Hi everyone, I hope you are all keeping well. It has been a very long time since I last wrote a blog post, I have kind of got out of the habit what with work, family, health, and life in general, I never seem to find the time to sit with my laptop and put my thoughts out there. I tried using my phone but found it a nightmare on such a small screen, I kind of gave up. Well I am back, at least for this post anyway, let’s see if I can form the habit of blogging again though.
You are probably wondering what a strange title and what does it all mean. Well let me reverse you back a year or so and I shall explain how this hashtag has captured my heart.
Just over 12 months ago a very close family friend recieved a devastating diagnosis that completely changed their lives – for them, their two year old daughter, and their greater circle of family and friends – their daughter has a brain tumour.
My friend is a beautifully strong and amazing woman and mother. I could not even begin to imagine how it feels to have your life turned upside down by such a diagnosis, or how hard it is to see your child so critically poorly, having to make life changing decisions without knowing what the outcome may be, decisions no parent should have to face, let alone make. The whole family is so brave and selfless, dedicating their lives to their special, brave and very beautiful little girl. A little girl that melts my heart everytime I get an update. For one so small, and for what she has gone through with treatment, operations, spikes, transfusions, relearning what she had already learnt in her short time in this world, she is utterly amazing. Such an inspiration, just like her mummy and daddy who, not only have been coping with the care commitment that comes with having such a poorly child, they have also found time to organise and take part in events that have raised thousands for the likes of Brain Tumour Research and Childrens Cancer and Leukemia Group.
My heart has broken so many times for this family. I have cried tears of sadness at what the little girl has gone through since diagnosis, and the decisions that her parents have had to make. I have also cried tears of joy over the huge milestones the little girl has made, tears of laughter over her cheekiness and knowing what she wants, and more importantly doesn’t want, tears of pride over her determination – she is a determined child, a little fighter, a little superstar! What do we expect though, her mummy is a fighter, and so is her daddy. This little family is wrapped entirely in my heart, and are so often in my thoughts.
Through following my friend’s little girl’s group page on Facebook I have come across other pages of children with different types of cancers who have been treated on the same ward and are friends with my friend’s little girl. The stories behind each are heartbreaking, amazing, sad, inspirational, uplifting, positive and all the other emotional words you can think of. All of them fighting for their lives. From the little boy nearing the end of his treatment looking forward to having proper baths and going swimming for the first time in a year, to the little girl who is terminally ill raising awareness of childhood cancer along with her family and over 24,000 followers on Facebook, to the little boy who recently rang the end of treatment bell and beat cancer.
It is the little girl who is terminally ill and raising awareness of childhood cancer that brought about me writing this blog, but first I need to just take you back in time again, this time by two years.
Two years ago I started a project which took nearly 6 months to complete for my husband’s 50th birthday. The theme of the project was 50 reasons why I love you, I wanted it to be very personal and from the heart, a keepsake. I wracked my brain until I came up with a very personal and unique project. I created a box of 50 painted stones each with a reason written on it as to why I love my hubby along with a small painted picture. With difficulty I managed to collect a fair few stones and rocks of varying sizes, shapes and colour. I say with difficulty as nine times out of ten my husband is always with me when I am out and about due to my disability, so I had to come up with imaginative reasons as to why I wanted these stones, one being that I was making Christmas decorations (it wasn’t far off the truth as his birthday is 3 days after Christmas). It worked, he wasn’t too suspicious. I then had to paint them in secret, and the only day I could do this was on a Wednesday, which is my day off work when I am home alone because hubby is at work. Then I had to hide them about the house before he got home and hope he didn’t find them, or more importantly, that I would remember where I put them when it was time to bring the project together. He often asked to see the stones and I just came up with this excuse and that excuse as to why he could not see them yet. I don’t know if I had more fun painting the stone or more fun being so secretive, I think it was a bit of both. It was also very therapeutic, took my mind off my constant pain, and it felt I was going to be giving back a tiny amount of what my husband gives me daily with the care and help he provides. The finished project was entirely from the heart because so much effort had gone into creating my box of “50 reasons why I love you”.
Now zip forward to a couple of days ago when I came across Isla’s page. Isla (who is friends with my friend’s little girl) has terminal spinal cancer and has been decorating stones for people to take away and hide for others to find. Her parents hope the stones will create a “legacy” for their daughter at the same time as “raising awareness about childhood cancer as there is very little funding into this area”. #Islastones now has over 24,000 followers on Facebook and the stones being painted, hid, found and posted, are no longer just local to where Isla lives, people have been painting stones and hiding them all over the world. It truly is amazing. After reading about Isla and her stones my heart was captured, it brought back the love I felt decorating the stones for my hubby, and I felt deep within my heart that I wanted to contribute to Isla’s legacy. I tracked down my Posca pens, found some stones and settled down to do a bit of painting. Being the Sailing Penguin I decided that I would paint penguins on my stones, and have painted 4 so far. Once they have a good coat of sealant these fellas will be ready too fly the nest. I plan to go out and hide them at the weekend around where I live in Northern Ireland.
I am hoping people find them, photograph them, post them onto Isla’s page, then take them to hide somewhere else.
If you are thinking of joining in on Isla’s legacy it is very easy to do, just rember to put #Islastones on the back of the stone along with find.post.hide.
For a recent BBC news article about Isla please click here remember to click play to watch the video.
Get painting stones people, get hiding them, and get finding them. Let’s see how much of the world we can cover is Isla’s stones.
As an after note, #Islastones posted maps of the world where Isla’s stones have been found, I think it would be fabulous to try and get one to the Antarctic. Just putting this out there because you never know. If you know of any Antarctic explorers please pass this story onto them to see if we can get a stone to the Antarctic for Isla. A big ask however you don’t know if you don’t ask!
Get painting people