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Travelling with an illness… Happy rare disease day!

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Hello everyone,

This is slightly personal and I wasn’t sure if I should post this at first but, after realizing that today was a special day, I couldn’t help but put this blog post together. 29th February is Rare Disease Day, an annual event which provides the rare disease community across the world the opportunity to increase awareness of rare diseases and highlight them as a public health priority to government departments. I actually have quite a rare condition which does impact my life, particularly as an avid traveller! Here’s my story…

When I was 18 I started to become poorly. I was being sick, weirdly leaking from my breasts, having severe headaches and generally feeling very tired, faint and dizzy. It took all of my energy to just do even the smallest of tasks. After endless tests, prods and trips to the doctors an MRI scan on my brain showed a small growth and I was finally diagnosed with a microprolactinoma. Put simply, a microprolactinoma is a benign, pea sized tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain which causes an imbalance of the hormone prolactin in the body. At first I was completely terrified, hearing the words ‘brain’ and ‘tumor’ in the same sentence was overwhelming and I was upset, confused and scared. I had no idea what a microprolactinoma was, and a Google search was filled with forums of other women, and even men, discussing how the condition had impacted upon their lives.

The thing that jumped out at me most was the subject of fertility, and the problems that a prolactinoma can cause. In many cases the hormones produced by a prolactinoma make it difficult for women to conceive, and this is something I really struggled to comprehend. Anyone that knows me will know how much I love children and that the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum. The thought that I may never achieve what I’ve always dreamt about is completely crushing, but I know there are other options available and many women have gone on to have children despite suffering with a prolactinoma.

Nowadays my life consists of regular doctors appointments, 3monthly blood tests, 6 monthly hospital appointments with my consultant, occasional MRI scans and 9monthly appointments at the eye hospital to check the tumor isn’t pressing on the back of my optic nerves. It’s been almost 5 years since I was diagnosed. At first I was told I’d be on tablets for life, but earlier on this year I came off them for the first time since 2011 as my consultant wanted to see how my body would react without relying on the tablets. I was feeling really healthy and doctors were pleased with my progress.

Unfortunately, just before Christmas last year I started becoming unwell again and symptoms from my initial diagnosis were coming back. My headaches were getting worse and I was feeling similar to the way I felt right at the start of my illness. In November I was advised to go back on my medication after blood tests confirmed my prolactin levels had increased significantly. I’ve been on the tablets since then and my next check up is mid March so hopefully there will be a slight improvement and I’ll start feeling better soon!

 

Back in October I ran a fun run for The Pituitary Foundation, a charity who have been incredibly supportive of my condition over the past 5 years. I managed to raise over £300 for the charity and you can donate to my JustGiving page at any time – better late than never! You can also donate directly to Pituitary’s Rare Disease Day as well.

I suppose what I’m really trying to say is, even if you have an illness or a medical condition, DON’T let it limit your life! Make the most of every single day we have on this beautiful planet and, if you travel a lot like me you can still live your life to the full and do whatever the hell you want (within reason!) Although my symptoms affect me daily and my appointments limit me to the amount of time I can spend out of the country, I know that things could be so much worse and am just thankful that I am being well looked after by the fantastic doctors and consultants at Oxford University Hospitals.

If, like me, you live with a health condition and travel often I’d recommend the following tips on travelling safely:

– don’t over exert yourself or feel like you have to keep up with people, take it easy and take each day as it comes

– remember to take your medication, different routines often bring forgetfulness!

– don’t suffer in silence.. tell someone! Even if you don’t want to go into detail about your illness just inform someone so they can keep an eye on you

– don’t get fed up with your illness, remember that there are millions of people suffering across the world, most probably worse off than you if you’re still able to travel! Keep your chin up and carry on as normal

I also have another condition, a recurring cyst on my ovary which causes me pain every few weeks, but that is a WHOLE other story! So I’ll leave you with this parting line… Happy Rare Disease Day people – get out there and grab life with both hands… you’ll regret it if you don’t!

Love Jess x

 

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Top 15 InstaTravel Moments of 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

I hope you all had fun partying last night.. I know I did! I thought I’d kick-start the day/year/month with a round up of my Top 15 InstaTravel Moments of 2015! This has been my first EVER year of using Instagram and it has fast become my favourite social media platform! So here are my top moments of the past 12 months…

JANUARY

Spending my birthday in London with an epic walking tour across the city with one of my best friends! We walked from Kensington to Tower Bridge and took in all the major landmarks- what a way to start the year!

FEBRUARY/MARCH

Taking in the beautiful sights of Prague by climbing to the top of the Old Astronomy Tower! This was my first city break of the year with my sister and what a trip we had!

APRIL

Myself and my sisters purchased season tickets for our family to the beautiful Blenheim Palace which is just down the road from us! We’ve had so many lovely days out at this place!

MAY

For my nans 80th birthday celebrations we headed for a family weekend away in the nearby Cotswolds. We had a wonderful weekend and the weather was just perfect!

JUNE

I had a fantastic day out to Royal Ascot this month along with my sisters, cousin, mum and aunty. We got all dressed up, bet on lots of horses and even saw the Queen!

I also headed to London at the end of June for a fantastic day out at Hyde Park’s annual British Summertime Festival. Myself and my close friend had great fun watching Kylie in concert who was incredible live!

We have had the besstttt dayyy!! Roll on next year wooo 😁🎉🐴👑 #ascot #races #family #love #girls #dayout #weloveascot #wesawqueenie

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

JULY

This month brought our annual family holiday and we headed down to Cornwall to spend a week in our own holiday cottage right in the heart of lively St Ives. The weather was fantastic ALL WEEK and we had the best time with each other making lots of memories and revisiting places from our childhood!

AUGUST

August Bank Holiday weekend brought a fantastic day out filled with music, fun and laughter! I took my sisters to their first ever festival, Fusion Festival near Birmingham, and we had a brilliant day out seeing lots of top artists perform- the highlight was McBusted who were amazing!

SEPTEMBER

This month it was time for my second city break of the year so my sister and I flew to Budapest for a long weekend of sightseeing. We both fell in love with the city; it was beautiful and we had the best time away!

OCTOBER

This month was super busy for me but my highlight was a personal achievement which saw me run a 5k charity fun run for The Pituitary Foundation. I raised over £300 on my Just Giving page and beat my personal best! I had a fantastic day and was so proud of myself. A big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to this fantastic charity who have supported my since my prolactinoma diagnosis in 2011.

NOVEMBER

I had a jam-packed November but my highlight was getting my first EVER paid job as a freelance travel writer! I was absolutely over the moon and it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet- hopefully I’ll take on more roles which will allow me to become a freelance writer full time!

DECEMBER

The last month of the year was kick-started with a magical trip to the beautiful Disneyland Paris! I went with two of my closest friends for a pre-Christmas treat and we had the most amazing time, it really was beautiful and certainly got us in the festive mood!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle-stop recap of my InstaTravel highlights from 2015! I’d love to hear what your favourite was? I just can’t pick one!

Wishing you every happiness for 2016!

Love Jess x

October Newsletter: Autumn Has Arrived!

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Hi everyone,

So firstly I wanted to apologise for the huuuuuge delay in writing this up and my lack of blog posts since September! I’ve been super busy since I returned from my recent holiday away to Budapest that I’ve barely had time to think! Now that the nights are getting darker and the days are getting colder, it feels as if autumn is well and truly here and its given me chance to get myself a little more organised. I thought I’d better give you all an overview of what’s been happening lately so my new blog feature, a monthly newsletter, should explain it nicely! Here goes…

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Budapest was a brilliant place to visit for my 5th European city break in the past 2 years; its full of culture, character and charm and provided the perfect getaway for me and my sister. We spent three nights and four days in the city which gave us plenty of time to see the sights, explore the little side streets and indulge in some Hungarian history. I’ll be writing up my Budapest adventure as soon as possible, so watch this space!…

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The day after I returned from my holiday I whizzed straight off to Northampton to see one of my best friends get married. She held her reception at the beautiful Dodford Manor, a converted countryside barn which was simply stunning. Everyone had a brilliant time, and the bride and groom looked totally gorgeous! Congrats Mr & Mrs Nicholson, and thank you for letting me be a part of your special day! <3

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Last weekend I headed into London for the day to review some of the best restaurants and bars in trendy Westminster. I hadn’t been to the capital since June so I was dying to go back and this gave me the perfect excuse to visit! As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been contributing for global online magazine The Culture Trip since the summer and was delighted to be asked to take part in their new Neighbourhood project. The task involves taking an area of London and posting about the best bars, restaurants, brunches and things to see and do in said area. I chose to take on Westminster, Covent Garden and Canary Wharf and couldn’t wait to get to work!

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As part of my research I set up meetings with bar and restaurant managers for a few of my chosen establishments and had the pleasure of being toured around the buildings, interviewing the managers and even being treated to a few free drinks… the perks of being a travel blogger! I’m currently busy typing up my posts for The Culture Trip, all of which are due to be completed by mid December so my works are pretty much all scheduled in between now and Christmas.. it’ll be here before we know it…scary stuff! In between interviewing lovely managers, blagging free drinks and being toured around some beautiful places I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing with my close friend and we even had time to enjoy a scrummy ice cream or two at the AMAZING Haagen Daas Ice Cream Parlour in Leicester Square. I’ll social share my Culture Trip posts once they’re live and will write up my interviews as soon as I can!

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This weekend has been a little more chilled, thankfully, so I’ve had chance to spend some quality time with my family as we strolled around one of our favourite local haunts, beautiful Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock. Our westie, Cassie, absolutely adores running around the grounds and we wandered around the lake with her whilst staring at the grand architecture of the Palace itself. View one of my previous blog posts to find out a little more about the birthplace of one of Britain’s most loved characters, Sir Winston Churchill.

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My final piece of news in this month’s newsletter is that I’ve been asked to write a series of Destination Guides for the brilliant ABN Save Travel Group. Travel writer Breanna Wilson has been working with me closely to edit and publish my guides and it’s been great to get another piece of my work published on a more global scale. Like The Culture Trip, ABN Save have asked me to write weekly articles on some of the hottest city break destinations. As most of you lovely readers will know, my blog focuses on European city breaks and so I’m delighted to be able to share some of my knowledge and handy tips with a much wider audience. My first post for ABN Save was published last week, click here to read my Paris Destination Guide. Next up is Barcelona and Reykjavik so I’ll be social sharing those in due course.

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As a side note, I’m also running The Big 5K Fun Run in aid of The Pituitary Foundation so I’ll be in Milton Keynes for that next Sunday. I’m running for The Pituitary Foundation as they have been a charity that have supported me since my prolactinoma diagnosis 5 years ago. Please visit my JustGiving page to read my story and help me raise lots of money and awareness for this fantastic charity. Thank you in advance to anyone that can find it in their heart to donate! <3

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That pretty much completes my first newsletter for this month, I told you I’ve been busy! I’ll be writing like crazy over the next few weeks and I have a few more little trips planned between now and the end of the year so, as always, I’ll remember to keep you posted! My next write up will be my beautiful Budapest trip… enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Love Jess x

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Race for Life 2014 – What a Day!

Hi Everyone!

So today I wanted to share with you my experience of taking part in the 2014 Race for Life at Oxford University Parks on Sunday 13th July. I took part in the race with one of my best friends and the two of us wanted to jog/power walk the 5k rather than run it as we hadn’t trained much and it was a hot day so we didn’t want to overdo it!

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We arrived at the venue shortly before 9am with the race due to start at 10am so we had plenty of time to wander round the site and see what was going on. There were stalls by Pink Lady, & Heart FM and we were handed out free bottles of water, apples and brioche/croissants to keep our energy levels up!

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At 9.30 there was a welcome on stage by Matt & Michelle from Heart FMs breakfast show followed by a talk from a recent cancer survivor and an Oxford university science lecturer giving information on the research that looks in to cancer cures and explaining how vital it is that we continue to fundraise to try and beat it. After this we had a warm up from a couple of dance instructors which was fun and everyone joined in so there was a real sense of togetherness for all involved!

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We started the race dead on 10am and enjoyed a brisk jog up until the 1k point before we switched to a power walk between 2-4k and then ran the last kilometer to the finish line where we were met with cheers from the gathering crowds and a hi5 from Matt (Heart Breakfast) and were greeted with a volunteer handing out more free water bottles and, most importantly, our race for life medals!

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After watching hundreds of people flock towards the various food outlets for much needed hot dogs, burgers and chips we decided to take advantage of the free brioche buns that were handed out and gently strolled out of the park towards the exit where I was met and congratulated by my lovely parents who had offered to pick us up! Had we had a bit more time to spare we would have checked out the rest of the stalls at the venue and maybe spoke to a few more race finishers, but it was getting close to the midday sun, the heat was rising and we were feeling tired so headed home for a shower and a nice chilled day instead!

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Just so you know, we finished the race in 48 mins and were very proud of ourselves. Oh, and we also raised over £320 between us so would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone that sponsored us!! If you would like to donate to either of our JustGiving pages it’s not too late as we will be sending the final totals over sometime in August.. click on our pages below to have a look!

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https://www.justgiving.com/jessicabuck/

https://www.justgiving.com/antoniaansell/

Thanks for reading everyone!

Love Jess x