Two years today…..

Today marks two years since I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I was young – only 27, on the trip of a lifetime, living in London when my dream hit the biggest road block I had ever encountered. You would have thought that life on that day turned to shit, but it didn’t and I am here to tell you why.

I look back at the last two years and think about everything I have gained from this disease and the experience of kicking it’s ass – it was never going to be easy, and it wasn’t but I am more proud of myself than I have ever been.

I have grown in ways I could never have imagined. I have met incredible, inspiring individuals and often made the decision to follow my heart more than I follow my head.

I have had so many humbling experiences and learnt so much about a world where there needs to be more celebration and love, action and happiness, change and connection – we all have the power to create great things.

We all have something to learn from each other and there is always something to teach. Self-belief is at the core of us and knowing that we can do whatever we want is a goal we all need to make and reach for. It may not be today or tomorrow or the next day but we all have so much to live for and that is a realisation I will never forget.

Wanting to live and doing just that has been the biggest achievement for me. 

I am proud to say that having Cancer never stopped me from living because I didn’t let it.

I remember the people that said to me that “Everything happens for a reason” and how I didn’t want to hear it – however now I feel like there is a certain truth to that phrase and I must use it and all it’s goodness to my advantage.

I am rich. Wealthy. Beyond words. In the bank I have friends and family that support me and go above and beyond. I have memories of places I have travelled far and wide that helped me send a stack of postcards and gather a tiny shelf full of beautiful souvenirs. I have had fascinating conversations with so many amazing humans and have so much appreciation in those who have listened to me speak and offered such kind encouraging words.

My blog had been viewed almost 8000 times since I made it public only 1 year ago. I hope that I have helped many of you understand the Breast Cancer journey and to those that reached out to my story to help their own cancer journey I hope you found something worthwhile in my words. Writing was a savior, an expression and it really helped me get through.

Money can by a lot of things but it can’t by memories, it can’t buy passion and it can’t buy inspiration. The inspiration I have gained from listening to like minded philanthropists speak, inspiration I have gained from people telling me that they have made an appointment with their GP or discussed their family medical history, inspiration I have gained from the support of all of you and your belief that I can make a difference.  Thank you for showing love and care to your self – your life and your body are precious beyond measure.

I have neglected writing for the past two months because my life has seemed confused and lost. I got back to New Zealand and I hoped I would hit the ground running – because that is what I always do. This time I guess being thrown in the deep end this time it was literally too deep.

 All my strength was used up fighting the good fight and filling up my empty fuel tank will be the job at the top of my to do list in 2015 – I’m half way through the year and the only way is up.

Self healing is what it is called. I know it’s all up hill from here. It will be a long hard road, but I defiantly know I will get there and the prize will be worth it when I reach to top.

Some awesome things are on the way.

So, here I am another year wiser and a Breast Cancer Survivor.

 I am so thankful for all of you, your love, guidance and support.

 I could not have done it with out every single one of you.

 All my love and appreciation,

 Jess x

 

 

What I have been up to in April, May and the beginning of June…..

Managed to get down to the central north island with a crew of the girls and tackle the Tongariro Crossing. On of the world’s best day hikes. Hwen I think about it my legs still hurt. 19km in 8 hours and some stairs aptly named the Devils Staircase……eeek

There has been yet another trip to the USA to attend Stupid Cancer’s Cancer Con. EPIC beyond words. I was absolutely blown away by this conference and what it had on offer. I connected with some very inspirational individuals and learn so much about other young people who have like me been through the disease. This conference was a whole different level to the one I attended in March because it dealt with all cancers in young people. Yep realized this time that it is a long way to go for the weekend!

Decided that a full time job wasn’t for me and I am back to relieving around Auckland. Doing relief will give me the flexibility I need to do cancer education.

Speaking at Jacqueline Nairn’s Pink Ribbon Brunch at Pilkington’s Shortland Street. An amazing morning full of delicious goodies and auctions all in aide of The Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

I have had my yearly checks – an ultrasound and a mammogram – both CLEAR! WHOOP!

Speaking at Live Your Legend Local Auckland’s Monthly Meet Up about “Overcoming Obstacles” and reminding others that we are all truly stronger than you think.  Amazing and incredibly humbling chats with like minded humans who want to help others and make positive change in the communities they live in.

Still not drinking……six months down!!! It’s been pretty easy actually, a lot easier than I expected.

New flat is going well and I am now living in my own room and paying rent in Grey Lynn. It’s weird being a grown up but glad to have some roots down.

I’m constantly dreaming about what will happen next in my journey, currently just letting things happen. Watch this space….

 

My brain is like a sponge……..

Hello wonderful people in my life,

Wow. What a week! Can’t believe that I am back in Auckland after a whirl wind trip to the USA.

A massive thank you to those of you that pledged and once I hit the $9000 target donated to my project which went over $10,000. Beyond stoked and feeling incredibly humbled and grateful for your support. I tried my best to thank everyone via email and various messaging services so if I missed you please know that your contribution is appreciated. http://www.givealittle.co.nz/project/jessweller

Target SMASHED!!!!

Target SMASHED!!!!

A massive thanks to The Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand for their generous grant of $1200.

Houston was wonderful. Cold, wet and rainy but wonderful. The city itself is incredibly vast and too me felt as if the buildings were apart of a giant set of lego and were stategically placed to create a concrete jungle. The motorways were huge and it felt odd driving underneath several intersecting lanes and road ways. It is certainly true that everything is bigger in Texas! Yes I saw a lot of large cowboy hats and boots. A massive thanks to Chris for having Kate and I stay in his home. One of the most amazing things that I have learnt about travelling is that the people you meet are always willing to help out where ever you are on your journey.

Managed to make it to the Rodeo which is a must do if you ever make it to Texas and they have a concert every night so we were lucky enough to see John Legend live who was amazing. They have the bull riding and the barrell racing but what I didn’t expect to see was what they call “Mutton Bustin'” which is small children holding onto a sheep for dear life! Hilarious! There are so many food outlets too. Tex Mex and BBQ in giant portions make for an entertaining people watching experience. Was cool to have a tour of the city with Chris and was yet again amazed by the size of the US supermarkets especially Whole Foods – a natural and organics store. That’s definitely something I could see us having in NZ. Always love seeing the palacial houses in the wealthiest areas of city’s I visit. So massive and extravagant some of these houses are so big I just don’t understand how people can afford them. Old money apparently. Facinating.

So the main reason I went to the USA was to attend the YSC Summit. http://www.summit.youngsurvival.org

I'm INTERNATIONAL baby! At the YSC Summit, Hilton America's, Houston Texas USA. March 2015

I’m INTERNATIONAL baby!
At the YSC Summit, Hilton America’s, Houston Texas USA. March 2015

The YSC Summit is Young Survival Coalition’s annual conference. It brings together a multitude of organisations that all in their own way have some impact on people who are curious about, are going through or have themselves been through Breast Cancer.
The organisation itself was set up back in 1998 when three young women who felt there wasn’t enough support out there for young women with Breast Cancer – young being under the age of 35 in most cases. This event brought together 600 women and their co-survivors (family, friends, partners) to inform, support, educate, inspire and hopefully shed some light on the journey ahead and how to be supported in moving forward. YSC’s main aims are to improve services and treatment for those going through Breast Cancer and aim to increase public education, awareness and support for Breast Cancer. http://www.youngsurvival.org

With my lovely friend Kate who I met in Dublin in 2014. Kate was diagnosed with BC at age 25.

With my lovely friend Kate who I met in Dublin in 2014. Kate was diagnosed with BC at age 25.

There were several incredible exhibitors who all had amazing things to offer. My mind was blown by the amount of information and a week later I am still trying to digest what I saw and spoke to people about. I was so inspiring to meet people that are dedicating their lives to help those of us that have had a Breast Cancer diagnosis. There was information on everything including genetic testing, underwear specifically designed to support you after surgeries, nipple prosthetics (yes fake nipples), implants and many of the amazing organisations that have information and support for those going through the disease.

There were a number of seminars we were able to attend. I was lucky enough to head along to seminars regarding Fitness and Nutrition, Advocacy – Taking the reins and leading the movement and The Oncologist in You – Understanding the medical language behind your diagnosis. It was amazing to hear medical professionals who are the leaders in Breast Cancer treatment in the US speak. It is amazing to chat to those working in the field who are kind, helpful and doing their best to help those going through it.

I met a lot of incredible women who are advocates like I am trying their best to create movement’s to create change. Often though we are all met with challenge’s that see reality hit us harder than most would expect. So many of these amazing intelligent humans want to get involved within the cancer sector but can’t due to the lack of professional experience (mostly medical) and the financial burdens that come with living and life. I wish that I could do this full time because I know the benefits would outweigh anything else. Looks like I may really have to get creative. Figuring it out slowly.

Something I’d like to see more of at these kind of events is more prevention based education and how to make society more aware and bring down the risk factors that could lead to a cancer diagnosis. I am currently finding it hard to be honest about my findings and I am getting frustrated by the enormity of this disease. It is effecting so many yet society can’t identify the causes and fear stops us from truly being aware. There are so many myths flying around out there about breast cancer and young women and young people are I feel neglected in the education of the risk factors and prevention due to the fact it is less common to get the disease in the younger age groups. There is no real reason why cancer starts but those of us that do get diagnosed at a young age are often more susceptible to getting aggressive subtypes of the disease – especially in Breast Cancer.

While in Houston I was able to talk with some amazing women who are doing all they can to ensure that more people know about Metastatic Breast Cancer. It was hard for me to comprehend that these people are living with Cancer and it will in most cases end their life. The hardest thing was that one woman I spoke to had had breast cancer a couple of years back and had gone through treatment (chemo, radio, double mastectomy) and was cleared with no evidence of disease present. Then it came back full force and is treatable in a pallative capacity – meaning pain and symptom management not end of life necessarily. Being aware of your own mortality is one of the strangest feelings twisted up in this whole cancer experience. I can feel myself getting angry not because I had cancer but because I can’t stop people I care about getting it, especially people around my age. This should not be happening to our generation.

There were a few amazing speakers at the conference two of who have a lot of influence in advocacy and awareness. Both of them effected personally by cancer, one a surgeon, the other a fifth generation survivor of breast cancer.

Dr Susan Love is a surgeon, a prominent advocate of preventative Breast Cancer research and is also an author. She is one of the most respected women’s health specialists in the US. It was amazing to hear her speak about the importance of those of us who have been through the disease to keep talking about it. It was fascinating to hear about the breast cancer movements and listen to how October has literally become the month that we colour pink – but how do we move onto the next level? It seems that a plateau has been hit and there needs to be some kind of new life and momentum on awareness and prevention around the disease. Most funding for Breast Cancer Research in the US comes from the Department of Defence and this has been happening since the early 1990’s. Advocates are involved at every level of decision making and have an input on what is researched. I think the most significant thing I took out of Susan Love’s talk was that we are so focused on a cure that we are forgetting to focus on the cause – the question is how do we find out what it is and how do we stop it. Prevention is the beginning. To read more about Dr Susan Love Research Foundation follow the link – http://www.dslrf.org

With Dr Susan Love - author of The Breast Book. The "bible" for Breast Cancer

With Dr Susan Love – author of The Breast Book. The “bible” for Breast Cancer

Melanie Nix, a fifth generation breast cancer survivor said that she grew up around breast cancer. Her mother, grandmother and aunt all women close to her that lost their lives to the disease. The advocate for African American women was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation when she was a mother to two young children. I was blown away by the energy and courage of this woman and after the presentation I got a bit teary eyed when I had the chance to meet her. That does not happen to often but I was pretty overwhelmed and was so inspired by Melanie to do something more than what I am doing to save lives, provide support and get more awareness out to young people. Melanie spoke about being confident about sharing our stories and reminded us that advocacy comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and levels – it’s about doing something that makes the movement push on, up and out to speak to the wider community. It’s about marrying a passion and a talent and changing the thinking of those around you. To read more about Melanie and her involvement in Breast Cancer advocacy check out her website http://www.breastcancercomfortsite.com

Advocate – “One who actively support or defends a cause”

Feeling pretty stoked to have made the Daily Mail! It’s always interesting seeing how other people interpret my story. I have to laugh when some of the story is embellished slightly – without my doing so in order to encourage readers to click the link. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2995470/Meet-woman-diagnosed-breast-cancer-trekking-Europe-refused-home-named-disease-Mr-Lumpy-unwanted-travel-companion.html

So I am back in the classroom at the moment teaching Art at Glen Eden Intermediate and will be doing that for a few weeks so that will keep me going for a bit. The job market is not so great at the moment and because I am looking to work within the cancer and health sector it is proving difficult to find something that fits my professional experience. There are not many teaching roles out there either. It’s funny being back as New Zealand is so chilled out I think I was used to the efficiency in London – especially regarding work. It just does not happen here. Haha hopefully things will click into place just hoping my patience will click back in sooner rather than later. It will happen when it happens right?

I have just booked flights to attend Cancer Con which will be held in Denver, Colorado at the end of next month – so back to the USA I go, YEAY. I am really looking forward to catching up with some of the people who I met in Houston and meeting plenty more who are doing amazing things educate the public more about cancer. There will be a lot of young people at this conference – both men and women who have been through the cancer experience so it will be great to get some insight from those who have experienced different medical systems, treatments, surgeries, struggles and of course talk to them about their journey and the things they wish they knew about cancer before they were diagnosed. http://www.cancercon.org.

Life has been a bit crazy the past few weeks. I honestly feel like I am still trying to find my feet being back in NZ. Even though I am really happy to be back I feel like there is a big hole in my life that I am not sure how to fill it. What I have realised over the past couple of days is that sometimes we need to be patient with life and let things happen. Writing down what you want or saying out loud offers your goals, ambitions and desires out to the universe – put it out there – yes Sarah thank you for the inspiration on that one. With all that I am doing I have a constant uncertianty that keeps presenting itself. Is what I am doing right? Is it really making a difference? and how am I going to make it work? in the long term. Today I meet with someone who encouraged me and gave me something really profound to think about. As we were talking she said to me – “You really need to look at all that you have done and reflect on how amazing you really are”. Don’t be afraid of owning success, be a coffee bean.

Strength comes from those around you #giveitback #ownsuccess

Strength comes from those around you #giveitback

Jess x

NZ is where MY heart is

Hello wonderful people in my life,

I am sure every time I write an update I am amazed at how fast the time has passed since the last one. This last month is no exception and as usual I have managed to cram a lot in!

Hope you are all well and wherever you may be in the world looking forward to the festive season.

The aftermath of my Tedx talk was pretty amazing and like all of you I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the video to be released. I am not sure what exactly is going on and why it is taking so long but I know it will be released soon so will post it up as soon as I have the links. Such an amazing experience and still buzzing from being on such an awesome platform to deliver such an important message. Pretty excited to see what other speaking opportunities come from my talk once it is released.

Surgery went well and results came back all clear. I had the cyst removed on Thursday 27th of November and the results came back clear. It was so odd having surgery and being awake in the room I never get to see because I always get put to sleep before I go through those “double doors”. Such an interesting experience to be awake!

Had to get a cyst removed, almost fell off the bed! November, 2014

Had to get a cyst removed, almost fell off the bed! November, 2014

Leaving London was something I was rather anxious about. I guess because it was in so many ways my haven, the place I felt looked after and safe. I knew where to go and who to see if I needed to and I was always taken seriously. It was like leaving opened me up to uncertainty and that worried me. I think too when you have been in a place that has looked after you so well it’s hard to leave. London defiantly has a part of my heart and I know that one day I will be back there for a visit.

It was so great to have my leaving drinks at Be At One – an awesome cocktail bar and say goodbye to everyone that came along and made my London experience what it was. Thanks to those of you who were able to come along.

With Charlotte, Sarah and JT. Last weekend in London. November, 2014

With Charlotte, Sarah and JT. Last weekend in London. November, 2014

The day before I left I spent some time at London Oratory and was able to see my students who I taught last year. It was really nice to see them all and I think they were pretty happy to see me. So nice to say goodbye after having to leave them this time last year.

Working with NHS England was a fantastic experience. Such a wonderful group of people. The event Future of Health went really well and it was amazing to be around people who have experienced long term health conditions and want to make a change for those in the same predicament in the future. There are a lot of fantastic things happening in the UK in regards to patient centered care and improving systems of care for people like myself who may need on going support and medical attention. It was great the last weekend I was in London to be involved with Macmillian’s Capital C programme that had around 40 cancer sufferers and survivors of all ages come together to discuss how cancer services in London could be improved for the future. Macmillian is the biggest cancer support charity in the UK so this was something great to be involved in and the start of something really great for the people in that city. Macmilllian is trying to focus resources on regional access rather than doing more things that cover the whole of the UK / nationwide.

Discussing how to better improve cancer services in London. November, 2014

Discussing how to better improve cancer services in London. November, 2014

Thanks so much to Matt and Megan for having me stay with them in what was also their last couple of weeks in London. Was so wonderful to spend time with friends from home and meet their gorgeous boy Tristan. Super cute!

New York was the first stop on my journey back to New Zealand where I stayed with my Irish lovely Jewels in Brooklyn. I lived with Jewels in Auckland back in 2009 so we go way back! Did plenty of sightseeing and ticked off Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, took the Staten Island Ferry and checked out Lady Liberty and had great views of Manhattan from the ferry. Made it to the Broadway Show Avenue Q which was hilarious, keen to see it again one day as I was asleep a good portion of the second half! The time difference killed me! The World Trade Centre Memorial was beautiful and the Freedom Tower is a poignant example of strength and resilience of the American people. Brooklyn Bridge at night was incredible and the lights of Manhattan were stunning. Walking down 5th Avenue was pretty surreal as I have seen it in movies so much. So iconic! Was pretty cool to wander though Central Park too – it is so huge! After meeting the team of YSC – Young Survival Coalition in Dublin at the Breast Cancer in Young Women Conference I was able to visit there offices in New York. Was great to see Megan and meet up with some other members of their team. I feel like it’s really important for me to make connections with other organisations in different countries so Kiwi’s can benefit from the information that is out there about Breast Cancer. Awesome to reconnect with Kathryn (a fellow Breast cancer survivor) after also meeting in Dublin. New York in the rain and missioning it around China Town and SOHO to find souvenirs, thanks for your help!

Checking out NYC gems. December, 2014

Checking out NYC gems. December, 2014

On the Brooklyn Bridge with the lights of Manhattan behind us. December, 2014

With Jewels on the Brooklyn Bridge with the lights of Manhattan behind us. December, 2014

Took a trip out to New Jersey to catch up with Rowan and Linda who I house and dog sat for in Sydney on my way to the UK so it seemed fitting to see them on my way back. Was great to catch up with them and meet there little boy Peter. Was cool to see surburban America and even got to see some awesome houses covered in Xmas lights.

Washington DC can be explained as a giant museum. So much history and plenty to see and do. Was wonderful to see Maria and Peter who I travelled South East Asia with at Xmas and New Years 2011/2012. The monuments and memorials were so majestic and amazing, so much history. The Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial were incredible. Really enjoyed the views from a top the Washington Monument and even got to see the Pentagon – yes total highlight thank you X Men and Men In Black for that. The White House is beautiful but i was under whelmed by it’s size. Very small! Looks gigantic on TV! Haha. When I was leaving DC it was starting to snow so I think I left at the right time. Was a bit worried however as a giant storm happened to be brewing on the west coast of the US and lots of flights were cancelled. Got there in the end though!

Amazing views of Washington DC from atop the Washington Monument. Lincoln and WW2 Memorials. December, 2014

Amazing views of Washington DC from atop the Washington Monument. Lincoln and WW2 Memorials. December, 2014

Checking out the Lincoln Memorial with my wonderful hosts Maria and Peter. December, 2014

Checking out the Lincoln Memorial with my wonderful hosts Maria and Peter. December, 2014

San Francisco was the best place to end my two year overseas experience. The rain happened to clear and I got three great days of fabulous weather. It is such an easy city to wander around and there is so much to see and do. Chinatown is amazing and has so many shops, did wish I had a bigger bag to bring everyone back a waving cat. Alcatraz was interesting and the audio guide tour of the Cell Block was fascinating. If you ever get the opportunity to go it is a great experience and everything is well preserved and looked after. The views of the city from the ferry of the city and the rest of the bay are beautiful. Didn’t get enough time at Muir Woods – the Redwood forest that is home to some rather tall trees and Saulsilito due to issues with the company that was running the tour I was on but would defiantly recommend going there if you were to ever visit San Fransisco. The Golden Gate Bridge was epic and feels as if it holds the tow sides of the bay together. Height Ashbury is a very eclectic area much like Camden Town in London and the old victorian houses are absolutely stunning the famous Painted Ladies no exception. Even made it out to the University of California campus at Berkeley. The campus is really traditional and so well looked after and even though we only got to see it at night the study halls were full of students studying for their final exams. You could hear a pin drop. Was so wonderful to catch up with with RJ who is a good friend of Elle and Rob’s who is a San Fran local and drove me around the city at night. Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner, wandering around Pier 39 and seeing the famous seals, driving down Lombard street the world’s crookedest street and checking out the Palace of Fine Art’s. It was great to hang out with a fellow Kiwi Maxine on the last day of my OE. So thanks to Maxine for showing me around. Such an awesome day. It is really important for me to speak to and meet people from organisation’s that are promoting awareness and advocating for Breast Cancer. I was lucky enough to meet up with Shaney Jo Darden from Keep A Breast, an awareness charity based in LA. We caught up for breakfast the day I left San Fran. It is always amazing to meet passionate people who want to make a difference and Shaney has been doing it for the past 15 years. Inspired!

Stunning views! December, 2014

Stunning views! December, 2014

The flight home was pretty straightforward. Flew from San Fran to LA, then LA to Nadi, Fiji then to Auckland. Was interesting getting home to pouring rain and grey skies! Felt like I was still in London. Was so great getting straight back into things. I didn’t realise I was truly at home until I drove into the city last Thursday. It’s so nice to know where you are going, see people that you have not seen for two years and things just click back into place like you last saw each other yesterday. I think the one thing I was most worried about leaving London was that I was going back into the unknown. London was like a safe haven and a security blanket. I knew where I had to go, what to do if something happened and that I would be taken seriously very quickly if something was wrong. I think I was incredibly fourtunate and lucky to have had the care and support I had in London and it was all down to the people who were in my medical team. So amazing to know such remarkable healthcare professionals. Thank you so much Dr Peng Tan, Vivienne Maidens, Dr Tim Crook, Dr Ros Crooks, Lucy Mavriano and my wonderful chemo nurses Nse, Pat, Renata and Helen. So blessed. I went to the doctor the day after I got home so waiting to be referred to an oncologist here in Auckland in order to get into the NZ system. It is so good to be back! Thanks also to everyone who I have seen since I arrived home, all those who came to my welcome home get together and a massive thanks to Maya, Violet and Jules for picking me up from the airport and having me to stay with them while I get my life back in order. Can’t believe it is two years since I left New Zealand, it is like I have lived a life time in such a short amount of time. It has just gone a year since I completed chemo and I just had my first haircut in 16 months. Pretty glad to be back to blonde. I think I fully took my hair for granted and the feeling of someone washing your hair and the clean feeling of “new fur”. So good. Can’t believe how fast a year has gone. Very glad to be in a warmer climate with hair on my head!

Welcome home dinner with Debbie, Bridget, Zoe and Claire. December, 2014

Welcome home dinner with Debbie, Bridget, Zoe and Claire. December, 2014

Rocking the chemo curls and mullet. 1 year of growth. December 20th, 2014

Rocking the chemo curls and mullet. 1 year of growth. December 20th, 2014

First haircut in 16 months. Back to the blonde! December, 2014

First haircut in 16 months. Back to the blonde! December, 2014

Oh New Zealand how I have missed you. Fresh air, stunning scenery, amazing tasting food, no limescale in my cup of tea, people saying hello on the street and drivers who acknowledge you with a friendly wave when you give way. We have such a slice of paradise here in this beautiful country and not being here for two years has made me really realise how lucky we are.

Heading home for Xmas down to the batch at Turakina so looking forward to seeing the family and spending a bit of time with no reception. New Years will be fun and will be great to see hang out with some of the lovelies from London – Haley, Heather, Katrina and really looking forward to seeing Kate (Wifey) after her gigantic trip through Canada, Central and South America which started back in September.

I am really looking forward to the new year. I think 2015 has some amazing things lined up for me so can’t wait to see what is in store for me. There are a couple of things in the pipeline but I am going to keep them on the down low until the new year so watch this space! More trips and more life saving and boob work is coming! Pumped.

On that note I best stop typing. I am trying to be as brief as possible and hopefully from now on life will be a bit calmer in regards to travel and sightseeing so I will have a bit less to write about. I am really looking forward to having more rest in my life and taking things a bit more quietly. Glad to be home and can’t wait to catch up with those of you in New Zealand or those of you soon to visit.

Wow what a year. Wishing you all a very Merry Xmas and a wonderful New Year. Remember to look after each other and show gratitude to those around you. This time of year for me is about showing appreciation to the people who mean the most to you in life. It doesn’t take much to have an attitude of gratitude and it can really spark a light in someone you really care for.

Thank you all so much for your kind words of support, love and advice throughout this year. I feel so rich to have you all in my world. Be well and sending you all my love for the festive season and best wishes for the year to come, I know it is going to be the best yet.

Love you all,

Jess x

World Famous in NZ!

Hello wonderful people in my life,

Wow! This last couple of weeks have just been amazingly incredible.
So many awesome things are happening and day by day I am wishing I had more hours to get things done!

I was so happy with the article that came out three weekends ago in the Sunday Star Times in New Zealand. I never expected to get such a massive amount of space. Stoked beyond words. Loved seeing my hairless egg head on the home page on http://www.stuff.co.nz and being the lead story for a couple of hours was just fantastic. Thanks everyone for you messages of love and support as well as all the share and likes on Facebook and Twitter. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/10663744/Around-the-world-with-Mr-Lumpy

I made the NZ papers on Labour Weekend. Stoked to get a full page spread :)

I made the NZ papers on Labour Weekend. Stoked to get a full page spread 🙂

My blog hits are on the up and it was exciting to see the stats over the last couple of weeks with both the article and Tedx. Working on getting the story more wide spread so watch this space.

My Tedx speech went really well and just wanted to say a massive thanks to Zehra, Jayesh, Kiri, Rob and Francie for their listening ears and feedback in the lead up to the event. I’m so glad that it all fell into place. 10 minutes is such a long time and it is a lot to memorise and it was a pretty big ask but I nailed it. The video will be out in a couple of weeks so will keep you all posted. The atmosphere was epic and when I spoke you could hear a pin drop. Unreal. Thanks to Megan, Gemma, Jess, Sarah and Vivienne for supporting me on the day. The other speakers were absolutely phenomenal and I got so much out of being there as well as speaking. Amazing humans.

At TedxSquareMile. Saturday 8th November, 2014. With my support crew - Gemma, Sarah, Viv and Z #amazinghumans

At TedxSquareMile. Saturday 8th November, 2014. With my support crew – Gemma, Sarah, Viv and Z #amazinghumans

Haha because I rehearsed it so much now everytime I walk to and from work or get into the shower my brain switches to “Say the speech” mode…..now there is no pressure I clearly know it by heart! Typical!

London catch ups have been great. Yum dinners with Gerda and Gemma. Brunch with Sarah, Ally, Michelle, Alyssa and Natasha. Celebrating Jackie’s upcoming wedding with some wonderful afternoon painting pottery and Spanish tapas. So delightful to see Megan and finally meet little Tristan. Was also fab this weekend to catch up with Jess and Sam who I went to fashion school with in Wellington – figured out that we have all know each other for 10 years! Time flies. Got to meet up with the lovely ladies at the NZ Business Women’s Network that is based here in London and was set up by Bronwen Horton 8 years ago. I did a talk for them at Sacred Cafe in Oxford Circus a couple of weeks back and am looking forward to the event at NZ House this week coming!

London catch up's with the uni girls. Jess and Sam. November, 2014

London catch up’s with the uni girls. Jess and Sam. November, 2014

Last week I am headed over to Dublin to attend BCY2 Breast Cancer in Young Women conference. It was really interesting to see some of the research and data that is due to come out in the next couple of months and what things are being put in place to better support young woman with breast cancer. Was very interesting to see oncologists, radiologists and surgeons debate and speak about it too. Loved it when people stood up with controversial things to say! Meet some lovely ladies from YSC Young Survival Coilition which is a NGO based in New York. Looking forward to meeting up with them again soon. Was great to be in Dublin again but alas didn’t really have time to have a decent wander and look around. Hopefully another time.

BCY2 in Dublin, Ireland. November 2014

BCY2 in Dublin, Ireland

This week I was off to Ireland again. This time to Northern Ireland to Belfast with Coppafeel to do some more Boob chat. We got to speak to a few people which was as always exciting. We were staying in the Titanic Quarter so it was pretty amazing to be surrounded by so much history and see where the great ship was made. We also got to have a look around the Titanic Museum which was awesome. The building is the height of the actual ship. Such a great exhibition to check out if you do ever make it to Belfast. Was pretty hideous weather though and I think we brought it back with us to London.

That was my hoorah with Coppafeel this week so just want to say a massive thank you to Sophie for all her hard work and dedication to those of us that are on the Boobette programme. Your support, attitude and dedication to the cause make life so fulfilling for all of us involved. Such an amazing organisation and can’t really put into words how the team have helped me with my current focus. More amazing humans!

At the Titanic Quarter on Boob business. With Sally, Diane, Meghan and Sophie. November, 2014

At the Titanic Quarter on Boob business. With Sally, Diane, Meghan and Sophie. November, 2014

Before October was up I had my last injection of Herceptin. Can’t believe how long it took to get through that. 15 months and 18 injections I am all done with that part my cancer treatment. It was glad to find out in the research for the article that was on Stuff that they are trialing Subcutaneous Herceptin in New Zealand. It is so much faster than getting it via a canulla or a port so hopefully this method is more accessible soon for women back home.

Last round of Herceptin - 31/10/14. With my amazing Chemo Nurses - Helen, Renata and Nse

Last round of Herceptin – 31/10/14. With my amazing Chemo Nurses – Helen, Renata and Nse

I am very happy to announce that my genetic test results came back clear. I am not a carrier of the BRCA breast cancer genes. Its such wonderful news however in saying that its pretty clear from my perspective that with no real family history and no genetic reasoning I still managed to get hit with the breast cancer stick. I think its really important to again highlight the fact this disease doesn’t discriminate and we all need to be more mindful and aware of what’s going on in our bodies. I’m not only referring to breast cancer either there are so many other illnesses and diseases to be mindful of. If you do however have any family history in any illness it is in some ways “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t” ignorance is certainly not bliss with this disease so please don’t be scared and chat to your GP.

Adding to that about a month ago I found a small lump on the same side as my original cancer. Just out from my sentinel node scar there was a hard pea sized lump that was a bit itchy. When it didn’t go away after a week I ended up getting it checked out. It turned out to be what is called a sebaceous cyst – fatty tissue and the results came back inconclusive. As you can imagine I had to go through the whole process all over again which was’nt fun, but I was pushed through the system really quickly and was given peace of mind quite fast. The cyst was in the skin layers so I was’nt able to have a core biopsy rather a fine needle aspiration to get some tissue samples. this was only done due to my history as the scan did not show up anything suspicious. Even though it’s nothing my surgeon still wants to remove it as these cysts can be prone to infection especially with the amount of surgical procedures and radiation I have had in the area. So there will be one more sexy hospital gown photo in a couple of weeks haha.

Well I am now on the final countdown of my time here in London. Can’t believe in two weeks I will be leaving this city and heading back to New Zealand via the USA. London has been an amazing home to me the past 21 months and as I prepare to leave I reflect on a time that has gone so fast but has certainly been the most challenging of my life. When happiness was my best friend and the nightmare of getting cancer decided to come into my world I did not know that I would find such a bright light at the end of that dark tunnel. London in so many ways has saved my life and put me on an amazing path to change not only my own life but the lives of others. I still did what I came here for and then some, as I leave I know this is a place I will come back to – not to live, but to visit for sure – I am still planning on meeting the Queen so Buckingham Palace would be the place for that of course.

I leave London on the 2nd of December and fly to New York. Where I will catch up with my lovely Irish friend Jewels who I lived with in Auckland a few years back. looking forward to seeing as many sights as possible. Then it will be onto Washington DC to see Maria and Peter who I met back in 2011 when Leah and I did our trip to South East Asia. Then across to San Francisco before going through LA and arriving back in New Zealand on the 17th of December just in time for Xmas.

Looking forward to summer and catching up with everyone on the other side!

Jess xxx