Spicing Up My Cancerversary

It’s 1996. I’m five years old and about to go through what will turn out to be one of the single most traumatic experiences of my life- having my chest drain removed just a few days after major surgery to remove part of the cancerous tumour that has taken up residence in the left side of my chest.
Propped up on pillows on Ward 34 of Bristol Children’s Hospital, my little body is crossed with a network of drains, wires and tubes helping me to breathe, but somehow, between the nurses and my parents, they’ve managed to carefully manoeuvre me into my specifically chosen Sporty Spice crop top and leggings.

A Neuroblastoma could weave its way around nerves and anchor itself into my body, but it was not standing in the way of my unwavering dedication to all things Girl Power. 

Fast forward twenty years and that sassy little girl has grown into 25 year old me and while I may have hung up my sporty crop tops, packed away my platform trainers and carefully stored my Union Jack mini dress away in the attic of my dads house in Devon, it’s Girl Power that I still hold responsible for getting me through the last two decades.

That special brand of female solidarity, sassiness and confidence has seen me through six brutal sessions of chemotherapy, which saw my waist length hair fall out in clumps. It’s seen me through another major, cutting edge surgery, endless scans and tests, anxiety attacks and hospital visits.

It helped me deal with loosing both my seven-year-old brother and my mum to different manifestations of the same disease that I’m still fighting today. It’s helped me to lead the comparatively normal life of any other twenty-something all while navigating through the grey area between being ‘ill’ and being in the holy grail of remission.

This year I celebrated what I’m calling my twenty year Cancerversary and with Stand up to Cancer on the 21st October, I was very kindly invited to celebrate the occasion with a beautiful afternoon tea in the capital as part of the Cancer Research and Channel 4 led campaign.

As I tucked into a tiny, pastel pink rose flavoured macaroon, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see none other than Emma Bunton. Baby Spice herself, stood with a bright orange cake and a bouquet of flowers.  

As I attempted to calm my inner fan girl enough to hold a conversation and steadied my hands enough to not spill my tea, I thought back to Ward 34, to that sassy little girl in her Sporty Spice leggings. 

I thought how much I’d love to go back and tell her that though things will be hard- harder than she could ever fathom, things will be ok. One day, she’d not only be alive, but sat chatting to Baby Spice over tea and cake. One day, actual Baby Spice would tell her she is Girl Power personified.

Since my diagnosis, there have been incredible advancements in the field of cancer research, but in the UK alone, one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. That statistic is terrifying but it also shows just how much more there is that can be done until we have a day when all cancers can be cured. 

Now I may have had the help of a Spice Girl to celebrate my Cancerversary but there are people all over the country that never got the chance to celebrate theirs at all. 

For them, and all of those still fighting, I’m standing up to Cancer. Are you?

I'm supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate new cancer treatments to patients and save more lives. To get involved this October and help beat cancer sooner, visit 

Birchbox | September | Review

Now, it may surprise you to read that a beauty junkie such as myself has never dabbled in the world of the beauty subscription box and until now, despite clicking onto the various websites many, many times, I've never actually taken the plunge.

That is, until last week when my lovely friend had one delivered for my birthday and I became the proud owner of my very first Birchbox. Cased in the prettiest of pastel patterned boxes, I couldn't wait to delve in and try out the pick'n'mix of products inside.

Themed this month around 'Beauty Heroes', the box is full of a few of the subscription services beauty saviors, chocablock with  the kind of products that you soon won't be able to live without... so let's get down to it, shall we?

ModelCo Creme Rouge

A really gorgeous coral shaded creme blush that gives you the most beautiful natural flush. It's super sheer which means that not only does it blend in effortlessly over make up, but it's a multi-tasking product that you can use on your cheeks or your lips for a really subtle tint. I've been wanting to give creme blushers a go for a while so getting this was absolutely ideal. I'm already loving it for those days when I want to give my cheeks that youthful flush without looking too full-on.

amika Bombshell Blowout Spray

A lightweight styling volumising and texturising spray that not only adds oomph and texture to freshly washed hair, pre-blow dry but helps to protect from heat damage and strengthen - so all of the great things essentially! amika is a brand that I haven't heard a huge amount about but having used this a few times, i'm a really big fan! It doesn't weigh my hair down at all and just leaves it with that salon blow dried feel that you only ever really have when you leave the hairdressers! You can also pop this onto dry hair to add a bit of texture which I tried out on a couple of 'hair-up' days at the office to add a bit of polish.

bliss Fabulous Drench and Quench  Moisturiser

One thing that I do suffer with massively is dry skin. From the weather to my unfortunate placement right under the office air conditioning unit, it really doesn't take a lot to dehydrate my skin so this ingenious cream-to-water formula is completely up my street. My skin can have a tendency to be quite sensitive so this super light, gentle moisturiser is the perfect solution. I've been massaging it in after cleansing in the morning and at night and the more I use it the more I convince myself that I need the full sized version! It sinks straight in and creates the perfect base for make-up as well as keeping my skin nice and hydrated throughout the night. It's a fab all rounder and something that will be perfect when the chilly weather arrives!

NUXE Prodigieux Shower Oil 

I've been a big advocate of French beauty brands for a really long time so when I spotted this badboy in my Birchbox I was very excited to give it a go. Perfect for adding a splash of luxury to your shower, this moisturising shower oil featuring the brands signature  Huile Prodigieuse scent brings the spa experience to a dull, Autumn morning. Leaving skin soft, supple and with a beautiful but subtle golden shimmer, i've been using this on the days between fake tanning to give me a gorgeous healthy glow while I try and pretend that Summer isn't over! I would probably say that this is my least favourite of the bunch. It's still good, but it's not WOW good. Ideal for popping into your travel beauty bag I would say!

Puriskin Nurse Aid Cream for Hands and Nails

Again, like the skin on my face, I suffer with really dry skin on my hands so anything that promises to inject a little moisture into my dehydrated little mitts is onto a winner from the offset. What intrigued me even more about this product though was the list on the lid claiming that it can be used to treat everything from bruises (i'm VERY accident prone) to burns, rashes, scrapes and cuticle damage. Now in true Sopho form, I gave this the ultimate test when I had a run in with some stinging nettles last weekend! I popped a little of this onto the angry rash and it had gone within an hour... it's safe to say that it's been a firm handbag favourite!

So, I know what you're all thinking- 'Soph, you can't possibly have loved EVERY product', but I really did and I'm a fussy customer at the best of times! So, Birchbox, be expecting a pretty hefty order from me!

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams | Book Review

Occasionally in life a book will come along that make you stop in your tracks. It will be a book that you absolutely can't bring yourself to put back on the nightstand even when your eyes become heavy, a book that makes you feel the entire spectrum of emotions and a book that you will be chatting about everywhere from the office to the pub long after you've reached that final page.

For me, as soon as I opened the lipstick pink cover of Laura Jane Williams Becoming, it was that book. A ballsy, amazingly crafted memoir, Becoming is for everyone that has ever felt lost, broken and full of self-doubt.

Reeling from an unexpected break-up from 'The One', Becoming details Lauras battle with herself as she embarks on a journey that takes her worldwide from Derby to the Big Apple via one-night stands, the pursuit of a writing career and second chances in the form of a year long vow of celebacy in a sleepy convent in Italy.

The book is heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure as Laura pieces herself back together again after the ultimate betrayal, learning to love herself without the valiadation of anyone else. It's sad, but it's also sassy and full of the humour that any reader of Laura's blog will know and love. For a first book, it's an absolute triumph.

As a writer, Laura is a huge inspiration to me. She has a way with words like no other and I honestly can't tell you how much this book has stuck with me. To lay your entire life, your entire story in it's rawest form onto a series of blank pages is something that to me, is nothing short of amazing and it's something that takes an incredible amount of strength, grace and, in all honesty, a whole lot of self-love.

To say that this book has inspired me would be an understatment, to the point where this week, I took Laura's advice,  showed myself a whole lot of love and finally had the balls to click publish on a blog post that I never thought I would share - my very own becoming in the form of my 20 year Cancerversary. For that and for this little book, i'll be forever grateful.


2016 is a pretty big year for me. It's the year that marks 2 years since I made the big move up North. It's the year that will be my 8 year anniversary with my lovely mister. It's 3 whole years since I finished university the first time.

August of this year also marks what i'm calling my Cancerversary. My 20 year Cancerversary to be precise.

Now, whether you're a regular reader of this little blog of mine, a new reader or someone that happens to have stumbled across it while browsing the inter webs, this will almost certainly be news to you. This will also be news to many, many people in my life, which is why this topic is something that I've put off writing about publicly for many, many years. It's something that even as a writer by trade, I find incredibly hard to find the words for.

20 years ago this month, my parents and I made the ill fated walk up the stairs to the 12th floor of a hospital in Devon where we were told that my suspected 'lazy eye' was in fact something much more sinister. 5 year old me, lazy eye and all, had cancer.

My life since that point has been somewhat unique, and in the same way that my body is now formed of a patchwork of thin pink scars, my life has become a patchwork of life saving surgeries, treatments, hospital visits and anxiety, intertwined with some of the most hilarious and incredible moments that anyone could wish to experience- enough happenings to fit into the average lifetime, packed into 24 little years.

20 years later, I've never been given that Holy Grail diagnosis of being officially 'in remission' which essentially places me in a bit of a grey area. I'm not what you would describe as 'ill'. I live (for the most part) a completely normal life, and generally can go about my days as any 'normal' 24 year old might. By the same token, I'm also not what you could describe medically as completely in the clear. On the outside, aside from the physical scarring, most people that meet me have no idea that i'm still carrying around this strange little burden of mine which is why in a strange way, I compartmentalize my life. I place that part in a little mental box, taking it out only when I feel that it's necessary to discuss, which in all honesty, is barely ever.

I of all people know how terrifying cancer statistics can sound. Currently, 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will develop some form of cancer within their lifetime. While I may be one of the unlucky 50%  what i'm trying to say with this post is that a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be the full stop in your life. In some cases, it can be the comma.

I am living, breathing (although slightly weazily at times) proof that you can live your life with and after that terrifying big C. While a diagnosis like this isn't something i'd wish on anyone, as bizarre and morbid as it may sound, I can't imagine having lived a life without cancer in it and dare I say it, while times have been, well, frankly, pretty bloody awful, I would have been a completely different person without it.

One day, i'll find the words to tell my story properly, gory details included, but for now, in my own quiet little way, i'll continue to kick cancers arse. Should that mythical remission ever become a reality, i'll have the party that I planned all those years ago and raise a gin and tonic bigger than my own head to everyone that's lost their fight and the amazing people that are still fighting.

Until then, as I get ready to turn 25 next month, I can think back to that little girl in the hospital bed, on Ward 34 of Bristol Children's Hospital, wired up to drips and drains after surgery number 1 and smile. Not least because despite having undergone a major operation, I was still adamant that I needed to be wearing something professing my dedication to the Spice Girls at all times, but because 20 years later, that sassy little girl has done all the things that she shouldn't, by all medical reasoning have been able to do.

So, on that note, however selfishly, here's to me. 20 years later and still smashing it. 

Make A Wish | ChloBo Jewellery

I am a self confessed hoarder of what our lovely French neighbours would call bibelots - small objects of beauty, curiosity or rarity. Little trinkets, picked up from various places over years and years that instantly take me back to a time or a place.

A lot of these bibelots take the form of beautiful jewellery pieces, each just as significant as the last and each with it's own meaning and it's own story.

So, of course, when I heard about British jewellery brand ChloBo, a gorgeous website brimming with exactly the kind of sparkly pieces of heaven that I covet, I knew that i'd be a big fan!

Based on the idea of global travel and the spirit of adventure, ChloBo design and hand craft a range of sterling silver bracelets, charms, necklaces, rings and earrings, all designed to be layered and stacked letting you create your own little story through your individual collection.

Being a big fan of stacking various bracelets, I had a browse through their bracelet range, finally falling for a beautifully simple, rose gold mini star design*. One of the main things that drew me to the ChloBo collection was the fact that each of the charms that adorn their pieces have a meaning - the star is known as a wish symbol and is believed to bring wishes to life and being a pretty wish driven kinda girl, I couldn't say no!

Made of rose gold plated 925 sterling silver, the quality of the bracelet really is amazing and what I really love is that there's nothing overly fussy about the design, meaning that it's something that you can slip on with absolutely any outfit, for any occasion and it looks gorgeous.

Since receiving my bracelet in all of it's beautiful pink packaging, it's rarely left my wrist and has fast become a firm favourite, sitting amazingly next to my beloved rose gold watch.

I've already been eyeing up a few more of the company's designs, for stacking purposes of course, but with so many individual charms to choose from, from dragonflies for courage, strength and happiness to feathers for freedom and new beginnings, they'd also make really lovely thoughtful gifts for friends... or, you know, for yourself, you've got to treat yourself after all!

* ChloBo very kindly gifted me this bracelet for the purposes of this post, but as always, all opinions remain entirely my own! 

The Perfect Summer Scent | Paul Smith Rose | Review

If there is one scent in the world that makes my heart skip a beat,  it's the smell of freshly cut roses. Now as we edge ever closer to sunnier days- we are in England after all, so it's sadly a slow old process - i've been on the hunt for the perfect summery every day perfume. 

I've been a huge fan of Paul Smith for years, mostly thanks to my lovely dad, and have many a happy memory of wishfully browsing through his gorgeous store tucked away in a cobbled lane behind Covent Garden. So when I spied this beautiful pastel pink bottle on a recent shopping trip, I was almost entirely sure that i'd love it.

I'm not sure that love at first sniff is a thing, but Paul Smith Rose Eau de Parfum certainly comes pretty close. Combining fresh violet, rose and green tea with magnolia and Turkish rose this is about as close to a true rose scent as it comes. Not in the slightest overbearing, it truly does smell incredible, with a fresh, clear scent that is as perfect for every day as it is for night time.

After trying a good few perfumes in my time, I can often find typically 'summery' perfumes to er more on the sickly sweet side rather than the fresh scent that I was after, with many reminding me of raiding the Duty Free perfume shop on the way home from family trips to France when I was younger in search of the sweetest scent I could find. If there even is such a thing, this little Paul Smith beauty is a properly sophisticated, grown up scent and frankly, I always find it to be a good sign when you can't stop sniffing yourself!

In terms of lasting power, I've found that you really don't need much and a couple of spritzes will last all day. Although it does mellow on the skin throughout the day, even after a full day at work, i'll still catch the scent. Price wise, I picked up the 100ml bottle for just £25.99 at the Fragrance Shop, which for a bottle of this size is a bit of a bargain!

As a side note, it's also beautifully packaged. In a gorgeous floral box (regular readers will know, i'm a sucker for a floral print!) the perfume bottle itself comes inside a little floral drawstring pouch which I thought was a pretty touch and would make it fab to give as a gift.

Overall, this has fast become my perfume of choice and I've found myself reaching for it over the likes of my signature scent Marc Jacobs Daisy and believe me, that is a very big step!