OUR blogger Melanie O'Neill has two children and was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer nine years ago.

Here she shares her latest thoughts on living with cancer.

IS age just a number? It is if you’re fit and well.

I always wanted to be fit and well even after being diagnosed with Inflammatory breast cancer - continuing to play tennis and going to the gym on a regular basis when it wasn’t my ‘bad week’ throughout my initial doses of chemotherapy.

I even remember my first clump of hair falling out in the middle of a doubles tennis match as I swept my hand through my hair to move it off my face.

My heart sank and I felt sick looking down at the mass of blonde hair that lay in my hand but carried on regardless.

I had a match to win and I couldn’t let my partner down.

But I am feeling old. After 9 years on chemotherapy my body is starting to show the effects even after taking multiple supplements to reverse the aging process.

My knees ache and stiffen up when I sit down for too long and hurt when I go to get up along with climbing the stairs or coming down them.

My hip aches in the same way too from time to time. My hair is short (by the way I’m so grateful I haven’t lost it altogether) and thinning along with my skin which has become extremely frail and wrinkles are starting to appear where there was none before.

I could sing at one time, not very well as I never had a great range but I could sing along in tune to the radio which always lifted my spirits, but now my voice is croaky, even more so when I’m tired and ever since the car crash leaving me with 2 brain bleeds, I completely lost my ability to sing anything in tune so I stopped altogether along with my tennis playing.

Ever since I began the clinical trial almost 4 years ago my eyes have become dry and gritty, streaming constantly like I’m crying and ruining what eye make-up I have chosen to wear that day or for an occasion.

The doctors informed me the trial would affect my eyes but they stream more than ever now 9 months after finishing the trial.

I feel old because I don’t have the strength I used to and my swollen arm is becoming more and more debilitating as I use my weaker left hand to accomplish things.

So my strength has declined along with my energy levels, constantly sleeping during the day but not only that, needing to sleep during the day as I can barely keep my eyes open come 3 o’clock.

Can I blame all this on chemotherapy, having cancer and the car crash? Does my age of 46 years old play a part?

All I know is I crave the person I used to be, fit and healthy yet I created my own worries and stress when I see now, I should have dealt with them differently.

Feeling like a 40 year old trapped inside a 90 year old’s body I am older and wiser yet with stiffer joints.

But there’s 1 thing I am more than grateful for and it's being alive and able to feel those stiffer joints, hear that croaky voice of mine, wipe my watering eyes and see those fine lines and wrinkles.

I may not be appreciative of having all these things but I am still here, living another day, feeling the sun on my face and seeing the smiles on my daughter’s faces as I attempt to join in with their dancing.

I still have the ability to help them with their homework and hug them when their upset. I still have the ability to laugh with my hubby Carl and feel the immense pleasure my gorgeous puppy Stanley brings to me daily.

Keeping fit now whilst on lockdown is enjoying the Joe Wicks workout at 9am each morning with Darcey followed by a small bike ride with both my kids and back in time for them to start their school work at 10am as I join in a dance/fitness class on Zoom ran by Sarah Gough albeit it’s called Mature Movers.

I’ve been welcomed with open arms and I don’t struggle to pick up the moves as I sing my head off to the upbeat songs that Sarah has chosen to do the routines to.

The kitchen is empty so no one can hear me but the more I sing the better I feel I get.

There are days when I do feel down and old because I want the opposite of what life has thrown at me.

But then I go to bed and wake up the following morning feeling different knowing I have to accept what life has given me and work to make it better knowing there are plenty of people much worse off and I have so much to be grateful for.