So many opportunities!

Hello wonderful people in my life,

How does this time of month come around so quickly?! How did I manage to do so much in such a small amount of time?! How busy are the next couple of months going to be?! CRAZY!
It is getting cold quite rapidly here in London and it’s been really rainy. I pulled my beanie out this week! Brrrrrrr!
September came and went. Kate left me and is going through Canada, the USA and Central / South America before heading back to NZ. I got to cast a special vote in the NZ Elections my first visit to the NZ embassy here in London.

See you in NZ Wifey! x

See you in NZ Wifey! x

Off to NZ House in London to vote in this years elections

Off to NZ House in London to vote in this years elections

The afterglow of traveling over summer lasted ages. I think it was due to the fact I discovered my fitness was coming back and my fuel tank was filling back up. It’s also been great that I’ve been house-sitting and without the financial pressure of paying rent I have been able to rest a lot and work less. I think since the beginning of September I have worked five and a half days. I just don’t want to be a teacher right now. Not here in London anyway. Looking back at this year it would be a fair observation to say that I have struggled with fatigue. I think I had more energy going through treatment and at the moment it is a case of taking it day by day and not running my energy stores to far down. Getting there slowly.

A couple of months back I sent my CV out to about 10 cancer charities to see if I could get any kind of paid work or some kind of volunteering. Most of them replied and it was cool to get offered more volunteer based work about London. What eventually came out of it though was a role with NHS England. So I have a two month contract that takes me right up to the end of my visa. I am working on an event called Future of Health which aims to better support people with long term conditions. My role involves liaising with patients with long term conditions to get them involved and be the connection between them and the conference team. I have just done a blog for this site to so if you want a read do click the blog tab – http://www.futureofhealth.co.uk

I have been doing a lot more volunteer work for Coppafeel! and that’s been so enjoyable. Helped out at an event a couple of weekends ago that was about a campaign called What Normal Feels Like. We had a pop up shop in Brick Lane / Shoreditch that was set up as a gallery. The campaign was a team effort between photographer Rankin and Coppafeel in which healthy bare breasts were for the first time ever displayed on billboards around the UK. When we talk about our boobs we don’t think about how they feel, we talk about the size and shape so this campaign was all about getting us better acquainted with a different vocabulary when we do have boob chat and thinking more about the way they feel the big question being what does normal feel like for you? Talking to people on the street was interesting and like any thing not many people want to stop to listen to what you have to say. I think I definitely changed the thinking in some people and that was why I was there. Thanks to Sarah and Bridget for popping in!
http://coppafeel.org/what-we-do/whatnormalfeelslike

With Sarah and Bridget at #whatnormalfeelslike popup in Bricklane. London, September 2014.

With Sarah and Bridget at #whatnormalfeelslikepopup in Bricklane. London, September 2014.

One young lady walked passed when it was pretty quiet. She was on her phone and when she spoke to me I noticed she was from New Zealand – strong accent. We had a quick chat about visa’s and she was also on a two year to work live and travel. I told her about the campaign and when I didn’t spark much interest I asked if she was in a hurry she answered yes. I asked her how old she was. 27. Last year I was 27 when I had been here for four months like you living the dream and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With every new person I tell there is a different reaction but the most of those who listen take something away and I know I have made them really think about their bodies. That young lady said “You just made me stop and think”. It was a moment of appreciation when tears began to well in her eyes and she said I have to give you a hug. I nearly lost it too because I know I had brought breast awareness to the forefront of her mind. It’s such a soul satisfaction to pass on the knowledge I have about this disease. Looking forward to a few more talks in the coming weeks and heading to Belfast, Ireland to do some talks as Coppafeel! is expanding and making their move to the Emerald Isle. Looking forward to be apart of that!

As most of you are probably aware I have been asked to do a TED Talk. TED (Technology, Education and Design) is a platform for public speaking and sharing ideas. TED’s slogan “Ideas worth spreading” is something many inspiring people aim to do and with a massive internet following and many talks having millions of views its a huge once in a life time opportunity to have been offered. I think we all have a story to share and when I talk about my experience in regards to breast cancer awareness I know one day I am going to save someone’s life and that gives me a powerful sence of purpose. I know I may have already done this several times. Looking after your boobs is certainly an idea worth spreading. Check put my recent blog post for my talk on the TEDx website – http://www.tedxsquaremile.com/blog – you may need to scroll down a bit. I also have a profile on the website too it you are yet to check it out! http://www.tedxsquaremile.com/speakers. For those of you unable to attend the talk will be posted online so I will make sure I keep you all updated as to when it is released.

I still can’t believe we did it! Almost two weeks ago Sarah, Kirsten, Emily and myself did the Cancer Research UK Shine Marathon Walk in aide of research for Breast Cancer and we even managed to do the whole walk wearing giant boob costumes! It took us a very long 11 hours! We started at 10:15pm on Saturday night and finished around 9am on Sunday morning. I don’t think I have ever done something so difficult in my life. 42km or 26.6miles is a really long way. I feel like I had literally walked my feet off by the time we crossed the finish line. The last couple of hours we walked past so many people limping, walking in jandals/flip flops and their socks. The finish line was basically a room filled with broken humans. By the time we managed to get home it was straight into a cold water bath, shower and then into bed in which we passed out and fell into a 7 hour coma. Upon reflection it was a mammoth feat to achieve and it was a lot of fun. Would I do it again? Probably not and still do not understand how people run that distance?! Ridiculous. Big thanks to the girls for doing it with me!!! Always wonderful to see Emily who came down from Glasgow and Kristen who travelled from Cambridge. My fundraising page is currently still open if you wish to support an amazing cause please do donate!
http://www.justgiving.com/wellerjess2014

At the start line! Shine Marathon. London, September, 2014

At the start line! Shine Marathon. London, September, 2014

At the half way point...the realisation that you have to walk the amount you just walked again. Pain! With Emily, Sarah and Kirsten. September, 2014

At the half way point…the realisation that you have to walk the amount you just walked again. Pain! With Emily, Sarah and Kirsten. September, 2014

Nap time and still at least 2 hours from the finish line. MORE PAIN. Shine Marathon, London, September 2014

Nap time and still at least 2 hours from the finish line. MORE PAIN. Shine Marathon, London, September 2014

Last week I had my fifth and final surgery in my cancer journey (hopefully the last one) to remove my Portocath. It was another easy straightforward procedure and apart from feeling a bit drunk from the anesthetic afterwards I have been feeling pretty well. Here is a pic of me and my magician surgeon Mr Tan. Glad that its out but I do have to admit that I am glad I had it in for my treatment. Just before I went into theater I had four medical professionals trying to find veins in my arms so that I could be put to sleep. My veins seems to run away when they know needles are going to be involved. Going through that with chemo and Herceptin would have been horrfic. Only one round of Herceptin left then I am all done. Hard to believe that I started this journey almost 18 months ago. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. So surreal.

This surgical magician did four of the five surgeries i have had since I started my cancer journey.

This surgical magician did four of the five surgeries I have had since I started my cancer journey.

Got to have a silly photo in my hospital gown! Port Surgery October, 2014

Got to have a silly photo in my hospital gown! Port Surgery October, 2014

It’s been great catching up with people who are visiting London. April and Andy were over from NZ and we had a great time lunching at Shepherds Bush, wandering through Hyde Park then stuffing our faces with ice cream at the Fortnum and Mason parlour. Such an amazing London institution and a must see if you are ever in town. So close to Buckingham Palace. Had a lovely rainy Saturday morning catch up with Kyle and Jess at Borough Market. Awesome catch up’s with Ed in London too. Trying to tick off some more musicals! Saw a show called Forbidden Broadway which is basically a spoof of all the musicals that feature on the West End / Broadway. Defiantly worth a look if you have seen a lot of musicals! Gave the Book of Morman lottery a go but to no avail. Wonderful to see Lauren who I met in Rome for brunch today and looking forward to seeing Rob tonight. I love being popular! and LOVE London catch up’s!

Love my London catch up's. With Andy and April in Hyde Park. September, 2014

Love my London catch up’s. With Andy and April in Hyde Park. September, 2014

So October will be a busy month leading up to an even busier month in November. With the BCY2 Breast cancer in Young Women Conference in Dublin, my TED Talk, I am off to Belfast to do talks with Coppafeel! All in between working and hospital appointments. Fun and exciting times are ahead.

Hope this finds you all well,

Jess xxx

That was SUMMER!

Hello wonderful people in my life,

Wow what a month it has been. It always seems to go really fast and when I find myself starting to type I am overwhelmed by what I have achieved since I last wrote to you all. It makes me so happy to be able to tell you all what I have been up too and what path I am currently on and what opportunities are presenting themselves. I know these emails can be and generally are quite long so I am trying to make them a bit shorter!

I have seen a lot in the past month and have really enjoyed seeing new places, experiencing culture and making new friends all while trying to get a decent fix of sunshine which was lacking in both Ireland and Scotland. Glad I got some in Italy! What a relief!

Ireland is a beautiful country. It’s rolling green hills, lakes and coastlines had me in awe for nine days. We started our trip in Dublin and this time I was with Ally and Michelle – two lovelies that I had met in London. There friend Alyssa also joined who they meet in Scotland while enjoying Hogmany back at New Years. We spent 9 days tripping around the countryside and covered Dublin, Cork, Kilarney, The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Annascoul, Galway, Belfast and Derry. Highlights of the trip were definitely the Cliffs of Moher and The Giants Causeway. I found the culture of Ireland very happy. The music and dance was awesome. Such a wonderful atmosphere. It was interesting to learn more about the divisions between Catholics and Protestants and come to the realisation of how bad the conflict was not that long ago. Its incredibly confronting to see murals telling the story of those who’s lives had been lost due to the divisions that are born from such different religions and the hate that has been fuelled over generations. Again something you don’t realise until you visit a place like Belfast and Derry.

Pulling a pint at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

Pulling a pint at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

My birthday was great fun! Can’t believe it was almost four weeks ago. Thanks to all of you who sent messages of good wishes I had a brilliant day being a tourist in London. Haley, Kate and I made it up the Shard (London’s tallest building) for brunch. We ticked off the Emirates Airline and checked out the O2 before heading to Stratford Westfield for some birthday gelato and shopping. Caught up with Sharon who was over from NZ so that was a great birthday treat. Kate baked a delicious black forest cheese cake which was amazing! Another fab day out in London.

Scotland was fantastic. I made my way there after stopping off in Sheffield to catch up with Zoe while she was in the UK. Glasgow wasmy first stop for the Commonwealth Games. I spent the last (very rainy) weekend of the Games with Frank and Emily. I lived with these two in Auckland back in 2009. Emily and I made it to see the Squash which was held in an arena with amazing atmosphere. The calibre of the matches was awesome and we watched some great doubles and mixed doubles. Was really cool to see Joelle and Marty win their quarter final and catch up with Barb and Bob briefly. Looking forward to seeing you both back in Auckland at some point. Glasgow didn’t really turn on the weather but it was delightful to wander around the city, check out some local bars and wander the tombs of the Necropolis. So stunning with epic views of the city and the Cathedral.

At the Squash at the Commonwealth Games. August, 2014.

At the Squash at the Commonwealth Games. August, 2014.

Exploring the Glasgow Necropolis. Glasgow Scotland, 2014.

Exploring the Glasgow Necropolis. Glasgow Scotland, 2014.

After Glasgow it was onto Edinburgh to start a five day tour. There were 20 of us on the bus all from different parts of the globe. Of course the token Kiwis and Aussies, along with Germans, a couple of Dutch, Americans, Thai, Taiwanese and a girl from China. Pretty eclectic bunch. We drove from Edinburgh to Inverness with a stop at a whiskey distillery before a swim in Loch Ness. Oh my gosh it was so freezing that when I got out I felt a rush of heat as my blood was clearly rushing about my body to keep me warm. Pretty facinating! Had to be done! I was the first one in haha. I don’t think too many people were keen but I made the decision pretty fast. Another one of those one in a life time opportunities. After Inverness it was onto the Isle of Skye where we went to a Highland Games in Portree and saw some commonwealth athletes in action in kilts of course. The scenery was stunning. We drove down to Oban where we danced at a Caledh a traditional Scottish dance which was fun and imvolved getting stood on a few times. Down through Fort William and Sterling to see the William Wallace memorial and the battlefields of Bannockburn. So much history. Edinburgh was a highlight got to catch up with Jacque and did a little bit of city wandering. With the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival on it was a pretty good place to be! The fringe is an arts festival which takes out the month of August each year. It is know as a stage for comedians, musicians and actors to display there talents hoping to make it big. There are so many free events so its great if you just want to see some talent without a giant price tag it works for everyone. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I think that of all the shows I have seen in the past two year that it was defiantly one of the best. A music and dancing skeptical, fused with the sound of Bagpipes and so much military precision. Just a marvel to see. Wonderful to see Jacque and have a good catch up.

Checking out the Glenfinnian Viaduct. Where the Hogwarts Express goes! Scotland, August, 2014.

Checking out the Glenfinnian Viaduct. Where the Hogwarts Express goes! Scotland, August, 2014.

It was great to attend my first English / Scottish wedding in Worthing. Emily and Frank have been such amazing friends to me over the past year and it was so amazing to be apart of their big day. I lived with them in Auckland back in 2009 and we have been good friends since.

Token selfie before Frank and Em's wedding. Worthing, England. August, 2014.

Token selfie before Frank and Em’s wedding. Worthing, England. August, 2014.

My second trip to Italy was a highlight of my summer mainly because of of the sunshine. I had such a blast in Ireland and Scotland but there was a definate lack of sunshine! Steeping off the plane after landing in Rome the rush of heat in the air was awesome! Rome was a great city to explore. The hostel I stayed at there were so many other travelling by themselves so we all congregated and I ended up hanging out with some really cool people over the three days I was in the city. Exploring the city was incredible. There is so much to see and do in Rome and being in a city that is so historical was fantastic. St Peters Basilica and the Vatican City were amazing. The Sistine Chapel was magnificent even though there were way to many people squashed in a reasonably large room looking at the ceiling. The Roman Imperial Forum with ruins dating back to before Christ and the impressiveness of the Colouseum make you feel like you should be dressed in a toga. The fountains that adorn the city were so grand in scale and were beautifully lit up and were someone ethereal at night. The food was fabulous. Pasta, pizza, gelato and tasting local wine. Just fantastic.

Jump shots at the Coloseum! Rome, Italy. August, 2014.

Jump shots at the Coloseum! Rome, Italy. August, 2014.

I caught a train and headed north from Rome to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre can be translated to “5 Villages”. These five villages have been established on the coast nestled amongst cliffs. You can train between them or you can walk along a beautiful coastal track. We stayed in Riomaggorie and walked the track between Monterosso and Vernassa. Then walked from Vernazza to Corniglia. I spent three wonderful days there with Sarah, Ally and Kirsten. It was so awesome to swim in the ocean for the first time in ages and it was a lot warmer than Lochness! We tried a lot of amazing italian food and celebrated Sarah’s birthday with incredible sea views and a romantic sunset. So relaxing and the perfect end to a great summer holiday.

Beautiful birthday sunset for Sarah. Vernazza, Cinque Terre. Italy. August, 2014.

Beautiful birthday sunset for Sarah. Vernazza, Cinque Terre. Italy. August, 2014.

Exploring Cinque Terre. Vernazza in the background with Kirsten, Sarah and Ally. Italy, August, 2014.

Exploring Cinque Terre. Vernazza in the background with Kirsten, Sarah and Ally. Italy, August, 2014.

When I was in Rome I noticed that I was not as tired as I had been on other trips. I am finally feeling like i’m getting my fitness back. Walking around for hours on end is becoming easier and I feel like I have more energy. It’s a breakthrough because I have felt so flat for awhile. Just as well because I will be doing a full marathon at the end of this month. I did the half last year the day after my 4th round of chemo. The Shine night time marathon is in aid of Cancer Research UK and in my case spreading awareness for breast cancer. I am feeling pretty lucky that I have managed to con three other amazing people to join me on a 42km walk! Emily, Kirsten and Sarah it’s going to be such a wonderful evening. It will definitely be full of banter and the attention we get should be up there as we will be sporting boob costumes thanks to Coppafeel! Can’t wait. Thanks to all of you have donated so far. Here is the link to my fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/wellerjess2014 should you wish to make a donation. Need to do more walks and take advantage of the nice weather that is still here in London. My hair is growing back pretty fast too. It is starting to have a bit of a mind of it’s own and morning hair is defiantly out of control!

Over the next couple of months I will be doing more volunteering for Coppafeel! and I am looking forward to attending so Breast Cancer events. I have recently been awarded a registration, travel and accomodation grant from the European School of Oncology to attend a Breast Cancer in Young Women Conference in Dublin in November. I’ll be attending as a Patient Advocate and Educator which I am so excited about. There are so many amazing things going on over on this side of the world and I want to get as much information and build up as many resources as I can to take back to New Zealand. Breast Cancer Care which is one of the bigger breast cancer charities here in the UK holds weekend events that are specifically for young women who have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the last three years. The event runs awesome work shops and seminars with all accommodation and food provided to all attendees. I will be going to one in Bristol in November. Excited!

I go back to work tomorrow so enjoying the last day of couch time! Looking forward to a big training walk this arvo too. I am now living in South London in Clapham. Housesitting and looking after two very cute cats. Will be here till mid November. So glad to not be paying any rent!

I hope this update finds you all well, sending warm fuzzies from London.

Love Jess xxx