I’m a little late in posting this. I planned to get this written up and published on New Years Eve, followed by a ‘hello 2017’ style post on New Years Day but in true me style it’s January 5th, about 10pm and here I am typing away. With any hope this will go live tonight but being realistic, it’ll be some time in Jan … maybe Feb!
I don’t usually summarise my years; I don’t know why I just never have in the few years that I’ve been blogging and vlogging. When I think about it 2016 probably isn’t the year people would expect me to document; it was tough, seriously tough. 2016 broke me down a lot; it chipped away at the person I was but in doing so it also built me back up again. Not to that same person but to a different person; a stronger and more optimistic one. I read that when you break a bone in your body, despite the natural assumption that it would always be weaker, it actually repairs much stronger than before (as I wrote that I realised that might not be true and I was actually thinking of the following example haha) when you work out, your muscles make tiny tears and in repairing themselves they build a much stronger muscle (that one’s right I’m sure!). Well that’s what I feel 2016 did to me. It tore me to bits and in turn I’ve come out with more strength I knew I ever had.
Thing is; I feel really dramatic even writing that analogy. I had a rubbish year and so many people said to me they don’t know where I got my strength from but In reality I really didn’t feel strong I just felt normal. I coped how I coped because I had to … either that or it just hasn’t all hit me yet and I’m awaiting my breaking point!
If this is the first post of mine that you’re reading then I’ll fill you in. 2016 started with bittersweet feelings. At the very end of 2015 my sister in law Michelle had found a lump and on New Years Eve was told she had breast cancer. Also at the end of 2015 I found out that I was pregnant with Jenson; so we went into 2016 with feelings of love and excitement for our wonderful news but also sadness that this would be such a tough year for my sister in law and those close to her. It almost felt unfair that we had something so wonderful ahead but then ever the optimist; she was so excited for all of us.
Michelle’s journey was clear at the time, she’d have her breast removed, therefor removing the cancer and would then go through chemo and radiotherapy to clear any lingering cancer cells. It would be awful but it would be followed by the road to recovery; ‘this time next year it’ll all be back to normal’ was a popular phrase in our house.
In February me and my Mum went to visit my sister in Sweden where she lives and it was so wonderful to have a girly trip just the three of us. I realise now more than ever how much I appreciate having had that trip. I love exploring new places and she lives in such a beautiful area it was wonderful to have fresh air and quality time together!
When we got home Mum told me that she’d found a lump in her abdomen and also on her neck. Being naive, I thought that the law of odds wouldn’t let another person in our family have cancer, not at the exact same time anyway … I was wrong. Mum was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and her journey was a little less certain at the time. She couldn’t have the lumps removed so it would be a case of going through chemo and then seeing if that had worked and possibly having more treatment from then on. I remember feeling so sick with worry. I worried my mum would never meet my baby. I worried my baby would never know his grandma and if they did meet how long would they have?
Me and Pete weren’t great at the time; I feel sometimes I shouldn’t put this on here but I really want my space on the internet to be about my honest journey and I never want to portray my life as something it isn’t. I want to help others; I really want nothing more than that and if someone is going through something similar to me I hope that they find comfort knowing that they’re not alone and that they can always reach out to me for support. Anyway, we weren’t great. It was a blur of argument, breaks ups and uncertainty that left me feeling really alone. I didn’t feel I could lean on him when I was sad or worried about my mum and I didn’t want to lean on my family when I was sad about him … I could have done, they would hate to know I felt I couldn’t but stress was not a thing they needed at the time. It was tough and I relied so heavily on my friends at that point and really learnt a lot about who my true friends were. I also relied on my space on the web a lot; I got so much comfort from fellow bloggers and vloggers as well as readers, subscribers and instagram followers and it taught me so much about the kindness of strangers. I say strangers, I open my life to the world so to some I may seem so familiar but for me, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t know the people that watch or read unless they blog or vlog or share their stories too; so to have someone take the time to send a long heartfelt message of support really did mean so much to me.
During a time of strength building with me and Pete we went on a lot of holidays. It was good for us as a couple but also great to take our minds off of the ever present cancer cloud in both of our families. We went to Mallorca just the two of us which was a lavish trip, spending more in a few days than we would have on a weeks family holiday but it was so worth it. We had spa treatments, ate amazing food, sunbathed and most importantly reconnected. We also went to Weymouth for a UK break with all of Petes family and the boys had an amazing time. It was so great to see them playing with their cousins and it’s the kind of trip that the boys will look back on with fond memories when they’re older.
We then went back to Mallorca with Petes parents, our niece and our boys. It was great to take his parents away for a break and I loved making memories with my little family in the sun. We also enjoyed a wonderful anniversary break at Chewton Glen and I went on probably more pregnancy spa days than necessary. At the time these were just breaks but looking back these were the sparks of light in a year that would otherwise be remembered as pretty dark. They helped us to relax and unwind and most importantly refocus so that we could be better support systems for each other and our families.
Months passed and Mum and Michelle went through their treatments. They had beautiful wigs and the most admirable strength throughout. They were ‘chemo buddies’ as Mum put it and as hard as it was to see them go through it we all felt immensely proud of their strength and were so positive that 2017 would be the year they got back to themselves and normality would commence.
August came along and 3 days after his due date, on the 14th August 2016, we welcomed Jenson into the world. It was an intense and overwhelming labour and birth but so so beautiful and one I’m so glad I documented. (The more and more time goes on I realise how grateful I am that I’m always that knob with her camera in everyones faces). Jenson fitted into the family perfectly; it was like he’d always been there (cliche I know) and he brought so much happiness to our lives. Jasper and Rhys adored him from the get go and they have the most amazing bond. Wathing Jasper become a big brother was such a highlight of 2016 and I really couldn’t have been more proud of him. That same week we got the amazing news that Mum was in remission. Her cancer had gone and she no longer needed treatment. I cried so much when I got that news; I don’t think I realised quite how scared I’d been.
Not long after that though, we got the devastating news that Michelle’s cancer had come back. Being secondary we knew that it was incurable but we were optimistic that she’d have many a happy years and the family put the wheels in motion for fundraising for alternative therapy abroad and for canibis oil.
Amongst all of this my family were also going through the heartache of my uncle Graham having cancer. His was terminal and he’d been given months to live and at this point he was deteriorating quite quickly. In October he sadly passed, surrounded by his loved ones and it was such a heartbreaking thing to know my Dad had lost his younger brother who he remembered being brought home from the hospital as a newborn. It was so sad to see my cousins say goodbye to their dad and it was a harsh reality for my mum that it could have been her. It was also in our minds that this could have been Michelle … ever the optimist though; I never thought it would be.
In November Michelle’s condition worsened and she was given months to a year to live and about a week after that she was given days to weeks. Michelle moved into a hospice the next day and ten days later, on the 4th December she became an angel. I got to spend some time with Michelle in her last few days at the hospice and her strength was incredible. The last few weeks of 2016 were a blur. We so desperately wanted to make it a wonderful Christmas for our boys; Rhys and Jasper were so aware of Christmas this year and being Jensons first one I wanted to make it wonderful but we decided to take the pressure off and just be there for everyone. I was pretty poorly with the flu and a chest infection so most days were spent being cosy indoors or visiting family.
Christmas and New Year were bittersweet; a word I think could summarise our 2016 quite well. We made it magical for the kids and we were kind to ourselves and each other.
2016 is over now and a couple of days before New Years I started thinking about 2017. I don’t like the concept of ‘New Year New Me’ as I don’t think you can be a different person on the 31st December and then a new one on 1st Jan but I knew I waned to set realistic goals and life changes. I started to feel so motivated and positive and got the wheels in motion at the end of 2016 which I really think has helped me to look back on last year in a more positive light.
Yes it was tough; it was heartbreaking, sad, cruel and unfair but it was also a beautiful year. It brought so much light, love and happiness and even though I had to dig a little harder to find more good than bad I managed to do it and that’s a quality that I know has rubbed off on me from Michelle.
I’m going to write my 2017 goals post after this; (I’ve already filmed a video but I want to be more active on my blog so I’ll write it down too) so I won’t go into detail on those here but I will say that 2016 has moulded me into the person I want to really see in 2017 and beyond. It’s made me stronger, more optimistic, more grateful and more positive. I’m so full of love, overwhelmingly so for my family and I’m so appreciative of the kindness I’ve been blessed with from family and friends, be them friends I’ve met in person or friends I’ve never met in my life.
If 2016 has been a tough year for you like it has for me then try and see the good; go back through your pictures/videos/blog posts and vlogs to pick out those smiles and moments of happiness. Write down the moments you’ve cherished. Pinpoint the monumental occasions; even if they were sad and try to pick out the good that you can take from them even if it’s simply that they’ve made you appreciate life more.
After planning to be so positive I feel like this may have come across as a really negative post but I wanted to be truthful. These were the facts, they’re what happened but that doesn’t mean they’re what defined our year; these life events simply paved a road to the people and lives we’d like to see in 2017 and beyond.
How was your 2016? If it was a tough year did it also bring good? If not can you find the good in the bad times?
Thanks for reading!