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My Carry On Flight Essentials


My Cancer treatment

Erm, so, I found a lump......

And here comes a post about boobs!

So, 8, maybe 9 now, weeks ago I found a lump in my boob. Actually that's a lie. Flash, the little superstar hero that he is, found a lump. He stood on my right boob in a routine moment of bothering me as a lounged on the sofa watching trash on Netflix, and it hurt. Hurt in a ooooh, i just stubbed my little toe on the bed frame way, not a sticking pins in my eyes way, but it was still a bit strange as it's something he has a habit of doing regularly (fellow dog owners don't lie and tell me your dogs don't use you as a climbing frame too) and it never usually causes me any pain. So I had a little prod, found a painful lump and well, that where this story my starts......

As I write this, I am waiting for a hospital appointment to come though. An appointment to scan my right boob. A scan to tell me what the lump in my boob is. It’s hard, it feels like it's attached to my rib cage, it doesn’t move and it’s painful (especially when I wear the wrong bra and it pushes on it which is a massive pain in the bum). When I found it, I thought that maybe it had something to do with the physio appointments I've been doing for my back, maybe they had cracked my back a bit too hard and soem of my rib had popped out the front (Don't mock me, I have literally no clue about how the body workds!) and might go away, but as it hasn't, I'm now waiting to find out when it is.

I've got an appointment at the hospital but it's not until late August and I'm going to be honest, I know the NHS is great but as I first went to my Drs on the 6th July, a 7 week wait* to find out why there is something sticking out of me, feels like it's taking the piss a bit so I am looking into whether I can go via my work Bupa cover to get it sorted.

Yesterday I had an appointment at a local private hospital (through my work Bupa - I'm not flashing the cash!). I thought it was going to be a routine ultrasound, that they would tell me the lump was nothing and send me home. I was planning an early dog walk followed by gin with a friend. But those plans were a bit scuppered. Unfortunately it appears that the lump is 'suspicious' so I was whisked off for a mammogram and a biopsy. During the mammogram they found another lump in my other boob (that they think is a cyst or benign lump but provided a good contrast on screen to the other lump), so what I imagined would be a half hour trip to the hospital, ended up being loads of random women touching my boobs, 2 biopsies, no dog walking and a LOT of gin with the previously mentioned friend (she's a teacher and on holiday. She deserved a hangover!).

Also I'm not sure quite what happened but during the biopsy of the original lump, but because it's so close to my rib cage, it meant it hit the bone and let me tell you I've never quite felt pain like that. Ever. It's a day later and my god, i can't move without sharp shooting pains. I thought I was going to be sick. Or faint. I can advise not having anything stuck into your bones when you are unprepared for it. Just a tip for you!

And right now I have a week wait to see a specialist and to get the results back, but the lady doing the ultrasound and the biopsy suggested she thought it was most probably cancerous, so my weekend plans right now look like they involve drinking a lot and forgetting about this for a while.

We met with the specialist last night. We had it confirmed that there is a cancer in the first lump, the one that Flash found by standing on me, the second however is nothing. So there is the bad news, but the good news is that it's small. Its been caught early. It looks really treatable.

The next stages are to have a little operation, probably next Friday, to take out the lump and to check my lymph nodes haven't got it too, then it'll be tested to make sure it's what we thought, and the rest of the treatment can be decided.

After a couple of days of feeling constantly sick with the not fully knowing, it feels good to have it confirmed - and now it is confirmed there is a plan to sort it and get rid of it. Last night we went for dinner with friends, today we're spending the day with friends. We're having a normal, busy weekend. I do have to convince my mum that I can carry on as normal though. She seems to think I am sick and apparently sick people shouldn't go out. Clearly I am not sick, but mums.......she's still got the 'if you can't go to school you can't play out' mentality!

Today was my lumpectomy. I had the cancerous lump taken out of my right boob and some of the sentinel nodes (?) under my right arm taken out, I believe. I woke up from the general anaesthetic a funny shade of grey, super hungry and in pain.

Now, after the op there is a 2 week wait to find out how aggressive the cancer is/was, to see what treatment I'll need next. There are basically 2 options, 1 involves chemo and radiotherapy and the other involves just radioterapy, which is my preferred option, so lets keep our fingers crossed that it's not spread to my lymph nodes because that's the best option for next step treatments.


So here is my news. Right now I'm very positive about the outcome, so I'm sticking to positive vibes only around here. I'm not reading bad stories, I'm not telling negative people (or people I've not seen in person, in case you're a 3D friend feeling put out I've not whatsapped you to tell you) and I'm not inviting stories of bad cancer experiences into my life. If you've lost someone through cancer, I'm very sorry for your loss and I feel for you terribly but I'd like to ask that you don't share those details with me. Here, on social media or in real life. Coolio? And do not tell me I need to eat kale. I asked the oncology nurse and she said it's not going to help. So I believe her!

Don't worry, I'm not planning on this turning into a cancer blog (because that would be super depressing I imagine), but it's what's happening right now in my life and it'd be really fake to not share it I think (But as my brother's on holiday and doesn't know yet, lets not start tagging me in Facebook shit please!)

And without getting all 'Saved by the Bell' on you, if reading this prompts you to act on anything, any lumps you might be worried about, or prompts you to push your doctor harder to sort some thing out, then my job here is done.

* Yes I am super pissed at the original Dr I saw who clearly didn't take me, or my lump seriously. Right now I'll be having the op to remove the cancer a week before I'd have been seen by the NHS for an ultrasound, because the locum Dr didn't take me seriously. I've been told about the 2 week guidelines that there are for lumps and suspected cancer. I mean even if I went in thinking it was nothing, he's a GP, surely this is what they are trained to do?
**Jokes. Melle broke puppies for me. He's just too mental. Adorable but mental.

House Update: How I transformed our garden furniture with tester pots!

We've been working on the garden quite a lot these last few weeks as we've had a new fence put up to dog proof the garden (there were so many bits that they could have escaped from if they'd wanted to.) We’ve dug up trees and bushes, we’ve cleared weeds and shrubs, we’ve un-earthed a lot more space that needs to be grassed over. And whilst the garden area isn't quite totally done, one of the projects that I have completed is ready to show you - our garden furniture makeover. 

And it was so simple to do - if you're looking for a garden furniture makeover, look no further.
Our garden furniture was a freebie from one of the bars I used to work for (hence the Kopparburg branding on the side) so it wasn't new when we got it but as they were updating their outside furniture and we’d just bought a house it seemed like was perfect timing (plus, have you seen how much garden furniture costs!). But this will be the 3rd year of the set sitting out in the garden and the weather was starting to take its toll as we’ve not had it covered or protected in any way. The wood was starting to age and the metal edge of the table was rusted to the point it left dirty marks on your jeans. Not ideal. So I started to look around for a solution.
After a bit of Googling I found out about a product called ‘Hammerite paint to rusted metal’ paint which, as the cliché goes – does exactly what it says on the tin – it paints right onto rusted metal, no priming. And being the lazy DIY-er that I am, this is perfect for me so I picked up a can of the Hammered Finish in Black at B&Q for about £9.

I ended up doing 2 coats of the paint on the metal work of the table. The tin says it covers 5sq meters. Honestly I have no idea actually what this is in respect to the metal on the garden set but the tin did 2 full covers of the set, with a little bit left over that I painted on random bits of the outhouse. I did one coat on a Friday night when I got home from work (rock and roll). I took the dogs to the park whilst it dried, had a G&T and then did the other coat before the light left me for the day. Before I painted, I did wire brush most of the metal lightly to just get rid of any big bits of rust, but I didn’t do any other prep and 2 coats made the metal look pretty amazing. And I’ve been telling everyone I know about this paint. Who knew it was this easy to get rid of rust?
My next job was to sort out the wood area of the furniture. I chatted to Jim about my plans, and his only feedback  was that I wasn’t to paint it pink. Obviously before he’d said this my brain was heading straight for a flamingo pink for the set, but I guess he has to use the garden too, so I really ought to pay a bit of attention to him sometimes. Which meant the next stop in my brain was turquoise.

After a visit to the Valspar desk in my local B&Q  I chose a shade of turquoise which matched my favourite turquoise ring, called ‘Seize the day’. This paint is one of the shades available as a wood paint, but I also got way laid by the other shades on the same row of paint. They aren’t actually available as wood paint, but they do come in masonry paint, and after chatting to the paint guy, I thought I’d give it a go.
So I ended up leaving the shop with 5 different tester pots of paint, in a gradient of shades of turquoise - from light to dark - Cerulean Sea, Scuba in Aruba (anyone elses' brain go to a Friends episode here?), Seize the Day, Mayan Bubbles and Caribbean Girl. The wood paint tester was £5 a pot, and the masonry paint testers were £2.50, so it’s a really cheap DIY (I also bought some really cheap, £3 a set, own brand brushes so that I could throw them away afterwards because I hate cleaning paint brushes).  
And well, you can see what I did with it can’t you!

I only ended up using 4 of the shades as I thought the lightest one might be a bit too pale for a table outdoors. Starting with the darkest shade 'Cerulean Sea' (to combat the dust and dirt that will inevitably build up on the floor) I painted the slats on the sides of the table in the various shades. To guard the newly painted metal I slotted in ripped up bits of fliers that come through the door with the WI magazine (they finally came in useful!) but if I’d been more prepared I would have masking taped it just to stop the coloured paint ruining my handy work. 
A couple of hours later, for less that £30, I had an ombre garden table in my favourite shades of turquoise. And I couldn’t be happier. I really love it. And Jim loves it. And it looks so much smarter than it did before I painted it. Now to see how the masonry paint holds up on wood.  
Now I just need to sort out the rest of this corner of the garden – I’m thinking of using the lightest paint 'Caribbean Girl' on the out house wall, just to keep up the theme, there are some hanging baskets to relocate now the fence is up, some lighting, a sail shade over the table and a built in BBQ in this 'patio' space (not much to do then!). 

Why I love Dogstagram

Have you delved into the world or Dogstagram? Or even Petstagram? (Public service warning - if you think having an instagram account for your pet is a bit cray cray, duck out now. But if you want to look at cute pictures of puppies and hear about a crazy fun and supportive place online carry on. You're welcome!)

About 18 months ago I set up an Instagram account for Flash, because I was getting told by some friends that there were too many dog pictures on my instagram account. Now 1. they are mental - too many dog pictures? Never. And 2. Can someone please suggest the same to the people who post incessantly about their kids? Is that allowed? Because Puppies > Kids. No question.

So, with this in mind I figured that I'd set up a separate account for him and they could choose not to follow it, and this meant I could also post as many puppy photos as I wanted without any fear I was posting 'too many'. But I wasn't prepared for the wonderful community that comes with having a 'Dogstagram' account.

I started off by following the dog accounts, and other Jug owners, that had followed my personal instagram account and only really liked my dog photos, and then started searching through their followers for other pup accounts to follow, commenting as we went, making friends with other similar accounts who were as crazy as us to have a dog instagram account.

Now, 18 months on, we've built up a wonderful community of followers and made some wonderful 'friends', people who post about their dogs, who regularly comment on our posts, and accounts we've followed for so long we know them well. And the support that comes from Dogstagram is wonderful. When we first got Melle, and he and Flash weren't getting on, I turned to Instagram for help and we were overwhelmed with responses of things we could try to help them get along. When one of them has an upset tummy, or an injury, posting about it (post vets if needs be) gives you reassurance that their dogs have done the same and they'll give you a remedy that helped, or you get tips on how to keep a 4 month old puppy from running about.

One of the accounts we've known for as long as we've had Flash is an account for a couple of Jug dogs in Canada, Shemy & Hiro, with whome, for the last few years we've exchanged Christmas gifts - this year they even donated to their local dog centre in our name. We've joined in with dog secret santas, There are great #'s that people join in with like #tongueouttuesday, there are accounts that tag their 'pawtners' (essentally other accounts they like) there are follower competitons to win treats and toys. And best of all, we've got 'friends' in Australia who DM us with training tips, we exchange sarcastic comments with Pugs in Germany, we've got Jug friends as close as the next town over or ones based in New York. We've watched spaniels grow from puppyhood and become Instafamous. We've had comments and follows and then conversations that have lead to people getting a Jug themselves.

And whilst I know that these dogstagram friends are people, just like me, pretending to be their dogs on Instagram, there is such a friendly feeling about the place, I regularly find myself spending far more time scrolling through pictures of dogs than I do of people's dinners, their flaylays and the horizon.

I know that Dogstagram won't be for everyone, even if they do have a dog, and that there will be a high proportion of people who think I am a bit mental for running this account but it's just so much fun. There is never any agro, and none of the pet accounts we follow take themselves too seriously (some do, but I have no time for them at all) and it's suprising how many 'human' accounts follow and comment on the dog accounts we follow. People love puppies!

If you want to get into Dogstagram, I've pulled together a list of the cutest, funniest and craziest accounts we follow to get you started........

A photo posted by Candice (@roofusandkilo) on

Are you a Petstagrammer? Do you think I'm totally crazy? If not, who are your must follow accounts?

Travel: How we plan for a holiday - Our top 5 trip planning tips.

There is nothing more fun than planning for a holiday, and it's something that we've got really good at in recent years. Whether it's a weekend away, a 3 week multi-stop trip or camping somewhere we've been a hundred times before, there's a certain amount of planning that we do before, and when we get somewhere. Don't get me wrong, it's not like we often have anything totally set in stone, but we have an idea of the places we'd like to visit, and whilst sometimes we only make it to a handful of the places we set out to see - the planning has at least got us really excited about a location.

So these are our top 5 trip planning tips that will hopefully make your next holiday a little easier to plan. 

1. As soon as we have a trip destination in mind, and usually before we've even booked flights, I'll create or start adding to a Pinterest board. Jim doesn't really use Pinterest but he has an account, which means I can share the pins with him.
I'll start by searching for the area, town, city and then I'll check out the guides that have been written for that destination. The '24hrs in a city' ones are my favourites as they tend to pick out the must visit locations. I also look out for 'see XX like a local' as you get tips on the not so touristy spots that way, and the 'best restaurants in XX' guides. We look for cool areas to stay in, the best tourist attractions to visit and the ones to avoid, the places we should eat and the bars we have to visit. 

2. We try and pick up a Wallpaper Guide for the city. They aren't the most informative of guides - they are no Dorlin Kindersly - but they do show you the best stylish neighbourhoods and some of the quirkier places to visit or eat. The maps in them are pretty good too and you get a landscape image of the skyline too which is helpful. Plus they are super small and light to throw in a bag with you. But most importantly, they look pretty on your bookshelf.

3. We look into public transport in the places we're going. We're fans of making the most of the our money when we go somewhere so if we can buy a week travel card for $20 that will give us freedom to jump on and off tubes and trains and busses then why wouldn't we? On our last big trip we travelled by train, bus, tram, greyhound and only when public transport failed us in the rural areas of Vermont and Maine did we hire a car. 

4. Jim researches restaurants in the areas we're visiting. Holidays are not to be wasted eating bad food and drinking bad cocktails. If we're going somewhere that might have been covered by one of his favourites on the Food Network he'll find it on you tube or catch up. He looks at my Pinterest recommendations. He checks Yelp and Trip Advisor for top rated places. And we've found some awesome bars and cafes just by looking at the areas we're visiting on Google Map! Because of this research we've taken trips in -20 degrees for the most perfect doughnuts. We've travelled to out of the way neighbourhoods for out of this world meatballs. We've tracked happy hours across cities. A little pre-planning of our food means pretty much everything we eat when we're away is excellent!

5. After we've researched where we're going, we build a google map of all the places we have to see or visit or eat. This tends to be done initially on the computer as it's easier (try Google Map Maker) and once we have a lot of stuff in it we then make sure that it's available offline. You don't want to be using data every time you try and access it. The good thing about having the map available on your phone is that it also downloads the surrounding points of interest, which means if you've missed anything in your planning it'll pop up on your map too! 

So, what are your holiday planning top tips? What should we be including in our next lots of destination research?