Now what's the oppoosite of a Bucket list?

I started this week in London, meeting up with my colleagues across the organisation. All good. It was an inspiring few days confirming our plans for the coming months and spending time with people who share my own values and ambition for our mission at Breakthrough Breast Cancer. I travelled there and back by train to ease the burden of travel but still found that I started the next day with a migraine-my bodies way of saying slow down. Although I have been used to pushing myself I keep being reminded that I really cant do that just now. I recognised myself in the statement by a friend in a similar situation that she didn’t want to slow down she just wanted to have her energy back to do the things she used to. If only it were that simple and there is of course an inherent catch 22 because the more you try the less you can do…….I call it my goldfish moment I just need to keep learning it.Well no one's perfect eh?

I spent this afternoon doing a little shopping,ending up looking at pretty lingerie again and leaving, as before, without any. I feel caught between wanting something to help me feel good, not wanting to buy anything that wont be suitable if/when I have more surgery and most importantly knowing that my asymmetry makes it all a bit complicated. I could get some help with a more permanent prosthesis (and I know they are fine and many are helped by them) but somehow I don’t want that. It feels like making the decision before I am able to. The temporary one I bequeathed to the cat and even he wasn’t impressed.

It leads me to reflections on how this experience has so many different impacts. Breast cancer itself has many different stages and each person has their own particular reaction to it. Traditionally we have spoken of primary breast cancer and secondary breast cancer. Both represent different stages of the disease, needing different care and treatment. But we know that for many when they are diagnosed with secondary disease they find the support lacking. This seems a real paradox given the very real need when cancer is found to have spread. I do wonder if we need to stop seeing it in terms of this division and instead see the complexity of the disease in its entirety and ensure we support people throughout their experience of cancer. We need to recognise that its a changing experience too, that  many live for many years with secondary cancer and their needs are complex and varied- we need a breast cancer service that is person centred and is consistent throughout their journey. One wonderful story I heard recently was of one of our supporters who was told over 12 years ago that she would not live long and she recently proved that wrong when she welcomed the birth of her first grandchild. How fantastic is that? Things are changing in a good way and we need to change our support from the NHS and voluntary sector, to meet future needs too.

Someone I follow on twitter was inviting people this week to share their Bucket lists and I was considering that when I saw another invitation to do your F**k it list too. One of hers was to stop losing things in her handbag….you get the drift? It made me laugh and think too, I must confess. So here goes some of the Bucket list:
Visit the Himalaya
Holiday with the family in Orkney
Have as much time I can with people I love
Get time to write a book at some stage
Go on safari
Go back to the May Isle when the seal pups are there
Visit more bird sanctuaries
Buy that dress ( see below!)
And lots more so …..
To be continued!

And if I may be permitted the start of a F**k it list.
Wanting never again to sit in meetings I feel nothing constructive is happening in.
To never again hear polarised political debate instead of a real open-minded commitment to improving the common good.
The Edinburgh Tram project (its chaos again!)
But most importantly it is to stop so many people being diagnosed with breast cancer and especially to stop people being diagnosed with advanced disease. There are endless F**k it’s about breast cancer. In a way this blog is about sharing some of mine (although perhaps in a slightly more lady like fashion ;-)). I suspect I may come back to this theme again…yes the F**k it list of breast cancer is also to be continued!

Reasons to be cheerful:
Yesterday I had my hair done (always a therapeutic intervention!). And then had lunch with my good friends. It was great to see them.Love an laughter-always a joy. I am also planning my trip to my daughters later this week. Fun and relaxation are on the menu I know!
AND I got the chance this week to see some of the products being sold for Breakthrough during breast cancer awareness month. Charity shopping is perfect-conscience free and lovely products too-my favourites are the coast dress, the warehouse top and of course the M&S pretty in pink t-shirts. Bucket list material I think. See for more details. Enjoy!


  1. Delighted to have found your blog - and wish I had seen it before now. I am a Scot living and working in Asia, and lived in Nepal under those amazing Himalayas for 5 years. I was diagnosed with stage 3 BC 2 years on Sunday. My story is on

    I will be following your blog regularly from now on. and I also have many thoughts about an alternative Bucket list, Scottish style. I'll put them together in a blog post soon.

    Very warm wishes from rainy Yangon (but hey it's warm rain here :) )


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