2018 has been a difficult year to say the least. This time last year I was going into the new year with a newly found cancer diagnosis. It was a new hospital, a new condition complicated by my many others, new medical staff and a whole realm of things that were foreign and scary. The world became a terrifying place and once again I felt as though death had somehow caught me up and was following just out of reach behind me. I had no faith in my new team and I had so many doubts about being here for Christmas 2018. It speaks volumes that neither mum nor I can remember anything about last Christmas or new year.

In 2018 I've realised that that medical team deserved my faith. They have been utterly incredible. So have Harefield. Together they have adjusted treatment, got me ready for surgery, listened to my thoughts, fears and goals. They have all worked together and made me feel very safe and included in my own care. 

2018 made me realise once again, im tougher than I thought. I've endured 6 cycles of chemotherapy (18weekly sessions). I've had major surgery to remove half of my stomach including the tumour. I had to fight to prove surgery would be in my best interest, I recovered better than anyone including myself could possibly have imagined. I have had a clear scan and right now the cancer is gone. 

I've cried, and been scared, elated, hurt, broken and everything in between. I've had the most hideous symptoms and felt incredibly ill. I have met many incredible people. I've gained and lost friends. I've missed out on lots of things I had booked or arranged to do but became too unwell.

I don't know what the future will hold and it still terrifys me. I have scans again soon to check my body again. If something shows up another battle lies ahead. Am I even capable of fighting any more? 
The world is still a scary place.

However, 2018 proved that even in the darkest of times happiness can be found. I've had a holiday to Dorset, then Center Parcs, then Copenhagen (the trip I couldn't make last year). I've visited friends, seen the new Fantastic Beasts film, eaten takeaways, met an old friend who is extremely special to me. I've hugged my family, laughed with them. I've been surprised by people's love and support. I became a godmother and met the two youngest members of our family. I've gone to afternoon tea. I've had a spa stay. I've celebrated Birthdays and Christmas. We've been out for lunch. I've been silly, ive had fun, I've sung. 

I had a concert dedicated to me and money raised for the Marsden on my behalf. I've delivered my Easter and Christmas goodie bags. I've gone to the theatre and seen amazing work. I've received so much love I was able to cover my wall in well wishes! 

Despite all the bad times and everyday struggle, there are still plenty of good memories. If you are facing uncertainty, illness, cancer or something else. Remember, good is always there among the bad. Search for it. There will be someone to help you, myself included if I can. You will get there.

I don't know what will come next year. I can't predict it. I'm still scared but will I still fight? You're damn certain I will. A huge thank you to you all who have read my blog, supported me on social media, sent a card, left a comment and generally been there. I appreciate every single one of you. Enjoy your New Years Eve and may it be a year of good things to come. 



My Christmas tree 2018

I have been a very busy bee over the last couple of months. So busy that once again, I've completely worn myself out despite resting lots between each 'thing'. 

Anyway, I'm hoping to write a few Christmassy posts over the next couple of days so please keep checking back! 
As it's Christmas Eve, literally 18 minutes till Christmas Day I thought I would quickly write a post about my Christmas tree. Anyone who's read the blog for any length of time knows that I love Christmas. I have a tiny bedroom yet I will still move furniture to squeeze a 5ft slim tree in the corner every year. I bloody love my tree. It has no theme but I can pretty much tell you where every ornament is from and why it's special.

So here are some new decorations for this year and a couple of older ones too.

So firstly this lovely cocktail glass from Harrods. This is a good story. We were at the Royal Marsden for my weekly chemotherapy. I'd had a scan, my first since surgery and further chemo. I'd been so nervous waiting for the result, which was 'no evidence of active disease'. We were elated! I love Harrods Christmas department to see all the beautiful decorations. We used to go every year. Well, after that result, mum and I jumped on the bus and off we went. The department had only been open a few days but we saw this and thought it screamed celebration.

I also bought this little stocking. Firstly, I adore London. Secondly, if I travel somewhere I get a decoration for my tree as a souvenir. I have a New York stocking and it matched so well I couldn't resist a London one too! 

This next one is also from Harrods but I didn't buy it. My lovely friends Stacie and Mark, actually emailed Harrods with my story and they sent me this beauty! A complete surprise when a Harrods box arrived but so incredibly kind of everyone involved. It also really reminds me of Christine's masquerade dress from Phantom so it has a double meaning for me.

This one is another example of my travel collection. I finally made it to Copenhagen this year after cancelling last minute last year when I received my cancer diagnosis. The trip therefore had huge meaning for me (separate blog coming). If you want to see all my travel related decs let me know in the comments.

The next was too cute to resist. It sums up my love of Christmas, cakes and afternoon tea! A TKMaxx (my most favourite shop!) find. 

The last couple of decorations are handmade by me of which there are a fair few on my tree. I love to make something myself! Anyway I realised that for a very big Harry Potter fan I had nothing HP on my tree. So I decided to rectify that.... fairly easy DIY's once I got the hang of them! 

Finally, I became a godmother this year to beautiful baby Lilly. I was delighted to get this beautiful decoration from her for my tree. 

I hope you enjoyed hearing some of my stories, or at least weren't too bored! 
It's officially Christmas Day now so a very happy Christmas to you all, may you have the best day possible whatever that means to you. Let me know what your favourite decoration is either from my selection or your own tree! I'd love to hear your stories. Don't forget to check back for new posts soon. Xxxx



It's a time for giving....

If you've read my blog for a while you know that I like to try and give back to the hospitals that take such good care of me. Every year I like to make up gift bags for the two transplant wards at Harefield Hospital and give them out to the patients. I try to do this every Christmas and Easter. Patients on the wards can be there for a long time, weeks months or years. They are away from home comforts and their family and can get so lonely and depressed. It's very hard to be stuck in that kind of environment no matter how amazing the staff are. This is particularly acute when it's a special time that others are celebrating. This is why I deliver these bags and they are ALWAYS gratefully received. To have a break in routine, and know someone cares means the world. 

Bags lined up and ready to go!

Last Christmas I took bags just after my cancer diagnosis. It was a hard one for me as I honestly wondered if I'd ever get the opportunity again. I also took them at Easter during my chemotherapy sessions when surgery was looming. It meant a huge dealt me to be able to take them this Christmas. 

The kind of thing that goes in the bags and how I fund them varies a bit. I try to include some treat foods, savoury and sweet, Easter eggs and advent calendars go down really well! Some kind of moisturiser, body wash or lip balm, dry shampoo has been requested before so I've got that down for future visits, tea/hot chocolate/ coffee and a mug, snuggle socks, either a book or colouring, wordsearches, playing cards to break up the day. I also find that often a nice chat is what people crave as sometimes visitors are scarce for various reasons. 

Sometimes businesses donate items so this year Teapigs and Yorkshire tea donated tonnes of individual tea bags, previously Divine donated advent calendars which went down a storm and Sanctuary made an amazing donation of bath and shower products which I know really made patients feel spoilt (more of that later). 

I also set up JustGiving pages and make a donation myself too. I spend a lot of time comparing prices and promotions on products to make the money we have go as far as possible, I'm pretty good at a bargain hunt! 

This years bag contents.

This year I'd gone a bit mad spending my own money and suddenly realised I couldn't afford it. I was a bit nervous doing a JustGiving page but I was astounded when we raised £200 in less than 24 hours which exceeded my original target! Anyway, I am no longer bankrupt (!), I've finished and delivered the bags and there was an excess of funds. I decided that I would carry on raising money and split the remainder between Harefield and The Marsden who have got me through this last horrific year. 

Harefield are currently raising funds for The Harefield Transplant Appeal. This basically provides funds so the nurses and doctors can continue to progress the life saving care they provide. Work without which myself and countless others wouldn't be around any more. Find out more here.

The Royal Marsden have their own patient focused charity which basically works to improve any areas patients use within the hospital to make it a nicer environment, they also fund new equipment and research to improve cancer treatment and care. Find out more here

These are both incredible places that have helped me more than I can possibly express. I've seen the other patients it's really helped too, just looking around you can see the difference it makes.

If you would like to donate I would be really grateful, just a pound would be plenty! If you would usually buy me a card or present I'm more than happy for you to donate to this instead! If you can't donate you can still help a lot by sharing this post with others. 

The goodie bags were really gratefully received and I enjoy giving as much as they do receiving the gifts. It's so humbling to meet people and hear their stories or just to be able to cheer up their day. I met a man who has been on the wards for a year but was going home, he actually came up to me to say how much the gift bags at Easter and Xmas had brightened up his stay. Another lady excitedly explained that the Sanctuary shower gel I'd given her had gone home with her husband. She had been put on a mechanical heart and therefore unable to shower or bath for nearly a year. I can say that 6 weeks without a shower, just a wash down were horrendous so I can't imagine how depressing that was. She had recently received her heart transplant and phoned her husband to tell him he had to bring the shower gel back so she could use it for her first shower!!! It was sitting on the side in her room and she told me how lovely it was to have that first shower and use a fancy gel. It really is the little things that mean the most when life is stripped back to its very basics. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated past and present, and to any of you who still want to donate. You make a massive difference to someone's life. 

If you would like to donate to my JustGiving the link is here https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/victoria-tremlett?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20181210_114718

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