How Berry Diaries Came About

Monday, May 12

Today's prompt in the Blog Every Day in May challenge that I am doing is to explain how your blog's name came about.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know this, so my apologies if you feel like you have heard this story far too many times already...

In late December 2011 I was in South Africa on holiday and went for a check up at my dermatologist.  I had had 2 malignant melanoma's before (in 2004 and 2006) and so I used to go for a check up once a year when back in South Africa.  I have since learnt that I really should have been followed up every three months for at least 3 years and then 6 monthly for 2 years after these had been discovered and my surgeon and Oncologist in the UK are horrified that I wasn't.

Anyway, at this check up in the December, my dermatologist noticed that a mole on my right upper back had changed (she saw this on mole mapping where each mole is photographed at each session and compared to the previous time) and so she cut it out.  I have had loads of moles cut off of me in my life and to be honest, I didn't even give this one a second thought and the next day I flew back to London.

Four days later my Mum called me really early on what was a dark and freezing cold and rainy London morning and said that unfortunately the biopsy was back and the mole was another malignant melanoma.

My heart sank, and the first of many tears began to flow.

This meant that I needed a big chunk of tissue to re be removed from around where this cancerous mole had been to ensure it was all out and to have a biopsy of the adjacent lymph nodes to check that the cancer hadn't spread any further.  I also needed a PET CT scan, to check that there was no other cancer lurking anywhere else in my body.

What then followed was a week of absolute hell in trying to decide which Doctor I should go to, and wether I should have further surgery done in the UK or to fly back to South Africa for it.

The NHS in the UK is the most incredible institution, and if you are after life saving treatment there is seriously nowhere better that you could go.  But if you are looking for a mildly sympathetic GP and an efficient referral to a hospital and you were me that week, these were not to be found.  I sat sobbing in an overtired and completely emotionless locum NHS GP's consulting rooms and was then referred to the wrong department at St George's Hospital.

In between all of this, I discovered that the man in charge of setting up the private healthcare scheme that I was entitled to at the Private hospital where I worked had erroneously not processed my form and so I didn't have private cover that I was supposed to.

Just as I was about to book a flight back to South Africa where I did have private cover, my boss' tantrum to the man who made the mistake paid off - and suddenly my private cover was all set up.

By the time I walked into the lady who was to do my surgery's consulting rooms on Harley Street, I was an exhausted and emotional but grateful wreck.

I sat patiently waiting for her to advise me about not going into the sun as I have fair colouring, something which by melanoma number 3 I was well aware of, but constantly advised to do by well meaning Doctors. (As an aside, I have never bee a sun worshipper and nor have I ever been on a sun tanning bed.)

Instead, this middle aged Swedish lady asked me:

"Do you eat blueberries?"

I thought I had misheard but answered,

"Um yes,"

As I did back then, if one was put on my plate.

"You need to eat them every single day. They are expensive, but they will save your life."

Over the next week as she did my surgery she continued to advise me on healthy eating, letting go of toxic relationships and the importance of enjoying each day. Over the next few months, she also really pushed me to leave my job and start my own Physiotherapy practice. 

She inspired me to learn more about the importance of what I put into my body and what makes people happy and so I started writing a newsletter email for my friends.

My friend Nix works for Google and she then set up this blog for me.  It was her husband Simon that decided on the name after my blueberry inspiration from Dr A.

I still see my Doctor every three months fro a follow up,  and the last time that I saw her, she said:

"Just look at how far you have come since the first time that I met you."

Upon reflection, I really have come a very long way.

I am so much healthier and happier than I used to be.

And I really think that a lot of it is down to her!
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