Boost Energy With Twisting Yoga Poses

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Purpose of Twists
Twists can boost energy when feeling tired or fatigued. When we twist, we literally squeeze tension and toxins out from the body. In twisting poses, our muscles have an opportunity to squeeze and relax, and once finished, the area that released will then experience a rush of blood and nutrients.
Standing Wide Angle Twist


Stretches pectoralis muscle
Post surgical benefits of reducing fibrous adhesions and scar tissue 
Opens shoulder joint and improves flexibility
Increases circulation and blood flow in chest
Strong hip opener and deep twist in inner core.
Lengthen and  strengthen side body and increases vitality
Massages lower abdominal organs and glands
Expands ribs for deeper breathing
Lumbar or sacral injuries
Shoulder and rotator cuff injuries
  1. Begin in a  wide stance about 3 feet apart with feet parallel  (make sure the leg remains anchored).
  2. EXHALE, and bring arms forward, placing hands directly underneath shoulders with head in its natural alignment )use a bolster or yoga blocks so there isn’t a collapse in the front of the body).
  3. INHALE, extend right arm out and then overhead (follow arm with eyes).
  4. EXHALE, lower arm and head back to center.
  5. INHALE, and repeat left side(make sure your head doesn’t collapse).
  6. EXHALE, return to neutral.
  7. Let your legs and arms support the extension of the spine.
  8. Continue for 5 or more twist, then sustain into the pose on left and right side t on left side.
Twisting Yoga Poses E-book 
Breast Cancer Yoga  released a “Healthy & Hopeful Lifestyle” E-book Series that contain specific restorative yoga poses that assist in breast cancer post - surgical recovery, fatigue and lymphedema management. Also included is a breathing exercise which is an essential tool for reduction of stress, anxiety and depression. Complementary Therapies are suggested to further enhance healing. 
By Diana Ross E-RYT 500

Breast Cancer Yoga "Twisting Yoga Poses" E-book Trailer

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Yoga: Diana Ross on Women Radio

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Diana Ross on Women Radio

Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Diana Ross on Women Radio

Excited to have Diana Ross, a Teacher of Restorative Yoga from Breast Cancer Yoga with Tips on Conscious Breathing and Restorative Yoga for Healing tomorrow. If you have a question, just post it on our Feel and Look Fabulous Wall.
Restorative yoga and conscious breathing for calming mind body spirit and faster healing. Tips on relaxed deep breathing to get rid of fear, anxiety and tension.

Breast Cancer Yoga's Happy & Healthy Holiday Greetings

Friday, December 23, 2011

Diana Ross and Dawn Bradford
 Breast Cancer Yoga 

are wishing everyone a
 happy & healthy holiday!

Yoga Poses With Props For Breast Cancer

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Supported and Safe Poses
Using yoga props can make all the difference in the world for a person to feel safe, supported and nurtured. Props create a perception that the Earth is rising up to provide support, and create a feeling of being safe. Using blocks, blankets and bolsters decreases muscular tension and anxiety about letting go or falling in a pose. Yoga props also provide the opportunity to surrender deeper into a pose, without the distraction of strain or pain. After surgeries or treatments it is common to feel tight, inflexible and weakened. It is here where yoga props can facilitate great physical and emotional change.  
Yoga Pose Without Discomfort
Yogis of the past used props, such as ropes, stones and wooden logs to help support a yoga pose. These props served great purpose when an aspiring student lacked yoga experience, had not stretched their muscles enough, or could hold a pose without discomfort for any significant time. Here to they offered great support for the body.
Relieve Pain With Yoga Props
A restorative yoga therapy such as Breast Cancer Yoga, which uses many yoga props, serve a valuable function of support before and after surgery, especially when there is ongoing stress or limited ROM (Range of Motion) in the arms, back and chest. Poses that are properly supported with props can help in breast cancer recovery by relieving associated pain and discomfort. By taking pressure off the joints and muscles of the body, a person may be able to relax more and focus better on the breath, and to then hold the pose longer. Being able to let go and surrender in a pose comfortably allows the mind and body to feel safe and nurtured. 
Most importantly, when props are used correctly, they allow the body to come into a natural and balanced state of alignment.  When the body is aligned, the mind feels balanced as well. Once the body and the mind unite, the breath too becomes aligned and brings a deeper, internal state of peace.
By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
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Christmas is Looming!

Monday, December 19, 2011


An Oncology Clinic on December 13th was for me the harbinger to Christmas 2011. I haven’t been feeling well since August of this year, and with a plentiful supply of Morphine and nerve pain relief I predicted the inevitable word scan would be mentioned at the clinic - and mentioned it was. "Well Hywel, it’s been a while since your last CT Scan, last July I believe, so with all the symptoms you’ve been telling me about I think it’s time for another." I knew it would happen, but it still places a small pocket of fear inside you that’s difficult to get rid of.

I said that I didn’t mind the scan being done before Christmas, but I would prefer the results to be after Christmas - the festivities in my case being a quarter glass of red wine and copious amounts of sleep! I’ve had more CT Scans than I care to remember, but this time it feels different. I’ve been in a fair amount of pain which at times even morphine can’t keep under control. There’s something going on but I just don’t know what it is and that’s the biggest fear for me, the fear of the unknown. I can deal with what I know but struggle with what I don’t.

All this aside, I am still looking forward to Christmas and it’s also my birthday on the 20th. Every year for the last four years it has been tinged with that question that always lingers at the back of my mind. Will this be the last? I can cope very well with short term goals because, for me, they are achievable and something to look forward to. Longer term ones are different and for some reason my mind simply shuts them out completely. Two weeks into January and I will have the results of my scan and thus my life will be mapped out for the foreseeable future.

So with these few brief words to end the year Happy Christmas and New Year to all! Let’s just see what the new one brings.


Christmas has come around again very quickly, last year we were trudging through the snow to get to Velindre for Hywel’s radiotherapy, so it’s a relief not having to do that again. The memories of last year came flooding back when we drove to Llwynypia through driving rain and wintry showers for Hywel’s 3 monthly oncology clinic on 13th December. Hywel has gradually been feeling more ill since the summer and has found it difficult to manage his pain without being completely out of it. Seeing the palliative care consultant at the end of the summer was really tough. It left me with a sense of despair as it signified a move to another stage of Hywel’s cancer. It has taken a while to deal with that and I try not to think about it too much. I can see Hywel is in pain at times and I have to be on hand to remind him to take his tablets as the morphine can fuddle his brain a bit! I asked the GP if he could get the pharmacy to prepare a weekly blister pack of tablets. This has made it so much easier for Hywel to keep track of his medication as there are 12 tablets to be taken at different times throughout the day.

At the clinic Hywel described what his pain has been like over the last few months and what new symptoms he has been experiencing. It was agreed that he should have a scan. We had talked before the clinic and decided that if Hywel was told he should have another scan we would prefer to have the results after Christmas. We try to be positive and hope that the pain is being caused by fibrosis from the scarring caused by his treatment, but we are also realistic and know that it could be the tumours causing the pain. Hywel worries that this could be his last Christmas so we want to enjoy it as best we can without knowing the results. I can’t think as far ahead as next December; I deal with the future one small piece at a time, I can see a month or two ahead but any further on, my heart can’t bear it and my mind just won’t allow it.

Carly, Luke, Adam and Elliott and Carly’s boyfriend Jon will be joining us for Christmas dinner this year. Hywel’s Mum won’t be with us this as she’s in hospital, being rehabilitated after a fall a couple of months ago, so we will pop in and see her Christmas morning, then come back home and all eat together. We will have a couple of hours together in the afternoon before the eldest 3 go off and do their own thing and we will probably sit down with Elliott and watch a film of his choice in the evening. My Mum is in Florida for a few months so we will speak to her on Skype sometime in the afternoon. We don’t have any firm plans for the rest of the holidays. My Dad will pop over at some point with his girlfriend and we will hopefully catch up with a few close friends whilst they have some time off from work. I am hoping it will be nice and relaxed without too much rushing around, the kids are older now so that should be possible!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all and keep your fingers and toes crossed for good results from the scan for us in January.

Reduce Stress and Induce Relaxation with Yoga Props

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yoga Pose With Props

For relaxation and stress reduction, a restorative practice is commonly recommended in which props are used in many innovative ways. The props allow the main components of the pose and the subtle adjustments of the body to  encourage relaxation and to assist in improving blood and lymph flow. Using props can open the chest, and expand the breath. This benefits oxygen exchange and rid the lungs of residual stale air volume. The deepened breath brought about by using the right props will physically bring increased lymphatic circulation and drainage. Moreover when props are used to support both the mind and the body they also offer mental and emotional benefits, which help decrease anxiety, fear, and depression. 
When emotional fears and anxieties are reduced, the Autonmic Nervous System which consist of the parasympathetic system “rest and digest” functions are made active, down-regulating the habitual responses of the sympathetic nervous system “fright or fear” which floods the body with stress hormones and creates emotional states of panic and fear.
By: Diana Ross E-RYT 500
Founder: Breast Cancer Yoga

Follow Us: Breast Yoga

Triggers of Unhealthy Breathing

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There are certain influences on breathing that trigger unhealthy breathing, and pain is just one. The breath will register pain with sudden piercing inhalations and fierce exhalations, and the breath stays affected the entire time that the pain persists or until the pain crisis passes. Emotions also trigger enormous changes in breathing; just by witnessing a scary picture, fear will be triggered. Or the breath can become relaxed and take on a completely different point of reference if we see a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Stress too has an affect on the breath.  The breath is hard wired into your nervous system and if you become tense, hurried or overwhelmed the stress may linger on well past the event. 

Conscious Change
Training the breath can help bring these various influences on breathing to conscious place for change. And it makes the breathing a stronger tool to resist the disruption of all these harmful influences: stress, pain, fear and becoming overwhelmed.  A trained breath can also help defuse these powerful and disruptive emotional reactions and keep them at bay. Through practice, the breath can become a powerful instrument in managing stress, restoring energy and calming the mind.

Manage Anxiety
Diaphragmatic breathing “belly breathing” will help manage anxiety when levels of stress are difficult to manage. Pain can be a signal for you, and an opportunity to transform the situational influences in a positive way. These influences need to be managed instead of being a crippling. It is here where developing a daily breathing practice can become the foundation of managing upsets.  I know that anxiety, stress, fear and any other type of tension will appear here and there. However, there is no reason not to have the tools to manage or decrease their effects and provide you with the ability of feeling in control. 

By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Founder: Breast Cancer Yoga

Why Do We Take The Breath For Granted?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Breathing Is Automatic
We take the breath for granted; that it is automatic and will always persist, uninterrupted day and night. But precisely because breathing does not require our attention it can be hard to understand “why”.  
Yoga And Breathing
Yoga instructs us to learn to breathe with greater awareness.  When the breath is properly trained it becomes an effective therapeutic tool; always present, effective in prevention of emotional stressors and restorative. First the need to consciously learn to regulate and develop a rhythmical breath for a maximum outcome is required. All it takes is the merest voluntary effort and a conscious change in the way we breathe. 
Breathing Is A Gift
Breathing normally without conscious awareness occurs outside our mind’s awareness. The breathe is governed by certain cells that measures blood gas levels, which create a crude rhythm of respiration that coordinates the activity of the respiratory muscles. All of which makes breathing smoother and effective.  Just imagine all the inhalations and exhalations passing some 21,600 times in just one day; and that is with out any breaks. Pretty amazing. We ask “Why not take the breath for granted?” This is why not. It is a gift that keeps giving and most of the time we do not acknowledge it.
By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Founder: Breast Cancer Yoga

Follow Us: Breast Yoga

Breathing for Anxiety

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Anxiety Triggers
For many depression sufferers, anxiety can be quite formidable. Anticipation of having breast cancer, potentially having to do chemotherapy or radiation treatments can trigger great anxiety. This anxiety can then disrupt any normal physical or emotional functioning. Besides when anxiety is great enough it can bring on fatigue, sleeplessness, the jitters, irritability and painful headaches.  Not very good for recovery.

Remedy to Reduce Anxiety
Anxious people tend to take short, shallow breaths which create an erratic heartbeat, dizziness and even lightheadedness. Fear may play a hugh role in these physical changes. It is not unusual to treat these symptoms with medication. These medications run the possibility of becoming addictive. Instead of taking something that could become a problem, why not turn to your own breathe as a possible solution to anxiety. One simple remedy to reduce anxiety is to learn how to breathe slowly and deeply. Slow inhales and exhales with your complete attention can be quite amazing.
By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Founder: Breast Cancer Yoga
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Sing for Life: Why Music is so Important to Me.


The one constant that’s been with me throughout my travels with cancer has been my love of music. Listening to music has always inspired me, from a very early age where I listened to Labi Siffre and Buffy Saint Marie, careering headlong through the Sex Pistols and similar punk bands (sorry but The Wurzels and Demis Roussos didn’t do it for me in 1976) in my teenage years, to an eclectic mix now including classical, European dance, country, electro and rock.

Throughout all my operations, my chemotherapy cycle, my two lots of radiotherapy and even my PET Scan in Cheltenham I always listened to music. I found it inspiring, uplifting as I could close my eyes, concentrate wholly on the music, and shut the world out for a brief moment in time. I found it incredibly soothing and relaxing lying in a hospital bed with my headphones on, listening to all sorts of wonderful sounds. Mind, I did skip Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust!

On a cold January day in 2010 I had a phone call from Tenovus asking if Cathy and I would be interested in joining a special choir they were putting together. It was to be made up of cancer patients, their friends and family. My initial reaction was “no”. I wasn’t feeling particularly well, it was bitterly cold outside and I didn’t want to hang around in a hall somewhere trying to get some semblance of sound out of my mouth. After a long think and a chat with Cathy I decided I would give it a go. My biggest hurdle was lack of confidence and self esteem. The thought of going somewhere and meeting new people for the first time filled me with horror, and it took quite a bit of courage to make the decision to go, but go I did.

Ready to perform at the Hilton 2010

The first session was great. It was lovely meeting the small band of people who had decided to come the first time and it was also explained that Tenovus would be doing some research with Cardiff University into the positive effects that singing would have on the group.

Slowly but surely I felt more comfortable with the choir and had some great help with exercises to help improve my vocal range and my voice in general. After ending up with a paralysed vocal cord during my neck dissection surgery, speaking had become a major problem, and singing was a non starter in my view – but here I was singing as part of a choir.

The BBC were also filming the event as part of a documentary which was called It’s Good to Sing. The choir itself was called The Tenovus Sing for Life Choir and after a few sessions we were up and running. I thoroughly enjoyed my time. It was lovely meeting others who had gone through the same thing as me and I felt I could talk about my illness and any upcoming clinics and operations without feeling any of the social stigma attached to cancer.

The first performance was in Cwmbran in front of HRH Princess Anne but Cathy and I unfortunately missed that due to a clinic appointment. The second one was at Tenovus’ Annual Charity Ball, held at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff on March 5th 2010. What a night that was. Full of passion, emotion and so much adrenaline it was unbelievable. Singing in front of two hundred people was an amazing experience and the choir sounded so good even after only two months of practicing. I was asked to say a few words at the end and even though I was incredibly nervous I was pleased and honored to do it.

Performing at the Senedd June 2011

The choir has gone from strength to strength and we have sung in small halls in front of a few hundred people to the Millennium stadium in front of twenty five thousand. It’s been an honour and privilege to be part of something that has worked so well for everyone concerned and being there makes me forget all that I’m going through at the moment. Even though I’ve missed a few rehearsals and concerts due to illness, when I’m ready to go out again it’s the choir that I first aim for. I have always enjoyed music, listen to it constantly and being a part of the Sing for Life Choir has been the icing on my musical cake.


Hywel has always loved music and finds it helps him to relax and switch off from the world of cancer. I love music I can sing along and dance to, so we have slightly different taste sometimes, but we will often spend evenings together just listening to music we both like.

We found out about the cancer charity, Tenovus, after Hywel’s initial diagnosis in 2007. They helped us to sort out what benefits Hywel could apply for when being ill forced him to retire from teaching. Tenovus asked Hywel to share his story with others and also asked him to talk on radio and TV a couple of times. In January 2010 Tenovus contacted Hywel to ask if he and I would be interested in joining a choir they were setting up, as part of a pilot project, studying the effects of singing on the health and wellbeing of cancer patients and their carers. I don’t think Hywel was too keen at first because his voice was a problem after his operation. I was really excited at the prospect; I thought it was a great idea as we’d talked about joining a choir before Hywel was ill. We’d started salsa dancing classes a couple of months before Hywel was diagnosed and had had to give that up as it was too much for him, so we didn’t really do much socially anymore. Hywel was reassured that you didn’t have to be a great singer to be in the choir. We also asked our good friends June and Martin to join the choir with us so it was something we could do as a foursome.

We went to our first practice in early January 2010 when it was freezing cold and pouring with rain. After we’d told Tenovus that we’d like to join we were informed a documentary was going to be made about the choir being set up. It was great fun from the start, although it took a week or two’s practicing to relax a little and start chatting to others. Hywel was in a social environment where he didn’t feel excluded and I was meeting new people who understood what it was like for me too. We were given CDs to sing along to and I would drive Hywel mad with my constant practicing in the kitchen! The choir only met a couple of times before a performance for HRH Princess Anne, but we unfortunately had to miss that as I was working in North Wales and Hywel had a hospital appointment. The TV crew came to our house to film as they took a liking to Hywel! He’s a real natural in front of the cameras, whereas I get tongue tied and awkward! The next gig was a big deal for us, it was Tenovus’ biggest fundraising event of the year - their annual St David’s day dinner - and Hywel had been asked to say a few words after the choir had sung. We had an amazing evening. The choir was on a real high after singing well, plus it was the last night of filming. Hywel shared the stage with Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and made an incredibly moving speech, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The event really brought the people in the choir together. We both felt very emotional for a couple of days after the event. The choir was given an advanced screening of the BBC documentary ‘It’s Good to Sing’. It was such a positive programme, all about people living with cancer rather than about people dying with cancer, which a lot of TV programmes dealing with cancer tend to focus on.

The choir went from strength to strength after the programme. I’ve made some really good friends there, and when Hywel was told his cancer was back we carried on going every week, missing only a few practices when Hywel was having treatment. We’ve performed with the Pendyrus Male voice choir, the Treorchy Male Voice choir, and were the support act for Only Men Aloud in Treorchy! The most memorable performance for me was in Liverpool in November 2010, when we opened the National Cancer Research Institute’s conference.

After performing at the NCRI conference November 2010

Hywel pushed himself to come to choir practice when he was having chemo. I had been asked to audition to sing a small solo part in Liverpool and he thought I might chicken out of auditioning if he didn’t come along to the rehearsals! I got the part and sang a small alto part at the start of our version of “You’ll never Walk Alone”. I think knowing I was going to sing the solo helped us both have the trip to Liverpool as something to focus on beyond the end of Hywel’s chemotherapy. Hywel said he felt very proud when I sang. I felt I was singing those words for him and it was a great feeling to be performing at such an appropriate event. We had a standing ovation at the end of our performance. Hywel found the trip exhausting but also exhilarating. At this year’s NCRI conference Tenovus were given an award for the best charitable initiative for the choir. 

We performed again at the Tenovus St David’s day event in March 2011. Hywel spoke at the event following our performance, this time to an audience of around four hundred people. He spoke really well yet again, making people laugh and feel moved at the same time. After that speech we were asked to sit at the Tenovus table, where we were privileged to spend a few hours with Rory Bremner, who showed Hywel how to use Twitter and still sends him regular tweets!

Hywel missed quite a few rehearsals during the summer and autumn of this year as his voice had grown very weak again and the pain from his treatment scarring was very debilitating. I carried on going on my own but really missed him being there. When Hywel’s consultant told him surgery could improve his voice, I was really hopeful. Two weeks after the operation, Hywel was back at choir and I’m really happy we can carry on doing this together.

BBC Documentary 'It's Good to Sing'

Prostrate Cancer Program Presentation

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review this informative presentation by Johannes Vieweg, M.D., Department of Urology and Prostate Disease Center, University of Florida.

Presentation of State of Florida Prostrate Cancer Program

Why is Breathing so Important in Recovery?

Take A Deep Breath
We hear from time to time this familiar phrase ”take a deep breath” when we become stressed or over excited. Ever wonder why?  There are so many reasons as to why.  Taking a full, deep conscious breath has been known to settle us down when we are  nervous or upset.

Gain Control Of Emotional State
First step is to tune into your breath and become a conscious breather (as much as possible). The immediate result of tuning into your breath is the ability in obtaining control of your emotional state of mind. There is also greater (efficient) oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide elimination.  Now for the a positive potential results of facilitating recovery from surgery and beyond, is the ability to calm your nerves and invite relaxation. The immune system will benefit as well to proper breathing cycles. By conscious breathing we bring the mind/body state into balance and the nervous system runs with maximum efficiently.

Learn & Develop a Breathing Practice
Now how can we facilitate something that may be so challenging, especially when someone  has a  “monkey mind”, a restless mind that jumps all over.  If you can find a yoga teacher that specializes in breathing techniques or maybe a great breathing CD that introduces specific stress relieving breaths this would be most helpful. However, this could be the easy part, the real job would be the commitment to yourself to learn and develop a breathing practice. All I can tell you is that it is so worth it.  Studies support that proper breathing play a large role in recovery by balancing, energizing, and relaxing the mind/body connection.  Try it; it is for everyone.
By: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Founder: Breast Cancer Yoga
Follow Us: Breast Yoga

Seeking Research Study Participants

Thursday, December 1, 2011

University of Florida researchers are seeking female breast cancer survivors to participate in a research study.

Study involves a 30-45 minute interview that will ask for breast cancer survivors' thoughts and opinions about their current and future health.

Participants should have received chemotherapy or radiation therapy for breast cancer 5 or more years ago.

Participants may be compensated.

In order to participate or get more information, please call or email:
Dr. Christopher Harle
Phone: 352-273-6081

Cancer Connections December Meeting

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Please join us Wednesday December 14th, noon to 1 at Hope Lodge,  for our last meeting of 2011.  We will have a short presentation by Matthew Tenney about the new Kids Kicking Cancer program (, which meets on Mondays at the Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine.  The rest of the hour will be spent in a "Meet and Greet" format. This will give cancer-related care and service providers an opportunity to meet fellow healthcare professionals from this area, and to share information.  Please bring any informational brochures, business cards, fliers, coupons, etc. that you would like others to take with them for future reference. As always, we welcome cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.  This is a good opportunity for you to learn about the services available to you, including support groups.

Please be sure to pass on this invitation to anyone who might like to join us.
RSVP if possible, please, by 5 p.m.  Monday, December 12th. Email:

Spreading the Word

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coming off stage after my speech at the Hilton Hotel March 2010
After giving up teaching in April 2008 I was left in a void, struggling without something meaningful to do. Cancer charity Tenovus phoned me up one day and asked whether I’d be interested in speaking briefly on the radio about the effects of heating bills and the impact upon cancer patients. I had never done anything like this before so I thought it would be a great idea to get the message across to a wider audience. The radio interview very quickly became a TV interview with BBC Wales and that’s how my new role as Tenovus Ambassador started.

With Jackie and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen
I’ve never had a problem talking about my cancer. I know some cancer patients do which I fully appreciate, but I've always felt there are so many barriers which remain between the public’s perception of cancer and the reality. In my own small way I've tried to dispel some of the myths surrounding the treatment and given advice on how to overcome some of the many pitfalls that people encounter during the course of their illness.

Over the last four years I have spoken on Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Wales, S4C, BBC Wales, ITV Wales and at quite a few public events. I get very tense and nervous beforehand but I always feel fine once I start. I don’t know why, it’s just the way I am.

The BBC Wales documentary following the Sing for Life choir was a very uplifting experience,  not just for myself but for all concerned. Even being on stage at the Hilton in Cardiff in front of 200 people, and being filmed by the BBC delivering a speech alongside Jackie and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen didn’t worry me too much. I felt it important to convey, not just my feelings, but the feelings of others I had known who were in a similar situation at the time.

Speaking with Claudia McVie at the Senedd.
I felt very strongly about my question and answer session with Tenovus Chief Executive Claudia McVie at the Senedd (the National Assembly building) this year when speaking in front of the First Minister Carwyn Jones and Health Minister Lesley Griffiths. Those were the ideal times to tell people how I felt and had benefitted from the wonderful work that cancer charities like Tenovus do.

It was a great privilege and honour to speak at the Tenovus St. David’s Day Dinner at Sophia Gardens this year. My nerves were literally shredded before I took to the stage in front of 500 people but my talk went down very well. I just hope the small amount I say will touch someone and make them feel that all the good work people do in the field of cancer research really does help.

It’s been a privilege to meet some wonderful celebrities over the years who have given their time freely to help further this cause and I hope I will carry on doing this for as long as I possibly can.

Having dinner with Rory Bremner. Tenovus St David's Day Dinner, Swalec Stadium, March 2011
The last time I was in hospital having an operation was November 2nd 2011. Even whilst lying wide awake on an operating table with my neck open to the world my consultant told me how important it was to talk as openly as possible about cancer and it’s many effects. He told me this as he felt it would also break down the barrier between people like himself and the first time cancer patient bravely taking that first step into the unknown.

Cancer is an awful thing to have but I feel it deeply important that people who want to discuss it can do so without the stigma felt by the mere word itself. Understanding palliates the paralysis that the word cancer causes. As many have said before me, ‘Cancer is a word, not a sentence’.