It’s a late one but I didn’t want to let International Women’s Day pass without mentioning some of the amazing females in my life.

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Firstly…My amazing mum. She is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about supporting children, young people and their families through diagnosis and living with chronic illness now. I was only 15 months old when I was diagnosed and she was only a young mum, just turned 21 when it happened. She was also a single mum before I turned 3, to me and my newborn brother.

Throughout my childhood she passionately raised me to believe I could do anything and be anybody I wanted to, regardless of my health conditions.

I was lucky to have a good team of doctors and health professionals around me but she would always encourage my full involvement and ensure my wishes about treatment options etc were taken into consideration from an early age. I believe this is now why I am so passionate about patient advocacy and encouraging children and young people to be active and involved in their own care. I see so often people who have been left with little information after a diagnosis, feeling bamboozled by doctors and care plans and with no support to help them make their own choices aswell as lacking in confidence. I’m truly lucky to have had that support and aim to help as many as I can in this situation.

Having a child with a chronic condition (or three) is not easy. No parent ever stops being a parent just because their child turns into an adult but when you have a poorly child you are still needed in a much greater care capacity for a lot longer than most. My mum does an awful lot for me to this day and I know will continue to. For that I am truly grateful and feel extremely lucky.

I also want to mention my Aunty. Through thick and thin she has been there for me and was the one who recently took me in to A and E and sat with me sleeping on her before I got admitted. She then took the boys every morning when my mum and dad went to work and looked after them before taking them to school. Fiesty and proud, she’s taught me to let my hair down and have fun, that mistakes are lessons and everyone makes them and that speaking your mind can be a good thing!

And then to my Grandma. It breaks my heart to see her struggle with her own health at the moment, knowing the kinds of pain she is in and the daily battle she goes through. My Grandma has always worked hard and it seems cruel that she is now spending her retirement fighting ill health. I hope I inspire her as much as she does me to keep going. She’s taught me about independence, kindness and the balance of never letting things get the better of me but also not pushing myself into further problems. Unfortunately knitting lessons were a failure 🙈

Tonight I raise a smile (still off the wine unfortunately) to these 3 fabulous women I’m so lucky to have. I hope you all have someone in your lives you can count on in this way – female or male, parent, relative, friend – and if not I’m only a message away!

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