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

Here she shares her latest thoughts on living with cancer.

WHERE has the past 11 weeks gone? How come time is going more and more quickly the older I get?

I look at the clock and plan my day and I think I have loads of time to complete my tasks and yet before I know it it’s 8pm and my kids are shouting to me that they’ve ran me a bath and it’s time for bed which I gladly fall into not long after.

Mental awareness is everywhere at the moment as we strive to accept our new circumstances knowing they will be lasting a lot longer than first anticipated.

Claustrophobia, loneliness, madness, over thinking are just a few of the symptoms the world is suffering from, along with the reality that racism is still very much existing in all walks of life with rioting and protesting, begging the world to stop and listen putting an end to racism once and for all.

In fact any minority faces obstacles that the majority of us do not encounter, however having cancer has the opposite effect on people regarding you with compassion and who over sympathise when they meet you with a tilted head asking how you are.

Be strong. Keep positive. Keep fighting. You will win this battle are phrases often said that I struggle with especially the latter as I don’t see myself as any kind of fighter winning any such battle.

Cancer is not at war with me, it is part of me that I am living with and I have chemotherapy to treat it and reduce my symptoms.

I am not angry or upset by any of these comments as I am fully aware of people’s intentions, coming from a good place and wanting me to get better and be well and for that I will always be eternally grateful.

After 9 years of receiving well wishes from many people I have become used to it as I know they mean well and don’t really know what else to say and I’m only thankful that people have taken the time to write keeping me going and giving me untold strength trying to lift my spirits and spur me on .

Over the past few months of lockdown I have noticed that my emotions change from day to day along with the physical aspects of this cancer trapped in my skin.

My skin lesions have dramatically reduced on my shoulder while the reduction is a slower process on the lesions down my arm.

My arm remains swollen with me losing my grip more and more often, smashing glasses and causing damage to many things as I continue to drop them.

As one thing gets better another worsens finding more nodules appearing in my elbow joint and neck.

At night when I’m alone in bed, I panic that these nodules will cause a blood clot or become too close to my wind pipe and prevent me from breathing.

It’s the worst case scenario I know, but the cancer has a mind of its own so who knows what might happen next?

How exhausted I become varies depending on my sleep deprivation and what thoughts I process because of it.

When I’m tired I worry about my future and how long I have left, working out how many treatments are left available for me (very few) and if they were to work, how many months each chemo would extend my life by until there is nothing left on offer then how long my skin lesions would take to overwhelm my body.

I then think of my daughters and wonder if I can make it to enjoy seeing them go to their proms or turn eighteen. Tears fill my eyes at the thought of me not being here to enjoy their special moments.

Then there are days when I’ve slept ok and I plough on regardless erasing any thoughts from my mind and carry on not caring whether I have cancer or not and apart from my low energy levels and aching joints caused from so much chemo, I can behave like any other 46-year-old mum, wife, daughter and friend.

Then there are the great days when I truly believe that there will be another trial coming soon that will accept me regardless of the fact I have no measurable tumours and I will live forever.

I am upbeat, enjoying life, walking and playing with Stanley, teaching him new things, laughing with my kids, helping them with their homework or videoing them dancing, cooking & baking, watching White Lines on Netflix with my hubby at night when I can keep my eyes open or watching 3 episodes of Downton Abbey at a time on rainy days engrossed in the fabulous hair, makeup, costumes and of course the gripping storylines of this fantastic period drama.

And yet I never know what each day will bring.

Being unable to choose my thoughts and feelings for the day because of the side effects of my chemo, my sleep, and lockdown when sometimes I feel suffocated at not having my own space to breathe anymore or overwhelmed with loneliness having to decipher my thoughts alone and make sense of them along with dealing with my husband, depraved of his hairdressing creativity having to put up with me 24/7 and vice versa and 2 hormonal teenage girls.

My damaged brain is unable to remember things on a regular basis but when I do I watch videos taken on the evening of the final Rainbow Ball, a few years ago, raising money and awareness for Inflammatory Breast Cancer when I danced with my kids in front of approximately 350 guests when I felt euphoric to have got through the routine without falling or forgetting it.

Or the video they both made for me last Christmas and my heart skips a beat and I smile from ear to ear remembering the feeling it gave me and then I realise from looking at those pictures, life is so precious and gone so quickly yet it’s exactly what you make it and you can make it better when it’s not so good or dwell on the crap that’s thrown at you.

Good things that happen, you can turn into precious memories that make you feel good and bring an overload of happiness and the bad stuff although out of our control, is always there to help us learn and to grow, becoming stronger with the chance to make it better in the future.

I choose to make mine as great as I can (although we are far from being the perfect family…I’d like to see anyone that is) with what time I have left however long or short loving my family and friends that little bit more than I thought possible and being grateful for all I have in my life especially those things that bring a smile to my face, my dog Stanley being just one of them who I love more and more each day can only be good for my health.

Stay Safe everyone.

Follow Mel's journey by searching on Facebook for Melanie’s Inflammatory Breast Cancer journey or on Instagram: Sassy_ibcer