This post theme was the brain child of the lovely Ness from The Girl with the 5 Lads. The reasoning behind it was that many of us, once struck by chronic illness, become that identity and forget about the wonderful things that we still are. So this theme is to remind us of the great things that make us, us!

HERE is a link to read Ness’ post #besidesmydiagnosis


The questions have already been set out so here I go trying to answer them! 

1. #besidesmydiagnosis the three things about my appearance that I love in the mirror?

 This one I can do. I have always loved my green eyes. Along with my pale skin and dark hair this makes me a Dark Celt. 🙂 Talking of hair, I love that I’m nearly 40 and only have about 6 white hairs on my head. This is quite an achievement given what life has thrown at me! I have to agree with Ness on this one, I do think that I have a pretty damn good cleavage. Over the years it has got me many free drinks! 😉 

Cath on honeymoon

2. #besidesmydiagnosis the things I have read most are?

 Actually during my lifetime the things that I have read most are scientific papers as I used to be a medical researcher. Ironic, I know! I have literally read thousands. I have nearly a thousand referenced in my PhD thesis and they are only the ones that made the cut! 

Nowadays it is nice to be able to read for fun again. I read loads and am really into anything fantasy at the moment. I loved The infernal devices and The mortal instruments series of books. I think I’m still grieving the end of them now. I’m eagerly waiting for the next series to be written so that I can read them back to back as well. I love my kindle (as you can read here) but my favourite books, such as these, make it onto my precious bookcase in paperback.

My favourite place to read is in my garden swing in the sunshine.

3. #besidesmydiagnosis my favourite comfort foods are?

 With many allergies this one is difficult. My usual comfort is a drink rather than food. I love my cup of tea. I could never give it up although I happily drink decaf. It’s something about being brought up drinking tea I think that makes it so comforting. 

As for food, I do love my chocolate. I have been cutting down on it recently though. I also love salted crisps. The latest addition is bread pudding. It’s the best way to eat gluten free bread and you’d never know so it reminds of when I could eat anything.

4. #besidesmydiagnosis my favourite past times are?

 Oh, this one is easy. I really love doing pottery and ceramics. So much in fact that I have a wheel and kiln in my garage and I’m about to turn it into a workshop (planning permission pending). There’s nothing like getting lost in the clay and playing. It’s really Play-Doh for grown ups! These are examples of my pottery.

Ceramic leaf bowl by Ty Siriol Ceramics & Crafts

Ty Siriol Ceramics

5. #besidesmydiagnosis my biggest accomplishment since illness is?

 This is a hard one. Simply because the biggest accomplishments now are very different to how I would have defined them before illness. Before illness is easy, getting my doctorate but now the goal posts have moved and I’ll need to look more closely.  

I’ve got it! Raising a wonderful little girl, mostly on my own after my ex-husband left us. Against all the odds I am raising a very compassionate little girl who is now 9. She has a heart of gold and wants to fix the world. She spends her time writing novels and she is inventing a new genre, Children’s Horror! I’m so proud of her. She is my greatest achievement and one of my best friends. Enough soppiness (is that a word?). Here’s pic of us together being silly.


6. #besidesmydiagnosis I feel my best quality is?

 Compassion. I was pretty good with this before being ill but now I think I’ve fine tuned it. I always try to see things from the other person’s perspective. (Something that annoys my mother-in-law immensely.) Is the other person having a bad day? What is going on in their life that we don’t know? And so on.

I have often been the person to stop and offer help to a stranger whether they have been in a car accident or are in the street and need help. I’ve tried to resuscitate a dead man in Oxford as his wife was watching. I used to buy hot chocolate each morning on the way to work for a homeless man I got to know. I never did find out what happened to him.

I can’t help but care about people and that is still strong with me despite me having hardened over recent years. My blog is aimed at offering advice to others and helping them fill the void left after illness. I’m so grateful to my online support when I needed it. They saved my life. I hope that I can touch the lives of others who need it as well.    

7. #besidesmydiagnosis my motto/mantra to live by?

 It used to be, ‘If you don’t ask they can’t say yes!‘ My dad taught me that one and in my professional life it worked out really well and it actually kick started my career. 

Now I say something along the lines of, ‘Live every moment‘. I have been studying mindfulness techniques to help me with this. It’s about appreciating the little things and seeing the beauty around us now. Pay full attention to the moment as you won’t get that moment back again.

8. #besidesmydiagnosis I would love to travel to?

 Last year I fell in love with France. We went to Normandy and I have been longing to go back ever since. This summer we are going to the south of France not to far from Carcassone. I’ve wanted to go there since reading about it in a book years ago. 

Here’s my beret. What do you think? Oh-la-la!

Cath wearing a red beret

9. #besidesmydiagnosis my guilty pleasure is?

 I love trying out crafts. I spend far too much time crafting and not enough time on housework! I do all sorts, from pottery to crochet to papercutting to mosaics and so on. 

Grey crocheted cape shawl

Grey crocheted cape shawl


Papercut that I did for a good friend and fellow spoonie.

10. #besidesmydiagnosis I have many dreams and ambitions such as?

My dream (and hubby’s) is to buy a little house in rural France to retire to. The climate is so much better for me and the lifestyle is less stressed. This is of course a long term dream as we have at least another 15 years before hubby plans to retire. In the short term we are checking out different regions of France to see where we would like to go.

French Chateux

French Chateux

I preferred the little cottage in the chateux grounds that is behind hubby.

I preferred the little cottage in the chateux grounds that is behind hubby.

A short term ambition is to get this website off the ground and host my own shop online. So far I’ve been using Etsy and eBay but they take a lot of commission and fees. So I’m building my own online shop where I have control over everything. This will be quite the achievement for me as I don’t like technology much and find the inner workings quite boring! I am persevering though and am proud of what I’ve done so far. I think it’ll be an ongoing work in progress as I continue to improve and upgrade.


So there we have it, a little more about me #besidesmydiagnosis. For other posts look out for the #besidesmydiagnosis hashtag on social media. There are also some links to other posts on Ness’ original post here.  Check them out.

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  1. NT says:

    What a gorgious words and talented lady!!!! Go for it and never give up girl!!!! Love, health and peace!! Create and dream. Your dreams will come true x

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