• Maddie Cowey

Lil Update and Happy Women's Day!


8th March - Happy International Women's Day! (Oh, and happy birthday to my big bro! Oh, and happy first day back at school! I hope any parents reading are having a well earned rest today.)


So, where have I been? It has been a while since I blogged, and I'll be honest, my motivation this winter/lockdown 3 has been severely lacking. It's not that I'm lacking in ideas for blogs, I have plenty of those, I have just lacked the motivation to start typing. It is a shame as I do love writing and blogging, but it's a dreary combination of this pandemic dragging on for so long, the novelty of being at home having completely worn off, the cold weather, and I am honestly finding most things pretty boring at the moment.


Also, any time I have been picking up my laptop... it's been to apply for jobs. That has been my main goal over this lockdown. I decided that I did not want to go back to working at the pub after this lockdown. I have been trying to find a full-time job, a career job, since I graduated back in 2019, with some breaks in applying over that time. So, this time, I have been so determined to get hired. Knowing that now is the toughest time for the job market, I haven't raised my hopes too much. As much as I kept telling myself that if I end up having to go back to working at the pub when it reopens, I would have failed - I had also accepted my fate. I don't hate my pub job, it's just not my dream job or what I want to pursue as my career, ya know?


Well, after many rejections, a few failed interviews, and nearly giving up - I HAVE BEEN OFFERED A JOB!!! I actually can't believe it. I will share more when everything is finalised and I have actually started the job and know what exactly I will be doing, but I just had to share this fantastic news with you!


In other great news, after I received my COVID vaccine back in January, it has been a nervous wait for my parents to get theirs... Well, my dad was jabbed this week and my mum is being jabbed next week! This comes as a massive relief, and I feel so so lucky that up until now we've managed to avoid the awful evil virus.


Now onto my health. Last week I was getting quite bad stomach aches and had to take a break from my drugs. I believe last time I checked in on the blog I reported suffering very few side effects from taking cediranib, the targeted therapy drug I take for my lung metastases. Well, in good news, all my blood tests have been coming back fine (yay!), and my blood pressure has been good, but the main side effect I have been suffering from is (warning: TMI) diarrhoea. The most common listed side effects of cediranib are: fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea, hypertension, hoarseness and headache (NIH). Diarrhoea is so common in people who take cediranib it was almost certain I would experience it at some point.


For the first few months I was fine, I was experiencing this particular side effect every couple of weeks - it was manageable. But over the last month it has become a lot more frequent and far less manageable. I don't want to go into too much detail as I know this topic grosses people out, but essentially it got to the point where the anti-diarrhoea pills weren't doing their job all that well, and last week I was in quite a bit of pain. It hurt to lie down, my stomach was tender to touch, and I was only comfortable stood up with my belly scrunched up... not ideal. My consultant told me to stop taking cediranib, and see if I got better. Lo and behold - I did get better. It was a nice feeling to get my body back to normal to be honest! There were also a few other small side effects that I'd barely noticed until they had suddenly disappeared during my break from cediranib, like hoarseness and sore feet. I had a 5-day break from cediranib, and I've now been back on it, on the same dose, for a few days. The plan is to see how I go, in the hope that the little break will have settled things down enough that I'll be fine on the drugs for another few months. If I need to have a few days break every few months, it's not the end of the world. It shouldn't impact the positive progress it has made on my lungs. In any case, we will see how my lungs are getting along in April. I will be on these drugs for my whole life, or as long as they continue to work/as long as I can tolerate them, so it is in my best interest to get to a place where I can manage taking them and still live my life fully.


So yes, juicy stuff for you there. One day I can only dream there's a drug that doesn't somehow affect your digestive system. It just feels like whatever you do or take, it will do something to your stomach! GRRrrrrrr. But hey ho, if the drugs are keeping me alive I can handle it.


So, today is International Women's Day (IWD), or Festa della Donna as the Italians call it. Oh how I miss my Rome days. TAKE ME BAAACCCKKK.


This year's theme for IWD is 'Choose to Challenge' - encouraging everyone to choose to challenge gender bias and inequalities, and to choose to empower women by celebrating their achievements. Every year, it is a day to celebrate women, both those around you and those who have influenced the world throughout history.


The first IWD was held in 1911 in Copenhagen. It began more as a campaign for women's rights - to work, to vote, to hold office, all of that jazz. Women have been fighting for equality for far too long, and though we have come a long way over the last century, across the world women are still suffering. As much as people protest, the wage gap does exist, women are still underrepresented in the political landscape, and violence against females around the world is much higher than against men.


Remembering how far we have come in this country and how hard women have had to fight for an ounce of equal treatment - we should every day be thanking the wonderful women we encounter in our lives.

Back in September 2020, I started volunteering for a charity called Wigs for Heroes. It is a small, grassroots charity based in North London that lends support for people experiencing hair loss as a result of cancer treatment. Wigs for Heroes was founded by a woman called Kaz Foncette, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was horrified by the wig options made available to her when she had to go through chemotherapy. She decided to set up the charity with the aim of helping others financially and emotionally with hair loss and getting a wig. Every week, Kaz (or one of her volunteers) puts together and distributes pamper bags for anyone starting cancer treatment in North Middlesex University Hospital. The bags are so well thought out, containing items you wouldn't even think of for someone on chemotherapy - sweets for the changing tastebuds/dry mouth it causes; face masks for winding down, that are safe for sensitive skin; fluffy socks; nail polish as it is advised to wear nail polish to protect your nails during chemo; puzzle books to keep you busy during the long hospital trips; head scarfs to keep your head warm and looking good! It is all so well thought out. They rely on kind item donations from the public to give out these wonderful bags.


Wigs for Heroes also provide loads of hair loss and wig advice, tips and tricks, as well as sharing the stories and experiences of real people who have been impacted by cancer. All of this, and it is a charity almost completely run by women. Kaz is a powerhouse herself, having been through a breast cancer recurrence, suffering ongoing heart problems due to her treatments, and being recently bereaved due to COVID-19. Despite everything, Kaz continues to run her charity with amazing grace and humility, alongside a whole host of other amazing women along the way. I am a proud volunteer of the small charity, and have met so many inspiring people in my role as a social media volunteer. So, if you want to discover a wonderful new female-led (almost entirely) charity this International Women's Day, please do go check out Wigs for Heroes.


I guess I could go on forever about women. I mean, we do make up half of the population (nearly). Women are blooming amazing! Our bodies have the ability to grow whole human beings, as well as doing whatever else it is we want to do. We deserve celebrating today, and every other day, just for living and surviving in a patriarchal society. For putting up with being heckled on the street from a young age, putting up with being groped on public transport, perved on by teachers at school, expected to have the perfect body whilst also doing all the cooking and cleaning and providing and looking good, but not too good, oh and bleeding out of our vaginas every month. Don't get me started on that joy. Wowzas, it is hard being a woman. So yeah, I hope you spend some time today appreciating women, appreciating yourself, and the female powerhouses all around you.


Sending my love to all of you.


Until next time,

M x

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