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From The Heart: The Sunny Days Project

In 2008, my heart was broken. My sister and her husband came round to babysit whilst my husband and I went to a meeting about our eldest starting primary school. When we returned Sis shared the news that a lump that she had seen the doctor about had turned out to be breast cancer.

Four weeks ago, my heart broke even more. Having managed to beat the breast cancer and be in remission for six years, my lovely sister gave me a hug and whispered ‘The cancer is back, and it’s spread to my bones.’ I really thought she had beaten it and it never occurred to me that it would come back. With over a week to get used to the news herself, she was remarkably calm. I was a wreck. My sister is 51 years old and we are separated by a 7 year gap. We shared a room growing up and when she married and had her own children I often spent time at her house, keeping her company whilst her husband worked away. I kept thinking to myself I can’t deal with this, I can’t see this happen.


I cried for the rest of the day and most of the following day. I was crying for me, but mainly I was crying for her. With a one year old grandson that she is absolutely besotted with, two loving kids and a new relationship, I couldn’t bear the unfairness of the fact that she would be taken away from them. I felt sad for my parents, who in their 80s shouldn’t have to be going through something like this. I googled my sister’s condition, as I’m the kind of person who has to have all the information to hand. I deliberately looked for positive tales of survivors. And you know what? I found so many positive stories out there. I shared some of these stories with my parents in an effort to give them some hope. When we had heard the diagnosis, we had all wondered what the prognosis would be, we’d assumed weeks or months. Looking on the internet, I found that years would be more likely than weeks or months. The cancer is in her pelvis and hips and I read that ‘bone mets’ are very common and that many people survive for years.

The Oncologist seems to be pretty calm about the whole situation, he’s put Sis back on her breast cancer meds and obviously the key is to keep the cancer at bay. I struggled with this the most to begin with. This time around, we couldn’t say ‘Right, we’re going to beat this!’ and I found that hard to bear. Now I have learnt that it probably can’t be beaten, but it can be managed. I’m hopeful that it can be managed for a very long time.

I read a really poignant comment from a US oncologist to a person who had been diagnosed with bone mets. She said’ I have a bear that has come out of his cave. We need to put him back in his cave, he will not go away, but he can hibernate, and when he decides to come out again we do what is needed to get him into hibernation once again.’ That analogy works for me and we are going to be working hard to ensure that the bear stays in hibernation for many years to come.


Two days after I got the news, I woke up in a different frame of mind. I’d spoken to family a lot those previous days and we’d all talked about how you have to live each day and just savour the moments. We became quite philosophical stating that the fact is none of us knew the minute our time would be up on this earth. In my head, I vowed not to take anything for granted again, although I acknowledged it’s human nature to ease back into not treasuring the little things

At times like this, it’s critical to stay positive and that’s where my idea for The Sunny Days Project came from. Initially I had a Pinterest board with the same title which can be found here Sunny Day Project Pinterest   I filled it with as many positive things as I could find. I try and look at it each morning and each time I start to think negatively I will have a look at something uplifting. I need to keep myself strong to support my sister and the rest of the family. I’m going to write a few motivational posts on the blog too which I hope will inspire others who are going through tough times. With the busy lifestyle that we have now, it is so easy to rush around and not really take it all in. I know I’m guilty of it, I think we all are.  So today just try and grab yourself five minutes, sit and enjoy the silence, savour that cup of coffee or appreciate how pretty the daffodils look. None of us know the minute.


Sis and my niece visiting me in Mallorca in 1991

Ps. Sis is doing ok at the moment, in spite of being in hospital with a fractured hip! She’s a strong lady and I’m very proud of her.

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  • Anna Brophy

    April 18, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Ahhhhh bugger, Siena. I am so sorry to hear this bitchin’ disease is causing such heartache. One of my closest friends is experiencing exactly this right now with her own little sister and I plan to send her this link. Be brave. xx #bigpinklink

    1. Siena Says

      April 19, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Yeah it’s such a pants disease and it just seems to affect so many people in so many ways. Sorry about your friend and her sister. Unfortunately all you can do is grasp onto the good times and hope that there are plenty of them to come xx

  • This Mum’s Life

    April 19, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I am so sorry to hear of this set back your sister has had, but I’m also inspired by the way you are tackling it-with such positivity. I totally agree that it’s easy to make sweeping statements that you are going to appreciate every single thing in your life from now on, only to see that dissipate when you have a bad day, or something else goes wrong. It’s brilliant that you’ve got reminders, your Pinterest board, and are planning motivational posts, in order to keep the idea at the forefront of your mind!! I like the analogy the oncologist gave you about putting the bear back in its cage. I know metastases is a scary thought, but early treatment can definitely put the bear firmly away, (spoken as a former nurse with experience in oncology.) I wish you all well, and hope you will keep us updated with your sisters progress, and your positivity project.
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink. Xx

    1. Siena Says

      April 19, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Yes I love the bear thing, when I heard it, it made sense and made my sister feel better (which is the main thing). Good to have some medical perspective on it, it’s very easy to see it as an immediate death sentence, but as I said in my blog I hope she has quite a few years left yet. Time will tell xx

  • islandliving365

    April 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I am so sorry to read about your sister’s news. I think the analogy of getting it to hibernate again is a really good way of looking at it and a great way of trying to take control of the situation. You sound like such a positive and inspiring lady and I am sure that your sister will really appreciate your amazing support. Keep us in the loop and I will be thinking of you and your sister #bigpinklink

  • wipingbuttsandtakingnames

    April 21, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I read this post and my heart broke for you. I’m sorry to hear what you are all going through but you have the right frame of mind and that is stay positive, enjoy life and fight. My grandma recently died of Cancer just 5 weeks after being diagnosed and boy do I wish that we would have stopped to smell the roses a lil more. Much luck and love to you and your family! ❤️

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