Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas Cheer 2016

2016 has been a crazy year for the World. I know many people are feeling disheartened and worried about what lies ahead for us all. I was inspired to do some fundraising as a way to show people there is still good in the world and that the power does not lie with the people in charge, but it lies with us, the general public. Citizens. If we show kindness and understanding to each other then we can make the world a nicer, safer place for people around us. Little by little.

I firmly believe in volunteering. I was twenty one when I started and it changed my life. It gave me an outlet for my creativity. It developed my compassion and made me realise how fortunate I am. It gave me a circle of friends who share my interests and inspire me on a daily basis. It helps me make a real difference to the world around me.

I am currently in the middle of my latest voluntary project – Christmas Cheer 2016.

I became an auntie for the first time in February this year and I immeadiately became obsessed with my niece, Mia Ariana. Since she came into my life I have become more aware of the fact that she is blessed to be able to grow up in a safe, loving environment. As a family we are able to provide her with material things as well as love. Many children do not have the same upbringing and I wanted to do something to change this in a small way. In honour of my niece, and to start teaching her from a young age to give back and do something to help others.

I decided to split the money between Cyprus and the UK as these are my home countries. My Stepdad works for the Metropolitan Police and takes part in their annual present appeal so I decided to support this cause. I was given a list of fifteen children, their gender and their age, to buy presents for. I also decided to help Crisis with their annual appeal to help the homeless. We will use some of the money to buy food and supplies to help them this winter. In Cyprus I decided to help the Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council with their “Adopt a Family” drive. So we will use some of the money to buy food and presents for the underprivileged families in Cyprus.

My friends and family were very supportive and in total we raised an amazing GBP618.34/EUR723.85. This weekend we will be going out to start getting our supplies ready for delivery. I couldn't be more excited. Somehow it makes Christmas more special knowing we have helped lots of other families have a nicer one. I will post photos of our supplies when we have bought them!

Let me know if you will be doing something similar this Christmas!

Neuroendocrine Tumours

Hello :)

This post is dedicated to a fellow Cancer Campaigns Ambassador, Andy Norris. Andy has suffered from this cancer type for eleven years. He is a very passionate campaigner and I hope this post helps him raise awareness of a cancer type not many people are aware of. This type of cancer comes under the category of “rare cancers” and not much information is available on them. However, I will share everything I have learnt about them with you today.

The Neuroendocrine System:
The Neuroendocrine system is a combination of nerve and gland cells and it makes hormones before releasing them into the blood stream. Basically neuro means nerve and endocrine means the cells of the endocrine system. It is also known as the hormone system as the neuroendocrine system is a network of glands and organs producing hormones within our bodies. Hormones are hugely important as they control how our bodies function, including growth, development, reaction to stress and a wide range of other things.

You will find neuroendocrine cells in many organs including the lungs, pancreas, liver, stomach, both bowels and the oesrophagus as well as the appendix. These cells have different functions depending on where they are with the body. For example, neuroendocrine cells found within the lungs release hormones that control the flow of air and blood in the lungs.

Neuroendocrine Tumours:
NETs are very rare tumours and they develop within the cells of the neuroendocrine system. There are different types of these tumours and these depend on what body part is affected. These tumours usually take years to develop and do not cause any obvious symptoms at first. It is not uncommon for sufferers of this cancer type to discover the cancer has already spread to another part of the body by the time they are diagnosed.

There are some types of benign (non cancerous) neuroendocrine tumours, as well as malignant (cancerous) ones. Usually the benign tumours are more slow growing then the malignant ones.

There are other names for this cancer type:
*Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP NETs) – found in the gut or pancreas
*Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) – found in the pancreas
*Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumours (GI NETs) – found in the bowel, stomach or oesophagus
*Functioning neuroendocrine tumours (F-NETs)
*Non functioning neuroendocrine tumours (NF-NETs)
*Carcinoid tumour

Treatment for this cancer type, as with most cancer types, will be dependent on the type of tumour, the stage and grading and whether it has spread to another body part. Treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy or drug therapy.Some of these tumours can also develop outside the pancreas. For example, gastrinomas have been reported in the medical literature to develop in the ovaries, kidneys, stomach and liver, and not just in the pancreas and small bowel area. NETs that develop in the lung are usually carcinoid tumours.

Causes of neuroendocrine tumours:
Not much is known about the causes of this cancer type at present. However, sufferers of rare family syndromes or gene mutations have a higher risk. These include Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1) and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL). Research also shows that if one of your parents has suffered from this cancer time then your risk of developing it is slightly increased. However, this cancer is very rare so your risk is still very slight even if you have a higher risk.

I hope this blog is informative, and helps Andy raise awareness. Please contact CRUK if you wish to have further information

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Christmas Fundraising 2016


2016 has been a year of bad news. The media is filled with it and many of my friends and family have had some real hard times this year. I think many people will be happy to see the year go. I want to inject some positivity into 2016 as it comes to an end.
Usually my voluntary work is in memory of the relatives I have lost but this time it is inspired by a very special person.
My niece, Mia Ariana, was born in February this year and has become the apple of my eye. Mia is able to grow up in a safe and loving environment, filled with people who will protect and encourage her. Many children do not get to grow up in the same way. 
This Christmas we will be collecting funds to buy presents and supplies to help children and young people who otherwise won't enjoy the festive period like my niece will.
Half the money raised will be used to buy food and presents for families in Cyprus that will not be able to afford them otherwise. They will be taken to food banks to be distributed to those that need it.
The other half of the money will be used to buy supplies to donate to Crisis and The Metropolitan Police Christmas Present Appeal. Crisis will distribute their supplies to homeless people and The police will distribute presents to children who may not otherwise get them. The supplies for Crisis will include warm gloves, hats and scarves as well as snack bars, toiletries and other things to help the homeless. My stepdad, David, works for the Met and will be one of the officers delivering the presents.
I will be spending time with Mia in the UK between 2-5th December and we will go and buy our supplies and donate them that weekend. 
My good friends, Luke and Faye, will also be collecting to donate presents to children in the UK spending Christmas in hospital -
Please donate anything you can spare, it's very much appreciate! We will keep you updated with our progress! 
Lots of love xxx

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dawn Tribute - Raising Awareness of Pseudomyxoma Peritonei

This week I lost someone very special to me. Actually, Dawn was very special to lots of people. She’s left a huge hole in the World. Since my friend, Elizabeth, broke the news to me I have been feeling really empty but at the same time I’ve regained my passion for what we do as volunteers. Since the change in my living situation almost two years ago, I’ve taken a step back from a lot of the voluntary work I do so I could get used to my new surroundings etc….. However, since finding out about Dawn, I have been reminded of how much I love raising awareness and being a volunteer. She’s managed to inspire me all over again.

I’ve been wracking my brains to work out how best to show how much Dawn meant to me. I’ve decided the best way to do this is to carry on the great work she has done for all these years. To raise awareness of the cancer she was diagnosed with and raised awareness of until she passed away. So today I’m going to write about this incredibly rare cancer. Not much is known about it so it won’t be a very long post but I hope it will raise some awareness in honour of my amazing friend.

In 2008 Dawn was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP). Pseudomyxoma Peritonei is a very rare type of cancer that usually begins in your appendix as a small growth, called a polyp. Or, more rarely, it can start in other parts of the bowel, the ovary or bladder. This polyp eventually spreads through the wall of your appendix and spreads cancerous cells to the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of the disease. These cancerous cells produce mucus, which collects in the abdomen as a jelly like fluid called mucin. This then creates symptoms such as “jelly belly”. It affects around two people per million each year. All ages can be affected and both men and women.

It takes a while for symptoms to appear, and they can be symptoms of other conditions. But PMP cannot be ruled out if you are suffering from the below symptoms:
*Abdominal swelling or an increase in abdominal girth
*Changes in Bowel Habit
*Loss of Appetite
*Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
*General Fatigue
*Bowel Irritation
However PMP symptoms vary from patient to patient so there could be other symptoms as well. If you are not feeling yourself then please visit a doctor. PMP is very rare but if you have any concerns, please get yourself checked out.

Treatment for PMP is dependent on the grading of the tumour but usually involves the following:
*Cytoreductive Surgery (Debulking) can be used to remove the mucin and tumour in the abdominal cavity. This is usually a very long procedure (around 14 hours). They remove as many tumours as possible from the abdominal cavity.
 This is then usually followed by Intraoperative Hyperthermic Peritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) where liquid chemotherapy is poured directly into the abdominal cavity to kill off any cancer cells that have been left behind. The chemo is usually heated to 42C as heated chemo is thought to be more effective at killing the cells. It is swished around to reach as many areas as possible for around 90 m inutes before being drained off and you are then closed up.
*Early Postoperative Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (EPIC) can then be used for several days after your operation through a port in your abdominal cavity. During this time liquid chemotherapy is poured in and then drained out again.

Dawn was given just three months to live and the cancer was so rare that her doctors didn’t know much about it at all. Whilst fighting the disease Dawn noticed a distinct lack of emotional support for people fighting this form of cancer.  Dawn decided to set up a charity to help others in her situation. Pseudomyxoma Survivor aims to provide emotional support for anyone dealing with this type of cancer and to prevent anyone feeling alone or isolated during their fight against the disease.

The charity fundraises and raises the profile of PMP whilst also funding research into the disease. Dawn was incredible patient advocate for all survivors, and this results in increased awareness and higher survival rates worldwide.

A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, especially when it’s a very rare cancer such as this one. More needs to be done to understand these rarer types of the disease so cures can be found and people can be saved. Dawn left the charity just before her death to concentrate on her own health but I really hope the charity continues to help the thousands of PMP sufferers around the World, just like Dawn did. She did so much to raise awareness of this incredibly rare cancer. She went around the world helping people. Somehow, despite being given three months to live all those years ago, she managed to keep going for so long. Sometimes she was in huge amounts of discomfort, and must have been seriously scared a lot of the time, but she managed to do so much to raise the profile of this cancer type. I will never be able to understand where she found her courage, strength, compassion and selflessness. Dawn Green really was one in a million xxx

If you have any more questions, worries, or would like to donate, please visit

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tribute to Dawn x

In October 2016 I will be marking six years as a volunteer for Cancer Research UK. In that time I have been part of some incredible things and have had some of my proudest moments. But the defining part of my life as a volunteer is the amazing people I have been able to meet and get to know. The people I now call my friends. The people I call my volunteer family. 

When I first started volunteering my mum was really worried. I have been surrounded by cancer for almost my whole life. I’ve lost many people. I’ve experienced much sadness and loss at the hands of cancer. She couldn’t understand why I would want to be associated with the subject in such a full of way. At first I couldn’t understand why but gradually I came to realise that my mum was worried that I would develop attachments to people who would eventually pass away and make the hole in my heart caused by all the loss even bigger. The truth is my mum was right about this.

I’ve known Dawn Green for many many years now. I’ve written about her before. There are not enough words to describe how wonderful this lady was. In 2008 Dawn was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP).
Pseudomyxoma Peritonei is a very rare type of cancer that usually begins in your appendix as a small growth, called a polyp. Or, more rarely, it can start in other parts of the bowel, the ovary or bladder. This polyp eventually spreads through the wall of your appendix and spreads cancerous cells to the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). These cancerous cells produce mucus, which collects in the abdomen as a jelly like fluid called mucin.

Dawn was given just three months to live and the cancer was so rare that her doctors didn’t know much about it at all. Whilst fighting the disease Dawn noticed a distinct lack of emotional support for people fighting this form of cancer. 

Dawn decided to set up a charity to help others in her situation. Pseudomyxoma Survivor aims to provide emotional support for anyone dealing with this type of cancer and to prevent anyone feeling alone or isolated during their fight against the disease.

Dawn put PMP on the map. She worked tirelessly for those suffering. She raised money, she raised awareness, she helped everyone she could across the world. How she did it I will never know as most of the time she was struggling to survive the illness herself. She had major major operations and each time I held my breath waiting for the news that she hadn’t made it. But she defied the odds time and time again. I got used to this.

Dawn was a funny, kind, crazy, caring, interesting woman. She was a mum with so much fierce love for her two girls and her dog. She was an amazing friend. She was simply one of the best, and most inspirational, people I ever had the honour of meeting. The empty feeling I currently have is because the world is a little bit emptier now. A sadder place. There is definitely a hole without Dawn for many people, myself included. I really hope she is at peace and reunited with her beloved Dad now.

So yes, my mum was right; my heart is at risk of more sadness by being involved with Cancer Research UK. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The people I have met are my friends, they provide me with inspiration. They look out for me. They make me laugh. They make me want to do more to help others.  They hold a very special place in my heart. For Dawn we will keep on at Cancer and we will carry on helping others just like she did, hopefully with the same humour, passion and kindness she displayed to those that knew and loved her. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cancer Research UK Annual Review 2015

A frequent question myself and other CRUK volunteers are asked is "where does my donation go?" People are aware that millions are donated every year but many aren't aware of what these funds are spent on. CRUK have released their annual review and, as usual, I'm going to break it down so that people can see where the money is going.

Let me first explain that 80p of every £1 donated is spent on research. That is a huge amount and probably one of the best in the third sector. The other 20p is used to raise funds for the future
£621 Million was raised by CRUK supporters last year
*£169 Million was raised by legacies (People leaving money in their wills)
*£122 Million was raised by regular donations (there are over 1 million people making regular donations)
*£91 Million was raised by trading (the CRUK shops)
*£89 Million was raised by charitable activities (including money from Cancer Research Technology)
*£63 Million was raised by events (for example Race for Life)
*£41 Million was raised by corporate or volunteer fundraising (Including local fundraising groups)
*£36 Million was raised by other donations (Including major giving and appeals)
*£10 Million was raised by other income (Income from CRUK investments)
9/10 donations are less than £10 which goes to show that every penny really does count and giving what you can afford, even if it isn’t a lot, really can make a huge difference.
This money funds over 4,000 world class scientists, doctors and nurses across the UK.
£341 Million was spent on research in 2014-2015
*£116 Million was spent on research that underpins all cancer types
*£31 Million was spent on breast cancer
*£31 Million was spent on lung cancer
*£30 Million was spent on over 100 cancers including cervical, kidney, stomach and testicular
*£30 Million was spent on bowel cancer
*£21 Million was spent on leukaemia
*£15 Million was spent on pancreatic cancer
*£15 Million was spent on prostate cancer
*£15 Million was spent on skin cancer
*£11 Million was spent on ovarian cancer
*£9 Million was spent on brain cancer
*£7 Million was spent on non hodgkin lymphoma
*£6 Million was spent on oesophageal cancer
*£4 Million was spent on bladder cancer
I am just one of over 40,00 volunteers for CRUK. Together we donate over seven millions hours worth of time to CRUK. The charity has a huge volunteer base because we all genuinely believe in the cause and the charities aims. It's been an amazing year for the charity:
*More than 600,000 people took part in walks, runs, cycling or swimming events to raise funds
*The charity is working with over 1,200 GP practices to try and help diagnose cancer sooner
*Over 53,000 took place in the Dryathlon and went without alcohol in January to raise funds#
*More then 90,000 people supported us CRUK Ambo's as we aimed to "Cross Cancer Out"
*The CRUK nurses helpline answered over 11,000 queries
*Over 27,000 patients took part in CRUK clinical trials
*Over 4 million bags of stuff were donated to CRUK shops
*Over 60,000 people visited the Cancer Awareness Roadshow to learn more about reducing their cancer risk and how to spot cancer early
I hope this brief guide has shown you that a donation to Cancer Research UK, no matter how small, is very very worthwhile. Research is being conducted every single day and the money you donate is being put to good use! It is a long and complicated process but progress is made in small steps every single day and we are slowing edging towards the day when we can proclaim that cancer will soon be a thing of the past.
For more information on this please contact Cancer Research UK for a copy of their Annual Review (it can be downloaded from their website). It is a very interesting and informative read.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The UK General Election 2015 and Cancer

Hello! It's been a long time since I've blogged. Life is busy - just how I like it - but I do love to write and am passionate about my subject so I hope to create time to do more posts from now on.

There's just over a week to go until the UK General Election. I hope you've registered to vote if you are eligible - it's going to be a close race in my opinion and every vote will count. We get to decide who will be representing the constituencies we live in and representing our views in Parliament as well as ultimately deciding who will lead our country for the next few years. If you're over the age of eighteen and registered to vote then you have a chance to make your voice heard and exercise your right to vote.

To read about the manifestos of various parties and their stance on cancer related issues please click these links

Real progress is being made in the fight against cancer and CRUK's political actions is helping to accelerate this progress. Cancer is a political issue as well as a emotional one and it is something that matters to all of us. Survival rates have doubled over the last forty years but there is still lots more work to be done and this campaign is focusing on what the charity would like election candidates to focus on:

*Continued Support for Campaigns to Raise Public Awareness of the Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
Campaigns such as Be Clear on Cancer help raise awareness and encourage people to seek help when they feel they can identify some key signs and symptoms of cancer within their bodies. During the BCOC lung cancer campaign, 700 more people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 300 more received potentially life saving treatment compared to the same time period the year before. CRUK want the government to continue to support such campaigns in the UK.

*A Commitment to Increase Participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. As with most cancers, patients diagnosed at an earlier stage are more likely to survive, with four out of five patients with the earliest stage of the disease surviving at least five years after diagnosis. However fewer then one in ten patients are diagnosed at the earliest stage. CRUK would like the government to ask local areas to increase the number of people participating in bowel screening by at least 10% as well as providing quality information on the risks and benefits of the screening process so people can make an informed decision on whether to participate.

*Strengthen the System and Processes that Support Cancer Diagnosis
Health is a devolved issue but people living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can still get involved in the campaign as your next MP's will also need to be encouraged to keep cancer high on the political agenda. They will also have the power to advocate for improved health throughout the UK. Successful initiatives in England will have an impact on the other three nations so it is important MP's are aware of what is going on.

*Equal Access to Innovative Radiotherapy, Surgery and Effective Cancer Drugs, including Drugs Targeted to Patients' Tumours.
-Radiotherapy is a cost-effective and cutting edge cure for cancer. Treatments are becoming more sophisticated over time and CRUK believe it is important that patients receive the very latest treatments as soon as they have been proven effective and become available. Research suggests radiotherapy contributes to four in ten cases where the cancer is cured. My Ambo family helped secure over £23million from the government to help increase patient access to radiotherapy so that now over 6,000 more patients have access to a targeted radiotherapy with less side effects. CRUK now want to government to commit to a long term strategy to make innovative radiotherapy treatments available to all those who would benefit. This strategy should include details on how out dated radiotherapy machines will be replaced by newer equipment with more advanced techniques as well as how the workforce will be resourced,
-Surgery is essential when it comes to managing and treating cancer. It contributes to half of all cases were cancer is cured. Evidence suggests that older patients are less likely to have surgery for their cancer and CRUK believes surgery should be offered to ALL cancer patients where appropriate regardless of age. We want the government to commit to increase access to surgery for the older population.
-Cancer drugs are an important part in many patients treatment. Appropriate access to effective and innovative drugs is vital and we need the government to find a long term solution to make these drugs available to the patients who need them. NICE, the NHS and drug companies will be required to work together to make this happen. Personalised medicine is already revolutionising cancer treatment as it makes sure patients get the best drugs for their condition, and hopefully avoid side effects from the drugs specialists can predict will not work for them, We will hopefully develop many more targeted treatments in the future and we need to make sure the government and NHS develop a commissioning policy so patients can be offered the appropriate diagnostic tests.

Lizzy Allen, one of the lovely ladies looking after my Ambo family, has written a blog about the campaign which you can read here 

You can take part in the campaign by taking two minutes to click the link and allow CRUK to email your election candidates and ask them to support the campaign.

Campaigns are what we Ambassadors do best and I'm hugely excited about this one. The build up to the general election is really important and I encourage as many people as possible to get involved and help decide who will be in charge of our country next. Thank you very much in advance for clicking the link!!

My story has been used as a case study which you can read here: