Monday, 25 April 2016

Raising funds via a coffee morning - an idiots guide

This is not a standard blog's exactly as advertised so you don't need to read this unless you've come here specially to find out how to organise a coffee morning. Or you're bored and just want to read something. Either way.... Welcome.

I was requested to write this guide by Natalia Spencer whom I, along with my lovely friends, held a coffee morning for a few weeks ago.
We raised £1925 for The Grand Appeal.

Step my step guide for idiots like me on how to raise money via a coffee morning. 

1. Book a large hall. 
Think facilities for hot drinks, plenty of seating and tables, buggy room, room for children's activities and stalls. Say it's for charity and you may get it free or for a reduced price. 2-3 hours for event and an hour to set up and an hour to clean up.

2. Rope in friends and family. This is so much easier as a team. Delegate roles and play to people's strengths. The more the merrier. We defo had jobs for everyone and you also need people floating about to say hello to people and move floats about etc.

3. Blag raffle prizes! Local businesses are usually happy to donate something. If they need a bit of a nudge offer free advertising for them via a shout out on social media. 

4. Advertise on all local Facebook sites for face painters, balloon modellers, messy play, disco babies, book people, cup cake decorators. All these people will usually do sessions for free and they can give out leaflets about their businesses. If you can't get face painters then rope in an artistic friend and buy some 'snazaroo' paints off of Amazon. Get them to have a practice before the event. If they are good you can charge £2 a face or get some stencils and do for £1-£1.50. Same with balloon modellers. You can rope someone in to knock together a dog etc. Advertise the event immediately and you can update it with what's happening as soon as you know. Put posters up around the town and contact the local press for a free article. Get on the radio. 

5. Sell the raffle tickets as soon as you rope in the first prizes. Keep updating the list of prizes on Facebook before the event and inform people who they can buy them off and that they can also buy them on the day. Everyone who is organising can be given a some to sell. Make sure people write their name and number on the back if they aren't present for the draw. We sold ours for £1 a ticket.

6. Get baking!!!!!! Get as many cakes in as us possibly can. Sell them for £1 a slice at least or 2 small ones for £1. 

7. Charge adults to get in but kids free. Suggest and entry fee of at least £1.

8. Have buckets dotted all over the hall for donations. 

9. Stalls. We arranged a tombola, guess the sweets jar, colouring competition and lucky dip that we ran ourselves and we had local businesses come in for free and do cupcake making (all decorating items donated by Sainsburys), disco babies, messy play, a spinning businesses brought bikes in for the kids to zoom about on, we had Elsa and Anna from frozen come in for free from a local mascot business. We sold teas, coffees and drinks with straws (no cups needed) and we drew the raffle at the very end of the event. 
By having so much for the kids to do, it kept the adults there and they bought more teas, coffee and cakes. 
At the end of the event if you are left with anything you can ask people to take what they want and drop a donation in the bucket. That way you aren't left with anything and you can collect more money. 

10. Have thank you letters to send out to all business's that have helped and donated.

11. You'll need to buy teas, coffees, plastic cups if the venue don't provide them, plastic bags for rubbish, buckets for money. You'll need to arrange a float for each stand. Delegate a person for each table and they can make posters and decorate their own tables. Ask everyone to bring a cake stand with their cakes to present them nicely. We just gave ours out on napkins and it's good to have sandwich bags for people to take cakes home. 

Blog award MADness

What is a blog?

I know you know what it is but until about 8 months ago I just thought it was an online diary written by upper middle class people about 'upper middle class problems' such as Porcha's allergy to pomegranate or Tarquin's newly discovered love of roasted red pepper Humous.
Nowadays I am well aware of what a blog is because I write one. Ooooooo get me. Arguably it's crap in places and then not so crap in others. It's very sad but also maybe a bit funny, or so I'm told. 
I'm good with whatever really because when i first sat down to type, I typed for myself. 

In the beginning of September last year I was just like a normal person. I had two young sons, crows feet to rival the San Andreas fault line and potty training shit stains in my bog. 
Peppa pig was my arch nemesis, oinking about the joint with her bad attitude and head that simply screams pink hairdryer or penis. My youngest Tait was biting anything or anyone that came near him with a gob like PacMan and my biggest concern was how to lose weight and still be able to inhale all food in a 25 mile radius. Yes my friends.....I was just like you!

I was about to return to studying and had relocated to my home town in search of free child care and I was pregnant with my 3rd child who I would come to learn was a girl. 
Then, the day after PacMans 1st birthday I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer with a typical life expectancy of 2-5 years. 

Yeah just let that sit there a minute.............

Well shit.....that wasn't fitting into my life plan. I was now looking at a death plan. Not only that but the best way to save me was to terminate my pregnancy. Now how's that for the modern version of 'Sophie's choice'? Be here for your boys or be here for your girl? 

I was 13 weeks pregnant when diagnosed and I'd peed on that stick long before, so there was no other option in my head. 
I would do right by all of them. 
I would give my daughter the best shot I could and then I'd give myself the best chance to be here for all three of them.....

I wanted to read about others who had been in a similar boat via one of these Blog things....

I found myself online typing in searches such as:
'Inflammatory breast cancer in pregnancy'..... Nothing
'Humourous blog / cancer in pregnancy'...... Nothing 
'I'm fucking fucked and need a funny blog about me!'.... Nothing

Now there were some blogs that did encompass cancer treatments and living with dismal prognoses but my god were they depressing!!!!!!!!!!! (Understandable given the nature of the subject). But I guess I'm weird and I needed to laugh or the crying would have taken me down. I did find one blog... I read it until the bottom where it ended with her husband announcing that she'd died.....that was motivational I can tell you. Of course, I'm not blaming her. She didn't do it on purpose. But i'd lost her. She felt like the only one that thought like me and she would never write again. I needed to read something that wasn't all doom and gloom and yet where would I find it?

So I thought bollocks to it and wrote my own. 
I'm one of those sad people that finds themselves  funny and I thought, I want to rant about Noah's allergy to pomegranate somewhere. But actually what I wanted to create was a diary for my children to read when they are old enough that showed everything mum had handled when they were young. I wanted to laugh because every fissure in my humanoid structure was screaming...... HOW DO I SAY GOODBYE TO MY CHILDREN? How do I live with this towering over me and what will I do when I realise that I have zero control over what is happening to me? 

So, I documented and I laughed at myself and I cried at myself and then things got very very dark.
Things got so much worse then Cancer. 
If this is your first time with me you'll be wondering how? But let me tell you categorically Cancer is now just an inconvenience in my life. There is a much more profound pain that I wear every single day and will continue to wear when it's threadbare and reeks of mothballs. 

But I continue to document... I continue to 'blog'. 
I do it for me, I do it for my 3 children and I do it for you. 
And now some of you nutcases somewhere thinks it might be worthy of an award. A MAD Blog Award (FYI MAD means Mum and Dad not confused to the point of space hopping backwards with your arse flaps hanging out) which is incredible. (The nom not the arse flaps)
This made me so happy for so many reasons but ultimately, it means you're doing some of this with me and man I could use some company!!!!! 

So if you think the writing in Storm In A Tit Cup is 'best' please vote for it as best writer. And instead of me saying 'click here' and then you click here and a form appears,  Click here....... shittybumbumbutthole
Thought that would be funnier. No? Just me then

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Hyper Aware

People often ask me how do I cope so well with what is happening?
Initially I consider if they are talking about dealing with a rare and aggressive form of cancer with a very dismal prognosis, or, are they asking me about the loss of my daughter Ally? 
What I have established is that 9/10 times they are asking me about Voldertit. 
This is because people don't want to ask about Ally for fear of upsetting me. I totally understand. No one wants to be the reason that tears arrive. However, I feel I should point out that I am thinking of her every second. By mentioning her name to me you are not reminding me that my daughter died, you are reminding me that she lived. 
You are telling me you are also thinking of her and that is important. You see, Ally exists with me, always. 
I want to talk about her, I want you to ask about her, I want her name spoken as often as possible because she is a huge part of who we are. 

Every time I look at the boys I wonder how much Ally would have looked like them, what her personality would have been like and what her first words would have been. Would she have recited the word 'Bellend' as proud as punch after hearing it from her daddy just as her oldest brother did? Would she have had my sense of humour and our rogue ginger gene? 
I'll never know. 

So we go back to coping? How do I 'cope'? 
Well someone told me that everyone copes because what is not coping?
I guess it's dying? Some could argue that I'm already doing that... I'm stage 4 with no cure. I'll always have cancer. But then we are all dying right? We all go at some point but maybe we live our lives based on assumption of 'making old bones' and I've been reminded that death knows no rules. It rolls however it wants to. It smokes crack one day and goes to church the next. It does whatever it wants, to who ever it wants, whenever it wants. 
Death is very real to me so I put it to you...

Am I lucky?

My mortality is very tangible and will continue to be this way until I'm switched off or I become the epitome of irony 'Cancer-mum who risked life to save daughter who passed away after 8 days beats cancer only to be crushed by unsecured letter 'V' hanging off of 'VUE Cinema' Cribbs Causeway.' 

........seriously this has occurred to me!

 'Am I Lucky?'

I live with the knowledge that I may die a lot sooner then I planned.  Therefore I see the world in a slightly different way. I'm hyper aware that maybe when I do something now it could be for the last time. I don't mean like 'make a sandwich' or 'put the bins out' I mean if I go to the beach it could be the last time. When I take off my shoes and feel cold sand beneath my feet then dust that sand off to put my shoe back on, that could have been the last time I will feel sand. 

Now again, that can be said for any of us. What you are doing right now could be the last time you do it (please don't die reading my blog....that would mean I literally bored you to death) because don't forget that massive proverbial 'bus' driving around the world wiping us out one commuter at a time. 
That bus!!!!!! Remember everyone it could hit you at anytime!!!!!!
That FUCKING bus is getting more air time then this weird celebrity threesome story doing the rounds.... Can I say who it is? I doubt they'd gag me. Not good for PR......'tragic cancer mum who writes shit blog full of grammatical errors names celebrities involved in (cock)gagging order, is then arrested and forced into a line up with Phil Mitchell then subsequently thrown in gaol whereby her cancerous body shrivels into a skeleton on the floor, when found her twisted corpse had an outstretched finger pointing towards some really dodgy plastic coloured glasses and a Dolce and Gabbana carrier bag.'

No I won't say whose involved because really, does anyone actually give a shit?

So, I digress. Everything I do, I'm wondering if it could be the last time. 
It's exhausting but it's also kind of beautiful. 
Taking things in on that kind of level is one hell of an experience. I'm planning all these grand trips with the kids and they are so important to me but it's the small things (cliche ding ding ding) that really count. 
When I put Tait to bed and he has his milk and is calm (normally he's running around like he's being chased by the dude from Texas chainsaw massacre) I look at him. I mean I really look at him. His fingernails, his eyelashes, his hair and I take it all in. I absorb it and store it in my memory. 
When Ally was in NICU I didn't take it all in. 
I took in some things but I didn't really get everything locked down that I should have. 
I can remember when she was poorly that she looked at me and flicked her eyes from right to centre. That was the only time I can recall eye contact with her and it's crystal clear in my mind but why didn't I take in everything else? It's because I didn't observe things fully until I realised that actually things aren't going to necessarily be ok. 

I have been handed a pair of glasses that make me view the world in a different way to this time last year. I was a normal 32 year old with two young children driving her round the bend. Things have changed since then. (The bend driving is still the same)

None of us knows when we will die but we all assume we'll be grey, crinkly and rocking in a chair whilst looking at photos of our great grand children. 
Me? In theory I'll be lucky if I make 40. 
But I still visualise myself as that woman rocking in a chair, so thankful that I defied the odds and  so grateful that I lived my life as a hyper aware. Taking in every detail that matters. 

'Cancer-mums last words on death bed: I will remember it all, always.'