Sunday, 19 February 2017

The slow, sloooow march of science

Today's blog from our Founder Robin Daly examines very closely the role of the 'scientist' in medical outcomes



Science is defined as ‘systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation’. Sounds straightforward enough, but in the hands of humans with complex and poorly perceived motivations it can become translated into a dystopian but powerful worldview that makes little sense, but that has the power to harm very many people.

Ideally a scientist has an endlessly enquiring mind and is always convinced of how little he knows and how much more there is to be found out. In practice, however, the stance of science is all too often 


  • they used to think they knew 
  • but they were wrong 
  • now we know
This is a perpetual state of arrogance and ignorance, driven by a deep unacknowledged fear of the unknown and the uncertainties of life. While this is a fear shared by most humans, often science is used as a particularly effective shield to provide the illusion of security. In medicine, for example, this can manifest as the brilliant surgeon, supremely confident in his or her abilities and knowledge, who sweeps around the ward devastating one vulnerable patient after another, due to his or her utter disconnectedness from the realities of being human.

And as for ‘what’ is known, this tends to be what was taught to them at an early age, and that they will often cling to for dear life, against all the odds, often for a lifetime. Continuous Professional Development is an attempt to counter this destructive inertia, and I’m sure it has helped somewhat, but it is a very far cry from being driven to learn by burning intellectual curiosity. There’s a lot of truth in the commonly quoted observation that the real controlling factor over the rate of change in medicine is the working lifespan of doctors - you have to wait for one lot to die for any substantial new scientific view to be embraced.

Einstein - by anyone’s standards a ‘proper’ scientist - described this tragic state of affairs: “In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside.”1

More sinister than these very ‘human’ tendencies towards security, ambition, wealth and power are the forces that use them to their advantage. Here I am referring to business. Corporations have a very different raison d’être to medicine. They are there, first and foremost, to make money, not to save lives and not to make people healthy. If you manufacture patented pharmaceutical drugs, then you want the medical world to stay right on message with a credo that goes something like:

o   a drug is the answer to most health issues
o   drugs are safe and effective
o   any natural, unpatentable product is dangerous quackery
o   it is enormously expensive to make drugs so they have to cost an awful lot
o   drugs that are out of patent are of no interest or use - newer is always better
o   there are no simple, cheap solutions

and so on. Corporations have a very clear and well-documented understanding of the lack of true scientists in medicine (those rare beings who are more interested in what’s true than in their own comfort or advantage) and they use it mercilessly to maximise sales. Most doctors still believe that pharmaceuticals have little or no influence on prescribing habits, but science shows otherwise. Professor Peter Gotzsche2 in his shocking exposé of the pharmaceutical industry - Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare - makes clear the morally bankrupt methods and deadly consequences that characterise the business of medicine. Pharmaceutical corporations are using any and every method they believe they can get away with to keep medics ‘on message’, to keep them, at the very least, buying, and preferably endorsing and promoting their products. Using the tried and tested twin prongs of fear and desire, they incentivise medical staff looking for power, wealth, recognition and status and encourage fear of exclusion, ridicule, and loss of status for the sin of non-conformity. This is hardly the ideal climate for genuine scientific progress. But then business cares little for progress, only for profit.

To give just one small personal experience of the consequences of this situation: You would reasonably hope that the leading surgeon at a top London hospital would have achieved that status through his skills, his scientific rigour and his consequential ‘cutting edge’ knowledge. Following the amputation of my daughter’s leg due to a recurrence of cancer, he had her on ‘the latest’ in pain management for such situations - Oxycontin. My daughter then experienced marked symptoms, between doses and during the period when the dose was being reduced. We had no idea if these were symptoms of cancer or of treatment. So we asked the ‘expert’, who breezily responded that it couldn’t be the medication as, despite being an opiate, it didn’t have any side effects or withdrawal symptoms. 

A little while later, out of desperation to help our daughter, we consulted the internet. All you needed to do was to pop the word ‘Oxycontin’ into Google and ‘boom’ - there it was: reams of posts and articles from people about the exact, unacknowledged side-effects my daughter was suffering.

How could a top surgeon have got it so wrong? How could someone clearly so intelligent act in such a blind and stupid way? Well it all came out in the news eventually: the pharmaceutical sales reps had been instructed to simply tell the medics that it had no side effects. That’s literally all it took! No science required. The profession was so thoroughly ‘on message’ that scientific scrutiny and the interests of patients had long ago been dispensed with. This is a small example of the sort of dystopian ‘science’ I referred to at the outset.

Of course it has always been thus. What is fairly new is our ability, as the public, to check up on what is going on, via the internet. Doctors have up to now enjoyed unjustified levels of public trust, but fortunately the days of carte blanch acceptance of their ‘expertise’ is waning and their real allegiances are increasingly exposed. If doctors don’t start changing their ways very soon, experiences such the one I described above, or bogus dietary advice based upon zero training or knowledge’ will have them languishing at the bottom end of the ‘trust tables’ along with bankers and politicians. Blandly pronouncing that there is ‘no evidence’ for anything that they don’t understand or that isn’t a drug, as a way to justify ridiculing and dismissing it makes them look increasingly stupid to a public often better informed about the evidence than they are.

Tragically the charity sector all too often lines up dutifully behind business interests as well. Simplistic health messages and ‘health myths’ that are winners for the food and pharmaceutical industries become fixed charity dogma, propelled forward by the imperatives of industry’s bottom line, long after any shred of science that once supported the initiative has evaporated. And then we have to endure the painful process of damage limitation: an ‘authoritative’ organisation that is supposed to have the public interest at its heart - but that has allowed itself to become ridiculous by dogmatically adhering to superceded ‘scientific truths’ - desperately scrabbling around for ingenious ways to refresh their dogma without losing too much face. It’s embarrassing, and the health cost paid by the public for this kind of ‘science’ is appalling. Tragically, you see evidence of this  malaise in many of the major charities, and you only need to look to their sources of funding and at which industries they habitually recruit their top executives from, to understand why.


Successive governments - also prey to the allure of almost limitless money and power exuding from industry, not to mention the threats to take their riches elsewhere if they suffer too much scrutiny or regulation - have been cripplingly slow to realise that to entrust the progress of healthcare to business is a fool’s game, since business has no intention to make us well. It profits from our disease, and if halting the progress of science is what it takes to make more money, that’s what will be happening. We urgently need a UK ‘Bernie Sanders’  to start telling it like it is, and to finally dispel the one massive and self-evident healthcare myth - that corporations care about our health and well-being. They never have, and asking them to is a clear case of putting the fox in charge of the hens.


1 Address at Physical Society, Berlin (1918), for Max Planck’s 60th birthday
2  ISBN-10: 1846198844  ISBN-13: 978-1846198847



Friday, 10 February 2017

A Mother's story by Virna Baillie

Part Two – Jordan’s Journey - Entering the tunnel of darkness


It lands on your door stop like a meteorite - here it is a letter from the cancer centre for my 18 year old son. At first the awkwardness, then the pain and then summoning up the strength to face this journey is beyond immense and that's for just me.
What must it really be like for those who tread this splintered path?  The truth is until we do, we will never know because those who do are the most courageous, humble and caring people and they are the ones who actually end up carrying you.

I ashamedly could not go to the first appointment with Jordan to the cancer centre. I stayed at home on Valium, petrified, in tears, with a fear that if I should go, I would break down like some wreck while my child got battered by the news he was to receive.

That day he had a series of questions and tests then a pat on the back and a cancer sentence given to him.   No formal diagnoses just we know you have cancer just not sure which type yet.

I remember Jordan coming home shutting himself into a dark bedroom and going to bed.  I stood outside his door feeling sick and not even knowing what to say or how to give him hope - any hope.

Nothing from this moment on made sense. Bombarded with information, but nothing to offer him but the standard cancer treatment.  No choice, no real explanations just information and leaflets which may as well have been in Japanese.  Your brain can simply not take in any information - your child has cancer. How on earth do you function? Well let me tell you - YOU DON'T.  You forget how good it feels to be alive, you put one foot in front of the other but it's not you walking.

Jordan’s now admitted to hospital as his pain in no longer controllable at home.  A very pleasant member of the pain team comes to visit Jordan but just dosed him up on morphine.  Ahh the worlds a shiny, happy place. Chemo starts in a couple of days.  My baby boy gets hooked up to his poison - he instantly goes yellow, transparent and ill. His taste changes, he feels sick. His eyes can't bear light so much so he has to wear glasses. His bones and muscles ache and sleep becomes his only escape. How can this be happening - not my boy - none of this makes sense and why should it.  The chemo flows through his veins, this poison that is so strong the nurses are protected from head to toe. If it touched your skin it would burn a hole so imagine what it does to your insides.

Like a fire destroying everything in its path apart from the cancer. Jordan is desperately ill after his first round of chemo. Absolutely nothing helps subside his sickness, he in such a bad way. After still feeling like this after 5 days they decide that this is not a normal sickness but possibly a blockage. The tumour had bled, haemorrhaged causing the tumour to block his bowel. Jordan now needed life-saving surgery.

So here's the best bit. The oncologist tells me he has a great chance of not making the operation and he now has very few white blood cells otherwise known as neutropenic and that he would have no defences to fight an infection.  In other words the surgeon is telling me without the operation the obstruction will kill him.

Jordan wanted the operation so we were booked in with Dr Shanker who is a sarcoma specialist and apparently eats sarcomas for breakfast.   At last, a glimpse of some hope in this crazy world we were all living in.

Four hours of walking up and down Tottenham Court Road in a daze with a girlfriend of mine and then I am called by one of the consultants. Jordan was in recovery, the tumour had been removed and there was no spread of the disease to other organs and as far as the human eye could see no more cancer.

We had reached the shore. My amazing, lovely boy was on the road to recovery to be a fit healthy 18 year old and if anyone can beat this Jordan could. 

My beautiful son 
A fit young man








Monday, 6 February 2017

Ginger & Blueberry Cookies from Graeme Tomlinson the fitness chef





Hi, I’m Graeme Tomlinson.

In my time as a 
fitness trainer & nutritionist, I’ve seen and heard some crazy things regarding weight

loss. Somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten about health. When it comes to making change, people’s thinking and resulting actions have become totally messed up. I scratch my head at how the fitness industry is slowly but surely screwing up simple science which always has and always will get results and replacing it with crazy methods that only make you suffer and ultimately leave you with negative results. It doesn’t make sense.
Food and health are my two main passions, so I decided to combine my knowledge of the two and create some easy to follow recipe books for those of you interested in making real change and achieving real results. When I’m not training my clients in the gym, I’m always thinking up new recipes and usually posting them on Instagram!

RECIPE: GINGER & BLUEBERRY COOKIES


A study by The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre stated that ginger can cause extraordinary effects with prostate cancer. The findings suggest that regularly consuming ginger as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle might help prevent cancer from even taking root in the first place. It certainly won’t hurt — the root is also renowned for its ability to treat inflammation and nausea and is an essential part of an overall holistic living strategy. Blueberries are one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants, constantly eliminating the free radicals in your body that can lead to formation of some cancers. The positive results of multiple studies have found that regular consumption of blueberries lowers your risk of cancers of the breast, colon, bladder, lung, esophagus, skin, and small intestine.


Makes 6 cookies

Ingredients:

150g ground almonds

2 tbsp ground ginger
1tsp baking soda
3 tbsp of pure maple syrup
Handful of blueberries
Zest of a lemon
STEP 1:
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until dough is formed.
STEP 2:
Place baking paper on a baking tray. Break up the dough into six evenly sized balls and press ball down on baking tray into cookie circles.
STEP 3:
Bake in the oven on a medium/high heat for 10-15 mins and allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before tucking in!
Check out more of my recipes at https://fitnesschef.uk

Friday, 20 January 2017

Mind Choice Blog No6. The chronic illness roller coaster - depression

Mind Choice Blog No6

The chronic illness roller coaster - depression

It wasn’t cancer this time but the ride is not dissimilar.  When I was diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago I initially had no physical symptoms other than losing my voice (cancer of the larynx) and after the initial shock, I felt a tremendous energy and felt more alive than I had done for years.  Although saying that, I could still be floored at times thinking of my little son and whether I would live to see him grow up.   With this illness, an autoimmune condition causing vasculitis and nerve damage, I was initially so physically ill it was more a matter of just getting through each day.  But that’s just the beginning of any chronic illness then come the stages of loss identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross of denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.  Not really experienced as stages but emotions that come and go in no particular order and like a roller coaster gradually lose strength and impact.





Sadness, anger, fear, anxiety – often our habitual reaction to these emotions is resistance, we push them away which drives our thinking and behavior. We may try to distract ourselves by getting busy or we worry and ruminate over things.  For example, angry thoughts about why the doctor didn’t diagnose us earlier or fear and uncertainty about illness and the future.  We may find ourselves searching for answers on the internet or getting caught up in frightening thoughts about the future rather than being with what’s actually present.   But, these normal, human habitual tactics of avoidance or elaboration fuel the feelings and emotions, so it becomes a vicious cycle as seen below.  Tension is part of the body’s fight-flight response to stress and in this state of readiness to run or fight, there is no energy for healing.



The Cycle of Suffering


What we learn in mindfulness is that as soon as we notice this happening, whether that is immediately or after some time, is to drop into the body and notice what we are actually experiencing.  We may become aware of tension, holding and resistance and can simply bring awareness to this and breath with it, allowing it to soften on the outbreath, maybe even saying the words “softening, opening’ to ourselves or hold it gently in awareness.  We may become aware of sensations in the throat, chest or belly and experience feelings of sadness or fear and hold this too in awareness, a compassionate, friendly awareness that allows what is already there to be experienced.  Sometimes, we can be surprised at what is really beneath it all and at how quickly it passes, if we allow it to be fully experienced rather than pushed away.

For example, not so long ago I found myself feeling anger towards my GP, this is what I wrote in my journal:-

“Noticing angry thoughts towards my GP. Why didn't you listen over the last few years when I complained about xxx and xxxx? Noticing these angry thoughts, I realise I don't want to carry anger so I drop into my body and there is a big well of sadness.  I am finding it difficult today, the pain, the confusion with medication and reordering, the confusion over my diagnosis and now some problem with my blood test results necessitating an emergency call with the doctor. I feel sad and alone.”
How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing-
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things teach us:
to fall,
patiently trusting our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

-Rainer Maria Rilke
from the Book of Hours 11, 16 translated by Anita Burrows and Joanna May


 However painful these feelings maybe I can feel the physical sensations in my body, I am alive, whereas with depression it feels more akin to flat lining, shut off from everything, my body and life itself.  I find it a challenging state to be in.  I don’t remember depression when I was living with a diagnosis of cancer but the months before Christmas I was stuck in depression or more of a ‘fed-up’ state and it felt like getting through a murky, horrid, unending, lifeless stuckness.  I was dragging myself around, getting through the day and then just wanting to blank out in front of the TV.  Perhaps this state was an avoidance of underlying painful feelings.  I tried to open to it, to let it be, to not take it personally but it was difficult and I did begin to catch myself in “I am depressed, I am boring, I am bored with my life, why do I feel like this’?  I did my best to notice these thoughts and just let them pass rather than getting caught on the old hooks.  I even had little reminders from teachers I revere on post it notes to remind me, like this one from Pema Chodron:-

“Learning how to observe our experience in a friendly way rather than identifying with it, resisting it or rejecting it”

I was reducing the steroids and the pain killers that I am on and my mood state may have been due to this.  My lovely acupuncturist said “I am giving you heart for what you are going through, be kind to yourself”.  It is something we do need reminding of, okay this is a difficult time but we can bring kindness to ourselves, it’s alright for a while to curl up in front of the fire or TV and remember that this too will pass.  It has been a difficult year, I have also been grieving the loss of my beloved dachshund, Saxon, who was like a first child to me.  Here we are getting prepared for a sponsored walk for Yes to Life back in January 2008.





I was very fortunate to go on a week’s silent retreat in early December which was exactly what I needed as it turned out.  It was with teachers I love and admire, Vidyamala Birch who set up Breathworks and Colette Power.  The first morning Colette led a meditation bringing loving kindness towards the difficult.  It was something like – we all suffer, we avoid, avoid, avoid and then end up in overwhelm.  Can we be present with the difficult and the painful like when we are with a friend who is suffering.  We know what to do, to listen, to be there, to try to understand and empathize to know what we might offer for comfort – touch hand on the heart or belly where we feel emotions, words ‘Clare its okay, you’re alright. After this 30 minute practice we then went into the main temple for a long silent sit.  As soon as we started in silence, sadness flowed out of and through me and I felt immense compassion and gratitude toward the teachers I have been guided by – Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Vidyamala. 

So, maybe I had been supressing, pushing away and ignoring painful feelings which had led to a sense of dullness, in my practice and my life, because I was shutting off part of my experience.  I needed the guidance of these teachers to bring a delicate, receptive and focused awareness to my experience and to “imbue the breath with tenderness”.  Many of us over-effort to gain insight or have a better experience and here I was learning about soft effort.  I noticed that what arose in my meditation practice, hardly seemed to want to be seen, it comes, I focus my attention on it and it disappears just as quickly.  It’s like a scared child coming into a room, if you pay attention to it, it runs out but if you hold a kind, gentle space it may feel safe to enter.  Again the words of Pema Chodron ring in my head – “let go of the idea of fruition”.  Reflecting back, maybe my formal practice during this time had been focusing on the pain and tension in my chest and wanting to soften and open to the feeling but in an over-effortful way, wanting to release feelings, wanting to change my experience rather than accepting it as it was. 

Our sorrows and wounds are only healed when we touch them with compassion
–the Buddha

Towards the end of the retreat, we practised loving kindness meditations when you bring to mind a friend, remembering times together and times you have supported each other and all the struggles or anxieties they may have and send them good wishes.  Then come back to yourself and send the same good wishes, compassionate feelings toward yourself.  Then broadening out to include people around you, in your home and community and out beyond into the country and the world.  This can be a very powerful practice and certainly my experience was just that – I felt the pain and suffering of the refugees and people in prison and hospitals.  What I found interesting was that I then began experiencing joy and aliveness.  Maybe I had really shut myself off in my own small world of “my suffering” – my story of feeling low and feeling shame and coming off steroids etc etc.    The isolating container of the “story of me”.  The practice opened me back out to feel the joy of being alive and connection with others.

The mind is its own place, and of itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
-          Milton, Paradise Lost

So here’s what I need to remember and maybe these are good tips for life and for the start of 2017.   We are going to travel the rollercoaster but by being aware of the experience we can ride it rather than be thrown about by it.

1.      Compassion, compassion, compassion – When you notice it is a difficult moment, bring your attention into the body – are you aware of any tension in your shoulders or back, how’s your breathing?  This is a moment of suffering, what’s in your experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations) being curious as to what’s here, maybe placing a hand on your heart or where you are feeling pain or tension and acknowledging whatever is there and holding it in loving awareness.

2.      Connection – remembering that everyone struggles and suffers in their lives and that there are likely to be many people suffering in the same way.   You are not alone.  Keep yourself open to feeling connected maybe even by ensuring that you see your friends and family rather than cocooning yourself.


3.      Cultivation of good experiences - it can be really beneficial to us, in practice and daily life, to take in the good and to build inner resources so that we can cope when life is difficult.  So when we notice a pleasant or enjoyable moment, to really savour it and allow it time to be felt and to settle into the body whether it’s feeling relaxed, feeling cared about, feeling grateful or any other positive experience. 

The Laughing Heart (Charles Bukowski)

Your life is your life,don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light butit beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
Know them.take them.
You can’t beat death butyou can beat death in life, sometimes.
And the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvellous the gods wait to delightin you.





By Clare McLusky

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Courgette fritters

At our last Outsmart Cancer workshop, these courgette fritters were a hot favourite, and they are totally delicious and both gluten dairy free.

Ingredients (to make 4 fritters):                                   

1 large courgette
½ onion, peeled
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
40g gram flour( for gluten free) or plain flour
1/2 tsp dried coriander
black pepper
olive oil


Method
1. Grate the courgette and onion using a food processor or mandolin; put it in a bowl. Press the garlic into the mixture. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and leave for at least 15 mins to extract the liquid.
2. Drain using a fine sieve to remove as much liquid as possible.
3. Return the veg to a dry bowl and add the flour, coriander and black pepper.
4. Mix well. Form into balls and flatter into patties
5. Heat oil and fry the fritters gently for 5 minutes on each side.
6. Serve with a large side salad for a delicious lunch for two, or a yoghurt dip with grated cucumber as a starter.



Jenny Phillips is a qualified nutritionist and author of Eat to Outsmart Cancer.
Find out more at www.InspiredNutrition.co.uk

Monday, 2 January 2017

Keeping me sane – the role of Art as a coping mechanism through cancer by Penny Golledge






Visionary Artists inspire us all to look beyond the veil of cultural and linguistic limitations.  Human consciousness is evolving; the artificial boundaries between art and science are rapidly being erased.  Using the imagination and tapping into mystical, magical themes, the Visionary Artist transcends this physical world, opening a doorway into other realms we all recognise.

My latest mystical, more esoteric artworks are a reflection of the Spiritual Awakening I had whilst on my journey through Cancer. My eyes were opened to the more esoteric and sacred meaning of art and how it has been used since time immemorial to illustrate this phenomenon.

I realised art awakens the soul and illuminates the spiritual path of each person by providing access to the highest mystic truths. It provides a bridge between the material, creativity and spirituality.

Art helps us recognise and integrate ALL wisdom paths that expand consciousness and provide personal contact with the Divine.  When I paint my visionary artwork, I often find I have channelled the images from somewhere else! The Spiritual journey isn’t ‘owned’ by any one religious faction or cult - it is an Al-chemical process experienced by the Soul of every individual.

Carl Gustav Jung said:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”


Alchemy of the Soul can only be learned through experience, and self- examination so ‘Go within; and discover who you are, why your feel the way you do, and what actions you intend to take to alter your life’s path. Your EMOTIONS ARE the key to enlightenment.

I live in the beautiful New Forest, nestled in the South of England, so I am very close to the coast, but also a stone’s throw away from the forest where ponies roam free. I started painting at a very young age.  I would walk along the beach, pick up stones then take them home and make them into characters with paint. My friends all liked them and soon I was making them as little gifts. I would sit for hours and paint anything and everything. No surprise my favourite subject at school was Art, and I just continued on into adult life, painting just for pleasure. I was asked by friends and family to paint their pets, and in my first job, I was always the one making banners for the baby showers, or farewell messages to hang above the desks of colleagues at work on special occasions. Commissions for Pet Portraits increased, I began to paint Wild Animals but often dipped my toe into the world of Fantasy.

How life changed when my daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia

I married in 1984, and had my first child, a little girl in 1985. My second child was born in 1987, a little boy, but in 1989 life changed when my daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia at the tender age of 4.


For two years, she was in and out of hospital receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy and our priorities changed. In 1991, the doctors performed a lumbar puncture to find out if the cancer had gone, but sadly my daughter (aged 6 now) had relapsed and the cancer had spread to her brain and spine, so her chances of survival were very much reduced.

We were told, the only hope was for her to have a Bone Marrow Transplant, so we were all tested to see if any of us matched.  Miraculously, my little son (her brother) who was 4 was a perfect match, and the doctors prepared them both for the transplant in 1992.    My amazing son saved my daughter’s life and words cannot convey the gratitude and love I feel for them both.


After a traumatic 8 months in isolation, my beautiful daughter eventually began to show signs of recovery despite many setbacks. I am pleased to say she did survive and went onto live a full and happy life well into her early 20’s. She went abroad on two conservation projects and even sky dived for charity putting all her childhood trauma behind her. She is one of the longest surviving Bone Marrow Transplant children in the U.K and life returned to ‘normal’ for a while.

Unfortunately, all the stress took its toll on my health and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2010.  After 2 cycles of chemotherapy and surgery plus invaluable advice from amazing people in holistic and alternative medicine, I am still here to tell the tale. 

Sadly, the chemotherapy and radiotherapy my daughter received as a child left its legacy.  On December 6th 2011, she collapsed from a sudden and devastating stroke which has left her disabled. Despite all the odds, she managed to survive again and today she is walking and talking. Stroke is a known late effect of cancer treatment, something few people like to acknowledge or talk about.

If that wasn’t enough, in 2013, my husband was diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer. Unfortunately he didn’t survive. He died on 6th December 2013, two years to the day that our daughter had her stroke.


Life has been exceptionally difficult at times, but I can honestly say, Art and painting has kept me sane.  

In the 90’s, as my daughter was recovering from her bone marrow transplant, I was asked to create 3 CD covers for the hard rock/blues guitarist, Bernie Marsden his band The Snakes.  He was one of the original core members in the band Whitesnake and wrote the hit song “Here I Go Again” and co-wrote “Fool For Your Loving” along with many others.  Hampshire Brewery commissioned me to design beer bottle labels, winning them the Camra Award for that year and in 2002, I won the overall first prize for ‘Paint a Wildlife Subject’ at the Business Design Centre, London.

I then joined Marwell International Art Society in Hampshire and the Society for the Art of Imagination, exhibiting at a number of prestigious galleries around the world including: the Mall Gallery in London, H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyere, Switzerland, Renaze in France and recently in October 2015, the Ecomusée du Fier Monde in Montreal, Canada.   I continue to exhibit in local galleries in and around Hampshire and Dorset UK when I can.