It’s been a glorious summer in London town made even better after the Shomelanoma team completed the Jurassic Coast 100km on one of the hottest weekends of the year over a tough course (you were so right Fred Edwards), which sent the fundraising spiraling over £30K. The Jurassic coast is truly stunning and we were sent on our way with a morning all from football manager Harry Redknapp who was queuing for breakfast at his local Sandbanks Café. The nudist beach at Studland provided further walking sights although unfortunately no David Beckham or David Gandy lookalikes that morning. It was a tough slog on a boiling hot weekend and due to blisters, vomiting and feeling delirious Colin, Tony and Phil completed the full 100km with the rest of us finishing after 58km on day 1. Huge congratulations and thank you to all of the team Phil, David, Tony, Sam, Michelle and Colin, who took part, the support crew who were there smiling at the rest stops and everyone who has donated to all of the fundraising efforts it is massively appreciated.
Just 2 days after the big walk it was hiking boots off and heels on for the glamorous Women’s Chapter Travel and Fashion event in aid of the Royal Marsden hosted by my amazing friend Michelle de Klerk who had also completed the Jurassic Coast walk. Tamara Lohan founder of Mr and Mrs Smith shared her experience on setting up a business and her top travel destinations and Stylist Deborah Sheridan-Taylor showed a capsule wardrobe, which was gorgeous. I said a few words about my melanoma journey and the fabulous work of the melanoma team at the Marsden and it was a hugely enjoyable evening. Huge thank you to Michelle and the wonderful Women’s Chapter.
Over the summer, I have been trying to forget the melanoma, I still have the daily reminder with the numbness on the left of my mouth but in the grand scheme of things it’s minor and as long as it doesn’t affect my talking ability that’s fine. Following the Jurassic coast adventure, I set off for the French Alps with good friends Jen and Liz plus their kids. I was really excited about the trip as it felt good to be travelling out of the UK again (not something I had done since Corsica last year). I used to be going to an airport every other week with work but now I associate it with a special times and the fun of going on holiday.
The French Alps trip was action packed and it was fabulous spending quality time with my 2 gorgeous best friends and their children Clem, Felicity, Imogen and Cameron. We loved hiking in the mountains, swimming, laughing, eating, and had lots of fun; melanoma went straight to the back of my mind. I was sad to leave France and once back in the UK over the next few days I started to become aware of a more frequent abdominal pain on my left side. After a week or so, with the if in doubt get it checked out mantra, I contacted my nurse at Marsden HQ and she arranged for me to go for a review with the doctor. After examining me, having blood tests and seeing that I was anxious he agreed to move forward my CT body scan. I felt relieved as the next scans were not due for another 3 weeks and I hadn’t had a body scan since early April. Fortunately the wait was short and the scan results were clear and I felt massively relieved.
Dave and I escaped off to Scotland for the August bank holiday and luckily it coincided with the next big fundraising challenge – Kirsteen’s Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond. Now for those of you who don’t know Scotland – Loch Lomond is the largest stretch of inland water in the UK just north of Glasgow. Its beautiful but swimming there is not for the faint hearted as its cold, deep and choppy definitely no bikinis required even after a heatwave summer it was wetsuits all the way. After the sat nav eventually got us to the right location via central Glasgow (who knew that there were two places called Balloch in Scotland!?) we arrived to see superstar Kirsteen successfully completing her swim. She did an amazing job, look as cool as a cucumber and was still smiling through her exhaustion as she got out of the water. Kirsteen was fundraising for Melanoma research at the Royal Marsden and also for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of her lovely father. We all spent the afternoon enjoying the Scottish sunshine and catching up over lunch. Congratulations to Kirsteen, thanks for all your amazing support.
During the time in Scotland I was again able to put melanoma to the back of my head. However as soon as I returned to London the MRI brain scan at Marsden HQ was looming ahead. I had my brain scan last week and had the weekend scanxiety wait before the clinic appointment with Dr Larkin on Monday. I felt calm but as we all know going in for scan results is like a game of roulette you just never know how the results are going to land. Fortunately today was good and 9 months on from starting targeted therapy Debrafenib and Trametinib (Dab/Tram) it continues to work its magic and it is currently effectively controlling my melanoma. My tumour has reduced in size and is now stable. As I have said previously the challenge is on average the melanoma develops resistance to the drugs after about a year, which is why it’s vital to continue supporting new research and drug trials to continue developing new treatment options for melanoma patients.
There are some exciting plans coming up for the Shomelanoma fundraising. Next up is the Royal Parks Half Marathon on October 14, Dave, Fraser and Sarah are signed up for this and Dave has even started training. A curry night will be organised soon to support the fundraising efforts.
A new challenge is taking place north of the border when my gorgeous cousin Iain is taking things to another level with a sponsored waxathon. Let me just leave this to your imagination, it’s taking place on Nov 10 and more details will be coming soon.
A final word on upcoming challenges, I dreamt last night I was swimming the channel, when I woke up I was paddling hard and not moving fast. This told me (as did David) that NO, this would not be the next challenge. As Jen said to me today, I think you should stick to hiking and cycling…
As the hottest summer on record in the UK comes to a close please continue to protect your and your kiddies skin, don’t get burnt, wear your factor 50 in the UK and overseas and stay out the midday sun. Check your moles every month and if in doubt of any changes see your GP. Don’t join the statistics 7 people die of melanoma in the UK every day and once it spreads its very difficult to control. Sunbeds have been shown to contribute to rising cases of melanoma and we want them banned in the UK as they already are in Brazil and Australia. Melanoma UK is leading the charge so please help save lives by signing and share the petition below.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Shomelanoma, which will be a guest blog from my rockstar husband Dave.