me. It was the first time I had seen her in 19 years. As soon as she stepped through my front door, we hugged and cried. It was so amazing to see her. The years fell away and we talked about all the things we had experienced over the past 19 years.
I told her my truth, she told me her truth, and it was beautiful.
As we talked she said to me, "Why don't you write about all of this on your blog?"
I told her that I struggled to walk the line between being open on my blog and giving way too much information. She responded with...
"Emma, people want to know your story."
So, as scary as this is, I think it may be time to go deeper and tell you my truth here on my blog. Not because I lack a healthy set of boundaries (OK. sometimes I do. I can't help it. Rude jokes are funny.) but because, in all honesty, living with several long-term illnesses that all trigger into each other and cause a lot of physical complications, limitations and pain has taught me some things about how to be happy.
I know that sounds odd, but you read me right.
I have learned some things about how to be happy because of the pain of living with illness.
If you're ok with it, I'd like to start sharing that sh*t with you.
Above all things in my life, I want to be honest and authentic. It feels scary to take off the mask and go deeper with you, but, if you'll be patient with me, and excuse my clumsiness as I get used to doing it, I'd like to tell you my truth. The reality of life living with illness, and what I've learned about how to live a glittery life even when it doesn't look exactly how you expected it to look.
There will be swearing. I will make inappropriate jokes. Sometimes things will get a bit dark. And I will probably get giddy and over-excited without meaning to. But I promise, above all else, to be absolutely honest with you, in the hope that you will be able to read something that touches you.
So, here is the first piece of my telling my truth. My sister has finished her chemotherapy and is recovering from the strenuous nature of that. She is doing amazingly. She's actually doing the Race For Life in a couple of weeks (walking not running) to mark her claiming back her life.
I am so proud to be her sister.
I went to the Family History Unit at the hospital today. Due to the history of different cancers in my family, I have an increased chance of getting breast cancer. I will be having annual screening for breast cancer from now on. I will also be referred to the genetic testing unit to see if I need to be tested for the breast cancer gene.
This is good news.
I am being given the opportunity to get intimately acquainted with my boobs, and to share with you how important that is. I now know what I need to know. There is no mystery for me. Today, I was shown how to check my breasts for lumps and was shown exactly what a milk duct feels like in my breasts and how different that feels to a lump. I now understand fully how important it is to get to know my own breasts and what's normal and abnormal for them.
I was pretty much close to hyperventilating on my way in to the hospital. I have studiously avoided having anything to do with my own breasts ever since my sister got her diagnosis. That's quite impressive considering my breasts are pretty much, you know, right under my nose. But going into the hospital today and being given very clear, open, supportive information about what I needed to know, took the fear away for me.
I know what I need to know.
When we have all the information, we know what we're dealing with and can make good, safe, loving choices for ourselves about what we want to do.
So, stepping off the deep end in my first post digging deeper into honesty and authenticity, I'm talking about boobs, touching myself, personal lumps and bumps.
You lucky, lucky people. I am on fire...
Is there something you've been putting off doing or checking out health-wise because you're nervous of knowing what it might mean?
Have you never checked your breasts because you're not quite sure what to feel for?
Could you feel OK about taking a deep breath and doing it anyway?
Wishing you the courage to do what you need to do health-wise to take care of yourself.
You are important. You matter.
With huge love,
P.S. We've hit £350 on my Cancer Research UK fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/Emma-Saunders6 and have only £150 to go before reaching our target of £500. Thank you for all your donations. There is still time to donate and enter the fine art raffle to win a signed and framed print of my painting of Ella. Please donate if you can. Em ♥