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My Name Is NOT Cancer

Sarah`s Beanies

Hello, my name is Sarah and, following my experience with cancer, I created Retail & Therapy

My background: I was diagnosed with cancer in August 2007. I`d been for a colposcopy at my local hospital in Ascot and following the examination, was taken to a different room and asked to wait for the consultant, who`d come to see me. This room had proper sofas, proper carpet and proper flowers and so I figured I was now in 'proper trouble' as it was a far cry from the plastic chairs, lino flooring and 9 year old Readers Digests that I was used to!
The consultant, with a nurse, informed me that I had cancer and would need to go to Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital in London, for a biopsy in the next 10 days or so.

I called my boyfriend from outside the hospital (at that stage I still adhered to the 'no mobile phone' signs) and gave him the news. I don’t remember what he said, what I said or for that matter, what happened for the next few days!
However I do remember telling my manager at work whilst 'brewing up' together in the works kitchen. I thought I could keep it a secret from everyone but of course, she needed to tell her manager and her manager’s manager! I had to have a couple of short meetings with them as they needed to know if they could do anything for me but most importantly to them - how long would I be off! However I didn`t have any answers - as I didn’t know much more than my appointment date.

Following confirmation of the diagnosis, my operation (radical hysterectomy) was scheduled and I was in hospital for 11 days. I was lucky as there were no major hiccups. I was determined to have stitches and not staples and so to make sure, I wrote instructions on both of my hands (where they put the IV line in) and also wrote instructions on my belly - just to be sure!

What happened next:
altWhilst I was in hospital, my MacMillan nurse put my name forward for a 'Special Day' via The Willow Foundation! Deemed ill enough to receive one of their weekends, my boyfriend and I had two nights in a hotel on Park Lane! We went to see Mama Mia, the terracotta soldiers at the British Museum, had a tour of Lords Cricket Ground, ate at Bibendem and had a car for the whole time! The Willow Foundation even made sure we`d enough money for incidentals (like room services) and were picked up and dropped off back home - it was just perfect!

The Willow Foundation was amazing and I then knew I wanted to pay them back, for everything they`d done for me!
I spent a few months racking my brain to think of a way and then came up with the idea of super soft hats for people receiving chemotherapy. I then created a website: Retail & Therapy and I donate some of my proceeds to The Willow Foundation!

The Future:
altI'm approaching my fifth year cancer free looking forward to cheaper travel insurance (ha ha)
I know the 5 years mark is not a miracle date when everything gets better and this reality was highlighted by a dear friend who celebrated her 10th year clear and within a day or two, was told her cancer was back (so has a huge hill to climb and another 6 months of chemo to get through!)
My priorities changed after I had cancer and I decided to go down the healthy eating route (the analogy horse and stable door come to mind!)
I procured an allotment about a mile from home and reduced my working week to 4 days
I set up the website and never realised it`d take up so much of my time! However, it`s a labour of love and each donation to support cancer causes, makes it worthwhile.
It`s my intention to work with other cancer charities in the future, so more cancer patients are made aware of Retail & Therapy and I`m then able to support more charities!
I also really enjoy my time at the allotment and to be honest, I don't think I'd have thought of, before having cancer!

Thanks for reading and I wish you and your loved ones all the very best
Sarah

Twitter: @SarahsBeanies
Website: Retail & Therapy

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