Personalised gifts for Valentine's Day

There is something extra special about personalised gifts don't you think? Receiving a locket as a present is lovely, but receiving a locket that has a personalised message engraved on the back is even better. It's that personal touch that makes it so much more special and you know the person who bought the gift was really thinking about you.

Discussing Valentine's Day with the teen

With Valentine's Day just around the corner I was talking to BP about whether he'd be buying anything for anyone this year. Last year he had a girlfriend and got her something for Valentine's Day but this year he doesn't have a girlfriend so I wasn't sure if he still wanted to buy anything.

As a mum I want to teach him to care about this day if he has someone special in his life. However, being a quiet boy who doesn't like to talk to me I had to bring up the subject. It was a difficult conversation but we did finally get something out of him - he wanted to get something for someone. Only he didn't want to tell me who. 

Among my stillness was a pounding heart.

Shannon A. Thompson

This is where we came to a hitch, I'd been asked by Personally Presented to review something for their site and I thought this would be a good opportunity for BP to choose something special. On the Personally Presented website there are lots of personalised gifts - gifts where you can have special messages on them or engraved into them - but if he wanted something like that I would have to know who he was sending the gifts to. He didn't like that very much, he got all embarrassed and tried to hide when I saw the name of the person he was buying something for. 

I didn't say anything to him because I felt he was entitled to his privacy and I don't need to get involved unless he wants me to. 

Personalised gifts

So after searching the site for a while BP settled on a couple of gifts to send to his Valentine. The first was a cute make-up brush holder, personalised with the name of the girl. Perfect for a teenage girl I thought. 

The make-up brush holder is solid ceramic with a gloss finish and has the words "Just a girl who loves makeup" printed on the front. It's sturdy so won't fall over like some of its plastic counterparts and I'm sure it will look lovely on the girl's dressing table or bedside table. The make-up brush holder costs £14.99.

A teddy bear sticks out of the top of a tin with the words "twinkle twinkle little star, do you know how loved you are" written in gold on the front. Next to the tin is a ceramic make up brush holder with the words "just a girl who loves make up" on the front in black. There's a pink marble effect background.

I really love the other gift he chose because it's just so cute - a teddy bear in a tin. But it's not just any tin, there's a message on the front and you can add another personalised message on the back. The message on the front reads "Twinkle twinkle little star, do you know how loved you are?" and then the girl's name at the bottom, there's a message on the back too - that BP wrote - but I'll let him keep that bit a secret. You can write anything on the back, there's space for 4 lines of 20 characters so you can get creative.

The teddy bear is soft and cuddly and fits snuggly into the tin. If you decided to take the bear out of the tin, the tin could be used for storage for something else - keepsakes perhaps? The bear in a tin costs £19.99.

Money off

There are some lovely gifts at Personally Presented, and they're not just cute ones that teens will like. I particularly like their Valentine's Gifts for Him section - there's lots of unique personalised gifts, an engraved pocket watch for example. There are certainly things on the site that I would probably buy but that I would never think of myself.

Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own. 

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

If you're looking for somewhere to get a great gift that's a little bit different then check out Personally Presented. And just for you I have a 10% discount code so you can get what you want even cheaper! If you do buy something from Personally Presented be sure to use the discount code to get 10% off your purchase.

Oh and here's a handy chart if you're struggling to find something to buy...

What would you buy?

Be sure to check out Personally Presented, whether for yourself or for your love. And tell me - what gift would you most like to receive?

I was sent products from Personally Presented for purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

My Random Musings

11 Ways to get back on the fitness wagon

Winter is the time of year when many people’s fitness motivation goes out of the window. The nights are longer, it is colder outside, and you generally want to just curl up under a blanket. But once you have fallen off the fitness wagon, it can be very difficult to get started all over again. Well, this blog post is here to give you a helping hand and hopefully, that extra boost of motivation you need to get active. Of course, that is not to say that things will be easy, but once you get your fitness habit back again, you should notice lifestyle improvements too.

Don’t become too negative

The first thing that you want to avoid is beating yourself up for having fallen off the wagon in the first place. While there is nothing you can do to change days gone by, you can make commitments to be different in the future. In fact, if you were in a pretty good fitness regime before, you may well find that all is not lost and you are able to return to your pre-break levels quite quickly. Give yourself a break, stop thinking negatively and vow to keep your fitness habit going in the long term this time.

Get the support of others

If you try to do everything all by yourself, you are much more likely not to enjoy the success you are looking for. So, try to seek the help and support of others who you know will give you encouragement along the way. Even better, you could get yourself a workout buddy. This way, you have a mutual relationship in which you are providing support for each other. Not only this, you will be less afraid of joining that intimidating-seeming fitness class if you are going as a pair. Often, having someone else there when you are exercising can help to push you to new levels that you never realised you were capable of before.

Schedule your fitness sessions

You should be looking to schedule specific times when you can exercise. If you just pick a general day, you could find yourself busy with other activities until the evening arrives and you realise that you are too tired and put it off until tomorrow. Before you know it, the whole cycle starts all over again. Make sure that you schedule a time when you are most likely to follow through with your exercise session. A lot of people opt for first thing in the morning as it is out of the way and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.

Start with a single goal

Rather than trying to rush into everything too quickly, start off with a single fitness goal. A couple of good examples include getting to the gym twice a week, cutting out chocolate or going for a 20-minute walk every day. Once you have one of these targets hit and you are comfortable with the way it fits into your everyday life, you can then start to add new goals along the way. Bit by bit, you will be building up the components of a healthier lifestyle.

Invest in new workout gear

Since you are starting your fitness goals all over again, you could mark the occasion by investing in some new workout gear. After all, you wouldn’t want to see your new running shoes or yoga mat going unused. Though this may only be a temporary solution, it can still be effective in giving you that extra boost of motivation to kick your fitness habit back into action. When you manage to keep the habit going for a certain period of time, you could then buy yourself something new as a reward.

Keep it short and sweet to begin with

When you are getting back into the swing of things after a long break, there is no need to go crazy and attempt to fit huge fitness sessions back into your life. All you will end up doing is making yourself tired and sore, as well as decreasing your motivation to continue. You could start off with a session of 20 or 30 minutes and gradually increase this over time. Ideally, you should be striving towards getting this up to an hour. Perhaps this could be broken down into 20 minutes of strength, 30 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of stretching. Try to plan your workout beforehand so you know exactly what you will be doing and for how long.

Clear out temptations from your household

Now, you should make your household more reflective of your commitment to your fitness and health goals. So, if you find that you are partial to the occasion junk food binge, you should avoid storing unhealthy food in your home. As for your kitchen, you should aim to clear out all drinks with dyes or artificial sweeteners. Perhaps you are trying to give up smoking? You could start by replacing your cigarettes with products from Ecigwizard's vaping website. You will find that you only have so much willpower during the day, so you need to ensure that you have a home environment that supports your fitness resolutions.

Start changing your meal plan

What you put into your body has such a big impact on your health and fitness. Similar to the advice we talked about earlier, you should start off small until the habit is established. To begin with, you may only want to change your breakfast from something that is high in fat like a muffin to something that is high in protein like egg whites. Another part of your regular mealtime routine that you can adjust is the portion sizes. So, rather than completely changing what you eat on a regular basis, you can instead eat smaller portions of it.

Keep a journal

There is something about keeping a journal which helps to solidify your commitments and keeps you focused on the goals which you have set for yourself. Writing down how much exercise you have done that day or what you have had to eat helps you to better understand what choices you are making and the type of improvements that you can make along the way. You can also use this as a place to write down your fitness goals so that you have clear and solid targets that you are working towards.

Get help from the professionals

If you find that nothing else is working, you can get help and support from professionals like personal trainers. They can help you to set up a plan which is tailored to you. After all, this is something which can be challenging to do all by yourself. You also have someone who you can direct all your questions to. Not only this, personal trainers can give you that extra push in the right direction when you feel like your commitment is wavering.

Make your workouts more interesting

If you find that your regular workouts have become stale and boring, there are plenty of other activities that you can try to make things more interesting. Perhaps you could take up a new sport or join a different fitness class. Ultimately, you need to find something you are passionate about.

Using a combination of the 11 different techniques that we have discussed above, hopefully, you now feel more ready to get back on the fitness wagon - and stay there.

Collaborative post

Flowers for Valentine's Day

It's a classic right? Your Hubby or partner has forgotten it's Valentine's Day and rushes off to the supermarket to buy a bouquet of flowers so as to not upset you. The flowers from the supermarket are nice enough but for some reason they never feel quite as special do they? But getting a bouquet of gorgeous flowers delivered to your door is amazing.

My favourite flowers

I have two favourites - roses and lilies. I actually had those flowers in my wedding bouquets because I love them so much. I don't know what it is about them but I love them, and put them together and they look wonderful.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them. 

Henri Matisse

Despite roses being my favourite flower though I had no idea that the colour of them had a meaning. I came across an interesting article in Good Housekeeping that lists the colours of roses and their meaning. I can imagine you already know the meaning of red roses - Love, obvs!

While reading about the rose for this post I came across this story 

The rose is a legend in it's own. The story goes that during the Roman empire, there was an incredibly beautiful maiden named Rhodanthe. Her beauty drew many zealous suitors who pursued her relentlessly. Exhausted by their pursuit, Rhodanthe was forced to take refuge from her suitors in the temple of her friend Diana. Unfortunately, Diana became jealous. And when the suitors broke down her temple gates to get near their beloved Rhodanthe, she also became angry turning Rhodanthe into a rose and her suitors into thorns.

And there's not just stories about the rose either:

Created from the breast milk of Hera, wife of Zeus in Greek mythology, the lily flower is the symbol of purity. The Roman goddess of beauty, Venus, was so jealous of the lily’s white purity that she caused the pistil to grow from the flower’s center.

So it seems like roses and lilies were fantastic flowers to have for my wedding - symbolising love and purity. 

Fresh flowers at home

There is something special about having real fresh flowers in your home. I would love to fill my home with flowers, unfortunately because the boys suffer from hay fever at the first sign of flowers I can't. 

The roses have pride of place in my window!

However, when Prestige Flowers got in touch to ask me to review one of their Valentine's bouquets I couldn't pass it up. I am going to keep the flowers in my office, which means the boys will be fine because they never go in my office - win win!

A Valentine's bouquet

Like I said there's something special about receiving a bouquet of flowers delivered to your door, and when it's a bouquet of 12 red roses along with a cute teddy bear and a box of chocolates, well let's just say I was smiling. 

I loved my bouquet with its beautiful red roses, copper ruscus and selected foliage including bear grass. The copper ruscus 'pops' next to the red roses and green foliage, it truly is a beautiful bouquet. 

The teddy bear is so cute! He's a little brown bear named Harry who came with his own little love note asking me to love him and he has a lovely tartan bow tie. He is a soft bear, with "Prestige Flowers" embroidered into on of his paws. 

And the chocolates?

Well, being on a diet I haven't tried them all but needless to say they are tasty! There's a selection of milk, dark, and white chocolate with fillings like Seasalted Caramel, Raspberry Fancy, and Fudge Brownie. 

If the Hubby had bought me this bouquet I would most definitely be enjoying these chocolates to myself and feeling rather spoiled. 

The bouquet itself, without the teddy bear or the chocolates, costs £39.99 and you can add the teddy bear and chocolates for an extra £10.

But these aren't the only flowers you can buy from Prestige Flowers.

Valentine's Day Gifts

If you head to the Prestige Flowers website you'll find a selection of bouquets, with add ons if you want them. The prices range from £19.99 to £169.99, and there's different styles too. I particularly like the Magnificent, a hat box filled with roses and Ferrero Rocher, some of the roses even have a sparkly gem on them! It is such an elegant gift and I'd be so happy to receive it.

I like doing something romantic with a girl on Valentine's Day, like making her dinner and keeping it simple. The more quality time, the better. 

Spencer Boldman

Drop Valentine's Day hints

If I were you I'd start dropping the hints right now. Leave the Prestige Flowers website open on your laptop so your Hubby or partner can see it. Start mentioning how much you love fresh flowers in your home. You could even flat out tell him that if he doesn't buy you some flowers for Valentine's Day he'll be in trouble!

Do you like to receive flowers for Valentine's Day?

I received a luxury bouquet of flowers for purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Post Comment Love 26th - 28th January

Welcome back to Post Comment Love, a great little linky (even if I do say so myself!) run by me and Stephanie. Link up your best or favourite post of the week and Stephanie and I will stop by for a read, comment and share.

It's been fairly quiet this week, BP had his last exams on Monday so he's glad they're over. LP is back to enjoying his football and Karate and everything seems settled. It feels good. Last year flew by and with so much happening to us it was a tough one. I'm so glad things are settled again.

This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and to raise awareness I've been sharing my stories about being diagnosed with cervical cancer last year. On Monday I shared my story, the process, the procedures, and on Wednesday I shared a post about how being diagnosed changed me. It's a weird thing, being diagnosed with a cancer that is already gone. But the point is I did have it and that's something to take seriously. It's changed me in ways I didn't think it would, it's made a difference to how I think about my own body. Most of all though, it's made me appreciate what I have - it's made me more grateful for everything.

The perfect Valentine's Day

I'm sure I've said this before but the Hubby and I don't really do much for Valentine's Day, after years of buying gifts for this one day (and given both are birthdays are around this time too) we're out of ideas. Of course that doesn't stop me dreaming, imagining that if we had an infinite supply of money what we could do for this day that celebrates couples. Seeing as Valentine's Day is just around the corner I decided to put together a few ideas that would make up my perfect Valentine's Day.

To begin

The whole day is ours, the boys have been sent off to my sisters for the night (where they'll be spoiled with a late night and lots and lots of sweets) and we have the whole day to ourselves. No refereeing, no yelling, no computer games - just us.

The car

We would have an outing planned, and seeing as this is my perfect Valentine's Day the outing would be to Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea. It is an amazing restaurant and the Hubby and I haven't been there for a long time. The food is amazing, the waiters are courteous, and you don't feel out of place - ever. But here's where things go from reality to dreamland because I'd like our trip from Nottingham to London to be in an Aston Martin DB11, like the one you can find on the Yes Lease website. 

The cars we drive say a lot about us. 

Alexandra Paul

I have loved the Aston Martin DB9 for years, ever since I watched Casino Royale, and when I found out there was the DB11 and I saw it - well my love transferred to that. If the Hubby showed up at home in an Aston Martin DB11 and told me we were driving to London in it I think I would jump for joy!

The clothes

While Restaurant Gordon Ramsey is a fancy place they aren't overly focussed on what you wear so it's okay to wear something that is nice but comfortable. I would opt for one of my favourite dresses, perhaps my Lady Vintage dress that I bought last summer, and I'd pair it with a great pair of shoes. I'd love to see the Hubby dressed in a lovely pair of black jeans with a smart yet casual black or burgundy polo shirt. Terraces, a premium clothing boutique, has some nice polo shirts and they're not even that expensive, especially considering the names; Lacoste, Paul Smith, etc. I particularly like the Paul Smith Zebra Logo Polo Shirt, I think it would really suit the Hubby!

Me, in my Lady Vintage dress.

Dressed and ready to go we'd get in the car and make our way to the restaurant.

The meal

The meal would include all my favourites; foie gras for starter (it's been years since I had this), steak cooked to perfection, and creme brûlée for dessert. There'd obviously be some wonderful cocktails or a good bourbon to enjoy with the meal and I'd be able to drink as much as I like because I'm not driving!

Mmm, steak cooked to perfection.

The Hubby and I would sit and eat while chatting and laughing together as we enjoy the time alone. It's those times, when we can sit in a restaurant together and talk about anything, that I cherish most. Yes, we spend a lot of time at home together and we can talk whenever we like but for some reason when you can escape the kids and enjoy a fancy meal while chatting it is just so special. You can  connect in a way you can't when the kids are there. You can share a special meal and be a couple, not just parents.

The drive back home

Despite it taking hours to drive home after visiting Restaurant Gordon Ramsey it would be a lovely drive, especially given I'd be back in that Aston Martin DB11. We'd chat some more, maybe listen to a little music, and laugh a lot.

The time would fly and before we knew it we'd be back home.

Back at home

Once we got home we would head into our projector room, the room we spend most of our time. We have a huge screen and a projector and we watch our favourite movies in this room. That's not the best part of this room though, the best part is our recliners. We've had electric recliners for years, since before BP was born (13 years ago) and they still work! I know that sooner or later we'll have to replace them and I think I know just the place to get the replacements from - Dandelion Interiors. They've got some great recliners, like the Brevik Okin Motor Rise and Lift Recliner, and I'm sure they'd make a good replacement for our current ones.

So, after heading into our projector room we'd watch one of our favourite movies (Casino Royale, Gravity, Moulin Rouge) while drinking a bourbon and coke. The Hubby would get to enjoy his alcohol because there'd be no more driving and we would cuddle up together and enjoy our favourite movie. 

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. 

Audrey Hepburn

And that's it, the following day we'd pick the boys up again and normality would resume. Making my perfect Valentine's Day would take a lot of planning and co-ordination so I'm not sure it'll ever happen but I can dream can't I?

Collaborative post

Motherhood The Real Deal

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Share The Joy Linky @ The Family Patch

My Random Musings

How being diagnosed with cervical cancer has changed me

If you read my post on Monday you'll know all about me being diagnosed with cervical cancer last year - if you haven't read it yet please do. The post is all about what I went through in respect to the process - the smear tests, the hospital appointments, and the recovery after surgery. It is an epic post so I suggest you grab a coffee first!

Today I wanted to talk about the other side of things, the way the whole experience has affected me emotionally and mentally.

How I was before diagnosis

Before my diagnosis I didn't think of myself as a vulnerable or sick person, yes I contracted a cold now and then and whenever there was something going around at school I would get it, but when it came to the serious stuff I figured I was fairly healthy apart from being overweight (which I planned on tackling anyway).

I went through life not really worrying about anything, I did my daily chores, yelled at the boys when they were naughty and spent time with my family. While there were things that got to me emotionally (hello mum guilt!) they weren't serious, not really, and despite the odd break down I was happy.


In between being diagnosed with cervical cancer and finding out that they'd cut it out my head was a mess. A real mess. I didn't know what to think or what to do. Not knowing whether I still had cancer was playing with my head, I kept imagining this black ball slowly growing, eating away at my insides. Silently creeping its way through my system until there was nothing I could do. I started to worry about my boys, about never seeing them again, not being able to see them grow up and have children of their own. It was like having a dark looming cloud over my head all of the time.

In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present. 

Francis Bacon

It was just two weeks between having a second LLETZ procedure and finding out the results but those two weeks were the longest in my life, despite being reassured by doctors.

Since diagnosis

In the last year there has been so much going on that it's difficult to put it into a timeline. One thing I do remember is getting the call from the doctor to tell me they could confirm they'd cut out all of the cancer. It sticks in my mind because I was sitting where I am right now, at my desk writing a blog post. I was staring at my computer screen when my phone rang and he said the words. And I cried. I smiled and I cried.

All the worry that had built up inside me, all the worst-case-scenarios, came flooding out. The lump in my throat was like a rock and I couldn't hold it in anymore. I let myself cry. The tears flowed down my cheeks, the relief flooded my veins.

It was a good hour before the tears stopped, my eyes were red and sore but I was cancer free and that was THE BEST feeling. 

Feeling like a fraud

The one thing I can't shake is feeling like a fraud. I am a cancer survivor - that is a fact - but I cringe every time I say it. I wasn't aware the cancer was there and before I knew it it was gone. I didn't suffer any side effects (that I know of) and I didn't have to go through chemotherapy. I feel like an imposter when I talk about having cancer because my experience was over so quickly. 

It is always there

Despite it all being over quickly it is always in my head. A few months after my surgery, when I thought I had fully recovered, I started bleeding in between my periods and the first thing I thought was "the cancer is back!". That wasn't the case, I was still recovering and after a long walk and over exercising I guess something had changed inside. But that's just it, I went through something and it has changed how I think about everything.

Before this happened I wanted to lose weight because I knew I was overweight and could do with losing a few pounds. Now losing weight is more about trying to keep the cancer at bay and be as healthy as possible.

My health was never really an issue, I caught the odd cold and got struck with flu once or twice but generally I was healthy. And I still am. Yes, I was diagnosed with cancer but it didn't change me.

Follow up

I'm now on the list to have smear tests every 6 months, and if the tests remain clear that will be reduced to yearly tests at some point. I went for my first smear test after diagnosis last week so I'm still waiting for my results but the doctors say there shouldn't be anything to worry about. Of course they said that the first time and I've quite a rollercoaster ride since then. And that's the trouble with all this, the doctors can only tell me what they have experience of. Usually the original tests come back with a non-cancerous result. Usually the abnormal cells sort themselves out. Usually there's nothing to worry about.

I'm trying to convince myself that everything will be okay, this time I will take the usual route. But there's still that niggling doubt.

And I think that's the thing - no matter what happens from now on that will always be there. I was diagnosed with a cancer. Cancer has grown within my body and it will always be a possibility in the future. Not that it wasn't before but it wouldn't have occurred to me - now it's the first thing I think.


So far this post has all been about the down side, being diagnosed with cancer made me think about my own mortality. It terrified me. It continues to have an effect on my outlook and emotions at times, but there is a good side to all this.

For a start the Hubby and I thought about life insurance. We had thought about it briefly before all this began but put it off when I received my first worrying letter. While it was a difficult process (lots and lots of questions) and we found some insurers refused to insure me, we did find someone who would. Both of us are insured now and hopefully we'll never have to use that insurance, but it's there - just in case.

Then there's the way I see, and think about, my family. They always have been the most important thing in my life but these days I spend more time enjoying our family time. We play board games, we watch movies together, we have days out, and every time we do I am thankful to be able to do it. Whenever I think about what may have happened if I hadn't gone for that smear test back in April I shudder. My story could've been so different. And that makes me realise just how lucky I am to still be here.

Life is all about being happy - if you are not happy change things. Because at any moment something could happen that could throw your life into turmoil. Enjoy the best things in life while you have the chance.

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters. 

Audrey Hepburn

My last words for you are "Go for your smear test", this test takes just 5 minutes and could save your life. Truly.

A long time ago Jade Goody's cervical cancer journey was covered in the media and it increased the rates of women going for their smear tests. Unfortunately rates have dropped drastically and so I hope that sharing my story encourages you to go for your test, or to share it with others to encourage them. 

Let's work together to reduce the rates of cervical cancer!

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Cervical Cancer - My Story

Last year was the year I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Yep, me. A 37-year-old (just had a birthday) mum to two with no health issues (as far as I knew) was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and in an effort to reduce risk I'm sharing my story. I should warn you it is an epic post (super long) -  I talk about how it came about, what happened, and the consequences - I hope that in some small way I can help you see that you really do need to go for your smear test when you receive your reminder.


Go make yourself a coffee, sit down, and read on...

My cervical cancer story

At 36 years old Cervical Cancer wasn't on my radar - not at all. As far as I was concerned I was a healthy (albeit overweight) mum to two who had plenty of years ahead of her before she needed to think about anything as scary as cancer. 

It never occurred to me that it can happen to anyone, at any time, even though I know this to be the case. I know plenty of young children to be struck with cancer and I know lots of people who are older that have had cancer, my father included. But for some reason I never thought I would be affected by it. Silly huh?

I hope that my story shows you, sitting there with your cup of coffee, that you need to go for your smear test as soon as that reminder letter arrives. It could make the difference between living your life and not...

You hate the smear test right?

Yep, me too. 

It's uncomfortable, embarrassing, sometimes painful. And then every time you go for that stupid test you receive a letter saying everything is okay. 

I started having smear tests when I was 25, much like most other women. As a busy mum to a little boy I didn't think much about it, I went for the "routine" test and a few weeks later got my results letter saying everything was fine. And that was the case the next few times too.

Because it was always fine I got into a routine of putting off the test. It was just so uncomfortable. I mean really - having a metal thing stuck inside your vagina and some woman (okay, a nurse, but still) poking around with a swab - it's not my idea of fun. 

It got to the point where I was leaving it months before booking the test.

January last year I received the "it's time" letter and my heart sank. It couldn't be yet, surely? Didn't I only have it done last year?

No. No I didn't.

It had been 3 years since my last smear test. Bah.

Again I put it off. I didn't book the appointment. 

When the Hubby found my reminder letter on the kitchen counter a few weeks later he went mad. He told me I should've had it done already and he wouldn't let me do anything else until I booked the appointment. Under duress, I did.

On the day of my appointment I went to the doctors surgery, nervous tummy as usual, and sat in the waiting room knowing what was about to happen. Once in the examination room, having striped from the waist, the nurse poked around and within minutes it was over. Admittedly the nurse is always lovely, she asks about my boys and we chat about the weather. While I dressed she told me I should receive my letter - telling me everything was okay - within 3 weeks, and if I hadn't I should call the doctor's surgery to check in.

Three weeks to the day later I still hadn't received my letter and I was considering calling the doctor's surgery. Then I checked our post box outside...

Not what I was expecting

I opened the letter.

It was not the usual "All is okay!" letter.

Having never received a "there's something wrong with you" letter this one opened up a gaping hole in my stomach and made my heart race.

You see this letter said I had "high-grade dyskariosis" - whatever that meant. 

Panic struck.

Tears blurred my vision.

My heart raced. 

There is nothing that can explain the utter dread that filled my body that day. That letter was the worst I had ever received, up to that point. It didn't give me any information about what had been found, all the letter said was to expect a further letter from the hospital asking me to go for more tests.

As anyone would these days I Googled the term "high-grade dyskariosis" and, surprisingly, felt a little better. My research revealed that just because you have abnormal cells doesn't mean you have cancer. In fact the abnormal cells can go away on their own! Most of all though I was relieved that it didn't mean I had cancer. 


We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.


The hospital appointment

My mind was filled with cancer and high-grade dyskariosis thoughts for days until another letter arrived telling me to attend the hospital for a Colposcopy (someone looking at my cervix through a microscope).

Basically a doctor would have to have a look and decide what the next steps should be, if any. 

So off I went to the appointment not really knowing what to expect.

Lie back and watch the dolphins

At my appointment I spoke to a lovely doctor who told me what would happen.

They would squirt some dye inside me so they could see the abnormal cells and then they would look at them using a microscope. 

Nothing was going inside me.


But, if they found something they might decide to cut. 

Cut?! That got my heart going.

I was taken into a room to change (all the while my stomach doing somersaults), I put on a hospital gown and followed the nurse into a room with a large chair in the centre. Looking around the room I noticed a small table with the microscope, along with a few other scary looking utensils. My stomach flipped again. The chair, which I was told to sit in, had stirrups to rest my legs and I was asked to sit back and try to relax. 

I had to laugh. I mean, really... Relax?!

As I sat/laid there, with the doctor looking at my cervix while the nurse chatted to me about my boys, I did notice something that made me smile. 

On the ceiling above my head was a picture of dolphins. They were jumping out of the ocean, sun bouncing off their skin and splashes of water sparkling in the sunshine. It made me smile for two reasons: 1) I like dolphins, they're serene and calming creatures and for some reason they make me think of freedom, and 2) someone had thought about what you're looking at when you're in that chair and tried to make it more relaxing. I had to appreciate the effort.

Cutting time

After looking at my cervix for a while the doctor said he could see the abnormal cells and wanted to   cut them out (LLETZ procedure). It was explained that this was the best course of action because the cells looked like they had progressed. I was shown a picture from the microscope.

All I could see was flesh. A circle of flesh, red and angry-looking, but on the inside there was this huge area of white flesh. This was where they'd squirted the dye and it had reacted with the abnormal cells. The white area was the bad area and it needed to be cut out.

I was assured it wouldn't hurt.

Using some sort of patch they numbed me, my legs shook uncontrollably but I was assured this was completely normal. It made the whole experience a little worrying, I had no control over what my legs were doing. 

So, as my legs continued to shake, I had a doctor peering into my vagina cutting away a part of my cervix using some weird looking utensil, all while the nurse chatted to me about the lovely weather we'd been having. She was doing her best to distract me, bless her, and if I'm honest it kind of worked. While the procedure was uncomfortable I can't say it actually hurt.


As far as the doctors were concerned that would be the end of it. The area they had cut out would be sent to the lab for testing but I shouldn't expect any further treatment. The usual next step from this was to continue with regular smear tests but that's it. I was told to expect a letter as confirmation of the results but I shouldn't need any follow up. 

So that was it - kind of. No more cutting, and most importantly - no cancer.

Having just had surgery I was sent home with a list of restrictions.

No swimming.

No exercise.

No sex.

For at least 4 weeks, but I was told to expect the recovery to take up to 6 weeks. 

To be honest I didn't take the "surgery" seriously, I had a little pain after the procedure - kind of like strong period pains - but I didn't think they would last. 

I was wrong.

For the first few weeks I found it difficult to walk even short distances and the pain continued for weeks. I was taking lots of pain killers and wondering when the pain would subside.

The 6 weeks seemed to drag. I don't know if it was the restrictions or the mental implications of the surgery but I didn't do great. Some of the time I felt like my insides were being ripped out, sometimes I just wanted to sit in a hot bath, which I wasn't allowed to do. It was tough and I hated not being able to swim or exercise. 

Another letter?!

There's something about the letters that the NHS send out in these situations, they give you just enough information to scare the living daylights out of you but not enough that you can feel any better.

This letter scared me though. 

Truly scared me.

This letter said the doctors wanted me to return to the hospital to "discuss results" of the LLETZ procedure. I knew that couldn't be a good outcome given the doctors had already said I shouldn't need any more follow up. 

In the time between having the Colposcopy and LLETZ procedure I'd convinced myself that everything would be okay, they had cut out the offending cells and it would turn out to be nothing.

But that letter...

They wouldn't send a letter like that without it being necessary, would they?

Cervical cancer

Another hospital appointment.

The Hubby came with me and when it was our turn we were taken into the smallest doctor's office I have ever seen. The Hubby and I only just fitted into the room with the doctor and his computer.

He (the doctor) started off by going over the procedure I'd had done to confirm it was all correct but he took his sweet time getting to the point. He explained that the cells they cut out had been sent to the lab and someone had examined them under a microscope. 

Then I heard it - the word that fills anyone with absolute fear. 


I listened to the rest of the things the doctor said but I wasn't really there.

I had cancer.

Or I'd had cancer?

The doctor explained they found two areas of cancerous cells, one was just 0.3mm in size, and the other 0.5mm in size. They thought they had cut it all out but "just to be sure" they wanted to do ANOTHER LLETZ.

If I'm honest I think at this point I was in shock. I smiled and nodded along agreeing with the doctor. 

But in reality I had just been told I had cancer - or I'd had cancer, one or the other. It was necessary to have a second LLETZ to make sure all the cancer was gone. They had to do more surgery, cut away MORE of my cervix, just to be sure. I mean, yes, fair enough - I'd rather that than have the cancer grow, but it was a shock. 

I was given another appointment for the second LLETZ right then, while I sat in the doctor's office.

LLETZ number 2

The first LLETZ didn't hurt, it was just uncomfortable - like the smear test - and I expected the second one to be the same. 

I was wrong. Again.

The second LLETZ DID hurt. It hurt A LOT.

Using the same numbing as before the doctor thought everything would be okay but it wasn't. Each time the doctor tried to cut I cried out in pain, it was not fun - I was in a different room this time so there wasn't even a picture of dolphins to calm me. Eventually they had to use more anaesthesia and my legs shook more than before. I had tears in my eyes and the pain wasn't gone. As a woman who has given birth I've been through a lot of pain and while this wasn't anywhere near as bad as childbirth it was enough to make me cry.

Thankfully it didn't take long to finish.

Getting dressed after the procedure was also painful, it took a while to be able to pull up my jeans. I ached - think HUGE period pains that spread up your stomach, around your sides, and down your thighs. 

Once in the recovery room I had to sit for longer this time. Much longer. I was offered a cup of tea , which I thankfully accepted, and I sat for a good 20 minutes. While sitting there the doctor came in to talk to me again, this time chatting about next steps. 

As I sat listening to him I realised he was preparing me for the possibility of finding more cancerous cells.

Thinking about Hysterectomy

In a matter of a few months my life was looking like things might change drastically. I'd been diagnosed with cancer for a start, not great right?

I had no idea how to feel about it - being diagnosed with cancer is a serious thing, even if they'd already cut it away. I couldn't get my head around whether or not I had cancer - it was there and had been cut out but it could still be there. 

Add that to the fact that the doctor was talking to me about having a hysterectomy if they found more cancer and my head was a complete mess. Having a hysterectomy at 36 was not something I had ever considered. 

It's not that I want more children, I don't, but having a hysterectomy so young has long-term health implications. It's not as simple as just having it done and everything will be okay.

After leaving the hospital I had to think about what I would want to do if things came to the worst. I was told that if they did find cancer I wouldn't have a choice, they would do the hysterectomy, but if they didn't then I had choices.

I could go ahead and have a hysterectomy - by choice. That would eliminate the chance of the cancer coming back. Or...

I could leave things as they were - risking the cancer coming back (although it is highly unlikely).

In the weeks following my second LLETZ I thought about this constantly. The Hubby and I did lots of research and read about the long-term implications of having a hysterectomy so young. For me it wasn't about preserving the chance to have more children, I'm done with that now, but it was about preserving my body. 

I didn't want to make a decision that might cause complications later.

2 weeks later

Two weeks after having my second LLETZ my doctor called me. My doctor has NEVER called me. When he said who he was my stomach did a flip (yes, again!) and I immediately thought it was bad news. Luckily he didn't give me much of a chance to panic.

They confirmed there was no more cancer.

And I cried. I balled like a little baby.

The relief flooded through my body and I couldn't keep the emotions in any longer. The stress, the wondering about the future, it was all over.

I was one of the lucky ones. 

I was still recovering from the LLETZ but I felt so much better. I was able to start thinking about other things and my own health wasn't an issue any more.

Not the end

It took me a long time to recover from the second LLETZ, in fact it took a lot longer than 6 weeks. I was suffering with pains for at least 6 weeks and even after that I couldn't walk for more than 4 miles without feeling pain. 

Even though it didn't seem like a "proper" surgery that second recovery period made me realise that I had been through something serious. My body was telling me to slow down and I had to obey. It took a long time for me to feel right again.

After everything that has happened I'm now on the list to have smear tests every 6 months.

I can hear you as I write that...  You're thinking "ugh, how horrid" right? And I was too.

But you know what? 

I would rather have 6-monthly smear tests and be sure the cancer isn't back than have the cancer grow again without me knowing. 

As I write this post it is almost 8 months since I had my diagnosis and, although I'm fully recovered, I'm still having issues. Things like light bleeding after sex, pains where there were none before, and the mental changes that have happened as a result.

Before my diagnosis if I saw light spotting between periods I thought nothing of it, it happens sometimes. Now though the first thing that comes to mind is that the cancer has come back. Every single time I see blood when there isn't supposed to be any my stomach does a somersault and the day I sat in the doctor's office comes back into my mind. 

This year hasn't been an easy one, and sometimes it's hard to admit to myself that my experience has changed anything. I mean I didn't know I had cancer and before I knew it the doctors had cut it out. Sometimes I feel like a fraud. I feel silly saying "I'm a cancer survivor" when there are so many people out there having to through chemotherapy or worse. But I have come to realise that I am one of the lucky ones.

I am still here. 

I am not going through chemotherapy.

I have the time and the drive to share my story and hopefully more women will go for regular smear tests as a result.

Live life to the fullest, and focus on the positive. 

Matt Cameron

Go for YOUR smear test

Like I said, I was oblivious to what was going on inside my body. I had no idea that cancer was growing and that I was putting my own life at risk by delaying my smear test.

I was diagnosed with cancer and that diagnosis is going to affect me for the rest of my life. But it didn't take my life and that's the important bit.

I wanted to share my story with you, and if you got this far thank you for sticking with me. I'm also over on Motherhood The Real Deal today with a guest post Cervical Cancer - what every woman needs to know, I wrote this post to help you recognise symptoms and be aware, if you have time I'd love you to stop by. This week I'm focussing on Cervical Cancer Prevention Week so you can see it can happen to anyone. Me, a normal (somewhat!) mum with two children, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 36.

If I hadn't gone for the smear test that cancer would be growing right now, silently spreading through my insides. 

The smear test can save your life.

It did mine.