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'Between us we've got this!' - George's story.

1st Aug 2017

Sometimes it's all too easy to get swept up in the goings on of your own life that you forget that there's a world going on around you ... some things in the world just seem to pass you by... now perhaps you could say I have had more reason than most in recent months, but regardless, during that time I have been blissfully ignorant of one absolutely heartbreaking but wonderful story (that should be known by the whole world!) that I'd like to share with you now...

It was only yesterday when I was making a feeble attempt to wade through some of the wonderful EJTandemonium Facebook messages that Emmy and I have been sent over the last few months when I came across a message from a woman called Vicki. She had taken the time, like so many others, to write a very thoughtful, caring and kind message to me following Emmy's passing. Playing down the severity of her own family's plight she merely added a link to the bottom her message which read 'George and the giant pledge'.

An hour later and having read and looked through her family's incredible story I was feeling truly humbled.

In January of this year her little 4 year old boy George was diagnosed with a very rare tumour (that they've nicknamed Tony!) called a primitive neuro ectodermal tumour which sits just next to his spine. Since then he has been undergoing treatment and they have been raising money for the hospital where he is being treated - guess where? That's right - the children's unit of The wonderful Royal Marsden Hospital! And they've named the fundraising page 'George and the giant pledge'.
As a collective group with fundraising teams from all over raising and contributing money toward their 'giant pledge' target they are rapidly progressing towards raising nearly half a million pounds for the Royal Marsden Hospital children's unit. Absolutely incredible!!!

Poor little George has really been through the mill. You only have to read a fraction of the blog posts (that his family have put up) to see what this little lad has had to deal with. Tiredness, weakness, losing his hair, big invasive lines, NG tubes, chemotherapy, unwanted reactions and side effects, endless drugs, treatments and hospital stays. He underwent surgery in May (which I believe was a relative success) and he has now flown to the US (with the Virgin Atlantic family treating the whole Woodall family no less - legends!!) To undergo further proton therapy. His parents Vicky and Woody and his brother Alex, like many poor souls who have to deal with the big C, have had their worlds turned upside down. But instead of choosing to hide or mope about, they are standing up, and doing everything they can to smile, remain positive, raise money and reach out to raise awareness for other little people like George ...much like my beautiful Emmy did.

From a personal point of view I think these guys are just wonderful. Emmy would have loved them too. I know she would have wanted them to have our books so it goes without saying that I'll send them a bunch from us ASAP so that when they get home from the States they have a new story to read at bedtime/in hospital.
But also, as a small gesture I wanted to do a little something for them to cheer them up and so, with their permission (thank you Vicki), I am going to change the names of two of the characters (two BMXs) in the 3rd Tara and Tyrone book to George and Alex (George's brother!) - Good luck trying to rhyme either of those names Jake!!! ???? (notes on a postcard please!! Haha!)... I just hope the little lads like it!

Emmy just loved kids and would have loved to have met the little handsome lad George. I know Emmy would have loved to have done something for him (something much more thoughtful than I can think of I'm sure!) but I think she would have liked me to do this little thing too.

George's family use the phrase 'between us we've got this' which I love because it feels inclusive. And I have to believe it's true. Emmy believed in helping others, in providing funds to help others like her or in a similar position and she always believed that we would find a way to overcome what ever hurdle was put in front of her. She had an unwavering belief in the system, that they would (and will) find a way and that cures can and will be found.

Emmy was one in a million. She was sweet, kind and more thoughtful than anyone I've ever met. She made time for everyone and made everyone feel important. A gift I've seldom seen (that's absolutely genuine) in anyone. I've been lucky to work with some incredible doctors and I am able to count marines, trauma surgeons and midwives (who work out in the difficult war torn areas in Africa) among my closest friends, but Emmy was the bravest of them all. In the face of complete adversity she still managed to smile, love and be kind. I'll never be prouder of anyone or anything than I am of how she lived over the last 18 months and I hope her legacy will live forever. As I know little George's will too... but let's get him better first and support them in their fundraising efforts.

To donate - https://giantpledge.com/donate
To read about them - www.facebook.com/georgeandthegiantpledge

Please take a look if you have the chance and help support them reach their target which now stands at a phenomenal £1000000!!

Thank you so much.
Love you all xxx
Jake and Mols xxx

Pedro now on Amazon!

31st Jul 2017

Hello everyone!!!

Hope those Monday blues aren't getting you down too much today! Perhaps I might have some news that will lift your mood!
Pedro the Pump is finally available on Amazon!!

(Sorry for the delay - there was a slight technical issue with registering it with the British library and Nielsen's databases).
So please spread the word and keep those orders coming in!

Biggest love from Me and Mols as always.
Xx

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0995758700/ref=mp_s_a_1_5…

Fundraising update

29th Jul 2017

Whoop whoop!!!

£137000 people!! And still going strong!

Thank you to everyone who continues to support Emmy's story, her incredible legacy and ultimately The Royal Marsden Hospital. I am so grateful. Thank you.

I'm so proud of you all and everyone involved... a special mention to all of you who have bought the Tara and Tyrone books (a percentage of which goes to and will always go to this great charity). If any of you are still unsure how to buy them please email me at ejtandem@hotmail.com and I'll give you the details.

Also a personal mention to my brother Tim who had the opening of his latest restaurant Buho in Guernsey last week and donated more than £1700 from the launch - A phenomenal effort! There are many many others who have donated money and their time, and whether it's £1 or £1000 I can't thank you enough!! I know Emmy would be just over the moon! She would be smiling the biggest smile for you all!

Biggest hugs from my partner in crime Mols and me... & of course our beautiful angel Emmy.
Xxx

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ejtandemonium

Book 3 underway!

25th Jul 2017

Exciting news!!!!...

I think I might have actually reached a point where I can finally focus on working on the next Tara and Tyrone story!!! However, having finally built up the courage to open Emmy's note books and read through how much work and how many drafts were required for each of the first two stories and having seen how much she had actually completed of the 3rd, I realise I may have underestimated the amount of literary work required of me!!!???????... Brace yourselves for the first excuse of many!!???? please everyone bear with me - Molly and I will do our very best to get the 3rd instalment out as soon as possible! In the meantime I will keep you all updated with book progress and hopefully some other really exciting stuff too!

It did however break my heart to read through her books. How she went about writing the books, and what she achieved in doing so, is nothing short of remarkable. She was so much more talented than she ever gave herself credit for. I'm blaming it on Molly if this one goes wrong!!???? But I promise I'll do everything I can to make it almost as good as she would have done and do her proud.

So... here's to the next step. Breaks my heart even looking at the first page of her 3rd notebook. But here it is for you...

Happy humpday eve everyone.

Love Me and Mols x

Molly's adventures...

23rd Jul 2017

When the seas are too rough for the boats to sail... when the next boat is a week away and you just gotta get there... what do you do? Well you ask a mate with a 4-seater to give you a lift don't you!! As a Molly fan he was only too happy to help - legend! This is for all of Emmy's virgin crew friends! Molly provided great in flight entertainment but also ate all the inflight snacks!

#VIPdog #celebritylabradoodle #mollyadventures

...love this pup. Only thing missing was Em sitting in the fourth seat. Molly and me love you baby girl and miss you more than ever. Xxxx

Happy birthday My Angel xxx

19th Jul 2017

My beautiful girl! ...

This photo was taken in Stockholm this time last year. We gorged on Swedish meatballs, ate our weight in chocolatey waffles and celebrated your birthday in epic style!! We laughed, we joked... we talked about all of the adventures that we had just had on EJTandemonium and all of those that were still to come ... We got excited about our future together... fundraising... a bucket list... a children's book maybe? But definitely a wedding!! (And what a wedding it would be!!)... and what else? Who knew... but we had each other and that was all that mattered...

I promised you we would see the northern lights! We'd fly in a hot air balloon!... we'd celebrate you turning 32... and you'd see your baby's face...
I still can't figure out what has happened...

It literally breaks me in two that you couldn't do those things. That I couldn't hold on to you and protect you that little bit longer.

But what you gave to me in 20 months is more than I could ever even have dreamt of having in a thousand lifetimes. Who you are to me... and who you are and what you have become to so many, makes me prouder than I ever thought possible. On our wedding day I balled my eyes out trying to tell you (and those closest to us) how proud I was of you and of how you had managed to keep smiling throughout what you were going through. At the Christmas carol concert with Choral Diversity I tried to speak to a room about how much of an inspiration you were to me and so many (and was totally unprepared and didn't do you justice in the slightest!)... But, today I look at Facebook, I read the messages and the emails and the forums and see the outpouring of love for you and my chest swells and my heart bursts and I know that I don't need to try and tell everyone how amazing or inspiring you are or how proud of you I am, because they already know...

You my girl are simply incredible.

I have had people emailing me everyday telling me that their loved ones have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and because of you they are able to cope with it that little bit better. That they themselves may have been given months to live but because of you they have made peace and have realised what to prioritise. That they have left abusive partners, changed their jobs, taken up a hobby, chased a diagnosis, walked into an exam or interview more confidently or just told themselves to 'get a grip' and embrace the positives in their own lives because of YOU... you are a shining beacon... a guiding light... to more people than you can ever have imagined.

You are so missed. By so many... Your beautiful parents and your gorgeous sister are desperate. Your little niece is lost. Your best friends are in pieces. None of us know what to do without you. But your legacy gives us all something to hold on to and we are so grateful to you for that. We are all so proud. I know I can speak on everyone's behalf and say that we will do everything we can for always to live more like you. To smile and to love and to be kind the best we can.

You are the most wonderful human being and whilst you might not be with us in person, you will be in our hearts forever and we will celebrate you today and everyday for the rest of time...

I love you my angel.

Happy birthday. Xxx

A day... a month ... a year...

16th Jul 2017

The 16th of July... One whole month since our favourite emerald eyed angel and my beautiful wife and soulmate - Emmy Coates, passed away...

How did that happen... Where did that time go?!? It feels like yesterday... the hurt, the emptiness still feeling as raw as the day she left us. Not a particularly happy anniversary to be reminded of as I'm sure you can all imagine or all know... the thought of 'that day' and the days preceding it fills me with a dread that is difficult to shake and it feels completely impossible to recall it with anything but utter grief, despair and sadness... I have, as so many others do, the biggest Emmy shaped hole in my life and I miss her more than I ever thought possible.

But Emmy taught me many things, altered the way I think about so many aspects of my life and made me rethink a lot about what is really, truly important in life. One of the many lessons was to teach me to try and see the best in everyday, everything and everyone. She also taught me to make the MOST of everyday, always treat everyone the way you would want to be treated and to not rush to judgement about anyone who treats you badly (you never know what might be going on behind the scenes!). She always reminded me of the importance of making time for people no matter how busy you are, to always have patience for those around you and to surround yourself with as many good-willed and warm-hearted people as physically possible. But she also taught me that in order to appreciate the present and be able to look forward and always think positively about the future, it is important to look back and try and reminisce, recall and build on all the happy times you've experienced rather than continuing to dwell on the bad... and that is one thing she never did... she never focussed on the bad or felt sorry for herself...

And so it is with that, (trying my best not to feel sorry for myself) that I want to celebrate a different anniversary... the 16th July also marks the 1 year anniversary that we finished the EJTandemonium tandem bike challenge arriving in Copenhagen after more than 3 weeks in the saddle. It was a challenge that many thought Emmy would never be able to manage let alone cruise through the way she did. Even Kate (her oncology specialist) was going to recommend against it until she realised we'd already raised >£20000 by the time that conversation was going to be had and she felt she was unable to stop us!! But those who doubted her clearly didn't know her well enough for those closest to her knew that she'd have died trying before giving up (the stubborn minx that she was!!). In my mind - there was never a doubt. The 24/7 driving rains and sideways gales and the constant battles with her own bad health only made her more compelled to complete it!

Arriving in Copenhagen on July 16th 2016 with Emmy was the most amazing feeling. An incredible day and one I'll never forget!

Emmy was truly remarkable. Her bravery unmatched, her determination unswerving, her kindness, beauty and caring nature unparalleled. She was one in a billion. So today let's not mourn the month anniversary of her passing, but instead continue to celebrate the incredible life that she lead and the thousands upon thousands of people who she inspired.... The indomitable spirit that she had... The unimaginable amount of love, light, hope and empowerment that she spread! And that unwavering smile. Whether it was 3 weeks of cycling in the rain or 18 months (plus!) of battling with her illness - she never stopped smiling, loving and never ever stopped being kind.

We could all learn a thing or two...

Have a wonderful Sunday folks.

Sending all our love,
Love Jake and Mols xxxx

https://www.facebook.com/ejtandemonium/posts/697337353760523

Happy 1st Birthday Molly!

7th Jul 2017

Happy Friday everyone!!!

Today is a day that I know Emmy was looking forward to a great deal... today is little (rather large actually!) Molly's 1st birthday!!!!

Now i know that Em would have made this an extra special day for our gorgeous pup, buying her loads of treats and taking her for a beautiful walk in westonbirt. But instead the poor little thing has had to deal with me walking around like a miserable grumpy old man for the last few weeks and worse still has had to deal with the stress of packing up all of our worldly possessions (AGAIN!) to move house. She has been unbelievably cute looking after her 'daddy' giving me lots of love and licks and cuddles not quite sure what in the world is going on!!!

Mols you have been my saviour this last few weeks and so as a happy birthday and as a thank you here is your own birthday box! Thank you #puppyessentials! AND there's always time for birthday walkies!!! I promise when we've finally moved out on Monday that I'll give you my full undivided attention and we'll go on lots of adventures together!!! Em is giving you the biggest smooch and snuggle you've ever had!!

Love you Mols!!

Love Mummy and Daddy!!
Xxxx

Ps. The last few weeks have been manic and I've got heaps and heaps of ejtandem book emails and ejtandemonium fb and website messages to reply but I will get around to it responding and sending signed books out again soon (probably next week) I promise!!! I'm also desperately trying to get the second book on Amazon too - I'll let you all know when that goes live!
Xx

Spotify playlist...

6th Jul 2017

A little playlist which has so many of the songs that have meant so much to Emmy and I over the years. Many were played at the Cathedral or in the crematorium at her funeral... others were played at our wedding in September last year or during the tandem adventure a few months earlier... and some are just a few of our chill out faves played when we were just at home together... but all have particular meaning from times gone by ... they all remind me of her and the fun times and special moments we shared. Have a listen... (warning - it is a little coldplay heavy! But they've had some fairly seminal songs for us!) I like to think that my angel is dancing in heaven... and who knows maybe shes looks a little like this... xxxxx

https://open.spotify.com/…/…/playlist/4AWxmmErYLmkshDWX4v5C4

Emmy's funeral montage (Vimeo link)

2nd Jul 2017

What a beautifully sunny Sunday it is.

A day I know Emmy would have loved, lying around on the lawn and taking Mols out for a picnic in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. I hope everyone is having a gorgeous weekend raising a glass or two of something gloriously refreshing (and alcoholic!) to my gorgeous sunshine girl.

I'm sorry that we were only able to accommodate so few people at the crematorium (and wake) that followed Emmy's beautiful funeral service at the cathedral on Friday - I wish we could have had the whole cathedral congregation and more in attendance at the crematorium too. I put a little video/photo montage together for the final committal and I know some of you wanted to see it so I thought I would upload it to our Vimeo account (link below). It's quite long (3 short videos meant to make you smile, followed by a montage that is 4 songs long) and it shows some of the family's favourite pics of Emmy from baby to her bestie Leona's incredible wedding which was just two weeks before Emmy passed away. But it could have been 10 times longer such was he number of gorgeous photos that I wanted to put in.

Sending so much love and thanks to everyone for all that they continue to do for Emmys family and I.

Em... I'm lying with Mols (who is on her back, legs akimbo - standard!) and we're looking up at the sky always thinking of you. Love you baby.
Smile, love & be kind.

Xx

https://vimeo.com/223905384

Celebration of Emmy...

30th Jun 2017

As we head to the cathedral today to celebrate the life of the most beautiful girl in the world I share these words that were shared with me today ...


'I'll lend you for a little time
An angel of Mine," He said,
"For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.
It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?
She'll bring her charms to gladden you,
And should her stay be brief,
You'll have her lovely memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this angel to learn.
I've looked this wide world over
In My search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you;
Now will you give her all your love,
Not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call
And take her back again?"

I fancied that I heard them say,
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy angel shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for her
Much sooner than we planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.'

...My angel... this is not goodbye... hold on tight and I WILL see you again. I love you xxxx

Mummy pages blog article - Thank you Amanda

28th Jun 2017

Thank you Amanda for writing such a lovely piece and for sharing Emmy's story. She was simply perfect & she will never know how much she was loved or will be missed by us all. Xxx

https://www.mummypages.co.uk/brace-yourselfthis-is-the-most-beautiful-brave-and-heartbreaking-love-story

Video update... (link to our vimeo account)

27th Jun 2017

Hey all you gorgeous lot...

We were meant to be playing this video at the crematorium on Friday but sadly due to limited time on the day, we won't be able to. It's a video of our 2000km tandem journey that we did this time last year. I've not been able to watch it since Emmy passed away (and haven't actually watched it for months) but I know it shows her at her happiest (especially at the end at our second home - the Royal Marsden!) and it makes me smile thinking about it and that's why I wanted to share it again with you all. I hope you don't mind.

On a completely separate note I know you will all understand but I have to apologise because I know we have received loads of messages to the ejtandemonium fb page which haven't been replied and I have loads of emails about buying books too which also have been left unopened and even worse, payments received but books not sent out. I am really sorry about this but after the funeral I promise I will reply to everyone and get back to sending out books as soon as I can. Sadly though there will only be one signature in them. I will continue to write Emmys name in them though if that's alright with all of you. (&a paw print from Molly if you so desire too! Mols will only be too keen to help!!)

Emmy would have wanted me to continue on with it all... so regarding the books I have three exciting bits of news...

1. I will get the second book 'Pedro' on Amazon ASAP. That way even if I am being useless, the father in law (who is dutifully posting out all the Amazon orders at the mo) will sort you out with that!!

2. The Mollivers website will continue to be completed. It will be an amazing site and all the books will be available on it as well as other bits and pieces like colouring books etc. I will keep everyone updated too re: launch date etc.

3. (AND MOST EXCITINGLY!!) Emmy wrote a third book (or most of anyway) before she died. It's a beautiful story, and dare I say it the best yet... Tara and Tyrone go on summer holiday! As a way of keeping myself distracted and focused (and as I say Emmy would have wanted me to) I am going to spend the next 2 months writing, drawing, painting, designing and printing the third instalment of Tara and Tyrone. So watch this space!!!

Molly and I are going to keep Emmys motto of 'smile, love & be kind' alive and kicking until the day we join her in the sky!
Until then, so much love and strength to you all.

Jake and Mols Xxxx

My darling girl we love you and miss you so much. Xxx

'She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings.'

https://vimeo.com/217736593

On this day...

26th Jun 2017

Facebook 'on this day' has a lot to answer for! Such was the craziness of the period this time last year for Emmy and I that every day I seem to be getting reminders of the most incredible memories... but they are also so bittersweet and reminiscing about the beautiful moments that we shared and the glorious days gone by also just remind me of the fact that she is no longer here with me now and that feeling of emptiness is almost more than I can bear.

However, there are some particularly special days that need to be celebrated despite the hurt thinking about them might cause, and today was one of those... A year ago today my beautiful angel and I set off from Trafalgar Square to a rapturous farewell from our nearest and dearest. It's a day that I am so incredibly proud of for so many reasons and it will live long in my memory as one of our best...but mostly because of the girl in the photo. Setting off on a tough 2000km tandem bike ride across Europe it was simply one of the most amazing days and one which I know Emmy absolutely loved. But look at that face, look at that smile... I love this photo of her almost more than any other. She looks so happy. But this is how she looked every minute of every day on that ride and almost every day since... such was the girl's positivity, personality and shining soul... it didn't matter how ill she felt or how much rain would fall, you just couldn't stop her smiling and this photo is just how I always want to remember her.

One year on and today, by chance, my beautiful Emmy and I were meant to have been at Glastonbury. I am so sad that we never got to go (em had even planned out her edgy outfits and everything!) but some gorgeous souls have managed to get tickets and have been spreading Emmy's message, her motto and her spirit far and wide across the festival fields and to the dulcet tones of Ed Sheeran no less - one of our all time favourites.

Thank you everyone for your ongoing and unwavering support that you've shown Emmys family and myself over the last 2 weeks. We cannot thank you enough.
To my gorgeous angel in the sky - I love you and I miss you...

To all you lot - sending all our love,

Jake & Mols xx
Smile, love and be Kind xxx

Rest In Peace my darling girl.

20th Jun 2017

There's so much that I want to say... so much that needs to be said. I find it impossible to find the right words or enough superlatives to describe Emmy, my love for her or my sorrow that she has gone. This post will never do justice all of the emotions that I want to convey nor express enough gratitude to all of you for all of the messages of love and support that we as a family have received.

To bring myself to actually write something has been so much more emotionally and physically challenging than I ever thought it would be. I have just wanted to hide, switch off my phone, shut off from the world and pretend it's not happening... but I realise that for so many reasons, not least that my beautiful Emmy would have wanted me to write something (mainly to thank you all - such is the person she was), that it was important that I try... so here it is...

My darling Emmy passed away at 8:30pm on Friday evening the 16th June 2017. She was surrounded by all her family and was as comfortable as she could be. The evening sun was still shining, the French doors were open, the birds were singing their evening song and three dogs and a very minxy Milly moo (Emmys and my beautiful 2 and a half year old niece) played and danced around her in a perfect blissful ignorance. It was exactly how Emmy would have wanted it to be.

There is little in the way of solace that can be taken from such a desperate time. That she felt so 'well' and had lived so fully, unawares of her impending fate, up until just a fortnight ago IS something. But that she deteriorated so suddenly leaving so many final conversations unsaid is also equally heartbreaking. Whilst it was so incredibly hard to comprehend for everyone that loved her, I have to believe and hope that her sudden demise was ultimately a blessing, that she didn't suffer and wasn't too frightened for too long and that she goes in peace, crossing over, with only memories of the happiest times.

Since Emmy passed away her family and I have been inundated with the most beautiful messages, emails, cards and letters of love, support and condolence. In the most desperate circumstance it has been truly heartwarming and I cannot begin to tell you how much of a wonderful comfort that it has been to us all. It is impossible for me to try and tell you all how grateful we are to every single one of you.

I have spent days too reading through the beautiful heartfelt posts that have been shared on Facebook and instagram celebrating all that was Emmy. To see the outpouring of love which has spread over social media from everyone far and wide and the recognition of the special person she was has been utterly breathtaking. It has been, at times, quite emotionally overwhelming and difficult to read, but it has also made me (and everyone that knew her), if it were possible, even prouder of the girl that we all adored so completely. I just wish she could see it all for herself. Perhaps she can. But from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all of her gorgeous family - thank you for spreading such love and celebrating her in the way she so richly deserves.

Emmy was truly one of a kind. She was effortlessly beautiful. By far the most stunning girl I have ever seen. She had a simple charm, a gentle elegance and a pure class that couldn't be taught. She had the biggest, brightest smile that radiated an unparalleled warmth. She had the most dazzling emerald eyes - shining beacons that had a kindness like no other. Like Audrey Hepburn once said, her eyes were like a doorway to her heart - they smiled at you and you couldn't help but smile back - they were a window to her glistening soul and a true inner beauty. From her every pore she exuded a positivity so infectious that it was impossible not to feel better about yourself just by being around her. She genuinely lit up every room she walked into.

She was kind to a fault. She put everyone else first. She never believed any compliment she received and she played down any praise. She was unbelievably thoughtful - always buying others gifts and making them cards, writing thank you messages or notes and always desperately tried to respond to everyone who had written to her with the greatest care and attention that she felt they so deserved. She was an incredible teacher and children universally adored her. She was a scrabble mastermind and I could never beat her (even at the end when she would play half asleep! (Gad dam'it!). She wrote beautifully and authored the Tara and Tyrone books effortlessly. She surprised herself with her public speaking and was far more eloquent with words than she ever gave herself credit.

She was a fighter. Throughout everything she remained so strong. She was quite simply the bravest person I've ever met. She never ever complained, never moaned and never wanted any sympathy from me or anyone else. Every time she was dealt a dud card she just sucked it up and continued on. Always moving forward, never looking back. Even at the end she was still able to joke and laugh and make light of her situation. She was an unstoppable force who just wanted to spread as much love, light, happiness, kindness and positivity as she could.

They say that the true measure of friendship isn't how you feel about someone else but how they make you feel about yourself. Well Emmy had the incredible ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the world. Completely listened to. And made you feel so special. It is of little surprise then that over the years she has made and surrounded herself with some of the most gorgeous, sweet, caring, loving and incredible people that, as a husband, you could have ever wished her to have as friends. Her sweet nature and indomitable spirit gave her a magnetic attraction to all that she came into contact with and she lifted us all up and carried us with her on her journey. I feel truly lucky and privileged to have been able to walk beside her for the time that I did.

She was the most caring and loving and loved daughter, sister, auntie, god-mother and niece. And she was the most wonderful wife that I or any man could ever ask for. Sure she had some quirks but who doesn't - I loved her even more for each and every one of them! The imperfections! I mean - She wasn't the tidiest. She 'never had any clothes' (we could honestly clothe a small nation - good luck moving Jake!). She was rarely on time. She could be sooooo stubborn!! (but not to be mean we'll call it 'strong willed')... and this combined with her razor sharp photographic elephant like memory meant that I never (EVER!!) won an argument!!???? She was totally useless at saying goodbye (particularly to a certain Mrs Bugden!), her accents were questionable and her singing voice...let's say original (sorry baby!)! She had the tiniest thumbs and couldn't stop herself sticking them up in every photo (god I love her!) and she ate chocolate in her sleep (often waking up with it on her cheek and a wrapper stuck to her forehead). She had the coolest dance moves and the best fancy dress outfits! She hated her 'Spock' like ears and her 'Desperate Dan' jaw as she called them but I just loved her even more for her ridiculous and delusional self deprecation. To me - she was perfect.

She never knew how beautiful or how admired, loved and cherished she was. The effect she had on others and the number of people she inspired just by being her was so clear to see but not to her. I hope that she can look down now and is able to see the kind of impact she had on everyone she met and even those that she didn't. Her legacy and her motto 'Smile, love and be kind' will live on. To borrow a line (thank you Joanne Philip) - 'Emmy is like a skipping stone... she skipped and danced across the big wide pond that is life but now it is time for her to rest whilst her ripples live on'.

As for me... I feel utterly lost and empty without her. I can't look to the passenger seat whilst driving the car without the deepest ache spreading across my chest. And there isn't a moment that passes when I don't miss her. No truer word has been spoken than 'Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.' (K.Gibran). I knew I was lucky but it is true that you never know what you have got until its gone. She was my north, my south, my east, my west. The reason I wanted to wake up every morning and be a better person. My co-captain on my bike. My best friend. My lobster. My wife. And truly my hero.

Now that she is gone it is difficult to not feel so alone. But I have to believe that she she has just gone on to the next room. That she has returned to a heaven surrounded by her kind again. For she was an angel amongst mortals and she spread light in a world that at times was not so bright. And she is looking back and smiling on all of us and she'll be with us all in some way still.

To me... She is the ray of sunshine that warms my face. She is the brightest star in the night sky. She is the gentle breeze that rustles through the curtain. She is the gentle lapping sea on the shore. She is literally in my thoughts every waking moment, and in my dreams every minute I rest. She shone so brightly upon so many and she had so much love to give. The kind of love that envelops you completely and makes you feel like the only person in the world. I feel truly blessed that Emmy chose me. I got to meet and marry my soulmate and very few people get to do that. The overwhelming feeling when she passed away was that if I couldn't keep her here in this world then all I wanted was to go with her to the next. To be with her. To walk with her, hold her hand and make sure she wasn't scared. But alas I have to stay. I have a Molly to look after and Emmy's message to continue to spread. The surrogacy journey also continues and one day, who knows, we might have a little bit of Emmy in this world again! But I wish with all that I am that I could have just one more day with her. To laugh with, to hug, to kiss, to hold tight.

So make me this promise. Go out. Go to your husband or your wife. Your partner or your lover. Tell them that you love them. Embrace them. Hold them that little bit longer. Squeeze them that little bit tighter. Whisper sweet nothings and try to forget, just for a moment, those small irrelevant worries. You're only here in this world for the shortest time and you never know when it might all disappear.

And so, although I fear I have missed out so much that I wanted to say...I leave with this.

You're back amongst your own now my gorgeous girl, my love, my angel. Shine down whenever you can. I'll be looking out for you. Wherever you are, put the kettle on, put on your dressing gown, curl up on the sofa and wait for me. I'll always be holding your hand...See you soon gorge.

'Smile more, love more deeply and be kind always.' Emmy Coates.

Sleep tight my angel

16th Jun 2017

Emmy passed away peacefully at 8:30pm this evening. Susie, David, Matt, Sophie, Millie and I were all there surrounding her with love every second. She will never know how loved and how special she was to us all.

If ever there was a moment to take a minute.

Smile, love and be kind.
Xxx

She is fierce, she is unstoppable... She is Emmy Coates.

11th Jun 2017

A few of you have been a little worried recently about our radio silence and I'm sorry we haven't been able to reply to anyone for a few days. I wish I could say it was because we had booked a surprise holiday and I'd rushed her off somewhere hot and sunny but alas it is not. It is another kind of paradise we find ourselves at - our old faithful - The Royal Marsden.

For anyone who hadn't seen, Emmy had been struggling to walk over the last month or two due to worsening pain in both hips. Reviewing recent scans demonstrated new lesions in her pelvis and both femoral heads and so she was referred for and underwent a 3rd lot of radiotherapy on Tuesday just gone.

All seemed fairly uneventful. She had been tired prior to the therapy (following a hectic social schedule amongst other things!) and had been totally exhausted following the previous 2 lots of radiotherapy (in April and May on her spine and breast respectively) so i didn't think much of it when she slept most of Wednesday into Thursday.

On Thursday though, things began to deteriorate. She started to get confused, anxious, paranoid and was showing signs of acute delirium. She couldn't walk or talk, hadn't eaten in almost 3 days and was getting weaker by the second. I spoke to our incredible nurse Tara on the phone who unbelievably managed to get her a bed at a moments notice at a bed blocked totally full Marsden Hospital (and not only that but a private bed where I could also stay with her! - what a legend!) and on Friday afternoon we drove down to our second home, the RM, not knowing what was going on.

On arrival she was assessed, had an urgent head CT and full bloods as well as all the normal garb and we headed to the ward. Apart from worsening liver failure and a few raised inflammatory markers everything came back relatively normal which was in part reassuring as nothing was acutely wrong that could have been avoided but also devastating as there was sadly nothing that could apparently/obviously be fixed. A combination of opioid toxicity, disease progression and mild encephalopathy (caused by worsening liver impairment) were thought to be the likely causes.

With her condition deteriorating and unable to eat she appeared more frail than ever. She had lost 4 kilos in as many days and had no appetite at all. The proverbial wheels had well and truly fallen off. Mum, Dad and sister have all been by her bedside since the minute she arrived. With no signs of improvement discussions about end of life care and not-for-resuscitation orders were had. The hardest bit being that she couldn't have any input nor understand the desperate nature of her situation.

It felt like we had already lost our Emmy. The lights had gone out. The last time we had spoken was on Tuesday when, for all intents and purposes, she was her normal self. Bar one or two physical ailments she was the Emmy that we all know and love. Then she seemed to drift off to sleep and not wake up.

But then ... a tiny glimmer of light... it was suggested that she try a very simple low side-effect profile drug known to counter the effects of high ammonia levels (which can be high secondary to poor liver function and which might be at least in part causing her drowsiness and confusion). A punt for nothing and low risk.
Fast forward 2 hours and whilst taking her for a walk outside in her wheelchair she suddenly woke up!!!! The lights came back on and all of a sudden there was understanding and consciousness and sparkle behind the eyes which had been glazed over since Tuesday. To say it was an emotional moment is an understatement. (This photo taken then). The last 4 days have been emotional but to be able to look into her eyes and have her look back at me was the best feeling in the world. We talked for an hour - just going through the events of the last week, what had happened, what was happening to her. For the first time in 18 months I saw the girl scared of what all of this might mean. It scared us both to talk about what might be the final leg of our tandem adventure together... But, as is her strength and spirit, that sadness was short lived and we soon got back to talking about what we wanted to do in the coming days. A BBQ back at chez Collett being a top priority! Whether she can eat much of anything is not the point, family time and a David Collett BBQ is as good as any chemotherapy!

So as I watch her sleeping now we face a very uncertain future. We have stopped her chemotherapy as her liver can't cope with it. Supportive management is all that is left. We hope to go home tomorrow to see Molly and then on to see family and hope that the simple medication of last night (that she'll continue to take) continues to work it's magic and keep the lights on and the fire burning as long as possible. The small glimmer of hope that she might be able to enjoy her last days and be pain free too is all that matters.

We all hope for a miracle. Sometimes we are granted them. We have had many over the last 18 months. It was a miracle meeting Tara. She is genuinely an angel from above. She has made us feel safe when our worlds were crumbling. We have managed to do so many amazing things, raised so much money and shared so many experiences together- that's a kind of miracle. I believe it was my destiny to come into Emmys life just when I did and look after her. And who knows there might still be another miracle yet with another angel in our lives - our surrogate Liz.

But even if there are no more miracles and Emmy has to leave us, if there is a place like heaven where angels do exist then Emmy is long overdue to go back there to be amongst her own kind.

She will never know what effect she has on everyone she meets. The inspiration she is to so many. I have too many emails and messages from complete strangers telling me how she has helped them cope with a cancer diagnosis, a lost loved one or how they've been encouraged to seek medical advice because of her story. We could all learn from the way she has held herself and how she treats all those she comes into contact with. Even this week when she has been completely crushed she's never once not smiled at any nurse or member of staff who has walked in nor thanked them for what they've done. If there was ever a real life angel then Emmy is it.

I am so proud of her. She's lead more of a life than any of us could ever hope to in a hundred lifetimes. I love her more than I could ever possibly tell her & my aching heart breaks in two to see her so poorly. But she is fierce. Her soul shines brighter than any star. You can't keep this girl down & cancer will never beat her. She has already won.

I love you my baby girl. Xxxx

Quick Marsden Wednesday update

31st May 2017

After the most beautiful bank holiday in Devon with family, which was so precious (wish I could bottle it up forever) today we were back at our second home at the Marsden first thing. It was so brilliant to see Tara. No 1 as always. She is just a hero and also to have such a quality amount of time spent chatting with my amazing oncologist.

On the whole, things have been niggly over the last week with sleeping issues, mouth problems, swallowing issues, weight loss, pelvic pain, liver pain, swelling, fatigue and a few other things here and there...but I felt confident drugs were working their magic and all was improving.

Today we had the usual checks including bloods as well as a planning CT scan (yep I now have another 2 tattoos....I'm collecting 'planets from afar' all over my body!!) for radiotherapy on my pelvis next week.

So we have that radiotherapy booked in which will hopefully help to ease pain in my hips and legs and enable me to walk less like the old monkey from the Lion King (although becoming quite attached to the groovy walking stick!)!

Annoyingly my bloods have indicated that my liver function has deterioated so we are going to experiment a little more with the meds and hopefully find the right balance to try to improve this.

Some exciting news is that as well as an enormous bag of drugs we got some Marsden wellies to wear whilst ticking off some bucket list adventures!!! AND to top it off...tomorrow we are heading to Hertfordshire for my best friend's wedding. I can NOT wait and I know the happiness and love the day will make me feel for them will make any pain or uncertainties disappear! ????

A real life angel... everyone - Liz Begg!

29th May 2017

What's going on in the world hey?!?

Good honest overworked (but underpaid) men and women plough on fighting for their lives to save the NHS whilst cyberterrorists and Jeremy Hunt do their best to undermine and destroy it.

Terrible fascist dictators die in their homes surrounded by family in old age whilst beautiful innocent young men and women get terminal cancer for no reason whatsoever.

Just when you're thinking we're becoming more tolerant as a nation the unthinkable devastating and desperate events in Manchester happen where the acts of a cowardly and despicable few ruin the lives of so many.

Global warming, racism, bullying, footballers salaries, animal cruelty, mental illness, incurable and chronic disease, that giant spot on the end of your nose just before your graduation ball... small or big - life can seem a little hard to comprehend sometimes can't it? Some things just don't seem to make sense...

So it is with so much uncertainty and unfairness in the world that we thought it might be nice to share a good news story with you all...

It's early 2016... A girl meets a boy. A romance rekindled. Madly in love, continuously whispering the sweet nothings of early romance and each of them dreaming of a life together full of love, laughter, family and growing old. They are invincible... immortal... But then comes a fateful meeting... a specialist... a dreadful and dire diagnosis. Blindsiding them on some idle Tuesday. Their world turned upside down in a heartbeat. Diagnosis, prognosis and symptoms described ...The world turns dark. the words uttered 'you won't ever be able to carry a child...'. Two hearts break.

... we would never be able to have a family...

Or so we thought.... I said this was a good news story!???? ... it was then that Emmy and I embarked on a rather unexpected part of this extraordinary journey and part of our story...

Within a week, The Marsden (being nothing short of miracle workers!) had referred us to the fertility clinic (for free - amazing NHS!) at the Hammersmith to start the process of creating our embryos in the hope that one day we might be able to use them some way some how.

A month of thrice daily hormonal injections later, and a few choice specimens from me ???????? and hey presto on May 9th 2016 we had 9 all singing all dancing Jem'bryos wrapped up and hibernating in the deep freeze!!

To a large degree, thanks to Emmys wonderful blog (and the wonders of social media) much of the rest of the next 12 months you know... A quick tandem ride, wedding and puppy here, a couple of children's books and Justgiving award there, and one year (almost to the day) later, we find ourselves here... Emmy still kicking the ass outa' life with her never ending positivity - making every minute count and ticking off her bucket list at every turn. Molly growing like a weed and becoming more of a muggins/muppet/what-a-mess than ever. And me just trying to keep up with them both...

But what about those embryos??...

Well... A couple of months after creating them it became very evident very quickly that Emmy had become very dependent on the chemotherapy and that realistically they were never going to be able to be reintroduced to Emmy safely. She would never be off the chemotherapy long enough to carry a child without putting herself and the baby at serious risk. The only feasible way of having our own baby would be through surrogacy... and so this part of our extraordinary journey began...

Now surrogacy is a little bit of a taboo subject in the UK. Despite storylines in hit TV programs such as Friends and Neighbours, surrogacy as a subject doesn't get a great deal of press. And the process is not that easy or straight forward. For a start you're not allowed to advertise for a surrogate. You're also not allowed to pay a surrogate (other than expenses). There is very little in the way of legal framework surrounding surrogacy in the UK and as such a baby, created from a man's sperm and a woman's egg and implanted in to a surrogate, is legally the surrogates child at birth and the genetic parents have no rights until they have applied to the court. There are three charity non profit organisations that manage surrogacy in the British Isles including Surrogacy UK and all of them have a 3:1 intended parent (IP) to surrogate ratio. When the number of intended parents goes above that (i.e. To 4:1) they have to close their doors to new intended parents until the ratio reduces. The problem is that there are so few surrogates registered in the UK and so many couples/single parents unable to have a child of their own and who require a surrogate that the waiting times for new IPs is getting longer and longer every single day.

Now Emmy and I have lots of things... but time isn't one of them. We don't know how long we have but in simple terms - the sooner we could have a child, the longer Emmy would have with it - the better!

And so it was last year, when this topic of surrogacy came to the fore in one of Emmys blogs that the ball really got rolling. Such is the kindness and generosity of the human spirit that over the course of the following fortnight or so we were inundated with people coming forward to offer themselves as a surrogate. We literally couldn't believe it. People from near and far, explaining that they had always wanted to be a surrogate but didn't know how or how our situation had struck a chord with them and how they wanted to help. It was incredible, totally unexpected and we felt completely overwhelmed and unworthy.

We wanted to make sure that who ever we chose was the right fit and that they felt as happy and comfortable with our lifestyle and Emmys health (and the entire situation as a whole) as we did it. And we were just so lucky that an absolute angel got in touch and walked into our lives. An old school friend who just so happens to be the most beautiful girl and kindest and sweetest mummy (already) in the whole world. Her name is Liz Begg! As soon as we spoke to her it just felt right. We got on like a house on fire and her warmth and sweet nature shone through from the first second. Like a missing piece of the jigsaw - she was the perfect fit.

When she got in touch and we had made the decision to go ahead it felt like we had jumped a massive hurdle. It felt like semantics were all that was left. But the truth of it has been quite different. It has not been an easy ride, physically or emotionally. For Emmy and I there has of course been the months and months of planning, prepping, transporting and costing that you'd never suspect as well as the incessant and ever evolving health issues that Em has had to cope with. And for Liz it hasn't been much easier. Not only has she had to have repeated medicals and counselling and hormonal therapy but also she has had to make herself free, miss work and arrange her own childcare for countless appointments and structure her own life and daily needs around our requests, demands and complex issues. Needless to say it's been a complicated and tiring journey for us all with lots of twists and turns. But also one which has been exciting and wonderful too and even if, ultimately, we're still never able to have our own baby, we will never be able to truly thank Liz enough for everything she has already done for us. She is a real life angel.

Growing up I always imagined I'd be a young dad. To be honest I imagined myself with a few young kids spending every minute possible with them as they grew up. I didn't want to be one of those dads who worked away all of the hours of the day and miss all the best bits. I wanted to be there... muddy adventures, wet camping holidays, ice creams in the sun, early mornings wake ups and late evening pick ups from rugby practice and swimming galas. That was the dream for me. And so it turned out to be Emmy's too. When we walked back into each other's lives in October 2015, it took about 2 minutes on FaceTime to realise that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this girl and that we both wanted exactly the same thing. Growing up, growing old and having kids together just seemed like the most natural and perfect thing I could ever think of. And knowing how much she wanted that too made that feeling even more perfect - it was just written in the stars. So when Emmy got sick in March 2016 it affected us both very very deeply. I hated that we wouldn't be able to have our baby our way. It broke my heart for her that she wouldn't be able to do that either - to be a mother, the most natural thing in the world. And it still breaks my heart everyday seeing how sad it makes her. That Mother Nature has taken that away from her seems so unfair.

There was no question that we both independently and desperately wanted the same thing... to have a child together. For so so many reasons. Emmys dream has always been to be a Mummy, and she would make the most incredible mum and I wanted to make that dream come true for her too. To watch her around her niece and to see how she is with friends kids is a beautiful thing to behold. She is a child whisperer. Kids just love her. They see her smile and those big green eyes and the warmth they exude and they are drawn to her. I've seen her with her class at her school where she used to work and she is universally adored. She was the best teacher and would be the best mummy there ever was.

I have always wanted to be a dad, a young fit and healthy dad, and there was nothing more perfect than the idea of Emmy being the mum to any children we might have. Irrespective of how long Emmy would be here in this world, I knew deep down, right in the pit of my belly, that that was all I wanted. The thing that would keep me going, keep me wanting to live on should there ever come a day where Emmy wasn't here anymore. Even the worst case scenario of Emmy not being alive to see the birth of our baby was a situation that had to be considered and there was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that, even under those circumstances, we would want to have a baby together. If nothing else it would mean that I could hold on to a little bit of Emmy after she had gone. Our little angel from heaven that would undoubtedly carry forth Emmys spirit and soul and forever be a shining light who would brighten up everyone's day just by being them.

But don't get me wrong. Emmy is not planning on dying tomorrow. We've got lots of plans and bucket list activities to square away! And with Emmys positive attitude, demeanour and outlook ANYTHING is possible but any day that Emmy and our baby are in this world together would be the most magical day and there would be no greater drive for Emmy to remain positive and stay well than the prospect of a newborn child and seeing it thrive. I know that there could be no greater love than Emmy for her baby and that is one powerful reason for Emmy to keep fighting on.

And whilst we all hope that Emmy will be here forever, I know that if she isn't that there wouldn't be a baby more loved or cherished or cared for in this world than any child of ours because that child would have the love and support of everyone of our friends and family. All of you reading this know who you are and we can never thank you enough for what you have done, continue to do and will do for us in the future. We love you.

We're not silly though... and we are well aware that this idea won't sit well with everyone. Should a child be born into a family where the mother may not even be alive to see the birth let alone help it through school? The concept of knowingly bringing a child into a world where there may only be one parent will garner some negativity from a few. (We know this to be true because sadly we have received a very small number of messages from a random few explaining as much). And whilst we would never try and convince these people that what we were doing was right, we would say to those doubters this... we will love that baby every second of every day that we are alive. But also this...why is it so different from a 'brave' single parent (man or woman) embarking on a donor IVF journey? Often these very courageous people get high praise (and rightly so) but why is it that we are so different? Except for the fact that we'd have two families loving and supporting that child instead of one. How about those unplanned children born everyday to broken couples who weren't ready or didn't want them in the first place just because they had sex once and accidentally got pregnant. The man doesn't stay around... the woman has to manage. The child grows up in a potentially hostile environment with estranged parents arguing and battling over parental duties. Or even those couples who contain between them a genetic chromosomal abnormality that puts the unborn child at greater risk than the average. I say to all of those who have questioned our choices - 'Are any of these situations more ethical than ours? Maybe you think they are. Maybe you don't. But I ask that those of you (who do question this part of our journey) take a moment to think about how you would feel in the same situation as ours and (whether you agree with them or not) that you respect our choices and those of Liz - The most wonderful woman, performing this most beautiful act, for the most grateful and happy couple there could ever be.

So now, on this happy bank holiday Monday, we finally feel able to share our story with you in full and introduce you all to the beautiful angel that is our surrogate Liz Begg. We have a long way to go and absolutely nothing is guaranteed yet but we are very happy to report that we are on our way!!

Buckets of love to you all.
Xxx

Smile love and be kind.
Xxx

MAGIC STICK

28th May 2017

Sooo excited that my pretty, magical walking stick has arrived!

Pretty walking stick

24th May 2017

Another Marsden Wednesday complete including slipping into the glad rags again for another X-ray. I've had a rough week health wise and breathing has been more challenging than normal. Nothing major really just a rather attractive, chesty, green cough and my liver pushing up on my diaphragm which with other pains going on has been a little bothersome. So I got back into a gown to have a chest X-ray to check on my lungs and the naughty little tumours lurking there. There wasn't anything unexpected to report, just a chest infection so have some antibiotics to take alongside the rest of my selection of goodies!

As I mentioned last week, I have been having trouble with my pelvis and I had an X-ray there last week. This pain has deteriorated quite rapidly over the week and movement has been really tricky and sore. It turns out I have 3 new tumours there so will be having some more scans and radiotherapy on my pelvis next Wednesday. Although it's annoying that it's painful and I can't walk too well, I'm genuinely really excited about getting a pretty walking stick!! (I am aware that sentence makes me sound like a total loser?!!). I can waggle it at people if I get cross! Or I could use it as a magic wand!!! Ooh it just gets more exciting by the second.

I won't bore you with all of the other side effects and symptoms...some are expected, some are quite quirky (including hair sprouting in all sorts of places, ankles now totally disappeared and heavily blistered mouth and tongue) and I am convinced are morphing me into some sort of troll. But I'll be a troll with a pretty, walking stick which will (abso-bloomin-lutely) be magic too so who cares! Also I can't cope with adult toothpaste or mouth wash anymore as it hurts too much so I have just got the kids stuff...it's amazing!! It tastes like strawberries. Not sure if this is particularly effective for my gnashers but I'll be standing there smugly in front of the bathroom mirror, stick in one hand blissful toothpaste brushing in the other in a sweet strawberry aroma!

We have just arrived home, no doubt Jake has enjoyed my purring (snoring) the majority of the journey. Tomorrow we are heading to Devon to celebrate my daddy's birthday!! So excited to have all the family together on the beautiful coast! Last year he spent his 70th sitting in hospital with me all day so he deserves a few days away more than anyone to celebrate his wonderfulness this time round!

With a chest infection, cancer, the ridonkulous amount of tablets I'm taking and also unable to sleep fully at night the fatigue has hit hard this week (no sympathy at all I'm just building up to a big excuse!). But we have been determined to get everything completed; particularly with books and website (Jake obviously trooping away and doing more than imaginable to get everything sorted). Well....because of me...we have failed. My hip gave way a couple of days ago and I knocked a whole cup of tea over our (unbacked up??????) laptop! Disaster. Not only is the computer totally destroyed We have lost EVERYTHING! From spreadsheets, to book writing and images, to orders, to photos to all the work for the new website. Not only do I feel horrendously guilty about poor jake but also to all of you. It's set us back so much. I'm SO SORRY. I'm sorry it means everything is behind where we should be. I'm a wobbling, sleepy, clumsy mess this week!!...get me that pretty, magic walking stick, hand me a strawberry flavoured toothbrush and don't let me touch anything!!...in fact don't let me near anything!!
Although, without sounding too corny, I have to say (as long as you can all forgive me for the disaster and now being behind schedule with everything), in the grand scheme of things, it is ultimately a piece of machinery. It could never compare to the love, laughter, happiness, kindness and memories we can give to one another. We have one special angel who has taken this to another level and when considering personal incidents like that OR devastating major incidents like Manchester it really puts things into perspective. Sod the computer and all things materialistic, we are all so lucky to be here and have one another...appreciate every little part of it we NEVER know what's round the corner. My heart goes out to all of the people who have lost someone I can't even begin to imagine the heartache you must be in I am deeply inspired by your courage and strength and send every ounce of love that I possibly can xxx

remarkable creatures

21st May 2017

Today was one of the toughest days physically that I've had yet. But I have been looked after by these two remarkable creatures and couldn't feel more cared for or safe! I love them with all my heart. In the morning the sun will rise again and tomorrow will be a new fresh day which could end up being the best day of someone's life. The challenges any of us may have had today could be the strength that we need for tomorrow :) xxx

If you can't live longer, live deeper...

18th May 2017

Yesterday was a good Marsden Wednesday predominately because we made it to the canteen in time for lunch (first time in as long as I can remember) so I was very excited to have some of their soup...I love soup, it's like a big warm hug. Good for the soul...maybe that's why they are spelt so similarly?

Although I have been at the Marsden on average once a week for over a year now, still with each and every visit, I continue to be blown away by the staff, they really do treat everyone as if they're family (it always amazes me how they always remember so much about what we've been up to) and their kindness and care never falters. It adds so much sunshine to the day and continues to give me such motivation to continue our fundraising for them and our mission to raise awareness.

I had a lovely weekend just gone celebrating my best friend's hen who has given me the ultimate honour of being her maid of honour in just a couple of weeks time!! I feel so proud and so lucky! We had such a fabulous weekend and although I was sad that had to hold out from some activities like the night out, my beautiful sister stayed in to keep me company (it filled my heart with love getting to have special time with her) and we had a lot of fun hearing about all of the naughty hen antics upon their return. What made me the most super duper happy was hearing that our 'queen bee' hen had a spectacular weekend.

In fact for those couple of days of the hen I felt the best I had in weeks...I was able to eat a bit, keep pain and fatigue at bay and didn't even vomit!!...so potentially I actually did better than some others (no drunken names mentioned) in the group! Haha. It's incredible what a little bit of best friend and sisterly magic can do!

Prior to the weekend my health was really causing me a lot of struggle and problems, and since the weekend I've fallen back a little bit again but I suppose that was to be expected. I am now 2 weeks into my new chemotherapy drug (which is still early days) and the hospital are continuing to experiment a little with my other drug types and dosages so that I can maintain as good a life quality as possible and I'm confident that we will get there and achieve a successful balance.

One of my current big toughies is the Chronic fatigue. I just can't keep my peepers open. It's an indescribable exhaustion and soon as I concentrate, read, write or watch anything or even try to hold a conversation, I'm fast asleep. It feels like a bit of a relentless battle. I imagine that our hectic lifestyle and the constant travelling doesn't help but annoyingly that's something we can't change.

The pain also continues to be a real 'pain'!!! I think this also contributes to being tired using energy to try to convince my body that I'm not in pain. At the moment the main source is still from my liver and then each day there are different other areas which cause pain and which fluctuate day to day.

Although these symptoms drive me bonkers sometimes, they are also a good reminder which I am in some ways grateful for. A reminder of the cancer diagnosis...which sounds totally absurd (as I mostly like to forget about the C word) so bear with me!!!...Such a huge blessing of the diagnosis/prognosis is that it has reminded me how precious life is. That none of us know what could happen to any of us from one day to the next so we MUST treasure every single moment. Even the small mundane things as there could be a time when that isn't mundane, a time where we long for that split second to appreciate the luxury of normality. There's so many things now I can't do that I could do this time last year, but also there is still so, so many that I still CAN do, and many I plan on being able to do again. I feel so determined to do everything I can while I still can and to be able to fulfil all of our dreams as a married couple. Having said this there are always some times or days that I feel frustrated as I'm sure everyone does (which is why I am grateful for the reminder to keep fighting, to go to anything and everything I can, to celebrate joys in people's lives and to create our own joys). I just thought I'd be totally honest about some of these frustrated moments...

Some days I feel SO fed up of feeling rotten and just want to be able to wake up and feel 'normal'. Some times I get annoyed relying on so many different drugs (I used to be against even taking a paracetamol and would opt for a pint of water...that doesn't seem to make the cut anymore). Some times I feel embarrassed and like I have no privacy or dignity, always having to get my various body parts out on full display to have to speak to so many people about what I'm eating/weigh/drinking/sleeping etc. Some times I feel cross that I have no independence (I can't drive, I can't move properly, I can't eat what I was want, I can't walk Mols), I just want to be able to hop in my car and mooch around a shop or something. Some times I feel so guilty that Jake has to do so much and that I'm so reliant on him, everyday I wish I could do more for him like he deserves. Some times I feel grumpy that I get questioned about what I'm doing and told what I should be doing, I'm 31 and should/want to be able to make those decisions. Some times I feel like I just can't take the symptoms anymore and feel so horrendous and that it's all too much. Some times I feel sad if I think about our possible reality with regards to our married life span together and what we want to be doing but can't and don't necessarily know if we ever will be able to....but the main thing is this is ONLY some times on some days...fortunately these are few and far between. The main thing is that (forget the sometimes/somedays) EVERYDAY I feel blessed lucky and grateful. Forget the questioning...as long as I can do something I WILL do that something!! Yup...Stubborn cow! Everyday I feel overwhelmed with love and I couldn't possibly have more support or positivity around me. Everyday I get to see Jake's handsome face and Molly's face of fluff and I know I have my whole wide world right here beside me and I couldn't ask for more than that!

Although pain and tiredness haven't eased on the bright side, the nausea and persistent vomiting have really subsided...which gave me even more excitement for that magic soup yesterday. So I have been trying my best to eat as much as possible and I've managed to put on a whole kilogram in the last week! High fives all round!! This week has been hospital heavy and busy with two trips to a hospital in Birmingham, our big London Marsden Wednesday and today I had an appointment with the Marsden dietician which was great. She wants me to keep calories up throughout the day as often as possible. Right now this still turns my stomach but I do wonder, if the nausea totally stops and I can keep gaining weight, how long I can away with keeping this recommended diet up?! It's a VERY naughty diet and pretty sure not one element would be included in one of Joe Wicks's bibles!!!

Like I mentioned, only two weeks in, it's still early days with the new chemotherapy drug, however I do feel they are already helping despite some side effects trying to muzzle their way in. At yesterday's appointment the professionals spoke about decreasing the chemo dosage due to these side effects. I'd like to try and keep going on a higher dose for as long as I can so I think that's the plan for now at least. Although side effects are annoying, I think there are pros to some of them too!!..

I have constant big ankle swelling. This could be due to the drug or as a result of my liver - I think a pro is that when I look down at my 'cankles' the only other time I've seen them like this is when I've been on a long flight somewhere exciting or returning from a idyllic holiday so to me they make me think of happy times!! Plus I can make fun imprints in them and they stay there for hours. It's the new playdough!!

Everything is very dry. My mouth has suffered most. My tongue has enlarged and split and inside my lips, mouth, throats and tongue is covered in ulcers. This is a bit sore and makes cleaning teeth tricky and also gives me a bit of a husky voice. The best pro with this though is that ice lollies soothe it, ease nausea and add a few extra calories as well as hydration. So I'm on to a winner. You would never believe my daily calippo intake!! Just brilliant best pro ever!! Also I usually sound like a child so having a hoarseness I quite enjoy!! With the cankles, the swollen abdomen, hair loss etc etc I'm feeling very unsexual but if you catch me on the phone right now I feel like a husky sexual siren!

My dicky tummy has returned a bit but the pro is that it eases some liver pain and swelling and is nothing like it was before so doesn't even feel like an issue.

I have new pain in my pelvis. I don't think this is a related side effect but like the other pains it restricts movement and is annoying. We were made aware last week that I have new tumours in that area so I was given an immediate x-ray yesterday. I think it's probably just a muscular thing and not worried about it so that's a good pro! And it's only one side!

Radiotherapy on my boob is done. It's still tender and sore but I'm told this can fluctuate and I'm sure a pro of the drug is that it will ease very soon.

So overall I don't think there's anything much to worry about for the time being. We will keep observing and battling through the tricky bits and most of all keep living each day as deeply as we can!!

I'm so sorry that this is such very boring post. I did try to write yesterday but I couldn't keep my eyes open as I tried to type. So today i have written most of it whilst squinting through one eye and it seems to have taken forever so I hope it makes sense! I just thought I owed people an update particularly as I still haven't written personally to everyone. I apologise once AGAIN that I am SO behind with messages especially 'thank yous'. It's something that is so important to me and I am ashamed of myself that I can't keep up. Please have faith and don't give up on me. I feel so forever grateful everyday and, especially with not being able to express my gratitude, I feel extra undeserving and so guilty. You all take kindness to a new level and I wish I could do more. Every night I go to bed hoping I may wake up feeling more able. I will get there!!

Thank you so much for all of the amazing feedback you have given us for Pedro. As it was a slightly more whacky idea we weren't quite sure how it would be received. Your positivity, posts and photos mean the world. He will be pumping his way onto Amazon alongside 'Stuck in the Mud' at some point this week...superstar Jake will keep you all posted. Once we have navigated our way around our mountains of admin, another of our key focuses will soon be on the summer book!!

Our Website is still under construction but won't be long and I'm so excited about it. Dean has been working so hard on it and I can't wait to share 'otherfingers' creative documentary! Jake has been beavering away and made a Vimeo album of some of the best videos taken from the last year (including Tandemonium, JustGiving and wedding) ready for a tab on the website. He has shared the link on our Facebook page if you fancy a peek although no doubt you are sick of our faces!!!

Http://Vimeo.com/user66476199/videos

Sending so much love to you all xxx

Fundraising

12th May 2017

Yesterday was a long Marsden Wednesday but needless to say; magical as always. It's now a week since I've been on the new chemotherapy drug that they were able to access under compassionate grounds, so they are keeping a close eye on me and we are hoping pain, fatigue and nausea may improve soon. After 6 hours of usual tests and consultations etc., we headed to radiology. I finished zapping some spinal tumours just over a week ago so this time it was my boobie's tumours turn!!...and there I was thinking I didn't have any boobies!! There were even a few students in there who all took turns to see what the metastases felt like and have a free poke!

While we were there Jake and I were reflecting a little on everything that's happened. It occurred to us that a year ago, in April, we started our fundraising mission for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Our dream was to be able to use my health circumstances in a positive way to raise money (which would be used towards future research and treatment for others) and to raise awareness for rare forms of cancer as well as for this remarkable institution. We hoped that we may also be able to give some people hope and support in some kind of way.

We were absolutely astonished in December when, after only 8 months, the fundraising surpassed its target...over a whopping £100k! This was absolutely the most amazing feeling and it was without doubt all thanks to you super heroes. What's equally as amazing is that, since December, this total has continued to climb which potentially could change and even save lives.

From a fundraising perspective, the last couple of months in particular have been unbelievable as we have seen the standing total soar to over a staggering £121,000.00. This is phenomenal and genuinely exceeds all of our wildest expectations (our initial target last April was £7k!). It truly is ALL thanks to the incredible support, sharing, kindness, creativity, fundraising and continued donations from every one of you. Words could never adequately express how grateful we are or how humbled we are by your kindness on a daily basis. We appreciate every purchase of our 'Tara & Tyrone' books too and, of course, will be donating a percentage of the profit to the fundraising.

As well as all of the mind boggling kindness we have received from you all, there are three very special thank yous that we would like to share because they have made such a tremendous iimpact over the last month:
1 - Team 'smile, love and be kind' - we
had the honour of walking the 'Marsden March' alongside this team of wonderful friends at the end of March. So far they have collected £3810.36 towards the fundraising. Such very special humans who I miss seeing at school every single day.
2 - Two best friends Cara and Simon ran in the Brighton Marathon last month. The commitment they put into it was so inspiring and I am in total awe of both. So far the couple have raised £2890.00 towards the fundraising. SO proud of you!
3 - Philippa - a beautiful, selfless and mind blowingly generous, one of a kind friend who I went to university with...donated £1600 (!!!) last week of her hard earned pennies. She really is one of the most dedicated, hardworking people I know. I don't even know where to begin or what else I can say about this...I'm still in total shock and have been left totally speechless.

Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts to these super humans and to all of you. The limitless unity, love, positivity and determination from you all is infectious and gives us and so many others encouragement and hope everyday...it reinforces that no one is ever alone and that one day...We WILL beat cancer. Xxxx

You'll never walk (or wheel) alone

7th May 2017

A couple of weeks ago I was really disappointed that my bucket list dream (to ride in a hot air ballon with Jake) had to be cancelled due to my health particularly as the news came only two weeks after a similar situation...Almost exactly a month (to the day) ago I had planned a surprise birthday treat to take Jake to a Liverpool game because when we wrote the list together when I was diagnosed, one of his bucket list dreams was for us to go together and for me to experience watching his favourite football team play at Anfield. We were all ready to go that morning when we received a phone call from hospital informing us that I urgently needed to be there that evening for spinal surgery the next morning. I was gutted because I wanted so much for Jake to be able to go to a game...no one on this planet deserves a treat more than this man.


I wrote a little bit about it in a blog post and we were blown away (as always!) by the monumental human kindness with people offering us their tickets and help. And there is one little secret squirrel in particular called Kat (who may I add has already raised a staggering amount of money towards our fundraising mission from organising the team static cycle back in October) who contacted the club directly and informed them of our situation asking if anything could be done.

We had absolutely no idea about this until we were contacted by Angela from Liverpool FC who is genuinely the purest ray of sunshine and must be some kind of angel...it is within her name so must be true!!! We've chatted on he phone a few times and she instantly felt like a long lost friend and has been in regular contact with us to make sure she could get a match sorted and that we would have a perfect day...and...today she arranged exactly that for us. We went to Anfield for the game free of charge (she also made it her own mission to ensure we got a full refund on the tickets I got from some dodgy website for the game we weren't able to attend)!! Angela truly nailed this couple's bucket list dream on the head....it went above and beyond any expectation we could have imagined (and that's from someone who doesn't watch football!!!).

I couldn't even describe how wonderful Angela has been to us today, as well as the whole club and every other member of staff who have been phenomenal.
We were treated like family, given SO many goodies, served cups of tea and snacks throughout the game and even had a drink and lovely chat with Ian Callaghan (most capped Liverpool player ever) after the game. It really was the best day and we feel so lucky.

It totally has blown my mind how such hugely successful, busy and massive club can make two normal people feel like special VIPs .

A huge heartfelt thank you to Kat and to Angela.


Tonight we are rounding it off with a night at the hotel I had originally booked for Jake's birthday. We are staying at The Titanic hotel...Titanic was the first film we saw at the cinema together when we were about 13 years old so it needed to be done!!

Em’s health update

3rd May 2017

Good evening everyone!

We hope everyone had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and you aren’t too depressed to be back at work! Don’t fret - it is Wednesday after all, hump-day, and it is just 25 days until your next four day week! You’ve got this!!! :)

I know that there has been a bit of radio silence from our part so i thought i’d give you all a bit of an update on how Em has been…

Cancer is a bitch -
As you will all know, from previous updates, Em has now been off chemotherapy for over a month. This was for two reasons - 1. because the drug that she was on had stopped working and 2. because she had to undergo a spinal operation for a collapsed vertebra (and patients cannot have surgery whist on chemotherapy due to poor wound healing). Over the last month, whilst off any preventative medication, there has been quite a rapid deterioration in her overall health. The cancer has spread unhindered with growth of further widespread metastases, predominantly in her liver, pelvis, breast, skull and pituitary fossa (the latter two of which we found out about today). The main symptoms of which have been liver capsule pain (requiring a re-admission earlier in the month for pain management) and progressively worsening nausea and vomiting (caused by pressure of the left lobe of the liver compressing her stomach). This has lead to difficulty eating, poor appetite, vomiting and ultimately 6kg of weight loss in less than 3 weeks. In addition to this she is having to deal with debilitating fatigue caused by the cancer’s ever-increasing metabolic requirement, the massive analgesia dosing schedule, minimal food intake, and all this compounded by having to have 5 lots of palliative radiotherapy on her spine last week (the side effects of which also cause tiredness). Oh and of course there’s the breast pain (making comforting husband and Molly hugs very difficult indeed!), gradual hair loss, dry skin, excessive thirst, double vision, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, constipation… the list goes on. Ultimately, it has meant that, over the last week particularly, Em has spent the majority of her time split between being asleep on the sofa and having her head in the toilet bowl… and a million miles away from being able to do what she has wanted to do and that is to try to respond to all of your wonderful messages, emails and letters that she/we have received. Such has been the struggle that the Marsden team were keen to admit her to the ward again today for a few days for closer symptom management. But, true to form, being the complete trooper she is, there was no way she was not going to come home tonight and to the best treatment going - MOLLY THERAPY!

The poor thing has really been suffering and it has come about, relatively, all of a sudden and as a shock to us both. But you wouldn’t be able to tell. She is still managing to smile and be gentle and kind and loving and considerate to everyone she comes into contact with. She is a really rather special human being. I say this not to garner any sympathy, because that is the last thing she would want. I say it because the last month has brought about some massive changes… in our expectations and in our outlook on life and has reminded us both of some very important lessons. And also because i know lots of you, who care deeply about her, have been wondering and worrying about what has been going on.

Despite all of this madness and desperate developments there is also some positive news. Tomorrow she gets to start the next chapter which is to start the new chemotherapy drug, the funding of which was miraculously approved last week (GO TEAM MARSDEN!). And we both have our fingers and toes crossed that that will bring about some sort of relief and improvement. The next month will undoubtedly be full of highs and lows but she is determined to not let any of it get in the way of trying to make the most of every day.

Thank you again to everyone for their kind words of love and support. We love you all.

xX Smile, Love and Be Kind Xx

Radiotherapy

27th Apr 2017

I thought it might be of help to some people to write a little bit about my experience with radiotherapy (as well as some additional, usual ramblings!!) as I personally had no idea what to expect and so perhaps it might make the prospect less scary for some who may be or may know others who require this treatment at some point.


Yesterday I finished my 5 day course and so now like to class myself as a proud Wolverine woman with a radioactive titanium spine (makes it feel far more exciting!! Haha)...You can feel the bolts under my skin which is a bit icky but weirdly cool (I like to think anyway)...and matches my new facial accessory...although even at 31 nervous to tell her...mum now 'nose'!


Before my radiotherapy course started I was so tired I struggled to stay awake and was extremely nauseous (both for many reasons: due to operation recovery, the growing cancer and being off chemo, the side effects from the vast amounts of meds I'm on, and not really being able to really eat). I was vomiting whenever I did try to eat due to my liver not functioning at the moment and as it continues to swell it is pressing against my stomach so there is little room and digestion is tricky. I never imagined it would be possible to feel more tired or more sicky...however...it was /is. Once the radiotherapy started rather annoyingly it did get worse. I was told that this was a treatment side effect, particularly as they were radiating my spine down to my stomach area. The vomiting became more aggressive whether I had eaten or not and as a result of this I felt even more exhausted, along with fatigue also being a side effect in itself anyway. We were absolutely gutted that this meant we had to cancel our second book reading which was scheduled this week at a school in Reading (even the name of the location 'Reading' is perfect for a book reading!!) but thank goodness they have been amazing and have squeezed us (Tara, Tyrone & Pedro) in for a later date. Thank you so much!!


There are many types of radiotherapy which I wasn't aware of and the variety of types are used differently to treat different types of cancers and also depending on where the tumours are located. They can cause a variety of side effects and some very different from mine. Also some people have to undergo the treatment for much longer amounts of time. It's definitely worth taking a look at the Macmillan internet site where there is heaps of useful information!


For lots of cases where radiotherapy is used as a treatment it is a lifesaver and in conjunction with chemotherapy can cure the body from cancer which is just incredible!! In my case my cancer sadly can't be cured and has spread to many organs, and also in my case the the radiotherapy was obviously on my spine. Annoyingly radiotherapy cannot cure bone metastasis but it can help relieve pain, prevent complications and improve quality of life. I can confidently say combined with the surgery they have achieved this wonderfully...although I can also confidently say (as always with the Marsden) I was never in doubt!


So now I have completed my five days of zapping and it's all done! Yippee!! The great news is that other than mild sunburn to the area and the other side effects I've mentioned (which I'm sure could be a lot worse!) as I said; it's had such a fabulous impact. The procedure itself was so quick and painless. I lay on a bed, similar to a CT scanner, then the machines line you up (using the two little dot tattoos), after a bit of whirring and spinning panels it zapped from underneath for less than about 5 minutes. From day one it immediately had a positive effect on my bones particularly in combination with the surgery healing so quickly and the painkillers and steroids kicking in. By day 2/3 my movement was better and my back pain subsided dramatically. It makes such a difference with long car journeys which is a huge bonus for us as we are constantly in the car. I still have quite a lot of pain from my liver at the front but with the strain being taken away from my back half it is such a blessing.


As many people know, we have had a couple of anxious weeks waiting on whether I would receive funding for a chemotherapy, that I wasn't actually eligible for, and Jake shared the miraculous news last night that we HAVE BEEN GRANTED THE FUNDING!!! So are absolutely over the moon!!!!! We honestly don't think this could have been possible without the Marsden.


Although literally desperate to start it is also a tiny bit terrifying because the drug is known to be a power house with HUGE side effects but in my current position I am COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE MORE grateful and we will cross the bridge of those side effects when we come to them.


The initial thought of the professionals was to wait a few weeks before starting it to allow the radiotherapy to wash out of my system and to recover from my current ongoing side effects and then also have some surgery on a large lump in my breast, however there is now a bit of a mad rush to get me on it...


...My liver is continuing to increase in size and still not functioning. It is causing quite significant pain and I continue to feel/be very sick. This is also causing continued weight loss (despite looking positively pregnant due to the swelling) and I am quite dizzy and malcoordinated (a strong look). Eating is actually at such a low point that I haven't even been able to face chocolate for over a month and I usually gorge on this delight EVERY DAY (and night!!)!!! My mouth is really dry from all the meds (but that's ok and I have this really sexy saliva cream I use...Jakes such a lucky boy!!). I continue to feel totally exhausted all the time which is really annoying, can't really focus on stuff especially reading and fall asleep all the time (again poor jake...I'm rubbish company...although I do have really crazy medication induced dreams where I'm half awake and I think he has a lot of fun playing along with them!!). I also have flushing which is a symptom of the cancer (on the plus side, with make up I look like I've been in the Caribbean for a week although without make up I look like I've been under a kebab grill for a week...swings and roundabouts)!


So next week is now a busy and big week again. I will be having full body CT from head to toe, a quick dose of radiotherapy to my boob lumps (instead of surgery) and then after some prods, pokes and tests will start on new treatment!!! Eeeekk!!


Both Jake and I continue to feel so lucky and everyday are able to find and enjoy the little things that we treasure in each and every moment. Perhaps more so than ever. Everyday I find myself feeling more blessed and more appreciative to have this INCREDIBLE MAN by my side who I love with all my heart and soul. I never want to miss a second with him and so often catch myself battling to stay awake using a new technique like a shark where I have one eye closed and try to sleep half my body at a time! Haha not sure how reliable it is!! We also have our Molly bear who brings us love, happiness and hope everyday. She is also the best motivation to get out each day and smell the air and admire spring. To get walking to keep muscles going and keep active. 'Walkies' is one of her favourite things in the world and seeing her little face light up and tail wag it would just break my heart if I wasn't joining her!!


To make up for not being able to go on my hot air ballon bucket list dream last weekend (which I have not given up on and WILL DO!!!) we instead went away for a night which was bliss. Of course the hotel was dog friendly and we took Mols (who was treated like a queen!!) and the three of us had a magical time. Then, this week, on our way home from hospital yesterday I was able to tick off another bucket list dream (even though I'm far too old and totally not cool enough!!) and get my nose pierced!!!!...I'm so sorry mum; but who nose maybe it will grow on you!!!!!


We are super duper excited that the 2nd Book 'Pedro the pump' is ready to deliver to you all. We've been blown away by the orders. Thank you so much!! I'm a little bit nervous as so hope you all like it. As always I couldn't feel more proud of jake, he has been working his (lovely) bottom off replying to 500 emails at a time which has been particularly tricky for him as our internet isn't working and hasn't been for almost 3 weeks (as well as no phone reception) so he's been having to find time in various places to do so (whether in hospital, staying at people's houses etc) and as always worked like a trooper...I just don't know how he does it! We already have orders to send out world wide including to England, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, France, America, Hong Kong, Spain, turkey, Sweden, wales, Scotland, Ireland and Channel Islands which is just phenomenal. The book will also be on Amazon with the first one very soon. We apologise that we have not been as efficient as we would have liked to be this time round. And I personally Send even deeper apologies that I am now EVEN FURTHER behind with my replies to my personal messages, WhatsApp, Facebook, instagram messages and ejtandemonium facebook messages. Please please know I'm not ignoring anyone and appreciate the messages more than you could ever know. And to all the beautiful people who have sent the most thoughtful things in the post which is just unbelievable. I know you are all so wonderful you understand but I truly am sorry!


Reading your kind messages gives me tingles and goose bumps although I feel so undeserving. With all the health stuff going on I have really struggled to even open most messages at the moment but I honestly can't wait to read and reply them all. I'd like to say an extra special thank you to the virgin crew (past and present) who have just been mind blowingly supportive throughout everything.


It may seem strange that I'm still writing a Blog. To be honest right now they are a challenge and often take a day or two between falling asleep, goggle eyes, appointments, sickness etc to do them (and to be honest in the time it takes right now I'd probably only get through about 3 messages in the same time scale). So the reason I try to do them is at least then we have some way (especially whilst I'm being so rubbish with replying) to update people, thank people and also to continue to raise awareness and send all our love. Jake has done an incredible job with this too and I appreciate that so much!! He's just a mega star!


One other final note of ultra exciting news is that our Website is coming together and should be ready within a couple of weeks we hope. It looks really cool. Can't wait for you all to see it!! We will be using it as a platform and much easier way for selling the books and we will have other products including colouring in books, personalised prints and more. As well as this it will have lots of fun other functions!!


Sending bucket loads of love to you all and the biggest thank you as always for your overwhelming support. It totally blows our minds!!! You all feel like family to us xxx

Hope

27th Apr 2017

26/4/17 Hope

What a month...

It's exhausting just reading this...

Emmy's month in numbers ...

26 days of April (so far...)
2 separate hospital inpatient admissions
8 nights spent in hospital
(10 nights spent away from home)
1 spinal operation
4 CT scans
56 vials of blood taken
4 kilos of weight lost ????
6 additional day visits to the Royal Marsden
... for 5 lots of radiotherapy
More than 600 tablets taken
And more than 1800 miles driven.
2000 books purchased
...And 1000 books sold (so far)

Then there was...
1 radio interview
1 day of documentary filming
1 wedding
1 date night
1 cancelled school visit book reading (exhaustion)
1 cancelled hot air balloon ride (insurance refused... something to do with a bad back!????)
1 nose piercing
1 blue disabled badge acquired!!
1 website under construction
1 chemotherapy stopped [working] - (it was shit anyway!????)
1 'unavailable' last ditch chemotherapy drug funding applied for...
...1 chemotherapy drug funding granted!!!!

...yes that's right people... you heard me!!

The drug that is not approved as a second line drug (that had to be applied for on an individual basis for Emmy by the hospital), the drug that costs £120000 a year to fund, the drug that gives us a little more hope...that drug... got approved!

Thank you Royal Marsden. Thank you Kate Newbold for making the impossible possible. We can't even begin to thank you enough.

Thank you also to some dear friends (who's names I won't mention but you know who you are) who offered us a ridiculously huge amount of their hard earned money (just yesterday) to help pay for the new chemotherapy should we have had the funding refused and had to pay for it ourselves. There are no words that we can say that could possibly tell you how grateful we are to you.

To everyone who has supported Emmy this month... this year - thank you... all of you.

Emmy has been through the mill this month. Probably the hardest month yet. Desperate lows. Severe pain. Tiredness and nausea their worst ever. But still you can't wipe the smile off this girl's face. She's my angel and I've never been more proud of her. Love her to pieces.

And there's still 4 days to go... ????

HOPE IS BEING ABLE TO SEE THAT THERE IS LIGHT DESPITE ALL OF THE DARKNESS. Desmond Tutu

Pedro has arrived

22nd Apr 2017

A very good morning to you all!!! Someone get us two large coffees - we've got some Pedros to post!!! 2000 of them!!!!

Thank you so so so much to everyone who has been in touch to order a copy of one (or both) of the Tara & Tyrone books! You're all amazing!! And we are really so so grateful! We will get them out to you as soon as we possibly can!

For all of you who haven't ordered one yet but would like one - please email us at ejtandem@hotmail.com with how many books you would like, any personalised messages you'd like in them and where you would like them posted to and we will respond with the payment details etc.

We've been asked a few times how many books people can buy. There really is no limit to how many you can order (we have loads!) so please please order as many as you like! Perhaps an early birthday present!? Or maybe your child's school library needs a new addition!?

The book will also be going onto Amazon next week too if that's easier for you. But we won't be able to personalise those books and Amazon also takes a fair chunk of the profit and charity donation. But a sale is a sale so we're happy (and super grateful) which ever way you order it!!

We have had the chance to look through the new Pedro book and we are super happy with it! I cannot begin to tell you all how proud I am of my beautiful wife and the amazing story she has written. We have had so many messages telling us how much you all loved the first Tara and Tyrone story (which has been wonderful!) but I can tell you that the Pedro book is even better!

As with the first book, she cleverly incorporates an amazing moral message into a brilliantly entertaining and rhyming story book which all children from toddler through primary school will enjoy. My wife has an incredible talent, a wild imagination and writes so beautifully and I honestly think (and I know I may be a little bit biased) that it is a truly great children's story book. We hope the words as well as the pictures will stimulate your children's' minds and their own imaginations and we can't wait to hear what you and your lovely kiddlywinks think of it. Please send us your photos of you reading the books with your kids and any of your children's drawings and stories which are inspired from the Tara and Tyrone books! We'd love to see them! Their ideas may even feature in the next book!!????

We have noticed one tiny typo in the Pedro book and we feel awful and are so sorry! In the rush to get it out and get it printed we missed out an 'a' before the word flamboyant in the middle of the book! It will get corrected for the second batch! But at least you'll know you have a first edition!????

With everything emmy has had to go through, particularly over the last month, the arrival of Pedro has really put a massive grin on both of our faces! We hope Pedro's story will put an even bigger smile on yours!

Biggest hugs from us both!!

Love from Emmy and Jake xxx
Smile, Love and be kind! Xx

London Marathon

22nd Apr 2017

I would like to wish EVERYONE taking part in the London marathon tomorrow oodles of luck and wish you a bucket load of congratulations for having the courage to take part. Everyone involved is incredible...participating, organising and spectating.

I am certainly no 'runner' but before I got too sick enjoyed going out for a jog. I was lucky enough to participate in the London Marathon for the NSPCC in 2013 & 2015. Although I have never done any crazy ultra marathons like my heroic sis and hubby, and I have never run marathons in any other cities like so many others of you have.... from what I've heard, London IS a one off, and I can absolutely believe that.

On both occasions I was totally unprepared...as I am for everything. But also both times (although I was already quite poorly the 2nd and had no idea why at the time) I can honestly say were the 2 of the most incredible experiences of my life!! Memories I treasure forever. Memories that remind me a little of my current situation....because it's tough and a challenge but it's worth every inch of the battle. The unbelievable amount of love, selflessness and generosity from friends (with everything...from support, to messages, advice to love, sponsorship to being there) as well as the mind blowing strength, unity and kindness given by strangers on the day, which just takes your breath away. It makes your heart fuzzy and fingers tingly and even if it's painful along the route it's impossible not to smile with every step. The atmosphere is something I wish could be bottled up and sprinkled like around like confetti because it's truly magical. Everyone is genuinely willing you to get to that finish line. Wear your name on your vest with pride, remember why you are doing it and the crowd will cheer you and carry you home.

Don't forget to treasure moments...like people say on your wedding day!! Do what feels right for you and savour every feeling even when it's tough (and it's the mile from hell or you've hit a wall) because you will look back and remember how strong you are! Use every sense...look at the sights, listen to the sounds and cheering, admire the reasons people are running, smell the delicious jelly beans, capture the happiness, feel the burn, taste the water and Lucozade like its magic potion (water has never tasted so good!!)!

Whether you are competitive and going for a time, just want to make it to the end, or hobbling with an injury...having the bravery to start in the first place is outstanding and the commitment taken to training is incredible, even if you have done very little, it's still a huge task to juggle it with injuries, work, life etc. It's such a physical and psychological achievement and you should feel SO proud! You WILL get to the end and it will be a feeling of euphoria. YOU DID IT! You did my it by yourself!

A dream of mine is to do one more if I'm ever allowed to or find myself physically well enough...even if I have to walk the whole way or that legend Jake has to push me in a wheel chair (yep he has agreed!! ????) it is something on my bucket list.

You never know when a time may come that you can't do it. So KNOW YOU CAN and you will. And I for one couldn't have more respect or be there in spirit willing you all on every step of the way. Sending you all so much love, you are all heroes and hope you know that!!

Neck Lymph Nodes - AWARENESS

18th Apr 2017

When I was cleaning my teeth this morning I noticed my neck and felt compelled to write something. I apologise that these aren't particularly attractive photos (and probably can't even see all that much) but I thought it might help to have a picture to show what I'm writing about might look like. The reason I am sharing these photos and this information is because I am so passionate about using my position (and feel so blessed that I can use it in a positive way) to raise awareness. Hopefully it could help maybe even one person in the future. We all know when something isn't right with our own bodies and having the confidence and self belief to get something checked out (and keep going back to that GP if necessary) could lead to early diagnosis and treatment and therefore change and maybe even save lives!


Over a couple of years ago now, although enjoying a wonderful social life, active at the gym and running, loving my job as a teacher; I felt very unwell for over a year. I was trying to hide a battle with horrid symptoms (fatigue, weight loss, relentless diarrhoea, night-sweats and bone pain amongst others) because my blood tests (including even thyroid function) etc were all coming back normal and so I was told several times it must be IBS, norovirus or stress...so didn't want to make a fuss or be a drama queen. Before this point I had barely ever been to the doctors before and never hospital so I lost confidence and would put off going back to the GP for anything, as it felt like I had been so frequently and I hated the thought that I was wasting their time. Also over this time period about a year pre-diagnosis I noticed that had small lumps in my neck but assumed that they were muscle knots from exercise or just swollen glands from being run down from a constant bad tummy...they were rubbery and not sore and I'd gotten used to them so surely they were no big deal at all. So when I did go to the doctors there was so much other stuff going on they weren't something I was aware I should mention.

When Jake and I got back in contact he was amazing. He listened to me and everything that I explained was going on with my body. He gave me a massive boost with my esteem to help me get my health sorted. However he was in Australia and I was in England so we could only talk over FaceTime and he wasn't quite able to put his finger on what it could be but urged me to persist with seeking medical attention back in the UK.

I flew out to see him in my February half term. SO EXCITED. I was so happy that for that week my symptoms kind of seemed to subside and I just had the time of my life back with the man I loved on the other side of the world! So I didn't say much to him about how I had been feeling physically. On our last day he very sweetly gave me a massage and I just mentioned to him 'I have these muscle knots do you think you could give them a rub?' He has since revealed to me that as soon as he felt them his blood went cold. I had no idea at all he was so calm and reassuring. He just made me PROMISE I would go back to the doctors as soon as I landed, advised me what to say and told me I NEEDED to make the doctor feel my neck.

When I got back, I was very busy at school and still wasn't keen on another visit to the doctors (I'd had a slightly unpleasant experience at the end of January). Every night Jake would call and ask me if I had been yet and eventually I gave in and went... I did and said as Dr. Coates advised and asked the GP to feel my neck and...the rest is history. I was rushed straight into A&E and the biopsies etc all began immediately. I wasn't worried or scared. To be honest I felt so relieved to finally feel like I was being taken seriously and that maybe there was something I could do to treat why I felt so poorly. Within a couple of weeks I had an initial diagnosis and although we didn't know the severity and extent of the cancer at this point, Jake flew straight back and never left my side!

These pictures are of the lymph nodes on the right hand side of my neck at the moment. They have grown and weren't this size at the time of diagnosis. They still feel the same though. Some now are sore because they sit on nerves and some uncomfortable as they are big and in odd places so obstruct some movement. To be honest the thing I find most bothersome about them is that being able to see and feel them all the time is just a bit of a reminder that I have the nasty 'C' word and I can't get rid of it. Because of the stage of the cancer I never had any lymph nodes removed I just had a small operation on my neck to remove a cluster for research. They have grown in size and have spread as cancerous tissues and nodes along my clavicle, behind my sternum, in my neck, in my boobs and under my arms amongst other places.

Obviously for any illness the signs and symptoms can and will vary and with cancer it's no different and there are SO many different types of cancer. Also with regards to cancer it's important to remember...'it's not always a lump' however it's equally as important to remember that often this could be such a significant sign. It's also important to know that any lump could be different particularly with different forms of the disease! If you have any lumps anywhere I just urge people to get them checked out as soon as possible! It's probably nothing but similarly it just could be something!! The key signs in my case were that they were rubbery and firm to touch, the swelling didn't go down, and over time they got bigger, the lumps themselves weren't tender and they didn't move. If I had known this information a couple of years ago, our situation could be very different now. I harbour absolutely no resentment or bad feeling about this (my case was so rare and random and difficult to detect)...all I DO feel is the hope that if I share this information it could help raise awareness and could maybe help someone else one day and for that I feel lucky.

My biggest hope though is that people have the confidence and belief in themselves and in their own bodies to pursue their case with any health concern whether that be with mental health or physical health. It can be a terrifying and demoralising process at times but nothing could be more worth it; EVERYONE deserves to be able to live their life to the full...to feel fit, well, healthy and happy!




Pre-order PEDRO!!!

17th Apr 2017

Hello EVERYONE!!!
I hope you all had lovely Easter weekend and your bellies hurt from lots of laughter and chocolatey over-indulgence!!

I am happy to confirm that our second book ‘Tara and Tyrone - Pedro The Pump’ will be available to buy from this coming Friday the 21st of April!!! And we are taking pre-orders!!!

The price of the second book is only £7.

To pre-order a copy just email us at ejtandem@hotmail.com with your address and the number of copies you wish to buy of each/either book. We will then reply with payment details and respond to any queries.

By pre-ordering it will allow us to get on top of the orders nice and early, prep the envelopes, write any messages and get them out to you nice and early when they are delivered to us on Friday!

NOTE: Since the last book we have set up a new business and the books will be sold under the company name ‘MOLLIVERS LTD’! (Named after our gorgeous pup!) and so the bank account details have also changed!

On Friday it will also go on sale on Amazon with our first book and you can buy it from there too ... HOWEVER, Amazon takes £1.73 of the profit for every book sold and the P&P is also higher for you if you buy it from them so (although it is more work for us) we’d prefer you to email us instead!

If you order by emailing us directly at ejtandem@hotmail.com we...
1. raise more money for The Royal Marsden Charity (Wehaaaay!!)
2. personally make more profit (Woohoo!), and
3. you can have a personalised message in each book!

Lastly, we are in the process of finishing our new Mollivers website which will go live soon and you will be able to buy our books and other Tara and Tyrone related paraphernalia there too. This will be the perfect way to buy the books as you will have the ability to add personalised messages on request, it will be as simple as ordering through Amazon (World pay), you will pay less p&p and we won’t have to pay the admin fee to Amazon either. We will update you soon when that happens!

Here is our new post card being sent out with all of our books!!
Lots of love and Biggest hugs to you all!!
Xxx

stitches out!

17th Apr 2017

Scrumptious Dr. Coates has just taken my stitches out 2 weeks after the spinal surgery. Firstly he is a hero (literally nothing he can't do!!), secondly I can't get over how amazing it looks!! What an absolutely incredible surgeon I had, such an amazing job!! Cant believe it!! On Wednesday we head back to the Marsden for a planning CT and then will have follow up radiotherapy for a week and I'm sure my spine will hold stay stable for a while. In fact I'm sure it will be indestructible!!

4 angels

17th Apr 2017

Yesterday, as well as getting to spend a precious couple of hours with my girls (& their wonderful men), I got snuggles from my gorgeous godbaby Bella bear, my beautiful Indi pops, & was given the most thoughtful treasure of a card made by my angel Ellie (attached with a pressie she bought with her own pocket money because she couldn't be there) who I have had the pleasure of watching/admiring grow into the kindest, purest soul over the last ten years.

Today I got another precious couple of hours with my sister (& her wonderful man) & cuddles from my perfect little niece Millie Moo. Having a Coates little sausage with Jake & being a mummy is all I've ever dreamt of & although we are so positive about a surrogacy journey, in reality, it maybe unlikely that Jake and I will ever be able to have a baby of our own and obviously my prognosis isn't looking great at the moment either...but we continue to believe that miracles happen every day, love can/WILL conquer all, & we will NEVER give up hope...AND despite the uncertainty (some would say impossibility) of a family of our own...I feel SO lucky to have these 4 poppets in my life. These munchkins mean more than the world to me. I will always protect them, care for them & adore them as close as it is possible to being my own.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to their mummies for letting me be such a big part of their lives, it makes me feel lucky everyday & I am SO proud of you all. These little pickles could NOT wish for better parents or role models or be part of a more secure family network. They are my absolute worlds (as well as being utterly scrumptious!!) & I love them more than words could ever do justice. They give me strength, determination, motivation & happiness every single day. And if Jake & my stars can't align for our own baby, then having these girls is all I need. Thank you so much little ladies...you will never have any idea how special or magical you are xx

Pedro is on his way! :)

15th Apr 2017

Less than a week until this duo are back to share their new story, work as a team, scatter some kindness and hopefully make some smiles!! Super excited and reeeaally hope you and your little poppets will like it! (spot the tea cosy in honour of the amazing Liz Who has continued knitting such beautiful creations to sell to support our fundraising mission!!).

**Jake will let everyone know about pre-orders, orders, Amazon orders, postage, personalised copies etc on Monday**

Never stop fighting

14th Apr 2017

HAPPIEST OF HAPPY and EGGCELLENTLY CRACKING EASTERS to EVERYONE!!! You phenomenal people have no idea how much happiness you have made me feel and I owe you all the BIGGEST thank you EVER before I take the next few days to rest and hibernate a little. Thank you for being not only so thoughtful, compassionate and generous but also so patient and understanding...You truly have blown me away and I hope more than anything you all have a relaxing, chocolate filled, blissful, fun bank holiday looking after yourselves and loved ones like you all deserve. On an 'eggstra' side-note...talking of eggs and families...it was exactly this time last year (to the day) I was in surgery having my eggs removed to make our little Coates embryos!!


So.....I'm OUT OF HOSPITAL **yippppeeeeeee** in time for Easter weekend with my hubs and of course our gorgeous Molly bear. Although it took a little 'gentle' persuasion (perhaps with some additional jelly bean bribery), I didn't need to use my escape parachute out of the window, or any ninja tactics or abseiling devices in the end. In actual fact the Marsden were so flipping amazing they helped me get back home ASAP in every possible way...totally understanding that 'there's no place like home'. However deep down even if I had to stay it wouldn't have been the end of the world because it was the next best thing to being at home...every single member of staff in the hospital (from the receptionists, to the nurses, to the caterers, to the doctors) are just so unique and wonderful and treated us like family.


Jake has been superman (in every aspect as always) particularly with updating the blog and our nearest and dearest with my health circumstances and obviously quite a bit has changed over the course of the last few months...sometimes it's boggling both of our brains and difficult to keep up with what's going on with my body but I suppose that's the cruel nature of cancer!! So (with a little help from my superman simplifying and explaining to me what's actually going on) I will give you an update the best I can...and what better place to start than GOOD NEWS!! LOVE a 'good news Friday' especially when it's officially on 'Good Friday'! We always had a weekly good news Friday at school, celebrating achievements in assembly before morning playtime....and you can't beat that (good news OR playtime!!) before a weekend.


So here's the good news... (1.) over my last 3 days as an inpatient they have sorted out my drug type and dosage to manage and relieve the excruciating pain I have been experiencing. The palliative care expert was the warmest most AMAZING lady, like a fairy godmother!!!! She basically has assessed all of the crazy concoctions of drugs I've been on and worked out a twice daily dosage of a different (stronger) drug for me to take with top ups throughout the day and night. This means less mixing up of drugs, taking less frequently and we are hoping this will ease some of the side effects and also less interruption to sleep etc. At the moment I'm still exhausted (although this could be for SO many reasons) but pain has eased loads which is just fantastic. (2.) My back surgery is healing well, Dr. Coates can take my stitches out in a couple of days and I will be able to wash properly which will be just delightful...more so for those around me not having to inhale my fruity aroma! Haha. (3.) I LOVE food and a good meal but annoyingly due to the size of my liver swelling I now can't really eat as it's obstructing my stomach and diaphragm and so I end up vomiting and in agony. However, the dieticians have given me some plans to keep my calorie intake up in small manageable sizes throughout the day...these meal ideas are literally any 6 year old child's DREAM!!....any parent's nightmare...I will need to make sure I am brushing my teeth a million times a day or those tooth fairies are going to be having an absolute blast!! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love naughty treats and sweeties and chocolates etc...so if I can't eat a meal this is the next best thing and will hopefully still give me lots of foodie excitement!! (4.) I was on a ward with 2 other patients who, despite their horrendous circumstances, brought so much love and light into my world. They were older than me and going through two very different cancer experiences but are 2 people I will forever think about, passing friendships made that I will treasure and people who are the epitome of appreciating every moment of life, using diagnosis as both a blessing and reminder to treasure every moment. They both also had a doggie at home so we each got our pooch fix through our conversations each morning. (5.) The Royal Marsden is such a unique place that everything is just that little bit extra special. I am SO lucky to be cared for by them...every detail of care and support goes above and beyond...from making me comfortable (even having spare mattresses, pillows, hot water bottles in case I needed a change in the night), restaurant style food, even the Red Cross coming in to do the patients nails! (6.) Financially I am entitled to a little bit of extra support. We've been so busy and would never want to take advantage of anything so it's something we hadn't looked into. It's only small but everything helps and when they realised none of this had been actioned were straight on our case. Plus I get a blue badge for the car!!!...of course I don't want to use it but at times this could be a godsend!! Parking around Christmas time...anyone feel free to hop in our banger with us!


So that is all my brilliant news and just writing that I feel like such a lucky duck and it's clear I have so much to be thankful for. Sadly, on the flip side, our lives are now filled with much more uncertainty. With everything that's gone on over the last year we feel that we couldn't possibly appreciate the little things more or want to make the most of every second more but again, more than ever, the last few days have reminded us just how precious life is. None of us know what could happen to any of us in the future, and we are going to savour and treasure every single millisecond that little bit more than ever! The new optimised levels of uncertainty does make it very tough to plan anything even a few days in advance. Jake has explained to me that he finds this one of the most challenging aspects of our situation. It was nice for him to be able to speak with one of the patient's/new friend's husband's about this who could totally relate to the situation.


Obviously I've now expressed our 'new levels of uncertainty' so I'll try and explain why the best I can. It's unfortunately not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns for us at this moment in time but that absolutely does NOT mean I want ANY concern or sadness and certainly no sympathy (there are so many people out there who are far far worse off and I am blessed in so many ways) so I will just try to be factual and to the point (being concise is not my forte so bear with me)...and as I know with all my heart...love conquers all. I also know that after every storm there can be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns (in my case that unicorn is potentially more likely to be a fluffy brown creature called Molly!)...and if this storm does fail to pass for us...we have learnt and will continue to learn how to dance in the rain perhaps even with a little bit of lightening to add to the atmosphere!! So here's there nitty gritty 'health update'. I'll do my best to try and keep to the facts and it short concise.


Over the last few days/nights I've obviously had lots more tests, daily bloods, hourly heart rate/pressure, X-rays, CT scans etc. My blood results indicate that the pesky CEA levels (blood tumour markers) have continued to climb and from 500ng/mL 3 weeks ago are now at over 700ng/mL. This is because the cancer has been growing with a bit of a vengeance over the last couple of months with the efficacy of the chemotherapy drug decreasing. The truth is, I have now become fully resistant to the chemotherapy drug unfortunately. I had to come off it a fortnight ago anyway for the spinal surgery and will now never go back on it because it is obviously not working anymore. over these last few weeks with it not working the cancer burden has increased quite a lot, particularly in my liver where lesions have been growing and pushing on the liver capsule (the bag that holds the liver) causing worsening liver and abdominal swelling, difficulty breathing and excruciating pain. Where some of the lesions are located (around the edges) have been an issue with regards to the pain and discomfort. I also have lesions in my lungs that have grown a bit and that combined with the liver swelling and difficulty breathing has caused some fluid build up in my lungs which was represented in the CT scan. Overall, physically, this hasn't put me in the best place over the last month, I guess all the above combined with a build up of everything that goes with the 'horridness' of cancer - intense fatigue and sleeping most of the day, in pain almost all of the time, extreme sweating, dryness and thirst, appetite waining and losing weight (despite looking heavily pregnant with the liver and abdominal swelling).


So we need a plan!....I love a plan!! The plan of action is to get used to my new pain management regimen (I'm also desperate to feel more awake!) and then we are back at the Marsden on Wednesday; back and forth for just over a week. I will need to have follow up radiotherapy on my spine where I had the op and also zap some of the other tumours there. I was due to have breast surgery too to remove some tumours which are causing a bit of pain and discomfort however these lesions have increased in quantity and grown quite a lot too meaning it would be a bigger surgery than expected and the problem with more surgery would mean additional recovery time in hospital. So they are going to try and extend the radiotherapy to that area too and give the boobies a zap! I'm going to be the bionic radiating titanium spine woman...surely a new X-man in the making! We'll then go home for (fingers crossed) a couple of weeks to let the radiotherapy wash out of my system before I am able to start on any new chemotherapy drugs and we will recommence at least once weekly Magical Marsden visits again. HOWEVER...this is now where our biggest problem lies...


I mentioned in a previous blog that I was due to start a new trial drug that I qualified for which was great. The big, bad, sad news is that I now do not qualify for this drug anymore because of the deterioration of my liver function. So the ONLY other drug available is only licensed as a 'first line' drug so I don't qualify for that either. (I don't qualify because I have already been given a 'first line' drug the 'Vendatenib' which has now ceased to work). The hospital therefore have to make a desperate individual application for it (and for its funding) for me. They were very honest that they can't guarantee anything and it's a bit of a long shot. One thing for sure is that if I wasn't being cared for by the Royal Marsden it would be a total impossibility!! So once again I feel very lucky and could not be more grateful for this pioneering institution always in my corner. If they aren't able to get approval for this chemotherapy drug for me our only option is that we would have to pay £120000 a year to fund it ourselves! Eeeek! But we'll cross that bridge if we come to it...I'm sure we could work something out even if we have to resort to crowd funding (something I never imagined we would have to do!). If I am lucky enough to gain approval...Aside from the side effects of this drug being terrifying (particularly the extreme nausea and fatigue)...The most daunting part of the news is that most patients only manage to tolerate this drug for 2 months on average so if we do get it, it is by no means a panacea. So in the meantime we are doing some prayers...firstly I will have funding approved, secondly can deal with the horrendous side effects and thirdly that within those two months it may help my liver repair so that I could maybe get onto that trial drug otherwise we may have nothing left. The hospital are also relentlessly working with my lab rat (Mighty Mouse) to see if he can help them and me with any alternatives!! I've heard he's doing well and hasn't grown an ear on his back yet!!


Of course this news does all scare us a little, we just don't know what will happen and are obviously aware that I may not have as much time as we had hoped for? But we aren't going to waste this valuable time worrying about that at the moment. We just want to control the pain, keep trying to take in as many calories as possible, build muscle mass, get plenty of rest and hopefully keep achieving some of our bucket list dreams! Jake truly is one of a kind, a hero, my hero, and my promise to him is that I will prioritise 'us' and continue to pursue our dream of our own family and as long a future as possible...and I always keep a promise.


Once again we have been reminded how amazing the Royal Marsden is!! And feel so honoured to have been able to raise so many pennies for them thanks to your support. AND continuing the fundraising... our SUPER exciting news is....'Tara & Tyrone - Pedro the Pump' will be here ready to sell and send on 21st April!!!!!!!!! We are hoping the new website will be active then too! Jake will be updating you all next week and we can start taking preorders too. So excited!!!!!


Some strong words we were given from Dr. Newbold and Tara number 1 before we left the hospital were 'As long as I want to keep fighting they'll keep fighting for me too.' I have 100% faith and trust in them and I will NEVER stop fighting!

Marsden Magic

12th Apr 2017

...Someone's feeling a little bit better!!

Trust The almighty Marsden and it's wonderful staff to put the spring back in Her step!!

Cant keep this girl down...
????????????

Health update

11th Apr 2017

Hello everyone,

Jake here. I just wanted to write a quick note on behalf of my beautiful wife.

She is getting both frustrated and worried that she hasn't replied to the hundreds and hundreds of beautiful messages that she has been sent from you all. So i wanted to message you all to say that we're so sorry that we haven't been able to respond to really anyone over the last fortnight but please don't think that we don't appreciate every single one. We love you all and are so grateful for everyone's continued support.

Over the last month or two Emmy has been having to deal with the fact that her chemotherapy was ceasing to work anymore. She had to come off it completely before the operation which she had last monday. Whilst she has recovered well from the operation (she wore heals to one of her best friend's weddings on Saturday just 6 days post op for Christ's sake!! - she's frickin superwoman!!) she has been struggling more and more with some symptoms related to the uncontrolled cancer growth elsewhere and has been in a massive amount of pain. So much so that sadly she is going to have to be re-admitted to hospital again tonight for, amongst other things, optimised pain management for what will hopefully be the shortest stay possible. Because of the pain she is on about 6 regular pain killers at home including diazepam and morphine so she isn't really able to focus on her phone to respond to messages even if she wanted to.

Anyway, i know you're all incredible people and you don't expect anything from Emmy. But please do me one favour (protective husband here!!) - write messages... write as many as you want, the more the merrier as she loves reading them and seeing your photos BUT DON'T ask questions or expect a reply anytime soon- she barely has time for herself or her family let alone anyone else. Sorry to be so bossy and i hope no one thinks i'm being rude. I just want to look after our beautiful Emmy.

Love all of you loads and thank you all again for every bit of kindness and love that you have sent us both. Will update you all on her progress soon.
xxxx

SHINE LIKE THE STARS

7th Apr 2017

You're probably wondering why the heck I've picked this ridiculous picture for a blog post!! I'll explain...I picked it because; firstly, it's a PJ top my shining star of a sister gave me to wear in hospital and it makes me smile because it reminds me her as well as of all of you superstars and how I love you all beyond the moon and the stars. Secondly, because it's Jake's favourite photo from the last week...I think because my dorky face says it all. This was the day before I busted myself out of the hospital...It's quite clear to see now that I was totally drugged up to the eyeballs...not shining like a star at all but definitely as 'high as the Stars' haha. Totally believing at the time that I was fine and looked totally normal and casual so I could make my great escape. I can see now possibly not...but somehow still managed to convince them...soph I'm sure it is 100% down to this T-shirt!! ????Thank you so much. Forever now an all time favourite and plus the only thing I could/can currently fit into over my swollen liver and abdomen!

I know it must seem like I'm loopy writing a short blog when I have SO many beautiful, selfless and heartfelt messages to reply to which I STILL haven't had a chance to do yet or even properly read digest or respond to anything else at all. My reason for doing this blog first is because I wanted to give a brief update partly to try and explain and also and to thank everyone as soon as possible so that I could THEN actually spend quality time over the next week or so replying properly so I am able to truly express my appreciation and the incredible positive impact you have on our lives and I don't feel I could do that justice with how my body is managing at the moment. I do still resemble this picture, struggling to keep my eyeballs open and to focus due to the 'cancer fatigue' and the drug overload as well as suffering a little with pain and therefore being totally useless with reading and writing through googly eyes (apologies in advance for this blog probably being totally all over the place!). Please bare with me and know how unbelievably grateful I am for everything and know none of you ever leave my thoughts. It truly means the world and you will never know how much it touches my heart and motivates me to keep going...I genuinely believe 'love conquers all' and you have ALL given me enough to keep me going until my 100th birthday (at least!!!!!!) I Feel so honoured, so humbled and so unworthy of your comments and kindness. I know there are SO many people going through so much out there, and many people so much worse off and, and as a result I feel so undeserving of such generosity. My greatest wish is that I could do more to give back, so although it isn't much, I hope that by continuing to spread awareness, raising pennies and being able to share experiences to support others is the best I can do in the meantime... but I want to make it clear that it is my mission do much more in the future that I have... and as the stubborn pain in the bottom I am (as many of you may have gathered)...you have my word!

So the rest of this blog is basically a bit of a health update...all very boring so feel free to *ABORT ABORT* now!! ????

I won't bore you too much with the spinal op as I know we've given an abundance of updates and no doubt people are sick of it. The Royal Marsden (particularly doctor Newbold my Oncologist and Tara number 1 my specialist research nurse) were incredible, fighting for my immediate surgery. I think it was discussed for over 2 hours in the MTC, as weighing up the risks (for and against) both ways were quite serious resulting in potential paralysis. I'm so lucky to have them. The hospital experience itself (being in Tooting and out of the Marsden) was an interesting journey and nursing staff weren't really aware of my health circumstances which lead to a few difficulties at times. The surgeon was obviously fully aware of my situation and was absolutely fantastic, he prioritised me on the list and got the operation done immediately and so professionally and confidently. There were of course the risks involved with having spinal surgery on cancer tumours in my spine but I am so lucky that it all went well. I now have two metal rods to support where my spine has collapsed due to the tumours with screws holding it in place at the top and the bottom. Because my vertebrae is quite weak we weren't sure where the screws would hold in solid healthy bone or how long the rods would need to be but it's all looking stable and so neat which is amazing. I think they've also managed to scoop out some of the bigger tumours too which is a bonus! I had a small CSF leakage but that was dealt with brilliantly, no dramas, and I'm feeling really positive about the results..can't wait to get more active again and hop back on Tara and Tyrone for an adventure in the near future maybe even with Molly bear involved!! I've lost some sensation around my body but that's no bad thing as it's certainly better to be numb than have nerve pain. It just feels a bit like when you've just been to the dentist for a filling on a slightly larger and weird scale. I still have scattered cancerous lesions in my spine so I need a week of radiotherapy to treat that too although we have a few complications to iron out first before we follow through with that...I'm guessing that will happen within the next couple of weeks but I will come on on that. Another cool bonus of my back op is that I've always had slight scoliosis so now these rods might even have been straightened it out a little and I might be a little less of a short arse!!! SO many silver linings!!! I might even now scrape into the average height bracket!!! I'll be the tallest in my whole (borrower sized) family!! ALSO it's great having a cool scar!! Thinking about how we can jazz it up maybe tattooing a caterpillar over it or a zip at the top! Haha. Sure mum and dad would love that especially after the matching tandem tattoos pre wedding! ????

Post op as one would expect I have some obvious wound pain but that's absolutely fine and nothing major at all. I'm sure anyone who deals with aches, pains, head aches, injuries etc suffers much worse day to day so I have no complaints at all! Unfortunately though I do still have significant pain from a concern we discovered pre op which I don't think helped recovery at the time. As I mentioned this is the swelling which appears to be my liver and abdomen pushing up into my lungs and diaphragm. We do know that I have tumours in those areas (lungs and liver) so it does play on my mind what is going on. At times this pain has been so excruciating ..I know that sounds so pathetic and dramatic and I'm ashamed of myself to admit it, I worry so much about sounding like a massive wuss. I was dosed up for a couple of days post op on ketamine (hadn't realised this was horse tranquilliser...hardcore stuff!) and morphine every 20 minutes as well as a combo of all of the other stuff I'm on. I was keen to get off the ketamine though and man up and try and get back on track with the usual management. This time last year I was against even taking Panadol so I hate living a life so reliant on drugs even though I have to accept it's annoyingly what keeps me ticking on this planet so obviously, ultimately it's totally worth it.

The day after the spinal operation I had an emergency full body CT. This was obviously to check the work done on my back but most importantly it was for the Marsden to see what's going on with this pain and swelling. I had a to head to toe scan investigating from my brain down to my pelvis. The chemotherapy drug I have been taking for the last year is unfortunately no longer effective or holding me stable and my CEA levels are beginning to rise rapidly as well as my lymph nodes going a bit beserk all over the place so we just want to be aware of any spread and initiate the best next step of action. Being transported from my bed into the scan machine (particularly due to the pain, so soon after the operation and then positioning in to a not so comfortable machine) was a toughie but the the porters were amazing and did such an incredible job! It went like clock work. I then had a visit from my family and my man which was the most amazing feeling of all TIME. I can't actually remember it haha but I will never forget the feeling of pure happiness seeing their faces and holding their hands.

These CT results are now being analysed at the Marsden. I'm really looking forward to getting the feedback as the discomfort at the moment is dilapidating. As well as totally restricting my movement and Jake having to move me about and dress me etc (seriously that guy is like nothing else on this planet!!!), I am struggling to eat, as the the pain is intensive and the swelling so restrictive, I have constant indigestion, reflux and sickness, breathing is a real struggle so my oxygen levels are quite low and the swelling is pulling on my back which doesn't help with the surgery healing.

I think in my previous (pre op blog) I mentioned the chemotherapy medication I am on had stopped working and therefore we were looking into starting on a trial drug asap. This is brilliant news and again all thanks to the Marsden that this is an option for me. Unfortunately I can't start that until the bones in my spine have healed from surgery. I also can't have radiotherapy whilst on any chemotherapy. So I think what will happen now is that we were going to wait and see what they say regarding when the radiotherapy will start now on my spine or whether to try and get on a new drug before. We will be back at the Marsden at the beginning of the week and I'm sure a perfect plan of action will be made. I'm also due to have breast surgery in the next week or too as the cancer tissues there are growing and getting increasingly tender and uncomfortable. I'm sure that will be a pretty minor op and I'm not worried about it, looking forward to a bit of relief in that department but probably in the grand scheme of things less of a priority at the moment so may have to hold out and wait for a while.

It feels like an odd position for us to be in with everything a little uncertain at the moment. We feel a little uneasy with what is growing and where and how quickly. Jake and I ended up having a frank and unexpected conversation this morning over our cup of tea about how my prognosis potentially could have changed maybe deteriorated. An odd discussion that I suppose you would never imagine to have only 7 months into a beautiful marriage. But the thing is I honestly wouldn't change a thing! Life expectancy is genuinely still is something I never think about and truly believe we will have a full and happy life together but he did ask me, if it was that our news wasn't as optimistic as we always hope for, is there anything I would want to change or do differently? Other than breaking my heart a little because he's my forever I can honestly say if this was the case, I would NOT change a SAUSAGE!!!! I feel so blessed, we have so much support and love around us, we are setting up our business and writing our books, we have our gorgeous fluffy Mols, I'm with the love of my life, we celebrate everyday and we still hope to have our family one day thanks to our angel . I'm so determined for this and feel so lucky every day I just KNOW it will be ok! There's so much to live for in this world. So much to be thankful for, to appreciate and now MORE THAN ever I am so aware and so grateful for that and would NEVER give it up.

Although the hospital didn't want me to go home yesterday. I decided I would and it was the BEST decision ever. I packed my bag (geriatrically slowly!!), put on some make up, asked for all my tubes and wires to be removed and told them my husband and pooch were waiting so was off!! The best place to be is home!!! It's already made such a difference. I have my own personal doctor Coates on hand. He takes care of me like no one else ever could. Although we had a long wait for prescriptions and a bit of a gruesome, uncomfortable long car journey, we got back to HOME by about 9pm for rest and an abundance of love and snuggles and care from my husband and my bear which is indescribable...a love that truly conquers all. I can't say enough about Jake. It needs a blog/book/BIBLE of its own...I'm sure anyone can see that. He makes every day worth more than platinum.

So that's my boring health update if you've managed to make it this far and if it even makes any sense (*yawn*!!!). In the mean time I'm continuing to control pain with an extensive selection of drugs including hourly Tramadol, morphine, Valium, steroids, ranitidine (to protect my stomach lining), codine, paracetamol as well as my usual antibiotics and skin medication. Obviously being off the chemo has increased the night sweats (more fun for Jake!), increased fatigue, and cause some additional pains and aggravating the unhappy bowels again. Yet another reason why I'm being so rubbish with you all. I'm SO sorry! But PLEASE believe me, like I said...it is my ultimate priority to get back to everyone because I genuinely appreciate every word, thought and sentiment you have shared so, so much! We also can't adequately express our appreciation for the help we have received for not just us but with Molly over the last week from friends. You enabled her to be with Jake every night through everything. Cat, Mike (and doggie Robbin) you were just unbelievable. And as for the Hambro family Lexi, Jonathan, Willem (and doggie Malcom...Mols New boyfriend!!) you have gone above and beyond. You have shown an unconditional kindness to us with no expectation and just pure goodness like no other...there are actually no words. We couldn't have managed without you. There are not many people in this world like you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to you and also to every one else around us who has shown us such monumental support. Our gorgeous families included always.

As for tonight....Tonight is a VERY exciting event...my first shower and hair wash since Sunday morning!! Probably even more exciting for Jake than for me as I officially STINK!! Even Mols is keeping a distance!! This shower is a necessity as tomorrow we have a wedding!! I have been advised to recover and rest and although perhaps to most this would seem the sensible choice (and I am also aware that I will be the world's most boring guest) I wouldn't miss it for the world. Despite in my head being a top 'funky chicken dancer' I'm not sure I can crack out those moves just yet but realistically that will be a great relief for all involved. Just to be there and see the perfect couple tie the knot and especially beautiful bride wearing my veil as her 'something borrowed' is the biggest honour imaginable and means the absolute world! Before then I just need to find some sort of maternity dress to get over the liver and tummy...or I could jazz up this star PJ top?!!!

After this we hope it will be a bit of a week (other than a likely few trips back and forth to London for hospital visits) sorting out some admin but mainly trying to relax a little, get some recovery and treatment plans sorted before the ULTRA exciting arrival of 'Pedro the Pump'!!!! Today we received the proof copy from 'Biddles Printers' and we are SO excited!! I really hope you will all like it!! We think it's more fun than 'Stuck in the Mud' (I genuinely think Jake's illustrations for this one will blow you all away...they are just phenomenal) and we just can't wait to share it with you all. It is based in the Spring time revolving around our theme of 'smile, love and kindness' just like you have all brought to us over the last year. Please, please order a copy when it's ready if you can and let us know what you think!!!!! AND then in addition to that...book number 3...a summer themed holiday book is already underway as well as our new website!!!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU AND THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

Like it says on the T-Shirt...you ALL SHINE LIKE THE STARS!!! I love you the moon and stars and back again!!

GOING HOME!!!

6th Apr 2017

Catheter out, drip off, oxygen removed, cannula gone, THINK POSITIVE PINK gown on, mascara applied....they may tell me I have to stay longer but NO ONE is stopping this stubborn cow from getting back to my scrumptious Molly bear or my handsome husband Jake today!! Just seen the first sight of my new improved spine!... such amazing surgeons have done a brilliant job! As soon as I get home I can't wait to read and reply all of your wonderful messages. Thank you so much!!!

Fresh air

5th Apr 2017

Today was a lovely day.I got to see my beautiful family and my gorgeous man and hold their hands! I also stood up and walked a few steps AND smelt fresh air which was the most blissful and amazing feeling (please excuse the classy baked bean stain on my gown!).

It's no big deal at all but sleeping is a little tricky...but I had a lovely night...during the 2am checks and meds I had a wonderful chat with a nurse who brought me a cup of tea and THEN I remembered I had a secret supply of Milka from my mummy and THEN I remembered the beautiful album of photos my lovely sister made me of all my special people ....BEST MIDNIGHT FEAST EVER!!!Feel so full of love and kindness and happiness and sparkles....love truly does conquer all!!They want me to stay as an inpatient over the weekend but there is NO doubt in my mind that I am getting home....I want to be back tomorrow and thanks to the magic and positivity from all of you around me, I know I WILL be!! :)

Every night I ask Jake to send me a picture of him and Molly before bed (I miss them so much)....Tonight this just melted me!! I'm such a lucky lady!! :)

Sending all my love to you all xxxx

Bumpy road to recovery

4th Apr 2017

Hello it's Jake here Today has been a tough day. Tougher than I think Emmy ever thought, or I could ever warn, it would be. Yesterday Emmy bounced out of surgery on a ketamine/morphine high; feeling, all things considered, pretty reasonable. Fast forward 12 hours, the local anaesthetic in the wound wearing off and an analgesia infusion running dry (and then unfortunately not being replaced for almost 5 hours! Don't ask!!) and the early hours of this morning saw her in a much worse state indeed. By the time I had arrived at lunchtime her eyes were puffy from too many tears and her body and face drawn from a long and painful sleepless night. It took almost all afternoon and evening to get her settled and comfortable and back in control of her pain (mainly with the use of this almighty green button!! - her new best friend, and of course aided by the presence of her gorgeous parents and sister visiting), and by the time I left she was looking and feeling a whole lot better.

I know it has been said a hundred times over but I am just so proud of her. She is incredible. No matter how much she is hurting she is always thinking about others, about family and friends. About me. What she needs to be focusing on is herself! We need to get her out of hospital, back home and back to cuddling Molly ASAP!! But she's asked me to apologise on her behalf for not having messaged anyone. Guys... as if any of you would actually accept that apology! She can barely hold her phone without squinting and then falling asleep!!

She is shattered (these photos rather belie the situation!) and still pretty stoned. What she needs now is rest. Sleep. No hassle. To get up and to get moving with the physios and then to get home! We are planning on being home for the weekend!! Whoop whoop!! So... I'm asking everyone to stay at home, don't visit and instead come see us at home when she's feeling better soon.

Whilst we both know that this operation was only ever going to remove the tiniest amount of the cancer and was never going to be a cure, we hope that she is able to strengthen her back and get her back on her feet ASAP to start enjoying the amazing life we have and continue to embark on some more amazing adventures together.

To accept the hand that she has been dealt with such class, dignity and positivity and continue on as fiercely and happily as she does is a testament to her amazing spirit and strength I couldn't be more proud. She's my world. Love her xxxx

out of surgery

3rd Apr 2017

Our beautiful Emmy is out of surgery. She doing just fine. She's a bit sore and had a small CSF leak but all went to plan. She wants me to tell you that she is so grateful for everyone's messages of love, well-wishes and support. Ketamine is her new best friend so she might be a little bit bombed in this photo - but that smile is all her!!! Love her!!! Couldn't be more proud!! Jake xx

Radiotherapy cancelled...bring on wolverine woman!!

31st Mar 2017

It's the last day of March which makes it a year to the day I had my first consultation with Dr. Newbold at the Royal Marsden Hospital and discovered all of my nitty gritty health details. One year since I became aware of what an PHENOMENAL institution it is and became so passionate to raise money and awareness for the charity. This day also marks exactly year that I publicly shared my health news and despite having reservations about it, made the decision for many reasons (I have attached the public post that I put out there on social media). I remember thinking hard about whether to post it at the time as I had been concerned it could be seen as controversial, inappropriate, judged negatively or as a desire for sympathy or attention which was FURTHEST possible intention I could have possibly had. My reasons were because I felt lovely people deserved an explanation for Jake and my slightly unusual decisions and movements over that time, my desire to raise awareness and to encourage young people to pursue their health concerns, and I wanted to try and express my apologies for being a little absent over the previous weeks whilst waiting for results and so hoped that I could ask people and my dear friends to keep an open heart and mind and most of all...TO SMILE, TO LOVE AND TO BE KIND. A huge request that has since been spread far and wide which touches my heart, inspires me and fills me with positivity every minute of every day.

Never EVER in a gazillion years did I expect the response that we received not just when I posted it but every single day since. So today I want to say the most MONUMENTAL thank you. When I first shared the news I was scared of what the response would be. I felt so desperate to use our new found situation positively, to use this turning point as a new chapter and a new adventure of our lives and felt so incredibly blessed that somehow we could use our new circumstances to be able to give back in some way to hopefully help others in the future.

I feel SO lucky and SO unworthy for all of beautiful things that have said about us and things that have been done to support us...the kindness, thought, generosity and selflessness truly does blow us away. Please know how much we appreciate every single word and gesture. After an initial target of £7000 our fundraising for the RM has now reached a staggering £114,000 and the awareness and positivity raised thanks to every single one of you is groundbreaking...for many people it could be life changing one day!

There are so many people out there going through similar things as well much tougher challenges than us and so please always know how aware I am of that and how grateful we are that you have all given us such limitless love, time, compassion and support.

You all keep us motivated every day and make it so easy to feel positive and cherish every moment we have on this earth. I also happen to have the person I love waking up beside me and holding my hand every morning and there's nothing in this universe I could wish for me than that...so how could I ever feel unhappy?!!
Over the last year I have received the most heartfelt, open messages explaining how our story has positively impacted upon other's lives in various ways. It is the most rewarding thing I could ever imagine and makes everything more worthwhile than I could ever articulate. It makes me feel so humbled and also so blessed to be able to use my situation in a way that can maybe somehow help somebody somewhere. I had never intended or imagined I would write a blog and I'm not even sure I do it right, no doubt there are lots of proper bloggers out there who are less than impressed with my writing ability but I would like to thank everyone who has embraced my words, responded and also shared such personal, heartfelt information with me about their own lives and experiences. It is the reason I have continued to be so open about things we are going through.

Stupid cancer certainly hasn't stopped us from embracing our life together and in fact (F-you cancer) it has had the opposite effect. We have had the best year of my life since I posted this update a year ago with some life changing moments, honours and sentiments including...Engagement, our wedding, weddings of those we love, globe trotting, tandeming through Europe, publishing two children's books, fundraising, moving house (3 times!), moving country, fertility treatment and storing embryos, meeting a real life ANGEL (who is embarking on our surrogacy journey with us), receiving a Just giving award, cutting the ribbon to start the Marsden March, becoming a god mummy, having our puppy Molly, starting our own business, seeing our beloved ones have babies, fighting cancer, honeymoon, and working through our extensive bucket list which is SO MUCH fun...everyone should start their bucket list RIGHT NOW!!

It may sound absurd but receiving the diagnosis was a brilliant thing for me because I had been so frustrated and exhausted not knowing what was wrong with me and feeling like a was going potty. It was like a relief, a weight off my shoulders and I have no doubt many people are in similar positions...you just want an answer...no matter what that maybe in life...with health, a job, a relationship...it all can have the same demoralising impact when you just want some clarity. Obviously it was a little heartbreaking discovering the severity of my health but why let that be a negative...none of us know what's round the corner or what the future holds so all it really did was give me a VAST appreciation for life and love and I feel very fortunate for that.

The last month or so I've been deteriorating a bit and in quite a bit of pain, an intensity at times didn't know was possible and often find myself telling myself to man up and stop being such a wuss and get cross with my body and myself. Despite finding manoeuvring challenging and requiring my heroic husband to lift me, roll me over in bed, pick up my cup of tea, even dress me and tie my shoe laces at times and in addition to that being a like a zombie for
company at times due to all of the medication concoctions (although FYI currently still winning our scrabble tournament!! Haha) we were still able to celebrate his 32nd birthday yesterday which was very chilled and so blissful and made me feel so happy and so lucky! I just wish I could have been a bit more proactive in making it extra special for him.

Currently the cancer is being a bit of a badass and the spread has extended from my organs and bones into my breast tissues with rapidly increasing lymph nodes behind my sternum and collar bone.

Today i was due to have another full body CT scan to check out my swelling liver and check my brain (probably not a lot to see there anyway!! Haha) and it was meant to be my first experience with radiotherapy. Just as we were setting off for the Marsden I received a phone call to update us from the medic's meeting this morning following Wednesday's CT and MRI. Unfortunately (as always we fail to be able to stick to plans) as a result of this meeting they have identified that the compression and fractures and trapped nerves in my spine are worse than originally thought and therefore the planned radiation will not be effective. Therefore I now require some spinal surgery. So on Sunday morning I will head to London to stay in St.George's Hospital for a week. I am undergoing spinal surgery where they will open up my back and put some metal rods and screws in my spine and then fill up the mushy tumour holes with some cement. With the hope to let me get back home by Friday. In a month or so time I can then maybe have some additional radiotherapy to relieve some more pain from the scattered cancerous legions throughout my vertebrae.

Although I am excited that this should enable me to move like a proper human again and in my head be like the bionic woman with a metal spine (wolverine eat your heart out!!) and in time this should alleviate pain I do feel tremendously heart broken that it means I will be staying in hospital for a whole week...another week without my fur bear Molly, also not being able to wake up snuggled with my scrumptious husband and on top of that (what hurts most) is that I will not be able to take him to watch his beloved Liverpool play as his birthday treat on Wednesday (one of his bucket list dreams). He deserves that more than anyone and I just wish I could make some of his dreams come true as he always does mine.

It will all be worth it I know and I will make sure he will get to that game one day...in the meantime though today we have settled for a very gentle stroll with our Molly Coddles in all the gear... I have no idea about football or Liverpool but am enjoying the mantra 'you'll never walk alone' so all three of us are wearing it with pride through the Cotswold countryside xx

They see me rollin...

29th Mar 2017

Little health update from Granny Coates...

Today was a little tougher than I imagined. We had the usual bloods, tests, scans plus a radiotherapy planning CT scan.

Over the last week we have had some concerns regarding swelling and pain in the upper quadrant of my tummy, Dr. Newbold is confident that it is probably the left lobe of my liver so am booked in for another CT to check that out on Friday. Due to the severity of pain at the moment I was also given an emergency MRI today which indicated this is due to deterioration of my spine with further compression.

Unfortunately my CEA levels have doubled again to 500 and it seems unlikely that the chemo drug is effective anymore so it is likely that I will probably start a new trial medication asap which hopefully will start to control things a little better.

The pain got a little intense today so poor old Jake had to wheelchair me back to the car like an old geriatric granny after my scans as I couldn't really move which as well as being agony was a bit embarrassing and I felt like a bit of a willy and such a wuss!! They wanted me back for another CT tomorrow but have been amazing and let us off coming in because it's my gorgeous husband's birthday and after he spent it in hospital with me last year I refuse to let him endure the same this year too (they had even remembered and Tara no.1 even gave Jake a birthday card signed from everyone...that's how special this place is!!). They've offered me to stay as an inpatient for the week to control pain etc but I'm so desperate to get home to see our Molly bear (after a week of missing our fur baby un'bear'able amounts ????) so we are heading back home to Wiltshire tonight and then back on Friday for a week of more scans, radiotherapy and then some breast surgery coming up.

I have been given even more painkillers plus the upgrade of morphine which is fabulous AND to top it off...I got two tattoos today!! How edgey and cool is that!!...well they are just two dots on my chest and stomach to indicate where I will be zapped over the next week (basically two new permanent freckles) but like Phoebe from 'Friends' I'm pretending they are pretty mega and that they are two tattoos of 'the whole wide world' from afar!!

One whole year ago

28th Mar 2017

This week marks a seminal period in the lives of Emmy and I. An anniversary which I know, when all said and done, we'd really rather wish we weren't celebrating. On one hand at least. On the other hand, however, it is whilst we journey home across the globe on the unfathomably long twenty something hour journey from Australia back to the UK (with the cabin lights low, the nodding heads and gentle rolling snores rising from the seats around me and Emmy fast asleep on my shoulder after finally getting on top of her aches and pains), that I stare down at the glowing light box that is my phone to consider and reflect why the events of 'that crazy week' a year on are so much more special to Emmy and I than just some shitty diagnosis and why it is more important than ever to pause, appreciate and celebrate everything we have today.

I cannot believe it was one whole year ago that my beautiful Emmy was given the heartbreaking news that she had a rare form of incurable cancer. I remember answering her phone call after she had gone to the hospital to get the results of her biopsy and hearing her voice. Morning in England it was late at night in Australia. Her words, quivering with fear, desperately trying to make sense of it all but remaining inhumanly but questioningly optimistic and upbeat, telling me the news that we both feared but felt couldn't possibly be true.

I jumped on the first flight out and was back in the UK the following night. Fast forward a week and, after a quick visit to A&E, a cancelled holiday and a slightly unplanned engagement (in bed with a cup of tea no less - I know I'm a classy guy like that!) and we were sat in a waiting room together waiting to see the cancer specialist. Her name was Dr Newbold. An elegant, professional yet approachable, intelligent, straight talking and massively qualified woman - one of the world leaders in her field. She was the first person who Emmy felt allowed her to tell her story in full. Warts and all. Symptoms going back as far as 3 years. You could see the weight lifting off Emmy's shoulders with every word as she finally felt listened to. She was finally being heard after so many doctors had turned her away. Then it was Dr Newbold's turn. The rest you know - The words 'incurable' and '10% 5 year prognosis'. The words 'unsafe to carry a baby'... Our world shattered.

But just as with any terrible terrorist attack, where we risk focusing on the details of the terrorist group (and in doing so accidentally but inevitably adorning them with some kind of celebrity status, taking away from the desperate victims and their families), I don't want to talk about the cancer. Instead I want to talk about the wonderful woman who, IN SPITE of this abhorrent disease, continues to delight us, make us smile and show us all how to live our lives.

Emmy never fails to impress me. Her upbeat attitude, her f*#k you mentality towards her illness and her boundless capacity for love, generosity, kindness and time for others, are just some of the incredible traits that make her the special person that she is. But whilst I could never have imagined how much these characteristics would come to the fore this year or known the extent of the strength, heart or steely determination that she would show in the face of such adversity and pain, I did know (right from the moment that we got back in touch in October 2015) that I'd never met a girl like her before. I'd adored her since i was about the age of 11 and the first moment I laid eyes on her in Heathrow Christmas 2015 I knew I loved her more than ever and more than i could possibly say. Over the course of the last 12 months that love and admiration has grown stronger and stronger with every single day.

It is well documented now the hand that she has been dealt. Thanks to this blog people know a little of what she has had to deal with and go through and they have been able to follow some of her incredible exploits from awards to charitable events to publishing books and more. Because of the person she is, the friendships she has garnered and fostered and the passion she has instilled in others she has achieved a huge amount of respect and has become a huge inspiration to so many. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of her when I think how much she has achieved this year. The kind of person she is. How she handles all of the pressures put upon her by so many. How she copes on a daily basis with all of the drugs and symptoms, pain and limitations (both emotional and physical), sorrow and joy. Because what you don't always see, as I alluded to in my last blog, is the reality of what Emmy has to deal with behind the scenes. The truth, despite what the photos of her on social media might portray, is that Emmy has not been having an easy time of it at all. The last month has been unbelievably tough on her. With a fractured vertebra and a thoracic spine peppered with cancerous lesions her back has become, at times, unbearably and excruciatingly painful for which she is now on thrice daily heavy duty painkillers and is going to need radiotherapy next week. Her bowels, due to the waning efficacy of her chemotherapy treatment, are regularly at an all-time low with energy levels to match. But despite this she remains ever optimistic. She never lets anything get her down. Always looking for the positives.

Take the last week alone - the girl walked 14 miles to help raise money and awareness by walking in The Marsden March with around 20 of her favourite friends and colleagues from the school where she used to work. The event saw almost 6000 walkers trail across London from Chelsea to Sutton. The 20-strong 'smile love and be kind' group have raised more than £3700 to date for the RM charity alone! It was a wonderful day but I'd be lying if I said that Emmy didn't have to struggle through some serious back pain in the last few miles. Whilst most people would then congratulate themselves by putting their feet up or treat themselves to a hot bath and hearty meal, she then had to board a 30 hour plane journey that evening; flying straight out of Heathrow to Sydney to join me at the wedding of one of my best mates.

A 6 day round trip which saw her (unseen in any holiday photo) spend 50% of the trip in bed dosed up on pain relief and steroids. To say I felt guilty is an understatement - but I challenge any of you to tell my beautiful wife not to do something she has her heart set on. Now we're on our way home, despite the difficulties, I know it was the only decision. We have so many happy memories and it has been a great example of how she will never let the big C stand in her way. I've never been more proud of anyone in my life. She is my north my south, my east my west. She makes me laugh every day and I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet to be walking next to her in this life, holding her hand and never letting go.

It has indeed been a crazy year. This week also marks a year that we have both been out of salaried employment but yet the last 12 months have been undoubtedly the busiest of our lives. With everything that has happened; from Emmy's diagnosis, to writing children's books (and everything in between) so much has been lost or forgotten. There are so many thank you's we've not been able to say or dear friends we've not been able to see and whilst none of you will permit us to say sorry for any of this I'm sure, we do feel bad about all the things we haven't been able to do. One big thing, for me personally, was that in the hubbub of last year some of you won't know that I not only left Australia but I also left medicine. There were many reasons for why I decided to hang up my stethoscope in addition to but also independently of Emmy's health and it was a decision considered well before any diagnosis and made with a totally open heart and mind. However, out of respect for all of the people who helped me get my degree (including my family and friends) and for all of the wonderful people I worked with during my short 6 year post-graduate career i want to say a huge thank you. To all of you for being so kind and generous to me - I couldn't have done it without you. Neither could we have managed over the last 12 months without many of you either. The unwavering support from those of you who knew our situation and who have supported our decision process has been monumental and we are forever grateful. I want to apologise too if any of you think I've wasted something that took me so long to earn. But please know, rightly or wrongly I have no regrets about leaving and seeking an alternative path in life either. You only get one life and you have to love it and live to the best of your ability. As life and luck would have it, it would have been next to impossible to continue in hospital medicine this year with all that we have been doing anyway so our primary focus now is to spend as much time as we have working and living and playing together.

And so, we fly back from Australia. A whistle stop 1 week trip down under to see my best mate Jim tie the knot with his fair Lara. An incredible wedding full of love and laughter. A trip where I got to see the friends I left a year ago 'to go see about a girl', drink dance and be merry like no time has passed at all. Friends for life. Friends who have all fallen in love with and adopted Emmy, treated her like family and who I know will always be there for us both no matter are far the distance or length of time apart. A huge thank you to all of them. We are so grateful for the kindness shown to us by both friends near and far. Whether it is warm smile or hug at a wedding, a thoughtful gift or card in the post or a kind gesture or offer of support, you can never underestimate the power of being kind and along with the huge support we have received from a fundraising point of view we continue to be completely blown away by the generosity of those around us. It is overwhelming how much the sentiment of Emmy's philosophy 'smile love and be kind' has been echoed by so many people who have been in touch from all over the world. And that is an aspect of this story that is definitely worth celebrating. You never know the battles people face or what might be going on behind the scenes and with so much nastiness and instability in the world it is more important than ever to prioritise being kind to others.

We're not quite sure what is going on with Emmy's body right now or what the future holds. We are due back at The Marsden the day after we land for a planning CT before she undergoes 5 days of radiotherapy for her spine. The CT along with the routine bloods will hopefully give us a little bit more information and a plan for the weeks ahead. One thing is for sure though and that is that the team there will undoubtedly do everything they can to make Emmy feel better. It was a massive effort for Emmy to come all of the way to Australia given her current condition but she won't let her illness define her or get in the way of her living her life the way she wants to live it; such is the girl's determination and strength of personality. She's a force to be reckoned with and I personally feel sorry for the cancer ... it picked the wrong girl to mess with.

In the face of such uncertainty with her health she is unwavering in her lust for life and plans for the future. We have a second book to get back from the printer in the next week or two - 'Tara and Tyrone - Pedro The Pump', which we are both super excited about. We have a website to launch (watch this space - coming very soon!), our own incorporated business (Mollivers Ltd) to invest in and money to make (and boy could we do with some money!). We have more children's books to write, more schools to visit and more children to see and (at the risk of sounding too corny) more smiles, love and kindness to spread! We have our own adventure with surrogacy to continue (more information to follow we hope), we have a home to build (figuratively not literally - we've just moved house again!) and we have a puppy to walk. Whatever the future holds - we're going to make every day count.

Of course we don't wish to commemorate the anniversary of Emmy being diagnosed. We wish cancer had never played a part in this story at all. But on the other hand, why not celebrate it!? Celebrate still being alive and kicking! Celebrate a year since she made me the happiest man alive when I asked her to be my wife and she said yes. Take a moment to celebrate the rest of the awesomeness that is life, to reflect on all of the things we do have. Isn't that the best way to really piss cancer off!? 'Love Conquers All' is another phrase that we have embraced this year. Cancer certainly doesn't stand a chance against love. Not even close.

It is my birthday in a couple of days. I've never been a big birthday kind of a guy and the biggest gift that I could have ever asked for is to be able to spend it with my gorgeous wife (and our celebrity pooch Molly!) but my one request to her is that, with all the rushing about, we stop. Just for the day. Do nothing. Do nothing some more. And then maybe sleep.

22nd March

22nd Mar 2017

Yesterday we touched down into a beautiful but wet Australia. The rain definitely likes to follow us around...but we've learnt more than ever that 'life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...it's about learning to dance on the rain' .

Today is the 22nd March which marks exactly one whole year since I was given an initial possible cancer diagnosis. Although we had no idea of the severity of the disease or the resulting implications, it also marks exactly one year since Jake's last day as an Australian resident because he jumped straight on a plane, and flew back to the UK to be with me and never left my side. This morning we were able to mark such a significant date walking along Bondi Beach. This man is not only my rock, best friend, soul mate and love of my life...he is also my hero and every single day he makes me feel like the luckiest girl alive and makes me love every single second of life .

Cutting the ribbon!

19th Mar 2017

The proudest moment ever. Thank you so much, what an incredible honour for Jake and I. It was a painful 14 miles for me (tougher than any marathon) but I would go through that again in a heartbeat as it was the most humbling experience with the most amazing atmosphere. We had the best day, with the best friends, surrounded of thousands of other awesome people all fundraising and raising awareness for the best charity.

Embryos

16th Mar 2017

With it being almost a year since our lives took a very sudden and unexpected change of course along with the significance of the Marsden March coming up on Sunday I've found myself thinking about things a lot especially some of our experiences over the last 11 months. There's one experience that always comes to the fore front of my mind because it makes me feel very sad but it also makes me chuckle, it makes me feel disappointed but it also makes me feel very lucky but most importantly I thought by sharing it, it may be of some support to some people as they may be able to identify with various elements.

There is one HUGE impact of having cancer when you're young which for me was as devastating as the actual diagnosis itself and that is the impact upon the dreams that most women hold since the day they were given their first dolly...being a mummy and having your own family. So many women out there experience difficulties with conceiving however despite this, IVF is often kept very quiet and as for surrogacy, that just seems to be a total taboo subject. Our fertility experience with storing embryos was manic, crazy and also at times bloody hilarious and still makes me chuckle. I am not telling it because I want ANY sympathy but because I thought if I shared it, it might make some people smile...there is some slightly explicit content so please don't read this one if you are easily offended or squeamish...although I hope it is an honest account, I'll try and write it in an as lady like manner as I can!!

Here goes...
On the 31st March 2016 we went into a room at St. George's hospital and the wonderful Dr. Newbold informed us of 4 life shattering prospects:
1.) the extent of the cancer spread.
2.) the prognosis.
3.) the incurability.
4.) the medication required meaning I can never safely fall pregnant.

First three were obviously horrendous for a couple who had been engaged for less than a week after rekindling their love after ten years apart...however it was point 4 which totally broke my heart. Deep down we had prepared for points 1-3 (as you always have to prepare for the worst) but point 4 was a total surprise and not the news I had expected to hear. I think I must have tried to think of a million ways we could get around it and tried to persuade Doctor Newbold I was totally fine and could just have a baby right now and worry about the cancer in a year. I would have done anything to have been able to get pregnant and have our baby but once the truth set in we both decided that we wanted do anything we could to be able to give ourselves every opportunity to have our baby even if it meant it wasn't in a conventional way. We were told that the only chance we had of being able to have a baby of our own was to freeze some embryos (with my eggs and Jake's sperm) prior to starting the lifelong chemotherapy treatment. This was because as soon as I started the treatment due to the teratogenicity of the drug, it would make it unsafe to carry a baby. However if we decided we wanted to go down this route, we needed to be aware that we were on a limited timescale; cancer treatment needed to start as soon as possible. There was absolutely no question for us, we didn't need to think about it and decided to start the fertility process instantly and once that was done I would start chemotherapy as quick as I could.

Even though I felt so lucky we had this option I did struggle (and still do) with the knowledge that I would never be able to have that 9 months of pregnancy. Never be able to feel our baby kick for the first time, have Jake feel our baby in my tummy, watch our bump grow. What added salt to the wound which I found tough and frustrating to deal with, was that it appeared that my fertility system were the only organs in my body that weren't affected by the cancer and were functioning well but I couldn't use them. ...HOWEVER ultimately we could still have the opportunity for a baby of our own and there was nothing more we could possibly ask or pray for or want in this world, so I continue to remind myself every time I feel sad about it, how incredibly lucky we are.

We were referred to the Hammersmith fertility clinic immediately and it was an unbelievably hectic time. I do look back now and wonder how we managed. It was 6 full weeks of hospital visits being at at least 1 hospital a day, sometime up to 4. We would finish one appointment and race across London for another and then back to another. This was because I was needing so many tests, scans, biopsies, operations etc. We were flitting between the Sutton Marsden, Chelsea Marsden, St. George's in Tooting, Royal Brompton in Fulham, Queen Charlottes in Chelsea and The Fertility Clinic in Hammersmith. Damn London traffic, damn parking ticket attendants, and damn car breaking in thieves!

We didn't have the time to process everything that was going on. What a hugely physical and emotional journey surrogacy is. In our situation it was dealt with as a small additional task to all of the cancer appointments which we also hadn't had time to digest yet. Looking back I realise what a monumental thing it was we did and without sounding like an idiot I'm so amazed and feel really proud of us. Mostly of Jake...I could never possibly begin describe how incredible he was.

So back to the fertility...before we started the treatment, Jake needed to deposit some sperm to check his members were functioning normally. Cue ejaculation number one (totally caught off guard!). During our first appointment at Queen Charlotte's he had to go into a room (equipped with 'lazy-boy' AND 'special' video playing on the screen!!) and catch his first deposit. In a hurry to get to another appointment on the other side of London the pressure was on, but fortunately this superman was able to perform under the pressure. Results of which (we found out a few days later over breakfast...ironically eggs!) were impeccable, in fact the crème de la crème of sperm...cue one very smug fiancé!

The following week we were given a bible sized book of forms to fill in prior to starting the fertility process. Being given minimal time to complete them (a matter of hours most of which were spent in hospital appointments for other things) I remember filling them out in the car whilst Jake was driving. I should add that they were questions you never in your wildest dreams expect you will have to answer such as; what happens if you die and questions about research, and how long do you wish for your embryos to be frozen for. It also might be worth adding that 24 hours before this car journey and filling out these forms I had just had a neck operation under general anaesthetic and was feeling a little woozy as well as all of the other symptoms going on. Not sure how we managed to tick all the right boxes but we did!!

In our case it was a one and only chance. Our ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity to fulfil our dreams. Usually in most fertility cases, time is taken to ensure it's done as thoroughly as possible and if it doesn't work out, you can hopefully try again. My cancer was spreading more aggressively, my health was rapidly deteriorating and I still wasn't on any treatment. Oncology were desperately keen to start the treatment urgently and after seeing results from my blood tests and scans they were beginning to apply the pressure...in fact we almost had to give in and just scrap it but we were so determined to do this. We knew that once I started the treatment, that would be IT, we would never ever have this opportunity again and any dreams we had of being parents biologically would be gone.

It normally takes quite a while to ensure all of the woman's follicles are ready and in peak and prime condition. We didn't have this time. We were given approximately 2 weeks before cancer treatment would need to commence...so it HAD to work. I was given 3-4 times the amount of hormones a usual IVF patient is given, to speed up the process. This required jake injecting me in the bottom cheek with an excessive amount of hormones 3 times a day. Now if any men out there think their other half is an emotional wreck when on their period...multiply it by an additional 3-4 times the amount of hormone and then multiply again by all of the information given in points 1,2,3&4 at the beginning of this blog!!! Like I said before Jake is bloody incredible and some how managed to keep me smiling and calm and positive throughout.

Once I started these injections we then had to report to Hammersmith Fertility Clinic every day for daily vaginal scans for about 2 weeks...what a delightful start to each morning having a camera poked up my front bottom! I still have no idea what they were really saying, measuring or recording but Jake would explain after each session how it was looking for me in child language!! To be honest we were starting to sweat as progress was slow with how the follicles were measuring and they just didn't seem to be anywhere near ready. It was difficult discussing with the doctors whether to just go for it and start the operative procedure to remove my eggs (even though enough follicles weren't ready or large enough) as I really needed to start chemo treatment but also as this was our only chance we couldn't take any risks and do anything too early...so we decided to hold on and keep going.

All of a sudden on a bank holiday Sunday I had my morning scan and were told...'you're ready!...We will need to extract your eggs in two days and then fertilise them with Jake's sperm as soon as they are extracted.'..... Now....here's the science...for optimum sperm they need to be no less that 48hours old but no more than 5 days old. Working things out in our heads with the sperm needing to be in 'its prime' at the time of my operation we suddenly realised that Jake would need a release of his members right then to ensure that he could reload with some new members that would be exactly 48hours old by the operation and therefore in their most perfect condition! With scheduled time of my operation he needed to do it there and then or they wouldn't have been 48 hours old....so...cue ejaculation two (totally off guard...again!). The Pressure was on again AND the only place he was able to do it immediately (as advised by the nurse) was in the gents toilet!! So off he went for a little bit of public toilet casual masturbation whilst I sat patiently in the waiting room...absolutely shaking with laughter knowing exactly what was up to in that cubicle. Probably one of the most surreal and comical experiences of our entire lives!!! Anyway...out he came skipping and with a big smile on his face!! Job done! So then we had 48 hours to wait until we went into Queen Charlotte's Hospital to make our babies!!

Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, in we went to Queen Charlotte's Hospital to make the most precious creations of our lives!! I got gowned up and wheeled into theatre. As I was given the general anaesthetic the last thing I remember is two enormous spotlights being shon right down my vagina, showcasing it in all its glory to a crowd of several (yes several!!!) medical staff and thinking wow...there goes the last inch of my dignity I was holding onto after 6 weeks of scans, prods, pokes, ECGs, tests and toileting accidents...now I have a whole team studying my vagina!!

The pressure was now on for Jake...again! The time had 'come' for THE most important ejaculation of his life. He needed to produce his finest sperm, the platinum of all sperms, whilst my eggs were being removed! Off he went with his little dish to the room where the 'lazy boy' had been before. At least this time he wasn't caught off guard and was expecting to unload, HOWEVER this time on the TV was NOT the same video they had previously left for him...let's just say this time it was for a very niche market. Oh how I chuckled when he described the scene to me!! The funniest part is, the TV did not turn off, or change channel, or have an option to turn the volume down. I still have visions of him closing his eyes, trying to cover his ears whilst also trying to produce and store the most precious load of his life...with a very small time frame to do so !!! Cue ejaculation number 3. And the boy did good!!

So out I was wheeled from theatre to a slightly traumatised fiancé. We all know that my bowel difficulties are no secret. And at this stage I had diarrhoea probably every half an hour; day and night, as I wasn't on any treatment and was suffering a bit. When I Came round from the anaesthetic all I could think about was needing a poo! Whilst in surgery it must have been the longest I hadn't been to the loo for as long as I could remember. Still being totally woozy and out of it and therefore having no concept of social awareness I was apparently announcing this at the top of my voice...'I NEED A POO I'M GOING TO POO MY PANTS'. Poor already traumatised Jake had to then carry his wobbly, giggling pooing wife to the loo with a nurse. It was ok though because after that they fed me lots of biscuits and cups of tea!

We went home a little nervous, not knowing whether it had worked but also very excited and relieved to be able to start cancer treatment immediately. It wasn't long before we received the phone call to tell us we had made 9 babies!!! The lady on the phone was over the moon to tell us that they had successfully fertilised 9 embryos for us. So we had a big celebratory high five and big smooch!! We have since learnt that unfortunately this won't give us 9 chances as they thaw a bunch at a time as some don't successfully survive the thawing process, but we hope it will give us 2-3 chances in the future.

An IVF or surrogacy process is not only an emotional rollercoaster but it is also mind bogglingly expensive with no guarantees at the end. I have so much admiration and respect for anyone who is going through this process. Even though I have no doubt that pregnancy is tiring, stressful and painful (having seen what lots of my closest ones have been through), if you have a bump please treasure the 9 months , it is SUCH a blessing, such a gift!! Even if it feels tough at times, it's still the most natural, phenomenal thing in the world.

Spring is Springing

14th Mar 2017

Every month we promise ourselves things will settle down a bit and we will have more time. Exactly a month has now passed since Valentine's Day and since I last wrote a blog and even though we've been hectic it feels like yesterday. Where does the time disappear to? I'm sure there's some little gremlin with a wicked cackle stealing it away from us all (mwah ha ha haaaa)! Even though I can't believe we are already mid march, on the plus side that does mean that spring is springing...longer days, chirping birds, beautiful sunshine and colourful flowers blooming. Sometimes small moments like that feel more precious than ever. As usual it's been crazy busy and we often end up lost in the whirlwind...this last month I hold Hurricane Doris responsible!! Within Doris's whirlwind we've had three hospital visits, moved house, celebrated family birthdays and a best friend's hen party, received fundraising donations of over £4.5k (thank you SO much), continued to pursue our surrogacy dreams, typed and painted many hours away, progressed with our new website, had our first school visit on World Book Day, been to a fabulous fundraising ball and to wrap up a fantastic few weeks...on Friday...we are sending our second book 'Pedro the Pump' to the printers (WOOHOO), AND we are heading to London to participate in the Marsden March on Sunday morning after which we will march straight to Heathrow departures to fly to Australia on Sunday night for 6 days.


• The book...
As always, I am so unbelievably proud of Jake, he has worked like a trooper over the last few weeks and his illustrations for 'Pedro the Pump' are truly sensational! They are full of fun, colour, creativity and imagination. He is definitely as handy as an artist with a paint brush as he is as a doctor with a scalpel. I hope you will all want to have a peak and that you and your little ones will all enjoy it. We couldn't possibly express our gratitude enough for the monumental support that you gave us with the first book and we have our fingers crossed that number 2 will be a success. Please keep sharing your feedback and pictures...we appreciate it SO much!! We will of course continue to donate a percentage of the profits to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity from the sales of both books.


• Health...
This month I've predominantly felt indescribably tired and have also felt quite significant pain (in various places and due to various reasons) which has at times been quite debilitating and frustrating. I mentioned in my previous blog that I needed an MRI due to some concerns from the routine monthly CT regarding the tumours in my spine. We discovered, from that MRI, that I did infact have a spinal compression fracture caused by a tumour in my vertebrae (unfortunately it wasn't just a shadow on the image which I was hoping for). However the good news is that I don't require any surgery or cementing up at this stage but instead I am having a course of spinal radiotherapy. The day after we land back from Australia we go straight to hospital for a CT and then the treatment will continue for the next 5 days after that. In the meantime I'm dosing up on the Diazepam, Codine and steroids...a fun mixture to keep pain and inflammation at bay and steroids also help with keeping me feel a little more awake which is a bonus...fingers crossed for some monster muscles too!!


• Moving house...
The aches and pains were a bit inconvenient this month as we moved house. It meant that I wasn't a particularly helpful removal woman despite taking my delegated role as soft furnishings supervisor very seriously, but we were so incredibly fortunate to be given so much help from our wonderful family. The move turned out to be our biggest hurdle probably because we of course never like things to go too smoothly...that would be boring. We moved during the climax of Doris and initially, although blustery outside, all seemed OK inside. However on day 2, all of a sudden we were hit with no heating, no hot water, no working cooker, no phone reception and no internet. In the end this took over ten rather chilly days to get sorted.

Despite the chaos of boxes to unpack and not being able to find anything along with the lack of functioning facilities, we were determined to get 'Pedro the Pump' completed by March, so we cracked on with the book...Jake persevered with his magnificent illustrations painting several layers on the paper whilst wearing several layers of clothes...he looked very cute in his thermals plus dressing gown and bobble hat combo with his meticulously arranged vast crayon collection (so highly organised that I am not allowed to touch a single colour...I struggle to resist the daily urge to mix them all up; que that wicked cackle again...mwahahaha!). His daily painting duties finished at about midnight when we would retire up to our new bedroom which is upstairs in the attic. The coldest room in the house. It sounds dramatic, and hard to believe now it's mild, but this is true...we could actually see our breath in the mornings it was so cold up there without the heating. So we resorted to sleeping in our thermals! Being only 6 months into our marriage I made a lame attempt to make sleeping in thermals sexy!! However, unfortunately a girl (me!!) who sleeps in thermals, wears a tooth grinding prevention gum shield, swallows copious concoctions of medication from the bedside drawer, constantly itches scaly skin, is up 10 times throughout the night with bowel issues, pumps an inhaler, and grunts and groans with each movement like a geriatric man...could never ever be even remotely sexual!!!! Sometimes I think it's bloomin' lucky that Jake married me sealing the deal quickly as I fear, had he not, he may be rethinking his options right now and be flying/escaping solo on that plane back to Australia on Sunday!! Anyway, after a couple of weeks we had the heating etc sorted and the only tragedy resulting from the situation was not being able to flip pancakes on pancake day! In the grand scheme of things...it's not really that much of a disaster!! We are so lucky, we absolutely love our new home and it's so lovely for Jake to finally, after a whole year, have all of his furniture and belongings from Australia out of storage. Although I am a little nervous that some monsterous killer Australian spider is going to crawl out from somewhere!

Living with no internet or reception for a couple of weeks was certainly not such a bad thing, infact it was quite peaceful, however it did mean that we werent able to be as organised with emails and messages as we would have liked and so we send our deepest apologies for being a little slow. Dad has continued to manage all of the Amazon orders and has done an incredible job. He is the most efficient human on the planet...military precision. Thank you so much dad we couldn't have done it without you! Thank you so much to everyone who has written us such lovely Amazon reviews too!


• Hospital...
One of the hospital visits of the month was of course a Marsden Wednesday, our second home! We had a good visit and it was great to see Tara number 1 and doctor Newbold. I'm still holding in there on the Vendatenib medication...we hadn't realised, until this visit, that for the average patient on this drug it only successfully holds stable for 7 months so it's absolutely amazing that it's still keeping me good as it's been almost a year! However, learning this information was also a little bit of a daunting realisation and frank discussion that there will come a time...possibly in the very near future, where we need to consider the next treatment option. There are trial drugs which the Marsden are able to access that I can give a go which will be the next plan of action, they are also continuing to research on my little lab rat (aka Mighty Mouse!!) but in the meantime I hope that I can stick with the Vendatenib for as long as possible which feels pretty positive to me! As well as planning the radiotherapy treatment for my spine, I also met with a lovely surgeon to discuss my growing lymph nodes and increasing lumps and bumps around my neck and chest. The result of this discussion was that I will not be having any surgery on my neck right now as the associated risks are too high with where the lumps are located and we hope that I can shrink them more safely with the meds instead. We do think that I'm going to have some surgery on my boob, unfortunately for Jake (despite my negotiations) this will not increase their size or form, but it will remove some of the tender cancerous tissue causing pain. So although I won't be looking like Jordan any time soon, I should feel more comfortable!


• World Book Day...
On the 2nd of march it was World Book Day. We visited Long Marston VA CofE Primary School in Hertfordshire. It was a very special day for us and one we will remember forever because it was our first ever book reading. We had the honour of speaking to every class about Tara & Tyrone. Every single child listened beautifully, asked brilliant questions AND gave us fantastic ideas for our future books! We had so much fun and loved every minute of it! We are really excited about arranging future visits to schools and already have a couple in the diary. I miss being in the classroom with them everyday (especially my Malmesbury rays of sunshine) and being in primary schools with such creative young minds is definitely my happy place!! I feel so lucky that by doing our books I have the opportunity to be back in this environment and it makes it all the more fun to be able to do that with Jake...I think it's becoming one of his happy places too. Another enormous thank you goes to Tickenham Primary School. They worked their socks off last weekend with a car wash, nail painting, face painting and live music, and raised a whooping £246 in only 3 hours towards the fundraising! We would absolutely love to come and visit you all to say a great big thank you!! I also want to thank our niece Millie's nursery school 'Daisy Chains' for promoting our book, sharing it with the children and making her feel so special on World Book Day in her custom made Tara & Tyrone T-shirt!...excellent crafting mummy skills Soph!!


• Fundraising Ball...
On the 4th March we were delighted to attend Dannie Martin's hugely successful fundraising ball in Hereford. It was a spectacular evening and she pulled out all the stops with a delicious meal, a brilliant raffle, beautiful dancing (Saffron you are magnificent), a fabulous DJ, stunning live music and a great photographer with so many other thoughtful, magic touches. The night raised so much awareness for the Royal Marsden and was an amazing boost for the fundraising too. It was a privilege to be a part of it and we were made to feel incredibly special. Thank you so much to Dannie and everyone involved.


• Marsden March...
We are super excited about the Marsden March on Sunday, I have an inkling that I will feel totally overwhelmed with emotion and waterproof mascara will be an essential requirement. We have been given one of the biggest honours imaginable and have been asked to cut the ribbon at the start. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be given such a privilege. We feel so humbled and can't express how much it means to us. After the ribbon is cut we will participate in the 14 mile walk from the Marsden in Chelsea to the Marsden in Sutton with a team of friends who are also my fantastic work colleagues from school. The whole event feels particularly significant for me as it will be almost exactly a year since I was diagnosed and my case transferred to The Royal Marsden Hospital and a year since I stopped working alongside these friends. To be able to spend the day walking beside them, amongst thousands of passionate people, to support the place that keeps me and so many others going is a magical prospect and I have no doubt it will make memories that I will treasure forever.

As I saw these school friends everyday, they were some of the only people who were really aware of my symptoms, people who urged me to keep going back to the doctors, and people who have never stopped supporting me through everything. Even though I'm not at school with them anymore they still make me feel a part of the team...what better role models could the children at school have than that?! Spending time with them is a rare luxury now...Seeing them at school every day was definitely something that I took for granted (with a blasé 'see you tomorrow' each evening), just like being young and healthy was something I took for granted...please, please never take ANYTHING for granted in this life, none of us will ever know what the future has in store for us, treasure every second you have and the people around you at that time and live for the moment. Nothing is ever guaranteed.


• Cherish every moment...
Upon diagnosis I was given an estimated 10% chance of living 5 more years and, although it means nothing to me because I know I'll be here until I'm 90, it's a strange prospect to think we are now 1 year into that 5 year period. When I think back to this time last year it brings back vivid memories. I had been feeling unwell for so long and so to me the initial diagnosis was actually really positive and a huge relief, it didn't matter there was a 'C' in the title, I finally felt like I could treat something and get better. It was only when we realised the extent of the spread of the disease and that it wouldn't be safe to carry a baby because of the drugs I required, it was a bit heart breaking. I remember on one of my first Marsden visits, we went into the blood room for some tests and bumped into a lovely, cheery man who had just had his final blood test and been given the 'all clear'. We felt so happy for him but at the same time it made it difficult to digest my 'incurable' label and process that we would never have that feeling of 'all clear'. But now we know it doesn't matter, although I may never get rid of this, I will never let it defeat me, I am so lucky it is less aggressive than lots of other forms of cancer plus I think I would feel a little lost now not having the Marsden as a part of my life forever more. They really do feel like extended family and I never take for granted seeing the familiar friendly faces every month. I enjoy my chats with the nurses doing my ECG, the gossips with the phlebotomists taking my blood, our giggles with Tara number 1 while she does all of her wonderful things!! Although I ignore any prognosis it is weird having an awareness that your life has a shortened timescale, I suppose as people grow old they must have a similar feeling. In reality although I have the knowledge that I may not be around for as long as I had intended...there could be a outbreak of disease, a natural disaster, a freak accident, or a nuclear bombing before that time so it doesn't dictate my life at all but what it does do is put things into perspective....it makes me feel more alive because I appreciate every experience that bit more than I may have done before, all those little things I might have sometimes taken for granted before...places, people, journeys, views, smells, tastes. You have to do the things in life that really make you happy and mean something to you and to those around you. We are ALL so lucky to be here and for the things and people we have...enjoy them, treasure them, cherish them, savour them every day....don't wait for something to happen to remind you to do it, don't wait until it's too late. People sometimes question that Jake and I are doing too much, should give up on dreams such as having our own family, or suggest I rest more...BUT THIS is the reason why I don't want to let tiredness or pain, obstacles, or sometimes sadness get in the way of anything or let anything stop us. That would be such a waste of time!!! I want to keep pushing on and making the most of every second and every experience. None of us know what's round the corner or how long we have on the planet so it's so very important we embrace every opportunity and are thankful for everything we have. Even the times that may seem bad really aren't...they make us stronger and teach us so much. My wish to everyone would be never forget how lucky you are to be YOU! We ALL have so much to be thankful for.


• Australia...
Jake and I are looking forward to heading to Heathrow Airport on Sunday night after the walk. It will be a great way to quell any post marching blues...so many films to watch, meals to eat and games of scrabble to play/WIN (mwahaha)!! We have the honour of travelling across the seas so that we can attend a magical wedding and Jake is absolutely over the moon to be one of the best men. This journey, as well as being super exciting, also feels emotionally significant to us as it is almost exactly a year since Jake flew the same route (in reverse) back to the UK to be by my side when I received the diagnosis....and never left! It makes me so happy that he is able to see his friends and share this magical day with them and I feel so blessed to be able to go too and be a part of it.

Wonderful Wednesday

8th Mar 2017

We have finished our day at hospital on such a high...We are both totally overwhelmed, super excited, and unbelievably HONOURED to have been asked by the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity to cut the ribbon to start the Marsden March on the 19th. One of the coolest things I will ever do and I feel so so lucky!!!

AND to top it off...I got a hug from Dennis!! Dennis started volunteering at the Royal Marsden when his wife passed away 16 years ago to thank the hospital for her care and treatment. Dennis has been selling Tara and Tyrone for us 3 days a week at the hospital and every Wednesday we see him he never fails to brighten up our day and put a smile on our faces! Dennis will be celebrating turning 90 years young next week....Happy birthday to this hero who continues to give back to such a heroic place! xxxx

Reading is dreaming with open eyes

2nd Mar 2017

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to Long Marston VA CofE Primary School for having us for World Book Day today and a special thank you to Kirsty for organising our visit! It was a very special day for us and one we will remember forever. It was our first ever book reading and we had the honour of speaking to every class about Tara & Tyrone. Every single child listened beautifully, asked brilliant questions AND gave us fantastic ideas for our future books! We were also extremely privileged to be part of the writing competition judging panel, the standard was so remarkably high it was a very tough responsibility. Every single pupil was a superstar, we had so much fun and we loved every minute of it! We can't wait to come and visit you all again soon (Jake would love to do some artwork with you all!) and we are also really excited about our up and coming visits to other schools. Being in primary schools is definitely my happy place!!

We were also feeling super proud that my little niece went to nursery with a Tara & Tyrone T-shirt today because it is her favourite book (gold star mummy Sophie!!).

'You can find magic wherever you look...sit back, relax and open a book'...HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!

Ready to March in March

28th Feb 2017

Our T-Shirts have arrived. Can't wait to walk beside our friends...whose sides I will NEVER leave...from the Royal Marsden in Chelsea to the Royal Marsden in Sutton (we are ditching Tara & Tyrone for this one and travelling by foot!!????). It is such a privilege to participate in this event and to be able to continue to support the incredible work of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity...thanks to them, lives are changed and saved every single day. I will continue to be a patient of this hospital for the rest of my life and they continue to give this life of mine hope, positivity and happiness every single day and I couldn't be more grateful! The March will mark exactly a year since my diagnosis and since we started our #ejtandemonium fundraising mission. Thank you so much to everyone who has continued to support us, it's such an honour to be a part of team 'Smile, Love & Be Kind' on 19.03.17 alongside some very special people.

Thank you

16th Feb 2017

THANK YOU so much to everyone who has been and continues to be a part of our fundraising!! It's thanks to ALL OF YOU...your support, generosity and creativity that the Royal Marsden is able to stay at the forefront of cancer research and treatment which changes and saves lives EVERY SINGLE DAY!! We hope we can keep the total growing...it will continue to be Tara & Tyrone's mission and they are one hell of a tenacious pair!!! ALL OF YOU are our inspiration and you certainly keep me positive and motivated each and every day with the overwhelming kindness you give us. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!!

You've done jewellery parties, bake sales, marathons, cycles, a 24hr static cycle, a concert, raffles, a ball, a winter market, knitting tea cosies, wedding and christening donations, bought books, shared the page, school fundraisers and MORE...BLOOMING INCREDIBLE!!!!

So many colours!!

15th Feb 2017

Seeing this full grown man's excitement for new water colour crayons yesterday made me chuckle and feel so happy...seeing him put them to the test with 'Pedro the Pump' amongst the spring flowers today made me smile and feel so proud!!

LOVE is the best drug

14th Feb 2017

Hello!!...or perhaps I should say...Bonjour seeing as we've been lucky enough to spend the majority of the last month gorging on cheese in France.

Cheese and love are both in the air in abundance today...it's Valentine's Day! Being Valentine's Day it reminded me what an amazing difference a year makes...This time last year, I had just broken up for half term after a busy few weeks at school (which included an ofsted inspection) and, on Valentine's Day, I landed in Sydney to be greeted at the airport by gorgeous Jake with a banner and a bunch of flowers. We had only been back in contact for 4 months and only seen each other a handful of times, it was SO exciting. Although I wasn't feeling too well, love IS the best drug and I was on such a 'love-drug' high that I felt amazing and we had no idea quite how poorly I actually was! We had the MOST magical week including the world's most romantic picnic over looking Sydney Opera House, meeting a koala called Darwin, and climbing up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It blows my mind what has happened between then and now!! It makes me feel so happy and amazed and proud of my hero Jake and also of both of our unbelievably strong and supportive families!

As jake said in his blog a couple of weeks ago - before we left for France we felt beaten both emotionally and physically. January was a bit of a toughie in every aspect (which I shan't bore you with) and we hadn't realised quite how much we needed to escape until we did it!
It was a challenging 22 hour drive over the border (including 4 hours on a ferry) as we were both exhausted, my symptoms were fairly awful, Jake was suffering with a horrendous tummy bug, and of course we had Molly bear who was also recovering from a tummy bug! I just don't know how Jake managed the drive. In fact, I don't know how he manages everything that he does from day to day. He really does move mountains on a daily basis....It's no wonder it knocks him physically sometimes. He genuinely is a super hero!

One perk of 22 hours in the car was that it did allow us to spend time together (with no distractions, admin or chores) to chat and also allowed time for contemplation with regards to our current stresses, strains and heart aches. I was able to reflect a little on what was worrying me and able to realise actually how lucky we are right now and to appreciate what we have in the present...sometimes it's all to easy to get wrapped up in the turbulence of the stress and forget that. Yes not everything is exactly how we may want it to be, but actually, what we have right this moment in time IS amazing! Even if things seem bad for ANY of us, it's so important that we all pause and stop focusing on the negatives we are trying to change, and realise how many positives and blessings we all have, that we would never want to change and couldn't live without. Hold on to them and treasure them! Whether that be friendships, families, a job, a roof over our heads or just a good cup of tea!!

As soon as we arrived it was like a wash of relief and a weight off our shoulders. It was so tranquil. There is something so pure about snow, it really does cleanse the soul. We instantly felt at peace. We cherished every single second and made these seconds feel like hours (even then, they still went far too quickly!). Molly made our hearts melt everyday by prancing around in her little snow boots (she really was the queen of the slopes being admired from every angle!) and eating as much snow as she possibly could!! Seeing her so happy filled us with joy and made us so happy; she made our faces hurt from smiling at her. We had the best time and even ticked 'snowman building' off the bucket list. It wasn't any old snowman...it was a 'Snow Coates' family including a snowdog...Obviously!! Although I was chuffed with the creation, I actually can't take much credit...it turns out snowman ball rolling isn't my forté and Jake promptly demoted me from chief builder to supervisor of sourcing and arranging facial features!!...equally as critical as the building process I'm sure you will agree!!!

In between copious amounts of hot chocolate, eating our body weights in fromage, several overly competitive scrabble games (I'm winning 9-2 but who's counting!?), lots of walks and snow fun...we worked on book number 2...'Pedro the Pump'! I'm so air-cstatic/pumped about this book. Jake's illustrations are magnificent and the story is based around 'acts of kindness' which makes me feel all warm and squishy inside even when it's freezing and snowy outside! We really hope that you will all enjoy it! We appreciate everything you are all doing to promote and sell the first book...more than you could ever know! Please keep the 'wheels in motion' for Tara & Tyrone and the money they are raising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as a result of the book sales.

Despite our fortune of spending 2 weeks in a mountainous, snow-topped wonderland I wasn't allowed to ski because of my the cancer in my bones making them vulnerable. Jake didn't ski simply because I couldn't ski. Now Jake is an incredible skier. Like REALLY good. I know he's good at everything so that's no surprise...but skiing is one of his finest talents so you can only imagine how exquisite he is on the slopes. One can only imagine how much he wanted to whoosh through that fresh powder. I of course wouldn't have minded one bit and in fact everyday tried encouraging him to go for it. But he wanted to stay with Mols and me. Did he mention it once or complain or make me feel guilty? Of course not! Never. He said that he enjoyed being able to appreciate sights and aspects that he would never usually have had the time to notice or experience when spending all day skiing on the slopes. The sacrifices he makes on a daily basis are quite unbelievable. I suppose not skiing is a relatively luxury sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, but when it is combined with all of the other monumental sacrifices he makes on a daily basis (some as huge as sticking by me when I can't have his baby and sticking by me when he knows that we will probably never be able to grow old and wrinkled together) ...it's just phenomenal. I wish I could take all of these sacrifices away from him. We all want to be able to give the person we love everything they dream of and there are obviously things that I would do ANYTHING to be able to give him. Literally anything. Sometimes it breaks my heart that I just can't. But instead, I have to try and focus on his unconditional kindness and strength and appreciate how lucky I am that he still wants to be with me despite the tremendous sacrifices he makes, and have faith that he does this because he loves me and he loves us as a team...so although it's tough not to feel down about it sometimes, I try my best not to waste time carrying guilt or feeling inadequate and like 'I'm a useless wife' but to treasure how precious what we have is and how blessed I am to have him and to have each other. You never know, maybe the love drug WILL keep me going until I'm old and as wrinkled as a raisin!!

Sadly after two magical weeks, our time in Narnia came to an end because we needed to get back for the hospital. After literally digging us out of the snow (we genuinely had a 2 day blizzard prior to leaving...the snow gods and Mr Tumnus were definitely trying to help us out so we could stay) Jake drove the 22 hour mission back.

We headed straight for Marsden Wednesday. We were a little apprehensive about this visit after last month's significant calcitonin level increase (plus the symptomatic aches, pains and fatigue which have continued to deteriorate since Christmas). It was a long one! We left at 5am for tests, scans, consults, prescriptions and dermatology and we were finally finished by about 5pm. We left with slightly mixed emotions as although we received some positive news, we also received some not so positive news.

The GOOD news (love a bit of good news!) is that I have responded better to the treatment so far than they ever thought I would. Since being on the chemotherapy drug I have been holding on stable for almost a year now which was apparently not expected or what usually happens (woo hoo!!...it's that miraculous LOVE DRUG again!!). All of the CT scans so far have shown no tumour growth which is remarkable considering the stage and rate of growth I was at back in March. My calcitonin results were still high, at 12000 which is the level it was at pre-treatment although that does mean they have decreased since last month (when they were up at 14000) which is good. MORE brilliant news is that the department have received £100k of the fundraising and Dr. Newbold (the amazing oncologist) is going to give us a spread sheet of exactly where all of the money is going and you will all be able to see what a significant and positive impact you have made for cancer treatment and research. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

The not as good news was my CEA blood results. CEA is a tumour marker in the blood. This level should sit around 2ng/mL for the average person. Mine has steadily increased over the last few months and since last month the figure had doubled to 222ng/mL. This sudden increase was a little concerning so it was agreed that I should increase my medication dosage (again) and the best thing we decided to do was not to worry about it or think about it and just wait to see what the results of the CT scan revealed. We hoped that I would be stable and, considering love IS the best drug...a romantic night away in Paris full of love, snogs and snuggles would kick the ass of any bad health baddies!!

So off we went to Paris the next day! I know...we are totally spoilt...having only been back from the Alps for 48hrs we were back off to the land of cheese and wine AGAIN. My gorgeous sister and brother in law gave us the tickets for Christmas AND puppy sat Molly AND treated us to a hotel in London the night before where we were looked after by the most incredible receptionist, Kate, who gave us an upgrade, wrote me a beautiful letter and gave me flowers! She was an absolute angel and made me smile so much I had pain in the back of my head...I think this is where both corners of my smile were beginning to meet!

Paris was more perfect than we could have ever imagined! We saw all of the sights and we were OVER THE MOON that we ticked an 'Eiffel Tower top smooch' off the bucket list. It was even snowing up there which made it extra special (and a little chilly...all the more reason for snuggles and cuddles)!! Soph and Matt have been too generous and thoughtful for words...the absolute BEST!! And mum and dad for arranging the Eurostar and sorting out all the book orders while we were away....you are also the absolute BEST!!
When we were on the way back on the Eurostar I received a phone call from the Marsden scanning department. It was totally unexpected as it was late Friday evening and my signal was appalling which I suppose can be expected when you're on a train in between two countries and under the sea (the Eurostar still boggles my brain)!!!! All I vaguely heard over the fuzzy line was that I needed an urgent full body MRI on Tuesday (as a result of Wednesday's CT). Being Friday night we then had to sweat it out over the weekend wondering why I needed this MRI...despite us both pretending we weren't thinking about it. Well actually I wasn't very good at pretending I wasn't thinking about it as I continually bombarded poor jake with a million unanswerable questions!! Sometimes it's hard to not fear the worst when you only have a snippet of information but Jake has the most amazing ability to answer unanswerable questions in such a reassuring way. Obviously it helps that he's a doctor but on top of this he is also the calmest, most compassionate, loving and supportive human being out there. I have no doubt any of his patients, colleagues, friends or family would verify this!

Tara number 1 rang us as soon as I woke up on Monday morning and put our minds at ease. She's a legend like that! The CT results had actually been fairly positive, all of my organs are still responding well to treatment and remain stable which was brilliant news to wake up to for the beginning of a new week. The reason for needing an MRI was because the CT indicated a spinal fracture (I'm remaining blissfully, possibly a little naively, optimistic and hoping maybe it was a mistake and just a shadow!) so they need to check it out to see if I need to get it cemented up...basically like a brick wall...eat your heart out Humpty Dumpty! It's great that the tumours in my organs haven't grown, I do have an increased amount of cancerous tissues in my neck and boobs but I'm not going to worry about that, I have been told I can have some radiated on or removed if they feel too troublesome or painful which we may follow through with at my next appointment.

So...as I already mentioned riiight at the beginning...this time last year on Valentine's Day I was landing in sunny Australia. This year is quite the extreme and we find ourselves back at the Royal Marsden in Sutton (perhaps not quite as warm and exotic). I woke up this morning to some heart shaped marmite toast delivered to me in bed by Molly and Jake, followed by a wonderful breakfast show radio interview with BBC radio Wiltshire (who are awesome and continue to give us SO much support), and then we hit the road for the hospital. Valentine's was spent in an MRI machine....I'm not complaining...it is an equally incredible place/location (obviously for very different reasons!) and it has also made the day equally unique and memorable in a special kind of way!! But most importantly I still get to spend it with Jake and this year he's my actual husband (I still remember nervously making him heart shaped pancakes on Valentine's Day when we were 17!!). It doesn't matter where we are today or what we are doing...we are both together, we have each other, I can hold Jakes hand and give him a smooch and we get to spend our first Valentine's Day as Mr & Mrs...I EVEN get to wear a fancy gown (far more comfortable than some fancy ball gown too)!! plus we have our pooch to get home to who we LOVE (potentially unhealthy amounts!!)!!

Over the next week we are going to continue with the second book and we are also moving house to ease financial pressures! Although we feel sad to be leaving our first home together and our lovely landlady....She will forever remain a dear friend and we are looking forward to starting a new chapter in a new nest...the beginning of our next adventure. Due to the spinal issues I'm not allowed to lift...so Jake is going to be working those muscles while I make cups of tea, supervise soft furnishings (a critical role I'm sure you will agree; similar to snowman facial features) and admire his manliness....there are SO many bonuses for me in my situation!!

Sending absolute bucket loads of love to you all AND cuddles AND a cheeky smooch...not just today because it's Valentine's Day but EVERY day....although as it IS Valentine's Day let's totally embrace the smiles, love and kindness and spread it everywhere we go to everyone we meet along the way!

I've never been a big believer in Valentine's Day but I have always thought that it's a good prompt to remind us to tell the people we care about how much we love them...

...afterall...love IS the best drug. X

World Cancer Day

4th Feb 2017

Never letting go!! May we all stand united, together, forever x

Introducing PEDRO THE PUMP!!

31st Jan 2017

'Roll up, roll up!'...ladies and gentlemen... INTRODUCING PEDRO THE PUMP! We are super excited, (in fact we are totally pumped!) that Tara & Tyrone book number two is well underway. The writing is now complete and Jake is working hard to get his incredible illustrations painted...they are quite magical!...A bit like our new pal Pedro!

He will be joining Tara & Tyrone for their next adventure which also includes their wonderful friends they made last time...Trevor the tractor, and scooters Blue Scott and Pink Sue.

We hope to have it ready for the printers by the end of February and will start taking pre-orders then too, with the aim to have Pedro pump expelling with air-xcitment and available to buy in March to add a little extra spring into your spring time!

In the meantime, thank you so so much for all of the amazing support and feedback you have given us with 'Tara & Tyrone - Stuck in the Mud'...please continue to spread the word and the love before Pedro steals the show!

There's 'snow' time like the present

29th Jan 2017

This week we find ourselves in the snow. In a cosy little village called Le Praz to be precise which is in Courchevel in the 3 vallees in France. Emmy and I have escaped, with our beautiful pup Molly, and driven down to the mountains on a 'working' holiday ('working' in the loosest sense of the word) to try and get some peace and quiet, perfect our 'pain au chocolat' pronunciation and do a bit of writing and illustrating for the much anticipated second Tara and Tyrone story book!!! Eeeek exciting!!! (We hope to get this second TT instalment out in March!!). It's been a stunning 5 days so far and has been just what the doctor ordered. Some proper R&R!...

Over the last few months we've had rather a lot on our plate and at times, to put it mildly, things have gotten a little stressful. Emmy has written about some of those trials and tribulations in her blog. And whilst they are so beautifully and eloquently written they frequently downplay how difficult things have been for her because she doesn't want to complain, she so desperately wants to remain positive and most importantly because she IS so positive.

The problem with that incredible attitude is that, on the surface of things, everything looks fine - everyone gets lulled into this false sense of security thinking "yeah she's got cancer but she says It's pretty stable and she hasn't complained much recently so she must be doing ok". I mean she still looks as stunning as ever right? Her hair hasn't fallen out, that smile is still as sparkly and big as ever? And she's so active!? It's easy to forget that anything is wrong. And the joke is, I'm living with her everyday, I see everything, hear everything and STILL I sometimes forget and take what she is going through (and the courage and strength with which she is handling it all) for granted. Now I'm not here to lower the mood and tell you how badly everything is going - we know how lucky we are in so many ways. But i did think that this might be my perfect opportunity to interject and write a few lines myself about the woman with the biggest heart and behind the marvellous words!

Now like all good stories, and like any man would, I'll start by talking about myself ????... and like a true Brit I'll start off with a good old fashion moan... you see it just so happens that I haven't been feeling well either this week. The night before the 21 hour journey south to France my body decided to go and acquire a rather nasty tummy bug! Combined with Emmy feeling more than just a little worse for wears (having had a really rough few weeks herself -there I go again - playing her symptoms down!), it made for a very interesting journey to the mountains!! Thank God they like their motorway services here in France (one almost every 20kms!). Now, I barely ever get sick. And I NEVER get food poisoning (a Coates has the constitution similar to that of an elephant!). But, even so I know that this week I got hit with a particularly nasty strain (the man-flu of tummy bugs guys!) and for four days I was stuck to the loo, had horrible bowels, headaches, muscle aches, broken sleep, no energy, proper fevers and i was absolutely appalling company. Boy... did I let Emmy know about it. Whilst I thought I was being heroic, the wilting wet lettuce that I had become was anything but... "I've never felt this tired", "you've never had diarrhoea like this" and "I think I might die" were all sentences that I may have uttered. In retrospect it's more than a little embarrassing. Because, you see, all of the symptoms I had for just 3 and a half measly days (yes the half is important - ask any man out there!) are symptoms that Em deals with EVERY SINGLE DAY! Sometimes they might not be as bad as the symptoms I had then but frequently they are worse and often they'll be compounded by a 'monster' long and heavy period, by 'another sore lump', by incomparable tiredness or by painful, dry and blistered skin. And yet Em goes on unswerving, not blaming anyone, and certainly not complaining. And there's little to say when those symptoms will hit either or how long they'll last, how severe they'll be or why they got worse in the first place. There's almost no pattern. What is true is that whilst you never know how she'll feel from day to day, there are good months and bad months and the month of January so far can 'go do one!'

Since New Year the wheels have fallen off a little. Her symptoms perhaps worse than ever. This was confirmed by her results at her last check up (the two are almost synonymous). Not that you would ever know it though. Her attitude to life is like having the ultimate photo filter on intstagram. You only see the image that she'll let you see! But this is dangerous because sometimes even I forget what she is going through because she hides it so well and doesn't moan. But the symptoms I have been dealing with this week gave me the tiniest insight into a fraction of what Em goes through physically every day and have reminded me that even I become immune to the extent of symptoms and traumas that she has to deal with on a daily basis.

On top of the physical duress that she has to 'live' with there is also a whole host of seriously emotional issues hidden from the public domain, which individually would stress and panic most people, but which Emmy has to deal with every day and does so with dignity and strength. Embarking on a surrogacy journey and all of the emotionally HEAVY stuff that goes with that as a woman, trying to work out where to live (near the hospital and not too far away from family), no jobs and the financial pressure of not being able to get a bank loan due to her health prognosis or figuring out what we are going to do, and the guilt of not being able to see everyone or give anyone enough time. A complete pressure cooker in every respect. Every aspect of your life up in the air with no certainties. In so many ways it is the hardest way to live. Impossible to live day to day but also to plan for the future. But yet Emmy doesn't let any of that pressure show and instead tries to light up everybody else's life with love and happiness!
...I've said it before but I'll say it again as I've never meant it more- she is the bravest person I've ever met.

The truth is that every time we have a bad day or a bad week it reminds us what the situation is and it breaks my heart a little bit. I love this girl more than anything in the world. Even more than Molly! And science says I'm going to lose her at some point way before she is ready to go. I can't deal with it so I don't. We just concentrate on the positives and focus on which ever aspects of our future we can fixate on. And that, right now, is attempting to have a family and secondly trying to create a successful business (and stable income) by producing the second in the long line of books about the adventures of Tara and Tyrone!!! And there really is 'snow' time like the present to take stock and be so grateful for everything we do have. We are so lucky I'm so many ways.

In my eyes Emmy is a Saint. I don't care if you think I'm biased. I know how much she loved teaching. I know how much it broke her heart to have to stop doing the thing that she finally found to be her dream job. I know how much she misses the children she taught or would be teaching now. It literally was the thing that made her tick. In writing books she has found something that makes her almost as happy. All that she wants to do is make children happy and the positive feedback that we have received - that they do enjoy it - has almost given back to her that 'Joie de vive' that I saw when we got back in touch last year when she was teaching. Even if we can't have children, and the chances are high, I know that she will spend every minute that she has, to her last breath, writing children's books in the hope that she can bring joy to as many children as she can.
You could say that writing is just a means to a salary/income and to a degree this is of course true - we have to eat! ????... but the truth is that by far the biggest ambition is to bring light and happiness to as many kids as possible. And so that's what we are going to do. Together. After all who doesn't love a good bedtime story and a hug.

If you want to order a copy of book 1 Tara and Tyrone - Stuck in the Mud' you can find it on Amazon or if you want a personalised message then you can email an order to us at ejtandem@hotmail.com. And remember to look out for our second book coming out in March too! (Accepting pre-orders soon!)????

Have a wonderful Sunday wherever you are.
Smile love and be kind.
Biggest hugs!
The doting, loving and truly inspired husband of Emmy coates. Xx

Trevor's back!!!...and this time he's having a PARTY!!

22nd Jan 2017

Jake's busy sketching for book number. 2 and Trevor's having a PARTY! Can't wait to share it with you all. So proud of this talented bean I am lucky enough to call my husband!!

I hate admin

19th Jan 2017

It's been a hectic but exciting (and at times little bit stressful) couple of weeks! Get ready...this is a waffly one (anyone who followed the blog when we were cycling through Europe will know how much I love a waffle...AND waffling)!!

I had my first Marsden appointment of 2017. It was good to be back and see all of those wonderful, friendly faces...especially Tara number 1...obviously!! The appointment went as silky smooth as always. The only downside was that my blood results indicated that my pesky calcitonin levels have reached an all time high of 14000 (previous peak was 12000 prior to starting treatment). Calcitonin is the hormone that the cancer cells secrete, an average person has calcitonin levels of below 10. The high calcitonin levels are the cause of my inconvenient, totally disgusting and rather painful bowel difficulties (so I wasn't surprised with the increase as I've been really struggling in that department since Christmas). The elevated calcitonin was one of the key markers leading to my diagnosis (which was vital as all of my initial other blood tests, including thyroid function, were totally normal) alongside the enlarged lymph nodes. My lymph nodes are becoming my secret friends (a little bit like Chandler's third nipple in 'Friends') they appear to be sprouting all over the place, and with the cancerous tissues it feels a little bit like I have baked beans in my neck and boobs...don't I just get more attractive by the minute!! If they become too big or uncomfortable anywhere I can have them surgically removed but for now they can remain my friends...I think they carry some secret sassy mojo, plus I like baked beans!! So once again we have upped the medication dosage, so I'm sure the calcitonin will begin to decrease and the symptoms will start to settle down, which will also help sleeping. Hopefully the increase in my calcitonin won't have had too much of an impact on the tumour growth...we will wait in suspense and find out at my next CT scan. So far all the scans have been stable since April so, although this elevation isn't a good sign, I'm feeling optimistic and keeping my fingers crossed.

This week I was sent a questionnaire in the post. I am usually a little bit useless with things like this and put them aside 'to do later' only to totally forget about them. I hate admin. But I took a glance at this one and found it quite poignant so was keen to fill it in, in the hope that it might help contribute towards making a difference for others in the future (I have included a snap shot of it with the photos) with early symptom recognition, testing, diagnosis and treatment. Since my case was transferred to the Royal Marsden my care and treatment has been flawless. Actually it has been better than flawless it has been above and beyond any overly optimistic expectation I could have ever imagined. I have no anger or resentment towards the treatment I received before my case was transferred to the Marsden however filling out these first 3 questions on the leaflet it did hit me...highlighting how long the process took from initial symptoms (3 years ago now) to diagnosis and treatment which is quite terrifying. It also reminded me how frustrated, disheartened and deflated I felt at the time...feeling a bit like a hypercondriac and perhaps like I was going a bit bonkers. I have no doubt that many people feel like this with different medical ailments and I could not empathise more. In my situation, if things could have been identified earlier things would be very different for Jake and I now. I'm not complaining, I'm so grateful for everything we have and I know how lucky I am...however if I had been investigated earlier, it could have been cured, it would make the future that little bit more secure (and less scary), I would begin to feel healthy again, and we would be able to start our own family as we had always dreamed. I don't mean that negatively as I absolutely still plan to/believe I will have a fabulous future ahead. BUT Filling out this form did reinforce why it is SO important to me to raise cancer awareness and to also encourage people to have faith in themselves and their bodies and to persue your case when you feel something isn't quite right with your health, whatever the problem may be. With regards to this horrible illness, it can affect anyone at anytime. I have been so lucky as my condition is not as aggressive as most other cancers so time has been on my side sadly often that is not the case...let's work hard to catch it early and beat it as well as continuing to support the incredible work the specialists are doing with their research to develop new, more successful, targetted and kinder treatments.

It is obviously such a crucial part of successful cancer treatment, as with most illnesses, that there is awareness of the signs and symptoms and therefore leading to early diagnosis and treatment. I couldn't support any of the campaigns relating to this more. It is 'World Cancer Day' on the 4th Feb and I will be wearing my unity bracelet with pride as a powerful symbol. Spread the word, spread the love, spread the support, and spread the awareness and help to save lives and make the future a little brighter for so many people.

From a fundraising perspective we have now climbed over £104k thanks to a wonderful donation from the Christmas and nativity fundraising that took place at the Chase Primary School where they raised over £500! We have spoken with the Marsden about where the monumental £104000 worth of funds will be going and we are delighted that the money is being directed towards research for head and neck cancers. Anything raised over our target of £100k will be going into the Royal Marsden general fund. In previous years this fund has gone towards funding projects like the new Children’s and Young Peoples unit, a new Medical Day Unit at Sutton, new MRI Scanners, and their Da Vinci Robot etc. So we hope this fundraising total will keep growing!

Some wonderful colleagues are continuing to support this growth by participating in the Marsden March on March 19th. The Marsden March is 14 mile (or a shorter 5 mile) walk from the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. We are over the moon to be a part of the 'Smile, Love & Be Kind' team (a team organised by the most wonderful friend...Thank you so much Kirsten!). It will be a particularly significant event for me as not only is everyone there passionately supporting the Royal Marsden, AND we are going between the two hospitals which are keeping me alive and kicking, AND I will be walking alongside my colleagues (who have been there by my side from day 1 supporting us...the people I confided in when I knew something wasn't right...who popped into my classroom when I had to sprint to the toilet with the squits and then hobble back much slower!! Haha), BUT ALSO it will mark a year, almost EXACTLY to the day, since my diagnosis and the day that Jake flew back to be with me and never left my side (the Marsden March is on the 19th....Last year I was diagnosed on the 22nd, he flew back on the 23rd, we got engaged on the 26th, and we discovered it was stage 4 and were referred to the marsden on the 31st). I have no doubt that it will be both an emotional and incredible experience (I already feel quite overwhelmed with emotion thinking about it), with dear friends, surrounded by others who share our appreciation for such a phenomenal centre of excellence. If you are near the area you should come down to support the event, I'm sure it will be such a special day for everyone involved. For us it truly is such an honour to be there and to be a part of it...thank you so much Tammy from the fundraising team for squeezing us in!!

We were chuffed to bits that our book went on sale on Amazon ten days ago! Abso-bloomin-lutely Amazon-azing!! Thank you SO much to those people who have written us such gorgeous, generous reviews, and also to everyone who has given us such wonderful feedback and shared such beautiful photos. They truly do mean the world. You have all been exceptionally kind and complimentary! To actually get the book on Amazon it entailed more work and admin (as previously mentioned I hate/am useless at admin!!) than we had originally anticipated. For the book to sell through this website we needed a company. So had to spend a bit of time setting up our own business. We are now the 2 proud directors of Mollivers Ltd (no idea what the heck we are doing...I think Jake does. Fingers crossed he does. Thank god for Jake...but it sounds cool!!).

So now we have now set up our own business, we are thrilled that we can hopefully use this as our platform to continue to publish and sell more books in the future. You may be wondering why the heck we called the company Mollivers...of course this was affectionately named in honour of our beloved pooch whose name is Molly...but Molliver when she's naughty! We were secretly chuffed with this name (we thought it sounded fairly professional) until the slightly embarrassing moment when we had to explain to the bank manager, when attempting to set up our business account, the reason behind the name...he proceeded to type into the banking computer system...'reason for company name: joke name for their dog'. Yep, I know...pretty professional stuff!!

When writing the blog...Some things in our lives we are very conscious to keep private (due to obvious reasons), and there are other things we keep private as it would bore people to tears (sorry this possibly sounds ridiculous as no doubt if you've read this far you are already bored to tears!). The only reason I share this next detail is because it is one of the challenges people face when they are diagnosed with an illness, and one that, although isn't a physical consequence, is tremendously stressful and frustrating...

...Having a cancer diagnosis (particularly when 'incurable' is in the title) leads to many hurdles that would never have crossed my mind in the past. Obviously setting up a business (as well as hoping to progress with surrogacy) is an immensely costly process. One which potentially is currently too much of a costly challenge for us given our circumstances, although we are trying to work our way around it. Unfortunately as I have this diagnosis/'label'...I am not eligible for loans or credit cards, Jake is also not eligible having been out of the country for 4 years. We hoped that by setting up our business account we could apply for a business loan instead. So...off we went to the bank, feeling positive, armed with Jake's impeccable business plan and projections (which he had spent hours working on). However...as we had set myself up as a director (with my label), of course it was decline, decline, decline.

We are incredibly lucky to have such supportive and generous families. And I am so unbelievably lucky to have Jake. We can't imagine how some people cope and how much stress they have to deal with. Having Mount Everest of forms to complete when you are already feeling so unwell and fatigued (and they are so blooming complicated and difficult to understand), not being fit enough to work, having your income taken away, and not being eligible for a loan or credit card with bills coming in and endless paperwork and admin. As young, relatively internet savvy, fairly well-educated people with heaps of support around us and still earning a little bit we are totally bamboozled and find it quite tough. I just can't comprehend how on earth people who are not as fortunate as us get by and I am in absolute awe.

We will of course continue to explore any other avenues such as claiming my pension (...although even this is an admin headache never have I seen such a mammoth booklet of forms other than when we stored embryos!!), and moving house, and we are both stubborn and tenacious creatures, so I'm sure we will get there in the end.

Whether it's with health, results, business set up, book publishing, fundraising, financing or surrogacy...every day we are learning. We have certainly faced some very steep learning curves in short time spans and in quick succession. We currently appear to be facing several barriers and challenges...but it's keeping us on our toes and keeps us focused on building our future and our dreams rather than worrying about anything negative that may or may not happen in the meantime. Ultimately we would quite like to just win the lottery. Wouldn't that be just marvellous!! No doubt every one feels like that from time to time!!

We are in the process of building a website which will focus on our books. This will be a place where we can share your reviews and feedback, organise book readings and school visits, sell our book (and future books), and also hopefully sell and promote other self publishers and people on similar book writing ventures ...hopefully maybe being able to give advice or support as we are now beginning to have a clearer understanding of this particular process as well as the hurdles involved; many of which I would never have had any idea about when I initially fell in love with the idea of writing a children's book.

We were over the moon that our first batch of books of 'Tara & Tyrone - Stuck in the Mud' was a sell out. we are steadily selling the Second batch of 1500 books. We hope to get Tara and Tyrone's cheeky faces into some stores soon and plan to begin to start that process over the next few weeks. Fingers and toes crossed! We will keep you updated!

The second book is now well underway and we are wheely excited. I will keep the title a secret for now but the nuts & bolts (cogs & chains) of the story is written and Jake has started the illustrations. They are better than ever, he has had to be very creative with the slightly whacky idea for this book!! We are feeling really optimistic about it. It will hopefully be better than our first book and you will all like it! It has a very eccentric leading character to accompany Tara & Tyrone, it is more imaginative and has a meaningful underlying message. We really hope that you will enjoy it!

We are very excited to be escaping admin and driving off to the snow in France for a few days. We are of course taking Molly the Molliver with us...that furry little, company owning, globetrotter is now also the proud owner of a pet passport...and trotter is the apt word, as she is also now the proud owner of a very snazzy pair of snow boots. You should see her trotting in them; it would either melt your heart or make you wet your pants laughing!! The world is her oyster...or perhaps not when in the boots! We have sorted out our contingency plan for any orders that come in during the time we are away, they will still be processed and posted straight away (thanks daddy Collett!). Even though we are off to the snow, annoyingly I'm not allowed to ski (stupid bone tumours), and am hoping nothing goes wrong (as I can no longer get insurance...not until I win that lottery anyway!!). None of this is a problem though as the main reason we are going is to hide ourselves away, have a bit of chilled time together, and predominantly MOST importantly use this quiet time to beaver away with our pencil, crayons & paints to get the second book completed. Of course in between there will be plenty of snuggles, walks (Molly demands that these are compulsory so she can strut in her snow boots and wink at the boys), and building snowmen (one of my bucket list items is to build a snowman on a mountain so that will be getting a big fat tick!!).

For the last year I have lived by the mantra...make the most of every day and live every day like it's your last. Jake told me the other day that this year he wants to....make the most of every day and live every day like we have forever left! I love this thought and I like to think that we are going to try to combine both of these concepts and do them both at the same time...basically make every day BLOODY BRILLIANT!!

year.5 creativity

18th Jan 2017

We were ABSOLUTELY OVER THE MOON (and the rainbow!!) to receive a package of outstanding work from Rowan Class today. They have written such creative ideas for new adventures for Tara and Tyrone and their illustrations are spectacular! Jake and I feel very inadequate in comparison to this magnificent work. We appreciate all of your hard work so much, it means the absolute world and you have given us so much inspiration! We hope year 5 won't mind us sharing some of their innovative ideas on our website (coming soon !) and maybe using them for our books in the future! THANK YOU SO MUCH Rowan Class and your top notch teacher Mr. Conroy...you are all superstars!

BEAUTIFUL SMILES

12th Jan 2017

We have have had the most epic journey with Tara & Tyrone so far and cannot wait for what is to come in the future. It means the world to us that your children have been enjoying our book and we want to say the biggest thank you to all of you for sharing all of these beautiful, happy smiles with it. It truly means the absolute world and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside!!! ???? It's impossible to look at these faces and not be filled with happiness!

Tara and Tyrone ON AMAZON!

10th Jan 2017

We are so excited that 'Tara & Tyrone - Stuck in the Mud' is now available on Amazon. We want to say an ENORMOUS thank you to everyone who has given us such a generous review. We appreciate the support that you all continue to give us so much! xx

Thank you Beth

9th Jan 2017

I had the pleasure of teaching this gorgeous little pickle last year and this just makes me burst with love and pride. Means the absolute world . What a super star ...could definitely give Jake a run for his money with these illustrations too! X

A Whole New Year

8th Jan 2017

We are already in the second week of 2017...how did that happen?! Sometimes it's terrifying how quickly time flies which only emphasises to me how important it is to savour every special moment. I hope you all had the most special moments and made some magical memories over the festive period. We certainly did and had the most wonderful Christmas with our families, fully embracing the festivities which of course included a Christmas Day walk alongside a pudding and a tree...fir-nomenal stuff!! Our Christmas was followed by a spectacular New Year in Scotland at the most magnificent wedding ever. It was such a privilege for us to share the bride and groom's perfect day and I know that it was a real honour for jake to be best man...I have to add, I was a very proud wife as he looked pretty darn scrumptious in a kilt. I'll focus on being proud rather than the underlying feeling of jealousy that he looks better in a skirt than I do!!

We would like to say the most humongous Thank you to everyone for all of the support that you have given us over the last couple of months with our book. This week we were able to donate money from the first batch of sales and with that, and the continued generosity and kindness from all of you, the fundraising has soared past our target! Even though that ambitious total has been reached we hope it will continue to climb throughout 2017. A second batch of prints of the book is now on its way to us AND some more exciting news is that the sequel is underway! I've started writing and Jake is beginning to sketch out some ideas for the leading (rather eccentric character) as well as setting up our own little business model and website so that we will be able to communicate and deliver more efficiently (as well as incorporating some other ideas we have up our sleeves). Thank you so much for your kindness and patience throughout the whole book ordering/delivery process, you have been absolute diamonds and we appreciate it so much.

We are SO grateful for all of the photos and videos that you have shared of you and your children with the book, it means the world to us and it truly does make our day. It touches our hearts and fills us with such happiness. You all have such adorable poppets in your lives and we are lucky to have some very scrumptious little munchkins in ours too.

So it's the beginning of a new year, that time when new resolutions are made, new starts begin, new hopes and dreams are born...my hope this year is that it willl continue to be as positive and exciting as last year. No idea what it will hold as let's face it 2016 certainly threw a few surprises into the mix, but it set the bar high and 2017 sure has a lot to live up to. I'm feeling confident that it will live up to high expectations. Our resolution this for this year was decided when we were travelling back from Scotland at the beginning of January and found ourselves in deep discussion about it (as you can imagine this 15 hour car journey allowed us a vast amount of time for this conversation/deliberation in between loo stops for Molly...and of course for me with my oh so attractive bowel difficulties). We easily agreed (amongst the fragrant fumes filling the car!) that as our New Year's resolution we would like to try and do a random act of kindness once a week...a very small way of returning some of the kindness that has been showered upon us over the last year. We have been SO lucky to have received so many selfless acts and so we would like to try and give something back to people no matter how small.

2016 was a steep learning curve in so many ways. One thing that I learnt is that anything is possible, always believe in magic and never stop dreaming (some wise words my husband said to me this time last year in fact!). So for the year ahead we will be hoping to turn some more of our dreams into a reality. We will work through that extensive bucket list, spend precious time with family & friends (which with the craziness of the last year we have felt sad not to have been able to do nearly enough), to maybe somehow have the miracle of our own baby, to create some more books, and of course to continue to fight the big bad C in as many big badass ways as possible...from a personal perspective to stay strong and keep things stable (maybe even shrink it down!!) and from a broader perspective to raise awareness, raise money for research and treatment, and to provide any possible support that we can to others who find themselves in similar or challenging situations directly or indirectly as a result of cancer.

Cancer is a fight that I will never surrender to. Those close to me will know I am an annoyingly pig headed and stubborn pain in the arse and, in some situations this is of course a flaw that would like to change, however in this circumstance in the face of cancer I hope that it is one that will stand me in good stead for many years to come!

Undoubtedly 2016 was the most unbelievable year for us (it feels a little bit like fairytale to be honest) it flew past us like a whirlwind with so many incredible moments I couldn't have imagined even in my wildest dreams. We didn't always get the opportunity to reflect or cherish these unique occasions as we would have liked, but hope we will find time over the next few months to look back at pictures and messages and relive, savour and appreciate it all over again. However as well as these incredible moments, there were also of course the low moments, times of heart ache, pain and sadness...it really was an absolute rollercoaster. Neither of us will ever forget the day in April just after jakes 31st birthday, a week after our engagement when, in a meeting at St. George's Hospital, we were given the 4 big bombshells:
1.) the advanced stage of the disease, at stage four.
2.) the information it was incurable.
3.) the prognosis
4.) the words that hit me like a bullet through the heart... 'you can never carry a baby'.

Having said this, despite these 4 bombshells, most of the time my illness feels like it is not real because having this illness (with the 4 catastrophic bombshells) should make you feel miserable right??!! Actually it's quite the contrary! I feel so blessed everyday. I have married the man I love...the man I have always loved. He makes every day easy, every day exciting, everyday like a dream. We are making so many fun plans, we are building our future, we are both surrounded by the best friends and most supportive family in the world, as well as being given so much love from people we don't even know...so it really is SO easy to be happy...and when you're happy you forget the bad stuff. Sometimes there are times that I question whether I do actually forget or whether I'm just in denial. Whatever psychological process it is that goes on in my weird head... every morning and night when I take my variety of tablets, or every time I'm at the Marsden in scanning machines or acting as a pin cushion...It is a small kick up the bum so I do realise what's going on, yet at the same time it still certainly doesn't feel like reality. It feels like I'm looking in on someone else's life. But to be honest, if that's how my mind wants to process it all, I'm quite happy to keep it that way.

I suppose like anything whether it's a tooth ache, a broken heart or an early start for work...it's always a bit of a drag (sometimes a bit of a bloody bitch actually!) but you get used to it and you crack on with your day. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives they have to deal with that none of us know anything about. I'm no different to anyone else in that respect ( I hope I will always consider the difficulties people may be facing and never judge or assume or lack compassion...if I don't please give me a bosh in the noggin!!). I think I've gotten used to managing emotional battles, to managing physically not feeling right or like 'myself' everyday...doesn't everyone feel a bit like that as they start to grow older anyway? Sometimes when we've pushed ourselves too much and/or when I get exhausted or when I'm run down I feel pretty bloomin awful but then I just tell myself I must just have a bad tummy bug or something (like I would have done this time last year)...so it's hard to get my head around as I don't want to allow myself to believe I'm 'ill forever'. It's a weird concept to get one's head around living with something so mind boggling, something that none of us fully understand or know the future of. Most frequently Jake and I just bumble on and don't even consider it. Other times we use a dark sense of humour to laugh about it. And then there are the occasional times, usually at bedtime if something hurts physically, I feel like I need answers and find myself bombarding jake With questions like 'but I don't reeeeally have anything wrong do I?', 'I will feel better soon won't I?', 'We will grow old and grey together won't we?', 'We can have our own family can't we?'...He can't always give me answers obviously (and I know that) but one thing he always does, no matter what, he always responds sensitively and makes everything ok, makes me feel positive and fortunate....feeds me chocolate and stuff, can never go wrong with chocolate!! Ultimately none of us have answers to most things in life. All of us have challenges and hurdles. Sometimes we all wish that we could have a crystal ball to just know some goddamn answers...but we can't and we just don't know what's round the corner...so whether I'm forgetting, I'm in denial, or I'm sticking my head in the sand...perhaps that's not such a bad place to be for now. There's far too much to look forward to in 2017 and so much to celebrate and appreciate...the last thing I want to do is spend my time allowing the concept and reality of cancer to consume me....Tara and Tyrone are waiting...we have books to write!!!

Although we can't tell what this year will bring for any of us, my greatest wish is that it will bring all of your lives full to the brim with good health and happiness, love and laughter, kindness and friendship...With lots of fun, magic and sparkle along the way!

beautiful reviews

20th Dec 2016

Thank you so much for the generous feedback you have given us about 'Tara & Tyrone Stuck in the Mud'. Receiving your beautiful emails and seeing the pictures of your munchkins with the book is the most amazing feeling ever, it fills us to the brim with love and happiness and is the best Christmas present we could have ever wished for...'much more precious than silver or gold...'

Please keep sending us the pictures, it truly does make our day. The icing on the cake was our niece proudly showing all of her nursery school the book and being given book reviews from some of those rays of sunshine in year two at Malmesbury Primary School yesterday...our hearts are fit to burst! Thank you all so much...you have no idea how much it means to us.

We have just finished a manic morning of packaging up all of the orders of latest payments that we have received so that we can get one final batch to the post office in the hope they will arrive for Christmas winging their way to 5 different continents. Thank you so much for your patience and support!!

Jake

19th Dec 2016

I know that people must be sick to death of our faces with my blogs, updates, photos and gushy posts but I just publicly want to express something tonight a little bit different which is very important to me which I have been thinking about all day. Please don't judge negatively for yet another post...after all is so neeeearly Christmas...the perfect time to smile, love and be kind.

Today marked a year since I met Jake at the airport, a day which will always remain one of the best day of my life. Since then it's fair to say it's been a whirlwind. With the craziness of the last 12 months (I think I can also speak on behalf of Jake) we are so sorry that it hasn't been possible for either of us to dedicate as much time as we would have liked to our friends who mean the absolute world to us and have been persistent pillars of strength. There often aren't even enough hours in the day to reply to messages as quickly as we would like. A troublesome side effect/symptom of this disease is the fatigue and if it was possible we would do an all nighter every night but frequently, especially when the days have been so jam packed, it hits midnight and I have to admit defeat. I hope that in 2017 I can keep the cancer stable and, although undoubtedly we will stil have busy plates with what is planned, we will be able to rectify this situation and be able to ensure we have that valuable time with friends as well as precious time with each other (not just at appointments and car journeys etc) and, along with that, we will have time to express our appreciation for everything that has happened and that each and every single one of you has done for us. Today it meant the world to me to see some of my closest friends and it also meant everything to me to see my children at school as well as my amazing colleagues...but it did genuinely break my heart a little that it was all so squeezed in and all so rushed, in fact I wasn't even able to see a couple of friends who I was so desperate to see.

I set off for London and Reading first thing (of course hitting disgusting traffic both ways) and with over 7 hours in the car by myself (which has been a rare event this year having only spent a handful of days apart from gorgeous Jake) it gave me plenty of time to reflect. As well as what I have already mentioned, I found myself thinking about my amazing husband. And everything he has done for me. I know I have littered up newsfeeds with what we've been up to and at times have mentioned his amazingness, there have also been occasions where I have had an opportunity to publicly speak...however unfortunately this has generally been when I have been caught off guard and slightly out of my comfort zone and therefore have been horribly unprepared (plus I am horrendous at public speaking anyway)! Therefore I feel that I have failed to articulate everything this man has done for me, for us, and for everyone around him. I have been so blessed to have been showered with affection and compliments (most of which I am so TOTALLY undeserving...but please know it does mean the absolute world and is a reason for us to remain positive, hopeful and optimistic everyday) BUT it is actually the man who stands beside me who deserves all of this praise... not me at all! Although I'm sure it is obvious to the world how much I love Jake, one thing I feel that I have failed to express adequately is my appreciation for him and everything he has done this last 12 months. I'm sure people have an idea of how exceptional Jake Coates is (he always has been since I met him at eleven years old) however one thing I'm certain people have no idea about is how much he actually does on a daily basis and all of the things that go on behind the scenes...behind the blogs, the articles, and the amazing events and challenges we have been lucky to have been a part of.

This guy showed faith and belief in us even before any diagnosis...before we had even seen each other again. When he was in Australia last year and I was in the UK he told me not to worry about a thing because nothing was impossible and that we were always meant to be...he was right. With the whirlwind of the last year sometimes much of what he does goes unnoticed, probably because he is so modest and selfless. He IS undoubtedly the most generous, loving and incredible human being I have ever met.

After 6 years apart with only 3 months of being back together whilst living in different continents on opposite sides of the world and therefore only being able to stay with each other a few times...he still flew back immediately when I received the diagnosis in March leaving his whole life behind. In fact, he had to live out of a suitcase for 6 months whilst all of his clothes and possessions remained in Australia because he didn't want to leave my side. Never once did he complain, worry or show any negativity...only love and optimism. A week after my diagnosis after only having been back in contact for a few months and in the same country for a matter of days; he proposed to me. Not many people would vow the rest of their life to a person after such a short time let alone a person with such a dire prognosis. Not only that...this guy is someone who would make the best father on the planet and he still stuck by my side after discovering that because of the life long medication I am on, I would never be able to carry his baby. Never once has he allowed me feel guilty, or useless, or sorry...only treasured the moments we have together and remained hopeful.

Over the last 9 months this man has Administered my injections, sorted out all of my concoctions of tablets, driven me all over the country to appointments and meetings whilst always trying to make me sleep in the car. He has waited for endless, endless hours in boring waiting rooms whilst I've been in tests and in scanning machines. He's picked me up when I've felt down, stroked my head when I've felt weary, held my hand so I've never felt alone, made me feel beautiful when I've felt grim and reassured me when I've felt scared. He has cried with me, laughed with me and screamed with me. He has done crappy jobs around the house, organised our lives and supported me through symptoms, side effects and at times significant physical and emotional pain. Never once has he asked for any thanks, never once has he lost his cool, never once has anything been too much for him, never once has he left my side. He is the most patient human I have ever met as well as being the most giving, thoughtful and golden hearted. I have genuinely never heard him say a bad word about another human. He has sacrificed so, so much as well as moving half way across the world but makes it appear like it is the easiest thing in this world.

Jake coates is not one in a million. Neither is he one in a billion. He is one of a kind. An angel walking on this earth. He is my strength, my husband, my partner in crime, my best friend, my soul mate and my one true love. I wouldn't have coped a second of this year without him and everyday I wake up and feel like the luckiest person in the world and so undeserving of him. Plus...he is FIT and I fancy the pants off him and also so talented at everything he puts his mind to! When people tell me that I am positive and happy I can honestly say that it is thanks to him.

Going to Heathrow arrivals on 19.12.15 was the best decision I have ever made...perhaps bar the nerdy lobster poster!!!! Thank you Jake for our adventure and for EVERYTHING! I hope it will go on for many years to come!

A year today

19th Dec 2016

This time last year (after a couple of months of negotiating time differences for daily 'FaceTime' dates) I stood holding my dorky 'Jake' sign at Heathrow airport waiting for him to land in from Australia after not having seen one another for 6 years.

Since that day together, we have dealt with an incurable stage 4 cancer diagnosis and the ongoing treatment that entails, made 9 babies (sitting pretty in a freezer), got engaged, planned and celebrated the wedding of our dreams, experienced a magical honeymoon, got a scrumptious puppy, moved house (as well as Jake having to move countries), got our own website and blog, planned and cycled a 2000km Tandem ride across Europe, received the honour of a just giving award, raised over £100k for the Royal Marsden, set up an independent publishers and written and illustrated a children's book, and been given the most ASTRONOMICAL amount of kindness and love from everyone around us...and a few other bits and bobs in between. It's probably fair to say that it's been totally bonkers and we are absolutely exhausted but I wouldn't change a thing. I am thankful for every second with this guy and love him more every day. My rock, my best friend, my soul mate, my husband...my lobster! ??

Our beautiful friend and wedding photographer Mia met us yesterday with the most gorgeous package (seriously not sure there are any other photographers out there who would spend this much time, effort or thought) to give us our wedding photos....it couldn't have been more perfect timing and we couldn't think of a more magical way to celebrate tonight than by looking at the beautiful memories Mia has captured of all of our friends and families who have carried us through such an incredible year.
On every single level...none of this year would have been possible without you all Xxxx

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS!!!!

18th Dec 2016

Last night Choral Diversity organised and performed in the most heartwarming, magical and beautiful Christmas Carol Concert in a sell out Hereford Shire Hall of 350 people to raise money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. On top of this phenomenal performance they also sold over 5000 raffle tickets for 102 absolutely incredible prizes. Thanks to this unbelievable event and all of the hard work involved, the group have made a dream come true...WE HAVE HIT OUR £100,000 TARGET FOR THE ROYAL MARSDEN CANCER CHARITY!!! Jake Coates and I would like to say a very special thank you to Beth Melling, Annie Rainbo and all of the Choral Diversity committee for your endless work and limitless selflessness. It means more than the world. It was one of the most special, proud and humbling evenings of our lives!!

Thank you SO much to every single person who, over the last 8 months, has made it possible for us to reach this monumental target,which we hope we can keep growing, with your generous support. You have all played a valuable part in contributing towards the development of life changing (and possibly even life saving) cancer treatments. Words could never do our appreciation justice. You are all HEROES!! The sky is the limit!!!

WE ARE OVER THE MOON (AND ALL OF THE STARS) AND WISH WE COULD GIVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU THE WORLD'S BIGGEST SQUISH!!!! xxxxx

2nd batch being posted first thing in the morning

15th Dec 2016

The pile has grown!! 11pm and still going strong...Need to borrow some elves from the North Pole!!!!!

Thanks for your patience guys! Anybody still wanting a copy of the 'Tara and Tyrone - stuck in the mud' book before Christmas please get in touch. There's still time to get a copy before Christmas Day! (Although they are selling like hot cakes!!) Just email us at ejtandem@hotmail.com with how many copies you want and the address you'd like it delivered to. Big hugs!!! Xxx

Santa has delivered

14th Dec 2016

THE BOOKS HAVE ARRIVED!!!! Boxes and boxes of books and envelopes piled up high; Santa has come early! 'Tara & Tyrone Stuck in the Mud' is HERE!! For us, this feeling is on a par with how we felt when we arrived in Copenhagen with Tara and Tyrone! It's been a very different but equally as exciting and challenging journey for us and so we were absolutely ecstatic when they were delivered yesterday afternoon!! What made it all the more special was, as they arrived, there was a rainbow in the sky above the stable that Tara and Tyrone live in, it felt quite magical. We have been really blessed with significant rainbows over the last few months...one when we arrived in Copenhagen, one on our way to the JustGiving awards, one on our wedding day, one yesterday when our book arrived and of course a rainbow features in the actual book itself!

We have received almost one thousand five hundred orders so far and were thrilled to deliver a box of books into my school and to the Royal Marsden today with another heading to the Choral Diversity Carol Concert on Saturday!! As soon as we got our mitts on them yesterday, we made like elves in a North Pole workshop and had a busy evening of addressing all of the envelopes and writing messages whilst singing along (BADLY) to Christmas tunes until 3am...Santa's little tone deaf helpers! Before leaving for hospital this morning we were able to get the first batch posted out which was really exciting!!

We have learnt a lot throughout the whole process from start to finish and there's no doubt that we would do things differently next time and, of course, there are a couple of things that we wish we could change now...hindsight is a wonderful thing...as I would know (from a slightly different perspective) after sitting on the back of Tara with only Jake's hind as my sight for a whole month...that hindsight was a VERY wonderful thing!! But we are genuinely thrilled with our creation, especially as it is our first (and very speedy attempt) at anything even remotely like this. It is so important to us that you all enjoy it and that no one is disappointed. Please don't cast too much of a critical eye or set your expectations to high but enjoy it and...smile love and be kind ????!

We are already looking forward to putting everything that we have learnt into practise and, with a more generous amount of time, hope to produce another adventure for Tara and Tyrone in the new year!

The books arriving yesterday was the icing on the cake for what has been yet another overwhelming couple of weeks where we have been blown away by support, love and positivity from all of you phenomenal people!!! It means the absolute world. We want to say an extra special thank you to Verity and Heather from Tandem Bakery in Hereford for running in the Florence Marathon and raising so much money towards the fundraising. What an awesome achievement...you girls are amazing!! Whilst they were working their legs off...we were working our tummies off by indulging in the DELICIOUS treats at the Tandem Bakery to celebrate their success...it's probably fair to say that we definitely had the better end of the deal there!! Can't wait to come back over the festive period to meet you both for a team tandem extravaganza and sample some more Tandem Bakery delights...I'm pretty confident that Christmas calories don't count!

We also want to thank Liz, who has worked relentlessly, despite probably feeling very rotten with her own diagnosis, to knit all of the magnificent tea cosies. There are so many warm and happy teapots and hearts out there now thanks to her and she has raised almost £1000 towards the fundraising, for the hospital which is also treating her, through her selfless hard work. Liz and John you are are both heroes and we feel so blessed to have met you and have you in our lives. Laura you have been such a star too sorting out so many of the payments and deliveries. It was so lovely to see you at the Marsden this morning Liz and to be honest, it highlights yet another bonus that this illness has brought me...it's definitely not as much as a baddie as it likes to think it is!! Yes it has low points but how can it be a total baddie when it has also brought us so much love, friendship, positivity, unity and happiness?!!

We would like to say another massive thank you to Choral Diversity who have been working tirelessly and have now sold thousands of raffle tickets ready for this weekends sell out Christmas Carol Concert in Hereford. I have genuinely NEVER seen such unbelievable raffle prizes...from iPads to signed Manchester United kit, from £250 cash to teeth whitening. We are SO excited and can't wait to meet you all on Saturday.

We both also want to say an ENORMOUS thank you SO much to everyone who is donating money this year rather than sending Christmas cards. Such a great idea, a really thoughtful and generous thing to do. You have inspired us to do the same thing. Thank you so much. It is true that you all motivate and inspire us every day and make us feel so positive as well as wanting to be better people! Thank you, it means the world.

We have had the privilege over the last couple of weeks to have had our story featured in newspapers, magazines, online and also have been interviewed on the radio. This has had a fantastic impact on the fundraising and also on raising cancer awareness as well as awareness for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Sometimes it feels a little surreal but we appreciate the support and positivity we have received from the media very much and feel very lucky. Thank you.

It is thanks to all of this hard work from everyone, plus the ongoing generosity from both friends and strangers donating, that since my last blog, we have hit the £90k mark which is just unbelievable. All of a sudden it has made reaching £100k a reality rather than a dream! Within the last couple of days, it has climbed over £91k, so we now have less than £10k to go!! Wouldn't it be just TANDEMAZING to hit the target before the new year!
Since the just giving awards, the response we have received has been mind boggling. We were blown away to be given the honour of the 'team of the year award', during interviews we have been asked about how, as a pair, we are able to stay strong and work as a team. The truth is, what we have told them, that we are not just a team as a partnership...you have all been a part of our team. None of the last few months would have been possible without you all. We feel so humbled and touched by you all on a daily basis and every evening I am blown away by the heartfelt, selfless messages that we receive. It truly has been the most awesome journey on every single level and that's all thanks to you lot...OUR TEAM! THANK YOU!!

On a more personal level we've had a really wonderful couple of weeks. We were over the moon to receive our wedding video from the talented Mrs Mashup...I blub every time I watch it...not sure if Jake has managed to watch it through as he inconveniently and coincidently always appears to get dust in his eyes whenever we play it. It is magical, thank you so much Aimie, we love it. Mia has also sent us a sneaky peek of our photographs, we can't wait to see all the pictures of our beautiful families and gorgeous friends. The 2 weeks have been made extra special with my niece's second birthday (didn't know it was possible to love something quite so much until the day she was born), Jake's best friend's stag do, decorating and indulging in every possible festive opportunity for our first Christmas together as husband and wife and to top it off...I got asked to be a godmother to the bump who was walked down the aisle beside me. The most amazing Christmas present I could wish for. Thank you so much Kerr family.
Today we had a festive and final Marsden visit of 2016...the year I first discovered this incredible institution and, thanks to them, what a year 2016 has been. I felt very proud to be there during this Christmassy appointment, to be in a place that I am SO passionate about and am so lucky to be a part of. The whole hospital was full of festive decorations, I was particularly touched by their Christmas tree in the car park which was twinkling with hundreds of golden stars which had the names written on to celebrate the lives of past patients. As always there were also many other reasons which confirmed what a unique and exceptional place it is.... Tara number one yet again went above and beyond...presenting all my meds, lotions and potions to me in a Christmas stocking, the fundraising team gave us a lovely Christmas card and stocked our book to sell at the hospital, and we were honoured that they mentioned our wedding was in the Royal Marsden magazine.

We are really looking forward to this weekend, it couldn't be more significant or exciting for us as a couple...not only is it the Christmas carol concert but the night of the concert we will also be celebrating a year since I met Jake at Heathrow airport (holding my very geeky, laminated homemade lobster sign which I promptly hid behind my back!) after not having seen each other for 6 years...we never looked back and so...our adventure began. If anyone had told us what that adventure would have entailed this time last year we would NEVER have believed them...potentially would have laughed our little heads off!!
...just how I laughed my head off and never thought it possible that we could hit £100k with our fundraising but know I know, between us all, we really can do it!!

When we were in different continents on opposite sides of the world when we first got back in contact in October, before we had even seen each other again...Jake told me....anything is possible. Anything IS possible. Impossible is NOTHING! Thank you Jake for always believing...I believe more than ever that fairy tales and miracles do exist!!

So...tonight we are celebrating with one of our wedding gifts from some very special friends and we are off to see Aladdin at the theatre. I can't wait! And, with now only 11 days to go until Christmas, we are sending you all bucket loads of happiness and health, love and laughter, merriness and....MINCE PIES!!! Make the most of every second with your loved ones over the holidays.

One final note...just want to say to both of our mummies...we are so proud of you and love you so much. You have both been so courageous and gutsy this week. Get well soon both of you and can't wait for lots of Christmas cuddles.

Wedding highlights video

9th Dec 2016

Thank you SO much Mrs Mashup for our wedding highlights video. It was is perfect. We will treasure it forever and remember our most special and favourite day with our beautiful families and friends. We have watched it so many times and get a little choked up every time!! It even ends with our magical rainbow in the sky.xxxx

You can see Mrs Mashups amazing work on the link below:
https://vimeo.com/194528539

Woman

6th Dec 2016

Our little eyes nearly popped out when we saw our cheesy grins on the cover sandwiched between a spice girl and a princess!

Thank you so much to a Woman magazine for supporting our fundraising, acknowledging the incredible work of The Royal Marsden and raising cancer awareness!! It's such a lovely article, we are so touched and appreciate it very much.

We have been very lucky that Magazines and newspapers have been so positive towards us, embraced our story and supported our mission. They do have tendency to focus their articles on the angle of me running out of time almost as if I am literally going to drop dead as soon as I hit the 5 year mark, I suppose this makes for a more exciting and interesting headline. I just want to say that this has never been an angle that I have viewed my situation from. Although the prognosis gave an estimated expectancy I just want to clarify that (hopefully not being totally naive) I do not for a second allow myself to believe this. I am full of optimism, hope and faith. There are good & bad days of course, but so far we have managed to keep the cancer stable and am enjoying every second of life and have heard of others in similar positions who are still battling after many years. I am young and have always been a relatively fit, healthy and positive person. Thanks to all of the research being undertaken for cancer treatments (which is where all of our fundraising is targeted) there's nothing to say that new drugs won't be developed which, alongside happiness, love and positivity, I have confidence will all give me a much longer life ahead and hopefully in the future will help many, many others in similar situations.

My ultimate dream is still to somehow be able to have a very happy future and family with Jake and in the mean time embrace our bucket lists!!! All my prognosis does is remind me to make the most of every single day, to me it certainly does not define how long I have left in this world...not a single one of us know what's around the corner or how long we have on this earth...so in a way I feel blessed to have had that boot up the bottom!!

THANKFUL

24th Nov 2016

It's only been 2 weeks since my last blog update and never in a million years did we ever expect to have a two weeks like we have just experienced. It feels like a dreamy whirlwind!! I don't think words could ever do justice how grateful, humbled, lucky and happy we feel but I will try my best to express it as adequately as I can!

Last Sunday the Mirror published an article online about us. In this article they included some of the things that are on our bucket list (including a film premiere). As a result of this article we received an overwhelming response not only from our wonderful friends but also from kind, thoughtful people who we have never met...everyone totally blew us away. We always feel so unworthy, but we appreciate the generous words, donations and gestures more than you could ever know! Thank you so much to every single person.

I've actually always had a bucket list but it was only post diagnosis, in March, that Jake and I actually looked at it and wrote our own (fairly extensive) new and improved version, and decided we would be proactive in making the most of every single second, count every day as a blessing, and do our best to make it all happen by ticking off all of our dreams...even the craziest most impossible ones. From that list we have already ticked off quite a lot which has been so, SO exciting...ranging from marriage to a concert, getting a puppy to staying in a room above the sea on stilts, from writing a book to swimming with whale sharks. In my opinion everyone should have a bucket list and no one should sit on it waiting for things to happen thinking they will tick things off eventually when they have time. Impossible is nothing, you always have time, do it while you can...you never know when a moment may arise which genuinely causes you to not have time. I am grateful to cancer for giving me a big boot up the backside! It has changed my life in many ways and although perhaps a strange thing to say, many of those ways are for the better and have had a positive impact upon my outlook on life and I think Jake’s too.

On Monday whilst we were out for a scrumptious lunch with my lovely parents we received an email from a beautiful university friend, Hannah, asking us if we wanted to attend the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Film premiere….We were ecstatic!….mum nearly fell off her chair!!.. she is officially in love with Eddie Redmayne and the shade of green she turned resembled the same tone as her side salad…sorry mum!!!

So, after a panic on Monday night about ‘what the heck does one wear to such an incredible event’, on Tuesday we went to the premiere. It was absolutely amazing, it didn't feel like we were in real life, or at least like we were in our own real lives!!!!! We savoured every second…albeit perhaps lingering just a little too long on the carpet like a couple of bad smells! After the film we even had tickets to the after party, so despite the fatigue kicking in, OF COURSE it was a case of manning up and we went to the party…as if we would have missed it…an opportunity of lifetime. My focus should have been on the free champagne and potentially meeting the stars (sorry mum…we failed to meet Eddie Redmayne and give him your number but probably for the best as I quite like you being married to dad and no doubt Eddie would have snapped you up), however as we arrived I quickly discovered there was a room just full of free sweets, chocolate and baked goods (in the theme of the bakery from the movie)...My idea of heaven! Whilst Jake watched (hopefully amused rather than ashamed of his greedy wife) once I had filled my tummy, I then filled my bag with these delicious goodies!! Classy...as always! Fortunately I had a handbag the size of a small house with me!! When we got back to where we were staying we had the most fun midnight feast of my life! I think this might have played havoc with some of my blood tests the following day! Thank you so much Hannah for making one of our dreams come true!!...I hope we didn't cause you any embarrassment and no one knew we were associated with you!!!

On Wednesday we went from the star studded blue carpet to a hero studded hospital for my Royal Marsden appointment. It was quite a long one, about 7 hours of tests, checks and consultations, in total. We also saw a Royal Marsden dermatologist again to see if there was anything we could try for my problematic skin. He has prescribed me a new antibiotic. It's the last option I can try as I have exhausted all the other options, hopefully it will help. I have been warned of some brutal side effects but none worse than the potentially terrifying chemo drug side effects...so it's an exciting concoction to say the least. I'm also not allowed to get pregnant on the drug but that's against the rules anyway so actually I don't feel any concerns about taking it and fingers crossed it will have a positive impact which will also help me sleep a little at night and stop me waking up Jake with persistent scratching. I’m not sure it’s the most attractive thing for his new wife to be doing in the early hours of the morning…no doubt he can think of activities he would prefer.

On Thursday, that hero ‘Tara Number One’ rang us a with my CT results. After a lovely catch up (as I was already missing her after a day) she gave me my latest results. In Layman's terms (because I never understand a thing that I'm being told and therefore Jake or Tara are always required to simplify everything into child language for me) all the tumours in the various body parts have remained the same size since my previous scan which is great news!! We are optimistically keeping our fingers crossed, that over time, they may even (hopefully) shrink a bit and we can prolong things for as loooong as possible!! That's something on the bucket list for sure!!!

For the next couple of days, after this super news, we worked solidly on the book. We finished the writing and illustrations and then had the task of locating a printing service so that we could scan the images into a computer so we could save them and download some software onto our computer. Once we had done this we could format it all into the correct dimensions, get the text on the page with the illustrations, create the spine, get the barcodes on etc etc. It certainly turned out to be a more arduous process than we had imagined. But after that final slog we were done, and by Sunday evening, we were able to email the finished product over to Biddles printers! Nigel from Biddles has been an absolute legend…couldn’t recommend him more highly. This was so exciting. It felt like an achievement for us both as a team to have completed something together, something so meaningful that we are so passionate about. I couldn't be prouder of Jake, his work is truly unbelievable and he has worked relentlessly for the last month. We hope that other people will be able to enjoy our creation and that we will be able to raise lots more money for the Royal Marsden from the sales of the book. We are having 1500 copies printed in the first batch and hope that this will be ready by December 7th. We are selling the book at £8, so if you would like to order one please email us at ejtandem@hotmail.com . Jake is dutifully and efficiently responding to every email as soon as he possibly can and every email we receive puts the BIGGEST smile on our faces!

On Monday we started taking pre orders for the book and we have been totally blown away. We are absolutely chuffed to bits that we have taken approximately 800 pre orders in the last three days days. Thank you SO much to everyone who has shared the information about the book, supported us so selflessly and bought copies! We are so afraid of people being disappointed and pray that it meets your expectations! We are already excited about creating some more books in the new year especially now we understand the process, the work involved, the software and have contact with a brilliant printing company. I know this probably sounds absurd but I am SO proud of that intrepid duo Tara and Tyrone….NONE of the past 8 months would have been possible without them…including the fundraising, the cycle, the adventures, even our wedding day!! I appreciate that being so attached to two unusual vehicles probably makes me sound like a total fruit loop!…Let’s just blame it on the medication.

Then came Tuesday….probably one of the most incredible, humbling and astonishing days of our lives. On Tuesday we made our way back over to London for the Just Giving awards (blessed with a rainbow in the sky…just like in Tara & Tyrone’s book). Never in a million years did we expect that we would have the honour of being nominated. Thank you to every single person who sent in a nomination for us, it meant the absolute world and we were OVER THE MOON to even be considered let alone be invited to the event as finalists. Never in our WILDEST of dreams did we ever think it would be possible for us to win our category (which I expect was quite blatant from our reaction when it was announced). It’s all thanks to all of you….and therefore YOU all deserve the award just as much as Jake and me. So from the bottom of our hearts….thank you all so much. All of the stories from each of the nominees were oozing with courage, emotion, bravery, love, passion and positivity and to be totally honest we felt a bit undeserving….having said that we also felt so proud, so lucky and so grateful. We met some of THE most inspirational and positive people who have touched our hearts forever and it was a truly magical atmosphere that I have never experienced and will treasure for the rest of my life, I wish I could bottle it up. It was so special to have my GORGEOUS family and beautiful best friend with us too...just made it that little bit extra magical! Thank you ALL so much for the phenomenal support and incredibly kind words and messages you have continued to give us from the beginning, I wish we could thank you all in person and give you the biggest cuddles. To say that we are overwhelmed would be the understatement of the century. We are feeling like a VERY lucky pair right now. I couldn't possibly be prouder of Jake...I am SO blessed to have him, he really is a real life angel and it's thanks to him I want to make the most of every single day and am determined to stick around until I'm at least 91.

Thank you SO much to The Royal Marsden and JustGiving for giving us this fantastic opportunity, we appreciate it so much and we hope that we can continue to raise pennies and awareness for such a worthy cause. It is such a privilege to be able to play a tiny part in fighting cancer for all of us so that hopefully one day miracles can happen and cancer won’t be such a scary prospect for any of us whose life it affects.

Also this week we have been interviewed by Woman magazine who will be publishing our story to continue to promote awareness and boost the fundraising. We are now so close to the £90k mark, it’s really exciting!! The article will be released in their magazine on December 6th. Today we have had some more filming with ‘Other Finger Films’. He is such a talented and skilled guy and makes us feel so at ease. He has been filming us making the book amongst other things and we can't wait to see his masterpiece. Thank you so much Jon, you are an absolute hero! AND, tonight my best friend has hosted a Stella and Dot party to raise money for the Royal Marsden. We are so sad that we couldn't be there but appreciate your hard work and wish we could have joined in the fun! We love you Leona. ALSO There is still time to buy raffle tickets for Choral Diversity’s Christmas Raffle…it’s well worth it, the prizes are FANTASTIC!! If you’d like to buy a ticket (or ten) you can contact them on Facebook! Thank you so much to everyone involved with the choir for your endless handwork…you truly are a choir of angels!

So, overall, after all of my waffling (if you haven’t been bored to tears and have managed to read this far), it’s probably fair to say that it’s been a pretty blooming amazing week which feels a little bit like a dream (this is an ENORMOUS understatement)…with a film premiere, a stable scan, some new medication, our book being printed, 800 orders and, to top it all off, being given the absolute honour of a JustGiving award…It has without doubt, been one of the coolest most awesome weeks we’ve ever had!!! Suffering with fatigue at the best of times, I do feel a little exhausted but it couldn’t be more worth it and I am the happiest zombie there has ever been, we are both absolutely over the moon!

The last 8 months have been such a whirlwind that we don't feel like we always have time to digest or reflect upon all of the amazing experiences and opportunities we are so blessed to have had, we also feel that we have not been able to express our appreciation enough to all of you. We hope that you know how grateful we are and how lucky we know we are. Sometimes it boggles my brain how much has happened in such a short space of time and how HUGE human kindness is. Every single one of you makes me want to be a better person and reminds me every day ‘to smile, to love and to be kind’! HAPPY THANKS GIVING TO EVERYONE! There is so much for all of us to feel thankful for, and we especially, feel SO thankful and SO grateful every single day.

Just Giving Awards 2016

23rd Nov 2016

Last night we received the biggest honour imaginable and were awarded JustGiving team of the year. We are over the moon, feel incredibly lucky and are so grateful to every single one of you for all of your support and encouragement. Thank you so much!!! Xxxx

A sneaky peak thank you x

20th Nov 2016

We have been totally blown away by the monumental amount of support we have received from you all over the last 24 hours for our Tara and Tyrone children's book. We sent it over to the printers this morning and are SO excited!! THANK YOU so much to EVERYONE for the kind messages, the sharing and the orders...it feels like a dream! Jake is currently working his way through responding to your book orders we have received so far and I am replying some wonderful messages we have been sent this week...we are both feeling very, very lucky indeed! So, as special thank you we thought it would be fun to introduce you all to some of the other characters in our book...it seems only fair as you are so kindly ordering them and we haven't really given anything away! Meet Trevor, Scott and Sue!! Xxxxx

Ready for the printers....WOO HOO!!

19th Nov 2016

Today is a big day!! Emmy and I finally finished our children's book! Just one month ago we started it and this evening we put the finishing touches to what is our first (of many) projects together!! I have said it so many times this year but I have never been more proud of my gorgeous and talented wife! The story she has written is beautiful and it has been an honour to illustrate it and try and bring her ideas to life!!

The books will come back from the printers on December 7th (or there abouts) just in time for Christmas! So if you're lacking a Christmas present (or ten) then Emmys beautiful story of Tara and Tyrone is the perfect option for all the family!!!! They will be £8 each or £10 to include p&p with 20% of the profits going to the Royal Marsden (so even more reason to buy one!)!

If you want a copy we can send them on to you when they arrive or we will be selling them at various events over the coming months and will be sure to give everyone a heads up when we do! If you want to put in an order then email us at ejtandem@hotmail.com (we are now also independent publishers don't you know!) Registered as EJTandem publishers!!!

Jake xx

Lest we forget

11th Nov 2016

Last Sunday we were driving through the Cotswold countryside, about an hour away from home, when we unexpectedly pulled over on the side of the road and went for a walk. In a vast, empty field, we stumbled across a solitary poppy. Only 5 days before remembrance day, it was a poignant moment. And so today I wanted to write a blog and pay my respects to all of the heroes who have fought for our county…none of us could ever imagine what these people have been through to give us the blessed lives that we lead today. I also think it’s a special opportunity to remember anything or anyone we have lost, to value a day where the whole country gives two minutes to allow us just to stop, to think, to grieve, to be grateful, to remember and to smile. Gone but not forgotten, forever and always in our hearts. May we be eternally grateful, may they always rest in peace.

Although I remember him always, today I have been thinking about my Grandpa more than ever. Everyday I am inspired by his bravery, selflessness and dignity - fighting for his country aged only 20, raising a beautiful family, always putting everyone else first, and fighting his final battle with cancer so courageously. I am so proud of him and everyday when I fight this illness I hope that I am doing him proud up there too. Perhaps I'm clutching at straws or being a little airy fairy, but to me, seeing that extraordinary poppy last weekend filled me with hope. I believe it was a sign that our loved ones are always with us, and a sign of a little bit of ‘grandpa magic’ keeping us strong.



Since my previous blog, the last few weeks have continued to be quite tough for us so hope, love and strength (and a little bit of ‘grandpa magic’) have been important . For various reasons, our dream to have our own family appears to become more challenging by the day and to be totally honest some days it’s a challenge to remain positive about it. It is both of our biggest dreams to have a baby together and I want to be able to give Jake that more than anything in this world…sometimes it hurts and aches in places I never thought possible! There are moments when I catch myself watching something like Jeremy Kyle and find myself thinking how can these people have children they do not care for when we would give a child more love than anything in this universe…but to think like that isn’t healthy for anyone! So (thanks to gorgeous Jake) we remain hopeful and stay positive which keeps us going….that guy gives me reason to fight for every day and I thoroughly intend to live until I’m holding Jake’s hand, grey and wrinkled with 90 candles on my birthday cake…a birthday cake baked by our grandchildren. Maybe naive, maybe wishful thinking, maybe kidding myself, but hey… why live in fear, why live thinking we can’t have something, why live thinking about when my life could end….any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow, any moment our lives could be swept away from us in a instant…instead believe anything is possible, believe that miracles can happen, believe in GRANDPA MAGIC!

Physically I have still struggling a little bit with the balancing act of the medication dosage which causes a variety of troublesome symptoms and side effects but I’m sure we will get there eventually. Despite anti-histamines, antibiotics, steroids, medicated lotions and potions, my skin (on my face, chest, back, arms and hands) has been suffering and I don’t think the cold weather helps. Not only does it look gross but it is also uncomfortable, burny, itchy and a bit sore. Although some days I feel like maybe the best thing for me to do this winter is hibernate, I am so lucky that I have a husband who makes me feel beautiful even when I feel 'pretty' grim when I look in the mirror. I then realise that I am being shallow and vain and question why would I let the small stuff get me down. I know so many of us spend so much time and effort worrying about our imperfections...spots, warts and all (I am very guilty of this). I've learnt that there are things far more important so not to waste the precious time when I could be enjoying the day. At the moment I have a choice...deal with this skin getting worse or let the cancer grow quicker so it's not a hard choice really. So I’ve decided that I’m just going to have to embrace it and flaunt it! Thank you so much for such unbelievably kind messages I have received this week…you’ve knocked my spots off…almost!!!!! Once again I am sorry that I have not replied to everyone yet, but please know that your messages mean the world and I apologise that so often I am so utterly useless and slow.

On Wednesday we go back to the Marsden for the usual tests, scans, prods and pokes, plus a meeting with the dermatologists. I’m looking forward to some Marsden magic! After becoming resistant to my previous dose and my calcitonin levels rocketing on our last visit, I’m feeling optimistic that with the medication increase hopefully my calcitonin levels will have reduced and fingers crossed I have a stable CT scan. That would all be just fabulous! It would be so wonderful to be in a stable place by Christmas. It would also make it much easier to manage the emotional demands that we face sometimes.

Our main focus over the last couple of weeks has been our Tandemonium children’s book. I’m SO EXCITED about this!! I’ve finished writing (VERY averagely) the book and (in-between taking molly out for inspirational spins to help get Jake’s artistic juices ‘spinning’ on Tara and Tyrone), Jake has been a busy bee with illustrations. He has been drawing and painting for over 16 hours a day to try and get it finished in time (…well he says that’s what he’s doing….it could just be a cunning ploy to avoid spending time with his wife!…This has only just occurred to me!) and they are absolutely INCREDIBLE!!!!! My writing doesn't live up to his illustrations AT ALL!! The writing is actually a bit cheesy…but surely cheese is most people’s guilty pleasure right?! Anyway, it’s totally worth getting a copy simply to admire Jake’s talented, animated interpretation of the intrepid duo!! We will let you know as soon as it’s printed and how to order etc. and would be so grateful for your support to spread the word so that we can hopefully raise lots more pennies for the Royal Marsden from sales of the book. We have have enjoyed doing it so much that we are already thinking about a second book!!

Having promised ourselves back in March that we would make the most of every single day we have made sure to fully embrace every single second of seasonal opportunities - including walking in the autumn leaves, admiring the colours, carving pumpkins, making Halloween food, baking cakes, enjoying bonfire night and sparklers (we had loads left from our wedding day which was really fun) AND I'm not ashamed to say… we are beginning to embrace Christmas festivities… I know this is a little controversial as it is still November but I just LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! And this year I get to spend it snuggled with a husband and a fluffy puppy!! So last night we watched our first Christmas film whilst eating chocolate coins!! I also may have accidentally finished an advent calendar! That’s a lie, I’ve finished two! Don’t judge. I’m sorry!!

This week we also attended the ‘Kitchen Mixers’ Winter Wednesday Market. It was absolutely fantastic and we bought so many lovely bits and pieces and scrumptious treats. Thank you so much Gemma Sisson for raising such an incredible amount of money towards our Royal Marsden fundraising, a whopping £403.80 to be precise which has pushed us over £88,000!! Absolutely amazing!! Also thank you so, so much to the hosts, organisers and sellers for their hard work and generosity and also a huge thank you to everyone who came, donated and supported us. We are so grateful and send so much love to you all. Another absolutely enormous thank you goes to and Jo and Luke Bowen who ran in a Half Marathon to support our fundraising, they raised THOUSANDS(!!) of pounds for the Royal Marsden, it was so exciting seeing the total climbing every evening. Not only did they raise such a phenomenal amount of money but they also completed the run in super sonic speed. I’m in absolute awe of you both. Thank you SO much.

We can’t wait until the JustGiving awards!!….Just 11 sleeps to go. The link to vote for your favourite nominees is…..

Feeling autumnal

25th Oct 2016

I love autumn! I want to say it's my favourite time of year but I love summer and winter too. I also love spring actually. I have definitely appreciated autumn more this year perhaps partly because of circumstances but I think more so because we have our own gorgeous little bundle of fluff to walk in the colourful, crisp leaves every morning. Also, this time last year I was eagerly waiting for Jake to return back for Christmas but this year I get to snuggle him every evening in front of our very own fire and he's my husband and everything!!! These things make this particular autumn a little bit extra special! Being that extra bit special, this evening I tried to fully embrace the season and carve a tandem inspired pumpkin. In my head it was incredible. In reality it went horribly wrong. Pumpkin soup for dinner it is!!


It has been a significant month with it being 'Stand up to Cancer'. In all honesty I found it quite tough to watch the dedicated program on Chanel 4 last Friday. But it was so touching and so inspirational and no doubt it made many of us realise how lucky we are. The struggles people go through on a daily basis is just incomprehensible and I can't even imagine how tough it must be. If nothing else it was tremendous motivation to keep persevering to raise as much money and awareness as we can for such an important cause which unfortunately is likely to affect all of us some way some how.


Jake and I have been busy bees the last couple of weeks but up to slightly more unusual things than normal. We've had some filming days which has been fun even though I'm the most awkward and cringe worthy person in front of the camera. Tomorrow we are being filmed for the Just Giving awards. There's still time to vote for any of the finalists and it's definitely worth reading some of the stories. We are SO excited about the ceremony although obviously feel so unworthy and like total frauds!! This week we've also been working on a little project we've set ourselves. Tara and Tyronne inspired...obviously!! We are making our own children's book about the intrepid duo. I'm (attempting to) writing it and talented Jake is illustrating. His drawings are amazing!! He's captured the personalities we imagined for Tara and Tyronne so perfectly in their animated versions. They would be wheely proud! We've given ourselves a month to get it done in the hope that we can finish it by the end of November in time for Christmas. We are hoping to sell them to raise money for the Royal Marsden as part of the fundraising so even though the writing will be exceptionally average it's worth the pennies to see the pictures and to support a great cause. We are under no illusions that the book will be published. So the plan is to self publish and get it printed ourselves and hopefully sell it through our ejtandemonium page and on Amazon. We will keep you updated!!


We enjoyed going into school on Wednesday after the Wednesday Marsden visit. Unfortunately I didn't see the kiddies but it was great to see some lovely colleagues. Marsden Wednesday was successful. It explained why I had been feeling rotten for the last month. The blood tests revealed that I had become resistant to the dose I had been on (which didn't surprise me with the symptoms I was having) and my calcitonin levels had rocketed back up to where they were pre treatment. I have been on a higher dose now for a couple of weeks which has really helped with the symptoms however the medication side effects have kicked in. It's such a tricky balance. My skin is suffering most, the spots, rashes and mouth ulcers are coming back with a vengeance and it's just annoying because vanity aside it's prickly and burning. my hair seems to be thinning a bit which has caused carnage with plugholes and (on the subject of plugholes) I've also had some plughole related night terrors featuring monster spiders crawling out...damn those plugholes!!!! Poor Jake...not sure I still resemble the wife he signed up for right now!! As always though he's a total dream boat. A very artistic dream boat!! And this week marked a year since we spoke on FaceTime which was special. What a remarkable year it's been!!
Im very lucky that I've been given a whole month off from marsden Wednesdays and I'm pretty confident that the side effects will start to settle and hopefully over the next few weeks I'll be top notch! Spots and all!


We want to say another ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS thank you to everyone for all the fundraising and support you have been giving us over the last few weeks. Thanks to all of you the total has now climbed beyond a whopping £86k which is just unbelievable. Huge thank you to Jo and Luke and everyone who has been supporting them. Their half marathon has hit the donations like a storm and given it such an almighty boost. We wish them both LOADS much luck and love for their half marathon on Sunday, total pair of heroes!! Thank you so much. Another huge thank you goes to the gorgeous little poppet Harry Woolf who was christened last Sunday and donated the money he received to the fundraising. Both he and his parents have hearts of gold. What a beautiful, kind and selfless thing to do. We can NOT wait to see you to give you a massive snuggle. After the last blog, amazing Liz's tea cosies sold instantly like hot (tea) cakes. Not surprisingly they were in high demand and I'm so sorry to anyone we didn't get back to or who didn't get one but if lovely Liz has the time or energy to make anymore we will let you know! We are really excited about Kitchen Mixer event on 9th November. It looks like it's going to be a totally scrumptious morning and there's even free mince pies!! How could you resist?!!! Thank you so so much Gemma Sisson you are an absolute angel and no doubt bucket loads of pennies will be raised. Another event which is going to be absolutely fantastic is Choral Diversity's Christmas carol concert in Hereford. It looks like the concert is going to be a sell out! We absolutely can NOT wait! We will let you know as soon as raffle tickets are available. The prizes are going to be awesome!! Even if you can't make the event It's well worth buying a whole book of the raffle tickets. I certainly will be!! Thank you so much to everyone involved for such the monumental amount of hard work you have been putting into it. It's going to be a Christmas cracker!!

Welcome to the world little angels

13th Oct 2016

I was concerned how my my last blog would be received particularly as it was quite deep, especially talking about the heartbreak of not being able to carry a baby and surrogacy difficulties. However, never in my wildest dreams did I expect the overwhelmingly kind response that was returned. People have been so compassionate and selfless. A very special few people in particular have filled us with so much love and hope and we will never be able to thank them enough for that. Every day we feel blessed and grateful for the support we receive from all of you.

This has provided us with an absolute bucket load of positivity and strength over the last couple of weeks. They have been pretty tough from a health perspective, in tandemonium lingo...the wheels have fallen off a little bit. I've been feeling exhausted and have also struggled symptomatically which has been both emotionally and physically painful and challenging. I've therefore started to take a more complex concoction of medications overnight and have increased/doubled my vendatenib (chemotherapy) dosage. I'm sure at some point this will start to work it's magic and kick in over the next couple of weeks. With my scrumptious husband by my side we will nail it...once again in tandemonium lingo...it's nothing we can't handle(bar).

Despite these slightly inconvenient symptoms the last couple of weeks have been totally awesome and have included a wonderful baby shower, a magical wedding, 2 precious births, meeting 3 new perfect babies, a spectacular make a wish dinner, a magnificent 1 month anniversary celebration (although opting to watch the hilarious Bridget Jones pregnant movie was an emotional rollercoaster given our circumstances), and a super Marsden visit.

Growing up I had a gorgeous Golden Retriever called Barney. Most dogs in the world seem to despise going to the vet, however, these trips were Barney's absolute favourite! He would get so excited about going, straining on his lead to enter the building, this was predominantly because he adored all of the staff so much. Barney and I, it seems, are like 2 peas in a pod...I'm a bit like this with the Royal Marsden. Whilst most people probably dread going to hospital, I however look forward to going every Wednesday, like Barney...this is predominately because I adore all of the staff. We had a great visit on Wednesday of course made all the better (as always) by Tara number one and our genius Oncologist Kate Newbold but ALSO because this time we had a couple of extra treats. Firstly because we took special VIP visitor Molly Coates with us who loved her snuggles with the world's number one nurse. Secondly because were over the moon to finally meet Liz and John. Liz has the same diagnosis as me, she is the most special lady and one hell of tough cookie who has already fought through some of the most scary times imaginable. As if she doesn't have enough on her own plate to deal with, Liz is the talent behind all of the fabulous tea cosies which she has been busy knitting and selling and which have already raised hundreds of pounds for our JustGiving. On Wednesday she very generously gave me some to sell. I'm struggling to part with them and keep selfishly attempting to create reasons why we need to keep them ALL. However I have come to terms with the fact that I have to part with them and couldn't be happier to do so for such an amazing cause so...if you would like to buy one please send me a message and let's keep the pennies coming in (I do struggle to keep up to date with my messages but will do my best to respond and get them in the post asap)! My lovely sister has already got her mitts on one of the knits...I wonder how long before I can subtly steal it back!!??

This week couldn't have been more special or magical as not one but two little angels came into the world. Two of my best friends, my beautiful bridesmaids, have given birth to the most perfect baby girls. Just last month they were walking down the aisle beside me and a matter of weeks later they have had their babies; Bella (Isabella) and Arabella. They looked so glamorous on our wedding day you would never have known they were 8 months pregnant but what's more than that you would never have known as they prioritised our day, were on their feet for hours and have never once complained only cherished their bumps. We were Absolutely chuffed to bits to meet their munchkins and we can't wait to watch them grow and be by their sides as their mummies have always been by mine. On top of meeting these two little poppets for the first time we also met perfect baby Jacob for the first time. Jacob is Jake's cousin's little poppet. He is an actual cherub and melted our hearts instantly. We are simply bursting with pride for all three of you mummies and for super star big sisters Amelie and Scarlett who were also our flower girls of perfection.

Another magical moment this week was attending the Campbell wedding. Tom and Izzy have been unbelievably kind to us, not only was Tom a tip top usher at our wedding, the pair of them worked tirelessly to sort out our bar and made it the most fabulous and merriest of days just weeks before their own wedding! We were over the moon to be able to celebrate their day with them and to spend time with old friends and also make new friends. On top of all of the support they had given us already, Mr & Mrs Campbell donated all of the proceeds from the bar at their wedding to Alzheimer's UK and the Royal Marsden Hospital. There aren't many pairs in the world as special as them and we could never express our appreciation to them enough. It was such an honour to share their beautiful day.

The day after their wedding we had the honour of being invited to the Make a Wish Sports Dinner by Lexi and Jonathan. This was one of the most touching, heart warming events I have ever attended and it was such a privilege to be there amongst so many stars and so many generous individuals. Many stories were shared of the most brave, courageous and inspiring children who teach us that we should all feel so lucky for what we have and count everyday as a blessing. The work that the Make a Wish team do to add a little sparkle to their precious lives is priceless. Thank you so much Lexi and Jonathan and thank you to the magnificent Paralympian Sophie Christiansen who let me gawp over and hold one of ten Paralympic medals! Gold no less! So bloomin' cool!!

Some other exciting news this week is that Tara and Tyronne have returned! We picked them up from Hereford and the intrepid duo appeared to be still recovering from our wedding; clinging onto the bottles of champagne in their water carriers, still wearing their wedding gear and looking a little bedraggled. Dirty stop outs!! We safely transported them back to Wiltshire (it appears they prefer to be driven rather than ridden lazy sods) but we immediately got their wheels in a spin...straight out of the van and back on the road, this time with a new addition...Molly Coates!! Although we were unsure whether to trust the trashy trailer he did us proud and was the perfect chariot for our little queen of fluffiness.

Not only did we have the return of Tara and Tyronne this week but we also saw the return of all of Jake's possessions from Australia. 31 one years worth of stuff!! And god he has a lot of stuff!! From clothes (never again can he moan at me for having too many clothes) to sofas, beds to lighting, wine to a hoover. The poor guy has been living out of just one suitcase for 7 whole months! This is because when I was diagnosed in March he jumped straight on the first flight from Australia to be by my side (and because he is my hero, he never left my side) with only one quickly packed case (the original plan was that he would move back to the UK in June)! We are very lucky that our fantastic land lady Fiona is giving us some extra storage space so that we can unpack slowly.

We have some ENORMOUS thank yous to make this week. Firstly to mother and Son team, Jo and Luke, two very old friends from my Oman days. They are running in a half marathon at the end of this month to support our fundraising and the donations have been absolutely flying thanks to them. We are so grateful and are looking forward to coming along to cheer you on in a few weeks. Secondly a monumental thank you goes to Beth Melling and all of Choral Diversity (check out their Facebook page!). The group have organised a Christmas carol concert (one of my favourite things in the world) for the 17th of December. They have put an insane amount of effort and organisation into the event and are hoping to raise a phenomenal £10k!!! It's going to be absolutely incredible and I can't encourage people enough to come along. They have managed to gain support for the event from so many businesses and the raffle prizes look like they are going to be epic! Im so excited!!! A final thank you goes to That's Life magazine for printing our story and giving us another £500 towards our target. I never thought it would be possible but we really are getting closer and closer to the £100k mark! This has the potential to make such a difference to change and even save the lives of people who have been affected by cancer and those who could be affected by cancer in the future.

After what's been a tough but rewarding, manic yet magical couple of weeks, we've just had the most wonderful (albeit slightly chaotic with a dog, 2 puppies and a toddler) evening with my sister and brother in law. It's now time to get the skin cream on (try and catch the double dose impact on the skin early doors!) and catch up on Bake Off!! Cant think of a more perfect evening!

Learning curves

29th Sep 2016

This week I learnt/was reminded that despite the magical and whimsical whirl wind of the last few weeks, there are still some tough days ahead of us which undoubtedly may get tougher in the future. As always though, I also learnt/was reminded of how supportive, generous and amazing people are and how the human spirit is stronger than anything else. We were absolutely over the moon that we featured in the Royal Marsden magazine and also absolutely ecstatic that our fundraising for the Royal Marsden climbed over the £80k mark. Thanks again to Kat Clarke and the Bristol Children's Hospital for such a phenomenal team effort!

Yesterday was my first Royal Marsden appointment as Emmy Coates!! My kind and noble (potentially bonkers!!) sister puppy sat Molly for us...as well as looking after her own dog, puppy and toddler! One brave lady!! Thank you SO much Soph, and also mum for providing her with some moral support!! I was really looking forward to going to the hospital not only because I knew we would get to see Tara number 1 (obviously!!) but because I've been struggling with symptoms and side effects over the last month. My tummy has been all over the place causing quite painful repercussions, fatigue has been kicking in along with sleepless nights partly due to quite severe pains in my back and side which has also caused mobility issues too (poor Jake has been having to log roll me all over the place!!). We were concerned that the route of the pain was potentially a fracture in my spine which was quite a scary prospect. Therefore It was a full on day with the usual blood, urine, weight, ECG, etc and specialist consultations plus dermatologists plus a whole body CT scan and an emergency spinal MRI scan. We had the MRI results immediately and the good news is that the tumours in my spine are stable which means they haven't grown since my last scan and I have no fractures there (I'm just a drama queen!!). The pain is likely to be caused by a fractured rib round the back and some sore muscle spasms. I have been loaded up with Valium and we are heading back again on Wednesday to see Tara Number One and the specialist oncologist and will discuss increasing/doubling my medication dosage. Cue double the amount of spots!! Luckily we are fast approaching hat, scarf and balaclava season!

Although on cloud nine because of my gorgeous husband and our adorable little fluff ball, some days this week I've been feeling a little down at times, partly I think because I'm tired alongside feeling sore which can get draining. Apparently feeling down is also a side effect of the medication, however luckily I don't think this is a side effect I'm partial to, I think the main cause has been because all I've ever wanted is a family. Growing up one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't be able to have a baby, so when I think about that fear being a reality with the love of my life it hits me like a tonne of bricks...far more than any diagnosis. It's incredibly frustrating when we both know that in that department we are functioning perfectly it's just that it's not safe to carry a baby with the drugs I'm on and I'll be on them for always. Therefore, we both felt desperately sad this week, as after some research, we have discovered that no surrogacy agencies in the UK are taking new intended parents as there are not enough surrogates available. Not sure what our next plan of action will be regarding this matter other than hoping someone may one day come forward, so, in the meantime we have booked into the Surrogacy UK Conference over the weekend to explore any options which may be possible in the future. I have to say though, when I think about it more I realise how lucky I am compared to so many others. I've learnt so much from this diagnosis; to appreciate what you have and not to focus on what you don't have. That's time wasted. We are all blessed in our own ways, life is what you make of it and I'm aware that what I have is already better than what I could have ever dreamt of having.

We have now been married for almost a whole month. That feels so crazy, time really does fly when you're a happy sausage! Having said that its only 11 months ago that we FaceTimed for the first time and it's pretty astonishing how much can happen in such a short space of time. This time last year, Jake had jokingly messaged me reminding me a promise we had made each other when we were 18...that once we were 30 we would get married (because that's what lobsters do right?!). Neither of us could have ever imagined how the next year would unfold. As soon as we saw one another's faces on our phone screens our feelings were the same as they had been ten years ago only stronger with bigger butterflies, plus with the additional fortune of now having the knowledge of learning from previous experiences and relationships and now knowing what we wanted from life. Maybe it is true that if somethings meant to be it will be.

In December 2015, after 2 months of negotiating daily FaceTime conversations with an 11 hour time difference managed around work schedules and ward night shifts, Jake flew back for Christmas. Not having seen one another for 6 years, I anxiously but excitedly waited for him at Heathrow arrivals with my embarrassing lobster (loser) themed 'Jake' sign...laminated of course (any primary school teacher would appreciate the importance of lamination!). We had the most magical Christmas and new year and Jake, after climbing a mountain in South America at the beginning of January (as you do), flew back again in January for 3 weeks, followed by me flying out to Australia in February half term. We eagerly and passionately started planning our lives together. In March we were due to fly to the Philippines (where Jake had planned to propose) and that's when things took a sudden unexpected change of course. And so our adventure began...

Over this last 11 months we've had an ofsted inspection, climbed a mountain, left jobs, moved country, moved house, got engaged, been diagnosed with cancer, had fast tracked IVF treatment to get eggs and sperm removed and fertilised, as a result stored 9 embryos, had 2 operations, 3 anaesthetics and 6 biopsies, had approximately 50 MRIs & CT scans, popped over 500 antibiotics, started lifelong chemotherapy, planned a month long tandemonium challenge, raised £80k for charity, cycled 2000km from London to Copenhagen, fractured multiple ribs, got matching tattoos, been to 14 countries, been in newspapers, magazines and on radio, planned a wedding, been nominated for a JustGiving award, had a magical marriage, had a heavenly honeymoon, got a scrumptious puppy called Molly, written 112 blog updates, made lots of new friends, AND been given the most sensational and overwhelming amount of love and support from our friends and family and also from complete strangers which just blows us away and gives us so much positivity, motivation and encouragement every single day...thank you SO much to you all!! I always fail to adequately express my appreciation.


There are of course things that I miss since my health went 'Pete Tong' some small and some big, some simple and some more complex but all of which I totally took for granted this time last year....
Things I miss:
* Going to the gym for a hard workout. and feeling physically fit.
* Going to work at school and seeing my 30 little rays of sunshine every morning.
* Waking up and feeling good, rather than waking up to aching or paining somewhere.
* Having a normal pain free bowel movement.
* Having clear skin.
* Going in the sun without having to smear on factor 50.
* Being able to nip into Boots and use normal unprescribed face washes, body lotions etc.
* Looking forward to trying for a baby and starting a family.
* Not having the responsibility to take meds everyday to prevent cancer spread and body shut down.
* Not feeling constantly fatigued.
* Being able to/allowed to have a massage and also not having to fill out a million medical forms for anything and everything.
* Sleeping through the night without being woken by a medication induced nightmare, a bowel movement or pain.
* Being naive to illness, having that feeling of being young and invincible and living oblivious to how long we have on this earth without being aware of a pessimistic medical prognosis suggesting my likely life expectancy (I chose to ignore this anyway!).

Despite missing some of these perks, there are changes that have happened within the last year (some even as a result of the illness!) and there are so many more things that I love and am SO grateful for than things that I miss...and the things I love out weigh the things I miss a MILLION times over and so for that reason, I wouldn't change a single thing!!
Things I love and am grateful for:
* The unbelievable amount of support we have received from incredible people far and wide.
* An overwhelming feeling of love from everyone around us.
* The unconditional love and strength of family.
* The power and importance of true friendships.
* Being welcomed into the family of my husband and gaining a whole new family
* Marrying the man of my dreams and never feeling happier that I'll get to spend the rest of my life with my rock, my best friend and soul mate.
* Having our gorgeous pooch Molly the labradoodle.
* Being able spend everyday with Jake, it doesn't matter if it's in a hospital waiting room or sitting behind him on a tandem, I just love being a round him...he makes me laugh and feel secure and loved and special every minute.
* Feeling excited for planning a future career/business whatever it might be and wherever it may take us.
* Living in the beautiful countryside and surrounded by fresh air and wildlife.
* Thinking about all of the challenges and adventures we've experienced and all those that await us.
* Not having to pay for prescriptions!
* Being treated and cared for by the most incredible medical team in a world leading institution.
* Meeting Tara number one and having such an inspirational person our life's.
* Having drugs available to me to keep me going which I have so far responded well to and have kept the cancer stable.
* Being able to take uninvasive Chemotherapy.
* Having 9 Embryos stored safely so that there is hope that one day we may be able to have a family.
* Having the opportunity to raise awareness to hopefully maybe one day help prevent another person finding themselves in a similar position.
* Having the opportunity to raise money for such an incredible cause.
* To have been diagnosed at a time where the progress in medical treatment is developing and progressing every day.
* Being made aware that life is short and none of us know what's round the corner or what the future holds so being given a firm boot up the bottom to make the most of every minute of everyday (we've already had so much fun ticking off bucket list items!!).


There's so much to look forward to in the future and I continue to think positively and know that love is the best drug to make dreams come true, make anything possibly and to conquer all. We have lots of exciting things in store to look forward to. Today Molly Coates had her first walk in Westonbirt on a beautiful, fresh late September afternoon (just glorious!). For the week ahead we have the surrogacy conference, a friend's baby shower, another friend's baby arriving into the world, another Marsden appointment, a friend's wedding, a 'Make a Wish' black tie dinner which is such an honour to be invited to, and of course lots and LOTS of puppy snuggles!!! Plus we will have a mini celebration for our month anniversary on Tuesday.

Paradise

20th Sep 2016

It's about time I wrote a blog but it's difficult to know where to begin with the whirlwind of the last couple of weeks and I'm afraid it's going to be a LONG one! Probably the best place to start is...it's my first blog as MRS. COATES!!!!! Wooohoooo!!!! I still giggle and feel like a total fraud every time I refer to Jake as 'my husband'!

Firstly I'm so sorry I know I have so many beautiful messages to reply. I'm totally spoilt standing at a total of 541 unopened Facebook messages which is APPALLING. I apologise for being so awfully slow. We made a pact to not spend time replying messages whilst we were on honeymoon and I am now so very shamefully behind. I'm so sorry!!! Thank you so so much for every single thoughtful message you have sent me, I appreciate it so much.

Our wedding day was everything we ever had dreamed of and more. Nothing could be more special to me than getting married at home, the place I grew up and the place we first fell in love. It truly was the most magical day and every single second was filled with love and laughter from our friends and families. Our faces ached from smiling and our hearts were overloaded with happiness and joy. After 20 years of setting eyes on him, I married the love of my life surrounded by the people who we love most in the world. It was less than a year ago that we got back in contact but we knew within seconds that there was no where else in the world we should be than anywhere in the world as long as we were together forever. After an exciting but tough and challenging few months with some heart achingly painful news and decisions to make, but also with some incredible moments and adventures, we had never felt more support or love from the people around us, loved each other more or been a stronger team. Our wedding couldn't have been a more perfect tribute to that. So many people went above and beyond to make our day so incredibly special and we will never EVER be able to show our appreciation enough.

There are some extra special THANK YOUS that I NEED to acknowledge. Firstly to everyone who came and for making it without doubt the BEST day of our lives!! A day that we wish could have lasted forever and that we wish we could relive again and again. But you all made memories for us that will never fade and that we will treasure in or hearts forever. We are so blessed to have the most awesome friends on the whole planet who travelled from far and wide to share our day and we even had Tara number 1 with us to celebrate. The MOST ENORMOUS THANK YOU goes to my mum and dad who went above and beyond hosting the day and making all of our dreams come true... I'm so proud of them both that I could burst... we couldn't ever thank them enough. Aside from everything else they did and hosting a wedding for 150 people in their back garden, both they and Jake's dad supported us financially to celebrate the day; so the whole thing would have been totally impossible without them. Jake's mum and dad have also been so amazing to us throughout and we are so grateful to both of them for everything and I am so grateful to them for welcoming me into their wonderful family. My bridesmaids all took my breath away, they looked radiant...as stunningly beautiful on the outside as they all are on the inside and were beyond AMAZING to me not just on the day but throughout the entire wedding process. My sister was my maid of honour and took those duties to a whole new level. She is too awesome for words. Our flower girls/angels looked simply divine and totally did their wings, wands and halos justice and were absolute ANGELS!!! We are SO proud of them all!! The Ushers of course were the most handsome squad about town and were just bloomin brilliant. Our bar was organised by Ginger & Honey (Tom and Izzy) and was just sensational...it's thanks to them that we had the merriest of parties!! Lilly Monroe girls Danielle and Tamla did all of the bridal party's hair and make up between them. They somehow managed to put up with me and were miraculously able to transform me from a blubbering emotional wreck into a bride with more fabulous hair and make up than I could have dreamt...they are the most wonderful, patient, calm and kind pair, I don't know how they did it!! Field to Fork run by the magnificent Katie Light sorted our catering...Katie is the loveliest and most talented caterer in the world, never have I tasted such delicious food, it was such an honour! As well as tasting scrumptious, everything was so beautifully and thoughtfully presented. Camilla our beautiful friend and photographer added extra sparkle to our day and we felt so privileged to have her taking our snaps. Mia did the whole photography package as a wedding gift which is just phenomenal generosity. We can't wait to see her pics and we also can't wait to watch the video which was recorded by Amy aka Mrs. mashup. Amy and Mia were the dream team and put such huge smiles on our faces making us feel so relaxed and happy all day long. Both so talented. The band were also beyond INCREDIBLE thank you so so much to them...they made it SO MUCH FUN and kept the dance floor full all night long! Thank you so much to Karen the seamstress who made my dress so perfect, I felt like a princess all day and I just wish I could think of an occasion where it's appropriate to wear it again!! I'm open to suggestions!!! Thank you to Monnow Marquees who gave us an utterly fabulous venue. The marquee was just beautiful with a starlit dance floor and providing a perfect place for the love and life of the party to be shared and savoured throughout the day and night. It was such a magical moment hearing the rain hammering down on us whilst we were all snug in the most glamorous tent...glamping to a whole new level. Nick the vic delivered us the most personal and special service...we wouldn't have wanted anyone else in the world to marry us. He feels like family to us now and we hope will remain a life long friend. Our flowers were selected and arranged by the gorgeous ladies at Simply Flowers, they were SO beautiful from the bouquets to the church to the marquee it all looked and smelled like heaven. They were more beautiful and more perfect than I could have ever imagined. And finally, to Anne who took on the challenge to make our cake...never has their been a more unique cake; combining lobsters and tandems with our favourite carrot cake flavour... Just so special. Thank you so much!

Tara and Tyronne scrubbed up well on the day, were on top form and put the bride and groom to shame in their very own customised bridal gear!! Thank you so much to Jake's mummy for yet again making Tyronne another fabulous outfit! Despite the rain the mischievous pair were still fantastic transport home from the church...and let's face it; it wouldn't have felt right cycling with them if it wasn't raining!! Although I had been concerned about the weather the rain couldn't dampen any spirits and not only did the wet weather make our knot tighter, we were also blessed with a stunning rainbow in the evening just before the sun went down.

Before I left for the church I felt pretty composed and thought I'd be OK. However...not only was I walking down the aisle behind my best girls ( my absolute rocks), I took the arm of my dad, my hero, which of course was the first thing that rocked my composure and made my heart climb up into my throat and choked me up. This wasn't helped by the fact that I was walking to meet the love of my life to Coldplay's 'The Scientist' being played on the piano which has been 'our song' since we were 16. Once I saw Jake's face and had his hand in mine, my best friend Leona read a poem she had written for us which was so beautiful it was the beginning of my eyes leaking!! Despite tears rolling down my cheeks I just about held it together through my vows, 'through sickness and health' was the toughest line to say but although tough, we both just felt PURE overwhelming love.
After the service, as newly weds, we cycled Tara and Tyronne home, to a reception of all of our nearest and dearest lined up the drive cheering and blowing bubbles as confetti...we could have burst with happiness!! After photos and scrummy canapés we all went into the fabulous marquee which was decorated with the beautiful flowers, our homemade crafting and also gifts we have been sent from people over the last few months which made it all feel so personal and special.

After food, the speeches were delivered by my dad, Jake and Tim (Jake's brother and best man). They were the most touching and heart warming moments of my life. all three of them were phenomenal. There wasn't a dry eye in the marquee. I couldn't have possibly felt prouder and I'll never be able to adequately express how much the words they spoke mean to me. I will remember them forever and if I ever encounter tough days, their words will always ease any pain and bring out the sunshine in my heart.

If the day wasn't already perfect enough that scrumptious HUSBAND (hehehehe) of mine pulled the most SENSATIONAL surprises out of the bag including opera singing waiters (who got the whole marquee involved; waving their napkins around their heads, singing along and dancing the conga), and this was later topped off with the most spectacular surprise fireworks (even love heart ones!!!) lighting up the sky to our favourite music.

The party went on into the early hours and after a couple of hours kip we were off on our honeymoon. Jake managed to keep the final destination a complete surprise until the last couple of hours of the second connection...he's either worryingly good at being a secret squirrel or I'm just a little bit thick!! We've both been fortunate enough to travel a lot throughout our lives but this location was like no other. We arrived at a private island in the Maldives called Cocoa Island and it was like being in a dream, like living life through a heavenly filter. Every morning we had to pinch ourselves to check we were actually awake and we weren't just imagining it!! Our apartment was on stilts above turquoise sea full of colourful fish, even sharks!! We stayed there for 5 nights and then had 5 more nights at the Jumierah where we were upgraded to the honeymoon suite which was a palace on stilts with our own infinity pool over looking the ocean...we could only reach our room by speed boat!!! Over the ten days; we watched the sunset whilst dolphins and pilot whales danced around us, we paddled with sting rays, we swam with turtles and manta rays and we even swam with a whale shark which was the most whimsical, calming, mesmerising experience of my life! When I was diagnosed in March, Jake and I made a bucket list. None of us will ever know what's around the corner or how long we've got on this planet; so being handed an incurable diagnosis is actually a blessing in a way as it gives you a kick up the bum to make the most of every minute and fulfill everything you want in life rather than waiting for it to happen...otherwise it may never happen!! This honeymoon was once in a lifetime and it could never ever be topped and we valued and appreciated every single second of it and ticked off so many of our bucket list dreams. After this combined with the tandemonium...we may now officially have no money left and may not be quite sure what our future employments hold whilst also considering finding/funding a surrogate etc. however it was worth every single penny. We didn't even feel sad when we returned back to normality because it couldn't have possibly been any better!! It truly was the most unbelievable ten days of my life. I feel so so lucky. I don't just feel it...I know it!!! The ten days also gave us a chance to actually stop after what's been a wonderful but crazy 11 months. We were able to chat about everything and take time to absorb it all and appreciate all the small things. I don't think there was a millisecond when we stopped smiling!

From a health perspective I struggled a little during honeymoon. The Marsden had agreed for me to come off my medication for a couple of weeks for the wedding for various reasons regarding the side effects of the Vendatenib including; to help my rashy spotty skin go back to normal a little bit, to help sleep a little more being free from medication induced nightmares, and to help my skin not be so UV sensitive before I went away to the sun for ten days. This was a lovely relief for me before the wedding. However, it did mean that the cancer symptoms kicked in while we were away even though I resumed my medication when we arrived at the hotel. My tummy problems escalated to their most intense causing various repercussions (I won't divulge all the gory details) and also my lymph nodes around my collarbone, armpit, neck and shoulder blades had a chance to multiply and grow causing a few problems with my arm. I think they are obstructing some nerves so it became very painful and made movement quite tricky. Great excuse for things though as it meant that poor Jake (my husband!!!!) had to undress me, carry bags, apply my moisturiser etc...could get used to that!! Haha. Needing a loo visit every 30 minutes and feeling quite a bit of pain resulted in difficulty sleeping through the night but it doesn't matter if you can't sleep when you're in paradise; every night I'd go and sit on the decking at 3am and look out to sea, it was so serene and peaceful, I loved it. I love the sound of the waves and the feeling of warm air on my face and I could see the shimmers of fish in the darkness jumping in and out of the water. I also had time to relive all the magical moments of the wedding in my head....heavenly memories whilst in paradise...can't beat that!! The medication has kicked in again now and I'm beginning to feel a little more normal again...spots and all!! I am due back at the Marsden for a full MOT and CT next week. My first Marsden visit as a MRS!!! I'm sure they will sort me out and we will see what they think about the lymph nodes, potentially may need a small op or something.

We arrived back home yesterday and had our first real life day at home as husband and wife which was so wonderful. We also had the excitement of opening all of our wedding cards and gifts. We are just stunned...totally blown away by people's kindness. Please bear with us, we will be writing to every single one of you!! We received one extra special wedding gift from Jake's mum...a new addition to our family!! She got us a chocolate brown labradoodle puppy!! We have named her Molly Coates and we couldn't possible love anything more!!! She is the most adorable, sweetest little bundle of fluff and is like a little bear cub and such a good girl!!! It's snuggle central in the Coates household!!! One day soon we will ride Tara and let her ride behind in Tyronne! Let's hope he'll be a little more responsible than his Amsterdam days!!

People continue to blow us away with their generosity and also the incredible amount of time and effort they put in to supporting us to reach our fundraising goal. Humungous thank you to Ross Bugden for organising a golf fundraising day and raising a whopping £650!!! Another MASSIVE thank you to Bristol children's hospital who have organised a static cycle this week to raise money. Absolutely incredible. We are really excited to come down to the hospital and see you all! We are so grateful and you are just amazing and make me want to be a better human!
We are still feeling a little in shock that we have been nominated for a Just Giving Award and feel SO honoured! The awards ceremony is in November, so there's still time to vote for us and anyone else (there's so many inspiring and worthy nominations; we feel totally undeserving!)...we appreciate it SO much.

After the most unbelievable couple of weeks of our lives I am now so excited for what the future holds with my best friend, my true love and my soul mate. We are both so looking forward to our adventure as 'Mr & Mrs Coates' and making memories and miracles happen along the way. Fairy tales really can exist and love truly can conquer all! Thank you so much to everyone for making our fairy tale come true. We love you so so much and I, Emmy COATES(!!!!) feel like the luckiest girl in the entire world!!! Can't believe I have a husband AND a puppy!!! Not quite sure which one I want to snuggle more!

Rain rain go away...

1st Sep 2016

Welcome September!! September has become a special month for me because it is thyroid cancer awareness month! I have a metastatic medullary thyroid cancer diagnosis however there are actually 4 different types of thyroid cancer...the most common and obvious symptom of all 4 is enlarged, not painful, rubbery lymph nodes in your neck. I had no idea about this and, although was aware of my growing neck lumps for almost two years, had just assumed that they were muscle knots. This is why my cancer was able to spread so much throughout my body and organs, advance to stage 4 and now be in a situation where it is incurable. We are all becoming so great at being aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and checking ourselves particularly for breast and prostate lumps but please also remember to CHECK YOUR NECK!! September is also the 'big C' month for the Royal Marsden...they are encouraging people to get involved in any activity beginning with 'C' (cooking, cycling, crafting, cake sales, clubbing, camping, canoing etc) to raise money for their cause. Get involved if you can!!

Over the weekend I received the most incredible wedding countdown package from my flamingirls Leona and Claire. It is like the world's BEST advent calendar (times infinity) and has made waking up every morning on the penultimate week of the wedding so exciting!! Thank you so so much girls. I am spoilt!!!

On bank holiday Monday we headed back home to Hereford, with a car load of wedding bits, where we are having the wedding reception. We met with our photographer and very old friend Mia...I've known the gorgeous Mia since we were 4 and Jake since they were 11. She is so talented and so beautiful inside and out and we are so, so excited and so lucky that she is capturing our day for us. Having her makes it that little bit extra special and it's just an added bonus that she's such a bloomin' sensational photographer! You should check out her Facebook page 'Camilla Rosa photography', she's just amazing! And when you think she couldn't be more sensational, she's giving us her time and photography as a gift. We are totally overwhelmed by her generosity. Thank you so, SO much Mia!!

After we saw Mia we spoke to Sophia from BBC Hereford and Worcester at home, we rambled on at poor Sophia for ages and ages!! Our interview was due to be broadcast the day before the wedding on Friday morning. However, today we were informed that there has been a slight technical hitch downloading the interview and the whole thing has been wiped. Despite their lovely efforts with trying to reschedule, unfortunately, with the wedding in now almost a matter of hours, we have had to decline. We look forward to another chat hopefully when we return from honeymoon.

On Tuesday Jake and I both went our separate ways to collect our wedding outfits. Karen the magical seamstress has worked tirelessly and produced a phenomenal creation with my dress. I am so grateful to her particularly as I had been so worried about it. Rumour has it that Jake and his clan of ushers all look pretty drop dead gorgeous in their swanky suits...no surprises there! I'll be running down that aisle for a snog!...with the groom...obviously!!

Yesterday we picked up our banns certificate from Luckington parish so we are now officially all legal and set to go for Nick the vic to marry us!! Can't believe it's just 2 sleeps to go! Our last minute (common theme) wedding diets haven't particularly gone to plan. At the moment there's a risk I will resemble our lovely landlady's awesome piggie Pluto if I continue to gorge on biscuits and cake!

Today I am feeling a little disappointed with the weather gods. Similar to my skin; the weather is looking rather dire for Saturday and seems to be progressively deteriorating...last check actually issued flood warnings. It's so unlucky after such a glorious week of sunshine! It seems Tara the tandem and Tyronne the trailer are a bit of jinx where weather is concerned. We've had to accept the forecast and have now bought some umbrellas and today I've had to go a 'step' further and even bought wellies.... My toes are not quite as excited about this prospect as they were about the princess Jimmy choos. We are considering ditching Tyronne the trailer for Terry the tugboat as our transport from the church to the reception.

This morning there was a beautiful article about us in the gazette. Thank you so much once again Jessica. You are an angel. You write such lovely things about us and we are so touched! Thank you also SO much to everyone who has nominated us for the JustGiving award. It's just amazing and such an honour! We were totally blown away this morning because the JustGiving team even sent us a stunning bunch of flowers!...surely we should be sending them flowers!?! Thank you so much.

We also want to say a huge thank you for such kind and generous comments and shares on Jake's beautiful video...he's so talented! We've continued to have an incredible amount of support and donations this week and the total has now gone beyond £76k which is just mind blowing!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Thank you also SO much for all of the wedding love we've been showered with. We feel so unworthy of it all but we appreciate it more than you could ever know! It means the world to us both. The showering of love absolutely makes the inevitable showering of rain bearable. We are so blessed to be surrounded by you lot of superhumans!!

This afternoon we are heading home to begin the final wedding preparations!! Marquee is up (mum's been dutifully supplying all the hard workers with copious amounts of tea and no doubt biscuits...she likes to feed!!) at home. We are now packing for honeymoon (no idea if I've packed the right thing; still no idea where we are off to!!), we've packed 2 more car loads of wedmin and soon we will be on our merry way! I literally can NOT wait to see the bridesmaids and flower girls looking utterly beautiful, the ushers and of course our parents (and dare I say it Tara and Tyronne!!!) looking totally gorgeous too. I know I'm going to melt with love and burst with pride!!! Keep fingers, toes and any other available limbs crossed that we aren't totally washed out on the day!

In 2 sleeps time, 20 years from the day we first met, we will be Mr and Mrs Coates !!!!!!!!!

Dis'dress'ed!!

25th Aug 2016

We've been living on the motorway again for the last few days, the upside of this is that we get to listen to the 'My Dad Wrote a Porno' podcasts back to back. It sounds horribly rude but if you haven't listened you MUST it is eye wateringly funny!! Definitely a guilty pleasure...I promise it's not as rude as it sounds AND more importantly...I promise it has nothing to do with MY dad (thank the Lord!!!).

Everything for the wedding has been going wonderfully smoothly. It's all been chilled and stress free; no wasted time worrying about uncontrollables and we've really enjoyed all the crafting and creating. My parents have been utterly fantastic too; so, believe it or not, it has all been a very relaxed, fun and exciting experience...that was until Tuesday! Oh Tuesday!!!! On Tuesday I had my final dress fitting. Dress fitting 'materialised' into dress crisis. Somehow the dress I once loved has all gone horribly wrong. Now not fitting, cut wrong and rubbing...despite my best attempts to not morph (hulk style) into bridezilla I felt sad and a little dis'dress'ed. The seamstress is absolutely GORGEOUS, the most beautiful lady and she's doing everything she can to sort it. I am heading back to see her tomorrow armed with flowers and chocolates to thank her for all of her hard work. Fingers crossed it will be OK and Jake will still say 'I do' even if I do still resemble a hideous, melting marshmallow!! I was meant to be back in the Marsden tomorrow for a dermatology appointment to assess options to help sort my rashy, burny and peeling gremlin skin. I've had to weigh up bad dress versus bad skin (neither ideal for one's wedding day) and decided that the dress is the priority...can always cover my face with a veil...so have sacked off dermatology!! Tara number. 1 has loaded me up with antibiotics and creams instead so hopefully that combined with the gorgeous Lilly Monroe make up magicians (perhaps a Valencia filter on all photos!!) it will all be ok on the day!

On Wednesday we were back at the marvellous Marsden. Straight away we saw nurse Joyce's beaming smile which brightened up my day!! All the routine checks went smoothly and then, as always for the grand finale, we saw the hero, the one and only, Tara number. 1... She gave us a wedding card signed from all of the wonderful Marsden staff. Not only is she the best and most thoughtful nurse on the planet but it turns out she's also a dab hand with a crayon and a pretty talented artist too...she even drew a couple of lobsters on the envelope!! After a good hour of chatting to Tara about wedding dresses, lobsters, cheese, sausages and all the important stuff like that (about 5 minutes talking about unimportant stuff like symptoms and side effects) we popped in to see the awesome ladies in the fundraising office which always puts a big fat smile on our faces!! Then, after a couple of hours waiting for my mammoth prescription, we were back on the road.

We were back on the road to make our way to Essex...almost popping with excitement. Jake's lovely mummy is getting us a puppy for our wedding present and we went to go and meet our little bundle of scrumptiousness for the first time! We eventually managed to drag ourselves away without totally melting from love or bursting with happiness or stealing all the puppies...just about!! We will bring our little munchkin home once we get back from honeymoon. Can't think of a more perfect wedding gift!! Thank you SO much Janey!!!!! Sometimes I find it pretty hard emotionally knowing that we won't be able to try for a baby and start a little family after we get married...but now...we know that we can begin our adventure as Mr. & Mrs. Coates with the cutest little bundle of fluff by our sides!!

Today we were ecstatic to be able to share our JustGiving news; that we have been nominated for the Fundraising Team of the year award!! Not quite sure we are worthy of such a nomination but we are so SO honoured!! We are absolutely over the moon, it truly means the world! It is such a privilege to be even considered amongst all of the other unbelievably inspiring and phenomenal humans! We are so excited and it was such an amazing surprise to receive just a few days before the wedding. Thank you so much to every one who nominated us...it's all thanks to you and the overwhelming support you all continue to give us and, as always, it's not possible for us to express our appreciation enough! If you have a spare minute, you should check out all of the incredibly heartwarming stories and vote (please consider Tara and Tyronne...they are wheely excited!!).

This weekend we will hear our banns being read in church for the final time before its for real next weekend!! Can't believe the day is nearly here!!! 9 sleeps left, lots to do and lots of fun to be had! On Monday we are meeting with our fabulous photographer and friend Mia back in Hereford, after that BBC Hereford and Worcester are popping over for a post tandemonium/pre wedding interview.

The day after the wedding we are heading straight off on honeymoon to unleash our inner lobsters. Jake is still keeping the location a surprise!! He's such a dreamboat!! We have however had to skip travel and health insurance...unfortunately we aren't millionaires and it turns out it's pretty pricey when you have an incurable diagnosis!! Let's hope we don't encounter any problems...we will have a PUPPY to get home to!!!!!!

Not quite kwik enough...

21st Aug 2016

I can't quite believe that this time in 2 weeks I will have officially woken up as Mrs. Coates!!! I already have 'Emmy Coates' written inside my bedroom wardrobe at my parents' house in permanent marker pen from when I was 13 (and clearly very cool) and it's actually going to be real life in less than 2 weeks!!! Such an overwhelmingly exciting prospect after what's been another hectic and, at times, testing week! Once again I apologise for such shamefully slow replies to wonderful messages. You are all amazing and I am more useless by the day!!!

We kicked the week off with an almighty, brilliant BANG!! Fortunately Jake was alive and had survived his stag (just about) so we headed to the airport with his beautiful sister to see his lovely family in Guernsey. The Coates family gene pool is insane, I'm sure it must have been genetically modified in some way, they are all just too bloody gorgeous! I'd never been to Guernsey before, we had incredible weather and I instantly fell in love with the place and it was a perfect couple of days. We flew back with Jake's dad and sister with a quick detour for lunch in Jersey and then all landed for dinner with my parents in Bristol which was a fabulous evening. We made it back to our house by about midnight and all of a sudden I was feeling positively below average. From that moment on, for the next 36 hours, we had to tag team in and out of the bathroom with the most horrendous food poisoning...that's true love right there; nothing more romantic 2 weeks before you get married!! We tried to force ourselves to move and feel normal all day as we had essential wedmin jobs to be crafting but it was a mega struggle. We managed to cut, glue, stamp, paint interspersed with regular urgent bathroom breaks and violent sickness into the early hours.

The next day I was racing into London to be at my beautiful friend Leona's wedding dress fitting. We were out of the door early feeling a little tired and queezy but went with the mind over matter attitude convincing ourselves we felt better. Apparently not. Within minutes I drove into a curb puncturing my tyre. Whilst Jake put on the spare (what a hero) in the torrential rain (we love a bit of rain...unfortunately trendy ponchos were nowhere to be seen!) I booked a hire car as I needed to get on the motorway asap to get to London. Obviously I booked the hire care for next month (to book it for the right time would be far too sensible)...fail!! We went to the car hire regardless. They however had no cars and refused a refund. Fortunately we found a Kwik Fit who lived up to their name and fitted a tyre 'kwik'. However...not quite quick enough...I managed to have a fatal bowel related incident in the forecourt...yes...I pooed my pants!!!

Tyre changed, pants soiled, dignity lost...I dropped Jake at a train station so he could try his luck at hiring a car in Bristol and I made my way to see the most beautiful bride to be albeit disgustingly late after also hitting stand still traffic...well worth the wait and the drama!! It melted my heart seeing her look so perfect and happy...she was absolutely dazzling!

I then met my beautiful friend Claire and we made our way to Nottingham for my bridal hair and make up trial the next morning. I was a little anxious about my hair and make up as my skin is still very unhappy with the chemotherapy medication and is spotty, dry and a bit sore. My already ratty hair has also thinned a little so I wasn't feeling too optimistic about what could be done with my few stray straggles. The Lilly Monroe girls totally blew me away!! They were just so fabulous and although unable to give me a face transplant (disappointing) or a miraclous luscious mane they did work a miracle and boosted my confidence with facing the aisle. Can't wait to see these talented and beautiful ladies on the wedding day!
Back home since late yesterday we have transformed the house into a Hobbycraft haven and have been beavering away with wedding bits and bobs; making table plans, place names, favours, Tara and Tyronne accessories etc.

We are looking forward to another busy week which lies ahead including a dress fitting in Hertfordshire on Tuesday and 2 Marsden appointments on Wednesday and Friday in Sutton (last hospital visits as Miss Collett!!!!) amongst various other things.

We found out this week that we have had the honour of being nominated for an amazing award which is super duper exciting. At the moment we have to keep it on the down low but we may need a tiny little bit more of your phenomenal support once we can share the information...so we will keep you posted!

The return of Tara & Tyronne.

12th Aug 2016

Since I last wrote a blog it's been busy with wedding planning now in full swing! Last weekend I was treated to my hen party which was the best weekend of my life with all of my bestist girls who are not only the most sizzling hot group of females on the planet, but more importantly, they are all the most beautiful humans on the inside too. Once again I was utterly, undeservedly spoilt rotten!! We stayed in the most stunning, HUMUNGOUS house in Brighton which they had decorated beautifully and every single second was planned out so perfectly by my maid of honour Sophie and bridesmaids Leona, Claire and Jacqueline. So much organisation, thought and effort went into every single teeny, tiny detail and it couldn't have been a more perfect weekend!!! A highlight had to be the non competitive (ultra competitive) school sports day with world class fancy dress and cocktails in the glorious sunshine. Topped off with a very glamorous lobster outfit!! Before we left on Sunday we gorged ourselves in Choccy Woccy Doodah...my ultimate dream!!! Anything we didn't eat (and this was a BOTTOMLESS supply of chocolate) they packaged up and even this chocoholic STILL has a fridge full of chocolate!!! Rapidly running out of time for this wedding/honeymoon diet to begin!!

After arriving back home, a little bleary eyed from the hen, it was full steam ahead into some serious wedmin!! First thing on Monday we were back in Hereford meeting with the fantastic florists and our wonderful the vicar. The florists are so creative and I'm so excited about the stunning arrangements they are planning for the day. Our vicar is an absolute hero, it has been such a pleasure getting to know him over many hours and endless cups of tea and biscuits, we can't wait for Nick the Vic's very special service.

On Tuesday, tastes buds tingling and mouths drooling, we met with the legendary Katie of Field to Fork catering. She is just an absolute dream boat, so kind, warm and unbelievably organised and her ideas and creations are just inspirational. We feel so, so lucky to have her catering our day! There's going to be soooo much food!!! We are so blessed with everyone who is involved with the wedding, as well as being incredibly talented, skilled and professional in their specific fields, they have all been so supportive as well as being so mind blowingly generous towards our fundraising.

Once we finished exciting meetings, I dropped Jake off with a van and he headed to Essex to pick up Tara and Tyronne!!! That's right...the gruesome twosome have returned with all spokes intact and both just about in one piece! They have since been getting 'pumped' watching the Olympians in the velodrome. We are going to leave them fantasising in front of the TV watching Wiggins for now and save getting back into the saddle until the wedding...both Tara and Tyronne will be having a drastic make over before the day...a little like me. They are such divas no doubt they will be ramming me out of the way so they can get prime spot in front of the mirror!

After dropping off Jake I made my way to London for a dentist appointment. At 7:00pm, dentist done it, was time to drive to Hertfordshire to Leona's house ready for my dress fitting first thing in the morning. Enroute I realised I had forgotten my sparkling princess shoes...an essential item to get the alterations accurate. So it was long drive back to Wiltshire to pick them up, followed by a quick turn around and I eventually made it to Leona's house just before 1am. What a muppet!!

Shoes retrieved, on Wednesday morning I had my first dress alteration appointment. Although she has her work 'cut out', She is a genius and I know will work some magic! I then raided hobbycraft heaven with three blonde angels (Leona and her mini mes) who will all be waking down the aisle with me. Within seconds We ditched the basket and ended up filling two trolley loads of bits and bobs to make things for the day. We also got some stickers for Elyssa's special diary which i discovered that I feature in...not only that, I have a whole tandemonium Emmy page. This made my heart melt and I think is one of the biggest honours of my life! Once we got back I returned to the road to make my way home to Wiltshire for a night of wedding crafting with my array of hobbycraft goodies...in my head it was 'Blue Peter eat your heart out'...in reality it mostly consisted of a tired me gluing my fingers together.

Finally on Thursday I got to see my husband-to-be again, in between car MOTs, dropping off vans, bikes and trailers. After a few quick cheeky smooches he has now (rather nervously) gone off on his stag...so I expect radio silence for the next 48 hours. Rumour has it he has also been dressed as a lobster...I imagine, with 16 beery men, his lobster experience will be slightly different to mine!! I think Probably best that I don't know any further information!!

After a little bit of time off the vendatenib (because I ran out whilst cycling), as a result, my tummy is still quite cross with me and causing a little bit of havoc; probably not helped by all fun and the rushing around, so I'm also beginning to feel a little weary and fatigued....I suppose probably as any bride to be does!! But Tara number 1 has been incredible, as always, and it's not long until I'm back at the magical Marsden for a pre wedding check over!

With only 21 sleeps to go the wedding is beginning to actually feel real and we are really getting very excited. I can't believe I get to marry the man I have loved since I was a child!! Fairy tales really can exist! And I whole heartedly believe that with love, life, happiness and health. I plan to keep fighting for fairy tales.

We have lots of surprises up our sleeves for our gorgeous guests and hope that they will have a wonderful party! Scrumptious Jake has been secret squirrelling with the honeymoon...no doubt Tara and Tyronne will be trying to muscle their way in but although I have no idea where we are going, I'm pretty confident there will be no peddling involved!! I sense that there is still some 'friction' between Jake and Tyronne!

It's mind boggling that the fundraising is continuing to grow!! The kindness and generosity is just phenomenal. We are really hoping to hit the £75k mark before the wedding. Once we are back from honeymoon we will get stuck into some fundraising activities to try and reach that £100k.
Thank you so much to everyone for everything as always. I can never ever show my appreciation enough.

23 sleeps!

11th Aug 2016

Between us in just over 6 months we've had an ofsted inspection, climbed a mountain, left jobs, moved country, moved house, got engaged, been diagnosed with cancer, stored 9 embryos, had 2 operations, 3 anaesthetics and 6 biopsies, started lifelong chemotherapy, planned a month long tandemonium challenge, raised £75k for charity, cycled from London to Copenhagen, fractured ribs, got tattoos, been to 10 countries, been in newspapers, magazines and on radio, planned a wedding AND been given the most astonishing and phenomenal amount of love and support from our friends and family!

It's been eventful, emotional and crazy but most of all bloomin' INCREDIBLE! What an adventure...and it's only just beginning! At the risk of sounding cheesier than a wotsit warmed up (as per usual); finding each other again is a real life fairy tale and has been the best thing that's ever happened to me which can only ever be topped by marrying you. This photo was taken at my parents' house 14 years ago when you were my red hot (lobster) date for the school ball...the very same spot we will be celebrating our wedding in just 23 sleeps...exactly 20 years on from the day we first met!! I won't be able to say 'I do' quick enough. I love you...always have, always will...a true love story never ends. Thank you for your unconditional love, strength and friendship; being with you makes me the luckiest human in the world. ????

Wedmin city

2nd Aug 2016

After the most overwhelmingly unbelievable surprise at the Marsden from Tara and all of the amazing staff on Wednesday and also finding out that we are featuring in the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity magazine, it put us on a high for the rest of the week...what better place to be to begin some wed min!

First on the list was wedding rings. Jake totally went above and beyond, as always, spoiling me with a ring in a turquoise box to match my engagement ring. He is the most generous human in the land and I am totally undeserving!! It's so sparkly I want to wear it right now!!!! Unfortunately it has now been hidden!!! Needless to say, He looks pretty dishy in his ring!

The next day, Friday, was my wedding Dress fitting. Having gained over a stone and a couple of dress sizes since taking the chemotherapy (and therefore the side effects of the cancer diminishing so now being able to retain food...and lots of it!) and since I had the initial dress measurements it was a little bit like trying to get toothpaste back into the tube! But with the help of my beautiful bridesmaid Leona I just about managed to squeeze into it although the seamstress has her work 'cut out'.

On Saturday we went to my wonderful friend and colleague's wedding. It was the perfect day and she was the most stunning bride. I couldn't have been more proud of my fabulous year.2 partner in crime and her gorgeous husband!! It was an honour to be there to share their day.

On Sunday we went home for belated birthday celebrations (number 1 rule of birthdays...drag them out for as long as possible!!). Once again I Was utterly spoilt by my amazing family and mum and dad made it the most perfect family day as always...there's no place like home! In fact mum actually spoilt everyone with 'unbirthday' presents which basically makes every birthday feel like Christmas! I was given ANOTHER turquoise box with a necklace for the wedding day from all of them which is just stunning! My unbelievable sister and maid of honour Soph also totally blew me away with the most thoughtful gifts and has 'maid' me feel like the luckiest most special bride to be in the world!! After a wonderful afternoon of feasting on dad's world leading BBQ and mum's Mary Berry topping cakes and puddings, in the late afternoon Jake and I rolled our way to the village church service and were excited to hear our banns being read for the first time by Nick the Vic...luckily no one in the congregation objected to our marriage and we were feeling even more lucky that we have the best vicar in the world marrying us on the day!

As we left Hereford on Monday morning (after a good few hours buying lorry loads of wedding crafty bits in my heaven aka hobbycraft...much to Jake's delight) I received a phone call from Tara number 1. She had surprising and brilliant news! Despite the fact I'm on a lower dose of chemotherapy, have had a few breaks due to the side effects and put the body through some stresses and strains whilst on the tandemonium...the cancer is 'stable'...there's been no growth in my bones, lungs or spine, my brain is clear AND it's actually shrunk in my liver! Bloomin' fantastic! Some celebratory retail therapy was advised by the medical team at the Marsden (don't quote me on that...I may have imagined it!) so we went for it!!

Several shopping bags and a few secret squirrel sprees later we were done!! That JAKEPOT gave me my wedding present too...He only went and got me a pair of frickin Jimmy Choos!!! They make Cinderella's glass slippers look like a pair of crocs!! The most sparkly, beautiful pair of shoes I've ever seen!! My hobbit trotters don't do them justice but my troll toes really do feel like ten, snug princesses! I've never walked around so smugly with such a posh shopping bag on one arm and such a handsome man on the other! I was quite possibly prancing (...like a prat. A happy, spoilt prat/brat!!).
Today we have been in wedding craft central and are beginning to get super, duper excited!!! We even have a special Tara and Tyronne stamp for the occasion! Speaking of the intrepid duo...We still need to pick up Tara the tandem and Tyronne the trailer from their warehouse rave...I fear they may be getting their wheels in a spin and peddles in a twist with being neglected for so long...they are pretty high maintenance as Jake remembers far too (un)fondly!! But we have been purchasing little wedding accessories for them both to make sure they also feel special and loved on our big day! It wouldn't be the same without them! Forget the most beautiful bridesmaids...no doubt every guest will be wanting a ride on Tara by the end of the evening!

Tonight we had my sister, niece and brother in law round for dinner. My lovely brother in law gave us the most wonderful ejtandemonium gift. I just adore it!! Thank you so, so much Matt!! We are seriously so frickin lucky. It's just mind boggling how thoughtful and generous everyone has been towards us. I just don't know how we can ever show our appreciation adequately. My sister also brought round a special hen bag full of goodies and essentials in preparation for this weekend....It's only 3 more sleeps until my hen party with all my bestist girls!!! I'M SO EXCITED!!!! can't believe it's really MY hen and I'm really getting married and will be Mrs. Coates! Tomorrow it's just one month until I marry the love of my life! It will be 20 years to the day since I first saw his unforgettable face! It feels like a dream. The last 10 months all feels like a dream and even though there's been a few scary bits in the dream, I still hope this dream will last forever and I never have to wake up from it (let the stability and shrinkage continue). I feel so blessed, so happy and so excited! It is true that love conquers all and we couldn't have been more smothered in it over the last 10 months! Whatever the scientists think, there's no better drug out there and I'm totally up for the challenge of defying some medical statistics with this drug up my sleeve and in my heart!!

It's good to be back!

27th Jul 2016

This morning was an early start to get on the road for the Royal Marsden after 4 whole weeks off! The fatigue was at a peak today and therefore poor Jake had a zombie for a companion. I slept for most of the drive, which of course included vivid dreams, keeping him entertained throughout the journey.

With no space in Tyronne while we were cycling we weren't able to bring any presents back from our adventure with the exception of one for a particularly special VIP...the teeniest, tiny gift for Tara number 1...some chocolate pills from Bruges...since she's always supplying me with various pills we thought we should return the favour! Well she totally put us to shame with our pathetic gesture...

...she had organised for me to go straight in to have my various vials of blood taken and then had me escorted out of the blood room to the main reception where she had arranged a big surprise welcome celebration showering me with gifts which included all of my favourite things in an ejtandemonium coloured cooling bag...flowers, chocolate, sausages, cheese, waffles and some beverages!

Totally overwhelmed, surprised and nervous...shaking and sweating I was whisked off for an ECG. I felt very sorry for the poor nurse who had to deal with sticking the stickers all over my slimy, sweaty chest and how my heart rate reported as normal straight after the event is a miracle!!
After ECG, a consultation/gossip with Tara no.1, blood pressure etc we visited the fundraising team. They also made us feel incredibly special; presenting us with certificates, medals and champagne. Thank you so much for such a tremendous amount of support, and a special thank you to Tammy, you've been amazing!!

Next we filled our bellies with the scrumptious canteen grub! My weigh in today confirmed that I have gained over a stone over the past few months...a little concerning considering I have my wedding dress fitting on Friday although I suppose good news from a health perspective.
After lunch I had various CT scans; abdomen, chest, neck and brain... I am happy to confirm I DO have a brain!!

I was having a lovely little singalong to myself whilst lying with my bra off and trousers round my ankles in the machine (along the lines of... 'there she was just a walkin' down the street singin' doo a dey dee dey dee dum dey dee doo'...) totally forgetting it was microphoned up; so the whole radiology department we able to enjoy my tone-deaf performance. Smooth and cool as per usual.

Finally by 4 we were free to go, not before collecting a whole bag of goodies containing tablets, lotions and potions feeling absolutely Over the moon that Tara number 1 has confirmed that she will be able to come to our wedding!!

Tonight we are looking forward to an evening meal with my beautiful godmother and auntie Mandy in London....may as well make sure it's an even tighter squeeze into that dress on Friday!...love a challenge!

Back to real life

25th Jul 2016

After almost a month of sitting on a bicycle named Tara, last Thursday evening we made it home and we arrived at our front door to the most amazing surprise! My sister had decorated it with 'congratulations' bunting and left us a little parcel of necessities (milk, bread, chocolate, tea bags, crumpets etc); an absolute angel! Once in, amidst all the bills and medical letters (some of which I definitely still need to open!!) we had received so many beautiful birthday cards and tandemonium cards, plus a parcel of treats from my two girls Leona and Claire. We don't deserve all of you or all of your kindness...what a home coming!! We are so touched and you all made it all the more special for us to be back to start the next chapter of our adventure!
After little less than a month peddling followed by boats, trains, planes, buses, tubes and a final taxi, we were pretty pooped so it was immediately pyjamas and bedtime...after a cup of tea and a blog of course!

When we were up on Friday morning it was time to begin real life again! Starting with actually having to make our own toast...not a waffle maker or Danish pastry in sight! And then...first things first...laundry; 6 whole loads of it! Some how it was a lot more pongy being back in real life than it seemed during the tandemonium (we must've become immune to our stench)....just 4 pairs of cycling bottoms between us, being left to fester in a plastic bag over the previous days, was not a smell for sore noses! Then for the torturous part; the downside of having recently moved to a beautiful renovated barn in the countryside, is that the original residents felt entitled to move back in whilst we had been away...residents of the 8 legged variety which also happen to be my BIGGEST fear!!!! Every single corner, nook and cranny was occupied with a web or a crawly!!! I was terrified and after many traumatic hours of attempting to clean and almost losing voices from pathetic girly squeals (obviously Jake not me!)...it was pretty much life or death...we eventually had a clean home and clean clothes!!

Next it was time to visit the supermarket. With VIP arrivals due the following day and not having been to a supermarket for a few weeks AND being able to drive in a car with space in a boot (rather than ramming things into an overloaded heavy trailer and having to pull it!) we got a little over excited...extending the shopping list from the essential groceries to chairs, jugs, flowers, straws...you name it...we bought it!!!

On Saturday to our absolute delight, our VIPs arrived and we were able to give some of our nearest and dearest humans and their scrumptious sprogs great big squishes. It was such a beautiful day and one that we will never forget. The first time we have had guests in our new home, the perfect way to celebrate our tandemonium and turning the grand old age of 31! I am so incredibly lucky to have the most thoughtful, kind and gorgeous friends and family in the world who totally spoilt me rotten which I totally don't deserve (with the lucky bonus of a mother who makes the BEST coronation chicken on the planet...four whole chicken loads were demolished by our guests)! As well as all of the unbelievably wonderful gifts we were given, my sister gave me 2 albums full of memories, photos, letters and cards from some of the most important and special people I have met throughout my life. There are no adequate words to describe how much it means to me, but it is now my most treasured and valuable possession...the most amazing thing that I have ever and will ever receive. Thank you to every single person who has contributed. It's beautiful and perfect, and couldn't possibly make me feel more love, feel more grateful, feel more lucky or more full of joy. I am beyond blessed to have you all in my life. I will look at these 2 books every day for the rest of my life...it will make even the toughest of times to come the most easiest, breeziest and most wonderful of moments!! It really highlights what a frickin' phenomenal 31 years it's been and I hope there will be many more to come. With all of the positivity and love I have been made to feel from everyone around me, I have no doubt there will be!

Sadly the time came for most of our guests to leave however the remaining 9...last ones standing...stayed up into the early hours playing 'non-competitive' ultra competitive games, way past my (usual medication induced) bedtime but there was too much fun to miss a minute of it! And the fun continued into the evening on Sunday with my two besties and their families (and bump!!) catching up on many weeks worth of love, tea and chats!

Today, Monday arrived, and it was time for some manic wedmin to begin. Less than six weeks to go and it appears we have quite a lot to do! So...I did things which made me feel like I was being productive such as making lists whilst Jake did things which were actually productive such as ringing people and sorting things!...as always I just don't know how he would cope without me!!

Tomorrow Tara and Tyronne are due to arrive into a London warehouse...no doubt they will be raving it up in their neon green with glow sticks tied to their spokes! Somehow we are going to have to tame the pair of them so they will be responsible wedding day transport!! On Wednesday I'll be back at the Marsden for an all day thorough MOT session of CT scans, blood tests, urine sample, specialist consultations, ECG etc and hopefully a catch up with the fundraising team. Looking forward to picking up new meds as I have today officially run out and cancer symptoms apparently show no mercy...immediately relentlessly kicking right back in. But I am MOST looking forward to seeing the legend Tara number 1!!! Jake and I have genuinely missed our weekly catch ups with her!! And to round off the week...on Friday I have my first wedding dress fitting!!!...damn those waffles and Danish pastries!!!!!

Honey...we're hoooome!!

21st Jul 2016

Similar to hitting the proverbial wall that athletes face when they run a marathon, as I got into bed on my birthday night, I hit the wall...an emotional brick wall! I think, probably, exhausted and totally overwhelmed by the intense concoction of such powerful and contrasting feelings...they manifested themselves in a sobbing, blubbering, snotty Emmy mess (an Emmy mess is not quite as fun, fruity or appealing as an Eton mess!!)! Obviously the emotions were amplified because of timing...the joy of conquering our tandemonium (and our first free day!), the happiness of receiving such beautiful birthday messages, the excitement about our wedding (which we can now focus on rather than bike planning and peddling) and the phenomenal feeling of love and support we have received over the last few weeks...euphoric feelings; which were battling against the contrast of the anticlimax from completing our challenge, the strange feeling that now birthdays are perhaps a little more of an 'achievement' having 'fought' another year, combined with some sadness of turning 31 to be getting married with realisation that I will never be able to fulfil the next step...the dream of falling pregnant with the man I love, and (in conjunction with that), contemplating the fact that there is so much uncertainty about how long my future can be with the man I love...potentially to be robbed of the opportunity to grow old and grey together. Suddenly stopping after all of the madness of the last 6 months, having a day of no hospital, no cycling, no where to be...there was the first window of time to think and reflect resulting in a climax of emotions...I suppose with the addition of the weekly build up of fatigue, my skin going totally berserk and, of course, a lethal, large birthday glass of wine!!

However...despite me being like a tired 2 year old emotional train wreck...Jake as always was my rock. Always knowing exactly what to say to make me smile, chuckle and feel like the luckiest and happiest human on the planet. We hugged it out and woke up in the morning for a brand new day, emotionally recharged...AND the sun was shining!! Probably was good to get such strong pent up emotions out of the system, I felt cleansed and as good as new (albeit a year older!!) and we were ready for what was possibly our best day of the whole trip (don't tell Tara and Tyronne)!

We hopped on a boat and went to a small island called Fjäderholmarna. It was a perfect, little piece of Scandinavian paradise! We ate lunch in the sunshine, drank cocktails by the sea, played cards in an old Viking bar (with real thrones and shields and everything!!) and explored the beauty of the island. Absolute bliss! What a way to spend the last day of our tandemonium adventure! In the evening, we returned to the mainland for the grand finale...our final round of Swedish meatballs (and they were the Most scrumptious ones yet) with a toast and three cheers...1 for Stockholm and the end of the tandemonium, 1 for the Royal Marsden, and 1 for all of you lovely people! Plus a final one for luck!

This morning, after I made my final waffle and we ate our final over indulgent tandemonium breakfast, we said a sorry goodbye to Petter...such a hero!! Thank you so much Petter for looking after us so well and making us feel like VIPS. We will remember it forever...we are in fact already planning our return trip! We love Stockholm! We were then on the train to the airport to fly back home after almost 4 weeks away! We can't wait to see all of our friends and families and give them great big squishes!! Tara and Tyronne are due to arrive back on Tuesday...goodness only knows what on earth they have been getting up to whilst left unsupervised for a week!! And in the meantime we had better crack on with a little bit of wed min!

Gutted I didn't get to say a goodbye to all the little rascals at school today. Missed you all by a matter of hours. Hope they all and all of my utterly fabulous colleagues have the best, most well deserved summer holiday ever. Cannot wait to see Miss Reynolds become Mrs. Callaghan next weekend!

Thank you so much again to all of you for everything. It's been one hell of an adventure and we couldn't have done it without you all. As we've said many times before...words couldn't possibly do our gratitude justice and the money that has been raised for the Royal Marsden could change lives! We still hope to raise the remaining £29k so we are going to persist with the fundraising and have some ideas to help us reach the target and we will continue to keep you updated.

But...for now, we are on a train back to Luckington, it's back to reality and I'll be back in that fetching Marsden gown on Wednesday...VERY excited to see Tara number one!!

Hello Sweden

19th Jul 2016

Yesterday we left Copenhagen after an emotional farewell to Tara and Tyronne. When we arrived at the airport, we checked in our bags and discovered that the weight Tyronne had been carrying was 64kg, quite a significant amount more than my body weight. Considering this, I think deep (deep, deep,deep) down, Jake feels a little guilty for all the verbal abuse he gave Tyronne...he may have been heavy but there's no doubt he was strong. And in Tyronne's defence...it's a well known fact that muscle weighs more than fat!!!

Nothing could have topped off the adventure more perfectly than when we were boarding the plane; the fundraising surpassed £70k!!! We made our Copenhagen target!! We were totally ecstatic. There was no need for an aeroplane, because of this news, we were already on cloud 9 and being on such a high we probably could have flown there ourselves...plus I have my superhero poncho, clearly could have whisked us both there in seconds!!! I'm still struggling to understand why we even bothered to buy plane tickets!

Within an hour of being in the air (probably would have been even quicker if I'd just flown us there in my poncho) we landed in at Stockholm airport and hopped straight onto a train into the city. Once off the train we had a bit of a way to wheel our new cases to the hotel...and having to WALK not peddle and tow! This was initially a novelty but after a while we actually ended up reminiscing about Tara and Tyronne. Although Jake won't admit it....he totally misses that fatty!!

We were instantly blown away by Stockholm. Such a cool and beautiful city! The first person we met, was Peter at out Hotel. What a total SUPERSTAR!!! No one could have made us feel more welcome in not just their hotel but in their home country! Thank you so much Peter.
It was really late by the time we got in so we didn't end up making it out for Dinner until midnight...this was super exciting as it meant I would actually get to squeeze two birthday dinners into my 24hours of birthday!!...spoiled brat!!

We woke up this morning to an interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester live on air...definitely a birthday first!! This was followed by the best breakfast of my life...I actually got to make my own waffle (a waffle machine is already on next year's birthday list)!! After breakfast we went out to explore Stockholm and, thanks to a little bit of birthday magic...THE SUN WAS SHINING!!!!

Today I have been absolutely overwhelmed by all of the birthday love I have received. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Thank you SO, SO MUCH! I can't think of a better way I could have spent it than with my gorgeous fiancé in Stockholm as a pair of Vikings eating Swedish meatballs. For me, there is NO doubt...life begins at 31!!!

Farewell Tara and Tyronne!

18th Jul 2016

Yesterday morning we only woke up in bloomin' Copenhagen AND...we had no where to cycle to!!! This felt surreal! So, we of course, gorged ourselves on Danish pastries and Danish bacon galore, promptly heading straight back up to our sweet, sweet suite to catch up on some long lost snooze time! Don't think we realised quite how pooped we were! Thank you again Gower, so, so much, for giving us the best possible treat imaginable to end our adventure!

When we finally decided, at about 2pm, that it was probably unacceptable to still be lazing around, we took Tara out to see the sights of Copenhagen...leaving Tyronne running/wheeling riot in the room with free access to the minibar! It was blissful peddling without lugging the deadweight behind us and we were able to really appreciate Copenhagen's beauty! It is such an awesome, funky city! We Absolutely loved it! We explored Tivoli Gardens, met the little mermaid (I think she was as chilly as us...she seemed to be frozen solid), and then ventured to Nyhavn for a delicious traditional Danish smørrebrød topped off with some churros for desert! We haven't had churros together since we went to Florida with my mum and dad when we were 17...I fear our metabolisms aren't quite what they used to be as teens!! So, feeling like two fat, baby hippos we struggled to turn Tara's peddles back to our boudoir of luxury and then made like fat, baby hippos; wallowing in a celebratory bath of bubbles...and of course...drinking celebratory bubbles! Not having consumed an alcoholic beverage in months, one glass got me a little overexcited, as a result I ended up going slightly overboard putting the soap in which resulted in double bubble trouble! We actually ended up having to scoop bubbles out, putting them into the sink and the shower as they continued to grow and take over the entire bathroom!

We are absolutely ecstatic that fundraising has surpassed £69k (with gift aid it's currently standing at over £80k) and there's less than £500 to go to reach our goal of £70k by Copenhagen. In my wildest dreams I never imagined this possible and we simply can NOT thank you all enough or show our appreciation enough! You are all simply phenomenal! To put things into perspective financially; with regards to just my measly case...my tablets alone cost the hospital over £2000 a week (and apparently my chemotherapy is comparatively extraordinarily cheap!!) and that's excluding the cost of the staff, scanners, tests, research, machinery and other drugs and treatments I have on a weekly basis! Every penny is going to make such a difference to the hospital and will make such a difference to support other people in the future...as we are all sadly becoming increasingly aware that could be any of us or our loved ones no matter how old, young, fit or healthy!

Today we popped to a department store to replace Tyronne with suitcases. This activity broke my heart a little particularly as Jake is far too happy about the whole situation! Although deep down I think he has gained a new found respect for the 'fat bastard' as we realised quite how much he was carrying/towing for us on a daily basis. Despite buying and filling two enormous suitcases we still couldn't fit all of our kit in! We have possibly gone a little bonkers with only each other for company...and so the pair of them have become part of the family...we talk about them as if they are real people. Sometimes, however, Tyronne and I wonder whether we should feel threatened by Tara and Jake's blossoming relationship!? One thing for sure though...if surrogacy with any of our 9 little embryos doesn't work out in the future; Tara and Tyronne are going to be our substitutes!...definitely takes the phrase 'crazy cat lady' to a whole new level!!

We've now said a very sad farewell and, despite Jake threatening to abandon Tyronne in Denmark, we have sent BOTH Tara and Tyronne off on a ship back to the UK...thank you so, so much Freddie and Elisa for helping us with that you are absolute heroes!! I have just had a lovely interview with Andrew from Hereford and Worcester BBC and we are now about to head to the airport to fly to Sweden so that tomorrow we can search for some Swedish birthday meatballs! Apparently 31 is the new 21 so I'm pretty excited!

Cheers!!! Copenhagen!

17th Jul 2016

Hello from Copenhagen!!! Jake here! My gorgeous Emmy is having a well deserved day off from the blog! ...Well actually, I say that, in fact I had to kidnap her phone and tie her hands together so that she couldn't type one because she's so desperate not to let anyone down by not doing one! But because I know how much you all enjoy her blog and know how many of you were so devastated to think that it may now stop (just because we've finished our ride) I thought i'd pitch in and add a little update of my own!...

...So we only went and bloody did it didn't we??? In total we cycled 1853 kms from Dunkirk, through Brugge, The Hague, Amsterdam, Texel, Groningen, Hamburg, Lübeck to Copenhagen on a bloomin tandem! Can you bloomin believe it! Countless ferries and bridges crossed, umpteen storms and non stop rain and head winds, endless road blockages and barriers overcome... WE ARE HERE!!

Not only that but we each still have all of our fingers and toes, neither Tara or Tyrone had a single puncture, there were no injuries (physical or psychological) and we're all still speaking to each other!! (Though if I don't see Tyrone again it will be too soon!!????). Emmy is doing amazingly, her skin is a little sensitive shall we say (and her tummy decided to take a turn for the worse on the final day) but other than that I am happy to report that after a long lie in, a belly full of food and a restful cycling-free day off, her cold has almost gone, the muscles are starting to recover, she is looking much brighter and feeling much better!!

But what an adventure it was hey?!? It all begun in Trafalgar Square 3 weeks ago today but it honestly feels like we left just a few days ago. The celebrations and leaving party will remain etched on both of our brains forevermore and we are still so grateful to everyone for turning out and making that SUCH a special day!

A quick skip and a jump to France and we found ourselves navigating our way around some of the most extraordinary coastal paths and countryside on Europe's North Sea coastline. Delving into some of Europe's most culturally rich and beautiful cities (whilst skirting around some of the less spectacular), we saw some amazing scenery, met some incredible people, stayed in some beautiful places and ate some of the most delicious local delicacies. We have got so many amazing memories, some of which we have shared on the blog, some of which we have kept for ourselves!???? but all of them will be with us forever. It's been an incredible adventure.

That is not to say that we haven't had a few troubles and issues to deal with!! ... The howling unrelenting northerly winds, sideways rain and almost NO sunshine (I mean come on!! It's frickin July!!) and that's just the elements. What Emmy has had to deal with on top of all of that with the symptoms of her cancer, the side effects of her chemo and everything in between... I still don't know how she's done it. I've been with her everyday, right by her side, and there has hardly been a whimper or a moan or whisper of a complaint... She has just knuckled down and got on with it. She is the toughest little cookie I know! And she also happens to be the most beautiful girl I have ever met - inside and out. When things get tough it can either push couples apart or bring you together and I can happily report that we have never been happier or stronger. I love her to pieces and there are not enough words to say how proud I am of her... Can't believe I've managed to put a ring on it!! Bring on September 3rd!!!

Neither of us can believe that the adventure is over already! But, to steal a phrase, it's been one hell of a ride. One that we'll never forget!
That just leaves me to say one thing and that is a huge thank you. To everyone. From all of you who have donated and given up their time and money so generously to all of those people who have helped us on our journey. This adventure started long before Trafalgar Square, and undoubtedly will continue long after we both get home. We have waaaaaay too many people to thank individually but we will definitely try! To all our friends and family, all of those people we barely see and those we've never met - We love you all!

From the bottom of our hearts... Thank you.

And finally... I want to leave you all with this... A video I found on Emmy's phone. I feel it is important you all see it. No more words... Just watch... ????
Everyone... Emmy Collett...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puz89h2i8nE

25th floor!!!

16th Jul 2016

This morning we woke up to our first Danish breakfast and it didn't disappoint. Danish bacon and Danish pastries...exquisite!!! It's totally acceptable to have 3 cinnamon swirls for pudding at 8am right?!!

We felt a little emotional with it being the final morning pre-cycle routine; applying cream, assessing weather, downing the meds, layering up like an onion, planning the route, filling the water bottles, packing up Tyronne, giving Tara one last 'seeing to'....and we were off!!!

Within minutes, we finally found the happy world of Haribo!!! Not sure who was more excited Tyronne or me! Alas it was not made of sweeties, so we peddled on.

As our last day in the saddle, of course it was wishful thinking for there to be sunshine...we like to keep things consistent...it was cold and raining. Prior to setting off on this trip, we imagined that, cycling along the European coastline in July, it would be glorious sunshine throughout. Along the way, in each country they have informed us that 'this time last year it was 30 degrees!!' We have also been reliably informed from sources that it will be beautiful sunshine from next week...all we can say now is; the elements we've faced have made it more of a challenge, more of an adventure and, at times, all the more amusing!!

Since we started cycling almost three weeks ago however, we have been holding out for just one warm, sunny day so we could have ice cream stop (rather than hot tea and soup). As it was our last day, and of course, still no sunshine we decided to go for it anyway. As we bought our ice creams, it started to pour down with rain, so...we sat down in a supermarket market aisle eating our ice creams pretending that the bright lights were sunshine. And bonus...I didn't get burnt!

It was a little slow going today...due to my stupid tummy issues being a little more severe we had multiple (some quite shameful) pit stops along the way which slowed us down. Along with some tricky obstacles, such as rickety wooden bridges with steps...cue Jake cursing *fat bastard* Tyronne. But we still had some beautiful, nostalgic final moments which are memories that we will treasure forever...a smooch on the beach leading into Copenhagen and a delicious lunch in køge served by a hilarious waiter!

A few hours on the saddle after lunch, we were cycling through vast fields when all of a sudden we spotted the city on the horizon...we were stoked!...Tara and Tyronne were obviously 'spoked'! And now...WE ARE HERE!! We have reached Copenhagen!! Thank you so, so, SO much to Gower for sorting us out with a swanky hotel for the grand finale!! Not only that but only going and booking us the blooming suite on the 25th floor!!! I don't think we could possibly be more excited ...we are genuinely about to combust!! There's even a TV in the bath!!Tyronne is skidding round doing wheelies!! Gower you are above a legend! Please can we stay forever?!!

We've had the BEST time ever the last 3 weeks, made all the more magical by the encouragement, love and support from everyone. I have no doubt that it's a relief to some people that we will stop clogging up news feeds with our photos and antics. However, our adventure has in fact only just begun and we aim to continue to keep you updated through the blog (albeit not necessarily always with Tara and Tyronne) as there's lots more challenges and fun to face over the coming months. Plus we still have another £30k to raise....we have some ideas in store!!

I'm going to miss staring at jakes bum for over 9 hours a day! Although our bellies may have got rounder during the trip (sooo many treats!!) we now have thighs and calves of steel...I have expanded my perversion from Jake's bottom (and boyish grin) to include his legs...broadening my horizons. Spending 24/7 with him only inches apart has only reinforced that he is not only totally scrumptious on the outside but just as gorgeous on the inside too, I truly have hit the JAKEPOT!! I am the luckiest lady in the world!

Tomorrow we intend to take Tara out to see the sights of Copenhagen after all of her hard work tugging her lard of an other half around (I'm sure Jake can empathise with her...no wonder they have such a special bond!); she deserves a treat...not only has she done a sterling job...she has the, possibly even more significant, responsibility of being our wedding transport from the church after we say our 'I dos' in 49 sleeps time! So we need to keep her sweet...so we will look sweet upon the seat of our bicycle made for two!

After our Copenhagen exploration, we have decided to ditch the gruesome twosome, ship them back to the UK, and to celebrate our tandemonium and my birthday in Sweden for a couple of days...it would just be rude to be quite so close and not sample those famous meatballs!!

Hello Denmark

15th Jul 2016

Last night as ever, the nightmares were vivid. At one point I woke poor Jake up from his slumber because there were (absolutely 100% certain) big, black, hairy creatures crawling all over us about to eat our heads! So it was a pleasure to wake up early and speak to Toni from Hereford and Worcester BBC live on air. We were also absolutely chuffed to bits to discover that the fundraising has climbed to over £68k for the Royal Marsden Cancer charity. Not far off that £70k mark we hoped for by Copenhagen!

After a very short cycle this morning we arrived at a ferry port...baffling the staff whether to charge us for one bike or two. After a cufuffle of phone calls to the ferry big dogs we were finally allowed on the boat (with a charge for 1 and a half bikes)!With the persistent raging winds it was a rocky 45 minute boat journey, no amount of chocolate could ease my sea sickness, and by the end I was as green as Tyronne...but it didn't matter...we were in Denmark! Country number 6! Yippee!! And...to add to the excitement of the day, as we took our first few peddles on Danish soil, I received a phone call from the bridal shop back home to say that my wedding dress had arrived!!

We hit the peddles hard today and travelled a total of 130km in strong head winds with lots of hills (not used to them especially with fatty mc fatterson Tyronne dragging behind) dipping in and out of Danish countryside, with two long bridges. We stopped for lunch in Maribo (I enjoyed how close this name was to Haribo...in my head it would be raining sweeties...sadly it wasn't). A little later we stopped again for delicious tea and brownies in a place called Vordingborg. We soon realised that everyone in Denmark is blond, smily and beautiful. Jake fits in like a glove...Tyronne, Tara and I don't quite fit the glove...we stand out like sore thumbs desperately trying to squeeze in!

We reached our final destination for the night, a gorgeous little B&B on a lake. Their relationship is very much on the rocks, so this evening Jake and Tyronne are been building bridges (it's fortunate Jake likes a bridge) sharing a romantic bottle of red together. I'm a bit of a gooseberry...but at least a cool gooseberry....in my visor and poncho! We are all looking forward to sampling some Danish pastries in the morning...particularly Tyronne! No surprises there!

Tomorrow we hope to reach Copenhagen! This is super duper exciting, however, it has started to dawn on us that that means no more daily escapades with Tara and Tyronne for a while. We won't quite know what to do with ourselves!! This time last year we had pretty regular lives as a doctor and a teacher...it's been the craziest few months leading up to the 'tandemonium' (as well as all the other stuff going on...fertility, tests, treatment plans, operations, engagement, moving house, wedding planning, Jake moving countries etc etc) with fundraising, preparation, planning, interviews etc. Although the prospect of coming home to normality is great...with the craziness of the last few months and overwhelming support and love from every single one of you; there hasn't been much time to think about the reality of our circumstances and we aren't entirely sure what our 'normal' will be like. So we are going to have to keep busy, enjoying every minute of life and plan some new adventures (possibly with Tara...potentially not with Tyronne)!!...but in the meantime...lets get our bottoms to Copenhagen in the morning!!

Raging winds!!

14th Jul 2016

After every storm there's a silver lining and yesterday evening we had our sunshine after the rain, topped off with a beautiful rainbow. Although the friendly smiles have been fewer and further between since we left Belgium and Holland, last night we met a pot of gold at the end of our rainbow...André! André was a wonderful character full of life and love and even treated us to free puddings and cups of tea. I was so delighted that I decided to throw mine all over myself...I'm cool like that!

We had a little extra motivation this morning thinking about all of the children back at school competing in sports day, wish I could be there with all the little superstars!! So motivated and raring to go, we cycled along the coastline for 50km, dipping in and out of enchanting forests and stopped in a little bustling tourist spot for lunch called Grömitz. Tara and Tyronne looked on with jealousy as we filled our bellies...fatty Tyronne became even greener with envy.

I believe as a result of this jealousy; Tara threw her toys out of the pram/trailer (literally), and minutes after we hopped back on the saddles we had our first minor casualty of the trip. In comical slow motion, Tara toppled sideways whilst trying to turn a corner on soft, sandy terrain. Luckily there were no injuries. Whilst stuck/squashed for a good few seconds, we may be going slightly senile, but we are pretty sure that we heard a faint chortle coming from Tyronne.

About another 20km in, down came the showers, but today I was feeling an almighty smugness. After a good spanking from the rain over the last two weeks, where the rain has undoubtedly been winning, today I won the battle and it was Emmy: 1 - rain: 0...thanks to my trendy poncho which, may I add, complimented my trendy visor beautifully! Look out for this combo in next seasons fashion columns...you heard it here first! It was however pretty tricky trying to get into the the bloody thing on the back of the bike whilst peddling, against the wild wind...picture arms flailing around, high pitched squeals and imminent danger of suffocation in my mad panic to find the head hole. Jake was very supportive throughout...laughing and (I have since discovered) recording the whole traumatic event! Poncho finally on...it of course immediately stopped raining! Being the fashionista I am though, I kept it on...I felt like superwoman flying in my cape on the back!

The wild wind really picked up particularly into the afternoon. It was raging! To Jake's delight, we needed to cross another bridge. We've ticked off the 'world's longest bridge' (don't quote us on that), and today we encountered the 'world's windiest bridge'. There were moments where I genuinely thought we might take off to never be seen again...fortunately we had fat arse Tyronne weighing us down. There was almost significant tragedy (que 'Steps' dance moves) when my visor blew off into the road!! It was run over three times by two cars and a lorry. Luckily it was picked up by the wind safely back into my loving arms. This trendy head piece has more lives than a cat! It's now looking a little crooked but I think overall...a visor victory!!!!

We rode 120km in total today and have reached our destination. Tonight's humble abode is more humble than the princess clouds we've recently become accustomed to...it's back to our tent....and of course Tyronne's already tried to wheel his way in.

It's our last night in Germany tonight, we hope to cross the border into Denmark tomorrow. Not long until we reach Copenhagen!! Although we are really excited...don't want this adventure to end!

Wash out Wednesday

13th Jul 2016

Once again, last night Jake managed to add a little extra magic to our adventure with a room I could only ever have dreamt of! He truly is the most special person in the world...with the best bum! We indulged in the luxury; dancing around the room in our robes and chatting about nothing and everything (whilst boiling the kettle on repeat to make copious amounts of tea) until the early hours of the morning.

The morning began with promising blue skies. In high spirits, we set our sights on today's 110km ride, so we peddled off all singing all dancing, with our tastebuds getting excited at the prospect of crossing the border into Denmark tomorrow...swiftly approaching those delicious Danish pastries and Danish bacon. However, after our first 2 full days of good fortune with almost completely dry weather; today we met our comeuppance. Within minutes on the saddle the heavens opened...big, fat, heavy, ANGRY, relentless rain! What should have been a beautiful, scenic route along the Baltic Sea cliff tops ended up in a baltic cold, wet mud slide with Tyronne's fat wheels getting stuck in the mud and Tara's lanky frame skidding and sliding all over the place. Undeterred, We carried on through the forging rain and rivers of puddles, but as we continued the rain got harder and harder, and in the words of Forrest Gump...'it even seemed to come up from underneath'! Sodden through and frozen to the core after a further 10km of hammering we were forced to take refuge in someone's shed for half an hour. At this point the blackest, most furious of clouds rolled in, combined with roaring thunder and lashings of lightening. We decided to knuckle down and cycled on for another 10km but eventually, with wet and frozen toes, had to give in and found a place to stay to dry our drenched gear and clean up a filthy Tyronne (we all know he's filthy mentally, but today he is literally filthy in every aspect!). We had scheduled the next few nights in the tent so fingers and peddles crossed that the weather will cheer up tomorrow so we can catch up on the milage that we have missed today and not end up camping in a soggy bog! We hope we haven't disappointed anyone with such an underwhelming distance today!

Once we warmed up we held claws and snuggled under a heater at a lobster bar...where else would two iced lobsters go?! This was followed by a hot waffle and a cup of tea to celebrate the fundraising climbing to over 67k!! We are absolutely over the moon! The difference every penny can make to support the ongoing research and treatment at the Royal Marsden is huge and we are so, so grateful and have no doubt that they are too! Thank you so much to all of you. Obviously today is a Wednesday and therefore my third week down without a weekly check but Tara no.1 has continued to be the most phenomenal human on the planet, keeping in daily contact and never failing to make us laugh with her witty emails. It's going to be one hell of an Marsden MOT when we return...Possibly for all four of us...and little Leon!

Bicycle made for two

12th Jul 2016

Last night was a stunning evening in Hamburg. Once we finished our festering laundry we finally had our Hamburg hamburgers and they did not disappoint!The gherkins here are fabulous! Jake's only flaw in life is that he likes gherkins...so I don't get to eat his!

We enjoyed another night of solid snoozing in our cloud and woke up refreshed, bright and early, to speak to the wonderful Ben from BBC Wiltshire live on air. So great talking to you Ben, thank you so much for continuing to support us on our journey! We appreciate it so very much!
After breakfast we eventually located Tara and Tyronne...they were 'off the chain'!Tyronne had recklessly wheelied in with a traffic cone on his head (standard) and Tara was loose!...That's all I'm saying about her! A pair of absolute liabilities. Jake gave them both a good seeing to; tightening up Tara's loose chain and brakes before we set off on our merry way.

After a couple of hours in the saddle we stopped for lunch, playing roulette with the German menu (of which we didn't understand a word). We then hopped back on Tara for a speedy 40km through golden fields of corn against beautiful blue skies (singing/wailing 'fields of gold'...obviously!!). We cycled into a place called Lubeck for a cup of tea. The prettiest town we've seen so far. In fact, possibly the prettiest town I've ever seen. Cobbled streets lined with the most intricately detailed, incredible, historical buildings with so much character. It felt like we were riding into a fairy tale on our trusty stead (who needs a white horse when you have a blue, sassy tandem?!!). After a little exploration of Lubeck we were back on the road and in just under 100km in total...with a slight technical issue where we had to get Tara and Tyronne onto a bus to go under a toll bridge (manoeuvring Tyronne's wide load into a bus is not for the faint hearted)...we made it to tonight's destination.

Ben asked Jake a question today on the radio, he asked...'have there been any arguments'? You'd think that on a tandem, constantly spending so much time with one person in such close proximity when you're tired with limited socialisation with anyone else, that you would begin to get irritable with one another, perhaps a few 'tand'trums. But I can honestly say, each day I just love this guy a little bit more. I feel so lucky to be marrying my best mate...my soul mate. Inevitably at times conversations occasionally lead us into talking about things, that as an average engaged couple you would never expect to be discussing... rather than just wedding planning we often end up diverting to discussing health, bucket lists, surrogacy, sometimes much more morbid topics. But they always end with giggles and smiles and I couldn't feel happier or more blessed to be riding our bicycle made for two!

Sleeping in a princess cloud

11th Jul 2016

Last night we slept in a hotel room fit for a princess although I wasn't looking quite the part. Snotty and spotty, red and rashy...tablets down, inhaler pumped, gum shield in (I grind my teeth at night!) And this imperfect princess (aka ultimate dork...I wonder on a daily/nightly basis why that hunky prince Jake is with me!!) was ready for a royal snooze.

The bed was so comfy it felt like we were lying in a cloud of feathers, so we made like a couple of carebears, snuggled in and decided to hire a movie! We watched Forrest Gump, neither of us had seen it in years and had totally forgotten the ending!! Error!!....if I wasn't snotty enough already, by the credits I was a snivelling, quivering, emotional wreck...and Jake must have had some sort of allergy to the feathers in the pillows! So we decided to go outside and sit by the lake for a while which was beautifully lit by street lights, and we appreciated some alone time (without Tara and pesky clinger-onner Tyronne) in the quiet and calm, comforted by the knowledge that we had a day off from peddling in the morning.

This morning we dominated the most scrumptious 'all you can eat' breakfast by the lake whilst watching the world go by. This was promptly followed by getting straight back into our feathery cloud for another couple of hours of snooze time! Absolute bliss!!

Once we finally managed to drag ourselves out of our cloud sanctuary again, we unleashed our inner geeks and went on an adventure to 'Miniature Wonderland' it was so much fun pretending to be giants!! Absolutely AMAZING!!!! The planes at the airport even took off!! When we came out into life-size land we felt really, really small.

Feeling like little borrowers we spent the afternoon wandering aimlessly around Hamburg exploring the city. We then ventured to a launderette with a bag full of stinky, soggy socks for a crazy Monday night. Rock and roll!!

We haven't seen Tyronne or Tara all day, but having seen the red light district of Hamburg it's probably best to leave who's been riding Tara and who's pulling Tyronne to the imagination!!

Back on the road again in the morning to begin making our way up to Denmark in search of delicious Danish pastries.

Hello Hamburg!

10th Jul 2016

The town we stayed in last night could best be described as 'unique' and 'not the friendliest of places', and this morning we had a particularly random breakfast...perhaps for an acquired taste...consisting of cold chicken nuggets, fried cheese balls and stale bread. So, we decided to escape early, for a much gentler day. For the first time it was hot!! so we cycled in glorious sunshine...working wonders for our sexy tan (burn) lines!

As we peddled through this 'unique' area we became increasingly aware of the glum stares we were passing...even with Tyronne's thumbs up!...Shocking! Therefore our mission of the morning was to receive a smile...just one!! So we greeted every person we passed with our happiest 'hellos' and our most sugary, sweet smiles. A couple of times, we got our hopes up thinking we had received a grin, as we drew closer we realised they were in fact grimacing.

Not letting it deflate us (or any tyres)...we wheelied in a skate park, had some fun in apple and cherry orchards and even found a windmill to have a cup of tea in...upon 'Tara's' request...obviously! That's right, windmills really do exist outside of Holland. We then hopped on a ferry leaving us with only 15km to peddle to Hamburg.

Initially, as we approached the city it appeared to be all about the sex and sausage...Tyronne, the pest, got his hopes up and started flashing that red light again. However as we cycled into the centre, we realised what a cool place it is, and, to top it off, people no longer looked at us like we were aliens...we even got lots of smiles!! Hurray for Hamburg!

I have been struggling a little healthwise the last couple of days, so as a surprise Jake has booked us into the fanciest hotel I have ever seen! The boy is just too good the be true! So we are now off to get him a giant Hamburg beer and of course...hamburgers in Hamburg!! Meanwhile Tara has ditched Tyronne (again!!) and is downstairs in the car park chilling between two Porches...trying to climb that social ladder as per usual. Tyronne's sulked off to try and relocate that street of sex and sausage shops!

Since we left Trafalgar Square...It's been 2 weeks with 1200km in Tara's trusty saddle, 14 chemo tablets, 14 antihistamines, 28 antibiotics, 2 packs of throat sweets, 3 packs of painkillers, 2 missed Marsden Wednesdays, several litres of lotion, gallons of tea, tonnes of sweeties, thousands of photos, countless bridges, 7 ferries, £65585 raised, 2 campsites, 1 love wagon, 7 hotels, 1 fat arse trailer, 4 tired legs, 50 card games (I've lost 49 but hey, who's counting)....and today we hit check point 5 of 6 and we've reached Hamburg! Let's try and make it to 70k by check point 7!!

Mrs. Tomato-Pepperoni face

9th Jul 2016

Feeling a little worse for wear last night, some love heart soup upon arrival was the perfect remedy, just what the doctor ordered...that perfect Doctor Coates!! We woke up this morning with our feet in the clouds and feeling on cloud nine because The fundraising had reached over 65k! We continue to be astounded by the generosity of everybody. Thank you so, so much from the bottom of our hearts...and the bottom of our love heart soup!!

The day started dry which was such a luxury. Although very grey, the greyness was a bonus because it meant a much lower UV index so no burning of my allergy kid skin! Our milage was a little less today at 80km but battling with physical ailments (and now the pair of us with *lethal* man flu) we got our heads down so we could get to our destination as soon as possible. We cycled through unusual German farming villages, only stopping once in a quirky cafe...for tea and cake...of course!! Scrumptious cake, scrumptious company!

Although no need for my visor for sun or for rain today...the benefits of my groovy purchase continue. Today it's purpose was to conceal as much of my face as possible. My skin isn't very happy with me at the moment. Poor Jake is stuck with a fiancée who resembles a tomato and pepperoni pizza!! Hopefully the amazing dermatologists at the Marsden can work some magic when we get back before the wedding! Only 55 sleeps to go and I don't think Mrs. Tomato-Pepperoni is what Jake signed up for. I might check Amazon for bridal visors!!

This evening I just want to recognise and express my appreciation for my groom to be for all of the planning, preparation and navigation he undertakes every single day. It's certainly not an easy task! As well as the actual cycling AND all of the other logistics (which are particularly complex when it comes to Tara and Tyronne; undeniably the worlds most awkward pair!!)...every night and day he's studying the map, calculating speed and distances, always considering: the weather conditions, tugging the fat lard Tyronne, and essential pit stops. Not forgetting to add into that mix...needing to cross several bodies of water, road blockages, cycle access etc etc...if it wasn't for him, WITHOUT doubt I would still be locked in the ferry terminal at Dunkirk!!

We hope you all have a fabulous Saturday night. We are just about to tuck into massive German sausages (of the edible variety!!) and then tuck into bed!!

Precious rays of sunshine on a dreary day

8th Jul 2016

We had an exciting start this morning when we found out that we were featured in the Wiltshire gazette, followed by an interview live on air with BBC Hereford and Worcester. Thank you so much Elliot and Toni for continuing to support us and enabling me to publicly express my passion for cheese and sausages!! And German sausage and cheese is exactly what I had for breakfast! We filled our bellies and looked forward to a much less strenuous day on Tara...so we thought...

After a much more intense day yesterday than anticipated due to the lack of ferry; Tara was feeling a little cranky and deflated , Tyronne heavy and flat and Jake was still battling with his man flu. The last few days have also taken their toll on my health causing symptom/side-effect overload; including fatigue, ultra sensitive skin with very bad rashes and spots, tummy pains and complaints, a niggling rib pain, and neck lymph nodes appearing to be multiplying and growing which is a little uncomfortable (what a fricking moaning Maureen!!). So the four of us (plus Leon) made an executive decision that we would take it a little easier today with much less milage to allow some time for recovery. The route we planned only had a short distance to a ferry and then a short stretch to our final destination for the night. However...with us it is NEVER that straight forward...that would be boring!

The first ferry we were going to take had crashed into a ship. The second ferry wasn't in service but did have a replacement bus service, however, wouldn't take Tara and Tyronne because they are too big. So we ended up having to peddle a further 25km south (the wrong direction) for a third ferry. Damn ferries!!...where's the ferry godmother when you need her?!! I have a new found respect for those long bridges!!!

The German weather gods were obviously devastated about last night's football result and unleashed their fury! It was TIPPING down. Not light, dreamy summer rain...cold, FAT, sideways rain that stings the skin!! With this weather and triple the miles we had envisaged, our morning was pitiful, infact so pitiful that the only highlight was a statue on the beach that resembled a penis! Quite possibly the lowest moment of the trip but at least the penis managed make us smile!

The torrential rain didn't stop all day long and the cycle was predominantly parallel to a dual carriage way, with a strong stench of manure the entire way burning the nostrils. Fortunately we spotted a second perk to make us smile...a minion! Everyone loves a minion. So much Less controversial than a penis!

We also faced several road blockages today. But our favourite had to be because of cows and Heiner the farmer. Heiner brought some much needed sunshine into our lives to brighten up our day. He was awesome and boosted our spirits keeping our little legs going all the way to the ferry!
We eventually reached the ferry, drenched and absolutely freezing. This was when we met another ray of sunshine to brighten up our day. A beautiful old lady...she spoke to us in German, we spoke to her in English. Neither of us had a clue what the other was saying but she was simply gorgeous. Putting her kettle on and warming us up with cups of tea and chocolate, and warming our hearts with her smile.

To end the day on a positive note, after the ferry, we hammered the final 35km and the rain even cleared up, I didn't get sun burnt and we have now peddled over 1000km!! Finally to top it off, Jake has booked us into another stonking hotel with the most stunning view...he's a dreamboat!

Farewell poffertjes

7th Jul 2016

Today we were all geared up for what we thought would be a more chilled day on Tara; a ferry into Germany and then a leisurely ride to our destination...however...we discovered last night that the ferry unfortunately only sails 3 days a week and this morning wasn't one of those days. So rather than wait around and waste time, we braced ourselves with some last minute Dutch courage (when in Holland), adapted the route and set off cycling on a slightly longer and less scenic journey than expected.

We initially had a long stint through fields of sheep with several cattle-grids and obstacles to negotiate. Jake, as always was a trooper, at times having to push Tara and carry 'that fat bastard' Tyronne (up mountains!!). I adopted the crucial role of observing/'supervising'...just don't know how the team would cope without me! As always, even with his niggling man flu, Jake was remarkable.

Eventually we crossed over the border into Germany bidding a sad farewell to poffertjes and bitterballen. We stopped for our first break, after 55km and 4 hours, in a little town called Leer. Jake met his (well deserved), manly priorities immediately with a German beer. Similarly, I immediately dealt with critical priorities too...purchasing German flags and a Deutschland visor...we are pretty much locals already!

After 'Tara' stopped us for photographs of every single fricking windmill yesterday because 'she' assumed we wouldn't see anymore once we left Holland...arriving in Germany we discovered there were just as many, if not more! Thought best not to discuss that with Jake; it could have been terribly awkward between them...successfully managed to divert the conversation onto how great long bridges are!

To prevent the miles from becoming monotonous, as well as exercising our tyre-ing legs, we spent much of today's ride exercising our vocal chords; rehearsing a song and taking the term 'lyrical geniuses' to a whole new level!! We hope to have an opportunity to perform it to you all...Simon Cowell watch this space. We are confident that there's a gap in the market for a tone-deaf tandem riding duo!

The weather was kinder to us today and as a result (even with my factor 50 and my growing collection of 'trendy' visors) I am now sporting some very attractive rouge tan lines.

After several hours on the bike, increasingly sore bottoms, definitely not enough edible treats and 130km we made it to Wilhelmshaven, tonight's final destination, with the German national anthem blaring as the football kicked off...tonight we are honorary German footie fans...wearing my Deutschland visor waving my flags...obviously!!!

Windmill spotting

6th Jul 2016

This morning we went full lobster in our hot, steamy tub before breakfast to celebrate a record breaking day!...officially two full weeks without a hospital visit. Yippee!! The longest time away from a hospital since the end of February!! We miss Tara no.1 terribly, although our withdrawal pain was eased instantly after receiving one of her hilarious emails.

After breakfast we left the charming, pretty town of Leeuwarden and enjoyed a four hour cycle through countryside and farmland. Feeling at one with the animals, it brought out our inner doctor Doolittles...until I got hissed at and chased by temperamental Dutch swans. Almost resulting in cat'hat'strophe when my 'trendy' new visor blew off amongst the 'angry birds' as I ran for my life! I decided to remain safe on trusty Tara with my (both groovy and practical) fashion accessory firmly on my head after that traumatic event!

We were lucky with the weather today, although chilly winds, there were no gales or torrential rain. we passed lots of beautiful windmills. As it was our last day in Holland 'Tara' (definitely not me!!) was very irritating, simply insisting that we stopped to take a photo of every single god damn one. Jake doesn't appear to be as enthusiastic about windmills as he is about bridges!

We stopped in a gorgeous city called Groningen for a late lunch, on the cusp of some very aggressive hanger, which was relieved by a burger the size of our heads! This powered us through the final 40 kilometres of today's ride.

After 105km on Tara today, we made it to Delfzijl before 7:30pm. We are feeling a little disappointed that it's our last day in beautiful Holland although are excited that we will be entering Germany the same night as their football semi final, should be a great atmosphere. Good luck to Wales tonight!!

Freezing in Friesland

5th Jul 2016

Last night was the perfect end to our day spent in paradise. We swam in the pool, had some lovely food and then played cards by a cosy fire. Tyronne and Tara on the other hand hit the Heineken and caused mayhem in their own little cabin. They are far more fun than us...total free (wheeling) spirits!

This morning the sunshine had gone, the wind had picked up and it was bitterly cold! Which was probably a blessing for my simmering skin. Being a total wimp with cold; I piled on more layers than an onion! In my head I looked like a super cool ninja...in reality...I didn't look like a super cool ninja! All the layering was great for warmth, however much more challenging when it came to today's urgent 'nature' wee stops.

We set off with the gale force wind against us trying to make it in time for a ferry back onto the mainland. It was touch and go, but we made it in the knick of time and even had minutes to spare to purchase a critically essential item...a little lobster mascot to ride upfront on Tara...meet Leon! Don't know how we've managed to cope so far without you Leon...welcome to the team!!

All morning long Jake was excited about crossing a particular bridge (he has been talking about this specific bridge all week...perhaps our conversation is drying up?!!). Once off the ferry we cycled for about 2 and a half hours until we met this bridge. Jake was like a kid at Christmas. Never would you think it could be possible for someone to be so enthusiastic about a bridge. The reason he was so excited was because it is a huge bridge...32 whole kilometres long, nearly the length of a marathon (in my opinion...it was still just a bridge. A flat, cold bridge...I was being a bit of a bridge party pooper!). For the entire 32km, Jake's mission was to get every single trucker to poop their horn...this was quite the emotional roller coaster!! Crossing the bridge the wind was behind us and we flew over with an average speed of 23mph! I hate to admit it...but I did enjoy the bridge after all!

Back off the bridge we were going against the wind again. I swear at times, as we watched the snails zoom past us, we were genuinely going backwards. We clocked a record low speed of 4 miles an hour. After 3 hours of this torture which actually ended up leaving us in hysterical fits of giggles...It was definitely time for warm drinks and sugary treats!!

Today in total, we rode for a relatively unpleasant 120km with a wind speed of 35mph and gusts of 65mph....Friesland by name, freezing by nature!! The Majority of the route was less attractive than normal so I ended up spending a little bit of time pondering like Pooh Bear...pondering about the wonderful person sitting in front of me...no one could make a bridge as much fun as him; not even with Pooh sticks!! But not only is he fun...and also the most talented, kind, patient, thoughtful person I've ever met....I don't think there's many people out there in the world who would commit their life to someone else who has such an uncertain future and also commit their life to someone with the knowledge that they will never be able to carry their baby. This person who sits in front of me is genuinely the most incredible human on the planet and although freezing in Friesland on the outside...I had never felt so warm, content and lucky on the inside! 59 sleeps until we get married!

And...he gets better...leading me to believe we were camping tonight...we have just pitched up to this hotel room! Gee whiz!!!

My turn...

4th Jul 2016

Ok... My turn....

As ALL OF YOU know, Emmy has been smashing out the blog for weeks now! Every single day she has been giving you updates on how she's been feeling, the trials and tribulations of her treatment and what we've been getting up to both in preparation for, and during, our tandemonium challenge!

I've absolutely loved reading them, and by the looks of things (comments and shares on our ejtandemonium FB page) so have all of you guys!! I think you'll all agree that she has some crazy talent and writing skills! She loves doing them, even if she's had a really long day and she is absolutely shattered! Her devotion to the blog is unbelievable!

But... There is one common theme with all of these updates (apart from the fact that they are all awesomely witty and charming obviously!) and that is that SHE is the one writing them! Meaning that she heaps praise and love on everyone and everything else but then as a result never gets written about herself or gets the praise that she deserves! That's not to take away from all of the wonderful comments that all of you wonderful folk rightfully say about her... About how inspirational and gorgeous she is... But here I want to make amends... I want to write about HER and how she's been getting on...

I think she deserves a special Emmy blog update!!! So here it is!!????

Ejtandemonium Week 1 summary:

To those of you who know Emmy and have met her, you will know just how weeny she is... She is really quite teeny tiny. BUT... What she lacks in size she makes up for in every other means possible! She is strong ...and I mean really strong! (I think she gets this from her dad!). And has stamina that could give Mo Farah a run for his money! (She definitely has the same genes as her crazy ultra marathon running sister!). She really is, behind all the smiles, warmth and laughter, an absolute machine! So any of you who think she has been taking it easy on the back of Tara and eating chocolates this last week (like she'd have you believe) - think again!! She's been unstoppable! She is a tour de force!! She pedals hard, never slows down or takes breaks, even pushes me to keep going and has not complained ONCE!!! That's right ladies and jelly spoons, not once!!! All I have to do is keep the haribo coming thick and fast and she just keeps on trucking like a little energiser bunny!!!

If anyone thought, as one would naturally, that this horrible illness would slow her down or take away any of her physicality then they'd be wrong! Of course she has horrible symptoms that knock her sideways on most days but does she let them slow her down??? HELL NOOOO!!! And she does it all singing dancing the whole way (quite literally can't stop her singing b-witched or s-club and cracking out her disco moves on the back of the bike!) I keep telling her to conserve her energy but she 'be havin none of it'! (She's a frickin Collett (not for long!????) and ain't no one stopping this soul sister! I'd love to say her singing is as good as her dancing (you've seen those cracking 'love shack' moves in our last video update!) but her dulcet tones are umm... Let's just say this is another 'talent' she shares with her sister!!

Leaving London Trafalgar Square on Sunday was one of the most emotional days of my life... And I only had a few family members there. I can only imagine how emotionally charged it was for Emmy with people from every walk of her life there. She was quite overwhelmed and didn't really know how to assimilate it all as the outpouring of love was so huge...just phenomenal. But the memory of it has lifted us both and given her such a positive focus when things have gotten tricky over the last 7 days. So to everyone who was there to see us off and everyone who couldn't be but sent us such lovely messages - thank you.

Each day since then we have peddled anywhere between 70 and 150 kms. To the cyclists among you, this may be a little underwhelming, but although neither of us can pretend to be experienced bicycle aficionados, I can assure you that cycling a tandem (pulling 'that fat bast*d' Tyrone (as I call him) into strong northern head winds - these distances are not to be sniffed at! It has been tough going, especially on the days when it hasn't stopped raining. But like I said - Em is one feisty and tough little cookie. And despite having literally every excuse to feel ill, fail and take a step back, she continues to push on.

When we arrived in Dunkirk it was late, dark and wet. Lights not working perfectly and rushing lorries meant that we waited a few minutes and ended up getting locked in Dunkirk ferry terminal! A half hour cycle in the rain by the side of a dual carriage way to a dingy little hotel arriving near midnight would have made even the bravest of girls wilt ...but not Emmy! Cracking jokes, reminiscing the Trafalgar Square send off and giggling all the way!

Over the last 5 days we have had 3 days where we have cycled over 100kms. On each day we can have periods of 3-5 hours on the bike without a break. Now I've known a lot of girls but I don't know many who could do that on their best day let alone in a situation like emmy's. She such a trooper.

It's a very personal journey that she is going through (and despite us being only inches apart on the bike through all this time) only she can really understand how it feels to be her and I'd be a fool to try and 'get it'. However behind the smiles there are battles with symptoms, chemo side effects, injuries, cycling muscle aches and tiredness and unfathomable emotions related to all of the above. As an onlooker, with Emmy looking so well, it would be easy to forget all of this.

I'm not easily impressed... But I can say I have never been so impressed by someone in all my life! I'm so proud of her. And I love her more than anything. The first week down and we're absolutely flying! We feel so lucky to be able to take on such an adventure and we are having so much fun! And best of all I get to do it with my team mate, my best mate... my fiancée.

Xxxx

Paradise

4th Jul 2016

After a long slog yesterday and arriving into Texal so late last night, we woke up this morning and realised we were in paradise...so couldn't leave!!! It wasn't in our schedule to stay but it would have been a crime to miss the opportunity to be somewhere so spectacular and not take full advantage. So...we tucked into a scrumptious breakfast, spoke to the wonderful Elliott and Toni live on Hereford and Worcester BBC radio (thank you SO much for your continuing support, just amazing, we appreciate it so much), and set off to explore the heavenly island!

We ditched fatty Tyronne and set off with Tara flying solo. She was let off the hook...literally... and was loving it! Not only was she relieved from lugging that dead weight around (sorry Tyronne), but there were lots of other tandems spinning around the island and Tyronne doesn't do much for Tara's street cred...she's a bit of a socialite is our Tara!

We spent the day cycling round the island, taking breaks to feel the sand in between our toes and admiring our surroundings. It truly is exquisite here, our photos barely do it justice.

We had an ice cream, sun allergy kid (that's me!!) bought herself a 'trendy' visor and then we came back to have a dip in the stunning pool at our BEAUTIFUL boutique hotel. The staff here are almost as gorgeous as the scenery...Going back to camping next week will be a bitter pill to swallow!
Thank you so much to my gorgeous fiancé for his beautiful words about me this morning and for all of your incredibly kind comments. They mean the world and I have melted a little bit (and that's not because of the sun allergy!!!)...I'm one VERY lucky lady!!

Our new life ambition is to move here and live in a windmill on the beach! It truly is paradise. Lucky to be alive and appreciating every second of life.

Blue skies

3rd Jul 2016

Last night we hung out in a 'Dot Cotton' style laundrette doing our washing...we assume that's what all the hip, crazy kids do in Amsterdam on a Saturday night!! Then, to really spice things up, we treated ourselves to some chocolate crepes...we thought best bank some energy into the reserves before we set of in the morning.

We were sad to leave our luxurious hotel this morning especially Daniel!! Thank you so much Daniel, you are a true diamond. From the minute we arrived soaking wet he looked after us and even treated Tara and Tyronne like royalty....the next William and Kate!

We had a late breakfast and then Jake slipped into his sexiest leotard...I may have noticed throughout the journey today that it complimented his bottom beautifully...not that I ever notice his bottom on the bike, pretty sure I've never mentioned it before!! He then meticulously packed up Tyronne; filling every available inch of space. After giving Tara one final pump (keeping in the spirit of the red light district) we were all set to go...

...but where had Tyronne gone??!! The little rascal was hanging out in the Sex museum...we literally had to 'drag' him away. Talk about trailer trash!

Leaving Amsterdam and heading back up towards the coast we passed dramatic industrial scenery with billowing smoke. This gave Jake a great excuse to trump away in all his spandex glory claiming it was factory smoke!

After 3 hours of peddling against a strong headwind (which at times felt like we were going 1 peddle forward, 2 peddles back) we finally met the coastline gasping for cups of tea and croquettes. Unfortunately, the only slight snag of Jake's packing of Tyronne so professionally tightly, is when he can't remember where the key is to lock up Tara. Finding a lost key in Tyronne takes the phrase 'finding a needle in a haystack' to a whole new level! It was of course hiding right at the bottom!!

Fed and watered we set back on the road in the glorious sunshine however were soon stopped in our tracks by some very hairy but friendly characters with slightly more substantial horns than Tara's little tooter. This was a mesmerising moment, they were so placid and peaceful.

We then had a hard peddle for 5 solid hours to make it in time for our ferry to Texel. We cycled through breathtaking wildlife; fields of flowers every colour of the rainbow, picturesque lakes, dancing butterflies, dragon flies and birds, deer, horses and windmills...all set against a perfect blue sky. We then meandered through magical woodland, finally weaving in and out of and of the stunning sand dunes. As our legs were beginning to tire, we eventually made it just in time for the last ferry...by the skin of our teeth...9 minutes to spare!

We enjoyed the relieving 20 minute sit down to recharge and then cracked on for the final hour long stretch of riding to our accommodation. A beautiful boutique hotel in the country side.

In total today we rode for over 150km in brilliant sunshine. We loved every minute and, after an initial wet week, we couldn't have appreciated the sunshine more. However, the small price to pay (as my medication makes me UV sensitive) is that I am now a radiant (radiating) shade of rouge! You could fry an egg on my calves!

I want to say a MONUMENTAL thank you former social work colleagues for organising an incredible bake sale today, raising £700 for our fundraising! Carly you are an angel and you are all absolute superstars. Wish I could give you all a HUMUNGOUS squish!! Absolutely amazing. Thank you so so much!!! Xxxxx

Cycling munchies

2nd Jul 2016

Getting into a warm, dry hotel room last night was the best feeling ever, topped off by possibly the best showers of our entire lives. All sparkling clean, the next priority was feeding, so we ate our body weights in pasta and then sunk into a huge, comfy bed...absolute bliss!! We woke up this morning like new humans.

After breakfast we wandered around Amsterdam taking in the vibrant ambience and, of course, the very distinctive smells. All this whimsical wandering (and passive inhalation of fumes!) made us hungry....time for tea and cake...carrot cake which definitely counts as 1 of the 5 a day.
We continued our wander and strolled through the bustling Albert Cuyp Market absorbing the buzzing, energetic atmosphere, admiring the knick knacks and treasures, and enjoying a variety of aromas from beautiful flowers and Dutch delicacies. Of course we indulged in a Dutch delicacy...freshly made stroop wafels with melted chocolate and caramel....would have been rude not to!

After perusing the market, we were beginning to flag a little. So we refuelled with croquettes and burgers...I am NOT thinking about the wedding dress I need to fit into in a couple of months...surely it will be fine; we are burning loads of calories cycling right?!!

You'll never guess what happened next...the sun came out!!!! The real sun!! And the sky went blue. And it wasn't raining! And it wasn't a dream!!!!...After many high fives and jumping for joy, we explored a little more and then lay by the water in the sunshine watching the world go by.
By 6:30 we were feeling absolutely pooped, especially our weary, little legs, so we decided it was time to let someone else do the peddling...sharing is caring after all! So we let a poor gentleman cycle our heavy, cake and waffle filled bottoms all the way back to our hotel.

Finally we popped to a launderette with our clothes (so stinking they could have actually crawled there by themselves!!) to begin preparation for getting back on the road tomorrow. Jake tells me that before we go to bed he needs to give Tara a good once over, and that he also needs to give her a good pump before mounting her. I don't want to know!!!....What goes on in the Dam stays in the Dam.

Tyyyyyronne...you don't have to put on a red light!

1st Jul 2016

Tara really pulled her weight yesterday (and Tyronne's...the heavy lump) so we took her out for an Italian treat. We went into the Hellevoetsluis old town and stopped in the Fortezza restaurant. It was the perfect date night with the most scrumptious food and fabulous service. Thank you so much Jeroen for looking after us! It was so lovely to meet you! Absolutely stuffed, we (just about) managed to peddle back to our cosy wagon of love. I have (obviously) been singing 'Love Shack baaayyybeeee' repeatedly...much to Jake's pleasure (I think!!?).

Waking up on the 1st of July we had great weather expectations....yup....grey cloud and a damp Tara. But we were absolutely over the moon that the fundraising had climbed to 62k over night so we left on a high...no pun intended...we weren't in Amsterdam just yet!!

We cycled for an hour, to a ferry, and then another hour and a half to arrive for some lunch in The Hague by which point we were wet and 'HANGRY'!! Cecille looked after us soothing our raging hanger with hugs and wonderfulness along with burgers, hotdog, cake and of course hot cups of tea. We have learnt very quickly that the Dutch have the tastiest food, so many funky places and all of the people are total beauts.

In torrential rain (of course), we got our little legs into 'gear' and left The Hague, cycling for another 2 hours, dipping up and down through the stunning, rolling North Holland dunes...In the words of those double denim clad 90's babes 'B*witched' the rain goes on....on...and on a-bloody-gain!

One final quick pit stop in a beach cafe for some shelter, Dutch croquettes, another hot cup of tea delivered by an awesome waiter, and a quick phone interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester. We then set off on the last leg of today's very wet ride.

Finally after a 10 hour day and 130km of peddling, via an obligatory 'shake' in Haarlem, we could smell Amsterdam. Yippee!!...we have arrived!! Absolutely sodden to the core we decided to push the boat/ bike out and book into a swanky hotel so we can warm up, wash our stinking clothes and dry our wet kit.

Tonight we will be Keeping a close eye on Tara and Tyronne. They are taking the phrase 'when in Rome' quite literally...Tara's feeling horny tooting that horn and as for Tyronne...he's put on his red light. Absolute Liabilities!!!

Love Wagon

30th Jun 2016

Last night the weather was cold and grim, but We snuggled in our tent, indulging in our Bruges chocolates and playing cards. Venturing out for a wee in the pouring rain at 3am was another character building moment. Poor Tara has built plenty of character over night; being abandoned, tyre-d out, facing the elements!

Despite the rain and the factor 50 sun block, this morning when we woke up, my nose was a distinct shade of scarlet, a close rival to Rudolf's. We hoped, that like Rudolf's, this shining beacon would help guide the sleigh (aka. Tyronne) to a dry place tonight. Maybe it's a good thing we don't have glorious sunshine or I imagine I would be adding a whole new dimension to 'lobsters'!!

We left early, embracing the cloud, wind and drizzle, packed up a soggy tent, layered up, and set off on our merry way...not letting the weather 'dampen' our spirits.

Today we cycled just over 100km. The route wasn't quite as scenic as yesterday but we did pass cool urban landscapes and incredible fields of beautiful, white poppies as far as the eye could see. We stopped at a funky cafe on the beach after a first cold couple of hours for some hot soup (best tomato soup I've ever had) and upgraded our cups of tea for Irish coffees to warm us up from the inside out!

The last 2 hours of peddling were brutal in torrential rain and bitter wind....totally sodden!!! But it didn't kill us, and after one more pit stop for urgent cups of tea and Dutch poffertjes (in honour of Leona's mummy, Marian...totally scrumptious!), it made us stronger for the home straight.

And what better way to end the day than to canoodle in our very own little love wagon! Sorry Tyronne...no third wheeling for you tonight; you're not coming in!!!

Not a typical Marsden Wednesday

29th Jun 2016

Not the typical Marsden Wedneday this morning, but we had Tara no. 1 with us in spirit and were very excited to receive an email from her when we woke up!

We made the most of our scrumptious breakfast at the 'Martin Relais' to fuel up, ready to get back in Tara's trusty saddle. After brekkie we had a quick chat to the brilliant Ben from BBC Wiltshire, live on air! As always I got sweaty and nervous so bumbled on and I'm not actually sure if anything I said was relevant or even made sense.

We were sad to leave Bruges but to compensate made sure that we filled every available space in Tyronne with chocolate. With Tyronne bursting at the seams, we cycled out of wonderful Bruges. We gawped at the stunning scenery as we left Belgium and entered Holland; passing picturesque canals lined by rows of trees interspersed with beautiful windmills.
We stopped for a tea break (possibly with chocolate on the side) in Sluis. French obviously no longer the local language, Jake dazzled me with his English in a Dutch accent.

As we headed up towards the ferry port in Breskens, we admired the breath taking views along the coast, and the sun even put his hat on for us for a little while. We paused a few times to appreciate the vast, white beaches and soak in the sea air. Along the route we passed lots of other trailers, Tyronne gave them all thumbs up and some imaginary high fives.

We arrived in Breskens and had another cup of tea, with a toastie...and I maaaaybe had an extra chocolatey chocolate brownie (absolutely delicious!!). I believe it's what the pros called carb loading. I'm pretty sure Bradely Wiggins does exactly the same! We hopped on the ferry over to Vlissingen. We soon discovered that getting out at Vlissingen would become a Tara/Tyronne nemesis...repeating narrow, winding gates and turnstiles...in reflection I think that moment is unlikely to be a highlight of our adventure! The four of us are still friends...just about!

Once we got off the ferry the sun adamantly decided to take his hat off. The dark clouds rolled in, wind picked up to a gale and down came the rain. We peddled our little legs as hard as we could in search of a camp site so we could prepare our boudoir for the night! We erected our tent in record speed in the pouring rain...as my dad would say...it was 'character building'. Thank goodness for that 'super fun' day we had back at home when we practised! We had barely even finished before Tyronne wheedled his way in for the night, as for Tara, she has been left outside, tied to a tree...sulking!

Chocolate lobsters

28th Jun 2016

After cycling 100km yesterday (ignoring the fact we actually have another 1900km to go) we thought we had better have a day off! It would be rude to be somewhere as beautiful as Bruges and not take the opportunity to explore, eat our body weights in chocolate and drink copious amounts of beer. Plus Tara and Tyronne were moaning that they wheely needed a break...part timers!

It was a truly blissful day. The most chilled day we have had together since....well maybe since we were 18!! And never could we have appreciated it more! We wandered around all day long soaking up the atmosphere, playing connect 4 (thank you Anastasia!), pottering around the cobbled streets, browsing the shops and gorging on chocolate...but it's ok, the lady in the (one of the many) chocolate shop assured us that Belgium chocolate is NOT fattening and is actually good for you...who are we to argue?!!...get the good stuff in us! We also found a fantastic cycling shop where we found a bike to rival Tara! I am definitely in favour of this arrangement...don't tell Tara!

We are staying in the most gorgeous, quaint little place (called Martin Relais) with the warmest, friendliest staff. Frederick from reception even donated the cost of our breakfast to our 'Just Giving' fund instead of taking payment. We are fully making the most of this taste of luxurious hospitality....next stop tomorrow night, the plan is back to nature in our tent! we continued the luxurious theme by going swanky and dining out on lobsters....lobsters made from chocolate for us lobsters...obviously!

This evening, I had my medication, the hard stuff...and the chocolate stuff....obviously! We dined on traditional croquettes and Flemish stew which was delicious (Jake felt very manly with his pint and red meat), followed by a no-hands dessert

Poor coldy Jake is losing his voice...either that or he is already sick of my company and doesn't want to talk to me....that old chestnut!! Hopefully he will be feeling a little better in the morning because we are live on air speaking to BBC Radio Wiltshire at 8:50am before we set off for about 75km up the coast.

A well earned beer for the pilot

27th Jun 2016

After yesterday you would think that by the time we finally got into bed we would crash and burn but I was still buzzing!! So of course, couldn't get to sleep. Poor Jake has a cold, probably because he's been working tirelessly to get everything sorted before departure over the last few weeks, so was purring (*snoring*) within seconds.

One of the problems with my medication is that it induces the most vivid nightmares waking me up several times throughout the night...on occasion I have even called daddy Collett in the middle of the night because I'm scared (yup I am 30 years old!!). Last night, this waking up in the night malarkey, was almost a treat (bar the scary bit obviously) because it was a great excuse to take sneaky peaks of the snaps and clips from yesterday and relive the moment. The most powerful way to get over a night terror....an overwhelming feeling of love, happiness and kindness.

This morning my skin was 'simmering'...unfortunately not 'shimmering'! Anti histamine and antibiotics in, cream smeared on, and it felt much better. So we set off with Tara and Tyronne in a bid to leave Dunkirk, in France, and reach Bruge, in Belgium, by the end of the day.
Dunkirk is as in as much denial about summer as the uk. In fact, more so!! It was a cloudy, grey, drizzly and chilly start!! So we layered up and got the wheels rolling.

Today we rolled the wheels for just over 100km. Our longest stint on Tara ever (by double!), plus, now with the additional weight of Tyronne....he's a heavy lad; I am now eternally grateful for Jake's Hitler approach to packing!! Other than the first ten minutes; starting off on the wrong side of the road, a brief encounter going the wrong way round a roundabout, the tent catapulting into the road whilst cycling adjacent to a dual carriage way, and Tara and Tyronne requiring Jake to manoeuvre them through a road being dug up....crises were averted and the ride went smoothly!

Today during the hours of pedalling, I discovered another perk of sitting behind Jake, other than just admiring his bottom....I can store sweeties in his back pocket. The only snag is he can feel how many times I dig in for another, and another...and another!! The upside is, he has difficulty reaching them! So, in between tooting my horn and ringing my bell, obviously I have to take one for the team and just eat most of them to save Jake getting any strain induced injuries from reaching around!! I'm considerate like that!

A couple of hours in we were about to cross the border into Belgium. So we had a quick pit stop for mandatory fromage before leaving France. Jake dazzled me with his French skills...yet another string to his already bulging bow. Unfortunately my French is appalling, but I blame Jake for that because I was too busy attempting to flirt with him during French lessons at school and I'm pretty sure also copying his work! Once we crossed the border and arrived in Belgium, the first priority was an obligatory Belgian hot chocolate!

Enroute we saw some beautiful sites. Tara and Tyronne even had a romantic moment by the sea...we left them too it!

Finally at 8pm we made it to Bruges with very sore bottoms. First things first...a Belgian beer for the gorgeous pilot!

Best day of my life

27th Jun 2016

Bonjour from France!! I'm so sorry for such a late blog! After a brief glitch with getting locked in the ferry port at Dunkirk, requiring the services of a patrol vehicle to escort us out, dabbling with a motorway, realising our hotel we booked into was further away than we fancied after such an adrenaline fuelled day so attempting to find somewhere else (3rd motel lucky...we were in), negotiating several flights of stairs with Tyronne....I have got my meds in me and we have finally safely arrived into a bed!! I don't have any service on my phone yet (sorry mum and dad that's why I haven't called!!!) but hopefully we will sort this tomorrow!!

We woke up this morning knowing it was going to be an exciting day but NOTHING could have prepared me for the reality! It was without doubt The most unbelievable day....truly the best day of my life!

I got ready to meet my beautiful friend Jacqueline, make up was a struggle as I was so nervous and excited about the day ahead I was shaking like a leaf...mascara massacre!! Seeing her face made me feel much better and as we got off the tube we saw a couple of other familiar faces....you sneaky squirrels!!! Unbeknownst to me, She had arranged a surprise tea at the Ritz...with all of my best friends!!! This was another bucket list item of mine, and to tick it off the morning of our adventure, as a complete surprise couldn't ever be topped. I was smiling so hard that the back of my head ached!

After the poshest tea of my life, Jake picked me up in the least poshest lorry...right outside the Ritz entrance...we don't do class by halves!!! He assured me that most guests probably leave by similar means.

Quick change into my tight cycling gear in the back of the lorry, unable to breathe-in after eating my body weight in sandwiches, cake and scones. Snug as a bug in the Lycra, we cycled into Trafalgar Square.

I'm so sorry, my short speech was appalling...I'm not good at public speaking at the best of times and at that moment my brain couldn't function as my heart was in overload. Hopefully this will describe just a fraction of how you lot made me feel and what I wish I had been able to articulate...


In our heads we guessed we would have about 10-20 people to hug and wave goodbye to. Never ever could we have imagined so many of you sensational people would be there to send us off. I had no words at the time (partly because I was so nervous and excited that my mouth dried out and my lips stuck to my teeth!...smooth as always) and I am struggling for the right words now. It was the most phenomenally overwhelming experience...the BEST day of both of our lives. EPICNESS!! All the people that I love from every single walk of my life (and I've had a fair few!!!...that's the beauty of being indecisive!!) in one place, altogether. A feeling like nothing else. So much love for you all we could burst!

Nothing could ever compare to today for either of us. Our wedding day has some seriously stiff competition!!! Thank you so, so much. Words just can't do our gratitude justice. I am so sorry that I wasn't able to express my love or appreciation enough to every individual person and that I didn't get to hug and squish each and every one of you enough (if I didn't you actually had a lucky escape, my emotions were quite simply oozing out of me and I was a hell of a sweaty Betty!!!). Please, please know that every single one of you being there meant the world and we will never forget it ever. I have such a touching, magical image on my head of your warm and friendly faces. Truly we feel like the luckiest pair on this planet!!!!

I never, ever wanted to leave that moment. I wanted to stay there forever with you all. I wish I could keep it in a bottle and wear it around my neck, by my heart forever. If/when...times get rougher over the next few years, be assured, if I'm ever worried, sad, exhausted or scared...I will think about today and it will never fail to make me smile and give me the biggest boost of love, energy and motivation!!!
Unfortunately the time came when we had to leave. We cycled around London admiring the beauty and the sights of our capital, something I usually take for granted but today it was magical. We then met Jake's big brother Tim and his gorgeous girl Anne who picked us up in the lorry and took us to the ferry/fairy in Dover. Thank you so much guys, absolute legends!!!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much to everyone for today. The messages, thoughts, support, love, donations, T-shirts, banners, cards, gifts, being there (and those who were there in spirit)...the list is endless....We are still buzzing and can't stop grinning like cheesy Cheshire cats!

BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!

I hope Jake, Tara the Tandem and I will do you proud all the way to Copenhagen. We will keep you updated every pedal of the way!

Perfect start

25th Jun 2016

Door to door parking, massive bed, amazing carpet, and next door to a place called 'Hardcore Lobster'....a perfect start!!

Thank you for making our adventure possible

25th Jun 2016

We kick started the morning with a 'cracking' omelette. The daddy of all omelettes... I was determined to use every single item in the fridge so nothing had to be thrown away before we left. I'm not quite sure how, but somehow the concoction worked...all 17 ingredients! This psyched us up mentally for packing however physically it made it challenging to move...or breathe!

We have just about managed to squeeze everything into Tyronne. I solemnly declare that I will never moan about a 20kg luggage limit for a holiday ever again! Once we had run through our check list (for the thousandth time), Jake loaded Tara and Tyronne into the lorry (I endured arguably equally as critical and strenuous tasks such as coordinating our shoe laces with our helmets) and we were on our merry way into London! We arrived just in time to catch a glimpse of end of the Pride Parade, awesome stuff! Let the adventure begin...

Thank you SO MUCH to every one, especially our families (huge high fives to our gorgeous siblings, yummy mummies, niece and brother in law), for EVERYTHING over the last few weeks, it really has been overwhelming. We have been blown away on a daily basis by the incredible kindness and never had such strong faith in humanity. We are SO excited that we have hit 60k before we set off!...A special mention to the 3 Smith sisters from my school who each generously donated £10 which took us over the 60k mark, thank you so much girls! We are so grateful to the Express Online and Reveal Online who featured our story this morning, giving the fundraising a monumental boost before we go!

As it is our last night before we set off, we have some other HUMUNGOUS, important 'thank you's to declare. There have been a few people who have worked relentlessly behind the scenes supporting us over the last few weeks, we genuinely wouldn't have been able to do this without you and we are eternally grateful:

Firstly Sparky (Mark Wools) was the one who believed in our mission, who encouraged and inspired us to aim higher than we ever imagined possible. That bright spark designed our website and branded the whole 'tandemonium' as well as setting us up with the Facebook page, Twitter (which I'm still not quite sure how to use), and YouTube.

Secondly, Sparky's very brainy, technical friend Dean made the website functional and also possible to blog, donate, email and add photos which has had such a significant impact.

Last but by NO means least, Mars, a very special lady indeed, who has managed all of our PR which has supported us to raise a substantial amount more money, as well as a huge amount of awareness. She has looked after us, kept in daily contact (always putting big smiles on our faces) and also relieved us of a massive amount of pressure, time and stress. A true diamond.

These three awesome professionals have done all of this for us totally free of charge, refusing to take a penny. I can't even imagine how many hours of their lives have been consumed with 'tandemonium'. We simply can't thank you enough.

We also want to say an enormous thank you to JDTandems. With an extra special thanks to Ruth and Jamie. Without them we genuinely wouldn't even have a bike!! Our original tandem fell through and these guys sorted us out with Tara the Tandem in 24hrs; making our adventure possible. Not only that, since picking up Tara they have taught us how to use her efficiently, given us funky accessories, as well as top tips and advice; always at the end of the phone.

Another big thank you goes to our Vicar, Nick, who has been so wonderful with our wedding and so understanding of our circumstances. Also the 2 DCs....my dad (Daddy/David Collett) for your financial support and military organisation with the wedding...he is currently hunting down anyone who hasn't RSVPed...watch out!!! And Jake's dad (Daddy/Derek Coates) for a phenomenal amount of financial support whilst we are both not working. We are too lucky for words.

Obviously another huge thank you to everyone at the Royal Marsden, to Kate for getting me into the best possible physical health I can be pre cycle. And of course Tara number 1 for the daily contact, always making us chuckle, for thinking about things that had never crossed our minds; preparing medical paper work for the trip as well as medication and posting bits and bobs. Tara the Tandem is very honoured to be named after such an inspirational human.

Tomorrow we will be in Trafalgar Square by Nelson's Column at 3 on the dot before we set off for the ferry to Dover...or 'fairy' as one of the little poppets at school called it yesterday...I much prefer the idea of travelling by fairy. I'll be waving my flag, tooting my horn and ringing my bell like a mad woman!! We can't wait to see some of your fabulous, friendly faces before we set off and obligatory squishes and cuddles!!

Tyronne's big day out with little VIPs

24th Jun 2016

We were shocked and saddened to wake up to this morning's bomb shell. However, a decision has been made and to be honest, we were possibly almost as shocked by some of what we read on our Facebook news-feeds...if my personal circumstances have taught me anything, it is that there is little point in dwelling on negativity which perpetuates bitterness (there's certainly enough in this world already). Don't waste energy or precious time on volatility...it's done. Take a situation by the horns whether it's your choice or not; find a way to make things work positively the best you can, and most importantly support and respect one another rather than fuel hatred and resentment.

*And off my soap box*

Due to van complications we had to alter our plans this morning and slightly change our 'surprise visit' by ditching Tara the Tandem for the day and travelling in my little Fiat (aka Wilson)!! We set off with just Tyronne giving a thumbs up through the back window. It was a pleasure for him to finally be able to basque in the lime light in all his lime green glory...rather than just be Tara's sidekick...we've sensed that he's been getting a little fed up of being Robin...today he was Batman! Our 'surprise visit' was to my lovely school; to see all of my utterly fabulous colleagues and my little rays of sunshine in Oak class. Such a happy moment being in the place I love with people and little people I love. Thank you so much to all of you for being so supportive and Carly we absolutely LOVE our T-shirts!! You are SO wonderful, thank you. And Kirsten....you have left me speechless with your kindness and love. Thank you.

When we left school we had a super interview with the Express online, thank you so much Olivia, it was so lovely to talk to you. Our interview will be available online tomorrow, the penultimate day before departure and will hopefully help boost the fundraising up to the 60k mark! So exciting!

Eventually we managed to pick up a van/beast so we could head back to Wiltshire. After another brutal 6 hour drive of traffic we are finally home. Pooped!!!! We will head back to London tomorrow with Tara and Tyronne loaded in the van to prepare for the big day on Sunday.

Tomorrow we will post a more detailed update with exactly where we will be in Trafalgar Square with timings. You will be able to spot us because my beautiful friend Ruby has made us a flag which we will be excitedly waving. Rubes you are my one true gem. Thank you so, so much.

None of us know what's round the corner...lets be kind...and smile and love while we're at it! ????




Jake's amazing mum

23rd Jun 2016

What a tremendous thunderstorm last night. I love snuggling in bed listening to the rain!

Unfortunately we had to rise from our thunder slumber for an early start. I had a GP appointment to pick up some (non cancer related) medications before the trip; inhalers etc. At the moment I seem to get dorkier by the day...currently living life as a spotty, wheezy, allergy kid! On the bright side, with my diagnosis I am now exempt from paying prescription charges...a lovely silver lined rainbow (after a thunderstorm)!

After the GP both Jake and I had dentist appointments...of course on different sides of London otherwise it would be far too simple. These appointments were essential so that we can give you all our cheesiest most sparkling grins in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. My dentist is awesome, the man is a genius. He has given me the biggest reason to smile after a few dental issues I had over the last year or so. I'm very lucky to have yet another outstanding professional in my life. Sending Johannes the most enormous thank you and thumbs up!

Respective dentist appointments done, we picked up my prescription (more supplies for my European black market stall!) and scoffed a scrumptious, late breakfast at Brickwood (my fave) followed by a great interview, thank you so, so much Karen!

Later than expected, as always, in tedious traffic and disgusting weather we were crawling our way back to Wiltshire...a veeeery slow 6 hour drive. We are currently having a few technical difficulties with how the heck we are going to transport Tara and Tyronne back to London tomorrow (long and boring story!) but have a special surprise arrangement in the morning which is simply unmissable so we are determined to sort something out...where there's a will there's a way!

Jake's mummy is a goddess! She has been an absolute mega star and given Tyronne an ejtandemonium make over (Gok Wan look and learn!)...Tara the Tandem is 'wheely' excited with her partners new, slick appearance. Talented creativity genes sure run/pedal in the family.

Tonight we are facing a night of packing and preparing before we (hopefully!) set off back to London first thing tomorrow. The Krypton factor has nothing on packing Tyronne. Once the tent, sleeping bags, medication, repair kits etc. are in it leaves VERY little room for anything else...forget the shoes I'll be lucky to take any pants at this rate!! And where the heck am I going to stash my essential chocolate stores?!!






Goodluck video

23rd Jun 2016

A special place full of unique people. Please donate to support the Royal Marsden. Only 3 more sleeps...let's try and hit 60k before we depart! Thank you so much to all of the phenomenal staff at the Marsden and to all of you incredible people for the continued support!

Click on the link below to take a look at the great little video Jake Spielberg made yesterday.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjF1mKxRf6o&sns=em

Final MOT: passed!

22nd Jun 2016

This morning was an Early start for the weekly Wednesday Marsden visit. Final MOT before the big cycle!

As always, all of the staff went above and beyond. They were so encouraging; giving us huge amounts of support and wishing us lots of luck for the tandemonium. From the gorgeous ladies in the fundraising office who supplied us with a variety of Royal Marsden treats, to the wonderful nurses and reception staff who efficiently zoomed us through the day, and then of course the phenomenal Kate and Tara! These heroes have loaded me up with enough medical stash to set up my own mobile pharmacy in Tyronne. Contemplating setting up a little stall when we hit Amsterdam! We will genuinely miss our Marsden Wednesdays while we are away cycling (particularly Tara no.1, obviously)...I think I need an extra prescription for withdrawal symptoms.

Anyone who knows me (particularly my class at school!!) will know that I am the world's biggest chocolate fiend. Well...today, waiting for me at the hospital, was THE most incredible chocolate bar I have EVER seen. Absolutely unbelievable. Such an incredibly thoughtful and kind gesture. Thank you so, so much Keita I really hope to meet you so I can thank you in person and give you a great, big squish!

We left the hospital, with a massive boost of motivation from all of the sensational staff and bellies full from the delights of the canteen, so popped into Wandsworth to buy final bits in preparation for the tandemonium. This was a big moment for me as, in the bike shop, I managed to find myself a new responsibility. Now, other than just 'preparing' Jake's pedals...I am the PROUD captain of a bell!! **ding ding** AND because I take my new responsible role EXTRA seriously...I got a horn too!! **toot toot**.
I'm now totally on a par with Jake's responsibilities (of steering, gears, speed, lights, navigation, signalling, manoeuvring, stabilising, braking, lifting and repairing) God only knows what he would do without me...I'm practically carrying the ejtandemonium team all the way through Europe with my bell and horn combo!

We are staying over in London tonight as we have a few bits to do here in the morning. Jake is 'Spielberg'-ing away putting together some footage of the awesome staff at hospital today. Thank you so much Catherine from the Royal Marsden Press office for arranging this!

Retail therapy

21st Jun 2016

My phone hasn't been working for the last couple of weeks. It only works when it's plugged into the socket. As pimped up as Tara is, unfortunately she doesn't have electricity sockets. Therefore this wouldn't be ideal during the tandemonium...just imagine the pandemonium if I wasn’t able to take millions of photos (I DO love a snap!), keep the blog updated or (possibly most importantly) let our parents know we are still alive. So today we decided to 'nip' to the shops; to sort my phone out, pick up a few wedding bits for our most important ladies and grab a few more essentials for the trip.

....SEVEN and a half hours later, potentially bankrupt...we were home. He hasn't confirmed this, but even though Jake claims that he didn't get a single item on his list, I'm pretty sure it was the best day of his life!!

Whilst we were out we received a very cool email... You are now looking at the new faces of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity page cycling shop range!! We now deeply regret not trying harder to breathe in for those photos. Otherwise no doubt 'Vogue' would be chasing us.

Once we finally made it home, we hopped on Tara the Tandem for an evening spin...albeit much later than planned so the revised plan was to keep it a short, sweet 1 hour ride. We got lost. THREE hours (40 miles and LOTS of hills) later...we were eventually home again. It was a muggy evening with lots of flies and I soon realised another advantage of being on the back...as well as having no responsibility of steering and gears and being able to perv on Jakes beautifully formed bottom excessively...despite not being transparent, he serves as a fantastic windscreen. This evening he met his weekly protein allowance from swallowing flies...on the back I didn't notice a single one!

Been feeling a little ropey today, spaced out and a little bit like I'm on a boat, but back at the Marsden tomorrow for a full MOT before we set off on Sunday. Can't wait to see Tara no.1!!

Motivational sandwiches

20th Jun 2016

What a fabulous weekend; celebrating a beautiful wedding on Saturday and a perfect Father's Day on Sunday. And this morning we woke up to the first day of the British summer...A wet dreary Monday morning, plus a little fatigue, a few bowel/sickness issues and looking like an acne riddled teenager particularly on my back and chest. But I am certainly not complaining...no excuse for us getting up like slow, lazy sloths and no doubt you want to stab us in the eyeballs as you all had to get up at the crack of dawn for work. Although I can honestly say that I do miss work very much, even though I love Jake's 'boyish grin' nothing quite compares to being greeted in the morning by the happy, positive, enthusiastic little faces of Oak Class. True rays of sunshine in any weather!


Fortunately We were quickly shaken out of our lethargy due to, once again, the monumental support and kindness from friends! Postie delivered the most beautiful bracelet (Jaina, Philly and Hannah I am NEVER taking it off!!) engraved with 'smile, love & be kind' so thoughtful, so perfect!! He also delivered a parcel full of energy supplies for the ride...Ali you are just a total Gorgepot and I have had to hide them in Tyronne so that we don't scoff the lot before the ride!! Another friend sent us pictures of a Bake sale he has organised at work...baked the lot himself...Dom you are a total legend, just outstanding! Mary Berry eat your heart out! Thank you ALL SO MUCH!! We truly don't deserve you. My mummy also did the most beautiful gesture of all time on Sunday. She gave me the first pair of earrings she ever bought herself in her early twenties as a good luck charm for the cycle. Mum you are the kindest most amazing lady on the planet. I can't believe you are trusting me with something so precious...So much responsibility!!!! I promise I will treasure them forever! Couldn't be more touched!

This afternoon I was interviewed by the Wimbledon Guardian newspaper. This was really exciting as its the local paper for my school. Hope I haven't embarrassed any of the fantastic kiddywinks or my awesome colleagues!! The article will be in Thursday's paper.

After the interview we had a go at sorting out some stuff for Tyronne. Stuffing in tents, sleeping bags, medication etc. There doesn't seem to be much room for my shoes?!! Jake seems to think that just the one pair of cycle shoes (and NO others!!) will suffice for three weeks....Watch this space!...in fact watch any available space!!...extra shoes WILL be stuffed in!!!!!

After stuffing Tyronne, we stuffed ourselves with sandwiches. Not any old sandwiches...these first class sandwiches were filled with the left overs from dad's Sunday BBQ. He is the KING of the grill!!! This brought me back to feeling tip top (I will inform the oncology dept at the Marsden to include David Collett sandwiches with all prescriptions). Our elite sandwiches gave us a super dose of energy for a long cycle on Tara the Tandem and also brought out the sun gods (cue my special persons factor 50 sun block) for a glorious afternoon spin.

This evening we aim to properly finalise the plans of our route and get some kip. Just 6 sleeps to go until the big day!! We aim to set off from Trafalgar Square at 3pm.

Fun Friday

17th Jun 2016

Last night was the best!! Coldplay were phenomenal. Better than I had ever imagined....goosebumps, smiles, happy tears and a lot of love was shared! Thank you so, SO much Soph and Matt!

Everyone in the audience was given a wrist band that lit up in different colours for different songs. The whole of Wembley stadium was coordinated it was mesmerising. Having watched several previous shows on TV and YouTube, Matt (arguably one of Chris Martin's biggest fans) was THE MOST excited about this. He carefully selected his band from the bucket, full of joy with his expertly chosen new accessory. I think out of the entire audience this particular band was the ONLY faulty band; it didn't light up when everyone else's was glowing. It did however radiate a luminous green at every other opportunity during the show. He certainly did pick a very 'special' band. Soph was very grown up and swapped bands with her husband to put a smile back on his face!

This morning, yet again we woke up to unbelievable kindness from a very beautiful person. A friend of Jake's, all the way from Australia. She sent us the most amazing, thoughtful cushions. We absolutely LOVE THEM!!! Thank you so much.

Once we came back down to earth from the excitement of last night and the beautiful gifts this morning, with little over a week now before we set off...today we had a slightly less crazy day. Jake fiddled with his new toy; a Garmin which will hopefully prevent us from getting lost. We then practised putting up and taking down our tent...apparently we will be grateful for this when we are tired and it's raining. After that we did a very quick cycle. We sure know how to have fun on a Friday!

What an epic week it's been!! As well as a first week off from hospitals since we've been in the same country and since we've been engaged, we've also checked off 2 bucket list items (with 2 big fat gold stars!) but most importantly; it has been another week of continued overwhelming support and kindness, and the fundraising for the Royal Marsden is continuing to grow. Thank you SO MUCH! You are all just sensational humans! I don't deserve you all but I feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time I think about the pennies which will go to such a special cause, the awareness, that between us all, we are raising and perhaps most predominantly when I receive a message from someone who tells me that our journey is having a positive impact on their life or thinking which blows my mind. Thank you so much.

To top off a bloomin' brilliant week, we are now on our way to Jake's friends' wedding. Have a super weekend and a very special Sunday especially all of the amazing daddies. Can't wait to give mine a ginormous squish!!

My amazing sister

16th Jun 2016

Feeling super tired today, but after being force fed more crumpets to boost the energy levels by my gorgeous fiancé (can't believe Jake is my real life fiancé!!!) we went out for an hour on Tara the Tandem feeling bootilicious in my new extra padded bottoms and of course feeling very cool sporting our new tattoos.

By the time we got home the postman had been! Oh my goodness!!! I was wiggling with excitement!! 3 ENORMOUS packages!!! 1st massive box was our bridesmaid dresses for my beautiful favourite ladies. Can NOT wait to have you girls by my side in September. 2nd humungous box was the most unbelievably thoughtful and generous gifts from an old tennis friend who was like another sister to us when we were growing up. Sian, thank you so much...the seat covers are just the best thing ever...Tara looks even trendier than us in our new gear! 3rd package was from Tara no.1 to keep my skin going until next Wednesday. Have I mentioned before that she is a hero??! Probably not enough....she's a hero!

When we were 16, one of the first presents I bought Jake was a Coldplay CD; 'Rush of Blood to the Head'. Perhaps a little sombre but 'Scientist' was 'our song' and always has been since....it may well feature at the wedding ????. We always promised that we would go to a concert together. 15 years have passed and neither of us have ever been. So when we wrote the bucket list it was a priority. So...my amazing sister only went and got us 4 bloomin' tickets!!! The best sister in the whole wide world. Fact!! Tonight I am writing the blog slightly earlier than usual, because the 4 of us are off to Wembley to see Coldplay live! Too excited!! Thank you so much Soph and Matt, we love you! There WILL be tears!!!

And I....well I am just spoilt beyond belief and don't deserve all of you sensational people in my life. I'm running out of words to describe you all! Thank you so much. For everything!!

An INKredible day

15th Jun 2016

A day off from hospital! First full week off from hospitals in 5 months! What better way to celebrate than with a hot crumpet in bed; eating a giant, hot crumpet!

This morning we raided Evans Cycles. I now have a variety of ultra sexy, padded bottom garments...Kim Kardashian eat your heart out!!

Now, for the INKredible part of the day. When I was given the diagnosis in March, one of the first things Jake and I did was write an extensive bucket list. And today, to make it an extra special day off (plus having withdrawal symptoms from the usual Wednesday needles), we ticked off an item! We made a promise to everyone that if we reached 30k that we had a (slightly controversial) surprise up our sleeves (literally!!!)!...now the total is standing over 50k the surprise is long over due. So we set off into Bristol to 'Purple Rose Tattoos'. Even though Jake wore his most edgey hoodie we were definitely not cool enough to be in there, but John and Tom were awesome and made us feel very welcome! Jake drew the design and...we only both went and got a bloomin' tattoo! Tara tandem inspired...obviously!! we wanted to do something significant to mark our special adventure (to our parents...we are sorry...please don't disown your rebellious children!). You only live once...! Rumour has it, these things don't wash off, but to be honest we are pretty pleased about that! This journey is something we will never want to forget.

Exclusive: 'Revealed'...Tara gets hitched!

14th Jun 2016

Today our story featured in 'Reveal' magazine which was surreal!!! We are officially cheesier than a pair of wotsits warmed up! Thank you SO much to the very talented and very lovely Paisley for writing such a gorgeous article about us. It was an honour to be featured in such a popular magazine (a personal fave!) and is such fantastic way to continue to spread awareness and keep the fundraising going! The magazine is also very, very kindly giving us a generous fee for the article which we will put straight into the 'just giving' pot for the Royal Marsden. Thank you so much Reveal!!

Today I also have some other very exciting, more personal, news; they have given us permission to have a day off from the Marsden tomorrow! This will be my first whole week free from hospitals since February!!! Woohoo!!
The skin on my chest, back and face is beginning to get a little bit angry, but I woke up to a message from Tara no.1 informing me that she had spoken to the dermatologists and they have advised to increase my daily antibiotic dose. She had already put extra supplies in the post as I won't be there to collect them tomorrow. Once again...hero.

After a little bit of wedmin, next it was time to take Tara no.2 for a cycle in the glorious (grey, drizzly) June weather. Now...this is perhaps the MOST exciting news of the day...Tara is officially on the pull! Today we've hooked her up with an eligible trailer called Tyronne. Sorry boys!!!! They are the perfect pair...inseparable...we are the proverbial third (and fourth!) wheels! It does make manoeuvrability a little tricky as their combined length is close to 4 metres. Accidents are just waiting to happen..they literally can't wait! Tyronne will be responsible for carrying all of the supplies for our adventure including tent, clothes, food, first aid, bike repairs, wash stuff, medication etc. Potentially ME!! No pressure Tyronne!!

If you aren't already bored to tears of our cheesy faces...check out Jake's lovely little video he made earlier, he is a very clever and beautiful human!

Tonight I'll be taking my chemo medication in the evening for the first time. I'm hoping once I get into this routine I may be more awake during the daytime and be better company for Jake whilst he's stuck with just me, and only me, for 3weeks. At the moment, particularly in the afternoons, I think sometimes he has more riveting conversations with Tara the Tandem!

Departure update...

14th Jun 2016

Hi guys!!
So a small update re: places, dates and times etc...
Unfortunately Tara, being over 2m long, is having a hard time being accepted onto most public transport in the UK and Europe! And sadly a few broken promises from the Eurostar dispatch service has meant that we are no longer able to travel to Paris after all!
Soooo... Undeterred, we have a plan B, whereby we will travel by ferry from Dover to Dunkirk instead and then cycle into Belgium via Bruges. We are just in the process of updating this new itinerary on our website so bear with us.
In terms of departure date, I can now confirm that Emmy, Tara and I will be departing from Trafalgar Square at 3pm on Sunday the 26th of June. (That's less than 2 weeks!!!!!!! Eeeeeek!!!!)
If anyone can make it down for a few farewell high-fives we would love the support!!
Huge hugs!
J&E xx

Starfish

13th Jun 2016

This morning I woke up like a star fish in a MASSIVE bed!!
We had decided to have a 'date' day yesterday (no bikes, hospitals, emails etc.). So off we trotted on a red hot date to see 'Me Before You' at the cinema (I have already read the book and was desperate to see the movie), I of course was sobbing the whole way through...Jake apparently had 'something in his eye'!!
Then, that dreamboat Jake, surprised me with a night in a hotel in Bath. It was perfect. Hence why I woke up this morning like a very happy starfish in an enormous bed.

When we arrived at the hotel (loaded up with all my lotions and potions), I opened up my bag and of course...I had a lotion explosion!! I tried to scoop it up and put it back in the bottle, however I have been advised not to exfoliate my skin at the moment...and mixed with all of the fluff and crumbs in my bag it is now more of a facial scrub! Luckily Tara no.1 has saved the day with a new prescription. Hero. As per usual.

When we woke up this morning (have I mentioned??...like a starfish!!) we tuned into BBC Wiltshire with Ben Prater. Thank you so much Ben for all of your support and also for giving us so much airtime. You're an absolute legend!! I, as expected, jibbered on and was exceptionally cringey today (please don't judge; I get so nervous!). Jake was absolutely amazing (Jake is ALWAYS amazing...at anything and everything...he even gives Tara no.1 a run for her money!). It was an incredible honour that Ben also interviewed Dr. Newbold during the show about my condition which was very interesting listening! She highlighted the importance of being aware of any unusual lumps on your neck (I had thought mine were just muscle knots!!). Dr. Newbold is the phenomenal oncologist at the Royal Marsden who is leading my case. It was so, so kind of her to speak on the show. She is yet another, very significant, hero that I am lucky to have in my life.

Once we were home we took Tara the Tandem out on her longest spin yet. We even rode through 'Coates'! We managed 40miles on the dot in 3 hours.
Fortunately Jake's Lycra was extra tight which eased any pain of fatigue or boredom...that bum is a sight for sore eyes!

2 weeks back on the vendatenib is going ok. Skin is a little unhappy at the moment, although much better than it has been before. Beginning to feel more sleepy during the daytime so I may start taking the tablet in the evening rather than the morning to see if that helps. Trying to work out the best time to take it...as it's probably not sensible to fall asleep on the back of Tara the Tandem somewhere in Europe!!!

Spoilt Brat!!

11th Jun 2016

Rather than bore you all with my tales I just want to thank you all for everything. Messages, donations, gifts and support. You have taken the words 'smile, love and be kind' to a whole new level and it is infectious. People have been unbelievably generous with their words to us but it is every single one of YOU who deserve those words equally if not much, much MORE. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This week I personally have been spoilt rotten!!! I think I've received more gifts than the queen and its her bloomin' birthday! From carefully selected books, to offers of flights, to hampers of goodies and skin care treatments, to cycling accessories...seriously it's just mind blowing. I don't even know how I can express my gratitude enough but I know that I am so so incredibly lucky! Please know how much I appreciate it and how touched I am.

Thank you again for taking us past £50,000 yesterday. I am in awe of you all. Your support is staggering! Half way towards our target of raising 100k for the Royal Marsden. The Royal Marsden is a very special place. Every single member of staff is phenomenal, passionate, experienced and considerate. The professionals leading my case couldn't possibly do more for me or any of their other patients. The hospital are world leading pioneers in cancer research and treatment. A centre of excellence with an array of disciplines, specialists and innovations all under one roof. Everyday they do a little bit more to change lives and ultimately to save lives. Although my treatment can only slow the growth of my cancer, it didn't even exist 5 years ago! That gives me such enormous hope, that if I can hang in there for another 5, who knows what they may have discovered by then!!! To continue to be able to develop these new treatments and research they need money!! This is the exact reason why we are doing our challenge. The more money we can raise; the more people we can help in the future. The more awareness we can raise; more people will have the confidence in themselves and their own symptoms to get checked out and to persist. Don't leave it too late like I did. Have faith in yourself, don't feel like you're wasting GP's time and support the Royal Marsden for the ground breaking work that they do.

On a quick side note...it seems travelling overseas with a tandem is a little more complex than one would imagine. Jake, as always, has been a true hero...spent hours and hours and hours on the phone and Internet over the last 24hrs and managed to sort us out. It has meant that the beginning of our route has had to change slightly and also that we will now be leaving a day earlier on Sunday 26th. 2 weeks tomorrow!! He will post the details here on Monday to let you all know. We would love it if anyone fancies coming along to see us off in London on the 26th.

Thank you again for everything!! We have a few exciting things in the pipeline to be revealed next week...

85 sleeps

10th Jun 2016

15 years ago. When things were perhaps a little less complicated. But now, I love this man more than ever! 85 sleeps until we finally get hitched. It will be 20 years to the day from the day that we met. Definitely worth the wait!

Paula Radcliffe

10th Jun 2016

We got up early for a cycle. I was feeling 'too cool for school' in my new cycling outfit that the bike shop people advised me to wear. It's a leotard type arrangement with padding in the bottom. Sexy stuff!! I layered a long sleeved top and a fleece over the top as it was a little fresh this morning...Looking like a pro (in my head anyway!!).

We set off for 30 miles, Tara was rode like a dream! All was going well...until...1 hour into the ride I was BUSTING!!! The beauty of the countryside is that it's very quiet and there are trees to hide behind. So I hopped off and embraced my Paula Radcliffe moment...I was desperate! I quickly tried to get my fleece off; which of course got stuck on my helmet. Arms flaying about Jake managed to get my helmet off with the attached fleece; releasing my sweaty, stuck, red face, and hair which was somehow tangled in my sunglasses. I dashed for a tree, and then it dawned on me...I also had the challenging struggle of removing another layer and then shamefully pulling the whole leotard thing down. It may look too cool for school however, not the most practical, graceful or conservative arrangement when you need a wee on the side of the road.

This afternoon we had a lovely cup of tea with Jake's talented mummy who is doing an unbelievable job helping us out with the trailer for all of our gear; designing,cutting, stitching, making! Thank you Jane you are amazing and we love you.

Happy birthday to the Queen and Happy Friday to everyone, I hope you all have the most wonderful weekend!! This week has been bonkers but the smiles, love and kindness have been more phenomenal than ever. We truly couldn't be more grateful. We would be nowhere without you all. You are all making a difference on so many levels!! This afternoon WE HIT £50,000!!!!!! I NEVER thought this was possible but (like Jake assured me when we were first back in contact in October on opposite sides of the world...and I'm beginning to believe) anything is possible!!

Thank you SO MUCH!!!

That rat cancer...

9th Jun 2016

Today we woke up for tea, toast, morning paper...and our cheesy grins on page 8!! Thank you so much to the Wiltshire Times for supporting us and to Jessica for writing such a fantastic article!!

We then had an excited message from Mummy Collett to let us know that we were also featured in the Hereford Times on page 5. Thank you so much Natalie for all of your help with that you are too gorgeous.

Ben from BBC Wiltshire came to interview us late morning. Thanks for being so awesome Ben! We ended up having a great chat over a cup of tea. I say a great chat...this actually entailed Jake and I waffling on at Ben for a very long time. We are so sorry!! Now the bowel symptoms have subsided it seems to have transferred to the other end and I have a bad case of verbal diarrhea. Once we eventually paused to draw breath; we introduced Ben to Tara the tandem and he did a great interview. Tara probably had better chat than Jake and me!! It's due to be broadcasted on Monday, we will keep you posted.

We then of course jumped on Tara the Tandem to squeeze in a few miles before cooking for our VIP guests! During the cycle I received a phone call from Tara no.1 to feedback results from last week's core tissue biopsy of my breast. Fortunately it's not a new cancer. The results indicate that reason for the lump is due to the advance of the spread; the medullary cancer has now spread into the nodes in my breast. Therefore at least I won't need to change any treatment plans and hopefully my current treatment will keep it stable and slow, or even better, stop any further growth, like it will hopefully do everywhere else. If it grows or becomes bothersome we can always operate but fingers crossed it won't and with any luck it may even shrink. It's times like that it hits me a little bit that that rat cancer has managed to weedle it's way into every part of my body which is a funny concept to get my head around. But I'm a stubborn old mare (as in sure Jake would agree) so it's nothing to worry about and Tara no.1 was incredibly reassuring as always!

When we got home I had yet another unbelievable package. Seriously I am so blessed to have you all in my life. Tamara, thank you so, so much sweetheart, perfect timing after the news and added extra sunshine to my day. So generous and thoughtful of you, I am one lucky and very spoilt brat!!

Finally it was time for our VIP guests to arrive; my beautiful sister, niece and brother in law. Thank you so much for coming to see us! We love you! I think Tara would much prefer to have Millie in her saddle than us!!

My amazing mum

8th Jun 2016

Bright and early start today so that we could tune into BBC Hereford and Worcester radio to listen to mummy Collett being interviewed. She blew us away, was absolutely amazing and spoke so bravely. SO PROUD of you mum!! We were up next and, following mum's pro performance, the pressure was on. You wouldn't believe it was possible to sweat quite so much...Niagara Falls have nothing on my arm pits! Toni and Elliott were very kind to us. We of course came off the phone feeling like we forgot to say lots of important things but it was great fun! 20minutes later, I finally managed to stop shaking so that I could drink my cup of tea and then it was off for our weekly Wednesday at the wonderful Marsden.

Great day today, the ever efficient Marsden staff and procedures ran like clockwork. When I checked in, I was told I had a mystery package waiting...an incredibly thoughtful, sweet friend had left a box of goodies for me we at the hospital, such an exciting surprise!! Thank you so much Rachael you are a dreamboat! We swiftly completed all of the tests which, as always, we rounded off with the canteen's yummy delights. But of course, the highlight of the day, as always, was our time with the amazing Tara (the original Tara...not Tara the tandem, she is a close second favourite). Absolute hero of the highest order! No results from last week's biopsy yet but I'm feeling positive about it!

My day had a little extra magical sparkle added to it when two of my fabulous work colleagues told me they were doing the 5k Battersea Park Race for Life this evening to support our challenge. Thank you so much Vanessa and Michelle. Love you loads.

We are back home just before 6! A brilliant time to take our second favourite Tara for an evening spin.

Everyone we spoke to at the hospital today was so encouraging about our adventure and, for that, we couldn't feel happier or have been given more a boost! Let's keep raising awareness and empowering people to have faith in themselves and to get any ailments checked out.

Thank you to all of you for another day of overwhelming generosity and kindness. It is supporting the Royal Marsden to change people's lives every single day.

87 years young

7th Jun 2016

07.06.16
We imagined today was going to be a chilled, carefree, recharging day back home in Hereford. Before we set off on the road, by the time we had our tea and toast, we realised it may be a little more hectic than our imaginations had lead us to believe. We had been booked in for two radio interviews and two of our newspaper articles had been published online in the Hereford Times and the Wiltshire Gazette (excited to see them printed in Thursday's papers).

When we arrived in Hereford, Daddy. C conducted a military precision wedmin meeting...this was obviously the most organised/ONLY organised part of our day! Wedmin negotiated we celebrated granny turning 87 years young with a delicious pub lunch followed by cups of tea. Three cheers for Granny Hills...the most glamorous Great Granny there has ever been!

Bellies full we went to meet with the wonderful Vicar who is marrying us for some further wedmin negotiations and of course tea and biscuits. Bramble the dog was on tip top form throughout. During our meeting we received a phone call from BBC Hereford and Worcester and I was recorded doing a sound byte for tomorrow's breakfast show. Who knew it was possible to waffle and balls up a 5 second sound byte clip quite so much!! Ferne Cotton...no need to quake in your boots just yet!! Anyway, sound byte done; Mummy Collett, Jake and I will be on the BBC Hereford and Worcester Breakfast Show tomorrow morning from 7 with Elliott and Toni.

Next stop was a meeting with our tremendous organist to discuss the musical arrangement for our wedding day. Absolute legend!

We quickly nipped home for Granny's birthday cake (and more tea...of course!!) and a jolly sing song for the birthday girl.

Tea and treats now bulging out of our eyeballs we zoomed into town for a quick video recorded interview with Matt Healey from Sunshine Radio. What can I say?...What a pair of plonkers we are!! Think flawless...then imagine the furthest away possible extreme...that's us! Matt I am so, so sorry that my palms were so sweaty I couldn't even shake your hand!! My dreams of being the next Beyonce (bar the talent and looks) of yesterday are well and truly shattered.

Although we are the most unnatural, awkward, babbling, tongue tied pair in front of of a camera or a microphone, all of this publicity is raising such a phenomenal amount of awareness and money and for that we couldn't possibly be more grateful to every single one of you involved; sharing, supporting, messaging and donating. And of course the press who are supporting our mission so positively.

We are now on our way back home to round our day off perfectly...we have been informed that an exciting brown paper package tied up with string is waiting on the door step...it contains our flower girl dresses!???? Millie, Indi, Scarlett and Amelie you are going to too beautiful for words!

We would also like to add a public apology to Tara the tandem for neglecting her all day. We plan to make up for this after the weekly Wednesday Marsden appointment tomorrow evening.

'Blue Steel'

6th Jun 2016

After a beautiful weekend, today was a little surreal! Woke up to the most unbelievable Liz Earle package from an incredibly generous mystery sender (if you are reading this please let me know who you are so I can thank you!!!). We then had two interviews and two sets of photos to support our mission. We felt like Beyoncé (except without the looks, body, voice or talent and, in photos, were awkward, stiff and unnatural...so not too far off!). Of course my new facial friends of the rashy spot variety decided to make an appearance especially for the photography occasion...they seem to be pretty loyal like that. I think they particularly enjoyed the high definition lenses. Fortunately Jake and I have been practising our 'blue steel' since I visited him in Australia during February half term, so hopefully our striking poses will distract from the red bumps!

9 days back into chemo on a lower dose I am feeling so much more 'normal' and generally forget that there is anything wrong at all, it's amazing! The Marsden continue to be beyond fabulous! At the moment it only hits me a little in the afternoon when all of a sudden I feel slightly zombified.

So what to do when you feel like a dragged up corpse at 5 in the afternoon after a day being a cringey Beyoncé??...hop on Tara the Tandem!! We went for our longest ride today for 30 miles through the glorious Wiltshire countryside. Today's cycle was our first in our new, trendy proper cycling shoes. They made such a difference and we managed to get our speed to over 35mph...totally under control!! ???? They do however appear to make my hobbit feet look even more hobbity! Either my feet are very small or Jake's very large...he likes to think the latter given the saying that springs to mind. Anyway we returned accident free to a sunny evening and cold drink...so a successful day all around!

Donations over the weekend have been remarkable and the total is steadily climbing...significantly quicker than us two riding Tara up a gentle hill!! Thank you again for everything! We feel so privileged to have this opportunity for such an amazing cause. We will keep you posted with the articles from today's events. Very exciting!

Pimp my Ride

4th Jun 2016

Today was a usual morning struggle out of bed and drugging up on the lotions and potions. Fatigue has kicked in a little today. A really weird feeling, my bones feel exhausted and my eyes feel boggled. However, determined to ignore it, we ventured into Bath so we could treat Tara the Tandem this afternoon and spruce her up with some Marsden coloured accessories, as well as getting some cycling shoes (proper professional ones...this could cause carnage trying to get our feet out while stopping...I have visions of us toppled over at the side of the road sending out an SOS) and emergency supplies. By the time we had finished raiding 'John's Bikes' we were the epitome of 'ALL THE GEAR NO IDEA' and struggled to fit all the gear into my teeny tiny Fiat boot!

When we got home we went for a spin, with a tarted up Tara! Twit twoo! We did the same 17 mile route as yesterday except lots quicker! Woohoo! Chris Hoy watch out!

I also received an amazing gift from a beautiful friend today. I think it is an absolutely ESSENTIAL accessory for the adventure!! Jake was talking about 'camel packs' or something but sod that...this is FAR more practical!

My new perky view!

3rd Jun 2016

Today we took Tara the tandem out on her first proper spin. Smeared on my factor 50...my treatment annoyingly makes me allergic to UV...those who know me and what a sun worshipper I am (particularly my Virgin friends), will know that wearing factor 50 is a very new thing! Hopefully it may stop some of these pesky wrinkles though so not a bad thing!

1 mile in to the ride, it dawned on me what my view is going to be for the next month!!!....luckily Jake has a very scrumptious, perky bottom so I'm not complaining!!

Tara the tandem took us 17 miles around the stunning Wiltshire countryside. Although she had her first minor casualty, she rode like a dream. My unfit legs are now feeling a little jellified! So, to make them feel better came home for tea and scrumptious pastries!

Yet again the generosity, kindness and support is blowing my mind...I think my brain and heart are at risk of popping...hopefully my cardiology days and weekly ECG will keep that risk in check!! I am so deeply sorry we haven't responded to all of the beautiful, heartfelt messages yet. They honestly mean the world and we are so touched by every single one. Once these sugary, iced treats are in my tum (not exactly what the nutritionist has recommended but there's currants in there so I'm sure they are healthy some how?!), our project for the evening is to make sure we reply to every single one to express our gratitude and love. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Astoundingly lovely things have been said about me. I am certain that I don't deserve any of it, and that any of you would be doing exactly the same in the same situation. One thing I am sure of is that all of you lot are the inspiring, positive kind people that make the world a better place and are making this journey so fun and exciting for Jake and I.

Meet Tara the Tandem

2nd Jun 2016

Ladies and gentlemen...meet Tara the tandem!!!

Today we got up bright and early, picked up a van and, like excited children on Christmas eve, drove 6 hours up North to JDTandems to pick up our bike! Jamie, Ruth and John and their gorgeous doggies couldn't have possibly been more kind and helpful; from the kit Kats and unbeatable Yorkshire tea upon arrival, to a free idiots guide to tandeming, to preparing our bike with all the latest mods & cons, to a very generous and unexpected discount with some free goodies!! We couldn't have possible imagined or asked for a better service. They were so reassuring and encouraging that we are now more motivated and excited than ever for the adventure. Can't wait to get Tara into action!

We have named our trusty stead Tara, after my incredible nurse at the Marsden, plus (as a primary school teacher) love a bit of alliteration!

Now just for the mega 6 hour journey back...

Almost normal skin!

2nd Jun 2016

This morning my skin is almost back to normal so am a happy camper! Up bright and early to travel to Leeds to pick up our tandem.

Woken up feeling like yesterday was all a dream. Thank you for so much for the outpouring of positivity, support, kindness and generosity. Absolutely overwhelmed and I feeling totally undeserving of it all!!!Xx

Newspaper!!!

1st Jun 2016

Can't get my head around this happening today! Absolutely bonkers but for such an incredible cause! Just finished another 6 hour day at the Marsden, where it is evident throughout every second of being there, what this is all about. Every single member of staff and every thing they do there is quite simply phenomenal. I know there are so many people out there worse off than me and I feel so blessed and so lucky...so anything we can do to make the best of this situation; to keep raising awareness and pennies and continue to spread hope and positivity makes me feel very happy and also very privileged. Once again, thank you so much for EVERYTHING!!

A day at the Royal Marsden

1st Jun 2016

Today we got up at 5am, took my concoction of chemo, anti-histamine, antibiotic, painkillers and skin creams and set off for the Marsden armed with biscuits for our incredible nurse (which of course broke as soon as we braked in the car!).

After a grey, wet 2.5hr drive we arrived. First of all I had an MRI to check my spine (which was all good news, it's stable and tumours haven't spread) and Jake had a very boring hour long wait. Second I had my weekly blood tests, 8 vials today taken by a very lovely man (I don't think he was a vampire!). After that I went to have a scan of a suspicious lump on my breast. Following the ultrasound the doctor decided to do two core tissue biopsies so I am now sporting a couple of butterfly stitches and a very sexy plaster over my left nipple. Then we went back to outpatients. I got my underwhelming chest out again for the weekly ECG to check the treatment isn't affecting my heart. This was followed by my weekly weigh in (who needs weight watchers!), blood pressure, heart rate and consultation. Finally we headed to the canteen for a late lunch to fill our rumbling bellies. After a quick urine sample (EVERYTIME I manage to get wee on my hands!!!!) we visited the Royal Marsden Charity office where they kindly gave us some cycling jerseys for our adventure.

6 hours, 3 hospital gowns and 1 bloomin' national newspaper article later we are on our way home!! WHAT A DAY!!!!

Can't quite get my head around the amount of awareness and pennies that have been raised today. It literally boggles my tiny little brain! Hopefully this adventure may help some other people in the future; whether that's by believing in themselves, feeling positive, getting checked or contributing to the Marsden financially with all of the incredible work that they do. Once again...thank you xxx

Biscuits

1st Jun 2016

We made our favourite, absolutely phenomenal nurse some biscuits for all of the incredible things she does for us on a daily basis. X

midnight making

31st May 2016

31.05.16
Making 'Thank You' biscuits for our favourite phenomenal nurse!

tent shopping

31st May 2016

31.05.16
Today we had a complication with the bike...fortunately we have managed to dodge disaster and have squished a 2 day hospital appointment into 1, been kindly helped out by a kind lady called Ruth and will now embark on a little white van road trip to Leeds on Thursday to pick up a trusty tandem! In the meantime we have had some fun exploring tents and helmets...all the gear no idea!!!
Rash is slowly creeping back up my chest and my bowels are feeling a little unhappy but back at the Marsden tomorrow for usual prods and pokes along with a biopsy of a new lump on my boob and an MRI on my spine which is causing a few problems; keeping our fingers and bike pedals tightly crossed that the tumours there haven't grown. Really looking forward to being able to start cycling and preparing for the adventure! ????
Thank you again so so much to all of you for everything! Overwhelmed by people's kindness, love and generosity on a daily basis. Xxx

Back on the chemo

30th May 2016

30.06.16
3 days back on and...here is comes again...

Countdown

28th May 2016

1 sleep til he's home ?? 98 sleeps until we say 'I do' ?? and...29 sleeps until TANDEMONIUM!! ????????????????So much to be excited about! ????

Back on the chemotherapy Vendetanib

28th May 2016

28.05.16
First day back on the chemo done! On 100mg of vandetanib rather than 300mg which should hopefully cause less beastly side effects. First day back on was spent with some wonderful visitors ???? Now I can't wait for Jake to arrive back from Australia tomorrow ???? Blown away with all of the sharing and support of our website and an incredible amount of donations. It means the world. Bucket loads of love to you all xxx

New website!

28th May 2016

28.05.16
Today we have some big and very exciting news!!

Thanks to the incredible generosity and unbelievably hard work of a couple of outstandingly talented guys, we have been donated some swanky new branding and a shiny new website:

www.ejtandemonium.com

Not only that but they have also set us up with a Facebook account, a Twitter account and our very own YouTube channel!...I'm going to need to start learning how to use all this clever technology! We will be using all of these remarkable channels to continue sharing our journey and our tandem adventure with you.

We have received an overwhelming amount of support so far and we are so SO grateful! Words couldn't ever possibly do our appreciation justice. Our hope is that this new image and website will help push the fundraising to another level and more into the public domain. Therefore, in order to continue the momentum we have been advised to raise our target again and aim for something astronomical!! The sky really is the limit...I want to fully take advantage and make the most of my situation in a positive way; use it so that we can raise as much money and awareness for the Royal Marsden as we possibly can!

Please take a look at our funky new website ejtandemonium.com where you can read our story, follow our blog, donate and contact us directly! Let us know what you think of it all by sharing, tweeting, you tubing and generally just spreading the love!

A huge THANK YOU to our phenomenal, hardworking website designers, to all of you in advance for sharing this and to everyone for all their mind boggling continued support... None of this would be possible without you! Hopefully, between us all, we can really make a difference, and one day can help change some lives and make cancer a much less scary prospect. ????xxxx

Thank you so much.

26th May 2016

26.05.16
ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! THANK YOU SO SO SO SO MUCH!!!!!!! You are all bloomin' frickin' INCREDIBLE!!! So exciting, we've reached £30000!!!!!!!! Amazing people..lets keep going!!! ????????????????

Skin progress

26th May 2016

26.05.16
2weeks of skin progress!! Thank you so much for all the advice and all of the incredible products I have been given. Beginning to feel much less self-conscious and my face isn't sore anymore and has stopped burning! Yippee ???????? fingers crossed by the time Jake is back from Oz I can surprise him with a clear, happy face and even tighter fingers crossed it will stay clear until the wedding ???? I had been taken off the chemo and given antibiotics which helped. Tomorrow I start a different antibiotic and restart my chemotherapy but on a much lower dose. A little nervous about side effects kicking in again but looking forward to my cancer symptoms hopefully subsiding. As always thank you so much for the kindness and love. You all keep my face smiling and my heart full of joy ????

My dad

25th May 2016

25.05.16
Today my daddy spent his 70th birthday waiting around a hospital with me for 5 hours. One of the billions of reasons I have the best daddy in the world. Happy birthday to my hero! ????

Girly spa day

24th May 2016

24.05.16
Incredible Jake booked us a super posh spa surprise while he's away. Luckiest girls in the world. Had the best day and was even treated to a facial to help my spotty skin! Back at the Marsden tomorrow for usual weekly tests as well as dermatology, MRI of my spine which is causing a few concerns and a mammogram as we discovered a breast lump. My first appointment without my angel Jake so my legend of a daddy is stepping on (on his 70th birthday no less!!).

Shard

23rd May 2016

My amazing Auntie treated to a posh meal out at the Shard!!

Puppy love

21st May 2016

19.05.16
Thank you so much to everyone for all of your kindness and advice! I'm so sorry I haven't had a chance to reply to everyone yet. Although my skin still isn't playing ball, today I tried Sophie Coles's metanium plus a little bit of magic puppy love!! ???????? Thank you so much Jane Crockford; you, Darcy, Maisy and Tilly are just what the doctor ordered!! Xxx

sudocreme

20th May 2016

20.05.16
Been given so much great tips and advice and yet more kindness. Trying lots of different ideas to soothe my skin. Thank you so much, you are all angels and heroes!! Xxx

Bad skin day

19th May 2016

19.05.16
Today's update...I am disgusting. This is what chemo has done to my skin ???? have been prescribed antibiotics and steroid cream and they are reducing my dose. Feel grim and sore and very ugly! Any recommendations very welcome!!

Writing's on the wall

18th May 2016


18.05.16
Another day at the Marsden done ???????? left armed with antibiotics, steroid cream AND my name on the wall!!!!! My gorgeous Jake Coates sponsored my birthday and made my day ???? love you xxx

My amazing brother in law

16th May 2016

16.05.16
My gorgeous brother in law shaved his head to raise pennies. What a hero!!!

Moving day

13th May 2016

13.05.16
Today we are moving!!! We thought wedding planning and cancer and a tandem challenge wasn't enough to keep us occupied!! ???? leaving London and moving to the countryside closer to our families to the most beautiful barn conversion.
Bye bye Clapham ???????? it's been an incredible almost 10 years... feeling a little emotional but at least I've picked myself up a sassy white van man!! Toot toot!

THANK YOU!

10th May 2016

10.05.16
Sending out the most enormous THANK YOU (of all time) to each and every person who has donated, supported us and helped spread awareness by sharing our justgiving page.

We are absolutely gobsmacked that we surpassed our ambitious target of £20000 over the weekend. Our aim now is to take away the ceiling (sky's the limit!) and continue to raise as many pennies as we possibly can. Therefore we hope that you remarkable people will continue to generously share and donate, so that the total for such an incredible cause will continue to grow. We realise that the more money we can raise, the more impact we can make, and we will be doing our best to keep you all updated, be creative with fancy dress (any ideas welcome) and of course we will be revealing our (slightly controversial ????) surprise when we reach our finish in Copenhagen...with hopefully a few more fun surprises along the way...the 'wheels are in motion'.

I hope that everyone knows that we feel incredibly privileged to be in this position. A position where we can raise such a substantial amount for such an important charity, which we hope will help people, somewhere and somehow, in the future whilst embarking on such an exciting challenge in the process. I know I am very lucky and it is an amazing opportunity despite a niggly health set back.

Thank you to each and every person for your beautiful thoughts, words, support and encouragement. I am feeling so, so positive 5 days into chemotherapy; we are currently focusing our energies on bikemin, with a little bit of wedmin and of course the essential snoozemin for the current most annoyingly sleepy person on the planet!!

Human kindness is quite simply staggering! Thank you xxx ????????????????

Happy campers

7th May 2016

07.05.16
Today was such a good day, I felt more human than I have in months! can't stop smiling! Can't wait for a weekend with our families. 2 very happy campers!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE MIND BLOWING SUPPORT AND KINDNESS. There are no words I can find to do it justice. Xxx

Chemotherapy

5th May 2016

05.05.16
Today I started my chemotherapy treatment!So excited for my symptoms to go away...as well as being prepared for the surprises that the side effects of chemo may bring! Here's to the beginning of the next chapter, getting stable on my treatment, so we can ace this little bike ride!! Thank you so much to everyone for all of your support!!! It's PHENOMENAL!

Making some babies!

3rd May 2016

03.05.16
Today is a big and life changing day...plus I got to wear a fun hat!!

The chemotherapy I am starting is for the rest of my days with no breaks. It would not be safe to carry a baby on this particular treatment. Therefore our only option for the slim possibility of ever having our own child has been to undergo fertility treatment; to harvest my eggs and Jake's little swimmers and freeze the embryos, which potentially could be used with a surrogate in the future. This has been a heartbreaking reality and an emotional, surreal experience; something we never thought we would encounter. It has also been the reason for the delay in my chemotherapy treatment which has been physically tough most days. We were really lucky that funding was approved immediately and they have done everything possible to make the process as quick as possible...quadrupling doses of injections etc. (Hormone central..lucky Jake!) This was our only chance at the procedure and today we nailed it and got those mighty fine little embryos safely stored away!! ????????????????

This means tomorrow I can finally start my chemotherapy treatment!!! So excited for my symptoms to go away...as well as being prepared for the surprises that the side effects of chemo may bring! Here's to the beginning of the next chapter, getting stable on my treatment, so we can ace this little bike ride!! Thank you so much to everyone for all of your support!!! It's PHENOMENAL!

I genuinely can't get my head around the over whelming response; the empathy, kindness and generosity we have received. I'm so sorry I haven't had a chance yet to thank everyone individually but I do promise this is one of my priorities. Our fundraising total has already totally eclipsed our goal of £7000 currently standing at a whooping £11914.64 this is mind blowing and I am quite simply ecstatic, that with such a significant amount, hopefully we can make an impact with supporting the Royal Marsden to help others in the future.

Therefore we have decided to raise the bar and aim higher, the more we can raise the more people we can possibly help with funding for research, alongside raising awareness. We have increased our target to £20,000 (we appreciate this target maybe a tad optimistic) if we reach this staggering amount we have decided that we will do the entire TANDEMONIUM in fancy dress.
...so please, please keep the donations coming...If we can top the enormous £20,000 we have one final, slightly crazy, surprise (one which may be better off not telling the parents unless we get there...) we will keep you in suspense!!

THANK YOU xxx

First time on a tandem!!

2nd May 2016

02.05.16
Today was our first ever attempt on a tandem!!!! We absolutely LOVED it!!!!

from Jake x

1st May 2016

01.05.16
Blimey! How bloomin generous are all you wonderful folk???! We have reached £6000 already which is unbelievable!

First of all can I say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone for all of their well-wishes and hugely generous donations towards our wee tandem adventure!!! We really can't thank you all enough! From the bottom of our hearts - Thank you!

Secondly, I want to tell you all a little story...
As many of you will know, my angel Emmy was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with an incurable form of metastatic thyroid cancer. It was an idle grey overcast Tuesday when she was given the news and, just like Baz Luhrmann wrote in the song 'everybody's free', it truly is those things that you least expect, rather than the things you spend your life worrying about, that blindside you so completely. As you can imagine it has been completely world shattering for her and everyone that knows her.

Most of you will also know Emmy personally or through friends and know or have seen (via FB) just how wonderful she is. How selfless, how generous and how loving and kind she is. The overwhelming outpouring of love on Facebook gives you just a small glimpse. The number of letters, cards and gifts that have been sent is staggering and have made her feel so loved. (A massive thank you to all of those lovely people too!) It demonstrates not only the kind of person she is and the effect that she has had on others during her life but also, in this cruel and sometimes harsh world, how incredibly kind and caring the human race can be. Again - thank you!

However... few of you will know the reality of what she is really going through. The last 4 weeks has seen Emmy face some of the toughest challenges and decisions that I have ever witnessed anyone have to go through, with twice sometimes thrice daily hospital appointments, endless needles and scans and seemingly worse news at every corner. The gradually worsening health making her feel absolutely exhausted and the constant pain which, at times, is excruciating. The side she doesn't want you seeing because she is so scared of causing hurt or worry to those who are closest to her. The absolute heartache of the girl, who only ever wanted to be a mum, who will never be able to carry her own child because the chemotherapy won't allow it. The unwavering smile and positive attitude in the face of an uncertain future. She is so much braver and stronger than even I knew. She is truly the most remarkable and amazing girl I have ever met.

The road ahead will undoubtedly continue to be rough at times but like Emmy has said, the type of chemotherapy treatment that she is starting on wasn't available even 5 years ago. The real smart docs, the ones really at the top of their game, are doing incredible things at the Royal Marsden Hospital; researching new treatments each and everyday. But they genuinely need support to keep up the fight. This little tandem adventure will be a lot of fun and we will keep you all updated with our progress. Neither of us know how Emmy will feel during the ride but one thing is for sure - she won't let me let her fail, she'll give it her everything and she'll do it with that big fat smile on her face the whole way!

Without you guys the world would be a sadder place. She really feels that she is not alone in fighting this. She has not just her nearest and dearest but ALL OF YOU behind her!! Thank you for giving so generously. You are all my heroes.

...'don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m on some idle Tuesday.' Baz Luhrmann.

amusement at the fertility clinic

29th Apr 2016

29.04.16
Today was another fairly testing morning, waking up to my car being broken into. However whilst sitting in the fertility waiting room for another scan I noticed the name (or at least what it looked like from afar) of the laboratories...rather unfortunate for a fertility clinic. We can always find a reason to smile!! ????

First time on a push bike.

28th Apr 2016

28.04.16
First practise on a bike! In fact first exercise I have done in over 3 months. And first day (other than our 4 day Dubai escape) without a hospital appointment in 2 months.
It's fair to say I'm unfit!!!!! I had to push the bike up the hills ????

Reunited with my lovely cousin

27th Apr 2016

Let's not leave it so long next time!!!!!

Jake

23rd Apr 2016

23.04.16
This guy ????
...The one who gives me a reason to smile and makes me chuckle every single day. Thank you for making me so happy, for unconditional kindness, for bottomless love, for being so utterly scrumptious and for a sensational few days of pure relaxation away from reality (bar the daily bum injections ????)!!! ????????????

Dubai!

18th Apr 2016

18.04.16
After wheedling 4 days off from hospitals, full advantage has been taken...armed with my very own personal hot doctor and a whole concoction of substances...we have ESCAPED!!!! Back at the weekend to resume lab rat duties! So excited to sleep, rest and snuggle like an Arabian princess with my incredible husband to be!!! ????
As it is my last chance to ever bask in the sun before treatment makes me eternally allergic...I intend to return resembling a different race!

Poor Jake continues to give my bottom three different injections a day. Hopefully to get as many follicles ready as possible so we can prepare some babies!! ????

Lymph node operation

14th Apr 2016

14.04.16
Unfortunately the tissue biopsy was a failure! The accident extracted muscle rather than tissue. Therefore today I need an operation to remove lymph nodes so they can study the cancer in the labs. This will hopefully help me with treatments in the future.

Frankenstein

9th Apr 2016

09.04.16
Frankenstein is healing nicely. Now just need to get all of the fertility stuff done so I can finally get into some chemo and ease these naughty symptoms!!!

Sparkles!!

8th Apr 2016

8.04.16
After another slightly dire hospital appointment today (where I am choosing to ignore all of the new information shared)...we got this BEAUTY back!!!! So excited I'm about to pop!! Jake Coates thank you for being the most incredible creature on the planet...you are my rock...so now I have TWO!!!
T minus 147 days until wedding time!!!! I'M SO HAPPY AND EXCITED I HAVE TO WRITE IN CAPITALS!!!!!

done!

8th Apr 2016

08.04.16
Operation a success. Now off to visit granny!

Another day another gown

8th Apr 2016

08.04.16
Coming round from yet another anaesthetic. The problem is my symptoms cause me to need to empty my bowels every ten minutes...I desperately needed a poop!!! Haha. Jake had to carry me to the toilet!

Thank you amazing people xx

6th Apr 2016

06.04.16

I truly am the luckiest and most blessed girl in the world to be surrounded by such beautiful, incredible people. I have the most thoughtful, generous and loving friends there could possibly be. I haven't had a chance to respond to my messages yet (I'm so sorry I am absolutely crap...I promise to sort myself out and do this in the next couple of days). I have been so touched and warmed by every single sentiment. I have received so many incredibly generous, kind, caring and thoughtful messages, cards, flowers and gifts (even from the munchkins at school) and am quite simply overwhelmed with positivity, love and happiness. Words don't express how grateful I am, how undeserving I feel or how determined you have all made me feel to treasure every single day!! I wish I could do something even a fraction as wonderful in return!!

I now have my own little (danger)mouse who is helping me out BIG time down at the labs, he's taken my DNA and is manning up for the team, testing any new drugs or treatments that may be developed in the future so I can keep going and annoying the hell out of you all with my irritating Facebook updates for some time to come!! Daddy Collett is supplying him with beers to show appreciation!!

home

4th Apr 2016

After another biopsy we are back home for our first day off from hospital for as many days as I can remember.
AND....we have decided on a wedding date!!!!! Yippee!
Love being back home.

Core tissue biopsy of neck lymph nodes.

1st Apr 2016

01.04.16
A second neck biopsy of the lymph nodes required as the last one which was a fine needle aspiration didn't get enough tissue. This time they did deep tissue.

diagnosis

31st Mar 2016

31.03.16
I've thought long and hard whether to post this and I hope it will be received free from any negative judgment.
It just seems like an easy way (sorry me being useless!) of reaching all of those I'd like to; I wanted a way of thanking friends for their love and support, to inform people who have wondered what the heck is going on and to apologise to people I haven't had an opportunity to reply or explain to. Particularly as I may just take some chill time back home for a few days where I have barely any phone reception and communication via carrier pigeon would be a more reliable service. So please, please don't be offended if I haven't/don't reply immediately. I certainly don't want any sympathy or sadness...this would make me very cross pants!! I guess it's good to highlight that we never know what's round the corner so smile, love and be kind! ????

In a nutshell, I have been diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer which rather inconveniently, we found out today, has spread into my spine, liver, lungs and bones. Unfortunately the spread is so advanced that it is incurable so it's now a question of managing it rather than fixing it. I am starting treatment within the next couple of weeks (I won't lose any hair, or more importantly eyelashes, which is great!) which will be a means of prolonging life as long as possible...which I intend to do to the absolute fullest with all of my favourite people...remaining positive with faith in those clever sausage medical geniuses to make anything possible with new types of drugs and treatment in the mean time.

Despite rotten news I have never felt so much love, support and happiness over the past few weeks. You all know who you are and I am so touched and appreciative and feel totally undeserving...Thank you ????!! Jake Coates truly is my angel (and my frickin FIANCÉ!!!! ????), the one who made me keep pursuing medics in the first place when I had given up hope, has left Australia to be by my side and has not left my side since the day he landed. My mum, dad David Collett, Beautiful sister Sophie Coles and also my 2 gorgeous friends Claire Kerr and Leona Greenwood thank you, you are all my angels too and you have made me feel so very special and cared every single day. Xxxx

Escape to Salcombe

28th Mar 2016

28.03.16
Want to say the most GIGANTIC thank you to all of our beautiful friends and families for such an incredible amount of love and support, we are totally overwhelmed and can't quite express how touched we are, how much it means to us and how much we appreciate it. I'm having the happiest weekend of my life in Salcombe and genuinely don't believe the Philippines could have compared anyway!! So excited about the future and all of our adventures to come and know for sure I'll be super fit and healthy in no time...there's an aisle to walk down!!!! ???? love you all so much, and especially love this boy!!! THANK YOU again to everyone. You are all angels

I said 'YES'!!

26th Mar 2016

26.03.16
Turns out that the boy who's given my tummy butterflies since I was eleven wasn't lying when he wrote me this beautiful little note over a decade ago. Even with some scary health news this week I can honestly say I have never felt such pure overwhelming happiness and love or more determination to get well so that I can spend the rest of my life with the love of my life!! ???? luckiest girl in the whole wide world!! ????

Not allowed to travel.

25th Mar 2016

25.03.16
My very sad little case who was meant to be travelling to a very romantic little tree house in the Philippines this evening ????

Count down until the Philippines...

20th Mar 2016

20.03.16
5 more sleeps until I'm on the plane Jake Coates ????!! Not that I'm counting...totally playing it cool!!
EJTANDEMONIUM
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