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Me and My Gin…

We needed a hobby, something that we both enjoyed…I am not sure how we got to it but we decided on Gin Tasting…and I’m glad we did.

When I first met my husband we had both had come from different paths in life, I had been married for 22 years and didn’t really know a life without everything being shared, his was very much single minded…and maybe not so used to thinking of someone else. Neither was the right or wrong way to be, they were just different.

What we needed was a hobby, something that we both enjoyed. Something that was new for both of us. I can’t really remember how we got onto it but we decided on Gin Tasting….and I’m glad we did.

So what started with a bottle of Blue Sapphire Gin and thinking that Fever Tree was being adventurous with the tonic is now a collection of over 100 Gins, and as many different tonics to go with them, and a bar in our garden room.

Ok, so some may say that’s just an excuse to drink, but as a hobby it was all about the flavour, and mixers. When I was 18 years old Gin and Ginger Ale was my drink of choice, but at that time Gin was really an old ladies drink. Fast forward 30 years and there are as many different flavours of Gin as you can imagine.

We started going to Gin Festivals, joined the Craft Gin Club and so our little collection grew and grew. Whenever we were out it was about we were always on the look out for new flavours. I don’t want to be a gin connoisseur, I just want to enjoy what I drink! The first Gin Festival we went to was at Blackpool Tower, so in true form we danced on the famous Blackpool Dance floor holding our Copa Glasses ….well very quick little dance but I can confirm the floor was definitely bouncy.

20 mins from our home is the picturesque village of Haworth, home to the Bronte Sisters, and once a year venue for the Haworth Gin Festival. 10 mins away is Oakworth Railway station, part of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway where The original Railway Children was filmed, oh and also has a Gin Festival each year. As hobbies went this one was really fun!

For a wedding present my husband gave me engraved Gin Glasses, and when we went on honeymoon we flew from Gatwick Airport which at the time we visited was home to the worlds first airport gin distillery – The Nicolas Culpeper. Just a quick word of advice if you get chance to visit….allow plenty of time to sample the delicious food and gin cocktails.

So when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer the following year, I decided the Gin had to stop. Its not that there seems to be any hard and fast guidance on what was right or wrong, I just wanted to give my body the best chance to recover and also I was tired of the arguments that we used to have after one too many. I was desperate for answers and this was one thing that I could control. It did however take us a few months to cancel the monthly Craft Gin Club delivery, and even then we just reduced this to quarterly.

18 months later, and all the invasive treatments have finished and I am tentatively having the occasional Gin again. This time I’m very choosy about what I have – favourite tipple at the moment…

Pomegranate and Rose Gin, Floral Tonic, Hibiscus Flowers, dried Strawberries and Ice….Cheers!!
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Thank-you Cancer…

Mid-Life Cancer Crisis is my blog about my life after Breast Cancer diagnosis in October 2018. What I learnt very quickly is that everyone’s experience of this horrible disease is completely different, so this is just my way of trying to make some sense of everything that has happened.


So before I go back to the beginning I want to start by saying Thank-you to Cancer….

Thank-you for making me stop this mad life I was living and learn to appreciate to take one day at a time. After 45 years of living in Kent close to my family I had got divorced and moved to Yorkshire and my life had become taken over with long commutes and working and then suddenly I was at home with time to reflect on what is important to me.

Thank-you for making me really appreciate my children Olly and Millie and their lives that they are now living. Thank-you for the ability to look back at the memories of their childhood and how much I love being a mum. I was only 22 when I had Olly and at times life was hard, but we did the best we could and I’m proud of the adults they have become.

I am so grateful to my mum and dad and sisters for everything they have done for me over the years. The hardest part of this was seeing the pain in their eyes when we had to tell them about the diagnosis, and I felt so far away from them, but thanks to Facetime we were able to laugh and cry through this together.

Thank-you for making me stop and appreciate how lucky I am to have a 2nd chance at love in my life with Mark. 30 years after we first met, we now share a home, our lives and our dog Jessie. He is an amazing step-dad to Olly and Millie and have shown them what a loving family can be like. We had got caught up in a life of technology and you have shown me the importance of talking and just enjoying each others company. I do hope the next generation are better at balancing their lives and drawing a line under the 24hr intrusion technology can create in our lives.

Thank-you for giving me the time to spend with Jessie (see pic :)) while she was a puppy, and to share all the joy she has brought to my life. Whatever you have thrown at me I have had her there to make me get up and go for a walk, however slowly…I still did it!

Thank-you for making me appreciate each day, the sun on my back or the rain on my face…the magnificent views across the hills from our home, the sun rising on the horizon. Moving to Yorkshire really was the best decision that I ever made.

You made me appreciate simple things like doing the housework, and the home that we have. I don’t want a mansion and I’m really not fussed about material things, but when I had both my children together for Christmas I felt like I had won the lottery.


Thankyou for making me value the friendships that I have made during my life. I do feel so blessed to have a friend Katie that I have known since I was 2, and how can it be 40 years since I first met Mel, who has been a constant support during the last 18 months.

You will not win cancer, and this isn’t a battle. It looks like you will be a part of my life now, just hiding, waiting, and I’m OK with that. You have given me the time to appreciate my life and I promise that I will live it to the full.

Whatever you throw at me, I’m ready….Love Nikki x

Life can change in the blink of an eye…

Today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Wear it Pink….pink wigs, tutus, legging makeup, underwear…

I used to love everything pink.

But Cancer is NOT Pink and Fluffy.

Breast Cancer is NOT the ‘good’ one.

It strips you of all femininity...

Life changes forever for you and your loved ones.

Know your body, its the only one you have!

Each year in the UK alone, 300+ men are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

Check regularly, not just your breasts but your whole body if something doesn’t feel right ask your doctor, not google!

Appreciate everyday, because everyday is a blessing.

But for today….Pink DOES raise awareness

For today I wear pink and donate to charities….with gratitude for all the treatment and support I have received,

because – Cancer has not stopped because of Covid!

Please please do the same,

for whichever charity is close to YOUR heart.

Love Nikki x

Time to Think Positively…

When I started this blog I had a well-structured, handwritten timetable of how I wanted to post (alongside new highlighters to make it look pretty). My energy and enthusiasm for wanting to share my cancer experience drove me.

So why after just 12 posts do I find it so hard to find the words?

Today I read a blog by a colleague at work and a quote from it struck a cord with me so I had to ‘borrow’ it for mine! (Thanks Francesca)

YOU CAN BE SAD, ANGRY, UPSET, ANXIOUS, DRAINED, OVERWHELMED UNSURE OR AFRAID – AND STILL BE POSITIVE.

The thing is Covid brought back all those fears I had felt with Cancer, fears that I was still living with. I had let them consume my mind.

So from today…

It’s time to focus on Positivity, and accept that it can sit comfortably beside the fear and uncertainty.

A Well-being seminar that I joined today suggested writing down 3 positives from each day. I like that idea. OK, so it’s an excuse for more coloured pens to use in my journal, but I feel I am doing my bit keeping the stationary business going during these difficult times.

Its time to embrace my new passion for gardening. Coming from a market gardening family, at the age of 49 I have finally found the joy of watching little seedlings grow, although I think my husband is already starting to despair as more and more seed packets come through the post. I just want to grow plants to be able to give to cancer patients, to make them smile like I did when there were gifts left at the chemo ward.

…and finally its time to get back to this blog, and looking back at the next stage of my treatment. A time where I felt rock bottom, the mastectomy…

Cancer DOES define me…

One thing that has played on my mind a lot recently, is hearing people say they won’t let cancer define them. I really can see why they say this, but for me I think it has to. It came in and changed my life and made me sit back and think about what is important to me.

The other day I found myself very quickly telling a colleague all about my cancer and then wondered if it bored people. Then I thought back to the day where the nurse said to me ‘sorry, its cancer’ and I cried at that word. Because that word IS scary. Cancer does kill people, but it can also be treated. Some people will live with it as a long term health condition… but for our society it is still a word we fear, and that is what I would like to see change.

5 years ago my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes age 21. From a normal life where he had just finished his degree at Liverpool University he had to adapt to a lifelong condition where he has to inject himself multiple times a day. I remember crying when he got that diagnosis and wondering what difference it would make to his life. I wanted to drive the 400 miles to give him a hug and look after him. My husband at that time just said OK, it was something that he would have to get used to. Not beating about the bush – I couldn’t accept that – I wanted to protect Olly. Now when I had my cancer diagnosis I was faced with a similar kind of situation and I was the one telling everyone it was no big deal.

18 months after diagnosis I’ve completed all the major treatments, and am on Hormone Therapy. I can’y help but worry about every ache and pain. I don’t get a headache anymore – I convince myself it’s brain cancer. The mid-life’ hip pain – my mind tells me that it’s cancer that’s gone to my bones. Even the lump on my little finger which my doctor confidently says is arthritis – I was sure it must be finger cancer… I googled it, so it must be true.

But there are so many positives. I really appreciate every call with family, every text to and from my kids. The pictures of them and their partners take me back to how carefree life was when I was that age. I find myself recalling memories from the past to them…just in case anything happens to me. I’ve even decided that for if I am ever lucky enough to have grandchildren that I want to be Nanna Nikki, and keep dropping that in, so if I’m not around when that time comes they will know what I would like to be called.

Cancer treatment became my life, and now with daily tablets and monthly injections the reminder is still there.

But I am a different person this side of diagnosis, I live for the moment and try not to worry too much about the future. I am stopping to think what I want from life, and how I want to spend my time, instead of drifting along. I am learning each day what is important to me, and my only goal is to make the most of everyday. I hope I am a happier, less stressed person for it.

My first blog, was Thankyou Cancer and I do keep thinking back to this. I’ve lost friends and family to cancer and it does not deserve any praise. I’ve seen the devastation it can cause. Too many people are still dying of this terrible disease. The ‘Cancer Club’ was not one that anyone would choose to be part of, but its given me the chance to meet some amazing people and also to learn so much about myself.

So yes, cancer has changed my life, and in doing that it defines me – its up to me to make it for the better…