Telling people you love you have cancer

One of the hardest things following my cancer diagnosis was telling people about it. The hardest was telling the people I love the most.

Before Dan and I went to the Marsden for my results, I’d asked if we could drive to my parents if it was cancer. When it turned out it was cancer, I wasn’t sure it warranted the drive – perhaps I should call and tell them? Dan insisted we should tell them face to face.

As we drove the long journey home, a text from a friend popped up and I sent back a jolly reply. I took a work-related call and said I’d send the info they needed over tomorrow.

As we neared home, I picked up some flowers for my mum, hoping the petals might soften the blow.

When we got there, my mum, sisters and nieces were home and were so surprised to see us. Mum thanked me for the flowers but said I shouldn’t have. I hadn’t anticipated how happy they’d be to see us – how silly of me – I was turning up unannounced on a Monday – of course they’d be surprised! I felt like a fraud.

I hadn’t thought about how to tell them; I hadn’t even told them I’d found a lump – I hadn’t wanted to worry them unnecessarily but I wish I’d involved them earlier. I knew I was about to cause upset. How do you give this kind of news?

My sisters and nieces left and my mum, Dan and I sat chatting. My palms were sticky and my heart racing. I was waiting for an appropriate time to say the words, whatever those words might be.

I often think about the moments that followed. Telling mum I had breast cancer.

That day I spoke with my dad, sisters and brothers before driving back to London.

The next day I spoke to my work colleagues – those who needed to know. I hadn’t anticipated the emotional response I’d receive – ‘I’ll be fine, please don’t worry about it’ I said, ‘it’s been caught early’ I lied, ‘I’m so sorry’ I repeated.

The following weekend we had a date with some good friends. I waited until the end of the trip to tell them, partly because I wanted everything to be normal and partly because I was scared. I didn’t want to afflict myself on them, I didn’t want to make them feel awkward and I didn’t want to have to say the words.

They were the words I would repeat in text messages to my closest friends over the coming weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to make calls. I know, I know but texting was what I could cope with.

This is now a distant memory for me and as time has gone on, I’ve found it’s easier to tell people that I had breast cancer. I feel talking about it in the past isn’t a luxury everyone can count on so I should talk about it. How people react still takes me by surprise; some are lovely and some say odd things; cancer is a heavy load for many people. I’m lucky in that I can now talk about it relatively easily – it’s a part of my history.

So, with this context in mind, here are my tips for telling your loved ones you have cancer:

  • If you suspect cancer, if you find a lump and you’re going through the checks (mammograms etc), tell the people you love most. Then, if you’ve got the news you were hoping not to deliver, they can prepare themselves.
  • Tell your loved ones face to face – you’ll find the words and they’ll want to be near you.
  • Try to deliver the news gradually. Perhaps start with ‘I need to tell you something’ or ‘I went to the hospital today’. You could continue, ‘I spoke with a specialist and he/she had some difficult news’…
  • Try not to feel guilt; it feels like your fault but it really isn’t.
  • Try not to pressure yourself to get the words right or to keep it upbeat if that’s not how you’re feeling – you’ve got a lot going on and the people who love you will understand that.
  • Tell the people you want to. I asked friends not to tell other friends as there was only so many people I could deal with at that time. Your family will help you with this too.
  • If you don’t feel able to tell people face to face or over the phone, ask others to help or, if you feel you can, send them a text – good friends will understand you’ve got a lot going on.
  • Prepare yourself for people’s responses – I was surprised by the emotional reactions but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to contain my tears if I was on the receiving end of the news.
  • Try not to worry about silence or strange responses – the news will make some people feel awkward.
  • Be true to yourself and say what comes naturally to you.
  • Be honest – tell them what you know, most people will want to know the seriousness of the situation.
  • Tell them you love them – love is all they need.
  • Offer to involve them as much as possible (if you want to) – your family will feel helpless so the more you can include them in what’s going on, the better.

I hope this is useful and you are surrounded with the love and support of those who matter the most to you.

Big love, Becky

Finding travel insurance after a cancer diagnosis

The sun’s out and you’re dreaming of a summer getaway, right?

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to mean you can’t travel to wonderful places. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to pay for costly travel insurance or go without insurance altogether to make it happen.

There may be lots of insurers that cover pre-existing medical conditions but the one I found particularly easy to access and value for money is Insurancewith.

As the name suggests, Insurancewith’s target market is people with pre-existing medical conditions. With a policy from Insurancewith you can travel anywhere in the world and still be covered by your travel insurance without breaking the bank.

The company’s founder, Fiona Macrae, began the business because she was frustrated by the lack of travel insurance at a reasonable price that covered her own breast cancer diagnosis. Putting her insurance industry experience into practice, she founded Insurancewith to provide people with a medical condition a fair and affordable travel insurance policy.

They’re known in the insurance industry for being good at what they do too – Insurance Times magazine and BIBA have both given Insurancewith awards.

How do you get a quote with InsuranceWith?

Go online or give them a call. Chemo brain meant I found it easier to chat to someone so I gave them a call on 020 3829 3875.

You apply according to your medical condition – there’s an application specifically for people with breast cancer, as well as other conditions like cystic fibrosis, epilepsy and stroke. You can also apply according to the type of policy you’d like – single trip, multi-trip, long stay, cruise and winter sports policies.

There are a four policy levels: Emerald, Sapphire,  Diamond and Platinum – you’re given these levels once you’ve been through the quote process but you can see what’s included in each level for single trip policies and multi trips too.

Cover includes holiday cancellation and £10m in emergency medical expenses as well as the standard bits you’d expect from a regular travel insurance policy.

Cover will soon include all medical equipment, including stoma bags and insulin pumps which are not currently covered.

Once your travel insurance is covered, you can get on to the exciting part – planning!

Other travel tips following a cancer diagnosis:

  • Speak to your oncologist about hospital-approved compression socks for the journey. Some drugs can increase the risk of blood clots and these socks can help reduce your risk while flying. I have a pair – they’re not pretty but what’s pretty about flying!
  • Drink as much water as you can and avoid alcohol entirely on the plane – don’t worry, the party starts when you land!
  • Take all of your travel insurance documents with you so you have them to hand if you need them.
  • Get an EHIC or European Health Insurance Card. It’s free (usually takes a week or so to arrive) and entitles you to free or reduced price healthcare in EU countries and Switzerland, should you need it during your stay.
  • Take your medications in their original packaging so you don’t have to worry about remembering the names of your medications, should you need to speak to a healthcare professional whilst away.
  • Factor 50 all the way; your skin is likely to be more sensistive as a result of treatment. Protect yourself, even if you’ve previously been able to tolerate the sun well.
  • Get shopping for a lovely sun hat – go on, treat yourself!
  • Go and have fun; forget cancer and have a ball! As a friend said to me recently, ‘go for those three courses and that extra bottle, you deserve it’.

If you’re not ready to travel just yet, keep swimming and keep dreaming. You could even start planning your celebratory getaway as something to aim for.

Lots of love, Becky xxx

What’s the first round of chemotherapy like?

It’s October already – can you believe? On this day (2 October) last year I had my first chemo session. Many people remember the date of their operation but for me the 2 October is etched in my memory.

It was a day I’d been building up to since my diagnosis and there were so many unknowns and anxieties around what would be involved that I thought I should share what that first chemo session involved and hopefully it’ll help ease some of your apprehensions.

My first session was booked in for 10am and we were told to allow six hours for the appointment. This is so the nurses can monitor for any reactions to the chemo drugs.

We arrived early (as is always the case when my mum’s involved!) to be warmly greeted by the welcoming reception team (these guys have put endless smiles on our faces over the last 12 months). When we were called in, we settled ourselves into a bay where there was a large comfy chair, visitor chairs and drip holder.

The drugs

NB – these are the drugs I received but they may not be what you are prescribed. Your breast care nurse will go through your specific drugs and the side effects before your first chemo session.

First up was the herceptin, which is given as an injection in the thigh. It’s a slow injection (takes about 60-90 seconds), which is pretty painful as injections go but they inject it gradually to try to ease the tingle. They give you this first as this is the drug they monitor you for six hours for.

I’ve had 17 of these injections now – a year’s worth at three week intervals, which I think is pretty standard – and the first was definitely the worst. Once you know what to expect, it’s easier. I found these bruised my thighs (they alternate each time) but the bruising goes after a few days.

Next I was given some steroids via my PICC line – we’ll talk PICC in my next blog. This was the weirdest sensation – the steroids made my nether regions tingle, something I really hadn’t expected. At the same time I took some anti-sickness drugs. Both of these are to ease your reaction to the drugs.

Each chemo session you will be given anti-sickness drugs. You’ll also be given steroids to take in the days leading up to your next chemo but on the first session, you’ll be given these intravenously.

After the steroids, I had some saline (salted water) solution through the PICC to flush the line. Then it was on to the docetaxel, which was hung up to the drip machine, fed to the PICC and timed to drip over an hour. The vein around the PICC can feel cool, where the liquid, which has been refrigerated, enters but other than that, you don’t feel a thing. If you do feel any pain around the site, it’s important to tell the nurse as they can check the site and slow the drip to ease the pain.

Whilst you’re having the docetaxel, the nurses will monitor you for any reaction, including rash, itchiness, swelling, dizziness or sickness but the steroids are given to try to stop any reaction.

After the docetaxel, it was time for another round of saline (you’ll probably need to toilet multiple times throughout the day as you’re being given lots of liquid intravenously). The saline is also fed through a drip to the PICC so you just have to sit tight and relax. You can walk around with the drip so if you do need to pop to the loo, you can.

The third and final drug for me was the carboplatin, which is also given via a drip to the PICC line over the course of an hour or so. The drug comes in a liquid bag, like the docetaxel, but is covered by a black bag to protect it from the light. The drug is more effective if it’s protected from light.

Finally, before they let you go home, you’ll be given a huge bag full of drugs and directions of when to take them. This is pretty daunting, I won’t lie. There’s a combination of steroids, anti sickness tablets, sickness injections and tablets to help with constipation, should you need them.

You’re then free to go home.

How did I feel going home? 

I left feeling fine, nervous but fine. And the day after I felt fine too, just tired. The drugs really took effect two days after chemo, when I felt exhausted, nauseous and my mouth was full of ulcers. It’s a feeling I have never felt before so I can’t give you much insight but I could feel the drugs travelling to every part of  my body – to my ears, my gums, everywhere. Everyone’s reaction is different – some people continue as normal and others struggle. I struggled but you may cruise through it – I hope you do.

My tips for your first chemo session:

Take some snacks and something for lunch. You’ll be there all day so need sustenance – anything with ginger in is good for nausea – I went for ginger nut biscuits!

Take a good book, some sudoku or crossword games, your tablet or anything that will keep you occupied throughout the day. Mum and I used the iPad to shop online for Christmas pressies, which was a lovely distraction from what else was going on.

Try not to worry – it’s really not as bad as you imagine

Go through the list of drug timings with the nurse as many times as you need and make additional notes on the instruction page they give you. You need to get this right when you’re home it’s easy to forget what they told you several hours ago – especially with so many drugs.

When you get home, make a note of what drugs you’ve taken from the bag of delights and write a list of when you need to take the others. Tick each drug off when you’ve taken it. You won’t want to miss a dose and when you’re tired and have chemo brain, it’s easily done.

Be gentle with yourself in the days that follow. Listen to your body and rest.

Do you have any questions ahead of your first chemo session? I’ll happily answer any questions I can. 

Becky xx

Thank you!

I wanted to say a (rather late) thank you to everyone of you who sponsored, supported and encouraged me to run the 2016 Race for Life. For me it was far more than running 10k – it was a celebration of the amazing work that Cancer Research do each and every day, a celebration of how far I’ve come in the last 12 months and a start on my journey back to fitness.


I set myself the target of raising £250, which I never thought I’d meet but with your generosity, I raised more than double the amount £505.61. I’m beyond chuffed and your support really did help me run the course.

In both the Bournemouth and Cardiff runs, the people cheering on the side lines made me smile but having my bestie, Hayley, at my side in Cardiff made the run a breeze. She’s been by my side throughout my journey – from the surprise visit the day after my op to listening to my moans on Whatsapp. She, in more ways than one, is my biggest sponsor and cheerleader.

race for life 1

Thank you to each and everyone of you for your kind donations, your words of support and your pounds. Cancer treatment is evolving faster than many of us can keep up and that’s only possible because of generous people like you.

Thank you – more than you know, Becky xxx


Warm words to keep you going on dark days

Inspirational quotes get a bad rap – they can often be the butt of jokes or be seen as soppy. But I’m the first to put my hand up and say I like a bit of soppy and when you’re going through a hard time they have a completely different impact than when you’re not.

Quotes can inspire but they can also give strength, hope and reassurance. Words are so powerful and as a lover of words, I’ve collected a few quotes that I found helped me through my breast cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. I hope they prove useful to you, whatever stage you or your relatives are in your cancer journey.

I’ll begin with this quote which I came across shortly after my diagnosis: “Life takes you to unexpected places, love brings you home”.  These words were hanging up in my favourite gift shop the weekend before my operation – I bought the wall hanging as a gift to myself and it’s been a gift that keeps giving. 

This quote was sent to me in a card from my bestie, Hayley, and I reckon it’s true, don’t you? “Reality is never as dark as the places your brain goes to in anticipation”, Madhulika Sikka, author of A Breast Cancer Alphabet.


“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within”, Maya Angelou.
This is my favourite quote. My friend, Luisa, sent this to me in a card the day before I started chemo, when I was most scared. I found it so uplifting on dark days – there is always hope.

“Yes, you can”; three words on a card sent to me by my dear friend, Shiv.
This card lived on the shelve opposite my desk at home. I worked from home as much as possible throughout my treatment and some days it was really hard; I felt like I wasn’t capable; that chemo had taken over my brain, but looking over at this card really lifted me. I often found myself saying the words out loud.


Another motivational card from Shiv, who has been the biggest support to me, says: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. 

One final card that I’ll mention from Shiv says: “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”. This is an anonymous quote but I love it – isn’t it true too? In the face of adversity we realise what we’re made of and surprise ourselves.

A couple more I love are: “There is always rain before the rainbow” and “It is in herself she will find the strength she needs”, both anon.

Words are so powerful, I hope you take some strength from these clusters that have helped keep me going over the last 12 months. Do you have an inspirational quote that really resonated with you? I’d love to hear it – share it in the comments section below.

Lots of love, Becky xx



Top 5 films to watch on chemo recovery days

Everyone has days where all we feel able to do is flop in front of the TV and watch a well worn DVD. Whether you’re recovering from a recent round of chemo, generally feeling tired or could do with some cheering up, these are the DVDs I recommend for you.

Why these five? They each contain a good story line and a generous dose of laughter – exactly what you need when you’re feeling sorry for yourself and only well enough to make it to the sofa.

I know not everyone has the luxury of two hours uninterrupted sofa time, particularly if you have young children, but if you can squeeze in a ‘me party’, you absolutely should.

Here are my top 5 recommendations:

5. Julie and Julia

I wanted to be a baking blogger from the day I saw this film but never quite had the confidence to do it. Julie and Julia is an inspiring film about how doing something you love can enrich your life. It’s perfect to watch on a down day – uplifting and easy. Here’s the trailer in case you haven’t seen it already and you can buy it here.


4. Chocolat

I know, I know, I clearly think about food far too much! But I love this film nearly as much as chocolate itself. It celebrates the wonderful things in life, however small they may seem. If you haven’t seen Chocolat, watch the trailer here and, if you like what you see, buy it here.


3. Bridesmaids 

Even the trailer makes me laugh! This is the perfect pick-me-up. If you need a giggle, it’s pretty much guaranteed. Watch the trailer here and buy the DVD here.


2. A Knight’s Tale

This is another of my favourite films. William Thatcher pretends to be a Knight to make his fortune, with the help of his friends and an unknown writer called Chaucer, who is v funny. He soon finds love and his way back home. Life takes you to unexpected places, love brings you home. If you haven’t seen the film, watch the trailer here or buy the DVD here.

a knight's tale

1. How to lose a guy in 10 days

This film was amongst a bag of DVDs my sister, Teresa, gave me to watch whilst I was having chemo and it was the one that made me laugh the most. It ended in true romantic style – I love a romance and these two were made for each other. If you haven’t seen it already, watch it. If you have seen it already, hec watch it again! Pass the popcorn

how to lose

It is worth doing nothing and having a rest

On Wednesday I had my annual check up and mammogram. Yes, it’s been 12 months since my lumpectomy and lymph node clearance. It’s been the longest yet fastest 12 months of my life. You’d think with the worst of my treatment out of the way I’d feel like my breast cancer journey is over but I’m starting to accept that that’s not quite the case, unfortunately.

I’ve recently been feeling energyless and wondering why. It’s beyond frustrating when there’s lots of things you want to do but all you feel able to do is sleep. I mentioned this in my check up and the response was: “Yes, this is what we’d expect. Don’t underestimate the drugs you’re on”.

This saddened me because I desperately want my life to get back to what it was before. It’s hard to accept that your life is not going to bounce back and that certain lifestyle changes are going to have to be made; that weekends can’t always be about adventuring, that you’re going to need even more sleep than before.

With tiredness turning to nausea I’ve decided it’s time to listen to my body and slow down. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you have plans and don’t want to let people down. But despite today’s beautiful weather, I’ve decided to let my body win.

This is what my morning consisted of:


Despite feeling pretty rubbish, I also felt guilty; “I should be past this – full of energy, using my day off wisely”. Alas, going down stairs to make a drink was the best I could muster.

As I settled back under the sheets, this blog post from Gabrielle, a yoga teacher from Melbourne, popped up on my Facebook feed. It’s a verse taken from Michael Leunig’s The Curly Pyjama Letters and its timing couldn’t have been more right. I wanted to share these words with you, in case you need to hear them too…

Dear Vasco,

In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth having?” I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest. In spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must rest Vasco – otherwise you will become restless!

I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adopting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying.

The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our conscience and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must act upon it sensibly – you must rest like the trees and animals do.

Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development.

Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity – cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly – so cruel and meaningless – so utterly graceless – and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.

And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied – they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.

So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat – learn to curl up and rest – feel your noble tiredness – learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow.

I repeat it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.

Yours Sleepily,
Mr. Curly XXX

Rest is so under-rated in our society and we feel guilty for taking time out from the constant rush. Truth is, life and its pressures can be overwhelming at the best of times – we could all do with taking some of Mr Curly’s advice.

If you’re feeling pressure from others or from yourself to be back to the person you were before your life changed, with the same energy and abilities, remember, it’s worth having a rest. Remember to be kind to yourself. Lots of love, Becky xx



Packing a hospital bag for cancer-related stays

The optimist in all of us tells us we’re not going to end up in hospital after a dose of chemotherapy but the chances of it happening at least once over the course of treatment are pretty high. I ended up in hospital after half of my chemo treatments and learnt that having a bag packed ready was a good idea – an idea I didn’t have at the time!

Each time I rocked up at the hospital I went without a bag – you’d have thought I’d have learnt after the first and second times but no, not me. And that’s just it – during treatment your brain isn’t functioning at 100% so I though you might find in useful to learn from my mistake…

My advice would be to have a hospital bag packed and ready to go before you go in for your first chemo treatment. Pack it the day before treatment, when you’re at your healthiest and leave it in a safe place but out of the way – the spare room or your wardrobe perhaps. You’ll need to add your medication but it’s best to do that when you know you’re going into hospital.

Relatives can always pack a bag for you but often things get forgotten and there’s nothing like being prepared.What should you pack? Here’s my essential list:

  • Toiletries like your tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant and sanitary towels (I’d suggest packing these even if your periods have stopped/been suppressed)
  • A nice soft towel – the hospital provide towels but you’ll get comfort in your own
  • Flip flops for the shower – in my opinion these are an absolute must
  • 2/3 pairs of comfy pjs and a week’s worth of knickers
  • A dressing gown – I found this useful at night when I was cold but also when the porters take you for scans and x-Rays at the other end of the hospital
  • Slippers and bed socks are a must. Take a couple of pairs of bed socks
  • A couple of comfy hats/scarves/caps – whatever you prefer wearing. Even if you have your hair, I’d suggest packing a couple if you’ve been told you’re going to lose it
  • Easy reading magazines and easy read books. I didn’t really want to read but having magazines to flick through kept me entertained
  • Jacobs dry crackers or something similar – it’s handy to have some food at hand for when you’re able to eat but not able to face the hospital food. Something very basic like dry crackers is best for your tum

Things to ask friends and family to bring:

  • Lemon and salt (sorry, no tequila here). It’s really good to add lemon and salt to water if you’ve had diarrhoea
  • Magazines and more magazines

What not to bring:

  • Treats like sweets and biscuits are likely to be off the list. Even if your taste buds insist on sugar, the doctors may well warn you against it as it can unsettle your vulnerable stomach

What did you pack that was really useful? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll  add it to the list. Thanks, Becky xx


There’s something you can do to help people with cancer

Today, 14th June 2016, is World Blood Donor day so I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience of giving and receiving blood.

I began giving blood in 2009. Like many things in life, I hadn’t woken up thinking ‘I’m going to give blood today’. Instead I was on my way to the gym at Bridgend Rec one evening and Give Blood Wales were set up in one of the sports halls. I thought, ‘what the hec’ and decided that giving up a pint of the good stuff was a better use of my time than pounding the treadmill and a great excuse to get out of a workout.

I have continued giving blood as I am blood group B-, one of the most needed groups, it’s a really fulfilling thing to do and it takes no effort at all.

Sadly, after my cancer diagnosis I was told I would no longer be able to give blood. I was really disappointed by this as I felt it was something small I could do that would make a big difference to others. But it wasn’t until I received blood myself that I realised just how much a blood donation means.

My second trip to hospital, after my third course of chemo, was one of the biggest challenges of my cancer treatment. At my weakest, I was given two wholesome bags of healthy B- blood. I can’t explain what a gift this was – I’ve never felt more grateful to a stranger I’ve never met. I felt so much better for having regular blood pumping through my veins and whilst I still felt rotten, I felt the impact even after the first bag of blood.

I felt incredibly emotional receiving the blood, all too aware that someone had taken time out of their day, at their own expense, to give me some of their goodness. I really can’t express how much it meant to me. Without the blood, I would have taken so much longer to recover, costing the NHS more in care.

I know not everyone likes needles and not everyone can give blood but if you can, I really would encourage you to give it a go.

It takes around an hour. Firstly, the team of nurses get you to drink plenty of water before asking you some health questions and checking your blood is rich enough in Iron (they take a tiny sample of blood from your finger tip). You then sit back and relax whilst the blood is taken from your arm, which takes around 10 minutes, before settling down for some sweet treats and a drink before going back to your day.

If you wish there was something you could do to help those with cancer and others in poor health get better, or make things that little bit easier for them, stop wishing and give blood. You can find an appointment here if you’re in England and here in Wales – you’ll be having more of an impact than you know and chances are you’ll save a life.

Stimulating hair growth after chemo

Like most people who have lost their hair through chemo, I couldn’t wait for it to start coming back. Being bald made me feel utterly ugly; I yearned for the first sign of regrowth for fear that it wouldn’t regrow at all.

hair growth first stages

Then, as soon as hair started to reappear I wanted it to grow thicker and fuller and quicker.

Slowly but shorly

I’m not alone either – I’ve seen lots of people asking questions on message boards and support groups about how they can encourage their hair to grow back quicker. Many people reply with shampoo recommendations, which is all very well but do they work? I have no idea but one thing I do know is: we are what we eat. Or what we put into our bodies, I should say.

Our hair didn’t fall out because of something we put onto it, it fell out because of the ‘poison’ we had running through our veins. So what we put into our blood is going to affect how best our hair grows back, far more than any shampoo can, right?

My hair started to grow back in February whilst I was having radiotherapy – slowly at first and now I’ve got a thick covering of gorgeously soft hair. I’m pretty pleased with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like an ugly adolescent boy but it’s a start. And I’m pretty sure, although I can’t promise it’s the case, that my speedy regrowth is down to the pretty slick vitamin regime I’ve got going on. Oh yes, a healthy diet is far more than a good portion of fruit and veg and if we were to get all the vitamins we need via our diet alone, we’d be eating all the time (does sound appealing, doesn’t it – unfortunately chocolate and ice cream isn’t included).

So, ‘what supplements help with hair growth?’ I hear you cry. Here lies the secret:

BVitamin B The vitamin B group is called a complex – vitamin B complex. The combination of B1, B2, B3, B5 and B7 nourish the hair follicles. The B complex is found in high protein foods like fish, red meat, eggs and dark green veg. I’m taking these, which contain B1 and 2 and biotin (B7), which helps to improve the keratin structure (the protein than makes up hair, skin and nails).

Vitamin C Not only is this the saviour of the common cold, it also helps with the production of collagen which forms part of the hair structure. Get this in your diet via oranges and lemons (as well as lots of other fruit and veg) or keep your levels topped up with vitamin supplements. I’m taking these slow release tablets once a day.

EVitamin E Vitamin E helps improve the circulation of blood around the body, including to the scalp, which helps a steady supply of nutrients get to the hair follicles, boosting strong and healthy hair growth. It’s also good for your immune system, which is always a bonus when you’re building your body back up after chemo. I’m taking these but you should also eat nuts, seeds and leafy green veg to get it into your diet.

Omega 3, 6 and 9 Essential fatty acids aid skin and hair growth – they’re said to help nutrient absorption at the hair follicle by helping blood circulation and cell growth. You can get your fill of essential fatty acids via oily fish and seeds. To top that up, I’m taking a brand of oils called vertese, which came recommended by my gorgeous friend, Shiv, who’s a bit of a nutrition expert.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just this list of supplements I’m taking. If you’re taking any supplements to help boost healthy hair growth, please do tell me about them and your experience generally in the comments below.

And if you’re thinking of taking supplements to help boost your hair growth post chemo, don’t forget to ask your oncologist before you start taking them – you never know how they might interact with your medication.

Good luck with getting your healthy mane back. Don’t forget to enjoy all the styling options as you get back to your desired length. Thanks, Becky xx

PS – I’m not discounting hair grown shampoos/soaps/treatments, these products may have an influence, but how much of an effect they have, I really don’t know. Is it marketing schpeil? Are they any good? Let me know!