21 February 2017

Lung Leavin' Day

Today is my monthly charity of the month post.

When I decided to start this series, I decided that I wanted to try and support charities, causes and forms of illness that were lesser known to the general public; in order to raise more awareness.  One of my posts like this is for Ugly Mugs

Today I wanted to talk about a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma.  I think most of us knows someone or has had a family member who has had cancer.  There are many types of cancer that are well publicised and get great fundraising from the public, such as breast cancer.  I have never heard of Mesothelioma before now, until I talked to a very special lady who was diagnosed eleven years ago.

Mesothelioma is rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or the abdomen.  Unlike many forms of cancer that occur naturally, Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos.  It has no known cure and the prognosis can unfortunately be bleak.

One thing that I had seen in cancer patients, both young and old is an utter resilience.   A refusal to let cancer beat them and a force of will that is powerful to watch.

It is that resilience that got Heather Von St James to the stage where she has now reached eleven years of survival after a diagnosis of malignant pleural Mesothelioma which the doctors told her could take her life in as little as fifteen months.  Faced with a dire prognosis with a three month old baby girl at her side, Heather decided quite simply that she was going to live.  There is nothing stronger than a mother, determined to watch her child grow up.


You can read about Heather's incredible story here which is quite frankly awe inspiring.

After having her left lung removed, Heather and her family created a memorial to the event by starting the Lung Leavin' Day.  This day is celebrated every year by Heather, her family and friends gathering together, writing their biggest fears on a plate and smashing them into a bonfire.

Eleven years on and this tradition is still going strong and is spreading.  You can write your own fear and smash your place here.  Here is what Heather has to say:

"Having so many people come out in support of us is incredibly humbling, and SO DAMNED COOL!!!!! It is so great to have a house full of people who love and support us. Some people I only see this one time a year, others are in our lives all the time. Having friends come from out of state come is really special and makes the event so much more than just a party"

Research into this rare form of cancer is incredibly important.  You can donate to the UK charity by clicking Mesothelioma UK or for my US readers, click on MARF

It is so important to share stories like Heather's.  The human spirit is a powerful thing and Heather is proof of that.  She celebrated her eleventh year of surviving this horrible disease.  I wish her many, many more years to come.

17 February 2017

Strong Women

One of the best decisions I have ever  made was joining the plus size blogging community.  At its core, the plus size community is an inspiration and a home for women and men who have been told by society that we are not enough because of our size.  

This community shouts back that we will always be enough.  That we deserve the same respect as everyone else.  It gives confidence and brings people out of their shell, letting them be the person that they were always meant to be.


I have met many amazing people in this community.  One of those people is the beautiful Em of Terrible Tumbles  I hope that she will forgive me for gushing, but Em is one of those people that lights up a room.  Not in a beauty way (although she is such a gorgeous girl) but the way her soul shines out of her. She is warm, caring and utterly lovely.  You feel instantly comfortable in her presence, even those of us who are awkward in social situations, like me.  You feel at home with her straight away.

I have cheered her on from the sidelines as I have seen her go from strength to strength with her blog and I was very honoured to be part of her most recent blog post, a series of two called "Too Much?".

As women, we are often put under pressure to act or be a certain way.  You have to be a certain size, have a certain demeanor.  The goal posts are forever changing and I for one, have struggled, and failed to keep up.  One day I realised that the only person who should set my my goal posts, is me.

The "too much" criticism I get is that I am too opinionated.  But after having no voice for most of my life due to a lack of confidence, a fear of not being accepted and a pressure to confirm to what society thought that I should look like, say and be; I decided that enough was enough.  I would be myself.  I have an opinion, about many things, that much is true.  I have a passionate in what I think and believe.  I learn and change every day due to conversing with others.  This is who I am.

I am very proud to be a part of Em's post, especially alongside so many strong women who are confident in who they are, are not afraid to be exactly who they are and unashamedly march to the beat of their own drum.

I cannot wait to read the second post in the series and read about other strong women.  Who runs the world?  Girls.