A Tale Of Woe And Hope

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Everyone in this country, perhaps everyone in this world, has been affected by cancer in some shape or form. Whether you've lost a friend or family member, or they have lost someone and you feel their pain. If you do some digging you can find plenty of statistics all about cancer, for example, according to Cancer Research UK 1 in 3 people will develop cancer at some stage in their life, cancer incidence rates have risen since 1979 by 23% and of the 309,500 cases of new cancer each year more than 156,000 will die from cancer each year. Shocking statistics. However when you consider that developing cancer is an inevitable part of growing old, 1 in 3 people developing it isn't a shocking number at all.

What is devastating is cancer which that affects younger people. Although the risk of breast cancer increases with age, it can affect women as young as 20 with lethal consequences and 1 in 4 people will die from this disease.  Let's consider lung cancer. It is the most common cause of cancer death and is responsible for the deaths of a staggering 1.3million people each year. However, the most common cause of this cancer is tobacco smoking. Something which could very easily be avoided. There are genetic predisposition factors, and a few chemicals which can also cause it, such as radon or asbestos, but lung cancer is mainly caused by people smoking. The majority of people who contract lung cancer die.

Needless to say, cancer is very much a driving force in people's lives nowadays, whether it's researchers striving to understand more to develop cures, or friends and family hoping and praying for a good outcome. We don't have to look far to find charities raising money to tackle these issues and indeed, these charities raise a lot of money. But what do you do if you've contracted a cancer that the NHS won't treat because they deem it incurable?

The Hope For Laura Fund has been set up to raise £80,000 in order to get a young mother to America for a year of treatment which has a good chance of saving her life. She has a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer and she's only expected to live another 5 years. At only 24 years of age this is devastating and with a young son, it is unthinkable. But the treatment in America may save her and so her family strive to raise the money to get her there. Their aim is to do this by October.


There's the website. Check it out and read more about what they're doing to raise the money. The site brought a tear to my eye (though I am rather emotional!) and I sincerely hope they manage to raise the money they need!

Thank you for reading :)

Last minute is never recommended!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I am the Queen of procrastination, finding an infinite number of things to distract me while I should be doing work, whether this be Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook, tidying my room or cleaning out the animals. The other day I took frequent walks around the house, telling myself it was to keep my legs stretched when in actual fact, I just didn't like the work I was doing. Things always get left to the last minute, for example, the 3000 word literature review which I managed to complete in one night, though I'm doubtful of it's quality. It might have gone better if I'd actually known how to write a literature review, but I suspect many people thought the same as me. In the case of the review however, it wasn't my intention to leave it until the last minute. I firmly believed that I had 2 weeks to complete the work. I actually only had 1 week, and that one week happened to be perhaps one of the busiest of my year so far. So it was that Sunday came around, and armed with Red Bull and chocolate, I stared at the pc for a good 12 hours. But it all got done.

Now I find myself sat staring at the pc trying to prepare myself for questions that may or may not be asked, conscious of the minutes slipping away, knowing that this time, it being last minute wasn't my fault. I just wasn't given a whole lot of time to prepare. Which annoys me more than you'd think. Afterall if you've left something till last minute and you don't do as well as you should have done, you can't be too annoyed with yourself because it was your decision to leave it till then. If something has been shoved on you last minute however, and you don't quite do as well as you'd hoped or should have done, well then it's not your fault, but it's something that goes against you anyway.

What will put the cherry on the cake is the awkward question prep being for nothing. As it stands I am revising metagenomics, the Human Microbiome Project, any references surrounding the one I was given to read (accounting to something in the 30's I believe), while preparing answers for why I want that particular PhD and why KCL and Oxford (you'd think that's be pretty obvious). Yet all I have to do all that in is one day...

In short, don't leave stuff till last minute. It never really ends as well as it should!

Hair Fatality...Again!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

As many of you may know I am constantly changing my hair colour. I get bored with the same colour all the time so I attempt to try new shades. So far I've pretty much covered the rainbow, whether intentional or unintentional (green excepted). But now I just want to go back to blonde. So using supermarket prelighteners (which assure you it is possible to go blonde), I attempted to strip my own hair of the brown colour it was. My roots worked perfectly. The main bulk of my hair however...I believe it was a light coppery colour. Nowhere near orange, but certainly not a good colour, especially with the blonde roots. So the inevitable trip to the hairdresser came (you'd think I'd learn). Now I sport a light red/dark ginger coloured hair, a colour I'd never really thought of going but works rather well! The moral of the story? Don't trust hair colourants from ASDA >.<

Blimey! Buzzards!

Monday, 28 March 2011

If you get a chance to go on a bird of prey experience day I highly recommend doing it! Afterall, how else would you get up, close and personal with such beautiful birds? Like many people I'm sure, I didn't know what to expect as we approached Gauntlet Birds of Prey. There were hundreds of questions running through my mind, like "Will I be the only one?" or "How heavy are these birds going to be?" The place itself was a brilliant place to visit. The staff were passionate about what they do, the enclosures were clean and spacious and despite it being in the middle of nowhere (as most places are in Cheshire) it had a great professional air to it.

We started off the day with a buzzard, 10 month old kestrel, tawny owl and another owl who refused to keep quiet. They were fairly easy to handle but tying the falconers knot onto the glove was beyond me. I was quite happy to tie it to the stand, but once it came to tying the bird to my glove I was at a complete loss! I was shown 4 times and 4 times I failed miserably xD Next was flying an owl inside, after seeing a rather gross demonstration of how the food was prepared. My stomach is usually quite steady, but whether because I'd had little sleep or because I'm softening up, the sight of yolk and entrails spilling from the rear of a day old chick was a little too much.

Outside we played with hooded vultures and the Harris Hawks, both of which seemed content to either fly into me or hit me in the face repeatedly with their wings. It's surprising how much a thwap from one of those wings can hurt! Perhaps not so surprising in the case of the vulture, but certainly with the hawk. I felt like a naughty child being given an admonishing slap round the head.

All in all it was an amazing day and I'd love to do another one!!! Maybe kick it up a notch and go for eagles :D Though I could barely support a vulture on my arm, I hardly think an eagle is the way forward xD

Ferret Diaries 1

Thursday, 17 March 2011

As some of you may know I now have two new, beautiful ferrets named Guybrush and Flo. Since arriving with me, Guybrush and Flo have lived quite happily together despite their differences before coming here. Perhaps they accepted each other in the stress of moving, who knows but it's great to watch them curled up asleep on their cushion! They don't appear to sleep as deeply as Plode and Pep as whenever I move near the cage they're up and about to see what's going on.

So hopefully, I aim to get all four ferrets living together...Something which will take longer than I originally thought. But it's a challenge I'm all too willing to accept! It's been 5 days now of half hour introductions each day. Each time it starts out nice and civil. They all run around sniffing, playing with toys, seemingly oblivious of each other. Then Pep will launch herself at Guybrush and a mini fight will erupt. Plode keeps himself out of all the fights if he can and I think it's clear he's at the bottom of the hierarchy. But once the fighting has begun between Pep and Guybrush, Flo leaps in, almost in a tag-team effort, and really starts going at Pep. Yet makes yelps and squeals as if it's Pep attacking her. It hasn't changed in intensity in the past week, but I imagine things will begin to settle.  If Pep, Plode and Guybrush are out and Flo is caged then things seem to run smoother. Pep and Guybrush just need to sort out who's the top ferret!

Guybrush has begun a somewhat annoying habit of banging on the cage bars at 6am in an effort to get let out, which I'm stoically refusing to acknowledge. Needless to say it meant I had only 3 hours sleep last night so I'm somewhat knackered. Hopefully that habit will be kicked soon. Pep got out of it rather quickly when she was young. Though Guybrush is coming up to 2 years old now.

I think come Saturday evening I'll be giving them all a bath again to try and bring them together. It'll make them a lil stinkier, but behaviour needs to be sorted before I think about musky smells!

Disaster in Japan

Saturday, 12 March 2011

When major disasters happen in countries far away, although it saddens me and my heart goes out to the victims and families of victims, I guess I never really worried about it. I imagine it's probably the same for many other people, and although I'm not proud to say it, it's likely to do with the fact that it's so far away it couldn't possibly affect me. So when I woke up yesterday morning to hear about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, not 50 miles from where my best friend is living I was horrified. In fact. it still hadn't quite sunk in as I was walking to Uni and it took  a call from James to make me fully realise the seriousness of what had happened/was happening.  When I returned home from Uni I sat in front of my pc watching the BBC News live coverage, and must have remained their for a good 4 hours until Chris came, trying my best not to think the worst and to keep myself together. Even when Chris came I was watching the coverage for another couple of hours, not daring to move in case they said something which would be relevant to Amanda. I must have watched each report at least half a dozen times and it never said anything useful. It struck me that the news only reported about Tokyo and Sendai, purely because they were the only cities anyone in world was actually going to care about, with Sendai being the worst hit city and Tokyo being the capital.  It didn't matter that there were many other cities and towns suffering, as long as they covered the two major ones.

I know how bad I was feeling yesterday, and the worst was not knowing what was going on. Whether Amanda was hurt but safe, completely fine or the worst case scenario that I dare not think about. I can only imagine the worry her family were feeling.

Waking up this morning after a rather fitful night of sleep, both good news and bad news became apparent. We'd had word that Amanda was safe but with no power, a relief to all of us. But the nuclear power station that was across all the headlines yesterday due to the cooling system failure, that is situated only 20 miles away from Amanda's city, had now suffered an explosion and it is unsure as to whether it was a steam explosion or whether the reactor was going into meltdown. The news are trying to reassure everyone by saying it is unlikely it was a reactor breach, but the constant increase in exclusion zone fails to reassure me. Nor the silence about what the explosion actually was.

Looking at the pictures and videos of the devastation caused by the water and the quake, it's hard to imagine how the nation is feeling. Thousands of people have lost their homes though thankfully the Japanese are a prepared society and the death toll is much lower than it should have been. Had Britain suffered a disaster of this magnitude, I've no doubt half the population would be wiped out. As a nation we are far too complacent. Aid is being sent out and swiftly and hopefully Japan won't let this setback keep them down for long.

I myself wish I could do something to help.

Ferrets and other things!

Monday, 7 March 2011

The changing of the season is not going so well in my room at the moment. Beneath my quilt it can't decide whether to stay warm or go really cold and as such I'm having some pretty restless nights. Waking in the morning feeling like I've just gone to bed certainly isn't fun, I'm sure you can all agree. It doesn't help to be woken up by your darling ferret at 8am because for the third time in a week she's managed to escape her cage! I've just upgraded their cage to a double tiered one, having done some pretty experimental DIY on my part. What I hadn't banked on was Pep finding out how to push out one of the lower walls enough to squeeze up it. Three times I have come into my room to find it trashed. So now I've resorted to tape. Yes that most basic of tools! I'm hoping cellotaping the wall to the base will be enough to stop her pushing it away. The question is how strong is the tape???? We will soon find out I don't doubt.

Continuing on with ferrets, me and Chris took my two crazy critters to meet Tammy and Will's ferrets on Saturday morning to see how well they'd get on. Pep and Plode were obviously in their territory so there were a few altercations, none of which any more serious than battling it out for dominance. It became clear that Guybrush and mine got on well once Pep had established she was top dog by rolling poor Guybrush over and over again in a crocodile roll. Pep and Flo will be a little more of a challenge, but I'm convinced it will work. As such I'll be gladly looking after Guybrush and Flo and bringing the ferret count to 4 :D What is a group of ferrets called? I'm sure I can google it.

In the past week or so since receiving my results I've been applying for things left, right and centre. 3 PhD's and 3 jobs so far I think, though I'll be applying for more jobs this coming week and closely watching the PhD list for ones I might like to do. It's becoming quite stressful not knowing what I'll be doing when I finish my Masters, and especially stressful knowing my Masters doesn't finish till September and my rent contract end in June...If I knew I'd be continuing in Liverpool there would be no complications at all, I'd just find a new house and carry on. But until I know what I'm doing I'm in no man's land and I don't like it! I can't just go home like everyone else because I have a course to finish, but nor can I take out another contract in case I'm in say Edinburgh or Cambridge after the Masters.


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