Dance has and always will be my main passion in life.
I started my dancing days at The Nicky Stevens school of Dance back in my home town of Grimsby. I laugh now as I write that word, Grimsby! For many who know me, know I always say Lincolnshire, but I've promised myself this blog is a way of letting everything out so I may as well start by admitting I'm a
Cod Head as we are often referred to as! This school soon became Harlequin Dance School and I owe a lot to Nicky Stevens and Karen Would who taught me how to turn passion into discipline and inevitably my career. They built such a strong foundation of training that it was easier to build on as I moved forward with my training.
I have a degree in Dance Performance from Northern School of Contemporary Dance where I spent three years training daily. It wasn't your average university life. I don't remember going out every night and drinking that's for sure! I remember being in a studio at 8am every day, often until 8pm sweating all day long and my body aching so much I used a suitcase to slide down a staircase as my legs wouldn't function. But, I always remember smiling and feeling incredibly lucky to have been given a chance to do what I loved.
No matter how I feel or what might be going on in my life, all I have to do is put some music on and channel everything into a dance and I soon feel better. It's my life therapy you might say!
Not many people are lucky enough to say that they have turned their passion into a career and love going to work every day. Don't get me wrong, I have bad days like most and there's always a stressful day thrown into the mix too, but it all boils down to the fact I'm in an industry I LOVE with every bone in my body.
Pastiche Europe is the company I run with people I describe as extended family. Like most families, we drive each other nuts at times but no matter what, we are always there for each other. Paul and Sully are the Directors. Jasmine is a mini me... she works so hard and I know I can be a pain in the ass at times with how much detail I want to add into what we do, but she never moans.. She just smiles and gets on with what needs to be done. She has recently left the office and I have a feeling I might be a little lost without her there every day!
Then there is my team... One big family of talented, slightly crazy people that love to play dress up and blow fire! I am genuinely so so lucky to have each and every one of them in my life.
Telling them I was ill was horrible - it broke my heart to see the worry and upset on their faces.
Upon return from the hospital the day I was diagnosed, Scott was at my house. Now Scott is super special to me... He's not only a fabulous friend, he's also the guy who makes pretty things for me for work.
I want a giant martini glass for a girl to dance in Scott
I want to put a disco ball on my head and dance around Scott he just smiles and says ok and makes it happen!
He's also the guy who comes shopping with me and puts random objects on his head like it's a normal thing to do, to see if we can make it work as a performer!
He was the first person I told. As myself and Jay walked into the house, he was stood in the kitchen and in his usual Yorkshire twang, he said
Alright? Little did he know everything was far from
alright I think saying it out loud
I've got Cancer was a little bit too much to hear for Jay and he walked outside into the garden, sat on the chair and put his head in his hands and cried. He will probably go mad I'm telling you all this, but Cancer doesn't just affect the person who has been diagnosed, it affects everyone around them, especially their partners. As I looked at Jay sat helpless in the garden - wanting to run out and hug him but knowing he needed that space to absorb it, I remember turning to look at Scott and welling up and not having to actually say a word... he just knew. Not that he's psychic, he had been a part of previous appointments and had guessed the outcome of tests. He just put his arms around me and said
Don't worry, we've got this!
Now Scott likes to think he has a
I don't give a crap attitude and not much can get to him so he offered to tell the team the following Sunday at our weekly rehearsal as he knew I wouldn't be able to get the words out for crying... It turns out he was just as bad as me and did his
ugly cry face in front of everyone! The only way I can describe the reaction of telling them all was that everyone seemed to go into slow motion. Some burst into tears, some just sat there shocked ... I was quick to say I wasn't planning on going anywhere, I didn't know that for sure but 48 hours before I didn't know I would be telling them I was ill... I HAD to put on a brave face, even if I did feel like I was drowning on the inside... Besides, I had far too many plans for us as a company to be making any kind of exit!
Two people stand out the most from my team with their reactions... Mikey, one of the longest standing guys, just sat there in silence. Then I remember receiving the gentlest text later that night offering his support and telling me it had just hit him. Then Danielle who is like my little sister to me. I've known her since she was 15 with bright red hair and getting into way too much trouble that Jenah and Dan’s Mum, Andrea, asked me to
take her under my wing and offer her a different direction. She's a feisty little thing but I don't doubt for a second she has my back. She had been in the loop with appointments from initial worry right through to diagnosis and was in complete disbelief. I couldn't call her... I sent her a text and within seconds, usual practise for Dan, I got a reply saying it couldn't be Cancer and to stop being daft it would just be
funny cells. I had to keep telling her that no, I had Cervical Cancer. When I think of Danielle and how she was through my Cancer journey, I can't help but smile. She came to my Pre op surgery appointment with me and was almost sick when my bloods were taken, she brought me grapes and magazines in hospital and she even rang me up and screamed down the phone at me when she found out I was shopping for costumes in Leeds centre two weeks after surgery, demanding I go home and rest! She was right! I know!
When I got diagnosed with Cancer, I made a conscious decision that I would do everything in my power for it not to affect the people that counted on me. My team rely on me for work... without me working meant they wouldn't necessarily work... I couldn't let that happen... so from diagnosis to surgery and recovery, the only time I took off was the surgery itself and that's probably because I was unconscious! The next day I was back on my phone and laptop doing what I do. I remember one of the nurses on the Bexley wing in St James Hospital asking what I was doing on my laptop and then looking at me like a mad woman when I told her I was working! I might have been in pain but it didn't stop my brain working! It was Christmas time after all and there was no way I was letting something like me having Cancer affect my team or my client’s worlds too. Some people have said I should have taken a break / let my body and mind absorb the magnitude of what was happening to me. The only reply I have to this statement is that everyone will deal with a Cancer diagnosis in a different way. Keeley my designated cancer nurse gave me this advice not long after being diagnosed.
One piece of advice I would like to give everyone reading this is if you know someone who has been told they have Cancer, let them have their quirks.Let them deal with it how they feel is right. My way of coping was to acknowledge what was going on, but continue with my life. It was the busiest time of year and I had a responsibility to others and no one was going to do my job for me and letting all that fall apart wasn't going to help me win my battle... it would just make it harder to pick up the pieces afterwards. So for me, being normal and trying to carry on doing everything I loved, was the start of my therapy. I didn't look different, I didn't feel different so why sit there and feel sorry for myself - what will that achieve?! So I bit my tongue every time I wanted to cry and kept smiling. The show must go on!