Hey everybody, I’m Amelia. I’m 31, born in Essex but have lived in loads of different places, Kent, Lowestoft, North Wales, Australia and the Middle East. Firstly, can I say how hard it is going to be to fit every single glorious thing I wanna say in this blog. This post is about Luke and I, fighting cancer with a huge bucket of positivity. But I can’t start it without giving you a little backstory first so here goes…. ‘Showing off. Commence.’
My Dubai. My home. My happy place.
I packed up shop after spending a year in Australia and decided to embark on what was about to be the most magical seven years of my life so far - drunk and almost catching a connecting flight to Bangkok, I finally landed safe and sound in Dubai. I didn’t even know Dubai existed really, I had two old university friends that lived there, but that’s it.
Over the years I built myself a life that I could never have dreamed of; a boyfriend that I couldn’t love any more than I do, a huge group of the best of friends, a social life that would give Paris Hilton a run for her money, a beautiful villa to live in, I was a member of the most supportive gym community, owned a decent little car and had a job I loved. I had it made. Honestly. Despite the standard life obstacles, I felt I was LIVING MY BEST LIFE.
Weekends in Dubai were breakfast dates, sunbathing, beach clubs, hiking, rock climbing, partying, BBQ’s…you name it. Dubai has it. I didn’t even have to make time to do your grocery shopping - there was an app for that. Oh, and the traveling!!!! Shark diving in South Africa, Yoga in India, Hiking in Malaysia, Wine tasting in Georgia, Snowboarding in New Zealand, Partying in Lebanon, sailing the East coast of Australia and so on.
I met Luke. After a few cheeky dates and WhatsApp conversations, I knew I was going to love this well-dressed young Irish man for the rest of my life. He was a breath of fresh air. He was funny, hot, smart, charming, cheeky and I think I fell in love with him almost instantly. Luckily, he felt the same. Things could have got slightly messy if not. STALKER ALERT! HA! He quickly became my right-hand man and I plucked up the courage to introduce him to my friendship group. He moved in and we started building our lives together - making all sorts of life plans, dinner plans, fitness ‘couple goal’ plans, travel plans, puppy purchasing plans. Luke became my rock. And boy would I need a rock for the next few months.
The next 6 months or so
The gym visits became less, I couldn’t stomach the breakfast dates and instead of booking flights I was spending my hard-earned cash on hospital visit after hospital visit….
I was diagnosed whilst living in the Middle East with a tumour on my ovary, after pushing for a laparoscopy because it hurt when I peed. I got the phone call whilst holidaying and visiting my now husband’s family for the first time in Donegal, back in December 2018. I had a phone call from the surgeon. He told me the tumour was secondary and I needed a CT scan. I decided to go back to my sisters in North Wales and leave my life in the Middle East behind, it was super hard. Wales was never our plan, but we had more important things to worry about.
We launched our own business, FVCK CANCER - something we are hugely passionate about. Head lovely and bald, I never wanted to hide it under the head scarves and hats that scream ‘chemotherapy’. I wanted funky, quirky, bright bandanas. When I wear the head wear, people never even guess I have cancer. Rockin’ out my baldness, hoop earrings and a lipstick-people comment on my lovely head, and never even realise.
Stomach cancer. Spread everywhere. I was told I wouldn’t see three months. That was 17 months ago… how wrong were they?!
I went to the doctors in North Wales, booked all my appointments and got diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer (so rare for someone my age). It was everywhere. Stomach, ommentum, in the peritoneal and a big fat Krukenberg tumour on my ovaries and I was also full of fluid. WOW! I was given a few months to live. What a diagnosis having just turned 30. However, determined and with an army by my side I’m still here and fighting the good fight, 18 months later, awaiting laparoscopy surgery to see if we can do full surgery of stomach removal.
Here are some of the things I have done since being told I wouldn’t see three months:
- I got married
- I moved countries
- I got a dog
- I watched my niece come into the world
- I got told I’d be dead by now
- I lived
- I gained an incredible new ‘cancer support’ family
- I learnt a lot about who truly cares about me
- I travelled to new countries
- I watched friends marry, become parents, fall in love
- I worked on the business
- I had lots of chemo
- I had a handful of keyhole surgeries and scans and I’m surprised I’m still standing with the amount of blood I’ve had taken
- I went bald
- I realised the strength of the people around me
- I had constant confirmation that I really do have the best of friends at home and all over the world
- I appeared on radio, in magazines and newspaper articles
- I went vegan
- I flew business class for the first time
- I turned back into a meat eater (those chicken nugs and sausage sandwiches are so damn good)
- I grew more and more in love with my husband every day. The fact I get to keep him forever makes me want to self-combust.
- I cried a fair bit too but hey, who doesn’t need a good snot fest now and again.
Wow how time flies when you’re havinggg......in lockdown. How has lockdown been treating you? As a vulnerable adult, I’ve been being very careful and spending all my time bleaching the shopping before I put it in the cupboards. Haha! On a serious note, I’ve lost count how many weeks we’ve been isolating, but my husband and I are coping ok. We count ourselves lucky to be in the position we are in to be honest. Amongst other things we’ve been quizzing until our brains are about to explode, cooking flat out and becoming pros at Call of Duty. Very exciting stuff.
I can’t say I’ve accomplished the same so far in 2020 as Covid-19 got in the way but, as soon as it’s over, we have many plans for 2020 to give 2019 a run for its money.
I have learnt through this journey that you need a community. And boy did my community get behind me, I even had football and rugby teams playing for me wearing my name on their shirts at one point. My husband is the greatest man on the planet, and he is there every step of the way. He really is my better half. I’ve learnt that it’s people, it’s all about people, people that you surround yourself with. Mine are the best people out there for sure. I also learnt that life is so so precious and everyday can be a new and exciting one. You shouldn’t get stressed about what ‘things’ you can buy - you can’t take them with you, also do not compare yourself to how far others are in their ‘life’ journey. We all achieve different things at different times. Be patient.
Cancer isn’t always inspirational, it’s not all what you see on Instagram. It’s shit. But its people - us, nurses, doctors, friends, family, charity organisations, support networks and so on that make it bearable - that make it better. People who fight with and for you, support you, sympathise and empathise with you. People who show you that you’ve got this shit in the bag. Cancer or no cancer, surround yourself with people who lift you up. It’s so bloody important.
I’m on my second treatment plan. Keep up to date with me on Instagram: @mrs_skinnader and check out @fvckcancerfashion too.
Amelia Skinnader :)