Personal · Rant

Melanoma – You know it can kill you, right?

Please read the comments before reading the first paragraph of this post. I jumped on something someone said and took it the wrong way and seem to have got things arse about face. Either way, the main content of the post still stands, just not the catalyst that got me writing it.

Apologies for the provocative title, but I’m feeling rather provocative and I need people to listen.

Yesterday, I read a tweet that bemoaned the lack of sunbeds available by 9.30am. I replied somewhat snarkily and said that I was amazed that people even use sunbeds these days. Maybe I shouldn’t have been snotty, I don’t really know the Tweeter in question and I guess people are free to do what they like, but after watching someone I love die from a disease that can be caused by these machines, it makes me wonder why the hell anyone would go near them?

Lorraine was an otherwise healthy 40-year-old woman when a ‘dodgy mole’ on her leg became malignant. I’m not sure if she used sunbeds, I think she said she had once or twice, but she lived in Jamaica for a portion of her adult life too, enjoying the sun and the easy way of life.

Lorraine’s mole was removed and as she had an aggressive form of melanoma, the doctors removed her lymph nodes in her right groin too as this was the logical place for the cancer to spread to. Unfortunately for her and us, although she had no lymph nodes for the cancer to attack, it went to her brain and her lungs instead.

She had radiotherapy which made her lose her hair and had just been accepted onto a trial for a new drug when the cancer got the better of her. The melanoma in her brain (and yes, when melanoma spreads it’s still a melanoma, unlike other cancers) caused her to have seizures, become confused and made the pressure in her skull build. On the day she died, I stroked her face and was amazed by how hot she felt. They explained that the pressure around her brain was giving her a fever.

Lorraine died 20 days after her 42nd birthday. Melanoma killed her.

This post may seem harsh or insensitive and if my Dad or Lorraine’s family ever read this, I hope they understand the intention behind this post.

Melanoma is not just about having a mole removed and moving on. Melanoma is aggressive and it can end your life. Think about this next time you decide you want a tan at any cost. Think about this next time you look at your kids and decide not to wear sun screen.

Some facts about Melanoma:

  • Unlike most malignancies, malignant melanoma is more common in women than men. In 2008 it was the sixth most common cancer in females. Between 2007 and 2008 malignant melanoma moved from the ninth most common cancer  in males to the sixth most common. This is due to an extra 600 cases being diagnosed in males in 2008 than in 2007.
  • In 2009 in the UK, 2,633 people in the UK died from skin cancer.
  • If diagnosed at stage 1A, 88% of patients will live for 10 years. If diagnosed at stage 4, that number becomes 7-19% living past five years.
  • Overall, people from higher social classes tend to have better survival rates than people from lower social classes.

I know this may be a shocking or depressing post for the Easter weekend, but if I can make just one person wear sunscreen when they go out in the sun, I’ll have done something really important.


Things That I Am Too Old To Do…

I’ve got to a certain age now, or maybe a certain point in life rather than an actual age, where I’ve realised that there are a few things that I’m definitely too old to do. It’s come as a shock because I thought I was still young and cool, but I sense my siblings and younger cousins cringing occasionally which has made me realise that I’m firmly in the ‘Embarrassing Adult’ group. Here are a few things that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m too old to do.

1. Do my hair in bunches.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, it looked cute to stick my hair in bunches – you know, on a beach holiday under a straw cowboy hat, at a festival when you can’t wash your locks etc. It helped that I was naturally baby blonde too, it was all a bit Scandinavian, you know? Now, I’m in my late twenties and am definitely not baby blonde anymore and I’m just too damn old for it to look cute. I’m too old for it to even look ironic. It looks ridiculous.

2. Wear hot pants. 

Let’s face it, I’m in neither the shape nor the climate to go out in hot pants, regardless of my age. But, were I 4 sizes smaller (oh, alright, 5 sizes…) and living in Miami, I’d still not be pouring myself into short shorts. Why? Because regardless of whether my legs and arse look like they’ve been loving smoothed out of alabaster, I’m at an age where hot pants cease to make me look cute and perky, but rather desperate and street-walkery. Full stop. You can quote the fucking Pussycat Dolls or any supermodel over 30 you like at me, but take them out of the context of performing on stage and put them in a suburb of the UK and she looks like a prostitute. End of.

3. Wear things ironically

You don’t look cool. You look disturbed.

You know how there’s this trend of wearing big National Health-looking specs and slightly gimpy clothing? How just about every kid on the High Street looks like a cross between Erkel and Deirdre Barlow? Yeah, once you’re in your late 20’s, that doesn’t like ironic, it looks frumpy. Especially if you’re carrying 4-year old baby weight. If I walked around in bottle-bottom glasses and brown slacks, people would think that’s just me being desperately UNfashionble, not cutting edge like all of these so-called trend setting children.

4. Ride a scooter

I recently got asked if I’d like to test out an adult Micro Scooter. I understand there’s something of a trend emerging for parents to ride alongside their kids during the school run and such times. But, honestly, if I were to ride around on a Micro Scooter, I would simply look a MASSIVE PRANNY. Come on, admit it, if you saw a full-grown adult scooting down the street on a silver monstrosity, you’d be walking along looking for their carer, wouldn’t you?

5. Have a cutesy decal/eyelashes/zany bumper stickers on my car

Just. NO.

I apologise if I offend anyone with this one as, again, I gather that lots of people are in the habit of zazzing up their car with various adornments, but I genuinely cringe when I see most of these. In my immediate vicinity, there’s one neighbour who has a purple sparkly car with about a billion stickers on it, proclaiming her to be a witch, no less than THREE people carriers which have full sets of Betty Boop decals ALL OVER THEM and a car with eyelashes.

I think people are under the illusion that using these bedazzlements gives the impression that they’re full of personality, but actually it belies a human with very little to offer in the way of humour or personality. These stickers can be stomached if on the car of a teenager, but if you’re my age or older – grow up.

So, I’ve given you mine, now you tell me yours – what are you too old to do?

Opinion · Parenting · Personal · Rant

Postcode Lottery

Like so many people in their late twenties and early thirties, Husband and I rent our house, we’re not in a position to buy and social housing is nothing short of a joke, so we pay through the nose to live in someone else’s house.

Our lease is up in April and while we’re happy with our current location, we seem to be outgrowing our little bungalow and so looked into our options for moving. First, we looked in our local area; prices seem to have gone up a lot in the two years since we moved here – no great surprise seeing as no-one can afford to buy – it’s well and truly a landlords market at the moment.

The reason we live where we do is mainly because we’re in the catchment area of a really good school, so in terms of moving it only makes sense to stay within a catchment of an equally good or better school. This is where we’ve come a-cropper. The only school in the area which has better results than our local school is a mile or so up the road and the cheapest rental property within that catchment is £300 more per month than we pay to live here.

Our local school is something of an anomaly, it’s smack-bang in the middle of a council estate, and most of the private houses locally are modest homes, but the school had the advantage of an amazing headteacher, who sadly retired last year but did an incredible amount of work within the school and community. This means it’s one of those rare schools that’s able to offer great results to people from middle to lower socioeconomic groups, equally.

So, this leaves the options of either staying where we are, or moving out of town or even out of county. Husband and I have had wander-lust for some time, even considering Canada or Australia and would dearly love to give Sausage a better life away from the grind of living in a large town. But then, there are other things to weigh up. Yes, she could potentially attend a school with far fewer pupils, live in a rural setting and in a place with a lower crime rate, but does all of this weigh up against not seeing our extended family, not knowing anybody or anything about the new town, or just the general upheaval of starting again?

I’d love to hear from anybody who’s made a big move, whether you think it was a wholly positive thing to do and whether your kids have got over the huge change. Also, do you find this kind of class division in terms of education in your local area?

Answers on a postcard…just don’t ask me which town to send them to!

How To · Humour · Parenting · Personal · Rant

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming an Adult.

There are certain facts that you just don’t know until you reach adulthood/move out of your parents house/have kids. I was pretty much wrapped in cotton wool until I was 21 (that’s not a complaint Mum, just an observation) and these facts just did not enter my consciousness until I made the decision to propel myself into the big wide world.

Just in case anyone is reading this who is new to the ‘grown-up’ thing, or just wants to brush up on some harsh realities, here are five of the most important things I’ve learned.

1. Any rubbish bags you buy with the words ‘large’ or ‘heavy duty’ printed on them will inevitably actually be the same size as a leprechaun’s scrotum and in fact have the same strength qualities of wet rice paper. I thought this was confined to the ones I bought from the Pound shop or the ever so slightly cheaper 99p shop, but it happens everywhere.

2. Some men seem to think that MILFs (if you don’t know; look it up but keep your Google Safe Search on!) are this exotic breed of experienced older women, and while I won’t debate that many women regain their pre-baby body, the vast majority end up with nipples that point towards the floor, a stomach like a road map and either a whacking great scar across their pubic line or a chuff like a Wizard’s sleeve from squeezing human beings out. Then there’s the sick in the hair, sleep deprivation and cracked nipples (or so I’m told). Sorry lads, that’s just the cold, hard truth.

The Fantasy
The Reality

3. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brilliant cook who can make things from scratch. You may be the master of the meringue, the queen of the macaroon, your talents know no bounds. But I guarantee the first time you boil an egg for yourself, you’ll have to look up on Google how to do it and I bet, even then, it won’t come out perfect. The best advice I can give you? Buy one of these:

The Tefal Toast n Egg. Genius.

4. People will ALWAYS surprise you. Unless you’ve spent every waking moment of your life with someone, there will always be information about a person which will knock your socks off. The other day, my boss was telling us a story about how, a couple of years ago, she and a female friend booked a cheap package deal to a Greek island that turned out to be horrible due to a rotten hotel and largely rubbish beaches. One day, they stumbled upon a nudist beach which was the nicest sun spot on the island and spent the next ten days returning to play beach tennis, stark-bollock naked, with a group of young ladies. Just so you know, my boss is 67 and an accountant.

(I won’t be illustrating this point with a picture, as above. I wouldn’t want to scar you for life)

5. If you’re the type to have kids, you’ll no doubt have a set of ideals that you’ll formulate once expecting, or maybe even before. Once your little bundle of joy is born, largely, these ideas will be torn up and thrown out of the window. I’ve lost count of the amount of parents-to-be who insist they’re anti-dummy, anti-bottle, anti-TV, anti-everything-that’s-not-organic, Gina Ford worshippers who, within weeks of bringing the baby home have given up on their hard-and-fast rules and are helicoptering their arses off with a dummy in one hand, a bottle in the other and a Baby Einsteins DVD on repeat for 8 hours a day. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s called COPING.

So, there are my pearls of wisdom for a Sunday morning. They may not be profound, but they may save you a lot of time and effort and what could be better than that? YOU’RE WELCOME.

Anger · Opinion · Parenting · Personal · Rant

Where the Hell Did That Come From?

Skanking. See what I did there?

One thing we’ve started to noticed since sending Sausage to nursery is that she comes out with things that Husband and I have never heard her say before. It’s largely all positive and her vocabulary and comprehension, although already fantastic, seem to be improving daily.

However, yesterday she came out with an expression which was totally alien to us, but not in a good way. She’s been poorly lately and has very dry lips and whilst watching The Simpsons with Husband she turned to him and said “Daddy, my lips are skanky”. Now, skanky is 100% NOT an expression that either Husband or I use, nor have I heard any other adult use it in our company.

So, our thoughts turn to the kids. The only kids she socialises with outside of nursery are her cousins and not only have we not heard them use the word ‘skanky’, I can’t imagine any of them telling her that as generally, they all seem to dote on her.

We know it’s definitely not come from the telly, ‘skanky’ isn’t a word I’ve ever heard on CBeebies, and I know that Peppa Pig is causing kids to become riotous and end up in juvenile delinquent facilities (what a load of bollocks, eh?) but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an utterance from her baconey lips.

The thing is, when we questioned Sausage on where she’d heard the expression from and after about ten minutes of clamming up like a good’un, she said to Husband and I “No, I refuse to tell you”. So, where do we go from here? I hate the thought that someone at nursery may have said something so negative to her, but she doesn’t seen adversely affected by it. Do we go to the nursery and ask them to look into it and keep an ear out, or do we drop it and hope it doesn’t happen again?

For the moment, as we have no firm idea of where it came from, I guess we have to just leave it. I don’t want to be one of those parents who flies into the nursery and scolds her teachers for the slightest thing, but at the same time, letting it go has left me feeling utterly impotent.

Any advice, dearest readers?