HAPPY RELAY FOR LIFE REPORT A REMARKABLE DAY OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT
LIFE AFTER CANCER TERESA FROM BREAST FRIENDS 6 YEARS ON
POSITIVITY THROUGH CANCER
YOGA HOME SEQUENCE A GENTLE MORNING FLOW ROUTINE
DEC 2019 | FREE
CANCER READER’S STORIES
THE PERIOP-OG TRIAL
THE TIME IS NOW Brian Kennedy
THINGS YOU NEED TO START MAKING TIME FOR AGAIN
WIN YOURSELF SOME SELF-CARE TREATS! WE’VE GOT PRIZES FROM MOOGOO & ARDERE
LIVE BOLDLY With Fitbit’s Everyday Smartwatch
Available now on Fitbit.com and selected retailers
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editorial Because we can still be happy while we have cancer
ello and welcome to the third issue of Happy Magazine! My name is Holly. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2016 and spent thirteen months going through treatment. Then, this August, just as we were beginning to wrap up this issue, I was diagnosed again. It’s been a really tough couple of months and it’s a long way from over yet. I am doing chemo again, two weeks on and one week off. We are staying positive and doing all we can do to complement my chemotherapy and help my body and mind through this chapter. In the meantime, finding my little bit of ‘happy’ in every day is absolutely critical. I have been asked many times why I called this magazine ‘Happy’. The reason was that for me, it was how to be happy again after cancer. Because ‘happy’ is all I wanted to be after my diagnosis and all that I felt I would never be again. But, I found happiness again, and so will you, no matter what you are going through. Happiness is there for us, in every day, in every moment, even right now, if we can look for it, if we can see it. I hope this magazine will help you find your moments of happiness. Please let me know what you think of our third issue and how we can improve it for the next edition. And come visit us online too at HappyMagazine.ie! Happy reading!
The content in this magazine is not intended to replace medical advice in any circumstance. It is important to always remember that any changes that you make to your diet, medication, cancer treatment or lifestyle should be discussed first with your medical team to ensure that they do not conflict or interrupt your specific treatment. If you have an immediate concern about your health, please contact your oncologist, GP or local emergency room.
Happy Magazine, Lucan, Co. Dublin Happy Magazine @HappyMagIE
Editor Holly Kennedy Assistant Editor Dee Mack · Design Holly Kennedy & Maria Gallagher Printing Hello Print Distribution Manager Cathy McCarthy Media & Publicity Leontia Fannin To advertise, email email@example.com Quarterly circulation 5,000 copies Happy Magazine is published by Happy Publications, Lucan, Co. Dublin. The publisher accepts no responsibility for the opinions of or claims made by contributors and advertisers. In addition, while every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of information contained in Happy Magazine, we do not accept responsibility for any errors or matters arising from same. © Happy Publications.
Sara is the author of Ticking Off Breast Cancer, a book about juggling life with treatment for primary breast cancer at the age of 42. Previously an expert multi-tasker in her capacity as a busy, married, forty-two-year-old mother of two, and part time lawyer commuting into London, Sara managed her life by to-do list after to-do list. However, when breast cancer appeared on her list, Sara’s life was thrown upside down and she had to make a few changes. Read about her helpful book on page 8 and her article on the art of slowing down on pages 42-43.
Yoga expert Ruth Delahunty brings us through a gentle morning flow yoga practice you can try at home on pages 44-45. Ruth is a 200hr Yoga Alliance Certification yoga teacher and teaches in The Yoga Room, Dublin. She has also created a yoga lifestyle website – yogaru.ie – promoting a yoga way of living on and off the mat.
Teresa is a mum-of-one from Tallaght in Dublin and was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, aged 36. Teresa began to share her breast cancer journey online in a blog called Breast Friends and this has grown and grown since then and now also includes a private breast cancer support group of the same name on Facebook. Teresa joins us in this issue to share her story and how she is finding life now, after cancer.
Would you like to write for Happy Magazine? We’re always looking for reader stories, practical tips and helpful knowledge. Email us for details at firstname.lastname@example.org HAPPY MAGAZINE | 3
Sisters Linda Jones and Jane McCarthy who have both been treated for breast cancer, a year apart, at Beaumont Hospital
The Stand Out for Breast Cancer lunch in aid of the Beaumont Hospital Breast Clinic Appeal took place in Clontarf Castle (04.10.19). Deirdre O’Kane acted as MC at this special celebration of life after breast cancer. 400 guests attended the event including many women who have been treated for breast cancer at Beaumont Hospital. Fourteen survivors took part in a fashion show to conclude the event which was styled by former model and RTÉ Today Show stylist, Anne-Marie Gannon and Karen Crawford, former owner of Smock boutique. The lunch raised €35,000 and was organised by Beaumont Hospital Foundation as part of their appeal to raise the final €1m for a stand-alone breast clinic on the hospital campus. For more information see beaumontfundraising.ie
We’re here to provide positive inspiration and support for your cancer journey
LISTEN and LEARN
Gerry Hussey was a guest on Roz Purcell’s podcast Bite Back recently and we think you might really enjoy it. The conversation is a really inspiring interview where Gerry speaks about the power of creating positive internal dialogues and why it’s important for us to plant our feet firmly in the present to foster an inner connection with ourselves. He also covers how we can go about establishing a stronger self image by believing in our own self worth. A tall order, are we right? But you won’t be disappointed when you have a listen, we promise.
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Songwriter and mental health activist Niall Breslin has launched his own podcast series titled Where is my Mind? Available to listen to now across all streaming platforms, the six episode podcast series aims to guide listeners on how to navigate the manic, always-on and head-melting world they find themselves in today. Where is my Mind? follows Niall discussing what impact today’s society has on individuals as well as a variety of coping techniques on how to deal with the overstimulated mindset people find themselves in by introducing the basics of mindfulness practice and meditation.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME The World Cancer Research Fund is a UK charity dedicated to funding research into the prevention of cancer through diet and lifestyle and cancer survival. Recently they launched their Ryan Riley recipe booklet, as part of their Life Kitchen and World Cancer Research Fund collaboration. Ryan is a chef who set up Life Kitchen to offer free cookery classes to people living with cancer in the UK. The new Ryan Riley recipe booklet contains 15 nutritious and delicious recipes to help tackle the loss of taste and enjoyment from food in people living with cancer by using ingredients that enhance the flavour of each dish. As all the recipes have been designed to follow the World Cancer Research Fund’s healthy eating guidelines, they are suitable for everyone. You can download the booklet for free from the World Cancer Research Fund website.
ARDERE candles are lovingly made in the UK by sister team Nicole and Lauren and have to be smelled to be believed! They are beautifully scented essential oil candles and what’s more, they are free of paraffin wax and lead wicks, using only 100% organic natural wax that is sustainable. The collection includes 6 unique scented candles each with a specific therapeutic purpose and based on a luxury travel destination. These are the ultimate luxury candle and a perfect gift for yourself or someone special. Check out our competition on page 9 to be in with a chance to win your own, or visit ardere.com for more information.
The Summerhill House Hotel and Rainforest Spa is a perfect weekend getaway close to Dublin. If you are looking for somewhere for a luxurious escape, somewhere you can avail of spa facilities and treatments and be confident of the team’s skills with cancer concerns, and even participate in yoga or pilates while visiting, this is the place. We have a detailed review of the Rainforest Spa in our previous issue (May 2019). We absolutely loved it there and found the dedicated and caring spa team led by owner Adrienne Stewart quite exceptional. rainforest.ie
SKIN SOOTHERS Following chemo or radiation therapy, some people suffer from dry, red, irritated and sensitive skin which can be uncomfortable and painful. The Oncology Care Pack from MooGoo was created to help people hydrate, protect, soothe and care for their skin during and after treatment. MooGoo’s Skin Milk Udder Cream has gained popularity for its skin soothing and repair properties. As a result, many medical professionals have picked up on its effectiveness and today it is recommended by a number of oncologists and nurses nationwide. Also in the pack are some cosy MooGoo socks, perfect for cold feet after treatment. Check out our competition on page 51 to be in with a chance to win your own, or visit moogoo.com for more information.
HAPPY MAGAZINE | 5
TOP TEN BE INSPIRED
GET FESTIVE and
head to the Galway Continental Christmas Markets from Friday 15 November until Sunday 22 December 2019. Located in Eyre Square, attractions will include a 32m high Big Wheel and traditional Carousel, Santa’s Express Train, puppet shows, carol singing and of course Santa’s Grotto. And not to forget a huge variety of food! Feast on bratwurst, French pastries, crepes and waffles while sipping a glass of mulled wine. A great way to get into the festive spirit.
PRESS PAUSE in the New Year
and make some time for you! Taking place at the beautiful Orlagh Country House, Dublin; the Reset Day Retreat on Sunday 16 February 2020 is a one day retreat experience that can provide the space, time, tools and support to help you make positive changes to your life. Early bird price of €99 now available. Find out more at thereset.me/presspause 6 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
RELAX in a soothing
bath with the beautiful Ritual of Dao Bath Oil from Rituals. Light a Ritual of Dao candle for added ambience. All Rituals products have been dermatologically tested and are free from SLS, parabens and phthalates. To find a store near you visit rituals.com or order direct from the website.
GET OUTDOORS and head to the beautiful Glendalough,
Co Wicklow and try one of the many stunning walks. If you’re currently in treatment and energy levels are low then perhaps opt for the Green Road Walk (3km, Grade: Easy) or the Miners Road Walk (5km, Grade: Easy). If you’re feeling more energetic then why not give the more challenging Spinc and Glenealo Valley a go (9km, Grade: Hillwalk). Visit wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie for more info.
CREATE a vision board for
the year ahead. A vision board is a collage of images, pictures, and affirmations of your dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, and to use the law of attraction to attain your goals. They are also enormous fun to create! Some old magazines, a large piece of card, some glue and scissors and you’re ready to get started creating your own personal vision of your priorities, goals and dreams for 2020. I keep mine on the kitchen door so I can see it every day! Natasha Whelehan
VISIT Kilkenny and explore Ireland’s
best preserved medieval town. Wander along the Medieval Mile and see the magnificent Kilkenny Castle, beautiful Rothe House and St Canice’s Cathedral. If your feeling up to it, you may even decide to climb the 30m tower at the Cathedral! The Medieval Mile Museum is a must see, bringing to life 800 years of history. visitkilkenny.ie
DROP IN to
The Sanctuary, Dublin 7 and attend one of their Monday morning (10am -11.15am) / Wednesday evening meditation sessions (7.30pm -8.45pm). As well as a guided meditation, these sessions include elements of mindful walking and mindful sharing. Classes cost just €5 each. www.sanctuary.ie
ENJOY a delicious coffee
from Insomnia’s winter menu. Grab a book, take an hour for yourself and sit and relax with a warming Gingerbread Latte or perhaps a Chestnut Cappuccino is more your style. If you don’t drink dairy then don’t despair; Insomnia have a variety of non dairy milks. Here at Happy Magazine we love the Gingerbread Oat Milk Latte.
a new skill. Have you ever thought you’d love to be able to make your own bread but don’t know where to start? At Bread Nation’s Introduction to Bread class you’ll learn everything you need to get started. Visit breadnation.ie for more.
TREAT yourself and enjoy
The Merrion Hotel’s Festive Afternoon Tea. Relax in the stunning Georgian Drawing Room and enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea including Vienesse rolls, gingerbread, mince pies and finger sandwiches. A lovely idea for catching up with friends or celebrating a milestone in treatment, or maybe just taking a break from the Christmas shopping! Available from 1 to 31 December, €59 per person. For an extra treat, on selected dates over December you can enjoy Afternoon Tea accompanied by Christmas Carols. Visit merrionhotel.com/festive_tea.php for more. HAPPY MAGAZINE | 7
lost in words
you how to incorporate Dr Chatterjee’s simple daily plan into your current routine. Drawing on Dr Chatterjee’s twenty years of experience and real-life case studies from his GP practice, this easy-tofollow book shows how small changes can make a big difference. €9.92 at Amazon.co.uk
Susan Jane White Gill Books
HANDPICKED BOOKS FOR THE CANCER JOURNEY
Susan Jane White’s brilliant new book shows you how to eat well all week while respecting your time, money and patience. Learn to create meals that will sit in your fridge, hang out on your shelves or wait patiently in your freezer, giving you much more return on your kitchen investment. So you can say yes to that bike ride with the kids or stay late at work to finish that report, because you took Three-Bean Chilli and Salted Coffee Caramels out of the freezer for dinner tonight. Clever batch.
TICKING OFF BREAST CANCER Sara Liyanage Hashtag Press
‘Ticking Off Breast Cancer is a candid, thoughtful account of the way Sara dealt with a breast cancer diagnosis. She is one impressive woman’ - Victoria Derbyshire. Previously an expert multi-tasker in her capacity as a busy, married, forty-two-year-old mother of two, and part time lawyer commuting into London, Sara managed her life by to-do list after to-do list. However, when breast cancer appeared on her list, Sara’s life was thrown upside down and she had to make a few changes.
€18.80 at Amazon.co.uk
YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE Louise L. Hay Hay House
This bestseller is full of ideas and strategies that have worked for millions of people worldwide. World famous teacher Louise L. Hay offers a profound insight into the relationship between the mind and the body. Exploring the way that limiting thoughts and ideas controls and constricts us, she offers a powerful key to understanding the roots of our physical diseases and discomforts. €9.10 at Amazon.co.uk
€10.92 at Amazon.co.uk
FEEL BETTER IN 5
Dr Rangan Chatterjee Penguin
Ditch the pills, beat the sleepless nights and banish the yo-yo diets. In just a few minutes, Feel Better in 5 will kick-start your health and happiness by showing
Book prices correct at time of going to print.
+ THE BEST READS FOR BEING PERFECTLY YOU CITY OF GIRLS
EAT PRAY LOVE
Elizabeth Gilbert The blazingly brilliant new novel from Elizabeth Gilbert: a glittering coming-of-age epic stitched across the fabric of a lost New York. It is the summer of 1940. 19-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. €12.84 at Amazon.co.uk
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Elizabeth Gilbert It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby - and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey. €7.53 at Amazon.co.uk
Elizabeth Gilbert Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be. €7.12 at Amazon.co.uk
WIN A LUXURY CANDLE FROM ARDERE
BE IN WITH A CHANCE TO
ARDERE is at the forefront of conscious living, pioneering scent therapy and luxury all in one in a bid to conquer stress. ARDERE candles are lovingly made in the UK by sister team Nicole and Lauren and have to be smelled to be believed! They are beautifully scented essential oil candles and what’s more, they are free of paraffin wax and lead wicks, using only 100% organic natural wax that is sustainable. The collection includes 6 unique scented candles each with a specific therapeutic purpose and based on a luxury travel destination. These are the ultimate luxury candle and a perfect gift for yourself or someone special. What makes ARDERE candles so special? • 100% organic natural wax (no paraffins) • 100% lead-free cotton wicks (no toxic lead) • An abundance of pure essential oils to boost your wellbeing (ARDERE don’t scrimp on fragrance!) • Naturopathically & destination-inspired • Ethically made • Cruelty-free • Hand-poured
Develop your own practice
We have one to give away!
HOW TO ENTER
All you have to do is email email@example.com and tell us where you found your copy of Happy Magazine. Winner will be announced on HappyMagazine.ie in Feb 2020.
With this personal, flexible & unique yoga system. A comprehensive set of 108 specially illustrated yoga sequencing cards. Designed with individual alignment cues, level guides and sample sequences to get you started.
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HAPPY MAGAZINE | 9
Celebrating the Breast Cancer Ireland Great Pink Run with my son
LIFE AFTER CANCER
TERESA COSTELLO, MODERATOR OF ONLINE BREAST CANCER SUPPORT GROUP BREAST FRIENDS, JOINS US TO SHARE HER STORY AND HOW SHE IS FINDING LIFE NOW, SIX YEARS AFTER HER DIAGNOSIS
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y name is Teresa Costello, I’m 42 and from Tallaght, Dublin. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, aged 36. My diagnosis was a total shock to me and of course my family and friends. I wasn’t ‘breast aware’, didn’t check myself regularly (at all in fact), I found my lump by chance in the shower. Taking into consideration my age, family history, fitness and lifestyle, my GP wasn’t overly concerned however he referred me to St James’s Hospital, where upon examination they found an additional two tumours. It was a whirlwind and I embarked on a treatment plan which consisted of chemotherapy, surgery (mastectomy and clearance of lymph nodes with immediate reconstruction to be followed by additional reconstruction) and radiotherapy. How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? It was a very surreal moment. I knew very little about cancer, I just assumed it was a death sentence, my son was my worry as I wanted to be around for him. Your treatment plan I had four sessions of AC and four sessions of Taxol chemotherapy every two weeks. About six weeks after chemo finished, I had my surgery which was mastectomy and immediate reconstruction using muscle from my back. After recovering from surgery, I had radiotherapy. When all of my treatment was finished, I was then put on Tamoxifen and had an additional reconstructive surgery.
At a Breast Cancer Ireland event
How did treatment go for you? It was doable, chemo is tough mentally but I tried to give cancer very little energy and I tried to keep life as normal as possible – caring for my son, going to the gym, coffee with friends, nights out – I even managed to go on a few dates. Worst/best part of treatment? The worst part of treatment was the fear of the unknown as I had little to no experience or knowledge of cancer and it’s treatments – every step was a first for me so a lot of the time I was pretty frightened.
I WAS DETERMINED TO GIVE CANCER ONLY LIMITED TIME AND THAT WAS THE TIME WHEN I WAS IN HOSPITAL, OTHER THAN THAT, I FOCUSED ON MY LIFE AND CARRYING ON AS NORMAL AS POSSIBLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
The best part of treatment for me was the love and kindness shown to me by other people – it restored my faith in human nature. What got you through treatment? My son – I was a single mam, he was only 5 when I was diagnosed. No one understands or could love him like I do so I was determined to stick around for him. Vanity also got me through – it sounds strange but I was determined not to let cancer make me look sick and leave my family with a picture of me in their heads looking so unwell. I found an inner strength to put my best foot forward, I focused only on what would make me feel better (good food, elimination of stress, no alcohol – I hate hangovers). I was determined to give cancer only limited time and that was the time when I was in hospital, other than that, I focused on my life and carrying on as normal as possible under the circumstances. Cancer may have taken my hair, lashes and peace of mind but I always had a fight in me to not give it anything I didn’t need to and to reclaim myself. Single best advice that helped you Drink lots of water! Drinking water is so important throughout treatment. HAPPY MAGAZINE | 11
With my Battle of the Stars friends
Where are you now/how are you now? I’m back living in Tallaght, with my other half whom love blossomed with in the Radiotherapy waiting room! Healthwise, I am doing good. I am still on my Tamoxifen which I will be for 10 years. I do suffer with anxiety and fear from time to time but I haven’t met anyone who has had cancer that doesn’t. My son is now 11 and looking forward to making his confirmation next year. Life is very busy and one of the most fulfilling parts of my life is my role as a spokesperson and ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland. It is a great honour for me to share my story and do my bit to help raise awareness and educate others about breast cancer. The other part of my life which I am very proud of is Breast Friends – the blog/ support community which I set up at the end of my treatment as I felt there was a lack of information and support available to girls going through breast cancer and their families and friends. When I was ill I had so many questions (not all medical) but had nowhere to turn to get answers – I had to find all the answers myself. A lot of the time I felt fearful and isolated, not because I was alone but because I felt no one really understood what I was going through. I wanted to make sure that other girls wouldn’t be filled with fear like I was going through breast cancer. By sharing my experience, chatting to girls online, I hope to shed some light on the lesser talked about aspects of breast cancer. I am also determined to show girls that there is life after a diagnosis and draw attention to the fact that there are many girls in their 20’s and 30’s being diagnosed with breast cancer – it’s not just an older woman’s illness. How do you feel about your cancer During chemo experience now? Cancer is something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I look back on it now and acknowledge that I am a better person after having cancer. My perspective and attitude to life has improved and I think I lead a better quality of life. I take nothing for granted and enjoy every day to the max. 12 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
With author Emma Hannigan With Emma Hannigan
IF I AM GETTING ANXIOUS WORRYING IF I WILL HAVE A RECURRENCE, I WILL BRING MYSELF BACK TO THE FACT THAT RIGHT NOW I AM IN GOOD HEALTH AND I FEEL GRATEFUL FOR THAT Has cancer changed you, if yes, how? Yes, I’m still me but I take more chances these days. I grab opportunities, I don’t fear change and I have a greater appreciation for the little things in life. Have you changed anything in your life as a result of cancer, if yes, what and how? Everything about my life has changed since cancer. Cancer made me no longer fear change or taking a chance so since my diagnosis I have moved house, changed career, went from being single to in a relationship! When I think about it there is very little about my life that is similar to what it was before I had cancer. What helps you now if you have a difficult day? If I’m having a difficult day where I am feeling anxious or having a bit of a fearful wobble, I just bring myself to the present moment – I have a little checklist I tick off, for example if I am getting anxious worrying if I will have a recurrence, I will bring myself back to the fact that right now I am in good health and I feel grateful for that. It helps me realise that what has me having a difficult day is worrying about what if ’s, when I just need to focus on the actual present situation which isn’t bad at all. Single best purchase that helped you? I got a cleaner to come clean my house during treatment – it meant that I wasn’t worrying about having to do housework and it was one stressful thing eliminated.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone recently diagnosed, what would it be? Stay away from Google! That will only inject more fear and anxiety into you than you could ever imagine and most of it is exaggerated or untrue. Also, one other really important piece of advice is take each day as it comes to you and deal with stuff as it happens – don’t preempt things. Thank you so much Teresa for sharing your story with us. If you would like to contribute your story to Happy Magazine, check out page 55 for more details. HAPPY MAGAZINE | 13
ON THE COVER
THE TIME IS NOW M
y name is Brian Kennedy, I’m 52 and a half SINGER BRIAN KENNEDY IS and I’m originally from West Belfast. CELEBRATING BEING CANCER FREE FOLLOWING A THREE YEAR FIGHT. Tell us your diagnosis story. WE ASKED HIM TO ANSWER OUR I’d had some symptoms on and off… Blood READER QUESTIONNAIRE TO TELL US from the rectum when using the toilet, then nothing. When ALL ABOUT HIS JOURNEY. my GP checked me out, he did his best to reassure me that I HERE’S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY was perfect and nothing was wrong because on that day there
were zero symptoms and I thought it was just a little piles issue from a year before that had corrected itself. Bizarrely at that same time, my eldest Brother had been diagnosed with an incurable pancreatic cancer and so my instincts told me to make 100% sure. So I asked my GP what was the best way to do that and he said a colonoscopy or a ‘scope’ as they call it. I insisted he refer me and sure enough, many weeks later they found a small tumour in the wall of my rectum, very low down, and my whole world turned upside down. How did you feel when you were first diagnosed? Well, I kind of knew… instinctively that I wasn’t right. It was a great shock of course and then I spent the rest of that day in the same hospital, waiting to have a scan that thankfully revealed I didn’t have cancer anywhere else. Your treatment plan? Initially 5 weeks of radiation and two weeks of chemo, one at the beginning and one at the end of each week administered by a wee pump that was fed into my artery via a port in my chest and the little bottle of chemo was hidden inside what looks like a little bum bag as we used to call them, around my waist. I wore this onstage at the time too because it also looks like a radio pack for a radio microphone.
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HAPPY MAGAZINE | 15
How did treatment go for you? Initially it was ok, but after the radiation finished, that was when the pain really kicked in. I suppose my rectum had, for all intents and purposes, been scorched and so going to the loo was agony for many weeks after.
Where are you now/how are you now? I’ve literally just completed 5 months of chemo and I’m feeling very relieved about that. The tiredness was accumulative and exhausting sometimes but the body is an amazing healing thing.
Worst/best part of treatment? The worst was the after effects... the best was that radiation doesn’t hurt when it happens, quite like an x-ray and very quick too.
How do you feel about your cancer experience now? It was tough for sure, the 9 hour surgery and aftermath was the hardest part for me but I’m feeling very hopeful now.
What got you through treatment? My positive attitude, I knew that my cancer was treatable at that point because it had been caught early by my own insistence to have colonoscopy.
Has cancer changed you, if yes, how? Well, I would like to think I was always empathetic, but I would say I am much more so now. Every time I see someone in the street now, I wonder what they’re going through. I also like to talk about my experiences with my stoma in the live shows that I do too.
Single best advice that helped you? I kept telling myself ONE DAY AT A TIME... that worked sometimes… And also hearing other people ’s journeys…
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Have you changed anything in your life as a result of cancer, if yes, what and how? Honestly not really… I was pretty healthy to begin with. I never and still don’t have a sweet tooth if we’re to believe sugar encourages cancer. I also don’t really waste a minute. If I’m at the theatre and the play is boring, I’ll leave at the interval and meet a friend and have dinner or something. Life’s too short. What helps you now if you have a difficult day? A power nap and the realisation that there is always someone worse off, especially in places like Syria. I’m lucky to live so near a great hospital too. Single best purchase that helped you through cancer… A good bottle of champagne… and Gucci sunglasses… the future is so bright I GOTTA WEAR SHADES… and good books of course, when getting chemo! If you could give one piece of advice to someone recently diagnosed, what would it be? Take moments for yourself… choose who to tell initially… Cancer puts manners on people, good and bad… I’ve lost a few friendships since my journey started… some folks just can’t cope… try and be more forgiving with yourself and others… and have a bloody good time whenever possible! THE END. BK X
Thank you so much Brian for sharing your story with us.
Experience Peace & Relaxation
I’VE LITERALLY JUST COMPLETED 5 MONTHS OF CHEMO AND I’M FEELING VERY RELIEVED ABOUT THAT. THE TIREDNESS WAS ACCUMULATIVE AND EXHAUSTING SOMETIMES BUT THE BODY IS AN AMAZING HEALING THING
REIKI Healing From Within Grainne Nolan, Reiki Master & Practitioner
• Reiki Sessions • Essential Oils • Wellness Workshops • Meditation Groups Lucan, Co Dublin
Private Appointments Mon-Sat. Meditation Groups Weekly
Live your best life
Find your balance
For more information join our
Facebook Group Reiki Healing From Within or call Grainne on 087 972 4456 HAPPY MAGAZINE | 17
ROISIN TULLY FROM THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS IN DUBLIN TELLS US ALL ABOUT AN OPEN CLINICAL TRIAL LOOKING AT THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING CANCER
What is the PERIOP-OG Trial?
The PERIOP-OG Trial is a research study looking at the effects of exercise training throughout the cancer journey for people with oesophageal and gastric cancer. This study is being led by Beaumont Hospital Department of Surgery and ExWell Medical Chronic Illness Rehabilitation in Santry Sportslink in collaboration with Mercy Hospital Cork and University Hospital Galway along with other exercise centers such as Cancer Care West (Galway), LeisureWorld Cork, Healthwiseforlife (Clonmel), ExWell in University of Limerick and ExWell in Waterford Institute of Technology. People who have been diagnosed with either oesophageal or gastric cancer and who will be under going chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy followed by surgery are invited to join this trial. The aim of the research is to see if there is a benefit in following a structured exercise programme before, during and after your treatment and surgery.
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How did it come about?
Cancer treatment and surgery carries a level of risk. People who are less fit have an increased risk, i.e. they have a longer time recovering in hospital and more complications. Getting patients fit for surgery is now a key component of clinical care. However for people with oesophageal and gastric cancer, little research has been done. Therefore, in 2018, the ExWell team together with the doctors in Beaumont Hospital undertook a research study to investigate whether it was possible to exercise train such patients during their cancer journey and whether it improved fitness and quality of life. Findings from this study led to the design of the PERIOP-OG trial, which is an adequately powered trial to investigate the effects of exercise training compared to standard clinical care (i.e. no formal exercise training). We also believe that there is a sufficient amount of time before your surgery to exercise enough to make a significant improvement in fitness and potentially improve important clinical outcomes.
How many people are taking part?
There will be 64 people enrolled in this study. They will be people who have a new diagnosis of oesophygeal or gastric cancer and who will be having chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy prior to surgery.
Where is it taking place?
The study will be taking place in the locations outlined previously (Dublin, Cork and Galway as well as other exercise centres to make it easier for patients to access). However, for those people who it does not suit to attend any of these centres for exercise they will be given a home programme. For this they will have to attend a centre for assessments but their exercise programme can take place at home. They will have the guidance of a personal trainer who will teach them the exercises at their initial assessment and will be supported by weekly calls and texts.
What does it involve?
This is a randomised controlled trial. This means that half the people who agree to take part in this study will be randomly selected to continue their normal care as part of their cancer care journey while the other half will take part in the exercise programme. Both groups will undertake the same amount of assessments and this will give us an opportunity to see if our structured exercise programme improves peoples’ fitness before their surgery. We will also assess if the exercise programme has any impact on peoples’ quality of life, their fears of surgery and coping mechanisms. Additionally, we will analyse blood samples to see if there is any difference in the amount of inflammation that can be detected in the blood.
I find the exercising really good, we have the craic meeting up. It’s great if you’re not working, I come twice a week now. I wasn’t a gym person, I used go to gyms when I was at work to fix the equipment, not use it! It’s nice to have the discipline and structure to come. I do have weights at home but don’t always have the motivation and would rarely get to use them there. The exercise programme was great during my chemo and radiotherapy, keeping the fitness up and the assessments showed it. In fact, I did better after the chemo than before. Now I recommend the gym to anyone who I meet.
This trial came about due to the lack of research in some specific areas. The important and novel points of this trial are that it looks at exercise during neoadjuvant treatment (neoadjuvant means any treatment chemotherapy or radiotherapy that takes place before surgery). It is also novel that it is practical in that the exercise takes place in the community (in leisure centres) compared to other studies which have been undertaken in hospital. Programmes in the community are cheaper and easier to access.
Patient participant, Alan Rock
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What is the intention of the trial?
The intention of the trial is to provide evidence on the benefits of exercise during the different parts of the cancer care journey.
When does the trial conclude?
The trial began in March 2019 and we would hope to conclude around September 2020.
What are the next steps for the trial once it has concluded?
We began recruiting across our 3 hospital sites in March 2019 and have 24 people participating in the trial so far. The trial is for persons who are going to have chemotherapy and or radiotherapy before their surgery so we are still inviting participants to become involved. We hope to finish by September 2020 and have our results published by early 2021. Once the trial has concluded, we will analyse the data. We will then publish the results in medical journals as well
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as in magazines and newspapers that will be accessible to those who are undertaking their own cancer journey. We would hope that with a good evidence base, policy makers would incorporate exercise and physical activity into care for all persons undergoing any cancer treatment.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
It would be nice to mention the recommended guidelines for exercise. I think we can never emphasise this enough and I think every time you see it you might get a little reminder to be a bit more active! To attain the most health benefits from exercise, adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity, like lifting weights or doing push-up, at least 2 days each week. If you would like more information about this trial, you can contact Roisin at firstname.lastname@example.org
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LITTLE THINGS YOU SHOULD START MAKING TIME FOR AGAIN By Angel Chernoff from Marc & Angel
It’s time to start taking better care of yourself again. You are like a building with stained-glass
windows. You always shimmer and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, your true magnificence is revealed if there is light shining from within you. It’s your duty, and yours alone, to keep your inner light shining bright. So learn to love yourself first, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you. Loving yourself does not mean being selfish, or disregarding others. Rather, it means welcoming yourself as the most honoured guest in your own heart and mind—a guest worthy of extra care. Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it. That’s a great way to start.
It’s time to start indulging in your passions and hobbies again. Do fall in love, not always with a
person, but with an aim, an ambition, a passion. If you lost everything but your mind, heart and health, what would be your reason to wake up every morning with a smile?
There’s definitely a fire burning inside you. It’s your job to find it and keep it lit. As we grow older, with all of our responsibilities, our passions and hobbies often seem like an indulgence. They shouldn’t be. They should be a requirement. Even if you can only dedicate 20 minutes a day to something you love, DO IT. No excuses, no regrets.
It’s time to start spreading joy again. BE the change you want to see.
Love fearlessly and without limits. No act of love or kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, compassion, humor, generosity, and kindness, and using these tools to improve the lives of those around you. Smile, and help others smile too. If you don’t have the power or strength to write someone’s happiness, then try to help them remove their sadness instead. And don’t let the numbers overwhelm you. You can’t help everyone. Focus on assisting one person at a time, and start with the one closest to you.
It’s time to start up quality conversations with loved ones again. Death is a real challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It tells us to make time right now to tell each other that we love each other. It tells us to stop texting and tweeting every second and actually open the floodgates to real, long, heartfelt conversations with the people we love. Relationships flourish when two people 22 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
It’s time to start allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes again.
are able to share their innermost feelings and thoughts about themselves and each other. To be fully heard by someone, in raw form, and be adored anyhow, is what true love is. Making time for these deep connections and conversations is worth it. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)
The greatest mistake many of us make is living in constant fear that we will make one. Life is just too short to berate yourself for making mistakes. After all, mistakes in life are as certain as sunsets and detours. So why exert energy avoiding the unavoidable? The truth is you aren’t really free until you give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. So liberate yourself! Cut yourself some slack. Shift your energy from protecting yourself from failure to squeezing more life out of every one of your days.
It’s time to start listening to others
(without judgment) again. Be selective in your battles. Let go a bit and just listen and smile. Most of the time being peaceful and compassionate is far better than being right. So keep in mind that wisdom is not just knowing when to stand up and speak, but when to sit down quietly and listen. It’s about knowing that your ears will never get you in trouble, and will always give you a chance to learn something new.
It’s time to start enjoying peaceful downtime again. You deserve quiet moments away from the daily
hustle, in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are explored, and no demands are being made of your time. Schedule time every day to not be busy. At least twice a day, withdraw yourself from the sources of stress that refuse to withdraw from you. Do so for a few minutes and simply be and breathe. Don’t fool yourself; you’re not so busy that you can’t afford a few minutes of sanity.
It’s time to start reading good books again. Books are truly the perfect entertainment:
no advertisements, no batteries, hours of delight and education, and no cost with a library card. What you have to ask yourself is: Why not carry a book around for those inevitable gaps of wasteful waiting time—five minutes here and ten minutes there. Bring that dead time back to life. And remember, it is what you read and learn when you don’t have to that determines what you will be capable of when you have no other choice.
It’s time to start celebrating the small victories of each day again.
– Sure, not every day will be good, but there will be something good about every day. Notice these things and celebrate them. Train your mind to see what’s right. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life heavily depends on the quality of your thoughts. Re-published with permission from Angel.
It’s time to start cooking real, wholesome food again. Your body is a temple. You are what you eat. So
many of us are addicted to sugar, caffeine, processed foods and fast food. Now is the time to get back to basics–cooking meals at home from whole ingredients, plenty of fruit and vegetables and good quality sources of protein, whatever that is for you, lean meats or plant-based alternatives. Now is the time to get back to eating real foods that heal and provide you with good health and wellness.
HAPPY MAGAZINE | 23
Achieving a big goal. Climbing that mountain in January 2019 with Shauna
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY JOHN LEAMY WAS 63 AND LIVING IN GREECE WHEN A ROUTINE BLOOD TEST REVEALED HE HAD ACUTE MYELOID LEUKEMIA (AML). HERE JOHN TELLS US HIS STORY SINCE HIS DIAGNOSIS IN 2015
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ou have forty-eight hours to start treatment or you’re going to die.” This was the shock news delivered to me by a wonderful Greek haematologist in December 2015, one week before I was due to fly home to spend Christmas with family and friends. Only five short days previously, I had presented to my GP with what I thought was an irritating sore throat. I was also feeling extremely tired but put that down to my extreme work pressure and long working hours as we tried to achieve demanding targets before the Christmas break. The universe or god or whatever you believe in was looking out for me that day as the GP noticed something else and sent me for blood tests. Greece has a great system of laboratories which do blood tests. You can walk in off the street in the morning, select your tests from the menu or present your doctor’s letter, pay your fee and get your tests done and generally speaking call back in the evening for your results in writing when you can also consult with laboratory doctors for advice. Anyways the laboratory was very concerned about the results and referred them straight away to their haematologist consultant Dr H. She rang me the next day and asked to see me that evening. She runs a very busy practice in the evenings in central Athens. An appointment for 9pm stretched until after midnight. She told me that it seemed from the tests that I had Leukaemia but she could not be 100% sure until she did more tests. So I was off to the hospital the next day, oblivious to how serious my situation was. I had heard of leukaemia and knew it was a blood disorder – that was all I knew. So as far as I was concerned going into hospital that day, ten days before Christmas, Dr H would probably confirm her diagnosis and give me some tablets and start some treatment to get rid of the leukaemia. You can imagine how stunned and shocked I was with her diagnosis of 48 hours to start treatment or to face death. Frantic phone calls were made to family, employers and friends to see what could be done in terms of getting home to Ireland to start treatment. All was in vain as time was against me and so the decision was made to stay in Greece under the care of Dr H in Athens and start chemotherapy. The urgency and seriousness of what I was facing was explained to me by Dr H and her colleagues. My immune system was close to collapse and unless intensive treatment was started it would collapse, and I would die. I had never thought of dying or had ever been in hospital in my 63 years on the planet nor did I fully appreciate how ill I was. That is the truth. It was only some two years later when I looked back on work emails and personal emails I sent during December 2015 and the following January and February that I realised how incoherent, rambling and disconnected they were and I was. I was in hospital until the end of January 2016 and in isolation for long periods. My family came to visit, Greek friends rallied around and I was cared for by the most wonderful team of caring doctors and nurses. English speaking nurses were assigned to me and they could not have taken better care of me.
The actual transplant day in September 2016 My first bone marrow extract done in February showed that the leukaemia was still present and so it was back into hospital for more chemotherapy. Then on St Patrick’s Day 2016 I explained the story of St Patrick to Dr H, she did another bone marrow extract and this time the results were positive and I was in remission. Around about this time Dr H had to complete a work-related certificate of medical insurance. I was surprised to read in it that she estimated that it would be at least 18 months before I could go back to work. I thought I was in the clear and that it would only take me weeks, maybe a month to get better. It was then that the question of getting a bone marrow transplant was raised. Yet another shock and something I knew nothing about and found hard to accept I needed. But putting my faith in Dr H, I went off to meet with Dr K, head of the transplant team in Greece. My youngest daughter was visiting at the time and off we went to see him. For the second time in six months the question of dying raised its ugly head. My daughter asked Dr K what would happen if Dad doesn’t get a transplant. Straight away he replied, he’ll die within five years. A bit of a blow to both of us, but with no other options again I went on the transplant program and began the next phase of recovery – finding a donor. Before I go on perhaps I should tell you briefly about the treatment. Hours after hours of intravenous chemotherapy, hours and hours of blood and platelet transfusions, daily blood tests and lots of other medication. I never really enquired or was curious
HAPPY MAGAZINE | 25
With family and friends 100 days post transplant
about what I was on – all that was Dr H’s job and I had great faith in her. I did suffer an allergic reaction to one transfusion and that was a very scary experience that lasted three days. The great nurses got me through it and put up with my ranting, raving and cursing!! The isolation wasn’t too bad as my Greek friends took it in turns to visit, wearing masks, gowns and gloves and some of my family were able to get over for visits as well. The real downside for me of the isolation was the food. What I could have had to be specially prepared and there was lots of food I couldn’t have for fear of infection. But overall it was a small price to pay. I left hospital at the end of March 2016 and was confined to my apartment until the end of April 2016. Then slowly and cautiously, I began a ‘new normal’ life of medication four times a day. Short walks and avoiding crowded places like restaurants and shops. Meanwhile the search of a donor was going on, unseen and unheard. In early August 2016 I was told that a 100% match had been found for me in Germany and that the transplant would take place later that month. I was away with three friends on a sightseeing tour when I got a phone call two days before the transplant to tell me it would not take place as planned as the donor was ill. Luckily, I was with good friends that were able to help me over the disappointment. In September another 100% match was found in another young German woman. I was admitted to hospital and straight into isolation. Then doctors, Dr K and his team, then started the process of breaking down my immune system and bringing me almost to death before infusing the new bone marrow cells. The days before and immediately after the transplant are a bit of a blur as I was fatigued and very unwell. My daughter was with me through some of it but I don’t really remember her being there. Confined to a small room, with only two visitors allowed in it was a lonely and difficult time. But I was released after three weeks and On holidays with Annette, confined to the apartment apart from daily visits Summer 2018 to the outpatients clinic. Lots of care had to be taken to avoid infection and hospital tests every day to measure bloods and look out for symptoms of graft versus host disease (GVHD), the enemy of transplants. I was physically very weak but on heavy doses of all sorts of medication especially steroids. These gave me some energy and I slowly got back walking up my favourite mountain, not far from my apartment. Small short walks at first and gradually increasing until the following Easter 2017. I was able to climb almost to the top. That was a real wow moment and sitting at that point with a flask of tea and some sandwiches was magical. During this time I also started doing 1:1 Pilates and these sessions were an enormous help in my recovery. There were many times in the recovery in Greece when I wondered if I wouldn’t make it. On two occasions patients in for transplants died on the ward and this had a profound effect on the rest of us. I was also lucky, that on Dr H’s advice, I found a very good counsellor who I attended regularly during my recovery and she helped me get over several of the emotional issues which affected me. In October 2017 I was given the all clear to return home – flying had been banned up to then for fear of picking up infection. So 13 months after the transplant and accompanied by my wife 26 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
Saying goodbye to family at Athens airport
Annette I came to continue my recovery but now under the care of Dr C in St James’s Hospital. I came home too soon and wasn’t right physically or mentally to cope with all the challenges in my life. New home, new doctors, new lifestyle, different climate, getting used to family life and friends again all proved too much for me and I ended up in James’s for a week before Christmas 2017. But great family support and counselling and a return to pilates and walking soon had me back on the straight and narrow. But the medication had its own side effects and I discovered, as did my family, my mood swings were par for the course. But pilates and walking got me out of myself, got me active and gave me a focus on getting fit again. And so another mountain walk was the target set for December 2018. During this time I learned that bone marrow transplants don’t often take as well in joints as it does in the rest of the body. Knowing this, I tolerated the aching lameness and sore hip joint which activity seemed to help to ease. I also suffered Achilles tendon problems and hamstring problems, both of which took a very long time to heal. But by December I was ready and on 1 January 2019, accompanied by my daughter and her boyfriend, we climbed the mountain around Glendalough, a great feeling of exhilaration and achievement was accompanied by a very painful hip and so in February 2019 I had a hip replacement as the steroids had led to an 80% degeneration of the joint. Getting over this has been slow but I’m back walking and plan to climb another mountain before the years ends. I am reminded of a Greek saying “When man plans, the God’s laugh”!! There is one important thing I feel I should mention and this I think from what I’ve read affects most people who go through an enormous health condition and this is the blow it is to your self confidence. I was always a confident individual and able to manage many projects at the same time and to keep all the balls in the air. But after I returned to Ireland and throughout 2018 I realised that my confidence had suffered a terrible blow and I found it extremely difficult to juggle and cope with day to day living tasks. Making decisions became difficult and a source of stress and worry for myself and those around me. But family support and time has helped me be able to do things again which I wasn’t able to do and that has helped my confidence slowly return. Back in Ireland, 1 year post transplant, October 2017 The road to recovery from AML and transplant is a long and slow one with many bumps along the way. Maybe I’m over the worst of it, who knows, but with the love and support of family and friends I know I will get there in the end! Thank you so much John for sharing your story with us.
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OUT & ABOUT
COMMUNITY Relay for Life Wexford 2019 was an incredibly special weekend of community spirit, hope and inspiration, writes Holly Kennedy.
elay for Life Wexford is an annual fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society and boy, what an event it is. This year I had the immense pleasure of attending the first part of this marathon 24 hour event to speak and to experience all that is “Relay”. And wow. All I can say is WOW. It really is the most incredible event - inspiring, positive, uplifting, motivational. It gave me such an incredible lift to be there, and I’m only too delighted to share with you all my little experience of it here in Happy Magazine. We arrived early, at about 11.30am and just walked around the Relay pitch and took it all in. Picture a football pitch, surrounded on four sides by marquees, food trucks, sound stages and family activities, with a marked-out walking track in the centre. Relay for Life is a 24 hour relay event, with teams from all over the country getting together to walk non-stop for 24 hours, all in aid of the fantastic work done by the Irish Cancer Society. And yet the fundraising had also started way before the actual weekend, with individual fundraisers raising thousands before even a single lap was walked at Pairc Charmain in Wexford on the weekend of 13 and 14 July 2019. If you’re looking for community spirit, this is where you’ll find it. Never have I experienced so many people so passionately working together on a common goal, on a single vision for one weekend - and what an incredibly beautiful sight it was. It was with my utmost pleasure that I addressed the magnificent Survivors Tent at Relay this year. 100 survivors received the second issue of Happy Magazine as a gift and I have never felt prouder. I pushed my lifetime shyness to one side and spoke my story to the tent and I hope that I shared my message of hope and inspiration all that I have ever wanted to do with Happy Magazine. As a group we shared a delicious lunch sponsored by Pettit’s Supervalu Wexford and talked, laughed and shared like only a group of survivors might - with joy, with courage, with warmth and my heart was lifted, soaring, with happiness.
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OUT & ABOUT
THE COMBINED FUNDRAISING EFFORTS OF RELAY FOR LIFE WEXFORD 2019 RAISED AN INCREDIBLE €130,000 FOR THE IRISH CANCER SOCIETY
Then the opening ceremony took place with survivors and people currently affected by cancer walking the track in a Survivors’ Lap, cheered and supported by everyone in attendance. This was followed by a Carers Lap, recognising those who provide/provided support to loved ones during cancer treatment. Throughout the 24 hours then there were also fun laps on various themes including ‘Neon and Lights’, ‘80’s Lap’, ‘Unicorns and Glitter’ and ‘YMCA’. It is a truly beautiful thing to see so many people come together in the fight again cancer - as patients, as survivors, as carers, as family members and as friends. As those still here, and those left behind. When we unite in joy, in grief, in solidarity, people are the most powerful thing. Over 950 people relayed to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society and over 5,000 visited over the two days. Relay for Life Wexford united so many people in a common goal and honestly, never before have I seen such a beautiful community gathering. A family fun day for all ages, this event had it all to keep all ages happy. Once the sun set, it was time for the much-anticipated candle of hope ceremony and walking lap. The pitch became lit with the light of hundreds of candles, in memorial of those no longer with us, celebrating those fighting, of those surviving, of those thriving. Long into the night the relay teams continued to walk, conversations shared, problems halved, laughter enjoyed and tears shed too. This was a community coming together, united with a common goal, smiling, smiling, all the way, and it is something I will never, ever forget. Thank you Relay for Life Wexford 2019, for giving me back a piece of me I have been missing for awhile - a sense of community, of human spirit, of passion, of hope - you had it all this weekend and I hope you’ll have me back next year - where I won’t miss a minute.
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INSURANCE AFTER CANCER CLODAGH MCNULTY IS A FINANCIAL ADVISOR WITH NEILAND FINANCIAL SERVICES BASED IN WEXFORD AND IS HAPPY TO DISCUSS HOW THIS PRODUCT MAY WORK FOR YOU. CLODAGH CAN PROVIDE YOU WITH A PERSONALISED FINANCIAL REVIEW THAT TAKES YOUR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES INTO ACCOUNT TO MAKE SURE YOU GET THE PRODUCT, SUPPORT AND VALUE THAT SUITS YOUR NEEDS.
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hankfully, in recent years we have seen great strides in medical diagnostics and treatments. These advancements mean that serious illnesses are being diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively. This also means that the way in which people live their lives is changing. Because more illnesses are detected earlier, following treatment, many people can return to life as normal. That’s why Royal London has developed an innovative new protection policy to accommodate people’s changing needs. Multi-Claim Protection Cover is a unique, severitybased policy aligned with the progression of modern medicine and health. Only available in Ireland, from Financial Brokers, it provides a financial safety net for a broad range of health conditions and treatments. It is also more inclusive than some other types of protection cover. Whereas people who have had cancer are not eligible for Specified Serious Illness cover, they can, with relevant exclusions, get Multi‑Claim Protection Cover. The exclusions would relate to the previous cancer diagnoses but cover would still be possible for heart conditions/ treatments, functional incapacity, psychiatric admission and neurological disorders, for example.
EMILY’S STORY Emily, aged 47, wanted some form of life and illness insurance. Five years earlier, she had received chemotherapy and radiotherapy to successfully treat stage 2 breast cancer. Emily could get life cover, but because of her medical history traditional Specified Serious Illness cover was not possible. However, Multi-Claim Protection Cover was an option. Emily chose to take out a policy, understanding that cancer and its related treatments were excluded. Emily’s policy provided the associated peace of mind that she had financial cover in place for: death; terminal illness; heart related conditions such as heart attack, angioplasty, and heart failure; neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s and dementia; and functional incapacity.
MORE ABOUT THE POLICY
Multi-Claim Protection Cover provides cover for your life, if you were to pass away, as well as for the impact of a serious illness such as having a heart attack or stroke or undergoing serious surgery. It also covers other life impacts, for instance, a long hospital stay such as after a serious road traffic accident or not being able to do basic activities, like feeding or dressing oneself, for six months or longer. Without a long list of prescribed medical definitions, Multi‑Claim Protection Cover is designed to be easy to understand when you can make a claim and can potentially pay out multiple times over the lifetime of the policy. This policy can pay out 5% to 100% of your cover (your original sum assured when you take out your policy) depending on the applicable illness or condition. This means for some illnesses or treatments, it will pay out potentially less than 100% of your cover at once, keeping the rest in place for any future, more severe illnesses. For illnesses or treatments that have a more serious impact, it aims to pay out a higher amount. For example: • in‑patient rehab for two weeks triggers a 5% payment • a terminal illness diagnosis or death triggers a 100% payment You can continue to claim on the policy, as needed, until you have claimed the full amount of your cover. After a claim, your monthly payments (premium) will not change. Terms and conditions do apply and are fully explained in the policy conditions document which is available on request.
ABOUT ROYAL LONDON Royal London is a life assurance company based on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. With a strong heritage in Ireland, Royal London has been protecting customers here for over 190 years (before rebranding in 2014 it was known as Caledonian Life) and is committed to looking after the interests of its customers. Royal London is owned by the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company. With no external shareholders, Royal London is focused solely on making decisions that give better value and higher levels of service to customers. You can find out more about the company at royallondon.ie. Clodagh would be delighted to hear from you and to help you with your financial planning, so why not call her today on 053 9146592.
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nips Medical Wigs, formally known as Snips Hairdressers, was started up by my late father Laurence Harris, as Ireland’s first unisex hairdressers back in 1971. It was the place to go to and to be seen. Dad worked with the very best in the hair and fashion industry in his early days as a fashion hairdresser. He worked on fashion shows where he would use and style hair pieces and wigs on the models. In the 80’s / 90’s, he brought into Ireland ‘clip in’ hair pieces and ‘pony tails’ just for fashion purposes. Not long after that he sold Irish dancing hair pieces followed by half and full wigs. He also introduced into Ireland the brand ‘Great Lengths’ hair extensions as well as Organic Hair Colouring specifically for post chemotherapy treatment clients. It was around this time, Dad was getting enquiries regularly from clients enquiring if we supplied wigs for hair loss. This was the catalysts for my Dad, after being in hairdressing for over 30 years deciding that actually helping and supporting women with hair loss was far more important and fulfilling than working in the fashion industry. Dad had worked with and around women all his life and had this natural ability to make women feel good about themselves whilst they were feeling extremely vulnerable. He was also a very good listener and he understood that he was providing much more than a wig to the client. It was about helping, guiding and supporting his clients through all stages of hair loss and re-growth. Dad dedicated his life to helping women experiencing hair loss. Snips Medical Wigs specialists has gone through a lot of big changes in the past year. After 45 years in business on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, the business was forced to relocate due to redevelopment in the area. In December of 2018, Snips Medical Wigs moved to a new purpose built premises under the guidance of Laura Harris, daughter of Laurence, at the Beacon Specialist Clinics in Sandyford Dublin. With this major move Snips Medical Wigs decided to solely concentrate on looking after women of all ages experiencing hair loss. Hair loss in women can be due to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, alopecia as well as various other forms of hair loss. We were delighted that we could expand our ready to wear ‘human hair wigs’ and ‘synthetic wigs’ collection, offering a larger variety of choices to our clients. We also expanded our display of seasonal headwear, where our clients can view and try on our headwear samples. In January, we were excited to be able to introduce Oxygen Infusion Therapy specifically for scalp and hair, the first of its kind in Ireland. This unique specialised service is offered to all our post chemotherapy 32 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO YOUR RECOVERY
LAURA IS THE OWNER OF SNIPS MEDICAL WIGS IN DUBLIN. HERE SHE TELLS US WHAT HER BUSINESS HAS TO OFFER clients. At Snips Medical Wigs you are in safe and caring hands where we are with you every step of the way from the start of your treatment right through to the beginning of hair regrowth. Laura literally grew up in the salon in Middle Abbey Street back in the early days. She started working there when she was sixteen as a Saturday girl. At eighteen she was put in charge of selling the Irish Dancing full and half wigs. Laura would learn how to match up appropriate colour hair pieces and wigs to the clients own hair. Laura would also demonstrate how to maintain specific hair pieces and wigs. This experience was a great foundation for future years in the business. Her expertise progressed as she began sitting in with her father whilst he was looking after chemotherapy and radiotherapy clients. She spent over four years watching, observing and listening to clients as well as how her father interacted with these clients. Laurence wanted Laura to learn about the psychological effects of hair loss so she would be able to help and support clients in every way possible. She decided to undertake a training and development program in counselling psychology at the Dublin Business College. In March 2011, Laura’s father passed away suddenly. Not only was this a shock to her immediate family but also to Laurence Harris’s regular clients. Laura took over the family business which was a daunting task at the time, however she was so passionate about her involvement in Snips, she made the transition a seamless one. Eight years later, with a new look, new services and new premises, Snips Medical Wigs is going from strength to strength.
Some of the solutions we have to offer are:
MEDICAL HUMAN HAIR WIGS AND SYNTHETIC WIGS
We provide only the highest quality medical ‘ready to wear’ human hair wigs and synthetic wigs specifically for hair loss. Medical wigs are made with hair loss, scalp sensitivity, breathability, comfort and hair regrowth in mind. There are 4 available wig sizes to suit every head size and shape. There is large variety of different natural colours and styles to choose from. All of our wig are tweaked to suit the clients individual style. A demonstration on how to wear and maintain their wig correctly is extremely important. This will give our clients the skills and confidence to be able to go out and get on with their daily lives. Providing a year after care service to our clients gives them peace of mind, that we are there for them every step from hair loss all the way through to hair regrowth. We offer a human hair wig wash and blow dry service, this can be a of great help to our clients going through chemotherapy.
SEASONAL HEADWEAR FOR ALL OCCASIONS
Our large selection of stylish, seasonal headwear collections are made from an all-natural bamboo viscous fabric which is breathable, anti-bacterial, moisture absorbent and extremely soft and comfortable against the scalp, keeping your head warm and dry at all times. Going on holidays, our unique stylish Sun Wear collection provides an UPF 50 + sun protection against the harmful rays of the sun, whilst letting your skin breathe freely. Each style is made with broad brims to shield the eyes and protect the sensitive facial skin leaving you fully protected. During the night it is so very important to be able maintain a natural body temperature especially if you have hair loss. Our Bamboo and Milk night caps are moisture absorbent, breathable and extremely soft and comfortable to wear against the scalp.
‘KEMON’ ORGANIC SCALP AND HAIR CARE PRODUCTS
Conscience of what products we provide and use for our clients undergoing and after chemotherapy treatment we source only the highest quality organic scalp and hair products. Kemon is an Italian based company focuses on being completely organic. There Actyva range uses more than 40 ingredients of natural origins. These ensure immediate visible results while respecting the scalp, hair and the environment.
For more information or to make an appointment, please give Snips a call on 01 8733443. You can also follow them on social media or visit their website, snipswigs.ie
In February 2000, after 9 years of being misdiagnosed and told I was a hypochondriac, I had 6 MRI’s and copious amount of tests and investigations. Finally, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed in St. Vincent’s Hospital with a rare form of brain tumors called ‘Cushings Disease’. This particular tumor was pressing against the pituitary gland which had many unpleasant side effects including, major weight gain, mood swings and depression, a lack of energy & concentration and memory loss. Other side effects experienced were; extra body and facial hair, disrupted sleep pattern, constant thirst and food binging, hot and cold sweats, bruising of the body, restless hands and legs syndrome and swollen or painful glands. I was emotional and suffered major depression due to consequences of the tumor. I was also suffering emotionally due to the thinning and receding of my hair, resulting in me having to wear wigs and hair pieces. My operation took place in Beaumont Hospital, however the day after my operation there was a minor complication. Fluid from my brain continued to drip through my nose even with nose packing. After two spinal taps, I went for further surgery to take more muscle from my thigh and place into the cavity in my head thus stopping the fluid leak. With two anesthetics so close to one another I ended up being on a ventilator for 6 hours and remained in ICU for a couple of days. I was very fortunate that my tumor was benign meaning I did not have to receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy. What it did mean though was I had to be on replacement steroids for a short time but ended up being for 7 years. Like many others, once I was given the all clear I thought I could go back to my life as before, but I was very wrong. It took 9 years before my body settled down, but not without a fight. Many of the symptoms that I had prior operation became worse. I became bed bound and house bound for roughly 3 to 4 years. I became a recluse and lost many friends during this period leading me to eventually seek help from a councilor. This did help me come to terms with what I’d gone through and was experiencing. Some side effect remaining include daily occurrences of nausea, short term memory loss, hair thinning and sleep issues. Unfortunately during my operations my hypothalamus was damaged meaning I have no regulation of my body temperature. I am constantly ‘core’ cold, however when I am in warm temperatures my body will over heat. The only reason that I remembered all my symptoms was I kept a diary on how I was feeling day to day. It was a great help at the time for me and the specialists to see any progress to my health. I do find it hard some days to deal with these side effects but as my Dad would have said, ‘Laura, they were the cards you were dealt, get on with it’. I had no control over what happened to me but I am not going to become a victim to my illness as my illness does not define the person I am today. The work I do now at Snips Medical Wigs is my passion. Being able to understand and empathise with my clients who are going through treatment helps my clients so much. They know I truly understand how and what they are feeling and going through as some of my side effects are similar to those of my clients. This enables me to offer hints and tips I found useful during my recuperation.
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r e t t e B l e e F What is Look Good Feel Better?
Look Good Feel Better is a registered Irish charity that hosts skincare and makeup workshops for women undergoing cancer treatment. The charity is in 15 hospitals and works with 1,000 women a year. Look Good Feel Better is very grateful to their 200 voluntary professional makeup artists who support them in this work.
How long is it running in Ireland?
Look Good Feel Better started in 2003 as a programme with the Irish Cancer Society and then was set up as a registered charity in its own right in 2013.
What can participants expect at a LGFB workshop?
When you arrive at a Look Good Feel Better workshop, you will be greeted by two or three professional makeup artists who will be with you for the workshop. You will see a room filled with cosmetics and mirrors. Each person is given a cosmetic bag of their own, this is filled with 12 full sized cosmetics from cleanser and foundation to lipstick and brow pencil. You will bring all of these goodies home with you. We follow a 12 step skincare and makeup programme and a leaflet outlining each step is included in the cosmetic bag. The lead makeup artist will ask for a model and they will work with this person to show the whole room how to do each stage. The other makeup artists help the rest of the room if they are having any difficulty with any step.
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Where do the workshops take place and how often?
Look Good Feel Better have monthly workshops in 15 hospitals – 7 in Dublin as well as Galway, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Letterkenny, Sligo, Kerry and Castlebar.
How do you get your name down for a workshop? All you have to do is ask your oncology nurse or at your Daffodil Centre, and they will arrange it.
What if you don’t feel well on the day of the workshop?
That’s no problem, we’ll simply ask you if you want to attend the following one.
Annabel O’Keeffe is the General Manager of Look Good Feel Better. We asked her to tell us about her role with the charity.
What does a typical day look like for you?
How long have you been working with LGFB?
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I started out in life working for advertising agencies as an Account Director, I loved working on Unicef so much I decided I’d like to work for a charity. I have worked for Look Good Feel Better for over a year now, previously I was the General Manager of a Mindfulness and Meditation Centre in Grangegorman and Marketing Manager in Focus Ireland.
How and why did you get started with the charity? I
think that self-confidence and self-esteem are really vital for health and happiness and overall wellbeing. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating even when the prognosis is good. What Look Good Feel Better does can be a turning point for some and an act of great kindness for others. I know in my life there have been times when for one reason or another, I have lost my self confidence and someone’s kindness has helped to put me back on track and allowed me to be myself again.
There is no typical day, it depends on what is going on. We get fantastic support from corporate donors such as Zestivo, Debenhams and The Skin Nerd. Benefit had a pop-up coffee shop, BeneBarista, earlier on this year so I worked at it encouraging people to come in the door and get their brows done or buy a coffee! Then other days, I fill in applications for grants and foundation funding. It’s really varied. It’s an amazing job and I feel lucky to have it.
The workshops are amazing and every single one is different. My background isn’t in makeup artistry so I’m in awe of these amazing professionals who volunteer their time every month and run these beautiful workshops. The women who participate are so brave as they don’t know what to expect but as soon as they see their gorgeous goodie bags filled with cosmetics they get into the swing of things. It’s that shift in atmosphere that is common to all workshops from apprehension to delight. I also love hearing the stories and writing them up for social media, it’s really heartening.
What are the plans for the rest of the year for the charity?
We have over 100 workshops with 10-15 women in each and we are branching out to 4 new cancer care centres which is something we haven’t done before so that’s exciting.
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I went to the Look Good Feel Better workshop in September. I was told about it by the Daffodil Nurse in St James’s, she was amazing. The Look Good Feel Better workshop was like an immediate fix, it gave me a real boost. I got a complete toolkit on how to use makeup and disguise some of the side effects of my treatment. I still use the techniques now. Before the Look Good Feel Better workshop I was afraid to use makeup because I didn’t want to cause further sensitivity to my skin but with the help of the lovely ladies in Look Good Feel Better that all changed. Now I feel like my makeup is my protective armour, the workshop made me more confident in my appearance and now I feel I can face the outside world a little better.
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The most commonly asked questions in a workshop would be about scalp care, eyebrow and eyelash loss and how to feel more confident when you donâ€™t feel like yourself. The workshops are about more than make up and lots of issues are discussed. I would generally start off with the various skin issues that occur during treatment.
The whole body can become very dry so a lot of extra moisturiser is needed and lip balms are important. This will lead on to scalp care naturally and the most important tip would be to moisturise the scalp as if you had a full head of hair. This is important as the hair is only dormant and the follicle needs moisture so that the regrowth is straight and smooth and not bent and frizzy. Keep a small thermal spa water mist in your bag as hot flushes are very common the week following chemotherapy. These are available in most pharmacies and health and beauty aisles.
With eyebrow and eyelash loss the defining feminine facial features are gone so we give a lot of time to this. With eyebrows we show how to mimic the hair with short strokes of a fine tipped brow pencil. The three points to start,end and where to arch the brow. When the hair growth of a brow is explained it is easier to know where to start and in what way. The arch is the darkest area while closest to the nose should be light with upright strokes. Similarly we show how to use a soft kohl pencil or eye shadow to fill in where the eyelashes should be as the skin is too delicate to use eyelash glue during treatment and recovery. At this stage in a workshop we discuss the application of colour with eyeshadow, blushers, lipstick and bronzer. The finished look is a soft manageable daytime makeup. All our workshops strive to give women the tips and tools they need to help reset their beauty regime during a temporary yet daunting situation.
from the Workshops
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HEADWEAR HOW TO CHOOSE CHEMO HEADWEAR TO BEST SUIT YOU IN THE AUTUMN/WINTER
he style/shape of headwear and the colouring are both really important in creating a look that suits you and therefore creates some confidence with your new look. Most of my clients have wigs and many people find they want a wig for business meetings or dinners out but many people do find them rather uncomfortable hot and sweaty and so turn to more comfortable headscarves or hats quite quickly. Some people end up never wearing their wigs at all! It is worth looking at your wardrobe before choosing your headwear; if you wear a lot of print then choose a plain fabric, alternately if your wardrobe is very plain then choosing a print could be a good idea. Also, think of your skin tone and eye colour, this is what people will notice and picking a blue, green, grey or brown print to pick out your eye colour will be result in a flattering headwear choice. Also, think about your make-up, firstly you might need to apply more when going through chemo and if you know, for example you are going to wear bright red lipstick then pick a red headscarf or hat to complement that; same goes for pinks etc. Once, you have chosen what headgear you are going for experiment with your looks. Do you ears look better tucked in or out? Try some big earrings. Pull together some looks that work with your wardrobe and make you feel confident. One of my clients had a friend help her by taking photos of several different outfits with headscarf, shoes and bag choice and sticking them inside her wardrobe door for quick reference as she felt just too ill to think about what to pull on each morning. If you have a willing friend I think this is a great idea! It is really important to feel completely “you” in the style of headwear you choose. Some people will prefer a headscarf style while
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others will prefer a stretchy jersey hat as it can seem more casual and modern. The classic turban style tends to be my “marmite” style as people either love it or hate it – if you have the confidence it can be a really attractive and flattering headwear shape. I usually advise people to think through at the start of their chemotherapy treatment the time of year you are in and which seasons it will need to carry you through. If it is winter take a look in your current wardrobe and see what colour jumpers are your current favourites and pick some headscarves or hats to go with them. As knitwear is often plain maybe go for a pretty print that might pick out the colour of your jumpers. Equally think of your winter coat, this is an item of clothing you wear a lot at this time of year and you want to know you have a hat you can throw on with your coat as you leave the house. Same might go for a dog walking coat? Now turn your thoughts to neck scarves – these become even more essential wear during chemo to keep you warm and many people feel their neck feels terribly exposed with the loss of hair. If you have a very favourite scarf which is patterned then think about a plain silk or cashmere headscarf or plain colour bamboo jersey hat. Though it is easy to find a woolly bobble hat or beanie from the high street it might be too hot when you are inside and look a little strange that you are wearing a bobble hat inside, I design all my headwear to look more normal when worn inside.
A quick summary of some of my styles that are great for the winter months: • Alice easy-tie headscarf in the softest Liberty print babycord. 100% cotton. • Alice headscarf or Lucy turban in 100% cashmere. Made from the softest/lightweight pashminas. • Olive gathered hat in plain bamboo jersey or Liberty print. • Caroline reversible turban – print one side and plain on the other! • Kitty beanie – good under a woolly bobble hat so you can take your outdoor hat off when you go inside. By Claire Featherstone, founder of award winning Chemo Headwear. All styles available to buy online at chemoheadwear.co.uk
NATURAL & ORGANIC
NATURIGIN IS A NATURAL & ORGANIC HAIR BRAND STARTED BY DANISH WOMAN METTE AFTER HER OWN BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS
ATURIGIN is a Danish family-owned company located in the center of Aarhus, Denmark. Founded by Mette and Stig back in 1998 after Metteâ€™s own breast cancer diagnosis, NATURIGIN offers a natural and organic approach to permanent hair colour, hair care and hair styling products - without compromising the good quality of the products. NATURIGIN are a dedicated team who are passionate about health and ecology. Their vision is to change the world one ingredient at a time, by spreading the word that women CAN take care of their hair without compromising their health or the environment. NATURIGIN stands out from other hair colours and hair products on the market by offering 19 different vegan hair colours, all of which are natural and permanent. All NATURIGIN hair colours contain natural oils and extracts that leave the hair silky and the scalp nourished. Their ingredients are 98% naturally based, and their hair colours are 100% free from ammonia and parabens. The colours have the lowest measured level of PPD worldwide, namely 0.02%. NATURIGIN hair colours give 100% grey coverage and are easy to use. NATURIGIN products are also 100% cruelty-free - their products are NOT tested on animals and the packaging is made of recycled materials. In addition to their 19 hair colours, they also offer hair care products - a Colour Care Hair Wash and a Colour Care Conditioner. These are specially made for dyed hair to ensure
that NATURIGIN hair colours achieve their full potential - also in the subsequent care of the hair. NATURIGIN Hair Wash contains mild, organic extracts and natural oils that help soften the hair and leave it glossy. NATURIGIN Conditioner contains hydrolyzed silk protein that protects the hair, improves hair elasticity and leaves it shiny. Finally, NATURIGIN also offers a vegan hair spray and a vegan dry shampoo, both of which are 100% free of parabens, sulphates and chlorine. The propellant used for both the All Day Hairspray and the Refresh Dry Shampoo is Bio DME gas from a Certificate program â€“ Bio DME is a colourless gas that is highly biodegradable, non-corrosive and will not contaminate soil or aquifers. Both the All Day Hairspray and the Refresh Dry Shampoo are also made with certified organic ingredients and vitamin E. For more information visit naturigin.com or shop online at simplynatural.ie
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YOUR COMPLETE POST-SURGERY BRA WARDROBE From Anita Care If choosing the right underwear after breast surgery seems like an impossible choice, then Anita Care is here to help you. This article aims to show how just four bra styles and a carefully chosen swimsuit can cover you for all occasions throughout life as well as how to choose a breast form for maximum comfort during exercise or swimming.
reast cancer diagnosis and treatment is only the first step on the road to recovery. Postsurgery, ladies are often left struggling with feelings of insecurity over their new shape and many don’t realise how much correctly fitted specialist lingerie can do to boost confidence and restore their pre-surgery silhouette. Anita is a German company who has been in business for over 130 years and knows how to design lingerie and swimwear for postsurgery ladies to ensure the coverage, comfort, support and confidence of the wearer are at the forefront of every style. As bra specialists they have a comprehensive collection of bras and breast forms for every type of breast surgery and a bra for all activities for every occasion in life, from T-Shirt Bras to Sports Bras, to feel-good Bras and everything inSafina between.
Let’s start with our favourite and best-selling care bra for day to day use, Safina! Safina is pleasantly light on the skin and pretty to look at with its floral embroidery on translucent tulle cups. It comes with two strap options, the wider padded straps or slim, fully adjustable straps. It has cotton pockets on both sides to discreetly hold your breast form. You will want to buy a couple of these so you have one to wear and one in the wash. In the thin straps this bra fits up to an F cup and comes in Champagne (Ivory) and Mellow Rose while in the wider straps it fits up to G cup in the Skin and Mellow Rose 40 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
Extreme Control Sports Bra
THE EXTREME CONTROL CARE SPORTS BRA
Next up let’s talk exercise! Ladies that exercised regularly before surgery will probably be keen to get back into the Gym as soon they are feeling better and in fact the medical community recommend that gentle exercise is a great aid to healing after surgery. (You should always check with your doctor before undertaking any exercise to make sure you are ready of course). The Extreme Control Care Sports Bra from Anita Care is the ideal choice, pocketed both sides with a soft terry towelling for sweat management and comfort. Available in Heather Grey it fits up to an E Cup and offers superb fit and support. You could use the 1086 breastform with this bra for lightweight work outs and good perspiration management. It’s also ideal for swimming so let’s talk about that now too.
When buying swimwear for a post mastectomy figure, it’s good to be aware of a couple of factors to ensure maximum comfort and fit. Having a higher neckline and under arm will help to keep the breast form in place and cover any scarred tissue. The Verona costume is the perfect suit for swimming or exercising at the pool. It features an elegant square neckline, has pockets on both sides and a beautiful mesh insert at the waist and neckline. Make sure the openings at the side of the breast pocket are well made to ensure maximum safety during swimming and look at the material and design used to cover the breast area. Is it supported by a good bust lining to ensure the breastform won’t show through? The Verona also features adjustable straps which are something to look out for as minor alterations to fit can make a huge difference to your look and comfort. Choose a breastform designed for swimming like the 1086 mentioned earlier, these are lighter to wear and also have grooves running along the back to ensure that water drains away easily from the area around the breastform when in the pool. You don’t want to have water streaming from your breastform when you stand up (like those padded bikinis do for ages after you get out of the pool).
How about for relaxing and in your downtime? A T-shirt bra is an essential addition to every woman’s bra wardrobe. Caroline is our best-selling elegantly moulded T-shirt bra in a stylish soft check print, seam free and supersoft, ideal for under close fitting tops and dresses. Fitting up to a D cup it is available in light rose and night blue. It’s sister bra Tonya has an identical fit but comes in plain colours, Skin, Black or Ivory and is available up to an E cup with an F Cup due in November. Again you may want to buy a couple in different colours for under different outfits as this is a super comfortable bra you probably won’t want to take off.
Last but not least we need to add in a bra for going out – We all want to feel a little more special when we are going out for the evening and the Ancona special bra won’t disappoint. Sophisticated and feminine the all over lace print comes in four exciting colours and fits up to an E cup. So there we have it ladies, four post-surgery bras that will see you through the week and take you from the gym to the bar. There are many ways to ensure that you keep your confidence after having breast surgery and as long as you have selected the right piece for your personal situation you can feel confident in your shape and still enjoy activities like swimming and going on holiday to the beach. If you need any other information or advice on postsurgery lingerie and swimwear please visit anita.com where you will find styling options and product information. Anita is stocked in many independent retailers throughout Ireland so for a stockist near you the website also has a ‘shop locator’ tab in the top left hand side that you can use to find a retailer near you.
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The Art of
SLOWING DOWN SARA LIYANGE IS THE AUTHOR OF TICKING OFF BREAST CANCER, A BOOK ABOUT JUGGLING LIFE WITH TREATMENT FOR PRIMARY BREAST CANCER AT THE AGE OF 42
eel the sun on your face: the art of slowing down. We all live at a fast pace. We can’t escape it. It’s just the way that the world works these days. Life is always about the next thing – whether we’re thinking about our short-term plans or long-term plans. On a day to day basis we’re always planning without stopping to enjoy the current moment. We’re always rushing to experience the next thing: the next food shop, the next holiday, the next purchase, next week, next month and next year. We live by our diaries and our longer and longer to-do lists. I’ll put my hand up - I was exactly like this. Rushing through my days, fitting in as much as I could and always planning the next thing. Planning the next holiday instead of savouring the one I was on. Thinking ahead to the next dinner party instead of enjoying the one I was currently hosting. Arranging future family activities rather than relishing the time I was currently spending with my husband and children. Then I got sick. Really badly sick actually. Breast cancer. And I stopped rushing around. You don’t get a choice when you’re going through treatment for breast cancer. The treatment is unpleasant and your mind and body both take a bit of a battering so you have no choice but to slow down both mentally and physically. With a cancer diagnosis it’s possible to experience what I call ‘brain explosion’ which is when you can no longer process normal thoughts. There isn’t the space in your brain to think about when you’ll next go out for dinner with friends or how to redecorate the lounge or what to have for dinner because, quite honestly, there isn’t the brain capacity for that type of thinking. Your brain is now full of other types of thoughts – it’s trying to come to terms with the diagnosis, it’s busy thinking worst case
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scenarios, it’s going through all the treatment options, it’s learning an awful lot of new information on a daily basis and it’s trying to juggle day to day arrangements around all the hospital visits that, quite frankly, you don’t have time for. And your priorities change – you don’t necessarily want to think about the next coffee with a friend because you’re thinking about more important things – like survival, mortality and death. You start to think in the moment. Cancer treatment can be harsh and cause a myriad of physical side effects like intense fatigue, aches and pains, nausea and headaches. So instead of rushing around from one thing to the next, you have to sit down. You have to rest. And there’s no point in planning ahead much because you have no idea how you’ll feel on any particular day in the near future. You just don’t know whether you’ll be feeling well enough on Tuesday to go to the gym, or up to coffee with a friend on Wednesday. There is something about going through cancer treatment that, well, kind of stops you from thinking too far ahead, like what you’ll be doing next year. So, you start to live in the moment and take each day as it comes. It’s a time to sit with the children, playing board games or watching a TV programme with them rather than popping them in front of the kids’ channels while you rush around doing your rushing around. It’s a time to sit and have a cup of tea in the garden whilst gazing at the vast blue of the summer sky, the green buds on the trees and listening to the birds singing as they hop from branch to branch. It’s a time to take a walk, somewhere with views of fields or trees or the sea. I wish that I hadn’t waited until cancer slowed me down. I wish I’d taken things more slowly when my children were small – not planning their nursery, school and every activity under the sun. I wish I’d made more
I’M MAKING AN EFFORT TO GO THROUGH LIFE AT A SLOWER PACE: ENJOYING THE MOMENT, TASTING THE FOOD, WATCHING THE SEASONS CHANGE AND FEELING THE SUN ON MY FACE. I’M MAKING THE TIME TO STOP AND ENJOY EXACTLY WHERE I AM
time for my husband – just sitting and talking, and speaking on the phone during the working day. I wish I’d lived more for the moment and not constantly planned ahead. So now, with no evidence of the disease in me and huge improvements to my wellbeing and energy levels, I’m making an effort to go through life at a slower pace: enjoying the moment, tasting the food, watching the seasons change and feeling the sun on my face. I’m making the time to stop and enjoy exactly where I am. This book follows the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer on Sara’s life, and provides practical help by way of checklists at the end of each chapter. The book is available to buy now. Sara is also the founder of tickingoffbreastcancer.com, a website dedicated to helping people through their breast cancer treatment and their
friends and family. It’s a website supporting those who do not know which way to turn for help after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis; those who are overwhelmed by the breast cancer resources online and those just looking for a comfortable, safe, calm place to turn for help. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Sasha Roche Kelly RGN, Grad Dip Oncology MSc, Grad Cert ANP MLD Therapist
Lymph Specialist Clinic
Specialising in Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) A natural treatment to treat lymphoedema, lipoedema, lymph related disorders, pain, stress and the removal of toxins and excess fluid from the body.
Clinic in Wexford Town
087 751 0761 www.wellbeingtechniques.ie email@example.com
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FLOW YOGA YOGA EXPERT RUTH DELAHUNTY FROM YOGARU.IE BRINGS US THROUGH A GENTLE MORNING FLOW YOGA PRACTICE YOU CAN TRY AT HOME
SELF CARE MORNING ROUTINES Building a routine and finding your way on to your mat in the morning is about taking time for self care to physically and mentally realign yourself for the day ahead. It is widely recorded that starting your day with self care makes it more likely that you will be kind to yourself for the rest of the day. Setting an intention or a focus for your practice and revisiting it throughout your day will bring you back to your inner yogic calm and give you renewed strength for the day. THE BENEFITS OF A MORNING PRACTICE Morning yoga stimulates and wakes up all the organs systems of the body – cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, nervous and respiratory systems. Its physical benefits include stretching and strengthening your whole body, building a healthy spine, improving lung capacity and lowering blood pressure; and its mental benefits include relieving stress, tension and anxiety, improving sleep and giving you an overall feeling of wellbeing. During the practice the gut is pressed and massaged which triggers the digestive system and alleviates bloating, helps keep you regular and builds a strong immune system (80% of our immune system is located in the gut). A healthy happy digestive system nurtures an Ayurvedic principle called ‘ojas’ – which means vitality or glow, and is considered to be the essence of health that supports wellness.
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Yoga continues to surge through your systems even after you have rolled your mat up for the day. Breath awareness triggers the ‘rest, restore and digest’ nervous system response and stimulates the vagus nerve, releasing oxytocin and dopamine which also gives you that natural glowy feel good factor after your practice. When conscious breath is practiced as part of your morning routine it rewires your brain to pause for a microsecond and naturally pick a calmer reaction rather than a ‘flight or flight’ response to daily challenges. Breath awareness may sound like a fancy term but it is as simple as making sure you are breathing. When we are concentrating we often hold our breath. As you flow through this sequence check in with yourself every few poses to make sure you are breathing a deep, even and calm breath. THERE IS BEAUTY IN SIMPLICITY Keep your practice simple. Take a few deep breaths in each pose, scan through any sensations that arise in the body and notice what thoughts might arise too. Find your happy pose for each practice. Your happy pose will change with the wind! If you’re feeling tired the seated poses might be your happy poses, if your feeling more energetic one of the standing poses might help you feel strong and present in your body. There are lots of benefits to practicing yoga and they start the minute you step on your mat with the intention of self care. Practice this same sequence for a few weeks in order to feel the
cumulative benefits and get a sense of comfort in familiarity. Skip poses that don’t feel right to you at the moment, you will come back to them with an open and curious mind when you’re ready for them. Listen to your wise inner voice – stay within a comfortable sensation of stretching and strengthening and dont feel that you need to strive for your end range of motion. End range of motion is often a stretch too far, pardon the pun! EXPLORING THE SEQUENCE This gentle morning flow sequence is designed to give a bit of everything that will nourish you for the day. Warm ups to wake up the body and build focus; standing poses to give energy and build strength; hip opening to relieve stress and anxiety; backbends to aid digestion and boost your immune system; inversions (downdog has all the benefits of a handstand!) to balance the nervous system and increase circulation; twists to aid detoxification and massage the organs; seated to improve posture and ease stress; and restorative to bring calm and balance. Your morning practice can be as short or as long as suits you. You can simply pick a few of the poses from the morning flow sequence and move slowly through them for about 5 minutes. On days where it feels really good to get moving, run through the full sequence, taking longer in each pose, forget about time keeping and enjoy the happy supportive space you have made. HOW TO USE THE SEQUENCE The sequence starts with hugging the knees in and taking some circles to massage your lower back. This is followed by some hip opening with single hip circles and leg lifts. Then you will start to link breath with movement with as many rounds of cat & cow as feels good to you. The poses shown here in the arrows are ‘mini flows’ – flow through these poses together starting with the right side first then repeat all of the poses in the group on the left side. The main standing flow can be practiced with the breath using the symbols for an inhale and exhale or you can pause for each pose for a few breaths. Come into downward dog or child’s pose to take breaks as often as you need to. Allow yourself at least 5-10mins for Savasana at the end of your practice to absorb the benefits and integrate yourself gently back into your day. Most importantly take ownership of your practice and enjoy working out what feels good to you each time you come to your mat.
Post-op Lingerie | Prostheses Compression Garments Swim Wear | Sports Bras
Tottenham Green,Taghmon, Co. Wexford.
T: 053 9106190
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HEART A RETREAT WITH
Creacon Wellness Retreat is a unique getaway destination. A place for personal relaxation and rejuvenation, it’s an escape with the comforts of home and a wonderfully warm team, discovers Holly Kennedy.
estled in the Irish countryside, the Creacon Wellness Retreat in New Ross, County Wexford is not your average hotel stay. On offer are personal development classes (mindfulness coaching, stress management, etc), therapeutic treatments (acupuncture, massage, reiki, reflexology, etc) and wellness services (for depression, anxiety, grief, addiction, etc) as well as healthy, hearty food, alkaline water for drinking and showering and very comfortable accommodation. After a warm welcome at the reception on our arrival, we were shown to our beautiful twin room where we settled in just briefly and enjoyed a fresh carrot, orange and ginger juice. A breathtaking pair of angel wings in our room was the first thing I saw when our door was opened and it set the tone for our stay – a home away from home, with hotelstyle comfort and quality but warm, comforting surroundings of a different level to most hotels. After our juice, we were brought The gardens up to the treatment rooms on the first floor of the lodge, where we met our specialists. I had chosen a Reflexology session and my friend a Swedish Deep Tissue Massage. My Reflexology session was lovely – I lay on a very comfortable, heated therapy bed under a cosy blanket. My specialist dimmed the lights, put some very peaceful music on low, and began her work on my feet. If you enjoy a foot massage, you will love a reflexology session. At the end, I asked my specialist what product she had used on my feet and was surprised to hear it was just rapeseed oil. When our treatments were over, we were shown to a quiet relaxation room with lovely views over the surrounding countryside, comfortable couches and blankets, books and magazines and a steaming hot herbal tea infusion of camomile, mint and lavender. What a way to get started at Creacon – we were feeling wonderful already.
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The meditation hall
Dinner was a relaxed affair in a communal-type, rustic dining room. Food was tasty and fully customisable for all preferences/ intolerances/allergies, etc. To give you an idea of what we ate – our starter was giant couscous and vegetables with a curry sauce, our main courses were, for me, a coconut milk chicken curry served with naan bread and for my friend, chargrilled salmon with a sweet potato mash. There was an extensive organic and vegan wine
The Ash bedroom
AFTER DINNER, WE MADE OUR WAY TO THE MAIN HALL FOR A MEDITATION SESSION. THE MAIN HALL AT CREACON IS A TRULY SPECIAL PLACE, WELCOMING
The dining room
list and a selection of desserts. I had a beetroot brownie which was quite remarkable – I really enjoyed it – and my friend had an affogato with hot chocolate which she loved. After dinner, we made our way to the main hall for a meditation session. The main hall at Creacon is a truly special place – very warm and welcoming in atmosphere and homely as a setting. We lay down on air mats, covered ourselves in blankets, got comfortable with just the right amount of pillows and lay back to enjoy a combination of music and spoken meditation/ visualisations. I loved the supreme comfort of the air mat, the spoken meditations and the wonderfulness of just doing nothing – nowhere to be, nothing to do, just rest, just stillness, just quiet. After an absolutely silent night tucked up in our comfortable beds, we both woke before our 7am alarm the following morning feeling refreshed. Soon we were on the move and we slipped out of the quiet and still lodge for an early morning walk. We returned to the lodge just before 9am, had wonderfully hot showers and then joined the dining room for a great breakfast spread. At 10.30, we did a Five Tibetan Yoga Class in the meditation hall, followed by a Tibetan Singing Bowls Meditation - an experience designed to bring you into a state of deep relaxation. Lunch was a tasty quinoa cauliflower stew with homemade brown bread, before we packed ourselves up again and checked out. Leaving Creacon, even only 24 hours after we first arrived, felt like leaving new friends and a familiar, homely place. The staff here were incredible – so warm and friendly, welcoming, helpful and multi-talented. The Lodge has plenty of places to rest, spend time with others, spend time with yourself, draw/paint/colour, practice yoga/ meditation/pilates, read, craft and more. The beautiful gardens, infrared sauna and outdoor seating areas I would imagine are even more lovely in the warmer months – offering additional tranquil spaces to rest, reflect and restore. Every week Creacon offers a variety of events, classes, guest workshops and treatments. Day Retreats including lunch are possible or stay for two nights and experience all that Creacon has to offer. It is also possible to stay at Creacon on an Extended Retreat Program. Find out more at creaconwellnessretreat.com.
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DIANNE FITZHARRIS DOYLE BOOKED A FAMILY BREAK AT CENTERPARCS IN LONGFORD RECENTLY AND WROTE THIS HONEST REVIEW FOR US AFTERWARDS
y husband and I, along with our two kids aged 6 and 2, recently returned from a three night stay at Centerparcs Longford Forest and to say we were impressed would honestly be such an understatement. We travelled from Wexford and were firstly impressed with how easy it was to find and it only took around 3 hours door to door. From the time we arrived we were very happy with the smooth check-in process, we had paid for early check in which I would The Subtropical Swimming Paradise definitely advise especially if you are travelling with younger kids as they will have been sitting in the car for long enough so when we arrived the queues to check in were short enough and we got to our lodge very quickly. We rented a two bed executive lodge (both rooms ensuite) and we just fell in love with it straight away. The lodges are self catering, so we had a fully equipped kitchen which included oven, hob, fridge, dishwasher, and even a wine cooler! We had taken some cereals and snacks with us but later went to the on-site supermarket which had anything extra you could need and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the prices were the same as any supermarket as I know with a lot of resorts, the prices would be hiked up. Our lodge was clean and very spacious. The restaurants on site offered such a wide variety of choice, Italian, Indian, American Diner, Sports Bar/Restaurant and there was even a takeaway on site if you fancied eating in any night. Each restaurant had a soft play area for kids which was amazing as it kept them occupied while we were waiting for our meals. On our first day we visited the Subtropical Swimming Paradise which is the large dome building in the Village Centre and itâ€™s exactly as described! It was 30 degrees inside the pool area, with beautiful decor and palm trees all around, felt like a foreign holiday despite the downpour of rain outside that day! There were sections here for all ages, lazy river, wave pool, different slides, outdoor heated pools
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Den building and decorating
and hottubs, we spent hours in there and it was fully included in the price of our stay as there are also lots of other activities which you can pay extra for but our two were just so happy with the pool, they never wanted to leave! The resort is a car-free zone so once you have offloaded all your luggage in the lodge, your car has to be taken back to the carpark before 9pm that night and it is only walking/cycling allowed throughout then. Our kids absolutely LOVED
OUR KIDS ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS, THE NOVELTY OF CYCLING EVERYWHERE WAS JUST SO EXCITING FOR THEM. PERSONALLY, IT FELT SO LIBERATING AND STRESS-FREE this, the novelty of cycling everywhere was just so exciting for them. Personally, it felt so liberating and stress-free. Every staff member was so friendly and helpful so we seriously could not fault it. All in all we would really recommend Centerparcs for a funfilled family holiday but would also love to return sometime for an ‘adult only’ retreat to simply switch off from everyday pressures of life, take nice cycle/strolls in the forest and most definitely book in to the Aquasana spa which looked amazing!! The surroundings by the lake were just so serene and I could really see it being very therapeutic escape for anyone at anytime of year.
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LET’S TALK your questions answered
GOT A BURNING QUESTION BUT NOT SURE WHO TO ASK? CLARE MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP You can email Clare at email@example.com
am a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at cbtforcancer.com with 10 years experience, and I specialise in cancer. I myself had breast cancer in 2017 and again in 2018. I look forward to answering questions relating to anxiety, selfesteem and lifestyle. I had a prior corporate career in HR and Consulting and will be able to answer wider problems too and I will be drawing in other experts to help answer these questions, so it’s not just my opinion on the page! Whatever your cancer question or problem is, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
SEX AND MENOPAUSE? Hi Clare, I had treatment for cancer a couple of years ago at 45 years of age, and have gone fully into the menopause. Before treatment I and my husband had a healthy sex life. But now, I am suffering from vaginal dryness, which is greatly damaging my enjoyment of sex, as it makes it so uncomfortable. I have looked into many solutions. But the MonaLisa procedure appeals to me, I just don’t know if it is worth doing? Sheila Hi Sheila, I am sorry to hear you are having an uncomfortable sex life. Sexual activity is such a vital part of restoration, after cancer, for many people, both physiologically and psychologically. It makes us feel desirable and like a normal functioning, healthy person again. Aspects very much needed, for many of us, after recovering from cancer. However, I have not heard of the MonaLisa procedure myself and so I reached out to a Gynecologist, Dr Umme Salma MRCOG, MRCPI Consultant, Reproductive Medicine at Repromed in Drogheda, for advice. This is what she had to say, “The technological aesthetic procedures for the vagina are basically noninvasive to minimally invasive techniques, which are more effective and less expensive than lubricants, Kegel’s exercises, HRT, and less invasive then the various constructive and corrective surgeries performed by gynecologist’s and plastic surgeons. New non-invasive energy-based treatment, including various lasers treatments like ‘MonaLisa’, to high radiofrequency treatments, such as ‘Therma V’, are available. These therapies focus on neo-collagenases genesis, vascularization and growth factor infiltration, which induces collagen contraction; ultimately revitalizing/restoring elasticity and moisture of vagina. These procedures conducted by experienced and qualified hands are safe, with minimal to no side effects. In the absence of definitive successful medical and surgical treatments, these therapies offer a hope with time improving technology and safety.” If you are considering this treatment the best advice is to seek out a Gynecologist who is trained in this area. Unfortunately, I can’t find any clinics in Ireland that offer this treatment, but there are some in the UK. Best of luck with it.
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REMOVING TOXINS? Hi Clare, I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago, and am currently undergoing treatment. I keep reading about environmental toxins and I’m wondering what main toxins I can remove from my home, to help me make a difference to the air quality for myself and my family. Karen Hi Karen, thanks for writing in about this very interesting topic. I am taking strides to change my home environment greatly at the moment. I want to say how positive you sound in your longer email, and I applaud your desire to take action on getting you, and your home, as healthy as possible. Every little helps when going through treatment! Environmental health is very topical now, and it can be overwhelming, during cancer treatment, to make vast changes all at once. I reached out to Sarah Blake at Earthology, a Dublin-based consultant, and an expert in this area. Sarah suggests three simple, but effective changes you can do straight away. Here is her advice: “There are 3 main areas that I would recommend people look at to minimise the toxins they are exposed to; plants, home cleaning and bathroom. PLANTS The first thing to do is to get more house plants. A study by NASA showed that some plants are particularly good at cleaning the air of noxious substances, such as formaldehyde (found in plywood and synthetic fabrics), benzene (used in plastics and resins), trichloroethylene (used in printing inks and varnish), xylene (used in paint and leather), and ammonia (cleaners and fertilisers). Some of the most effective plants include Peace Lily, Weeping Fig, Devils Ivy, Boston Fern and the humble Spider Plant.
HOME CLEANING Most household cleaning products have some form of chemicals such as chlorine, phthalates, formaldehyde and ammonia in them unless they are eco-friendly and even then you have to be careful with labels. The best way to avoid these is to go back to basics and use things like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and castile soap to clean your home. There are plenty of recipes on the internet and most of these items can be bought plastic-free and in reusable bottles and pots, for example just try a mixture of water and vinegar and you’ll be surprised at the results! Or try an eco-friendly alternative from Lily’s Eco Clean, Sonnet or Ecover. BATHROOM Your skin is the largest organ of the body and you need to take care of it. There are chemicals such as SLS, parabens and lead found in many shampoos, concealers, moisturisers and lipsticks. Start by looking at your hair routine, can you switch to shampoo bars? Many of them are handmade by small producers with very few ingredients. If that’s a bridge too far, then try a refillable option with a brand such as Faith in Nature. Most of these options you can find in your local health food store along with chemical-free make-up options. The best thing you can do is to get out there and have fun trying all the different options and you’ll be paring back your cupboards and going plastic-free at the same time!” Those are great tips from Sarah! I hope that has been helpful. Wishing you a successful treatment outcome Karen and a healthy home. All the best.
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DUST BUNNIES By Victoria Lawlor
here is a small gap in the bedroom curtains. Hours ago, when she went to bed it wasn’t an issue. Now, with the morning light wakening, it becomes more noticeable as the sun inches it way gradually upwards in an otherwise pitch black bedroom. A thin sliver of light forces its way effortlessly through the gap and the once still air becomes illuminated in a narrow strip. Dust moves in the room, imperceptible to most, but I can see the dust moving in the morning light. It rises and falls gently as my movements cause it to awaken. It reminds me of dust bunnies jumping in the air. Somersaulting, diving and dancing. To me it looks magical. I want to give chase but I remain still. The bed covers to my right move rhythmically and beneath them an outline of a body is barely visible. A long arm stretches out and hugs an idle pillow that lies yet untouched on the bed. Her fingernails are painted a deep shade of orange which matches her hair. Snores reverberate amongst the silence making up for the lack of sleep the night before. I don’t know why she stays up so late. I suppose I don’t have the same interest in watching TV like her, so I get more sleep. I move slowly and quietly. I don’t want to wake her yet, but the dust bunnies can sense my presence. In turn, they move faster, crashing together and falling to the ground. I nudge some of the duvet, just to test if it would wake her. She seems oblivious to my presence yet. That’s good. This is a practiced routine and one I know well. Sneaking into the bed in the middle of the night. It might 54 | HAPPY MAGAZINE
I MOVE SLOWLY AND QUIETLY. I DON’T WANT TO WAKE HER YET, BUT THE DUST BUNNIES CAN SENSE MY PRESENCE
not be my bed but it should be really. Mine is no where near as comfy or as big. Gently I ease up the covers, it’s difficult, but I manage it. I jump onto the bed, but it hardly shakes at all. I am impressed at my progress. Sometimes I don’t make it this far. I’ve decided the best course of action is to start at the bottom of the bed and work my way towards the top. It smells funny under the covers, but I don’t care. I feel safe and secure under here and so warm. The duvet feathers curl round my small body. If I had the choice I would sleep in this big bed every night. I don’t understand why I can’t. With a final push, I find my exit. I have wriggled my way to the top. My button nose takes a deep breath of air and I move my head closer to hers now. She is still asleep, I take a good look. It’s different being at this angle. I’m so used to her looking down at me, but now we are side by side. She still looks tired I think. Her eyes wear traces of yesterday’s make up, but she’s still beautiful to me. I love her all the same. She must have sensed my presence then or felt my breath on her face, because at that exact moment her eyes snap open and she stares right back into mine. Despite being woken at such an early hour, she reaches out and touches my face. It always goes one of two ways and sometimes that means a quick exit out of the bedroom. Tonight, I’m in luck. “How did you get in here?” she asks. I’ll never tell her, but she always asks the same question. I think sometimes, she expects me to answer, but we both know that is never going to happen. Most nights she leaves the bedroom door open, it’s practically an open invite to her room. Her bed would be empty if it wasn’t for me. I think she knows that too and she likes the company as much as me. I lean closer and and give her a wet kiss on the face. She turns up her nose at that, but I know she doesn’t mind. Who doesn’t like kisses? I catch her wiping the drool away from her face. “Ok you can stay,” she says. I knew she would let me stay as soon as she touched my face. Who could turn down a face like mine? I shut my eyes and rest my head on the comfy pillow next to hers. I dream of those dust bunnies again. But this time they are real bunnies and I am running with them in a field. I’ve found my warm bed and my human to mind me. I let out a little bark of delight and settle in for a good night’s sleep.
Life is beautiful. Tell us how. Happy Magazine relies on the stories and images of readers just like you.
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So many of you get in touch with us about the stories we share from other readers. So often we can find inspiration, hope and courage in another person’s experience. Sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved. Sometimes writing is the greatest therapy of all. Seeing it in words, before us. To share, or for our own eyes only. If you are interested in contributing something to Happy Magazine, we’d love to hear from you. Alternatively, if you run a cancer community, are the spouse/partner/carer of someone with cancer or if you have a particular skill/experience/job that you could write about which might help people who’re going through cancer or who’ve finished treatment (yoga, exercise, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, meditation, wigs, beauty, etc), we’d love to hear from you.
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Ireland's dedicated cancer support magazine. 3rd issue. December 2019.