A Teenage Cancer – Awareness Time

Cancer.

We’ve all heard the word; many of us have been affected by that word. Some of us have survived that word. Some of us have loved and lost those who had the word, but still it’s considered taboo. A word that shouldn’t be said out loud. It’s for the darkest corners, of the darkest days,  especially when it comes to  children and teenagers.

Cancer Research UK itself states that: “cancer is primarily a disease of older people” the key word being primarily. Cancer itself doesn’t seem to mind who it infects. According to the Teenage Cancer Trust: “around seven young people aged between 13 and 24” are diagnosed everyday in the UK. This, along with the 1,600 younger children who are diagnosed each year, and the figure begins to build. Which means a figure of around 4,155 children and young adults per year – but that’s only an average for those who are actually diagnosed.

Likewise, it’s thought of an older person’s disease but is the leading cause of death in children from 0-14 and those aged 15- 24 in the UK, with brain tumours, other central nervous system tumours, intracranial tumours and leukaemia being the most common, click for more info.

But don’t get me wrong, this blog isn’t supposed to upset or worry anyone. It’s a new year, a new dawn. A new age in the fight that cancer will lose. This blog – this post is to make those who aren’t aware – more aware, and those who have it – realise they are not alone.

March 2013 saw the diagnosis of my best friend’s little sister, Milly who we affectionally call Mouse. A strong, beautiful,  and ultimately healthy looking 18-year-old.  When she passes you on the street trust me you’ll  watch as she moves past you, always with a  little bit jealous of the vitality in her eyes and movement. In other words, she is a completely normal teenager and does completely normal teenage stuff.  Milly suffers from a rare form of Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, known as Mycosis Fungoides which according to the British Association of Dermatologists is usual in 40-60 year old men, one in a million if you’re an 18 year old female you might say. It’s not curable and it’s with you for life, but it can be treated and life for Milly can continue as its always done so long as it’s kept an eye on. Like most cancers it comes in stages and with that Milly has different stages on her body which are treated as they should be treated. Milly though, knows that she is relatively lucky. She hasn’t needed to start some of the rougher options of cancer treatment such as radiotherapy: “which involves the use of high-energy radiation” or chemotherapy which: “kills cancer cells that are dividing and reproducing”. She and her older sister kindly offered to do a little video (scroll down or click here) with me to discuss her diagnosis. This video along side an audio slideshow are both very short but for a link to the complete audio please click here.

For me this post is personal, we’ve all met people and heard stories about someone’s fight against cancer. We’ve all seen the Race for Life posters, the Shine walk posters, the Macmillan nurses, the Marie Curie yellow banners collecting money and the specifically more ‘fun’ logo of  Teenage Cancer Trust dotted about everywhere. I’ve had people I’ve loved and lost, but until now I’d never met anyone as young Milly. That’s why this post is here. It does happen. It shouldn’t but it does.

The first and most important thing that parents and teenagers themselves have to do is become more aware. Identifying symptoms and having yourself checked is a wildly important aspect to quick diagnosis and then with any luck kicking the cancer.

Symptoms aren’t always obvious but The Teenage Cancer Trust has got some notes:

  1. You know your body better than anyone – look out for any worrying changes – go and get it checked out
  2. Pain
  3. Lumps, swellings or bumps
  4. Extreme tiredness
  5. Extreme weight loss
  6. A mole that has changed

Of course, these symptoms could be result of anything, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Below are the promised videos of the Curtin family:

 If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them.  When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope?  We have two options, medically and emotionally:  give up, or fight like hell.  ~Lance Armstrong

For more information on What Cancer Is Please Click

For more information of Teenage Cancer Symptoms Click Here

Here is a link to a beautiful blog, which is filled with inspirational poetry from those who suffer from the disease. Give it a read.

Another blog about an inspirational woman who began blogging at her diagnosis

A BUPA directory, with helpful and useful information

An Interview with Emma Enchanted

Emma Gerry, 21 is one of a kind. Beginning her own business at the tender age of 19 she has watched it grow and become a success in her North East England base. With a passion for making children smile and in some cases completely shock them into that pure awe-inspired state that only a child can have, Emma is fast becoming the biggest and best deal for children’s parties in the North East.

Emma Enchanted was the first singing-dancing and acting Princess company of it’s type in the North East and it has paved the way for other companies to follow in suit. With inspiration from California based company True Enchantment, and Traci Hines the cosplayer Emma decided it was time to shock the North East into remembering the importance of  childhood and how short it is.  It was Emma’s mission to explore and embrace childhood and she’s doing that perfectly. The parties, although they cater for the children also seem to excite the parents just as much, and Emma’s biggest tool in how her business has become so successful is through Word of Mouth. With one good party comes three more and so on and forth until Emma’s life becomes a mass of performing as Cinderella at one party in the morning and Ariel at one only two hours later.

With a massive Facebook following of 3,069, which shows no signs of slowing down Emma is kept busy throughout the year. Luckily enough for me, Emma was able to find time in the day to let me interview her. As I drove up to her house, it was the perfect setting for this fairy-tale princess. The house itself was warm and cosy and perhaps unsurprisingly enough when I met Emma she had the big eyes and high cheekbones and flawless skin that I obviously should have expected  from a Disney princess lookalike. In short, she was the epitome of princess and thinking about it now that’s probably part of the reason she has been so successful. I was quickly introduced to her mum Amanda, who was busy sewing costumes, sorting wigs and painting bits and bobs, in order to give Emma the time we needed. Her parents have remained a massive support for Emma throughout her business – with her mum originally sewing and making the original costumes. Both work full-time but still find time to help Emma make her business as successful as possible.

Not only has Emma got a legion of fans, supportive parents and a totally understanding boyfriend (who also happens to be the photographer for the princesses) Emma has a troupe of extraordinarily talented performers. All can sing, all can dance, and all can keep their American accents for the duration of the party – a feat which I promise is not easy. Tried and tested and failed completely by yours truly.

The following is a brief part of the interview with Emma in which she discusses her business and why she came up with the idea of Emma Enchanted in the first place.

It’s my first time making an audio slideshow so please be nice. For more information on Emma Enchanted I’ve linked the Facebook and website – so click the one you want.

My first attempt at designing a 20 page concept magazine

Now let me state this now, I am not a designer. I can try and I absolutely love everything, at the moment at least, that I know about designing but that does not mean I am any good at it!

I’ve finally got the courage to put it on here though. This was my first attempt at designing and creating a 20 page concept magazine. It was part of second year uni course and we were told we had to come up with an idea for a magazine which we would then have to create the layout for.

Obviously none of the work in the magazine is my own and it was sourced from many different parts of the Internet, so please don’t say I’m plagiarising as I know that it is not my work. It was the layout design we were working on as opposed to the images that filled it and what copy was used, (most of the copy is dummy text).

I had a whole load of fun designing this magazine, and although I didn’t end up with a very good mark I feel like I tried my best so to be honest my attitude at this point is whatever. It was my first time I didn’t know how to use the software and objectivity plays a key thing in decision making. I can’t wait for my new uni project which is to design a minimum of 36 pages all original content!

That is going to be something.

Wedding Belles

The 24hrs I lost my Internet lifeline…

If I said that now in 2013 we communicate with each other the same way as we’ve always done you’d yell:

RUBBISH!

It’s 2013 and we live in a world so online we don’t know how to get off again.

My Challenge: 24 hours without internet access. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Google and most importantly to me no Skype – my literal lifeline to my mum.

Challenge Status: Accepted. . .

Although I consider myself a bit of an internet buff/know-it-all, others would probably argue I’m not really. I can just about check (which I do constantly during the day) my: 

The first two which have a never ending feed, which I like to constantly refresh (Well something important might come up).

How did I think the Challenge would go?

It was time to see how 24 hours without Internet would affect me. I totally believed this would be easy peasy lemon squeezy after all, how hard can not having the Internet be?

When we were younger we never had it, I was always out on my bike pedalling at speeds I can’t reach now, to catch up with friends and see how their Tamagotchi, or in some cases Furbies, were doing.

Now though it’s different, in 2013 according to the Office for National Statistics over 36 million people access the Internet everyday.  

36,000,000 people.

It’s a crazy thought. I look out of my window now  and I don’t see kids playing on their bikes, instead when they are outside they’re comparing the latest iPad or iPhones but generally no bikes are involved.

Before this little experiment started I felt that with my experience of the Internet it wouldn’t be that hard. I really believed that I wasn’t a massive ‘internet-er’. I’ve got Facebook and Twitter sure but I guess I don’t really update as much as others do. I thought the 24 hours would whizz by!

1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour, 4…

So it started off well enough. I reached for my phone in the morning when I woke up just to update everything and then almost instantaneously remembered and swerved my hand to reach for the light instead. Seriously, I reached for my phone in utter darkness  instead of my light.  I suddenly felt really self-consciously stupid.

Who checks social networking before they even turn on the light? Apparently I do.

Craig Smith from Digital Marketing Ramblings is a busy when it comes to exploring the stats of how many people use Social Networking.  See his amazing graphic at the bottom of this blog or click here. Craig’s alphabetical graphic shows the massive amounts of people using social networking. An impressive 1.11 billion people are using Facebook alone!

 (So hopefully there IS someone out there the same as me!)

After shaking off the feeling of a sudden impending doom I felt in my stomach I switched iTunes on. I’m a big music listener and generally try and download the Top 10 hits every week more or less, today was the day. Perfect. Can’t wait to get that new…Stop. What are you doing? Almost got me.

As of February 6 of this year Apple recorded that over 25 billion songs had been purchased and downloaded from iTunes. They even gave away €10,000 to the buyer of 25th billion song.  

I’m still bitter it wasn’t me.

See the press release here!

Within an hour of waking up, I had already tried and thankfully stopped myself wanting to get on the Internet twice.

Am I really that Internet dependent? 

Apparently the answer was turning out to be yes.

The difficult decision – cutting off all contact!

Ultimately the only way I figured to stop myself from glancing, peeking and sneaking at the Internet was to leave my phone in my flat, whilst I went to uni. Now that is a BIG DEAL for me! My phone is generally in my hand at all times, in case Barack Obama ever feels the need to call or something (heavy sarcasm and a lot of wishes).

Before I started my Internet 24-hour detox I read an interesting article from Time about Internet Addiction, which stated that heavy Internet users can: “undergo withdrawal symptoms similar to those experience by drug users.”

I’m sure I suffered from it!

I was unbelievably fidgety, at least I was for a few hours. But all of a sudden I was more concentrated on what my shorthand teacher was actually saying, perhaps because I was so desperate for something to do.

It was probably just shy of a small miracle when suddenly writing word endings in strange little Aztec-like symbols made just a bit more sense and by the end of class I think I got it.

After the initial withdrawal symptoms I pretty much just got on with, however I was so embarrassed when I tried talking to my friend who was messaging on Facebook at the same time.

Could this really be what I’m like – it’s just  so rude. I was having to fight a smart phone for attention, and repeating myself was a nightmare. Eventually I stopped talking and so without any  fuss did she.

The Hardest Part…

Their is no doubt in my mind, the hardest part of this experiment was the no Skype rule.

With my mum, step-dad and step-brother being out in Dubai and the international phone-calls being so over-priced not talking to them was really tough! My mum especially. We weren’t that close when I was younger, but now she is the one person I want to speak to for even the littlest thing.

We usually talk every night at some point, either through email or generally through Skype but tonight there was absolute silence! It was terrifying how alone that made me feel even though I flat-share with four other girls, and we had a movie night. My flat-mates don’t always get it, sure they Skype their parents too, but when Skype doesn’t work they can just pick up the phone. I have to think carefully before doing that.
According to TechRadar’s article Microsoft’s statistics state that Skype has:  “299 million connected users.”  That is a massive amount of people. Perhaps it shouldn’t of surprised me there were that many around the world using Skype seeing as the UK makes up 36 million of that number and we are a pretty small island.
Crazy!
After my Internet 24 hour detox, and my realistation of how much Skype means to me I decided that my first task, when I eventually began my Internet use again, (which was far to long for my liking) was to find five facts about about Skype just because I could use the internet again! A completely pointless task, but one that just shows how easy and convenient the Internet really is.
So without future ado, my five pointless facts about Skype:
1. According tStatistics Brain  35% of Skype are small businesses who use it as their primary communication ‘portal’. In a time when everything is so expensive the idea of fully taking advantage of a free software is pretty genius. It’s probably obvious but in times of need people learn to adapt. Plus Skype can bring about the personal touches a phone call can’t necessarily bring – after all you do get to see the person you’re talking to. It’s practically like a face-to-face conversation but  in some cases a few thousand miles away.
2. Not only does it benefit small businesses but students can ‘rock’ it too, Skype says so itself: 
With the ability to share screens: “Two (or three or five) heads are better than one I love this. Although perhaps it means in more a of studious way, I can’t wait to try it out during student breaks to keep up with my friends all at the same time. Conference calling doesn’t only benefit students, likewise businesses and professionals can make the most of it too. The ability to ‘see’ and communicate with up to five people can give you a more definite idea of what a person really thinks, after all body language can be key to understanding.
3. Obviously it works for people like me who want to stay in touch with those pesky relatives that decide to move abroad. I couldn’t really do without Skype. Being so far away from people who mean a lot to you can be so hard sometimes, and although obviously Skype can’t replace actually being in the same room as a person it does make life so much easier. People move away from relative all the time, and by having a way of communicating without having a dependence on how much you can increase your phone bill by this month is actually pretty inspirational. Finally chatting to people you love has never been easier, and when they get really annoying on particular days the good old: “the internet’s not working” excuse comes in very handy.
4. Typically it’s FREEEE, yes do it in a sing-song voice and extend the e sound. This is an absolute bonus. Could you ask for any thing more really? This point is self-explanatory. 
5. There is a ‘super-user’ no joke, called Jean Mercier. Check out his witty and pretty special blog Skype Numerology here. This blog is hilarious. I don’t know why or how I found it but I’m so glad I did. Just the idea of a super Skype fan is incredible. It’s the simple things that make my day – really! This really goes to show that the Internet is capable of creating practically anything – even a Skype super-user/blogger. Crazy and inspired at the same time.

Closing Comments

Realising the difficulty I had without the Internet really makes me value it even more. However I’ve decided since taking this ‘test’ that it simply is not right to be stuck to my phone as if it’s super-glued to my hand. It is just far too rude. I don’t want to be an anti-social person whilst being social online. Honestly I would rather just talk to someone face-to-face instead of in the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter.
I mean, really, I have far more to say that 140 characters would actually allow.
                                                           
Check out this graphic by Craig Smith as mentioned in the above:
social media user infographic