Events in Mallorca for August 2017

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The open air cinema in Palma, Cinema a la Fresca, is in full swing now. Every Saturday and Sunday evening there’s a free movie, the Saturdays tend to be animations suitable for everyone, and the Sundays are more grown up. The films start at 10pm. They are in Spanish with English subtitles. This weekend you can see Zootropolis on Saturday and Bridge of Spies on Sunday. Nice way to spend a summer evening.
The village of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar has its annual fiestas at the moment. You can enjoy open air concerts, traditional dancing exhibitions, a craft beer fair on the 11th, sports activities, theatre from Mallorcan groups for adults and children, and it’s all rounded off with a fireworks display.
There’s yoga on the ramp by Club de Vela daily at 8am and 8pm led by Suzanne Neilsen. For members of the club 5 euros, non members 10 euros. Classes Mon – Fri until end Aug. Check Club de Vela Puerto de Andratx website or FB. Sign up in office.
Michael_BoltonThis Saturday Michael Bolton is in town. He’s performing at Son Fusteret in Palma and it promises to be a big night out. He’s being supported by Angel Flukes, who is a fantastic singer who lives in Mallorca and won Germany’s Got Talent last December. You can get your tickets at http://www.legendsvip.com
This summer you can go up on the top of the Cathedral in Palma and have a look around. There are hour long guided tours which will tell you about the history of the building whilst you visit the bell tower and the buttresses and of course see the amazing views over Palma. You have to be in good health as there are 215 steps to do on the way up and you have to be 11 and over. You can book at http://www.catedraldemallorca.info
On Wednesday 16th in Alaro you can catch the finale of their annual fiestas with a massive party and a Corre Foc at midnight. Not to be missed.
regatta-illes-balears-classics-palma-centre-and-marinaFrom August 16th to the 19th some of the most beautiful classic yachts from all over the world will meet in Palma for the Illes Balears Classic Sailing Regatta. The marina at Club de Mar will host an exhibition of classic boats, the oldest one being the Marigan yacht from 1898. Open to the public on Friday 18th.
On Saturday 19th August you can hang out at the Sa Pobla Jazz Festival. It’s at the Sala Es Cavallets, Placa Major and kick off is at 10pm.
On Tuesday August 22nd, there will be a Bridge tournament and dinner afterwards on the beautiful terrace (where a UK Visa card advert was filmed a few years ago) at the Alcanada Gollf Club in Alcudia. If anyone would like to play they must register by August 16th. It costs 13€ to play and 45€ to play and have a splendid 3 course dinner, with wine, water & coffee all included. There are money prizes for the winners too! The number of tables will be limited, so register as soon as possible if you would like to play. There is an active bridge club in Palma with duplicate bridge games every Monday, Wednesday & Friday. They also play Thursdays (Sta Ponsa) & Sundays, but not in August. Visitors are always welcome at the club – all details are on their website. If you need a partner you can ask them to help you. If you don’t play bridge yet, Wendy Lawrence runs classes for beginners and improvers and will be starting a new group in September. All notes are provided in English and Spanish. http://www.bridgewebs.com/asocbalear
On Wednesday August 23rd you can catch comedian Jimmy Carr at the Auditorium in Palma, later that week from Friday August 25th the Moscow Ballet will be at the Palma Auditorium performing Swan Lake, Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty over the weekend.

 

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The 2nd Vegan Day Out Vegan Day Out II, Saturday 26th August from 12 midday at Agroturismo Ca Na Susi. Entrance is free and there will be loads of workshops, entertainment for kids and grown ups and of course, plenty of food!
On Saturday 2nd September you can check out the Melon Fair in Vilafranca de Bonany. It’s the first of the autumn harvest festivals celebrating melons, figs and other fruit.
Up in Soller at the Can Prunera museum you will be able to see an exhibition of Picasso and Miro’s work.Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró met in Paris in 1920, when a young Miró visited Picasso’s studio on rue La Boétie. A friendship was born then, which would last until Pablo’s death. Curated by Miró’s grandson, this exhibition displays artworks by both of them as well as photographs, ceramics and books as well as a film showing them together at Picasso’s French studio. The exhibition runs through August until November.

Friday 9th September 8pm. There will be a variety show at the Anglican Church. Great evening of talent. 10 euro entry, details from office 971737279

THE s’Arraco Night of Art

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Did I see you on Thursday evening in my little village? In amongst the approximately 6000+ people who were stood outside of my front door? s’Arraco, which is between Andratx and St Elm down on the SW corner of Majorca, only has 2000 inhabitants, so for one crazy night every year our population trebles as we are inundated with visitors. There’s nowhere to park, you have to get a shuttle bus or a taxi from the nearby towns or walk, or cycle, or roller-skate, or hover board or do whatever you have to do to get there. Our village is full for that night and it’s so much fun that as soon as this year’s Night of Art is over we all start looking forward to the next one.
It started six years ago and has evolved into what Andratx, our local council, says is the most popular night of the year in the whole municipality. The organiser of the evening, Neale Sanders, told me that “Working with the council has been a joy, everything I need they provide, they fully support the event and give me all the help I could ask for. It doesn’t seem to matter which council it is , PP or PSOE, or any of the parties, they all think the Nit de l’Art is a great event. It’s really apolitical which is wonderful. I can’t thank them enough for what they do.”
Neale coordinates the more than 140 artists who exhibited on Thursday night, myself included, plus the musicians and other acts, and organises the programme and publicity. It’s probably quite a headache to do but he seems to always be in a good mood so I think he enjoys it, even the stress! But Neale’s and everyone’s hard work certainly paid off as it was a fantastic evening filled with energy, laughs, friends, and probably too many mojitos if my head was anything to go by on Friday. The event attracts artists from all over the island to participate and it is really fun to do. There really isn’t a spot in s’Arraco which doesn’t have some art in it on this evening. Sculptures fill the only town square, paintings are hung from many doorways and fences, gardens, shops and cafes are opened to artists to exhibit in, everywhere you turn there it is. And not just art work, but music as well. Ten bands played throughout the night on strategic street corners, acapella, jazz, Spanish, rock, swing, blues, world music and lots more. Plus street performers dancing with fire and walking on stilts, and performances in our little municipal theatre as well. There’s actually no way one person could possibly take it all in, but everyone tries and there’s a constant movement of people as they roam around the streets. As and when you’re in need of refreshment there’s food stalls run by local associations and our local restaurants. One of the restaurants, Es Raco de Puput said they’d served 1400 tapas!
To put into perspective how many people come to the Night of Art: walking from my house to the centre of the village normally takes five minutes, on Thursday evening it took thirty. It’s wonderful to realise so many people want to support art and culture and have a great night out in the middle of the week. Well done to everyone who exhibited and thank you to Neale for organising such a vibrant and fun party for our village. If you didn’t make it this year then there’s always 2018. Viva s’Aracco!

Mallorca Grapevine, 14 July 2017

THE WEDNESDAY GROUP

With the twiddlers and shawlsI popped past The Wednesday Group headquarters last week to take a couple of snaps of them before they broke up for the summer.

With the toysThis industrious bunch have been making toys for the Allen Graham Charity, knitted knockers for the Cancer Support Group to donate to people who need breast prostheses, and shawls for wheelchair users and twiddlers for people suffering from dementia for Age Concern to donate.

With the knockers

I’d never seen a twiddler before and I was quite fascinated by them. They are very pleasing to hold with chunky knit outside and a felt inside with plenty of different things attached to them to fiddle with.

A Twiddler, I'm very glad I don't need one, but I want one!Apparently they are used by people with dementia as a way to occupy their hands and it has a calming effect on anyone who is feeling distressed. I’ve got to say I’m glad that I don’t need one, but boy I would like one! The Wednesday Group will restart in September. Anyone who wants to join them is very welcome to go along and get stuck in. You can contact Kay Halley at the Universal Bookshop or call her on 971 676 116.

 

JIMMY CARR IS ON HIS WAY

Jimmy Carr is on his way!One of the most prolific joke-tellers of recent times, Jimmy Carr will be embarking on a mammoth world tour in 2017 and 2018. With an astonishingly vast repertoire and lightning-sharp delivery honed from fifteen years at the top, Jimmy is gathering a selection of his very best jokes along with brand new material for the ultimate comedy show, and he’s coming to Majorca in August to perform at the Auditorium on the 23rd!  Jimmy has been on the stand-up scene for a decade and a half. In that time he’s performed 9 sell-out tours, playing nearly 2,000 shows to over 2 million people across 4 continents. He’s won the British Comedy Award for ‘Best Live Stand-Up Tour’ and been nominated for the Perrier Award.

 

MICHAEL BOLTON PLAYS MALLORCA

Michael BoltonAnother gig I’m looking forward to is Michael Bolton who will be playing Son Fusteret on August 12th.  I recently wrote about Angel Flukes who will be supporting him and I’ve heard that tickets are selling well, so it’s probably time to get yours.

 

HEALTHY GOODIES AT A MA MAISON

Delicious carrot, orange and pumpkin soupIn my role as “person who overshares on Facebook about healthy food recipes and being kind to animals” I was invited along to A Ma Maison restaurant in Santa Catalina by the owner Saloua. She treated me to her new recipes that she is working on to offer to her clients who may want to eat more healthily, and plant based.

Beetroot tartareI was really impressed with her ideas, and particularly liked the beetroot tartare.

Saloua with her homegrown tomsSaloua grows a lot of her herbs and even some of her veggies out the back of her restaurant where she proudly showed me her kitchen garden.

 

THE NIT DEL ART, SARRACO

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I don’t care if you think this is biased, but my perfect little village, S’Arraco in Andratx will be holding its Night of Art on the evening of Thursday July 27th. Put the date in your diary. It really is worth the trip over for a great cultural night out. There will be lots of live music, wine, food, and art to gawp over.

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Parking can get a bit tricky in the village and there will be a shuttle bus running from Andratx so park there and the bus over from in front of the Eroski.

 

VEGAN DAY OUT A SUCCESS!

Scott, the organiser of the Vegan Day OutWell done to Scott Adams who managed to pull off something brand new for the island,  a vegan festival!  

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The location for the first event was at Son Amar in Palmanyola and featured workshops, stalls, cruelty free products, yoga, plenty of activities for children and some very interesting looking drinks! Apparently between 800 and 1000 people attended. Scott is already working on the next event which will be on August 23rd, location yet to be confirmed.

 

MALLORCA FASHION WEEK

slider-maria-barros-mallorca-fashion-weekComing up very soon from 26th to 28th July Palma will be inundated with models, designers, and I hope, plenty of air kissing. Yes it’s Mallorca Fashion Week, organised by the powerhouse which is Victoria de Vivero.  You can get your tickets for the shows online at www.mallorca-fashionweek.com

Growing up a writer

20049028_10154908909078507_1358458897_oIt’s a sweaty afternoon in Palma but Emily Benet arrives for our lunch meeting looking very cool and composed. She’s just got off the bus (rather than drive, she’s only just passed her test and Pierre the seven seater Citroen Picasso is a bit of a handful in Palma). We’re meeting to talk about her most recent novel, The Hen Party, set in Mallorca with the tag line ” A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone’s going home.”  The story features film director, Kate Miller, who is in serious trouble: the entire cast and crew of a reality TV show “The Hen Party”  have gone missing whilst filming. Kate thinks it’s all her fault, well she hasn’t exactly been following the guidelines, but if she is to blame, why are the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears…. ? Emily’s book is a fast, fun, summer read full of comedy and drama and having read it myself, I’m going to tell you to get it because a) you’ll enjoy it and b) Emily is a local author, living here on the island and we should support her.

But, back to the interview, once we’ve ordered our lunches we get down to it.  Aside from living on the island for the past couple of years Emily is an author, journalist and award winning blogger. But her story starts way, way back when she was eleven. “I always wanted to be a writer, I wrote a book, Dandelion Abbey, about talking animals. But it wasn’t until I was encouraged to enter a writing competition by my English teacher at my school in Barcelona that I really believed I could do it. I won first prize, 350€!”

The daughter of a Spanish dad and a Welsh mum Emily was thirteen when they all moved to Spain. “I was determined to pass my Selectividad (the Spanish University entrance exams) because this boy at my school had said he didn’t know why I was bothering. And I did it.” As it was she found herself studying back in the UK at the University of East Anglia, but she didn’t feel like she was getting anywhere, and she didn’t like her surroundings either. “Everything was burgundy, the place looked like a Swedish prison”.  Emily was quickly frustrated by the lack of time actually being taught, only six hours a week, and for a determined, ambitious, some might say workaholic, writer, this was just too much to bear. She dropped out.  An ultimatum was posed, either she studied in Barcelona or went to help in the family business, a chandelier shop in London. She chose the shop. “I decided, I’m going to take a year and help my mum in the shop whilst I write THE novel”.  One year rolled into more but she didn’t stop working on her goal, “I went to creative writing groups and classes, I read A LOT. I found myself inspired by the daily things in life, a single overheard sentence on the bus can spark a “What if… ” in my brain. Then one day she went to watch a football game, Germany vs Spain, with her dad and she met her future husband who was to have an impact not just on her, but on her writing career.”  He suggested to me that I start writing a blog. This was 2008 and not so many people were writing blogs then, I decided to write a blog about my life in the shop. I called it Shopgirl Blog. But I wasn’t really a shop girl, I was a writer, a writer trapped in the body of a shop girl working in a shop”. That’s when things really started moving and Emily started to get noticed. “I posted a link to my blog on the Salt Publishing Facebook page, and I got a response! They were interested in what I’d written and wanted to turn it into a book.” The blog also became a TV pilot (you can watch it on You Tube). Then mega publisher Harper Collins picked up her next books, The Temp and Please Retweet. But as she quickly discovered despite being on the roster of a publishing house that didn’t mean they would do much promotion of her work.  So this time around, with The Hen Party, she’s going it alone.

She admits it hasn’t been easy, switching from being with a publisher to self publishing, but she realises now that she might have been better off doing it her way right from the start as sales for The Hen Party are already surpassing her previous novels. She attributes her success to make this switch to someone she’s never met, Joanna Penn, the host of a podcast The Creative Penn which interviews successful author entrepreneurs.  As Emily tells me, “The word entrepreneur has a lot of positive connotations. An entrepreneur sounds like someone who is driven, creative, has get-up and go. Unfortunately self-publishing entrepreneurs aren’t always met with the same admiration in the writing world. Self-publishing still has a lot of stigma – and I get why. People want the credibility of a big publisher. They assume if a big publisher didn’t print it, then it can’t be good. In reality, a traditional publisher might like the book but may not have space for it on their list. They may well have a similar author writing in the same genre. I didn’t wait until the very end to find out if a publisher wanted my book. It takes months and months for replies and the first so-called ‘rave rejections’ that I received convinced me the novel was good enough for public consumption. The book took me over a year with two massive edits so I wasn’t going to just discard it because three people liked it but weren’t sure they’d be able to sell it. I didn’t just hit publish once I’d made up my mind. It was important to me that it would be produced with the same care as a traditionally published book. Next, it went through a professional editor. After that, a proof reader. For me, it’s about being proactive about your career, treating it like a business and taking the wishful thinking out of it.  It’s about taking creative control of your project, getting fair royalties and being able to adjust prices and book covers if at first it doesn’t succeed.”  We talk at great length about book covers and she shows me the most recent version of The Hen Party, she’s not quite happy with it. I tell her to stop worrying about it, but then if it were my book I think I would be just as fussy. After all it represents more than a year’s work, and who can say that about anything they’ve done?

When our date is over we find it hard to say goodbye, and wander around the streets of Palma together for a while, until finally Emily decides she’d better go find her bus. As I head off I wonder how many new ideas for stories she’ll come up with on the ride home and pledge to take the bus a bit more often myself.

                                                                                                                                                                   

You can get Emily Benet’s books online at Amazon or at the Universal Bookshop in Portals.

Visit http://www.emilybenet.com for more.

Mallorca Matters Meet Ups

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Hi there

I’m trying to help bring people together from around the island. I arrange casual, friendly, non threatening, non agenda meet ups for people to make new friends and contacts on the island.

You can join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1532815660122689/

Or search “Mallorca Matters Meet Up” on Facebook.

The next Meet Up will be in Inca on June 27th. Join the Facebook group to find out more.

Vicki x

 

June events in Mallorca

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Selva hosts its Herb Fair this coming weekend, with a mixture of agricultural and traditional events taking place during the day and the evening. You can enjoy exhibitions, cooking demonstrations and tastings of all things herbal.
Also this weekend you can see Carmen at the Teatro Principal if you’re craving some opera.
The following weekend there is the street food festival at Port Adriano from June 16th to the 18th where you can try out various food trucks serving international junk food!

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The Women’s Tennis Association Mallorca Tennis Tournament will run from June 18th to June 25th at Santa Ponsa Tennis Club, it’s considered a warm up event for Wimbledon and this is the second year it has been held.
The Beach Boys will play on June 18th at Son Fusteret, plus don’t forget that we also have Tom Jones and George Benson playing in Port Adriano this summer, and Michael Bolton will visit the island on August 12th as well.
63958377June 21st is the International Yoga Day and it will be celebrated in style at the Cal Reiet hotel and retreat in Santanyi. They have several free activities on offer including yoga, a talk on nutrition, a guided meditation and a concert of Hawaiian mantras.
If you’re into big old boats then be sure to hang around in Palma for the Superyacht Cup from June 21st to June 24th. You may be lucky enough to get invited to some of the exclusive invite only events organised by the sponsors.
June 23 be ready to enjoy the Nit de Foc in Palma where all of the islands best Demonis get together for the night of fire!
The following day is the Sant Joan on June 24 where everyone dresses in white, has a picnic on the beach and goes into the sea at midnight to cleanse themselves of sin.
Marratxi hosts its annual fiesta during the last week of June. Something for everyone, with live music concerts, sports activities, and a comedy evening.
Finally for June the Atlantida Film Festival will run for a week from the 26th with free cinema screenings and concerts around Palma. The film festival will include 18 films, 4 conferences and 7 concerts, all free of charge to the general public. The star guest this year will be Vanessa Redgrave, who will present her first film as a director “Sea Sorrow”. The venues are CineCiutat, Bellver Castle, Ses Voltes (the area in front of the Cathedral) and the Museu de Mallorca.
And that’s your lot for June.

Majorca’s Wild Child

Christa Elmer photo credit Vicki McLeod-5760Imagine you’re a bit of a free spirit, growing up in quite a conservative place, Switzerland. Imagine that your dream is to be a singer, but your parents think it makes a nice hobby, but couldn’t ever be your profession. Imagine you’re sixteen years old. What do you think you’d do? Christa Elmer found herself in this situation, and she ran from it.

She tells me her story as we drink a cafe con leche together in our village, s’Arracó, “I was young, I thought I knew everything”, she tells me. She’d been soprano in a classical choir in her homeland, in fact all of her family have a talent for music, but she is the only professional musician. A wild child you could say, or a determined businesswoman, because you have to be both of those things to make it in the music business here in Majorca or indeed anywhere in the world. After running away from home as a teenager she then moved again to the island sixteen years ago “by accident”, and has raised two children on her own. Four years ago, once they had started to be grown up enough she is focused back on her other great passion, music.

photo credit Juan Formento

These days Christa is a familiar voice and face to me, I’ve seen her perform in many situations, always with great style, and flare. “I love to take people by surprise, for example I enjoy busking on the street in Palma from time to time, people don’t expect it, it’s spontaneous and that makes me, and them, happy.” Her eyes are shining as she explains to me how she loves to connect with her audience, “I enjoy the energy, I want to delight the people”. The problem is though that Majorca does not have many public places for live bands to regularly play. “The Shamrock, Saratoga and Jazz Voyeur, that’s it really. Sound limiters are limiting musicians and some places I would have played in before now there is no possibility.” Aside from playing piano and harmonica, Christa sings with two bands, The Monkey Swingers, and The Banditos. Both have different styles, and different audiences. “I decided that I wanted to work with real musicians rather than with backing tracks. Many bars expect you to just play covers, which obviously we do, but I choose which ones we do. I love jazz, soul, rock. I sing them all”. It was she admits a risk to be so clear about wanting to perform in a band rather than with a USB stick and a laptop, but “I decided I would do exactly what I wanted to do”.

Now Christa has taken this several steps further with writing her own songs and producing (with Carlos Lambertini) an album and performing them alongside the more familiar covers. “If you’re a songwriter than you have music coming out of you at strange times. Sometimes the lyrics just come to me and flow out of me, sometimes it’s much more difficult.” Writing and producing her album has been a lot of like giving birth, quite a lot of hard work, some screaming and crying and a beautiful baby at the end of it. I ask her if she feels vulnerable about having her songs in public ready for scrutiny. “Yes! I was a bit worried about how people would feel about it. But I like as well to see how they respond to the different songs. I can tell you exactly how I felt when I wrote each of the songs on the album, and there are strong emotions in all of them. But song writing helps me to make sense of things, and they are a glimpse in of intimate moments.” How has she grown since releasing the album I ask her, “I’ve found that yes, I do need approval, and I wish that I didn’t so much! We shouldn’t need this, but we all do”. It’s not just the music though, there’s the art work for the album, the way it is laid out, the production of the product, the cost of it. “Quality is very important”. It has been hard to get the attention of radio stations and potential avenues to promote her work further. “I hoped that the local radio stations here would support local artists in Majorca, but it’s not as easy as that. I’m not giving up though, I will keep trying to get my music played on the radio.” She’s already available to download and play on iTunes and Spotify after an epic amount of administration “So much paperwork! WOW!” and you can buy her CD in bars in our village, and wherever she is performing.

What about touring to the mainland, or to music festivals? Without a hesitation she smiles, puts down her coffee cup and looks me straight in the eye, “Yep, that’s my next goal.” Watch out Europe, Christa’s on her way.
You can see more about Christa at http://www.christaelmer.com

Grapevine 6th June 2017

Fighting Fit

Sean Pendry-4707Sean Pendry made his UK professional welterweight boxing debut last weekend at Bowlers in Trafford Park, Manchester. Before he left for his fight I went along to see him….

Sean had been living and working in Majorca for several years before he started to box, but once he had put on his gloves he didn’t want to take them off. “I’ve always been interested in the sport,” he told me, “and my granddad Paddy McGrath boxed so maybe it’s in the blood”. We were sat in the Shambala gym in Santa Ponsa. Around us were personal training and boxing classes going on. It was busy and Sean was quite preoccupied with making sure his medical checks reached the British Boxing Federation, if they didn’t receive them then hw wasn’t boxing. “What do you have to send them?” I asked. He replied, ”Brain scan, eye test…” “Oh, so you actually do get your head examined before fighting?” I asked with a twinkle in my eye. He didn’t get the joke.

Anyway, it’s a serious business. Four rounds of three minutes fighting comes at the end of months of preparation. Training twice a day with boxing practice every night with ex world Muay Thai champion Paul Hamilton as his coach.The last time I’d seen Sean fight was last autumn when he fought at the Pirates’ theatre in Magaluf. How had he developed since then I wondered. “I’m boxing now rather than fighting. Before I would have got in a bit of a scrap but now I’m boxing clean”.

Sean Pendry and Youssef Al Hamidi in the ring last weekend Photo credit Karen Priestley

Sean Pendry and Youssef Al Hamidi in the ring last weekend Photo credit Karen Priestley

It certainly paid off as on the Saturday night he fought Youssouf Al Hamidi and won! He Sean told me afterwards, “I had loads of support from family and friends and loads of messages from Majorca. I was quite taken aback by the amount of support I received”. What are his personal goals? “To keep consistent, to get more professional fights, to continue to be entertaining in the ring.”

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All of this takes effort, dedication and plenty of support from his sponsors (NautiParts, Heroes, Balearic Sea School, Innovention 3, Sports Bar 90, Radio One Mallorca, Zing Vodka, One Agency and Rob Boynes] who have all helped with paying for flights, medical checks, training, kit and clothing. Does he have any doubts? “No. Paul and Nestor my manager keep me very grounded. They keep me focused”. And the future, after he hangs up his gloves, will he stay in boxing? “Definitely. I’d like to do a lot of things, but I definitely want to coach and bring other people on like I have been. Boxing has already done a lot for.me I have to give back for sure.”

Twelve long years

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My husband Oliver and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary last week with a couple of special days. On the actual day (the 25th of May, so many people get married in May, I had no idea!) we more or less took the day off and spent it together. We went to the Hammam in Palma which we have been promising ourselves we would go and try out for a while, it was lovely. Not as big as I imagined but a nice experience anyway. And then we went for lunch at Patron Lunares in Santa Catalina. I’ve always wanted to eat there but not had the opportunity before and we really enjoyed it. The place was reasonably quiet given it was a Thursday lunchtime, and we had great service. The waiter really excelled himself when he brought our starter of “Rocket Squid” to the table without once sniggering or making any sort of joke. Take a peek at the photo and tell me what you think it looked like…. Anyway, after lunch Ollie and I went on a romantic date to Brico Mart to buy tiles, yes romance can be found wherever you look! Then on the weekend we cashed in a hotel voucher I had won in a charity auction and went up to Alcudia for the night. We don’t go north much for anything apart from work so it was nice to spend some time up there just relaxing. We ended up eating at quite a fancy place called La Terraza in Alcanada, and we can recommend the food there, it was gorgeous.

Radiothon

JpegWhilst Ollie and I were being love’s young dream our friends Richie Prior and Ayesha Wood were hard at it raising money for charity with the Radio One Mallorca Radiothon. A 24 hour challenge full of fun and a fair bit of emotion as well. This was their third year doing it and it was a great effort from the whole radio team as well with Bianca and Jo busy in the background keeping bids and donations organised and making sure people were putting their money where their mouths were. Phoenix Media Mallorca (aka Ollie and I) donated a family portrait session and that went for 200€ so we were really pleased with that. At the last count they’d raised just over 20,000€ so well done everyone who donated and helped out raising money for charities here on the island.

Gringos Bingo

Gringo Bingo -6716I went along to quite possibly the maddest event I have ever had the fortune to photograph on Sunday evening. Gringos Bingo is a new experience for the island as it’s a Bingo game with real prizes (such as an iPad and a Nintendo DS) and some quite crazy prizes (a life size cardboard cutout of Bruce Forsyth for example).

 

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The audience were really excited about it, with some of them dressing up as a pack of “Grannies” which was hilarious. Add in lots of dancing, a gang of fun loving bingo callers and entertainers, and possibly a sangria or two and you have a fun and different night out. The shows are every Monday night at the Pirates Theatre in Magaluf and you can get more information on http://www.gringosbingo.com

Meet Ups

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So, I started a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1532815660122689/ Search for Mallorca Matters Meet Up) to help with coordination of information. So far we’ve had one official meet up in Palma. There will be a walk on Sunday June 4th at 10.30 around the back of Cala Fornells (meet behind the Petit Cala Fornell Hotel). It’s an easy, dog friendly walk for everyone to do, should be fun. Then there will be a Meet Up in Inca on June 27th, time to be decided. Join the group to stay informed.

Michael Bolton is coming to town

Michael Bolton Performs At St David's Hall In Cardiff

Michael Bolton is preparing for an unforgettable live concert at Son Fusteret when he will deliver hit after hit in his trademark soulful style in front of a packed audience. Grammy award winning artist Michael Bolton will be performing on the island on Saturday August 12th when he can be seen at Son Fusteret in Palma. The American singer and actor is visiting Mallorca as part of his Greatest Hits World Tour and he promises it will be a night out that his fans will never forget.
Michael’s achievements include selling more than 75 million records, recording eight top 10 albums and two number-one singles on the Billboard charts, as well as winning multiple American Music Awards and Grammy Awards. I am rather proud to say I will be taking the photos that night, swit swoo!

That’s all for now, check out http://www.mallorcamatters.com for previous columns or my Facebook page if you want to send a message.

The Grapevine May 20th

Calvia Rotary Club Success

Events in Mallorca

This year the Rotary organisation worldwide is celebrating the Centennial Year of the Rotary Foundation.It now comprises of over 1,200,000 members in more than 200 countries. The object of Rotary is to encourage the ideal of “Service above self”.  They take on projects at a local  level, but also international challenges: one of the main projects being the eradication of polio throughout the world. Every Rotary Club in the world has been asked to organize an event to celebrate their 100th birthday, and the Rotary Club of Calvia International is no exception.  All their members got together to enjoy a Charity Jazz Night at the Club de Mar in Palma proving that fundraising can be great fun as well.

The project was led by member and musician Geoff Frosell and his Dixie Swing Band.  Add superb Gourmet Food by Tomeu Caldentey, some excellent wines, and the wonderful atmosphere of the Club de Mar with night-time views over Palma Harbour and the Cathedral, and success was assured.  An international crowd of all ages gathered to enjoy the event, and support the cause.  As a result of the generosity of everyone, the Club was able to contribute €2,000 to the Rotary Foundation Centennial account, which will be doubled by the Bill Gates Foundation to €4,000.  Together with all the other Rotary Clubs, who are targeting a collection of 300 million dollars this year, this ensures the continuation of the programme to eliminate polio world-wide, as well as projects dedicated to the education of children in the very poorest countries of the world, and many others.

Why not go  along and meet them at the Bendinat Hotel any Monday at 13.30. Send an email to geoffmoorecaracol@gmail.com. For more information :  www.rotaryclubofcalvia.com

The Sea Soirée

Events in Mallorca

Photo credit Sofia Winghamre

Last Friday 12 May, Asociación Ondine hosted a Sea Soirée at Coast in Port Adriano to raise money and awareness for marine conservation in the Balearic Islands. A gathering of 160 people attended in support of the cause, and to enjoy a masquerade-themed evening of drinks, dinner and dancing.

Guests arrived in time for sundowners on Coast’s terrace against the backdrop of live music from Soundhold, followed by a colourful display of Brazilian dancing and acrobatics by the Capoeira Group. A three-course, sit-down dinner was then served by Coast’s finest chefs who specialise in a fusion of Asian-Mediterranean cuisine. (It is safe to say that seafood was nowhere to be seen on the menu!)

Events in Mallorca

Sea Soiree Photo by Sofia Winghamre

With the majority of attendees linked to the yachting industry to some extent, Ondine’s President Brad Robertson took to the stage to say a few words about the ethos behind the charity, and to encourage people to get more involved. While most people know of Ondine through the organisation’s famous beach cleans around Majorca, one of Brad’s main objectives is to emphasise their work towards reducing plastic pollution and establishing marine reserves.

“These efforts are directly related to the yachting industry,” he explained. “If we are going to continue to have yachts coming and enjoying the Balearics, then we need clean and healthy seas. Our generation has done some serious damage to the environment, however we are in a period where recognition of the situation is very clear, so we have a unique opportunity to turn things around. We are lucky enough to live in a pristine part of the Mediterranean, so we need to start appreciating it.”

One side to Asociación Ondine that many people are not aware of is its team dedicated to creating an efficient network of Marine Protected Areas around the Balearic Islands. The team consists of a group of scientists and professionals who played an integral role in the setting up of Sa Dragonera as a marine reserve. Brad urged that more of these are needed, and increased support of Ondine will help towards this. “It’s not my organisation, it’s ours, and if you care about the marine environment then we have created the right platform for you,” he concluded.

Following dinner, it was time to dance to more live music from Johnny and the Blue Valentines. A raffle and art auction commenced with some kindly donated prizes and beautiful pieces of art. For those that had the staying power, the party continued well into the night in Coast’s adjoining nightclub, with music from internationally renowned DJ Alan Alvarez.

Thanks to the efforts of all involved, an overwhelming €17,200 was raised over the course of the evening to help with Ondine’s work towards marine conservation. A special thanks is owed to the sponsors, without which the event couldn’t have taken place. These included Absolute Boat Care, aRikki, Cooling Towers, Doyle Rigging, Doyle Sailmakers, Ecoworks Marine, Electro Marine, iShine, JPL Yachting, Master Yachts, Medical Support Offshore, Nauitpaints, Planet Space, Superyacht Services Guide, Modesty Carpentry, Modesty Interiors, Beaumount Properties, Astilleros de Mallorca and The Islander.

Asociación Ondine’s simple vision to combine science, local communities and conservation to protect and improve local marine ecosystems around the Balearics is truly inspirational. The tremendous amount of money raised at the Sea Soirée is a testament to the yachting industry’s powerful ability to come together and have fun, all for this very good cause. The event is a beacon for the positive impact that the yachting industry can achieve and for that the Ondine team, and its generous supporters, should be applauded.

Tattoo Fest

Events in Mallorca

Photo Phil Rogan

Happening all over the weekend, and until next Wednesday May 24th the Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival (www.traditionaltattoofestival.com) is quite an interesting place to visit. It’s designed to appeal to all ages as a  family event which allows members of the public to come and meet artists and performers from indigenous tribal cultures. A day pass is 10 or 15€ with children (u12) getting in free. Doors open each day at 12. You can find it at the Recinta Ferial in Santa Ponsa (opposite the windmill at the roundabout).  Come past and say hi as I will be there with fellow collaborators as we document the event and shoot some portraits of the indigenous tribes. Couldn’t turn down a chance like that now could I?

 

photographer Vicki McLeod, Mallorca

When life gives you lemons . . .

 

photographer Vicki McLeod, Mallorca

This article started as a quick follow up on something  I’d written for the Bulletin recently: Anita Vince had walked the GR221 with friends to raise money and awareness about breast cancer and I thought I’d put in an article about how to check your breasts and talk about the Cancer Support Group’s campaign to get all of us chicas checking our “lemons” (or melons, or mosquito bites, or boobs, or breasts, or whatever you’d like to call yours). I popped up a quick message on my Facebook, had any of my friends ever had breast cancer? I thought surely I’d get a reply from one or two people I knew. I wasn’t prepared for sixteen women and two men to answer me within an hour, all of whom had had breast cancer or had a loved one who had died from the disease.  I didn’t realise the extent of the problem, but I realise the power of letting people tell their own stories, so here they are.  I asked them all the same set of questions, here are their answers, in their own words.

How to check your breasts

There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts. But it is important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. That way, you can spot any changes quickly and report them to your doctor.

Every woman’s breasts are different in terms of size, shape and consistency. It’s also possible for one breast to be larger than the other. Get used to how your breasts feel at different times of the month. This can change during your menstrual cycle. For example, some women have tender and lumpy breasts, especially near the armpit, around the time of their period. After the menopause, normal breasts feel softer, less firm and not as lumpy.

Look at your breasts and feel each breast and armpit, and up to your collarbone. You may find it easiest to do this in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast and up under each armpit.

You can also look at your breasts in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.

See your doctor if you notice any of the following changes:

  • a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
  • a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • a new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
  • nipple discharge that’s not milky
  • bleeding from your nipple
  • a moist, red area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily
  • any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)

Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most of them aren’t serious. Lots of women have breast lumps, and nine out of 10 are not cancerous.

Get help

My thanks to all of the people that gave their time to appear in this article who had the courage to share their stories not only with me but with the Majorca Daily Bulletin readers as well.  Please get in touch with us if you would like to tell your story. If you need practical or emotional support as a person who has any type of cancer or you have a friend or loved one who has cancer then you can contact www.cancersupportmallorca.com or call their helpline on 659 887 455.

Ulrica Marshall

Photographer: Vicki McLeod

Believe that you will come through this.”

  • When did you first find out you had cancer? May 2006
  • How did you find out? I’d felt a lump for a while – maybe a month – but had dismissed it as I had two very young kids and breastfeeding plays havoc on your breasts anyway… Finally, my husband prompted me to go saying it just wasn’t right. I was still in denial holding onto that much-repeated statistic that 9 out of 10 lumps are benign. Mine, sadly, was not.
  • How did you feel when you found out? Terrified and in disbelief. I was so sure it was going to be nothing I’d brought my feisty 15-month old daughter to the biopsy. I was literally shaking when he told me that it had to come out (whatever it was) and I needed to go into surgery as soon as possible.
  • What treatment/surgery did you have? Lumpectomy – to minimise the damage to the breast – twice as there was still cancer in the margins after the first operation. 6 rounds of Chemo and 33 sessions of radiotherapy followed by 5 years of Tamoxifen. I quit after 5 years without doctors’ guidance as I was reading so many negative things about tamoxifen and I had done what I thought was enough.
  • How did it make you feel? Tired. Nauseous. Determined. Angry. Lucky – that my diagnosis was good after the operation. But mainly tired.
  • How did it affect your family? My girls were too young to really understand what was going on, though my eldest started hating cheese and refusing to eat it. I quickly gave up dairy after diagnosis and cheese was the biggest cut. So she clearly knew. My husband didn’t take it well. He was petrified. At the time of my diagnosis he had just been offered a job in Tokyo, which he’d accepted. I insisted he took it and went ahead of me – partly because he was flapping and it wasn’t helping me, but also once my 6 months of treatment hell would come to an end, I could make a fresh start in a new city (I was diagnosed in London) with no reminders of the zombie I was at that time.  
  • Tell me how you are now please…. I feel normal. In a good way. I no longer think of myself as limited by what I went through, not a victim or unlucky. It’s something that happened to me that does not define me. The experience improved my diet a lot and I remain non-dairy though I eat some meat these days – hard not to in Majorca. I exercise 4-5 times per week – but then I always did.  I try to remain positive and avoid stress and stressful situations as far as possible. I have been 10 years’ cancer free, so if it happens again it will be a new cancer. Who knows? Of course, I am still fearful before each check-up but not as much so as during the first few years.
  • Do you check your breasts regularly?  Yes but not necessarily methodically, but I am more in tune with my body now.
  • What piece of advice would you like to give to your younger self? Don’t stress so much. Otherwise, not a lot. Of course, I should have avoided dairy but it was not a unique cause of the cancer, it is just one of the few triggers that can be controlled and I did love those stuffed crust pizzas!
  • What piece of advice would you give to someone with breast cancer? Take control. I know doing so is hard in a situation where you have so little, but it helped me reading every book I came across – the one I eventually stuck with was “Your life in your hands” by Dr Jane Plant, which I referred to as my bible. Change your diet – the one area we can exert control – I firmly believe food is medicine and some foods are really helpful to aid treatment – such as eating an (organic, preferably) egg every day during radiotherapy. Finally, do fun things. Do anything to take your mind off ‘it’. I didn’t have much chance as I was taking care of two kids under 4, but that certainly left little time to dwell. Move forwards and be kind to yourself. Believe that you will come through this.

Anita Vince

 “I thought only old people had chemo!”

It was Easter and I was lying in my bed and doing a breast check and felt a small pea sized lump. Got it checked the following week as have private gynaecologist and he wasn’t concerned but said to come back in 2-3 months. Went back in June and it no longer looked like a lump with the ultrasound. It had little arms like it had developed its own blood supply. He wasn’t sure but was concerned. The next week I had a lumpectomy when he confirmed it was breast cancer. As I was relatively young and it was fast growing I’d need chemo and radio. I remember going to Mercadona after the second appointment in June when I had the op booked the following week and being devastated! I rang my husband and he wanted to know why the hell I was at the supermarket?! Go to a friends and he’d be back ASAP. I couldn’t work out why me? I ate healthily, exercised, didn’t smoke, or drink too much that often. I thought only old people had chemo ! My family were amazing. My sister and parents came to help and I had fab friends who came and did stuff when I couldn’t. My kids were obviously very worried for a while but I think we’re all stronger for it and my son in particular is extremely caring. My relationship with husband is also better. I didn’t work for a year. My hair falling out was also a big low. You appreciate the important things in life more and try to be a better person. I’ve realised we are all on our way to our graves but it’s about making the best time of while we’re here: loving relationships, family, friends, striving to do your best but taking the stress away. Life’s too short to miss opportunities and not stay positive! My advice to someone with breast cancer is to try to stay positive. Try all sorts of alternative therapies as some of them were great for me. keep open minded and try to eat super healthily when going through it

 

Leonie Thackray

“I feel blessed to have been given a third chance”

I found out two and half years ago after I’d had several mammograms ultra sounds and biopsies. I underwent my first mammogram as I wanted cosmetic implants and that’s what you have to do before they will go ahead When I found out I had it I felt very shocked and bitter as it was my third bout with cancer: I’d previously had Hodgkin lymphoma and the subsequent treatment involving radiation, chemotherapy and several invasive operations over a period of seven years starting when I was 16 and ending at 23. So I actually thought ‘why me again” selfishly. I had a double mastectomy my nipples removed and then implants . My body rejected the left implant resulting in several procedures including the removal of the tissue expander replacing implant and fat tissue from my body placed around the implants . My body rejected the implant as my chest area has radiated tissue damage from the previous Hodgkin treatments and it’s proven that it is very difficult to operate with success in that area . The operations were painful and I had to spend one summer with just one boob! But if I’m honest I felt very relieved that I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation as I knew what was involved and really didn’t want to through it again . Also having one boob and no hair was not something I could imagine for me, being a little bit vain like most women if they are honest!

My family were obviously worried and concerned but equally know me and knew that I could dig in and deal with it as I had twice in the past. I feel lucky and blessed to have been given a third chance. A cat has 9 lives and all that. Do I still check my breasts?  I check underarms as I still have lymph nodes.

My advice is to step up and take control of things you can and let go of things you can’t. I believe everybody is  unique and how each individual reactS and dealS with lumps in the road along the way (no pun intended I’m not that clever) is different! It will never be as bad as that first prognosis. Be kind to yourself and also to those who choose to stand by you because it is actually harder for the people who love you than yourself at times. Take each day one at time. Good or bad. Remember you’re human and you can allow yourself to feel a bit sorry for yourself but don’t dwell there.

Lindy Tittle

“The treatment made me feel, sick, angry, furious, sad and eventually better.” 

I found out I had cancer in a dingy cubicle in hospital at queen Alexandra in Portsmouth in September 1999 , the whole process was hideous. I found the lump as I was drifting off to sleep. I was laying on my back my hands were resting in my chest and my little finger in my right hand touched a bit of chewing gum! Well it felt like chewing gum that had been chewed for a very long time and then stuck under a desk: hard really hard  So I felt it and tried to think of when I would have been in contact with a gum chewer. It was a long hard lump that went from the top of my collar bone right down to almost my nipple. I went cold and actually felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise, I knew for sure that I had breast cancer. A few days later I went to the doctor who was really angry with me for waiting, he made an appointment at “the one stop breast clinic ” for soon, he actually said make it soon! I went to the appointment, you have to bear in mind that you know you have cancer but you have to wait for the appointment. Eight days later I had the appointment, and then had to go back the next week for a biopsy, they needed to take a lump of my breast tissue and grow it. Then you go home and wait for 2 weeks for the lump to grow! Finally two weeks later they told me that I would need to have mastectomy. How did I feel when they told me? I felt relieved. I felt thank god for that, let’s put a plan together to fix me. The treatment made me feel, sick, angry, furious, sad and eventually better. I had good support: my best friend at the time had been diagnosed 6 months before me, we helped each other lots, she even picked me up from hospital after the mastectomy! But she died … I still feel very sad about that.

How did it affect my family: I was a single parent with 3 teenagers, my children pulled together and looked after me .. they would look in the Delia Smith cookbook go buy the ingredients and make food. I stayed in bed a lot .. the kids hung fairy lights around my bed ..( so I always had love hanging around) they loved me … they guarded me … and I am so very proud of them … we are a team.

Now I’m fabulous. I’m well. I also had to take Tamoxifen so to have gone on and had two more babies was very lucky. I have just finished my yearly mammograms. I do check my one remaining boob. I have since had a lump removed from it .. but I’m okay.

Piece of advice I’d give my younger self .. find my husband David and meet him sooner .. I have always eaten well .. by that I mean proper vegetables and fish and salad and meat ..I just think it was my battle .. everyone has something.. breast cancer was mine. The advice I’d give someone with breast cancer, know you will be better and eat broccoli… as much broccoli as you can. I still eat it pretty much every day.

Linda King

Photographer Vicki McLeod

“Hearing the news felt like falling through a trapdoor into a deep black abyss of devastation.”

I first found out in Oct 1995 after feeling sharp pain in my left breast and feeling some hardened tissue but not a defined lump. The hospital did a mammogram which showed no abnormality so they did an ultrasound which showed a 2.5cm lump. A needle biopsy was negative too but the surgeon decided the lump should be removed anyway. The lumpectomy was done and a week later when I went for the stitch removal I was told it was malignant. Hearing the news felt like falling through a trapdoor into a deep black abyss of devastation. It was a ductal infiltrating carcinoma so 10 days later I was admitted for a lymph clearance to check for spread. Modern surgery takes only the lymph node closest to the tumour but in 1995 the maximum number of nodes were removed (which means the lymph cannot drain properly ever again and my arm swelling). Luckily the cancer had not spread and so I only needed radiotherapy. I had to travel to hospital 40 miles away three times a week for 8 weeks, even though I was not allowed to drive myself it was exhausting.

My family were in total shock and feared for the worst outcome although my husband tried desperately to keep upbeat. I felt I was living in a pain-filled, anxious, brain-numbing bubble and losing weight. It was a very black episode in my life. However it taught me a valuable lesson – we all have plans and dreams we hope to achieve “sometime”. We decided that if I recovered we would put those plans into action ASAP! Now I am happy in my place in the sun! I now check my breasts during every shower. I would tell my younger self that stress and anxiety is often connected with developing breast cancer so try to relax.

My advice to those poor women who are currently fighting this cruel disease is that it is no longer a certain death sentence and treatment is now much more effective. Also to take care of yourself, don’t try to carry on being “wonder woman” and let your family and friends look after you for a change.

Zoe Austin York

Photographer Vicki McLeod 

“It made me worried for my daughter, for her future.”

I found out on the 2nd June, the day before my birthday last year.  As my younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, I was convinced that no way would it hit both of us within a few months of each other, so I went to the appointment feeling really confident and had the wind completely taken out of my sails. How did I feel? Absolutely gutted.  I’d just been through it all with my sister and now it was my turn to go through it all.

I had had a routine mamo in February which highlighted a suspicious area, microcalcifications that could become cancerous, so I was scheduled for a second mamo in August.  When I told my gynae that my sister had been diagnosed, she said we won’t wait, we’ll book you in for an MRI now.  That lead to an eco (scan) to see if they could do a biopsy by eco, it wasn’t clear enough, so I had to have an MRI biopsy which wasn’t comfortable and turned my whole boob purple. I had a lumpectomy (a week later than the surgeon wanted, but I wanted my daughter to have finished school for the summer and not be worrying about me).  As it happened, delaying was good as  my boob was still so damaged from the biopsy it was like a bloodbath when they opened me up and the surgeon wasn’t convinced he’d got it all, by then I had two tumours. My oncologist wanted me to have chemo but I refused – the statistics didn’t stack up to me.  As she put it: it doesn’t help 80% of people, for 12% it’s too late, but it saves 8%.  As mine was caught so early, I didn’t feel I was in the 12% bracket or the 8% – time will tell.  But as the surgeon thought there was a bit left on my chest wall, I had radiotherapy, every day for a month, then started on Tamoxifen which I have to take daily for the next 5-10 years.  One of the side effects of Tamoxifen is cancer.  I don’t want to take it but felt it would give me a better chance. The radiotherapy wiped me out.  I had 9 days off work to recover from the surgery then started on radio at 9.30 every day, by 2pm I was exhausted so for the duration (August) I couldn’t work full time which was frustrating.  To me it was all an inconvenience, something to stop me living my life as I was used to living.

My daughter was gutted, not only did her Auntie have cancer, but now her mummy.  My partner John was very supportive and although he’s very against all of the treatments on offer preferring natural (cannabis oil) remedies, of course he supported my decision to take the radio.  My parents were distraught.  Dad blames himself (his mother died of breast cancer when he was only 13).

How am I now? Absolutely fine.  I feel fine.  It was only recently that I could wear a bra again, and I missed that.  I am a slow healer so until only 3 weeks ago, my boob was still too sore (damaged from the radio) for me to wear a bra.  I am still undergoing tests to see if the radio caused nerve damage due to a few issues that I have, but otherwise, I am carrying on my life and reminded from time to time if I overdo things that I am still not fully healed.

Do I check my breasts regularly? Daily!  I can feel the scar tissue inside the damaged boob, so constantly feel it to see if it’s gone down but otherwise I am happy that I am being very closely monitored.  We found out two months ago that my sister carries the BRCA2 gene.  Our oncologist reckons I will have it too, I get the results of my test sometime mid-late May.  This puts us at a higher risk for not only getting cancer in the other breast, but also ovarian cancer, so we now have 6 monthly gynae check ups.

It also made me worried for my daughter, for her future.  Especially if I also carry the gene, that gives her a 50% chance of inheriting it.  With the gene we have a 60% chance of getting breast cancer, 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer (the silent killer).  So of course I am worried about having passed it on to her and at the moment, as she’s only 14, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about this.

What advice would I give my younger self? I don’t know.  I think that knowing if I have the gene will help a lot, then I won’t blame myself for drinking or smoking so heavily when I was younger but I never felt a lump, it was so small when found under MRI that I couldn’t have felt it, so I don’t worry that I should have checked my boobs more often.

What advice would I give someone with breast cancer? Pfff, that’s a hard one.  To make sure you take someone else with you to the early day appointments as it’s impossible to take it all in.  Think of the questions you want answered, all the what if’s and make sure the person you take has good listening skills! As I’d been through it all with a friend before my sister, I knew what to ask so I kind of took over her appointments as she just couldn’t take it all in, we discussed her questions beforehand, so I knew what she wanted to know and made sure we got the answers. They don’t offer information here, you have to ask for it.  So make sure you think of what questions to ask and ask them, write down the answers and consider all of your options – don’t blindly follow just because they say you should have chemo – ask how necessary it is because I feel too many people go through it at such damaging consequences to the body, without it being necessary.

 

Terry Mott, husband of Kim               

 Terry’s wife Kim                                                                                                                    

My wife, Kim, was diagnosed in April 2004. She had just turned 40 in the previous February. She had decided to clean the conservatory windows one Saturday morning. While stretching to reach the top of the window she said she felt a sore tightness in her left breast. It was as she felt the sore spot she noticed a hard lump set quite deep into her breast. It worried her immensely on that Saturday and Sunday.  We went to see her doctor directly on the Monday morning and she referred her immediately to the Nuffield Private BUPA Hospital in Brentwood. We got an appointment on the same day and went there in the afternoon. They did X-rays and a procedure there and then to remove tissue for a biopsy. They asked us to return the following evening. At our appointment the following evening, we were told that she did indeed have breast cancer. It was an aggressive, non hormonal, stage 3 cancer.

The news left us numb. That’s the only adjective I can honestly use to answer that. I remember a stunned silence from both of us. There was no crying, there was no hysterical reaction. There was just a controlled numbness and an immense feeling of shock that seemed to, almost immediately, wrap us both in cotton wool. It was only years afterwards that I actually appreciated that shock can be a wonderful thing. Especially when you begin to realise what it enables you to do during a period of immense stress.

They decided that she should have 5 courses of chemotherapy prior to a full mastectomy. During that ten week period, the oncology surgeon referred her to a plastic surgeon and suggested the possibility of a full reconstruction during the same operation because he would have to be removing the whole of her breast. They strongly suggested that one major operation instead of two would be hugely beneficial. Kim decided that would be what she wanted and the two surgeons actually performed the operation together.

At the time of the surgery, the doctor said the chemotherapy had reduced the cancer to a mere ‘ghost’ of what it was. I remember him saying that the actual cancerous tissue was about the size of a golf ball and he suggested it would have been growing for at least a year to get to that size.

One of the most important things I remember from consultations regarding the reconstructive surgery was that the skin of her original breast had to have enough flesh still attached in order to maintain a blood supply to the skin. Fortunately they were able to do that and so the mastectomy and reconstruction was carried out successfully. She actually looked amazing. She even had a ‘nipple’ tattooed onto the reconstructed breast.

A week went by and results from the operation showed that all the cancerous tissue had been removed and she was officially classed as ‘in remission’.

All was going well until six months later when she found another small lump in her armpit, on the opposite side to the mastectomy. Again, she had it removed and the results showed it to be the same type of cancer again. This was critical as it meant the cancer had entered her lymphatic system. The gateway to the rest of the body.

Over the next 12 months she underwent further courses of chemotherapy. The cancer had spread to her liver, lungs, kidneys and bowels. She spent more and more time in hospital. Then she started to complain of headaches, something Kim never had. Scans showed the cancer had now spread to her brain. She underwent a course of radiotherapy but it was too late. She passed away a couple of weeks later on 16th August 2006 aged 42.

During the entire period of her illness, I honestly felt every emotion known to man. Each one as strong as is physically possible to take. But if I think about it now, the strongest feeling I had, as her husband, her life partner and her best friend was….. frustration. Frustration like I’d never known. A level of frustration I didn’t know was possible. It tore me into pieces. I was always the person to ‘fix’ a problem. It was my job to make everything okay again and I usually did.  And now, here I was and I couldn’t do a single thing to stop it or make it go away. I had to sit, hold her hand and watch as this awful disease slowly took hold.

It brought the family together and tore it apart at the same time. What made it worse was that it didn’t just affect our family. It was her friends as well. Kim had an abundance of ‘best’ friends, but each one of them only had one ‘best’ friend. Each one of those family and friends dealt with situation in a different way and trying to understand all their reactions simultaneously whilst going through it myself was tremendously painful and hard to cope with at times.  I was seen as the go between. The guy between them and Kim. It was incredibly hard to handle that as I only wanted to be there for Kim. She was my only concern. But then, each family has its strong members and thankfully they stepped up and gave me all the support I needed when I needed it most.

There were times when Kim would say to me “I don’t want anyone to see me like this” “please ask people not to come to see me” There were some family and friends who simply couldn’t understand that, and I have to say I took some hostility after she passed for ‘not allowing’ them to see their friend. It took some time to come to terms with that.

I think that you should live your life now. Tell someone you love them every day. And, never be afraid of doing the right thing. Even if this means some people not understanding you at the time. They will eventually.

I believe that, possibly, the best thing you can own is a clear conscience. And that comes from not having any regrets. Kim and I had a fabulous relationship based on trust and honesty. All throughout her illness, she never needed to doubt I was trying to do the right thing for her. She trusted me.  It helped me to eventually find acceptance after her passing.

Breast cancer doesn’t always mean the end. Survival rates increase and get better every year. Listen to your doctors and follow their advice. Also, look into all your options. Some holistic medicines may not be for you but think about them as a complementary treatment alongside the more mainstream prescribed by your doctor. It can’t hurt and the benefits they can offer may just make you feel better in yourself which can only help.

                                                                                                                                                               

Helen Pitt

“My heart pillow was a great help to me”.

I was heading off for my summer season on board the yacht I work on. The yacht was leaving from Palma to the South of France and luckily my captain allowed me to not do the passage and instead fly to the UK to see my mother overnight and then meet the boat in the South of France. After a good evening together and night’s rest I was up and showering when I noticed a lump on my breast which wasn’t there when I left Palma the day before. As soon as my Mother’s local doctor’s surgery opened I went to see them. The doctor agreed that it was something to be looked at as soon as possible. They then said it would take me a couple of weeks to be seen even with a private appointment but I could get to see a councillor while I was waiting. Luckily I have private insurance so I could get an appointment in France when I arrived there.  It was only a few days before I got my appointment but they were the longest waiting days. Within those days the lump got bigger and a hole then started to develop next to the lump. I went to have a mammogram in France and they confirmed that I had a tumour but not if it was cancerous. Further tests were needed.

I came out from the mammogram in shock even though it was obvious that something was wrong it still didn’t seem true. I called a good friend in the UK that had had breast cancer twice and asked advice from her experience and shed a few tears. I decided that I wanted my treatment in Majorca whatever it was going to be. When I arrived in Majorca I got several different opinions but they were all the same. It needed to come out as soon as possible.

The first thing was to have a biopsy of the tumour. This was one of the most uncomfortable procedures which I didn’t like and neither did the tumour. After being shot the tumour grew and doubled in size along with the hole getting bigger. It was as if it knew we were onto it. The results came in and it was confirmed it was cancerous. I was then booked for an immediate lumpectomy. They took 1/4 of my breast with the tumour but sadly they didn’t get it all. Another operation was needed. I decided that I didn’t want the risk of it not being taken completely and having chemo or radiotherapy so that I would then have a full mastectomy instead. I think it was very important that I elected to have genetic testing on my tumour. It was sent away to California as it didn’t exist here then. Two weeks later the results came back showing that with taking Tamoxifen for 5 years there was only a 12% chance of it returning and that chemotherapy would be of no benefit. Over 50% of people have chemo unnecessarily. There is now a company called Mamoprint in Spain that can do the same test though some insurance companies still don’t cover it. The national health and private health care in the UK now do. I know at least 7 people I have told about this that have not had chemo from having the same test.

To be honest I think I was in shock for several years. I was never angry or ‘why me’ but felt guilty that I hadn’t had to go through as much as other people. The people I was meeting then were going through chemo etc and I felt that I had cheated and not had to deal with as much. The mastectomy affected my self confidence more than I expected. I couldn’t bear to look at myself and hated showering. The turning point of this was to have a beautiful butterfly tattoo done using my scars to form the wings.

My family were devastated as I was the first in my family to have breast cancer. My sister said she couldn’t believe it as she had always thought of me as being indestructible. Most of my family had the same feeling and if it could happen to me then it could happen to anyone. My sister was brilliant and gave up all her annual leave to come over and stay with me and nurse me.

But now I feel brilliant! I have my regular tests coming up and then it will be every year. There is always a bit of a build up when the tests are due just in case something is discovered. I don’t think that once cancer has entered your life that it ever totally leaves you but you learn over time how to live with it and to feel so lucky to have the opportunity to do so when others don’t. Make the most of all that you have and relish life. Look after yourself as much as possible and don’t bring in any stress that is not necessary. I know stress is a big culprit and I have allowed it in my life on too many occasions and then you realise your health is everything not all the other things in life.

If you have any doubts if there is something wrong get it checked out as soon as possible. Early detection makes the world of difference. Don’t leave it. Get as many opinions as you want to confirm the treatments are the best for you. Speak to others that have been through it. Remember though that we are all individuals so that not all cases are the same and how you deal with it will be different from someone else. If you remain focused then you will find the best way for you, do it at your own pace and don’t rush your recovery because you feel you should.

 

Sabine Rooker

“I never trust a biopsy anymore”.

It was October 2008, I was 31 and my baby daughter was just three months old. I felt a lump in my breast. It felt like it was the end of the world. I was in shock, as if it was not happening to me

They did a biopsy, and afterwards told me to open a bottle of champagne as the lab said there was no cancer. I also had a mammogram when i felt the lump: they told me to come back in 6 months as they only saw some calcification so nothing to worry about. But I decided to have the lump removed anyway as I had to get a hernia in my belly fixed. So during my hernia surgery they removed the lump, and sent it to the lab. Four days later they told me it WAS cancer after all. It was a big shock. I had a second surgery to remove more tissue. Then I had a course of chemo and radiotherapy. And since then I have been taking Tamoxifen every day as the tumor was  hormonal

I felt quite okay during chemo, not sick at all, but very lucky and very tired.

I lost my hair so I had a wig, but it looked really good. I never went outside without it and I always had makeup on. I didn’t like it when people on the street looked at me, the cancer patient, with pity. I tried to live my life as normally as possible.

My baby daughter, Naomi, of course did  not notice anything, she was too young but my partner John was really in shock on the first day. He didn’t hear a thing the doctor said. These days we appreciate the little things in life. We think you should enjoy life now when you can, and don’t wait ‘till you get older (if you are lucky enough).

I am very well at the moment. I have every 6 months a mri and echo for the rest of my life as it runs in the family (my grandma, aunt and mother had it) They did a genetic test but did not find the brca1 or brca2 gene, but it is obvious that my family is at a higher risk. I never trust a biopsy anymore. If I had decided to leave the lump this could have been a totally different story.

I would recommend every woman to see a doctor when you think there is something wrong with your breasts. And get a second opinion if you don’t trust it. Looking back I would have chosen a different contraceptive option as I don’t think the pill is a very positive thing for women.

I would advise other people with breast cancer to stay positive, try to live your life as normally as possible. Don’t sit on the sofa crying the whole time feeling sorry for yourself as it makes you feel even worse. Inject your life with positive energy, and enjoy life as much as you can. You never know when it is over.

More Help

The Healthy Breast Programme Workshops.

These are offered on the first Saturday of every month at the Ra Ma Yoga centre in Palma on Calle Despuig 51. The mission of the programme is to educate women globally in ways to reduce their risk of breast cancer and prevent its recurrence. Subjects in the workshop include getting to know the breasts and the emotions connected to optimum breast health, recommendations on screening techniques, lymphatic system, immune system, hormonal system, detoxing, environmental contamination and concerns and how our bodies are connected to mother earth, living with purpose, the power of prayer and meditation and more. You can see more about the program on www.mammalive.net. The programme is open to any woman interested in learning about prevention and support in recovery and in healing a woman’s body. The workshops are run by Jeanne Lurie (www.lifeyoga.es).

Breast cancer support groups in Majorca: Un Lazo en Movimiento (Pink Ribbon in Motion)

www.unlazoenmovimiento.org, www.aubamallorca.com and www.almohadadelcorazon.com (the Heart Pillow project)