My plan is to open a studio here in Carrickfergus where I feel despite the local promoting 'tourism', the arts and crafts is defunct. I know from previous experience in taking part in craft fairs that there is a huge want for this and I feel that I can help by allowing local artists to display their handicrafts for a small rental fee which will help me cover my overheads.
So, to start my project, I need a bit of capital to help and I am asking people to be generous and help me along with my new venture.
Well, for those who do not know me, I have always had some sort of arts background, despite being a receptionist for the last 8 years.
After studying my GSCE's at Carrickfergus College, I went on to complete a GNVQ Advanced at Newtownabbey Regional College and then onto Belfast Metropolitan College to complete an HND in Fashion Management. I then worked at several jobs such as a labeller at Ulster Weavers in Belfast and a knitwear assistant at Douglas and Grahame and sales assistants in various retail stores.
Now for the sob (but true) story....
For the last few years my life has taken a U-turn. My husband was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer just before our first wedding anniversary in 2008, was treated and thankfully was fine for several years until it returned in 2011 in his lymph nodes so he was then treated with an intense 9 week course of chemotherapy and thankfully has received the all clear. Fantastic as this was, we were later given the news that unfortunately we could only concieve through IVF. Or so the hospital thought, September 2012 I discovered I was 6 weeks pregnant with who would become our bouncing bundle of joy son, who was born in April 2013.
We were both estatic to become parents after everthing we had already been through, however I had noticed a rash had appeared on my face and I thought nothing of it until my family members had started mentioning it to me. I dismissed it as the usual, new mother, no time for myself, tiredness etc. However, the rash started to get increasily worse and when my son was only 6 weeks old it was discovered he had a bi-lateral hernia and had to have a wee op at the Royal Victoria Children's Hospital in Belfast. So that was carried out and my wee man was all good again, but my rash was not. It started to get really irritating, the rash was incredibly itchy and it had started to spread. Months upon months, I visted my local GP's to be given medications, moisturing creams, steriods, and I literally pleaded my doctor to help me to see a dermatologist. He could see how bad my skin was looking and how it was affecting me mentally (I literally didn't go out the door unless it was to go to work, even then I had to sometimes take time off).
So finally, I got a letter saying that the NHS dermatology had a massive waiting list and that they were offering to send me to a private clinic down in Londonderry. I didn't care how far away it was, I wanted to go, and off me and mum went that December to see a high profile doc, apparently one of the best in the UK....Just to be told it was a bad case of roscea which I had and sent me away from my 10 minute appointment with a prescription for lotions and potions to make me all pretty again.
Or not! First week in January I was back at my doctors, pleading to be put back onto my original meds. While they didn't cure my rash, it at least helped lessen it. At this point all I could do was hide from the world. I now had a beautiful little daughter and revelled in the fact that if I had to go into Carrick that I could put my head down as I pushed along my little pink bundle.
In May 2014 I was at breaking point and I made another appointment with my GP. By this stage Mr Fitzpatrick seen me more than my own husband! Lol. I very clearly remember this appointment as I hid in the toilets rather than sit in the waiting room to avoid people staring at me. My lovely mum kept a close eye for my name being called. I really was in a low place at this point, my face looked like I had been burnt or had acid thrown on me. It was weeping and crusting and flaking, just really nasty and the doctor seen how stressed I was and he waved his magic wand and got me an appointment that afternoon with a Dermatology consultant at Whiteabbey Hospital. OMG, I cried with relief that this would finally be some sort of resolution!
Anyway, appointment after appointment, almost two years in fact, and 6 biopsies later I was dropped with the bombshell that I had the big C! It was explained to me that I had a very rare form of skin cancer called Mycosis Fungoides which is actually T-Cell Lymphoma Cancer. SHOCK! Later followed by, Ok, I can manage, but what about the kids?? My kids were both under 3 on diagnosis and I was very frightened. Fortunately, my cancer is a very slow growing cancer and I will live with it for the rest of my life (ironic lol) and can be managed through good skin hygiene and de-stressing as stress can make this cancer more agressive. I was treated with 25 courses of PUVA light therapy and a year later I have had a few break outs but I no how to manage these.
So, after being diagnosed I found myself in a real 'what do I want to do with my life?' I wasn't ready physically or mentally to return to my original job and thankfully they were understanding and we came to a mutual agreement to end my employment.
I am now, one year on from my diagnosis and ready for new pastures green....do what I love and enjoy!!
I have applied for several jobs and I am honest about my diagnosis, however I have had no success with employment, so...
I am currently undergoing a Exploring Enterprise 3 Program with Carrickfergus Enterprise and I am on the shortlist for a pop-up shop to be opening in Antrim Town Centre for the 9 weeks to Christmas so I am looking ahead and getting finance and a unit ready to allow my dream to become a reality.
So please, dig deep and help me raise some funds as I want to be able to show my children (and those around me), that despite all, WHEN IT RAINS, LOOK FOR RAINBOWS xx