Blog

It’s About Time for a Catch Up

Hi Guys! I am so sorry that it has so long since I last posted. As I am sure you can imagine the last 2 years have been pretty overwhelming for me and I just needed a break. Over the last few months I have been taking steps towards getting my life back to ‘normal’ – so let me catch you all up 😊

This is the whistle stop tour of May-October 2016;

May
This one still totally overwhelms me! I was awarded the Bloggers Choice Award 2016 for best Wellness, Mental Health & Fitness Blog. I was so blown away by this. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling great at the time so I couldn’t be there but my lovely blogger buddies Pam (pamslivelovefashion.com) and Cliona (leanmeanmomma.com) picked up the award for me.

image

May was also the time for the 96Fm Radiothon in aid of Cork Cancer charities. I was interviewed about my cancer battle and snippets of this interview were played over the 3 days of the Radiothon to help bring in donations. I hosted a tea party which was so much fun and we managed to raise over €1000. The Radiothon in total raised over €350,000 for such great Cork charities who everyday support cancer sufferers and their families – Cork Arc, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Mercy Hospital, CUH & Marymount Hospice.

image

June
I am not sure if this has come across in my blog but I am an extremely determined person. Back in June a few of my friends were doing the relay for the Cork City marathon. I know it was totally crazy and I really only made my mind up that morning but I actually completed one leg of the marathon totaling 6 miles. Now, to be clear, I did not run 6 miles and I am pretty sure I crawled part of it but I couldn’t care less – I did it!!!! 🎉🎉🎉 The slippers were the essential post race attire.

image

July
Now this is a big one. Myself and Lucy (my dog) moved back into our own house. I hadn’t lived in my house for years because I had been renting it out when I was over in the US. It was really hard to leave my parents house. They had been such a support to me and I really wasn’t sure how I would cope on my own. To be honest I still don’t know if I am able for living on my own again but it is one seriously big step towards getting back my independence and my ‘new normal’.

August
I went out! I know what your thinking but I went out out and in Dublin too! This was a massive step for me both physically and emotionally. My confidence has taken a battering over the last 2 years and so my trip to Marley Park with my bestie for the Kodaline/Jess Glynne/Walking on Cars concert was a big deal for me. I had an absolute ball and don’t think I had laughed so much in ages. I did not become a party animal overnight and was happily tucked up in bed by 12.00 😂

image

September
Way back in January on a seriously miserable night my family and I decided that we needed to make a plan to celebrate when I was finished my treatment. We threw around loads of ideas and finally settled on a once in a lifetime holiday to Cancun and New York. We booked it that night and the holiday to end all holidays finally came round in September. It was the perfect way to mark the end of my treatment – we all relaxed, enjoyed the comfort and hospitality (and the cocktails!). Cancun was fantastic, absolutely breathtaking scenery and the most amazing people. I celebrated my birthday while we were in Cancun and this was my first birthday post treatment and I could not think of a better way to mark it. Of course New York was brilliant – you can’t help but feed off the atmosphere in the city. It really is quite special. My credit card will never be the same again but it was so worth it!

image

image

Well that pretty much brings you all up to date. There are so many things that I want to share with you all about how my life has been since I finished my treatment. There are plenty more blog posts to come. The best way to describe how I am right now is that I am not better but I am definitely much better.

Thanks so much for reading and keep your eyes peeled for more posts very soon.

Ciara xxx

Finishing Treatment

Hey! I hope you have all enjoyed the Easter break and indulged yourself in lots of chocolate :) I had a very quiet weekend and this was mostly due to the fact that I had treatment on Thursday which was actually my very last round. I can’t believe it! I have been receiving treatment since January 2015 and I have to say that was probably the fastest 15 months of life.

I had heard from several people that the last day can be extremely surreal and that you definitely do not feel like how you would expect. From the outside you would expect someone who has reached the end of a long, tiring, painful and stressful time in their life to feel elated but the reality is very different. I felt happy, sad, excited, exhausted, worried, fearful and extremely tearful. I was basically a mixed bag of overflowing emotions. I think the over-riding feeling for me was fear. I have been wrapped up in a cocoon of medical and emotional support for so long and now what? Back to normal? What is normal now? My oncologist totally understood how I was feeling telling me one analogy he always uses – I am now sitting in a little dingy having to fend for myself having been pushed away from the main ship. That analogy really hit the nail on the head. Of course he assured me that the support has not gone anywhere but still it’s hard not to feel alone.

I don’t want to paint a bleak picture but I think it’s important that I am honest. If you are going through treatment or know someone who is then it’s good to understand that these feelings are common and that you are not alone in feeling them. Of course I feel hopeful for the future and I am looking forward to getting my strength and energy levels back so that I can start again with my ‘new normal’.

 

Last Treatment Selfie

Last Treatment Selfie

Not hoping to miss the pincushion lifestyle!!

Not going to miss the pincushion lifestyle!!

 

So what’s next? Well I will stay on hormone treatment until 2025 and so far I have been finding the side effects here pretty tolerable. I will not get the all clear for 5 years so for now it’s a matter of living from scan to scan, staying positive and looking to the future.

 

image

 

Thank you all so much for reading.

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hey Guys!

Sorry I have not been so active on my blog for the last few weeks! I have been going through a bit of a tough time with my health – the exhaustion lately has really been kicking my ass but happy to report that I am beginning to feel a lot better.

Despite all this, Food Fashion and the Fight has been extremely busy!! I was interviewed by the fab Cork blogger Material Boy for Hi Magazine where I talked about my treatment as well as my hopes for the future (pictures from the photoshoot for the interview are below). I am also going to be speaking at an event in April with proceeds going to Breakthrough Cancer Research. I feel like I am beginning to live the dream here as I really aspire to be a positive voice and support for others experiencing this terrible disease. As if that wasn’t enough I have just found out that my blog has been nominated for an Irish Blogger Association Award. Crazy!! :)

I had treatment earlier this week and even though I am feeling crappy there is a definite bubble of excitement starting to grow inside me. I now have only 1 more round of treatment to go!!! I cannot believe it – the last 15 months have flown by. This will hopefully be the last treatment I will need and the start of me getting my life back. I know that I still have a lot of recovery to go through over the next few months but to know that such a huge milestone is within reach is amazing :) Counting down the days!

image

Fighter :)

Fighter :)

image

image

image

Photo Credit: Material Boy

Glad to be back blogging again. Thank you so much for reading.

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

Friends Are The Family You Chose

A few months ago two of my fantastic friends Gemma and Jacinta contacted me and said that they wanted to put together an event in my honour to raise money for a cancer charity of my choice. I was completely blown away. This news came at a time when I was feeling really low and unwell. Cancer can be a very lonely disease and this amazing gesture reminded me that I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends anyone could ask for.

Jacinta, Me and Gemma

Jacinta, Me and Gemma

The event, after lots of planning and organisation from my friends, was afternoon tea in the gorgeous Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork. When it came to choosing a charity, I had no hesitation in selecting Cork Arc House Cancer Support who were an invaluable support to me when I needed it most.

With the lovely Fiona of Cork Arc House

With the lovely Fiona of Cork Arc House

The response to the event was unbelievable :) The room was full to capacity with family and friends from all areas and times of my life. They were also an extremely generous crowd because we managed to raise €4400 for Cork Arc House Cancer Support :)

Amazing turnout

Amazing turnout

All your favourite Cork Bloggers

All your favourite Cork Bloggers

There are so many people to thank who were instrumental in making this event such an amazing success. We certainly could not have pulled this off without the support from Roisin, John and all the team at Hayfield Manor Hotel who worked tirelessly all day to make sure that everyone was happy, well fed and always had a drink in their hands. Thank you so much to Heineken Ireland and Coca Cola for donating the beverages for the day’s festivities :)

Friends xx

Friends xx

School Friends

School Friends

Huge thanks also to everyone who donated a prize for the raffle which helped us generate even more money for our very worthy charity; Ryan’s Supervalu Glanmire, 3 Degrees Hair Salon Blackpool, Hayfield Manor, Mahon Point Shopping Center.

My beautiful mum

My beautiful mum

I will never be able to express to my friends how much this huge gesture of support means to me. I feel really rejuvenated and positive moving into the last phase of my treatment. The end is in sight guys :)

Thank you so much for reading!

Ciara xxx

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

My life As A Pin Cushion

Hey Guys!

As I am sure you can imagine my treatment involves lots of injections, infusions, blood taking. I have seen all types of needles – big and small, scary and scarier :) I never thought I would say it but I think I am now immune to needles, definitely a silver lining.

Regular readers of my blog will know that since starting treatment I have experienced many side effects but in particular I have been plagued by hot flushes. Doesn’t sound like much but trust me no one who has ever experienced a hot flush would agree.

image

My oncologist recommended that I try acupuncture to ease the hot flushes and night sweats. I was skeptical, how could multiple needles being stuck in all over your body help? At that stage though I would have tried anything so I made an appointment with my physio to start a course of acupuncture. Like I said, before I started treatment I was terrified of needles. I would never have thought that I would be ok with someone sticking needles in my face :)

image

Six sessions later and I can honestly say that my symptoms are at least 80% better than before which is such a success!! I am a complete convert to acupuncture so much so that I have since had acupuncture to relieve muscle pain that has been hanging around since my surgery in January.

image

I know that many people do not opt to try acupuncture because of their fear of needles. Trust me from someone who knows what that feels like there is no need to fear acupuncture. The needles are so fine, they are like a strand of hair and you do not even feel them going in. The rest of the session you lie back and relax for 30 minutes. A blissful 30 minutes of complete chill out time :)

I would seriously encourage you to consider acupuncture in the future and for any ladies suffering with hot flushes, give it go, it worked for me :)

Thanks so much for reading.

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

My Hair

Happy New Year Guys!!! 2015 was a tough year but I got through it and I am now looking forward to a happy and healthy 2016 :)

I think it is about time that I gave you all an update on the hair situation. For those who are new to my blog I always had long hair so when I lost my hair due to my treatment really I lost my security blanket too. When you have cancer there is information everywhere, the one thing that there was no solid advice on was what to do when your hair starts to grow back. What can you expect? When can you colour your hair? What products should you be using? It’s a minefield out there :)

I saw the first few sprouts of new hair about the end of July which was 5 months since I had lost my hair. The first growth is like very soft downy baby hair and needs to be treated with care. I washed my hair about once a week using a tiny amount of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and that did the trick. In the early stages less is more.

February - May 2015

February – May 2015

My hair grew very slowly at the start and came in faster on the back and sides than the top of head. If you know someone going through this please tell them not to worry this weird growth pattern is normal and your hair will fill in properly in time. Now one thing that I was not prepared for was that my hair grew back mostly grey – like granny grey :)

June - September 2015

June – September 2015

I finally got my hair colored at the end of October which was a full 3 months after my hair started to grow back. I was counting the days until my first hair appointment and when the day finally came it was like Christmas morning! My best advice here is to go to a good reputable hairdresser that you trust. I am very lucky to have the fabulous ladies Sabrina and Martina of Kopper Hair Salon Cork taking care of my new hair. They have put me completely at ease and the unknown perils of short hair don’t seem so bad :)

image

I have learned that managing short hair is not as easy as you might think. One night in bed and the next morning I look like I have been electrocuted. So I have learned that it’s very important to have good styling products. I am currently using the Joico Cliniscalp Botanical Shampoo and Conditioner for thinning hair.

imageA new hero product for me and definitely one of my absolute favourite beauty products of 2015 is the Joico Hair Shake. Seriously this is stuff is amazing – you spray the product on as a liquid and it dries to a powder on your hair allowing you to style easily without leaving behind a greasy residue. I would highly recommend the Hair Shake and not just for those with short hair. It is really fool proof – trust me I am a complete novice.

image

I have also been using the Joico Spray Wax and Humidity Blocker Hair Spray which again are fantastic light products which make styling easy but don’t make your hair feel or look caked in product.

image

So many people have said that I should keep my hair short but I am still not sure myself – time will tell! Not many people get to have a do-over with a whole new fresh head of hair and I am excited to try out new styles in 2016.

image

I want to say a sincere thank you to Sabrina, Martina and all the girls at Kopper Hair Salon in Cork for all their support and help in 2015. They made a very difficult time in my life so much easier and took all the anxiety around my hair away :)

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Years.

Ciara xxxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

Boston Beauty Bar Facial Review

With the change in weather recently my skin has been crying out for some TLC so I was delighted to be invited to review the facial, one of the brand new products offered by the Boston Beauty Bar at Mahon Point Shopping Center.

Boston Beauty Bar Mahon Point

Boston Beauty Bar Mahon Point

Mahon Point is a hive of activity and the new Boston Beauty Bar spa services offer shoppers the chance to step away from the hustle and bustle and take some time out. The treatment room is tucked away in a private corner and offers the perfect atmosphere for a truly relaxing experience.

Treatment Room

Treatment Room

The Boston Beauty Bar use all La Roche Posay products which have been a favourite of mine for a while now. They are specially formulated for sensitive skin which is perfect for our Irish complexions during this period of changing seasons.

image

My lovely beauty therapist recommended a cleansing and hydrating facial for me. The facial was 35 minutes in length and pure bliss, I completely forgot I was in the middle of a busy shopping center :). Afterwards my skin felt amazing, so soft and really healthy.

The Beauty Bar offers Mahon Point shoppers a little oasis of calm and relaxation. I would highly recommend stopping by the Beauty Bar to avail of one of their new services – it will give you a chance to re-charge your batteries before you hit the shops again :).

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

Mahon Point Style Squad

I recently made an appointment with the Style Squad at Mahon Point Shopping Center to get some inspiration for my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. As soon as I arrived I was met with a very warm welcome and was completely put at ease. The first step was a make-up consultation with the lovely Sandra from Boots No.7. Sandra talked me through the products she was using and pointed out colours that would suit my complexion.

style squad 1

Finished Natural Make-Up Look

Finished Natural Make-Up Look

Once my make-up was done the next step was to find an outfit. I had so much fun trying on all the outfits from the different shops in Mahon Point with the lovely ladies of the Style Squad; Lisa, Siobhan and Dee.

Amazing Style Closet

Amazing Style Closet

style squad 3

Top – Warehouse @ Debenhams
Jeans – Next (these were seriously comfy)
Boots – Clarks Dulcie Sue

Style Squad 4

Orange Print Dress – Warehouse @ Debenhams
Boots – Clarks Dulcie Sue

Style Squad 6

Paisley Print Dress – Warehouse @ Debenhams
Boots – as above

I actually ended up buying the Warehouse orange print dress and recently wore it to afternoon tea with my friend. Here I have paired this gorgeous dress with my gilet and over the knee suede boots from River Island in Mahon Point.

Style Squad 7

I should point out that part of the Style Squad experience is to have your hair styled by Megan from Peter Marks – unfortunately not enough hair on my head quite yet :) I would highly recommend this fantastic FREE service. The fabulous Style Squad team gave me so many ideas of what to wear this Autumn/Winter season. I don’t think I would ever have tried on the dress I ended up buying – I never thought I could wear such a bold print. The ladies of the Style Squad really opened my eyes to introducing more colour into my winter wardrobe. If you are starting to think about the upcoming party session and are stressing about what to wear, book in with the Mahon Point Style Squad and take the pressure out of finding that perfect party outfit.

Me with the Style Squad

Me with the Style Squad

Check out the Mahon Point Website for more details and to book your own appointment.

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

My Lumpiversary

Hey Guys this week marks one year since I found the lump in my breast so I have decided to name it my Lumpiversary. It is also Breast Cancer awareness month so I think it’s a good time to tell you all some more details about the early stages of my cancer. I have spoken a few times about how I found the lump but not so much on how this made me feel. For those who are new to my blog, I found the lump while in the shower. I rationalized that this was probably due to a bulged muscle seeing as I had pumped serious iron that week :) A few weeks later when the lump was still there I decided to call my local clinic. I spoke to the nurse and she advised me to go through one full menstrual cycle as (all the ladies will know) you can be quite lumpy and bumpy around the time of your period. This made a lot of sense so I waited another 5 weeks and still the lump was there. At this stage I was preparing to go home for Xmas so I decided to wait to see my own GP then. From that point on things moved fast – I was diagnosed and went straight into treatment.

Me this time last year

Me this time last year

I get asked a lot about that time before I was diagnosed. Honestly the time flew by in kind of a blur. Deep down I knew that the lump was sinister but I suppose you always want to hope for the best. Not a day went by that I didn’t check the lump, even at times convincing myself that it was getting smaller. Every night before I went to bed and every morning when I woke up I checked the lump. It felt like a big marble about the size of a large grape but hard. It was moveable which felt weird, not very much so but you could move it a few millimeters left and right. But guys the best pieces of advice I can give is firstly get anything out of the ordinary checked by your doctor and secondly trust your gut, you know your own body. Looking back I can now see that for about a year I was overly tired but again I had put that down to working and playing hard. Once my lump had been analyzed they told me that it was about 18 months old. Now for a large part of that time it would not have been big enough to feel but there was certainly time when if I had checked properly I may have found the lump earlier and also another 3 months where I rationalized the lump away.

image

What can I say other than please learn from this and make sure to go for regular breast checks. If you are not at the screening age like me then ask the nurse at your GPs office to check you. If you are at the screening age then please keep your appointment.

On this my Lumpiversary I want to say thank you so much to all my readers for the support I have received. You will never know how much it means to me.

Lots of Love

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

Dress for Success Event

As part of my role as Mahon Point Shopping Centre featured blogger for September, I was recently invited to an event in aid of Dress for Success Cork at the Cork International Hotel. Dress for Success is a fantastic organization that helps women re-enter the workforce by rebuilding their confidence and giving them the support they need to be successful. Dress for Success Cork run by the amazing Carmel O’Keefe has in the last 2 years helped 340 clients of which 160 were successful in gaining employment and 93 went on to further education. Dress for Success Cork relies entirely on fundraising to keep their organisation going which makes events like this one all the more important.

We were treated to a fashion show showcasing fabulous Autumn/Winter styles from the stores at Mahon Point Shopping Centre. This event was extra special because the models were ‘real people’ even including some ladies who had been clients of the Dress for Success Cork team. The models were dressed by the Mahon Point Style Squad and had their hair styled by Pamela Morrissey and her team at Sobe Brown.

The Cork International Hotel was the perfect venue – we were greeted with a glass of prosecco and treated to gorgeous nibbles throughout the night. I had a fantastic time at this event, plenty of laughs and gorgeous fashion.

Venue all set and ready to go

Venue all set and ready to go

I went for a my favourite combo of skinnies and a blazer :) On the night I won a voucher for a massage for wearing the highest heels – no pain no gain!

me at Dress 4 Success

Top, Blazer & Jeans – Oasis
Heels – Nine West at Debenhams

These are some of my favourite looks from the night. All of these outfits are currently available in Mahon Point Shopping Center.

Love this skirt from Swamp

Love this skirt from Swamp

French Connection

French Connection

Warehouse

Warehouse

Full outfit from Tesco!!

Full outfit from Tesco!!

The event was a huge success with €5760 being raised for the Dress for Success Cork organization.

Carmel O'Keeffe receiving the money raised for Dress for Success Cork

Carmel O’Keeffe receiving the money raised for Dress for Success Cork

Thank you so much to Shanti and Alex of Mahon Point for inviting me along :)

Have a great week everyone!

Ciara xxx

#feelyourselfie

You can now subscribe to and follow my blog using BlogLovin too!

 

Page 1 of 6123...Last »