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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    (Picture: Jessica Young Egan, @oursweetgwendolyn)

    A woman has taken to Facebook to write an honest ‘review’ of her daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome.

    Jessica Egan shared a photo of her daughter, Gwen, looking adorable in a baby blanket and a cute headband.

    Jessica joked that when she ‘placed her order’ for her baby, she said ‘regular amount of chromosomes, please!’

    ‘That’s what everyone else got and what I wanted too.

    ‘They called me shortly after my order was in production and said “Great news, we went ahead and upgraded you to extra chromosomes for free! You’ll receive the extra chromosomes with your completed order in nine months.”

    ‘What?! I was mad! All the other orders I had seen displayed via perfect Instagram posts did NOT have extra chromosomes.

    ‘Well I decided that receiving my order with extra chromosomes was better than not receiving an order at all, so I settled in to wait for this surprise upgrade to arrive.

    ‘I have now had my order for two months and am writing this review to let others know the upgrade to extra chromosomes is amazing!!

    ‘If offered, definitely take it! I posted some photos below of the finished product and you can see the extra chromosome is so worth it – it is extra cute, extra special, and extra-ordinary! So much extra joy. Would purchase again for sure.’

    Yes, our hearts are melting too.

    The post received more than 350,000 likes and 29,000 comments.

    One person wrote: ‘So wonderfully written… congratulations on your perfect little one’.

    Someone else said: ‘Perfect review!!! Definitely an upgrade! Xxx’

    Another person commented: ‘She just made my ovaries ache a little & I already have a 5 month old. She’s Totally adorable’.

    And one woman added: ‘OMG the description and introduction is a-m-a-z-i-n-g….just like her!’

    MORE: I won’t take the iPad off my toddler, it’s a great parenting tool

    MORE: Pregnancy test adverts hurt women by only showing positive results


    Mum Pens Honest 'Review' After Having Baby With Down's SyndromeMum Pens Honest 'Review' After Having Baby With Down's Syndrome

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    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Gem Hubbard)

    A disabled woman who is in a wheelchair for life, keeps being told by strangers that she’s ‘too pretty’ to be disabled and that she doesn’t ‘sound disabled’.

    Online content creator Gem Hubbar, 34, from Brighton, had open heart surgery to repair an aortic coarctation when she was nine-years-old, but after coming around she choked on the intubated breathing tube.

    There wasn’t enough time to get Gem down to theatre, so emergency surgery took place in the Intensive Care Unit.

    The choking caused internal bleeding and left Gem without oxygen for nine minutes.

    Doctors told Gem’s parents that they feared she might not make it and she was placed in a medically-induced coma for five days.

    Gem pulled through – but the surgical complications coupled with a lack of oxygen, left her with a T10 incomplete spinal cord injury.

    Gem spent the next three weeks in hospital recovering before spending the following two years doing intense rehabilitation.

    Gem had been told she's too young or too pretty to be disabled. BRIGHTON, UK: THIS WOMAN was left in a wheelchair for life after a horrifying reaction following heart surgery left her with a SPINAL CORD INJURY, but strangers keep telling her that she???s ???TOO PRETTY??? to be disabled and that she doesn???t even ???sound disabled.??? Online content creator Gem Hubbard (34) from Brighton, UK, had open heart surgery to repair an aortic coarctation at the age of nine years old, but after coming around she choked on the intubated breathing tube. There wasn???t enough time to get Gem down to theatre, so emergency surgery took place in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The choking caused internal bleeding and left Gem without oxygen for nine minutes. Doctors told Gem???s parents that they feared she might not make it and she was placed in a medically induced coma for five days. Despite this, Gem pulled through, although the surgical complications, coupled with a lack of oxygen, left her with a T10 incomplete spinal cord injury. Gem spent the next three weeks in hospital recovering before spending the following two years doing intense rehabilitation. Adapting to life with a spinal cord injury was extremely difficult for Gem as she struggled to fit in with a wheelchair. The one thing that kept Gem positive was her passion for horse riding. After leaving school, Gem went to college where she was able to be herself and she eventually met her partner, Shaun, in 2004, who has helped Gem achieve such a positive perspective. Now, Gem, who is a mother to Daisy Belle (9), feels empowered by her disability and believes it has shaped who she is. However, she admits that she often gets stereotyped for having a disability, with people making comments that she???s ???too young??? to be disabled, or ???too pretty???, and Gem was even told over the phone that she ???didn???t sound disabled???. Recently, Gem set up her YouTube channel, Wheels No Heels, to connect with other members of the
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Gem Hubbard)

    Gem found it incredibly difficult to adapt to life with a spinal cord injury, and didn’t like the wheelchair at first. But the one thing that kept her positive was her passion for horse riding.

    After leaving school, Gem went to college where she was able to be herself and she eventually met her partner, Shaun, in 2004, who has helped Gem achieve such a positive perspective.

    Now, Gem, who is a mother to nine-year-old Daisy Belle, feels empowered by her disability and believes it has shaped who she is.

    However, she admits that she often gets stereotyped for having a disability, with people making comments that she’s ‘too young’ to be disabled, or ‘too pretty’, and Gem was even told over the phone that she ‘didn’t sound disabled’.

    To raise awareness of people with disabilities, Gem has set up her own YouTube channel to connect with other members of the community and to show that a disability shouldn’t stop them from being happy and achieving their goals.

    Gem said: ‘I struggled to fit in socially, however I was able to keep one passion going, and that was horse riding. I rode at the Riding for Disabled Centre for years and continue to enjoy riding.

    ‘It wasn’t until I left school and started college that I began to fit in and make friends and truly enjoy life again. I partied hard and began to learn who I really was. Then I met Shaun and he really helped me accept who I was.

    Gem hopes to show that people can live a happy life despite a disability. BRIGHTON, UK: THIS WOMAN was left in a wheelchair for life after a horrifying reaction following heart surgery left her with a SPINAL CORD INJURY, but strangers keep telling her that she???s ???TOO PRETTY??? to be disabled and that she doesn???t even ???sound disabled.??? Online content creator Gem Hubbard (34) from Brighton, UK, had open heart surgery to repair an aortic coarctation at the age of nine years old, but after coming around she choked on the intubated breathing tube. There wasn???t enough time to get Gem down to theatre, so emergency surgery took place in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The choking caused internal bleeding and left Gem without oxygen for nine minutes. Doctors told Gem???s parents that they feared she might not make it and she was placed in a medically induced coma for five days. Despite this, Gem pulled through, although the surgical complications, coupled with a lack of oxygen, left her with a T10 incomplete spinal cord injury. Gem spent the next three weeks in hospital recovering before spending the following two years doing intense rehabilitation. Adapting to life with a spinal cord injury was extremely difficult for Gem as she struggled to fit in with a wheelchair. The one thing that kept Gem positive was her passion for horse riding. After leaving school, Gem went to college where she was able to be herself and she eventually met her partner, Shaun, in 2004, who has helped Gem achieve such a positive perspective. Now, Gem, who is a mother to Daisy Belle (9), feels empowered by her disability and believes it has shaped who she is. However, she admits that she often gets stereotyped for having a disability, with people making comments that she???s ???too young??? to be disabled, or ???too pretty???, and Gem was even told over the phone that she ???didn???t sound disabled???. Recently, Gem set up her YouTube channel, Wheels No Heels, to connect with other membe
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Gem Hubbard)

    ‘When I was a teen, I hated that I was disabled and that I was different. I would have given anything to have changed it. However, now I can truly say I am in a positive place. I feel empowered by my disability.

    ‘I feel it has given me some amazing opportunities that I would never have experienced. It’s made me the person I am today, and I’m very proud of who I am.’

    Gem felt very isolated when she was growing up with a disability, so she speaks openly about life with a wheelchair in the hope that she can prevent others from feeling the same way.

    On her channel, Gem discusses wheelchair accessibility, parenting while in a wheelchair, body confidence and the frustrating comments she receives regarding her disability.

    ‘Living in a world that’s not properly designed for wheelchairs is difficult. It’s getting better, but there is a long way to go. I feel I’m very limited when it comes to employment, and career choices,’ said Gem.

    ‘Only recently I applied for a part time reception job and everything would have been perfect for me. Apart from the fact there was no disabled parking, no disabled toilet and the desks were at standing height.

    ‘I also suffer with chronic pain, and that can put a huge strain on my family and social life. I have to make sacrifices.

    Gem with her husband, neice, daughter and dog. BRIGHTON, UK: THIS WOMAN was left in a wheelchair for life after a horrifying reaction following heart surgery left her with a SPINAL CORD INJURY, but strangers keep telling her that she???s ???TOO PRETTY??? to be disabled and that she doesn???t even ???sound disabled.??? Online content creator Gem Hubbard (34) from Brighton, UK, had open heart surgery to repair an aortic coarctation at the age of nine years old, but after coming around she choked on the intubated breathing tube. There wasn???t enough time to get Gem down to theatre, so emergency surgery took place in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The choking caused internal bleeding and left Gem without oxygen for nine minutes. Doctors told Gem???s parents that they feared she might not make it and she was placed in a medically induced coma for five days. Despite this, Gem pulled through, although the surgical complications, coupled with a lack of oxygen, left her with a T10 incomplete spinal cord injury. Gem spent the next three weeks in hospital recovering before spending the following two years doing intense rehabilitation. Adapting to life with a spinal cord injury was extremely difficult for Gem as she struggled to fit in with a wheelchair. The one thing that kept Gem positive was her passion for horse riding. After leaving school, Gem went to college where she was able to be herself and she eventually met her partner, Shaun, in 2004, who has helped Gem achieve such a positive perspective. Now, Gem, who is a mother to Daisy Belle (9), feels empowered by her disability and believes it has shaped who she is. However, she admits that she often gets stereotyped for having a disability, with people making comments that she???s ???too young??? to be disabled, or ???too pretty???, and Gem was even told over the phone that she ???didn???t sound disabled???. Recently, Gem set up her YouTube channel, Wheels No Heels, to connect with other members of the community and to
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Gem Hubbard)

    ‘If I take my daughter to the park, I wouldn’t be able to do household chores on the same day, as it would end up being too painful for me. If I took a shower, I wouldn’t be able to see friends in the evening as I would be too exhausted.

    ‘Shaun is amazing though and if I can’t get somewhere accessible, he will carry me and my chair. I must admit we have to plan ahead a lot if we are going out to check accessibility.

    ‘I’m frequently stereotyped for being in a wheelchair. People assume that I’m mentally incapable and talk to me like I’m a child.

    ‘I hate it when random strangers, who I’m never going to see again, ask me what happened – it’s so rude and invasive. We don’t want to go into our medical history with complete strangers.

    ‘It’s very personal and quite upsetting. A lot of people who have an SCI have a shocking story to tell from road traffic accidents, failed suicide attempts, to being shot. Quite a lot of the time, if people ask me, they feel incredibly awkward and don’t know what to say and just walk off.

    ‘I also get told that I’m ‘too young’ to be disabled, even though disability doesn’t discriminate against age. Some say, ‘it’s such a shame’. I don’t want pity, I have a lovely life.

    ‘Despite disability, you can live a happy and fulfilling life. You can achieve anything you want, as long as you put your mind to it.

    ‘I had an incredibly hard time growing up with a disability and I felt very alone and isolated. I never had anyone I could turn to who would know exactly how I was feeling.

    ‘I don’t want anyone to feel like I did, and this is why I’m so passionate about what I do. I show people how to live a happy life despite disability.’

    MORE: What it’s like to be diagnosed with a learning disability as an adult

    MORE: Dog born with half a spine won’t let his disability hold him back


    Woman told \'too pretty to be disabled\'Woman told \'too pretty to be disabled\'

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    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    There it is – another notification from the person who haunts my social media nightmares (let’s call him Alex).

    Alex likes and shares everything, be it a funny gif or a link to a story, a serious debate or a picture from an event, and then promptly follows up with a direct message to tell me just how great he thinks it is.

    Sometimes he also sends me an email.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m beyond grateful that there are people who find my daily babble on social media entertaining and I still compile (and then re-compile) tweets, Instagram stories and Facebook posts with angst-filled precision.

    But most of us like to keep a barrier between our online lives and our personal spheres, and it’s often here that people overstep.

    If you’re following each other, that doesn’t automatically make you friends.

    If you’re both really into cats on Instagram, that doesn’t mean you should send a ‘cute cat pic today’ DM every time.

    And you certainly shouldn’t attack on all fronts at once with someone you don’t know; in other words, don’t get in touch on every platform just to make sure they see you.

    They do, and if you’re not hearing back, there’s probably a reason for it.

    Liking someone’s content for the sake of liking it (or getting them to like you) comes across as trying too hard. Think of social media etiquette somewhat like dating – being too keen could risk getting you the opposite result.

    So what do you do if someone is following you too hard on social media?

    There are the obvious approaches, such as simply ghosting or blocking.

    But oddly it feels kinder to indulge Alex and his barrage of messages, despite doing so at the detriment of my own mental well-being. Because every time I don’t respond, a little part of me feels guilty.

    And it’s this guilt that is the crux of the problem – because it feels bad to tell someone – friend or stranger – who is essentially just supporting you and your opinions, that they are doing so too frequently.

    Social media stress
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Beatrice, who has over 30,000 Twitter followers, tells Metro.co.uk that she has people contact her every day and if she doesn’t reply, some of them will tell her ‘how bad’ she’s made them feel.

    ‘I get quite a few people follow me too hard, she said.

    ‘Some will message me every single day, asking if they can send me stuff, and one guy in particular likes and comments on every single thing I post. He will also tag me in everything and I get a million notifications from him every day.

    ‘Usually I just leave it, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, though I have had to step in when things go too far.

    ‘I feel very guilty when I don’t reply and people even make sure I know that I should feel guilty; they message me to tell them how bad I’ve (unintentionally) made them feel, but then I have to remember that I am not obliged to reply to anyone.

    ‘If I was to reply to everyone and talk to hundreds of people about their problems every day, it would be awful for my own mental health and so I have to be selfish at times and just ignore messages completely.’

    While ignoring, muting or blocking someone has its uses, might it be simpler to just ask the person to tone it down a little?

    After all, he or she might be a friend (and randomly blocking someone you know in real life could get very complicated).

    ‘It’s a case of defining what is “too much”, social media researcher and consultant, Carolina Are tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Personally, I’d define that as when people are the first to like your stuff every time, or when they go on liking sprees with your old pictures, and when their support goes from feeling pleasant and starts to feel stalkerish. It also depends on what you do: if you’re a content creator or blogger, you might feel different about likes than a person who has a private profile.

    ‘If you feel uncomfortable with someone following you too hard, talking to them is the first step.

    ‘Try to figure out why they’re doing it; thank them for the support and possibly crack a joke about liking that picture from 2012.

    ‘Then, try to see how they respond to that, and if they don’t feel offended or don’t provide an answer (some people might say that it popped up on their feed for this and that reason) then say: “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it feels a bit odd when you do that, I’m feeling uncomfortable because…” and explain your reason.’

    Not everyone agrees with calling out social media followers.

    My deskmate Rebecca tells me that because she receives lots of negative comments, she’s always happy to receive positive ones and has dedicated followers who regularly stay in touch. And, that it’s ‘always nice to have fans’.

    She has a point – with so much vitriol exchanged on social media, a friendly message should be appreciated, but everyone has a limit and you should respect your own.

    Nancy, who is head of social media for an influencer management company, tells Metro.co.uk it’s a generational issue, because these days everything is ‘public’.

    ‘Perhaps if their stalking did verge on being inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable, you would direct message that person and tell them, but it would depend on how they’re engaging with you on social.

    ‘Are they simply liking everything you post? Or are they commenting and responding in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable?

    ‘The problem is, and this probably relates more to generation Z, they have grown up in a world where everything is public – so even if you did confront said “stalker” in a DM, if they didn’t take your constructive criticism particularly well, that person could screenshot those conversations and use it to embarrass the stalker.’

    But be careful on calling people out on social media – this approach can come across as mean on your part, and could backfire if others decide to support your follower.

    And if you’re a public figure or rely on your following to boost your career, tread carefully and remember that most followers, like Alex, are likely unaware that they’re overloading you with messages.

    Most often, it’s a compliment.

    But if it’s bordering on stalking, getting too personal or making your mental health suffer – take control of the situation and be honest.

    Worst comes to worst, turn to the ‘block’ button.

    MORE: What to do if you love your friend but hate their social media presence

    MORE: Why you have so many tabs open

    MORE: Brands don’t care about your mental health – they just want to use the January blues to sell you stuff


    sei_49785160-b38bsei_49785160-b38b

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    (Picture: Getty/McDonald’s)

    Easter is coming, which means it’s time for the very welcome return of the Cadbury’s Creme Egg McFlurry.

    Yep, McDonald’s is re-launching its iconic Easter classic alongside its Cadbury’s Caramel McFlurry. Yum.

    According to HotUKDeals, the ice creams will be back in McDonald’s branches across the UK on 20th March 2019, so we don’t have long at all to wait.

    Everyone's Favourite McFlurry Is Returning To McDonald's Provider: McDonald's Source: http://fortune.com/2016/02/29/cadbury-creme-egg-mcflurry/
    (Picture: McDonald’s)

    The return of the McFlurrys comes alongside the start of the McDonald’s Monopoly Game – where you’ll have the chance to win a range of great prizes.

    The desserts are going to be on sale at the standard price – 99p for a small and £1.39.

    But come on, who wants a small McFlurry?

    If you’re not into ice cream but you are a fan of McDonald’s, you’ll be buzzing to know you can now buy a candle that smells just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Yes, really.

    Online shopping store sells McDonald's-inspired 'cheeseburger scented candle'
    (Picture: Grey Lines AU)

    Australian online shopping website Grey Lines has launched a scented candle inspired by the McDonald’s cheeseburger.

    It’s been named ‘The Maccas Run’ and is selling for $29.95 AUD and they can be shipped to the UK.

    The candle wax has a 30-hour burn time, meaning you can have the smell of bun, beef, onions, pickle, ketchup, mustard and cheese wafting around your home for weeks.

    MORE: Aldi launches ‘Ruby’ Easter egg using a brand new type of chocolate

    MORE: Cafe launches decadent milkshake inside an Easter egg


    Everyone\'s Favourite McFlurry Is Returning To McDonald\'sEveryone\'s Favourite McFlurry Is Returning To McDonald\'s

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    (Picture: Getty/Tip Top)

    Food brand Wattie’s has announced that it is launching a tomato sauce ice cream – and we’re not sure whether to laugh or cry.

    The limited edition product will feature french vanilla ice cream with a tomato sauce ripple running through the middle – so you will get a tangy, tomato explosion with every bite.

    Wattie’s announced the launch on Facebook which promptly caused an explosion of responses – mostly repulsed by the thought of the unusual concoction.

    The Facebook post has now received more than 21,000 comments and over 3,000 shares.

    ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,’ one person commented.

    ‘This is an abomination,’ wrote another.

    But is this new concept considered universally disgusting? Or is it some people’s idea of heaven?

    We all have those friends who will put tomato sauce on literally everything.

    Chips, burgers, mashed potato, salad – maybe a little squirt on their ice cream is just what they have always dreamed of.

    Picture: Wattie's/ Tip Top Tomato sauce ice cream is soon to be a thing
    (Picture: Wattie’s/ Tip Top)

    Wattie’s has partnered with ice cream brand Tip Top to ensure the very best quality for their product.

    Hosts on New Zealand TV show Seven Sharp tried the tomato sauce ice cream live on air and there was a mixed response.

    ‘It’s not bad. It’s quite spicy,’ said host Jeremy Wells.

    But co-host Hilary Barry was less convinced: ‘It’s sweet on sweet, you forget how much sugar is in tomato sauce.’

    MORE: Attention, people: The Creme Egg McFlurry is making a comeback for Easter

    MORE: Older people are riddled with sexual diseases, apparently

    MORE: A vegan afternoon tea launches in London with tuna salad and smoked salmon on the menu


    Tomato sauce ice cream is soon to be a thingTomato sauce ice cream is soon to be a thing

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    (Picture: Shy Wolf Sanctuary/Brittany Allen)

    We’re firmly of the belief that all dogs are amazing and Yuki is no exception.

    The giant wolfdog was abandoned by his owners at eight months old and left at a kill shelter, with no hope in sight.

    To make matters worse, the dog also has a terminal type of cancer, and would likely have been put down had he remained at the shelter.

    Luckily, Yuki was rescued by Shy Wolf Sanctuary in 2008 and will live out his final days in his forever home in Naples, Florida.

    Brittany Allen, a team member at the animal sanctuary, which was founded in 2001, told Bored Panda that the giant dog is 87.5% gray wolf, 8.6% Siberian husky and 3.9% German Shepherd.

    ‘We rescued him from a failed house pet situation,’ she said.

    ‘Someone purchased him from a breeder and realized he was too much to handle. They dumped him at a kill shelter at eight months old.

    ‘We stepped in and provided a home for him and he has been with us ever since. They definitely are creatures that demand respect. It would be a much different encounter in the wild than what I do with these guys.

    ‘The animals I work with have never been in the wild and never will be, so they are more socialized. We show off their adorable moments in the hope of helping people identify with them at least and maybe change their fear response into a healthy respect through education.’

    Picture: shywolf_sanctuary Huge wolfdog with terminal cancer
    (Picture: Brittany Allen)
    Picture: @brit_allen_ Huge wolfdog with terminal cancer
    (Picture: Shy Wolf Sanctuary/Brittany Allen)

    Brittany also explained that wolfdogs can be hard to handle – given you never know which side (wolf or dog) will be most dominant.

    ‘Yuki isn’t necessarily more social vs. the pure wolves,’ she said.

    ‘We have pure wolves who will run away when they see new people because they are generally shy, curious animals. Yuki, however will run straight to a new person and if he doesn’t like them will become aggressive towards them.

    ‘With the pure wolves, once they know you and feel comfortable with you, they can be affectionate and loving but they will always be wolves – you can’t get in the way of them and their food, and you must respect their boundaries.

    ‘They are both social with people they accept in their space, but they are very selective as well. This also applies to other wolf/wolfdog companions. They are very selective but when they bond it is pretty unique.’

    So perhaps give the 120-pound dog a moment to suss you out, before you run up to him.

    Picture: shywolf_sanctuary Huge wolfdog with terminal cancer
    (Picture: Shy Wolf Sanctuary/Brittany Allen)
    Picture: shywolf_sanctuary Huge wolfdog with terminal cancer
    (Picture: Shy Wolf Sanctuary)

    Despite his appearance, Yuki is one of the most popular dogs at the sanctuary.

    One of the directors of Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Jeremy Albrecht, said: ‘Today, Yuki is one of the most interesting animals in the sanctuary. He is not an easy guy to get to know, but he does have a small number of volunteers he has bonded with.

    ‘He has gained the nickname “Woowoo” because when he sees any of his chosen volunteers that is the noise he makes, beckoning that volunteer to come spend time with him.’

    One of the sanctuary volunteers refers to Yuki’s inner circle as a ‘harem’.

    ‘Yuki is one of those animals that he lets you know if he wants you in his enclosure or not,’ said Judy.

    ‘He has a very small group of women that he allows in his enclosure called his “harem”.’

    What is a wolfdog?

    A wolfdog is a mix between a domestic dog and a wolf.

    The breed has a lifespan of around 12 to 14 years, and can interbreed with dogs.

    Yuki has suffered from health problems in the last few years, including an injury to his leg which required five surgeries to repair, as well as being diagnosed with a terminal illness last year.

    Jeremy said: ‘He was diagnosed with cancer last year and unfortunately it is terminal.

    ‘We have dealt with this particular cancer before and ultimately you don’t really know how fast you caught it and how much time they have.

    ‘When the day comes that he starts showing symptoms we will, as we always do, make the right decisions for Yuki’s quality of life. Saying goodbye to one of our animals is always difficult for our staff and volunteers, and Yuki will be no different.

    ‘But it’s important to remember that while many of these animals have rough beginnings, their stories always have happy endings once they get to Shy Wolf Sanctuary.

    ‘When their time with us is over the last thing they do is make room for our next rescue and happy ending.’

    MORE: Our hearts melt for these amazing pooches up for a hero award at Crufts dog show

    MORE: Britain’s loneliest dog finally finds forever home after more than 500 days at shelter

    MORE: Woman has major fashion fail, ordering clothes made so small they fit her dog better than her


    Huge wolfdog with terminal cancerHuge wolfdog with terminal cancer

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    Amy pictured embracing her leg. MEET THE inspiring sports fanatic who was once called ???Elephant Girl??? due to her swollen leg and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ???fit in??? ??? but she is now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same. Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera (38), from Missouri, USA, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body???s tissues. Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes. Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ???elephant girl???, ???elephant leg??? or ???girl with the big leg???. At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America (Missouri) along with her very own tiara. Despite this victory, for a decade, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses to avoid the stares and comments. Amy was told by her doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and would never be an athlete. After thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful. By this point, Amy???s right leg was 200 per cent larger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy. Her right leg is now only one percent larger than her left leg. In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ???fat???, Amy felt it her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body. This was the first step t
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Amy Rivera)

    An inspiring sportswoman was once called ‘Elephant Girl’ due to her swollen leg, and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ‘fit in’ – but she’s now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same.

    Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera, from Missouri, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues.

    Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes.

    Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ‘elephant girl’ or ‘elephant leg’.

    At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America along with her very own tiara.

    Despite this victory, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses for the next decade to avoid the stares and comments.

    She was told by doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and that she’d never be an athlete.

    Amy continued to play sports regardless of her condition. MEET THE inspiring sports fanatic who was once called ???Elephant Girl??? due to her swollen leg and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ???fit in??? ??? but she is now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same. Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera (38), from Missouri, USA, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body???s tissues. Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes. Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ???elephant girl???, ???elephant leg??? or ???girl with the big leg???. At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America (Missouri) along with her very own tiara. Despite this victory, for a decade, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses to avoid the stares and comments. Amy was told by her doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and would never be an athlete. After thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful. By this point, Amy???s right leg was 200 per cent larger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy. Her right leg is now only one percent larger than her left leg. In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ???fat???, Amy felt it her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body.
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Amy Rivera)

    But after thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful.

    By this point, Amy’s right leg was 200% bigger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy.

    Her right leg is now only 1% larger than her left leg.

    In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ‘fat’, Amy felt it was her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body.

    This was the first step to her fully embracing her big leg, accepting herself for the way she is and not apologising for her appearance.

    She has since managed to participate in many sports such as boxing, kickboxing, sky diving, weight lifting, yoga and is currently taking salsa dancing lessons.

    ‘I was born with Lymphoedema; my entire right side of my body was swollen from my ears to my toes. The doctor’s told my mother it was the way she carried me, which was not the case,’ Amy said.

    Amy pictured flaunting her legs on the catwalk. MEET THE inspiring sports fanatic who was once called ???Elephant Girl??? due to her swollen leg and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ???fit in??? ??? but she is now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same. Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera (38), from Missouri, USA, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body???s tissues. Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes. Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ???elephant girl???, ???elephant leg??? or ???girl with the big leg???. At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America (Missouri) along with her very own tiara. Despite this victory, for a decade, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses to avoid the stares and comments. Amy was told by her doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and would never be an athlete. After thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful. By this point, Amy???s right leg was 200 per cent larger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy. Her right leg is now only one percent larger than her left leg. In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ???fat???, Amy felt it her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body. This was
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Amy Rivera)

    ‘The swelling went away everywhere except for my leg. My parents searched for answers but were told it was general swelling and there was nothing we can do about it nor know what is causing it.

    ‘I’ve never known life to be any other way than being stared at. I was callused to the comments and stares.

    ‘I punched a boy in the face at one point in time because he pointed at me and called me “weird”.

    ‘I had several others point at me in the school hallway. That was the turning point that I decided to find a new identity which is why I entered pageants.

    ‘In order to fit in, I entered pageants and actually won – funny how that worked out, but it didn’t really make me feel good about myself.

    ‘I was still the ‘girl with the big leg’, just with a Miss Junior America (Missouri) title and a tiara. As an adult, someone at a local mall asked me if they could “catch” what I had.’

    Lymphoedema can affect any part of the body but mostly it develops in the arms or legs. It develops when the lymphatic system doesn’t work properly.

    Amy pictured showing her swollen leg. MEET THE inspiring sports fanatic who was once called ???Elephant Girl??? due to her swollen leg and admits to entering a beauty pageant just to ???fit in??? ??? but she is now embracing her look and helping other women with body insecurities do the same. Speaker and founder of Ninjas Fighting Lymphoedema Foundation, Amy Rivera (38), from Missouri, USA, was born with a condition called lymphoedema, a long-term chronic condition that causes swelling in the body???s tissues. Growing up with this condition meant that the right side of her body was severely inflamed from her ears to her toes. Her appearance would attract cruel reactions and comments from her peers who would call her ???elephant girl???, ???elephant leg??? or ???girl with the big leg???. At the age of 18, Amy entered into a beauty pageant to prove that she can fight against her bullies and won the title of Miss Junior America (Missouri) along with her very own tiara. Despite this victory, for a decade, Amy would hide her leg under skirts and dresses to avoid the stares and comments. Amy was told by her doctors in 2012, before her official diagnosis, that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 35 and would never be an athlete. After thorough research on her condition, she found a doctor who diagnosed her with lymphoedema in 2013, when she had a lymph node transfer and her first suction assisted protein lipectomies, which was unsuccessful. By this point, Amy???s right leg was 200 per cent larger than her left leg, so she went to another doctor who managed to successfully reduce the swelling through a procedure called Suction Assisted Protein Lipectomy. Her right leg is now only one percent larger than her left leg. In 2014 when one of her co-workers called herself ???fat???, Amy felt it her duty to share her secret by lifting her skirt to show her big leg, in the hopes that it would make her colleague feel more comfortable in her own body. This was the first
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Amy Rivera)

    According to the NHS, the lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands throughout the body that helps fight infection and remove excess fluid.

    It can get progressively worse if it is not treated in a timely fashion.

    Amy says that her co-worker’s body insecurities helped motivate her to ‘lead by example’ by ditching the long skirts and dresses.

    She said: ‘I hid my lymphoedema from the world for well over a decade and one day I was talking with a co-worker who body shamed herself for being ‘fat’ and I immediately felt compelled to share my secret that I hid under the skirts and dresses,’ she said.

    ‘I wanted her to feel comfortable in her own body but in order to do that I had to accept mine and lead by example. Once I did that, I embraced the title “beauty queen with the big leg” ever since.

    ‘I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything; I call my disease my blessing because I’m able to help others find their way out of the darkness and begin to heal and love themselves. I truly love myself and love that I have a calling to help heal others.

    ‘I have always loved sports but couldn’t participate in them as a child or teenager, so I decided to take charge of my life and do what I wanted. I was tired of not living.

    ‘My leg has never been this small ever and my family and friends are just shocked; they stare with astonishment rather than with pity.

    ‘I had the world against me in the beginning and even during my journey – today, they say “I can’t believe you did it”. I knew I could, and I wasn’t going to allow the world to tell me I couldn’t.’

    MORE: I had difficulty describing my mental health symptoms and it led to the wrong diagnosis

    MORE: Seven top-rated beauty products you need to know about


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    Spill it is a new series where we get people to anonymously tell us about their drinking habits.

    We’re talking to men and women from all over the UK (unless anyone volunteers from abroad in which case we’re going international) about how much they really drink. Not how much they tell their doctor they drink, or a rough guesstimate – but the unvarnished boozy truth.

    This week we’ve got 30-year-old media exec from London, who we’ve named Lynsey.

    Friday 

    It’s been a long week with some difficult meetings. At 5pm we have a drinks trolley which comes round our office. Usually I say no, but today I have a big gin and tonic while tying up some lose ends from the week. Then I go to the pub with some of the girls from work. I’m based in West London so there’s lots of nice places to go.

    It’s weirdly nice weather so we order Rose and sit outside until it gets cold. I have two glasses of Rose and feel quite tipsy. I head home about 9PM. I’ve been up since six and I’m really tired.

    Saturday

    I live with two other girls who are friends of friends. They both have boyfriends and slept at their houses last night so I have our house, near White City, to myself this morning. I make the most of it by watching TV downstairs in my pyjamas.

    Their boyfriends come to our house a lot because it’s quite big and spacious. I don’t mind, but it’s sometimes a bit annoying when I want to lie around with no bra on, or when they are in the shower in the morning and I need to go to work.

    In the afternoon I do some work and then head to Islington to meet some of my mates for a birthday dinner. It’s my best mate’s boyfriend’s 31st.

    I order a gin and tonic when I get there and catch up with some people I haven’t seen for ages. Then we go up to the dining room bit for dinner. Someone orders wine for the table which I’m not really in the mood for. I have two glasses, everyone else has a lot more.

    When the bill comes someone says we should split it. I’m a vegetarian and I didn’t drink much so mine would have been cheaper but I don’t want to be that person so I pay just under £60.

    Sunday

    My housemates have their boyfriends over today and they want to make Sunday lunch. They kind of take over downstairs.

    I spend the afternoon in my room working and watching Netflix. When the food is ready they ask me to join. I have a glass of red wine, and then do most of the washing up while they watch a film on the TV in the living room.

    Monday

    I get up at 5.30 to go to the gym before work and am at my desk by 8 feeling good, it’s a productive start to the week.

    I finish work at 7, get home and have a bath. Housemates are making dinner downstairs so I order some sushi and eat it in my room. No alcohol.

    Tuesday

    I have a work event tonight so get up early to wash my hair and do make up. I’m at work by 8.30. I work through until 6.30, then we go ahead to set up the venue. We’re hosting 25 people and I need to be on good form so I have a glass of champagne before the guests arrive.

    Dinner goes quite well. Everyone seems happy. I have two glasses of wine because I don’t want to order a gin and tonic (if I do then everyone else will too and it’ll make the event more expensive).

    Wednesday 

    I don’t feel great on Wednesday morning so lie in until 7.45 and get to work at 9.15.

    I leave work on the dot of six and get home to find both my housemates boyfriends on the sofa playing a video game. I don’t remember agreeing to having a Playstation (or whatever it is) in the house. I make myself dinner in the kitchen and eat it in my room. No alcohol.

    Thursday

    I can’t shower when I get up because one of the boyfriends is in the shower.

    I put dry shampoo in my hair and get the tube to work. I write three different messages to our house Whatsapp group and delete all of them. I don’t want to start a fight.

    After work I get home and the house is empty. I get a really early night and enjoy how quiet it is. No alcohol.

    Friday 

    It feels like it has been a really long week. I have a gin and tonic from the drinks trolley at 5PM – just a single this week. The girls ask me if I want to join them for the pub after work but I have plans with my friends.

    We meet at a pub in Notting Hill. Both of the girls I’m meeting are married and recently had babies. I don’t see much of them so I’m so excited to be back together.

    We drink two bottles of Rose between three. I would have gone for another one but they’ve got to go home. I realise in the Uber back to my house that they didn’t ask any questions about me and talked a lot about their babies.

    As told to Rebecca Reid. If you’d like to take part in Spill it please email rebecca.reid@metro.co.uk.

    Units drunk: 33

    Units recommended: 14

    Next week we’ll be speaking to another drinker about their units. If you’d like to take part in Spill it, you can email rebecca.reid@metro.co.uk

    MORE: Spill it: How much a 27-year-old journalist drinks in a week

    MORE: Mum shares moment her guts spilled out of her stomach to debunk the idea that c-sections are the ‘easy’ option

     


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    A 17-year-old boy has a rare condition – if his heart races, he might die, meaning he could even be killed by playing football or chatting up women.

    Liam Spare has ‘sudden death syndrome’, an illness where if his heart rate goes above 80 beats per minute, he is at serious risk of cardiac arrest.

    The teen can’t dance at a disco or play football with his mates and riding on a roller coaster is strictly forbidden.

    Liam can’t do anything that will gets his heart racing, so when he meets up with his now girlfriend, he has to plan what he was going to say in advance  – so nerves don’t trigger his illness.

    The college student has already suffered three cardiac arrests and was in a coma earlier this year, after his heart stopped when he lifted too many weights. A gym worker gave him CPR before paramedics shocked his heart back into action, and now he has a mini-defibrillator inside his body, in case his heart stops again.

    If I get too excited, like a sudden rush of adrenaline, it could kill me,’ said Liam, who is from Swadlincote in Derbyshire.

    ‘If someone made me jump it could shock me and I could collapse.

    ‘For me, a raised heart rate is quite serious. I could just drop dead if I get too excited. It’s really scary to think about.’

    Liam Spare, 17, of Derby, who can be killed by a raised heart rate. Liam almost died when his heart stopped beating whilst he was lifting weights in the gym. March 06 2019. See SWNS story SWSYheart.Meet the teenager who has a rare heart condition which means he could DIE if his heart races -- so he can't play football and has to rehearse his chat up lines for days.Liam Spare, 17, has 'sudden death syndrome' which means if his heart rate goes above 80 beats a minute he is at serious risk of cardiac arrest.It means the teen can't dance at a disco, play football with his mates and riding on a roller coaster is strictly forbidden.Liam can't do anything which gets his heart racing so when he met his now-girlfriend, he'd plan what he was gong to say in advance - so the nerves didn't trigger a cardiac arrest.
    (Picture: SWNS.COM)

    Liam said: ‘Roller coasters are out of the equation and I can’t run fast. A very light jog is just about all I can manage.

    ‘Obviously I can’t do any sports. As a kid I couldn’t really go out with friends to socialise until my brother was able to look after me. I stayed at home a lot.

    ‘I’ve never really done P.E. I’ve always been limited to what I can do at school. I missed out on a lot of my childhood.

    ‘It is upsetting because all of my mates used to ask me out and I had to say no. I feel like I have missed out on so much.’

    Liam was only four when he had his first cardiac arrest, after he ran ahead of his mum on a trip to the shops.

    An ambulance was called, but Liam’s heart miraculously restarted on its own and doctors explained it as ‘collapse on exertion’.

    Four years later, when he was eight years old, Liam collapsed in his mum’s arms when his heart stopped again after he ran to pick up his scarf that had blown away in the wind.

    Luckily, his heart started beating again and he was taken to Burton Hospital’s intensive treatment unit for further tests.

    Liam’s mum, Claire, 38, said she pushed doctors to investigate and he was given an electrocardiogram for 24 hours, to test the function of his heart.

    Liam Spare, 17, of Derby, who can be killed by a raised heart rate. Liam almost died when his heart stopped beating whilst he was lifting weights in the gym. March 06 2019. See SWNS story SWSYheart.Meet the teenager who has a rare heart condition which means he could DIE if his heart races -- so he can't play football and has to rehearse his chat up lines for days.Liam Spare, 17, has 'sudden death syndrome' which means if his heart rate goes above 80 beats a minute he is at serious risk of cardiac arrest.It means the teen can't dance at a disco, play football with his mates and riding on a roller coaster is strictly forbidden.Liam can't do anything which gets his heart racing so when he met his now-girlfriend, he'd plan what he was gong to say in advance - so the nerves didn't trigger a cardiac arrest.
    (Picture: SWNS.COM)

    Experts at Birmingham Hospital’s heart clinic finally diagnosed him with two deadly heart conditions.

    He has catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) – where an increase in heart rate due to activity or stress can trigger an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat.

    He was also diagnosed with long QT – an inherited heart rhythm issue where the muscle takes longer than normal to recharge between beats.

    Liam remembers how he would watch on from the sidelines while his mates played sports at school.

    He had to settle for picking up the cones at the end of the session and always felt jealous of his classmates.

    Liam said: ‘It was a big shock when we found out. Thinking back now I feel very lucky that nothing serious happened.

    ‘The doctors told me I couldn’t do anything too strenuous or take part in competitive sports. I have to try to stay calm as best as I can.

    ‘I do my best and I have the support of my family. If I feel like my heart rate is increasing I do start to panic. I have to start breathing slowly to control it.’

    Collect of Liam when at the gym 2018. Liam Spare, 17 of Derby, who can be killed by a raised heart rate. Liam almost died when his heart stopped beating whilst he was lifting weights in the gym. See SWNS story SWSYheart.Meet the teenager who has a rare heart condition which means he could DIE if his heart races -- so he can't play football and has to rehearse his chat up lines for days.Liam Spare, 17, has 'sudden death syndrome' which means if his heart rate goes above 80 beats a minute he is at serious risk of cardiac arrest.It means the teen can't dance at a disco, play football with his mates and riding on a roller coaster is strictly forbidden.Liam can't do anything which gets his heart racing so when he met his now-girlfriend, he'd plan what he was gong to say in advance - so the nerves didn't trigger a cardiac arrest.
    (Picture: Liam Spare/SWNS)

    When he was diagnosed, Liam was told a heart rate of 80bpm or above would be ‘dangerous’ and leave him at risk of cardiac arrest.

    He was advised to keep his heart rate around 60bpm where possible – the lowest normal resting heart rate.

    Liam must take regular breaks when walking up a steep hill or several flights of stairs, and has been warned to stay away from alcohol.

    And when it comes to dating, he worries about getting flustered and had to plan for days in advance what he wanted to say to girls, before he met his girlfriend.

    He took the same precautions during the interview for his first job, at a village pub.

    And before he makes important phone calls, Liam reminds himself to talk slowly, take deep breathes and have a ready-made script in his head when under pressure.

    Liam said: ‘I do anything I can to stay calm. I’ve just learnt to take life very easy.

    ‘Whatever I do, I have to take deep breaths and if I feel my heart beating faster I just have to stop.

    ‘Talking slowly works well for me. It’s one of the ways I’ve learnt to manage it.’

    Collect of Liam at hospital in Birmingham January 2019. Liam Spare, 17 of Derby, who can be killed by a raised heart rate. Liam almost died when his heart stopped beating whilst he was lifting weights in the gym. See SWNS story SWSYheart.Meet the teenager who has a rare heart condition which means he could DIE if his heart races -- so he can't play football and has to rehearse his chat up lines for days.Liam Spare, 17, has 'sudden death syndrome' which means if his heart rate goes above 80 beats a minute he is at serious risk of cardiac arrest.It means the teen can't dance at a disco, play football with his mates and riding on a roller coaster is strictly forbidden.Liam can't do anything which gets his heart racing so when he met his now-girlfriend, he'd plan what he was gong to say in advance - so the nerves didn't trigger a cardiac arrest.
    (Picture: Liam Spare/SWNS)

    ‘What I really want is freedom. I do feel very restricted a lot of the time. I always have my phone on me and can’t really go out on my own.’

    All physical activity was banned until December last year, when he was given the all-clear to start lifting weights at the gym.

    He joined with his brother Joshua, 19, and had been going two or three times a week for six weeks when he suffered a cardiac arrest midway through a session, in January.

    ‘I was told I could do weights and I was enjoying it. It’s the first time I’ve been allowed to do exercise,’ he said.

    ‘We were doing deadlifts.

    ‘I had done two reps of 70kg and on the third I collapsed.

    ‘My brother put me in the recovery position. He knew exactly what to do but was panicking. It must have been really scary for him.

    ‘A guy at the gym came over to help. He gave me CPR while the ambulance was on its way.

    ‘Without him I wouldn’t be here. He saved my life.It was a brave thing to do and I’m really grateful to him.’

    Liam was kept alive for long enough for paramedics to arrive in time to shock his heart back into action.

    Despite ‘struggling’ to get his heart beating again, medics managed to save Liam’s life and rushed him to the hospital for emergency treatment.

    He was placed in an induced coma for three days and then cared for by specialist cardiac experts.

    Following his near-death experience, his heart was fitted with a mini-defibrillator in February, which will shock it back into rhythm if it slips into an irregular beat.

    He said: ‘I feel like I can live my life more independently now. I feel much safer.

    ‘It has given me the freedom to feel like I can go out and not be worried about what might happen.

    ‘I can go out with friends and am not confined to the house. I feel much happier.

    ‘It has given me a sense of security that I haven’t had before.’

    He plans to go back to the gym to thank the gym worker who saved his life – but has no intention of working out.

    Liam said: ‘I’m going to choose the safe option from now on. I’m just going to have to not work out anymore. It’s just too risky for me.

    ‘I don’t have any regrets about making the decision. I just don’t feel as though my heart would be strong enough to do it.

    ‘It’s not worth the risk.’

    MORE: Woman was called the ‘Elephant Girl’ but went on to win beauty pageants

    MORE: Woman in wheelchair is sick of strangers telling her she’s ‘too pretty to be disabled’

    MORE: 17-year-old’s allergic reactions leave her looking like she’s been beaten up

     


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    I figured there must be countless people out there going through the same thing and it might just help them to get through if they could see how someone else was dealing with it (Photo: Mark Fennell)

    Ever since I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2016, art has been a valuable coping mechanism for me.

    I’d always had a passion for painting, but it took being diagnosed with lymphoma to quit my job in advertising and change my life for the better by taking it up as my full time profession.

    My diagnosis had come as an absolute shock. I was fit, ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly and was told after my initial scan that it was just a cyst.

    I wanted to do something, rather than just sit around and mull over the devastating news, so I decided I was going to paint a set of three self-portraits.

    My diagnosis had come as an absolute shock. I was fit, ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly (Picture: Mark Fennell)

    I got to two and decided it was a bit grim and morbid so abandoned that idea.

    But, when I received the news in 2018 that I had a more aggressive form of lymphoma, which needed a gruelling 18-week course of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy, I returned to it.

    I wanted to create something positive from this difficult period in my life and thought the best way to do that would be by recording those 18 weeks and painting a self-portrait every week.

    I wanted to challenge myself and take my mind off the harsh chemo treatment. I also wanted to share them on social media to raise awareness of lymphoma.

    I figured there must be countless people out there going through the same thing and it might just help them to get through if they could see how someone else was dealing with it and keeping on top of it.

    I knew it would be hard, but it became far more challenging than I’d anticipated, especially as I became more fatigued as the treatment went on.

    It was most difficult on the first week of treatment cycles, when my blood cell count was low and I felt tired and queasy.

    The process gave me the determination and mental strength I needed to get through the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced (Picture: Mark Fennell)

    Some weeks I would have to draw or paint myself a week late because I didn’t feel well enough.

    On days when I had very little energy, I would do quick drawings in charcoal, pen or pencil. I found it hard to share work that I wasn’t happy with, but I didn’t have the strength to re-do them.

    Even though I would have preferred to share polished pieces, my aim with these self-portraits was to be as honest and direct as possible. I simply wanted to convey my feelings during the treatment, and a late or partially completed portrait only told the truth.

    I captured myself through the various stages of treatment – before I lost my hair, during and after losing my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

    Emotionally I was up and down, I felt very introspective and in a dark place at the start of each chemo cycle, which I suppose must be reflected in the pictures.

    But, as my cell count came back up on the third week, I felt stronger, more defiant and determined to beat this thing.

    And I think this is evident in my painting from chemo cycle two, week eight. I had enough energy to sit in front of a mirror and paint myself from life, striking a pose that showed I was ready to take on the lymphoma.

    Now, looking back at them, I find it hard to not critique them as an artist. I’m not happy with the quality of my work but they represent a lot more than that.

    They bring back memories of how awful I felt at times, but the process gave me the determination and mental strength I needed to get through the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced.

    Mark Fennell is an award-winning portrait painter based in Buckinghamshire and a member of the SAA 

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    Chemo cycle 3, week 8, oil on board-ebfeChemo cycle 3, week 8, oil on board-ebfe

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    What does it mean to be a strong woman?

    It is about more than physical strength and the capabilities of your body.

    Too often in advertising and on social media we are only presented with a singular image of what a ‘strong woman’ looks like – a certain size, race, age – but the reality is that any woman can find their strength, love their body and be physically fit – regardless of outward appearance.

    A huge study by Sport England found that 75% of women say fear of judgement puts them off being active. And 40% of women over the age of 16 aren’t meeting the recommended levels of weekly fitness.

    So it is more important than ever for women to reclaim the narrative and celebrate what makes them feel strong.

    This series aims to redefine what it means to be a strong woman. We will meet some of the inspirational women who are challenging accepted norms every single day.

    Ebony is going through the menopause. Her symptoms are wide-ranging and were initially debilitating.

    As one of the faces of Holland & Barrett’s Me.NoPause campaign, she now wants women to understand that menopause doesn’t have to define you.

    She has found that swimming and aqua aerobics helps alleviate her symptoms, allows her to feel more at ease with this transitional stage of life and reconnect with what is truly important.

    A selfie of Ebony
    EBony wants more women to talk openly about their menopause symptoms Picture: Pegasus)

    Tell us about going through the menopause – how has fitness helped you?

    I have learnt to take a holistic approach to fitness. I look after my physical body as well as my mind to avoid getting stressed and anxious.

    I have found that with menopause, anxiety can just come out of the blue, it is a key symptom.

    I think so many women don’t realise how much their mental health can be affected when it comes to the menopause. The anxiety is one thing, and the loneliness is another. Ageing is harder on women – particularly women who don’t have children.

    I was becoming stressed and anxious over silly little things which shouldn’t matter, or didn’t even concern me.

    I knew I had two choices; to do something active, or to drown these feelings with food. I knew that over-eating is a sure trap into other issues, so I tried to exercise where I could.

    With fitness I experience a balance in everything, both mental and physical. I am less stressed and much calmer. I don’t worry about my menopause symptoms anymore because it is just my body changing.

    When I take the time to exercise or be more active it gives me that time to myself, time to reconnect with myself as a woman – in my body, rather than spiraling thoughts in my mind.

    It also gives me that much needed time out from worrying. When I am at the pool I am not thinking about anything but my exercise. I did find that worrying aggravated the pain in my knees and hips – the way some people say that rain or damp does.

    What do you want women to understand about menopause?

    This is a time when we should shamelessly take care of our personal needs.

    We sweat a lot throughout the day, so our skin can become dry, and our bones could become brittle. We get aches and pains. We feel heavier. It’s important that women talk about these symptoms and are open about them.

    As soon as we are having that conversation we are removing stigma, and when women know what to expect – it takes aways a huge amount of the associated worry and anxiety. It happens to every woman.

    We should be happy because we are lucky to be alive at a time when we know that exercise is good for us. Also, lucky us, there are so many natural products to help us through it, so it’s great that we have all these tools at our disposal – it puts some of the power back in our hands.

    Make sure we get all the vitamins and minerals that our bodies require to keep healthy.

    We must acknowledge our mood swings and other symptoms, then find our own unique way of coping day-by-day because menopause passes. It is not forever!

    Why swimming? What do you love about it?

    When the menopause started to impact my life I found the best exercise for me was swimming and water aerobics. The water is ideal for supporting my body.

    It’s also very inclusive – anyone can do it. For water aerobics you don’t even need to be able to swim.

    It is practically effortless, plus you can’t sweat too much when you’re in the pool!

    It’s important that we all find out what is right for us.

    I am now in the habit of exercising on a regular basis and the benefits are tremendous. This is the happiest and fittest I have ever been.

    And it isn’t only swimming that has helped. Being active generally and pushing through the discomfort has actually been a huge help. Women going through the menopause should be as active as their bodies will allow.

    My knee joints were hurting so much it was difficult for me to walk, but I would notice that the more I walked the less pain I would feel.

    Now, as soon as I wake up, I stretch for a few minutes to loosen my muscles. I also do arm exercises with small weights for a few minutes. I shake my whole body, which I learnt do to from my Tia-Chi classes.

    I’m an avid user of stairs and always take them where possible. It doesn’t have to always be the big things. The little things help too.

    Me.No.Pause Campaign image
    (Picture: Holland & Barrett)

    Why do you see yourself as a strong woman?

    To be honest there are other words I use to describe myself. I am positive, motivated and determined. I am determined to keep exercising and to stay fit and healthy.

    The media are more familiar with calling women beautiful or attractive. The term ‘fit’ or ‘strong’ is usually reserved for athletes.

    This is why I loved being part of the Me.No.Pause campaign because it featured women who are all beautiful, sexy and strong in their own unique way. We all have different levels of fitness, strengths and health issues and these need to be portrayed in the media more.

    I strongly believe that women can be fit and healthy, proud of our bodies and celebrate by keeping physically and mentally healthy, no matter our body size.

    The word ‘strong’ has traditionally been assigned to men. I think women prefer strong-minded, determined, confident or motivated.

    Women may think the word ‘strong’ diminishes their sexuality, especially when the media portrays beauty through images on a scale of sexiness, not strength. The Me.No.Pause campaign demonstrates that women, at all points of their life, remain confident, beautiful, proud and strong.

    When I feel fit, especially after exercising, I feel energized, calm and happy. It’s a great feeling, like being on top of the world.

    Ebony was one of the faces of Holland & Barrett’s Me.No.Pause campaign, which aimed to support women naturally through the menopause.

    Strong Women is a weekly series that is published every Saturday at 10am. 

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I went from a fit, active runner to someone who couldn’t get off the sofa in pain’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘As a black woman in long distance running, we are a rare breed’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I am a survivor of things that are known to break other people’


    Strong Women: EbonyStrong Women: Ebony

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    Shoppers blast Fashion Nova
    (Picture: Fashion Nova)

    Fashion Nova has released an ‘In Disguise Lounge Set’, which is basically a pair of tracksuit bottoms and not even half a top.

    The American fashion retailer has been mocked online for releasing a jacket so small it doesn’t even cover the model’s boobs.

    Fashion Nova posted the set on Instagram, captioning it ‘Not Your Boyfriend’s Hoodie’.

    But we have to say, it doesn’t look much like the model’s hoodie either – given it’s barely there.

    The outfit is available in sky blue and features a ‘bolero’ top and pants.

    Shoppers blast Fashion Nova
    (Picture: Fashion Nova)

    It has contrast piping, a front zipper, drawstring detail and an elastic waist, and costs £38.40.

    Shoppers have been heavily mocking the look since it was posted online.

    One person wrote: ‘You might as well go topless.’

    Another said: ‘That’s the point of the top if u aren’t covering anything? Just go without it’.

    Other comments included: ‘She’s absolutely stunning but that “jacket” is ridiculous!’ and ‘This outfit don’t make any sense’ [sic].

    One user went with a very simple ‘That’s a no’.

    Yeah, people really aren’t fans of the new style.

    In other Fashion Nova news, the brand is doing something right – as people have fallen head over heels for its cheap wedding dresses.

    The Ancient Rome dress in white is a maxi length, floaty dress with a crochet top and open back.

    It’s lined and has a frayed hem.

    Brides are raving about Fashion Nova
    (Picture: Fashion Nova)

    The dress costs just £26.88, which is why it has made such an amazing impression with brides-to-be.

    It was posted to Instagram, where people tagged their friends telling them they absolutely needed the dress and that it would make the perfect wedding or maternity dress.

    And a few did actually buy the dress for their own wedding receptions, and claim it’s stunning in real life.

    Clearly Fashion Nova is better at wedding dresses than athleisure.

    Better luck next time.

    MORE: Fashion Nova is selling some rather bizarre cage trousers

    MORE: Fashion Nova is using the most liked egg on Instagram to promote new jeans


    Shoppers blast Fashion Nova?s cropped tracksuit top as pointless ? saying you ?might as well be topless?Shoppers blast Fashion Nova?s cropped tracksuit top as pointless ? saying you ?might as well be topless?

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    Kayleigh Peach, 26, from Birmingham had her face tattooed when she was 24, because she hoped it may make her unemployable as anything other than a tattoo artist See SWNS copy SWMDtattoo: A woman branded her face with the word 'cursed' to chase her dream of becoming a tattoo artist - after vowing never to have a normal job again. Kayleigh Peach, 26, spent four years working as a barista for Starbucks before ditching her coffee-serving career to do something more artistic. To mark the point of no return, Kayleigh, who is also a former lingerie model, had the word tattooed over her right eyebrow on the first day of her apprenticeship as a tattooist, three years ago.
    (Picture: Tristan Potter / SWNS.com)

    A woman has tattooed the word ‘cursed’ on her face to chase her dream of becoming a tattoo artist, vowing to never have a ‘normal’ job again.

    26-year-old Kayleigh Peach spent four years working as a barista at Starbucks before deciding to do something more artistic.

    To mark the point of no return, Kayleigh, who is also a former lingerie model, got the face tattoo over her right eyebrow on the first day of her apprenticeship as a tattoo artist, three years ago.

    For the past year she has worked at the Tattooed Gent parlour in Birmingham, as a junior artist and one day hopes to reach the top of her profession.

    Kayleigh Peach, 26, from Birmingham had her face tattooed when she was 24, because she hoped it may make her unemployable as anything other than a tattoo artist See SWNS copy SWMDtattoo: A woman branded her face with the word 'cursed' to chase her dream of becoming a tattoo artist - after vowing never to have a normal job again. Kayleigh Peach, 26, spent four years working as a barista for Starbucks before ditching her coffee-serving career to do something more artistic. To mark the point of no return, Kayleigh, who is also a former lingerie model, had the word tattooed over her right eyebrow on the first day of her apprenticeship as a tattooist, three years ago.
    (Picture: Tristan Potter / SWNS.com)

    Kayleigh, who has covered 60% of her body in tattoos, said: ‘I got the word ‘cursed’ tattooed on my face the first day I was apprenticed as a tattoo artist so I would persevere in the industry.

    ‘Previously I had worked in the hospitality industry and swore that I would never go back and I suppose with the tattoos I won’t be able to.

    ‘I thought the word cursed was appropriate because when I was younger I thought I literally was cursed. When I was little my nickname was ‘Mouse’ because I was so quiet and barely ever spoke.

    ‘Growing up I was quite fuggled [sic], at 18 I was so shy and timid, thinking I was cursed.

    ‘Having tattoos completely changed my whole perspective on life and they give me confidence.

    ‘It wasn’t my first tattoo but it definitely made a statement.

    ‘I think a lot of the attraction for people is to have meaningful things, it makes you feel good about yourself. It’s a form of self expression.

    ‘They can help people who, for example have scars, to cover them up.’

    Kayleigh Peach, 26, from Birmingham had her face tattooed when she was 24, because she hoped it may make her unemployable as anything other than a tattoo artist See SWNS copy SWMDtattoo: A woman branded her face with the word 'cursed' to chase her dream of becoming a tattoo artist - after vowing never to have a normal job again. Kayleigh Peach, 26, spent four years working as a barista for Starbucks before ditching her coffee-serving career to do something more artistic. To mark the point of no return, Kayleigh, who is also a former lingerie model, had the word tattooed over her right eyebrow on the first day of her apprenticeship as a tattooist, three years ago.
    (Picture: Tristan Potter / SWNS.com)

    Kayleigh says she’s had an interest in art since she was a little girl and has always had that ‘creative spirit’.

    She said: ‘Sometimes when you go out, it’s not so much what people say, it’s just that they look at you, they give you weird stares.

    ‘When my dad and step-mum got married they didn’t allow me to become a bridesmaid because of the tattoo on my chest, they are very accepting of it now though.

    ‘I’ve tattooed my dad since, he’s even tattooed ‘Dad’ on me.

    ‘Tattoos do seem to be popular nowadays with many people, I don’t just think it’s celebrities like David Beckham, I think it’s a great form of self expression.

    ‘It means they can express who they are as a person, each tattoo has memories attached. I’ve also had a rose tattooed on my left cheek [face], it symbolises things like romance and beauty.

    ‘So far it’s been a really enjoyable experience. I just want to progress.

    ‘Every day you are always learning new things, even years down the line. That is what I love about it, the challenge.’

    Kayleigh Peach, 26, from Birmingham had her face tattooed when she was 24, because she hoped it may make her unemployable as anything other than a tattoo artist See SWNS copy SWMDtattoo: A woman branded her face with the word 'cursed' to chase her dream of becoming a tattoo artist - after vowing never to have a normal job again. Kayleigh Peach, 26, spent four years working as a barista for Starbucks before ditching her coffee-serving career to do something more artistic. To mark the point of no return, Kayleigh, who is also a former lingerie model, had the word tattooed over her right eyebrow on the first day of her apprenticeship as a tattooist, three years ago.
    (Picture: Tristan Potter / SWNS.com)

    Kayleigh said: ‘I’ve done a bit of modelling before, I started when I was 19, including some boudoir stuff, lingerie.

    ‘I’ve appeared in magazines like Skin Deep and a few other online publications but I though I’d make a clean break when I started tattooing. I’d like to do a few more photo-shoots though, more creative stuff.

    ‘I’ve even given my partner, Jack Roberts, [day job logistics HS2] some tattoos, a couple of little ones, he does boxing and MMA [cage] fighting so I did a little pair of boxing gloves on his leg.’

    ‘Kayleigh’s really coming on now,’ said Carl Coyne, 32, owner of the shop.

    ‘She is eager to learn and really receptive to doing things better.’

    MORE: Woman was called the ‘Elephant Girl’ but went on to win beauty pageants

    MORE: Six best-selling beauty products on Amazon everyone is ordering now


    SEI_55985151SEI_55985151

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    Barbie 60th birthday
    (Picture: Lumen)

    The iconic doll that has inspired little girls and boys across the globe for decades has officially turned 60 years old.

    And you have to admit, Barbie has aged well – with her long legs, super-smooth skin and luscious locks.

    Granted, she’s a doll but what would Barbie have looked like if her creators Mattel had let her age gracefully?

    To showcase the doll in her real age and to counteract ageism, Lumen, the dating app for people over 50, has re-imagined Barbie and her beau, Ken (who is three years younger, at 57).

    No airbrushing was used and the shoot was done entirely with the use of natural lighting to show ‘the beauty of growing older’.

    Barbie 60th birthday
    (Picture: Lumen)
    Barbie 60th birthday
    (Picture: Lumen)

    And the pair look pretty great.

    Throughout the years, Mattel has come under fire for its lack of inclusivity and as a result of the backlash has begun to release new versions of the doll, including most recently, Barbie with a prosthetic leg and a wheel chair.

    Barbie, originally created as a white, blonde and ultra-slim doll, has also been redesigned in a wider range of skin tones, body types and heights to celebrate diversity.

    New Barbie in a wheelchair and with a prosthetic leg
    (Picture: Mattel)

    But Barbie’s age has remained the same.

    Until now.

    ‘As one of the world’s most famous women and in celebration of her 60th birthday, we created our own “real life” Barbie, to celebrate the beauty of growing older,’ said founder of Lumen, Charly Lester.

    ‘Many women say that in their 50s and 60s they’ve never felt more empowered in their own skin – and this should be reflected by influential icons like Barbie.’

    ‘We encourage the toy industry to consider making their products more pro-age – who says that everyone should be in their 20s to be a success?’

    Here are a few things you might not know about Barbie

    The doll was named after Barbara, who is the daughter of her original creator, Ruth Handler.

    She was first revealed at a toy fair in New York City, dressed in a black and white striped swimsuit.

    To this day, Barbie has enjoyed over 200 different careers such as being an astronaut, a robotics engineers, a journalist and a surgeon.

    If that’s not proof that you can switch careers at any age, we don’t know what is.

    Many celebrities have received their very own Barbie replica, but the first one was the famous model Twiggy. Fashion designers have also collaborated with the brand to create outfits for Barbie – but the first one was Oscar de la Renta.

    Source: Barbie Media/Deft Productions

    MORE: Mattel launches Barbie in a wheelchair and one with a prosthetic leg

    MORE: Barbie feet is the Instagram trend promising to give you legs for days

    MORE: Primark is opening its biggest ever shop in just six weeks’ time


    Barbie reimagined as her real age to celebrate 60th birthdayBarbie reimagined as her real age to celebrate 60th birthday

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    Mum shared post-baby photos of her body
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kristyn Dingman)

    A 27-year-old mother has shared images of her stretch marks and curves online to celebrate her post-baby body, despite trolls slamming her for ‘promoting an unhealthy lifestyle’ with her body positive pictures.

    Kristyn Dingman, from Arizona, took to social media to share her photos to fight back against the pressures placed on new mums.

    Standing in front of the camera in her underwear, she poses with the words ‘Empower women’ and ‘This is post-partum’ on her stomach.

    Other inspirational phrases include ‘the most offensive you can do to your body is wish parts of it away’.

    Kristyn said she’s always struggled with body confidence and as a teenager felt judged for her looks, but that everything changed after she became pregnant.

    She said: ‘Out of my group of friends, I was the biggest. As a teen, I worked in retail stores that were popular for young boys and girls, and I always felt as if I couldn’t wear most of the items I was selling.

    ‘I constantly compared myself to the people on TV or the women on magazine covers and wondered why I didn’t look like them or why I wasn’t as pretty as they were.

    ‘I was insecure and always felt like I was being judged by my looks. As long as I can remember, I was always stepping on a scale to see what the numbers read or compared my waist size to my friends.

    ‘Living in Arizona, it is hot here and being in shorts and a tank top is regular.

    ‘Even when it was 115 degrees outside, I was still wearing jeans to cover my body. I always had curves and thought they were something to be ashamed of.’

    Mum shared post-baby photos of her body
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kristyn Dingman)

    But everything changed when Kristyn and her husband Jeremy, 27, found out they were expecting a baby.

    She said: ‘I could physically see my body changing so much and convinced myself that postpartum depression was going to be my new reality. I had a completely opposite reaction to my postpartum body,

    ‘I have learned to love myself and the body that gave my son a home for nine months. I was more fascinated with my body’s capabilities than worrying about how I looked.

    ‘I saw my stretch marks as a symbol of strength and power. I saw all these changes as positive rather than negative.

    ‘Being called a mother is one of the most rewarding and honourable titles to obtain. Becoming a mother has changed my perception of my body by allowing me to focus on what’s most important.

    ‘I see my new body as a reflection of my journey into motherhood. It might sound cliché, but motherhood is hard work.

    ‘Nothing can prepare you for the role and I am able to see just how hard my body had to work to make one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.

    ‘On one end, there are women who hate their new mother bodies and on the other hand there are women who would do anything to have the experience.

    ‘I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience pregnancy and for that I see my body as a gift.’

    Kristyn was inspired to post her photos after seeing photoshopped images of other mothers.

    Mum shared post-baby photos of her body
    (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kristyn Dingman)

    Kristyn said: ‘I was tired of seeing these women post photos of their postpartum bodies being photoshopped.

    ‘I wanted to see real and raw mothers who were going through the same things I was going through.

    ‘I wanted to find others I could relate to because motherhood can be very lonely at times. So I decided to be my own support and in turn I could be another persons’ support.

    ‘I started to think that maybe there is an opportunity here for me to switch my mindset. I am unique because I don’t look like everyone else.

    ‘I don’t look like those girls on TV or magazine covers and that’s something to celebrate. These “flaws” that others may see are really unique characteristics about me and my beauty.

    ‘I celebrate the fact that I don’t look like everyone else.’

    Though Kristyn has had lots of support online, she’s also been trolled.

    She said: ‘There are those few that feel that I am encouraging an “unhealthy lifestyle”.

    ‘I have had people tell me that I will never truly be happy because of my body or tell me that I will not find love, even though my high school sweetheart loves every curve of my body.

    ‘It’s hard to hear these things at times because I am a human being with feelings and I can’t always ignore the messages.

    ‘But the love I get outweighs the negative and I am so grateful for the outpour of support I have on social media. They are the real reason I keep going and move forward.

    ‘To this day, I get messages from strangers about how I can lose the baby weight and get fit again. I have no desire to “lose the baby weight”.

    ‘I like the baby weight and the stretch marks my body has after pregnancy. They are a reflection of my experiences that I never want to go away.’

    ‘Stop standing in the mirror and asking yourself which part of your body you would alter first,’ she said.

    ‘The only things that needs to alter is societies [sic] standards of beauty.’

    ‘All of our bodies are good bodies and you are worthy of so much in this crazy world. Be proud of the body you have because you are enough and deserve to be loved for who you are and not what your jean size says.’

    MORE: Pregnancy test adverts hurt women by only showing positive results

    MORE: Mum spends £1,600 every month feeding her family


    Trolls told me my ‘mum tum’ stretch marks promote an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’ – but I refuse to hide themTrolls told me my ‘mum tum’ stretch marks promote an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’ – but I refuse to hide them

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    Toddler has $10,000 prosthetic leg stole
    (Picture: SWNS)

    A toddler whose £7,682 prosthetic leg was stolen will soon be walking again thanks to the support of his doctors and local community.

    Three-year-old Josiah Rainey has vacterl syndrome, a rare birth defect that caused him to be born without his left leg.

    He relies on a prosthetic – which is covered in Minions stickers – to get around, but it was stolen from his mother’s car while parked outside their home.

    When they heard of the theft, doctors at Shriners Hospitals for Children in St Louis, Illinois, where Josiah has been treated for two years, offered to donate a new limb to him.

    A GoFundMe campaign has also raised enough funds to get him a much-needed wheelchair.

    Josiah and his mum Brie Rainey
    (Picture: Brie Rainey / SWNS)

    ‘The theft was so upsetting,’ said his mother, Brie Rainey, 30.

    ‘He relies on the prosthetic for his independence and mobility and to take that away from somebody is just crappy.

    ‘We had an overwhelming response from the community and it is wonderful that such good has come out of this.’

    Brie, who runs her own health and wellness company, discovered the theft last Friday morning as she got into her car at the start of the school run.

    She had left the car unlocked the night before because her daughter Aaliyah, four, had fallen asleep in the back and Brie had to carry her inside.

    Josiah and his mum Brie Rainey
    (Picture: Brie Rainey / SWNS)

    Brie, originally from Belleville, Illinois, said: ‘I don’t usually leave the car unlocked.

    ‘The night before my daughter fell asleep in the car and I carried her inside. I forgot to go back for my stuff and lock the car.

    ‘When I opened the door in the morning, there was stuff scattered all over my seat and I quickly cleaned it up. At first I blamed my husband or my kids but then I couldn’t find my wallet.

    ‘I realised that Josiah’s backpack was gone and inside his backpack was his leg.

    ‘I was instantly devastated but I had zero time to process it.

    ‘I had to get the kids to school and I had to cancel my credit cards.’

    Josiah getting fitted for new prosthetic.
    (Picture: Brie Rainey / SWNS)

    Brie reported the theft to the police and asked family and friends to spread the word in the hopes that the thieves would hand the prosthetic in.

    Her parents Karen, 54, and Keith Stephens, 55, even searched for the prosthetic in dumpsters, but were unable to find it.

    Luckily Josiah, who has worn a prosthetic leg since he was one, was not distressed by the theft.

    Brie said: ‘He doesn’t understand what happened because he can’t speak because of developmental problems.

    ‘It’s a blessing that he doesn’t know what’s going on and he doesn’t have to stress about it. He wears the leg every day at school. It’s covered in Minions stickers because he loves them.

    ‘He got his first prosthetic when he turned one.

    We have been working with a physical therapist every week to help him walk. He loves to crawl and go as fast as possible and he loves walking in the park, climbing ladders and steps.

    ‘He was walking better than ever.’

    Josiah Rainey
    (Picture: Brie Rainey / SWNS)

    On Monday, doctors made a cast of his leg. They hope the limb will be ready in just one week; usually the process can take up to four months.

    Brie said: ‘They are actually rushing the process so he won’t go that long without a leg.’

    An acquaintance also set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for a wheelchair for Josiah after Brie’s insurance declined to cover it.

    The campaign raised $3,195.83 in just five days.

    Brie, who is married to store manager Craig, 30, said that Josiah has maintained his positive attitude throughout the ordeal.

    ‘He takes everything in his stride,’ she said. ‘He is so happy, regardless of what he has been through.

    ‘It hasn’t affected him at all.

    ‘As soon as he gets his new leg, he’ll be right back at it.’

    MORE: Pregnancy test adverts hurt women by only showing positive results

    MORE: Mum flaunts her post-baby body to fight trolls who say she’s promoting an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’


    STOLEN LEG - Toddler has $10,000 prosthetic leg stolen - and the community response will warm your heartSTOLEN LEG - Toddler has $10,000 prosthetic leg stolen - and the community response will warm your heart

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    (Picture: Cult Beauty)
    (Picture: Cult Beauty)

    As part of International Women’s Day, Cult Beauty launched a new range centred around female ‘sexual pleasure and wellness’.

    Named #vulvation, the campaign features art work that showcases vulvas in different shapes and skin tones, and has been created for the ‘clitorati’.

    The new product line includes ‘everything from pH-balanced cleansers to lubricants, pelvic floor trainers to sex tech by way of libido-enhancing ingestibles’.

    In addition, there will also be content to tackle stigma around issues concerning vaginas, sex and wellness.

    While we’re all for female empowerment in every area (including vulva-related issues), do bare in mind that your vagina is self-cleaning – and messing with its pH balance could have the opposite effect of what you’re after.

    Your vagina is a clever body part that looks after itself, so be cautious of what products you use on it and do not put any beauty or skin products inside of it. You don’t need to douche it and NHS also says to stay away from perfumed items.

    For advice on how best to clean your genital area, we’ve put together a handy guide for you.

    (Picture: Cult Beauty)
    (Picture: Cult Beauty)
    (Picture: Cult Beauty)
    (Picture: Cult Beauty)

    Cult Beauty has released the #vulvation campaign together with the Lady Garden Foundation, a charity that raises money for gynaecological cancers, which include ovarian, cervical, vaginal, vulval and womb cancers.

    ‘The last two years have been a time of great social upheaval and awakening,’ Cult Beauty’s co-founder, Alexia Inge said in a statement on the brand’s website.

    ‘Women are shedding the constrictive chrysalis of patriarchal diktats; they are starting to own their own sexual health and fulfilment and search for solutions and guidance that don’t come from the NHS, porn sites or sex shops.’

    However,we don’t recommend discounting these sources – but there’s also nothing wrong with exploring other avenues.

    Just treat your vagina with the respect it deserves.

    And as for the sexual pleasure? Go nuts.

    MORE: Photographer Laura Dodsworth shows what vulvas look like in 100 photographs of different women

    MORE: Once and for all: your vulva isn’t meant to look good

    MORE: How to clean your vulva and vagina after Nunu on The Sex Clinic is shamed for forgetting to wash hers


    Vulvation - Cult Beauty launch new line for IWDVulvation - Cult Beauty launch new line for IWD

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    Dominos Pizza
    (Picture: Jason Alden/Getty)

    Fancy a Domino’s this weekend? Well, you’ll be happy to know you can get £25 worth of pizza for less than £3 today and tomorrow.

    But, like all things amazing, there is a catch.

    To get the deal, you need to be a new member of Quidco, as it’s one of the cashback website’s offers.

    So, here’s how it works.

    All you have to do is sign up to Quidco, where you can find a £15 cashback code on Domino’s for new customers. Then get a further 25% off orders over £25, which with the £15 off is already just £10, taking a further £6.25, and your order down to £3.75.

    Oh, and there’s an extra cashback offer of 5%, which is a further £1.25 off, taking your order down to just £2.50.

    Yes, you can get £25 worth of pizza for £2.50.

    An employee cuts a pizza at a Domino's Pizza Inc. restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Domino's released earnings figures on February 20. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    (Picture: Getty)

    There’s also no maximum spend, so you could order even more and still get a total bargain out of it.

    So, if a cheap pizza is on your radar tonight, all you have to do is sign up to QuidCo, click the link that takes you to the Domino’s site and order as normal.

    When you get to the checkout you need to enter the code 25Spring to get the 25% off.

    Quidco will reimburse you the £15 within two weeks. The extra 5% discount is only available this weekend, while the rest is available after that.

    So, go forth people and get ordering.

    MORE: Women say they’re suffering from ‘keto crotch’ thanks to their diet, but experts say food may not be to blame

    MORE: Attention, people: The Creme Egg McFlurry is making a comeback for Easter

    MORE: For some horrifying reason, tomato sauce ice cream is now a thing


    SLICE UP YOUR LIFE How you can get ?25 of Domino?s pizza for under ?3 ? but only this weekendSLICE UP YOUR LIFE How you can get ?25 of Domino?s pizza for under ?3 ? but only this weekend

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    OH BABY! A couple have been branded ?morons? for their ?crazy? name for baby daughter
    (Pictures: Getty/Facebook)

    Baby names are hard to choose, and this one is interesting to say the least (but no judgement on our part).

    Parents go through baby books, name their children after loved ones or celebrities and struggle to find something unique enough that it won’t become a common name in a few years’ time.

    But we doubt Jessica Mavis will have that problem with the name she has given to her daughter, KVIIIlyn – which includes roman numerals.

    Just in case you aren’t sure which roman numerals are which, the name is pronounced ‘Kaitlyn’ – since VIII means eight.

    Jessica wrote into That’s Life magazine to explain why she chose the name.

    She said: ‘I’ve always loved the name Kaitlyn but hated how popular it was.

    ‘So when I found out I was having a girl, my husband suggested we replace the ‘ait’ with the Roman numberal symbol for eight!

    ‘Now our daughter is truly unique.’

    Facebook
    (Picture: Facebook)

    People have mocked the parents online, with some calling Jessica and her husband ‘morons’.

    A That’s Life reader shared a screenshot of the story to Facebook, and it has received more than 6,000 comments.

    One person called the name ‘weird’ and added that they reckon the child will ‘grow up to hate’ her parents.

    The barrage continued; another user said it was the ‘worst name’, while someone else wrote: ‘Poor kid, what will she do when she grows up and finds out her parents are morons.’

    ‘They are idiots and their child will be the one suffering with this until she’s old enough to change her name….huge parenting fail!,’ said another.

    Of course, it’s up to a parent what they name their baby and that should be respected – but is this name a little too unique?

    What do you think?

    MORE: I started the #MuteRKelly campaign because I wanted to give young black women a voice

    MORE: Mum flaunts her post-baby body to fight trolls who say she’s promoting an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’


    0 0

    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)

    Game of Thrones contains a lot of sex, so it’s only natural that the show should eventually inspire its own sex toy range.

    Ahead of its eighth and final season, due to launch in April, you can indulge in those fantasies of the King in the North and the Mother of Dragons (and ignore the fact they’re related) with a sexy session of your own.

    The first Game of Thrones sex toy was actually released in 2017, but now there’s an entire line inspired by not only long, strong swords but also dragons with a new dildo and an egg gag – in case you’ve been a naughty dragon.

    Hardcore fans will appreciate the limited-edition glow-in-the-dark dildo known as ‘The Night Kink’ – only 350 have been made of this particular toy.

    The product description for the Night Kink reads: ‘Settle in for the long night, because the Night Kink is here, and nothing can stop it. Sculpted in amazing detail, this glow-in-the-dark silicone dildo is hand-crafted to give you the ultimate fantasy experience.

    ‘The icy whites blended with the coolest of blues look exquisite during the day but come alive when the lights go out!’

    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)
    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)
    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)
    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)
    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)

     

    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)
    Game of Thrones sex toys
    (Picture: Geeky Sex Toys)

    Which character you choose to think about while you use the toys is completely up to you, however it’s worth noting that the Long Shaft replicates Jon Snow’s Valyrian steel sword.

    But if you’d rather slay and play with dragons, more power to you.

    Each product is signed by creators Geeky Sex Toys and range in price from £38.41 to £114.46.

    MORE: Cult Beauty launches a ‘wellness’ range that’s all about sexual pleasure and vulvas

    MORE: The most important thing you can do this IWD is make your girlfriend come

    MORE: Meet the woman who gets turned on by gushing nosebleeds


    IN PHOTO: Long Shaft Dildo What better way to celebrate the new series of Game of Thrones dropping next month than with a GOT sex toy. Website GeekySexToys.com has released it's next range of adult toys based around the hit HBO show and they are not for the faint hearted. Included in the range is an eye-watering Dragon Dildo, a Dragon Dildo Sword and a Dragon Egg Gag. There's also The Night Kink - a limited edition glow in the dark dildo. A description on the product reads; 'Settle in for the long night because the Night Kink is here, and nothing can stop it. Sculpted in amazing detail this glow in the dark silicone dildo is hand crafted to give you the ultimate fantasy experience. The icy whites blended with the coolest of blues look exquisite during the day but come alive when the lights go out!' 'With only 350 of these ever available it???ll be a short winter, so get in quick or you???ll miss out! Each Night Kink dildo comes with a certificate showing your unique product number and is hand signed by its creators.' The aptly named ???Game of Moans ??? Long Shaft??? replicates Jon Snow???s signature Valyrian steel sword in sex toy form. Geeky Sex Toys is offering the toys from a price range of $50-$149. When: 06 Mar 2019 Credit: Geeky Sex Toys/Cover Images **All usages and enquiries, please contact info@cover-images.com - +44 (0)20 3397 3000EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MATERIALS ONLY TO BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH EDITORIAL STORY. THE USE OF THESE MATERIALS FOR ADVERTISING, MARKETING OR ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL PURPOSE IS PROHIBITED. COVER IMAGES DOES NOT CLAIM ANY OWNERSHIP OF THE MATERIALS. MATERIAL COPYRIGHT REMAINS WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND/OR SUPPLIER.**IN PHOTO: Long Shaft Dildo What better way to celebrate the new series of Game of Thrones dropping next month than with a GOT sex toy. Website GeekySexToys.com has released it's next range of adult toys based around the hit HBO show and they are not for the faint hearted. Included in the range is an eye-watering Dragon Dildo, a Dragon Dildo Sword and a Dragon Egg Gag. There's also The Night Kink - a limited edition glow in the dark dildo. A description on the product reads; 'Settle in for the long night because the Night Kink is here, and nothing can stop it. Sculpted in amazing detail this glow in the dark silicone dildo is hand crafted to give you the ultimate fantasy experience. The icy whites blended with the coolest of blues look exquisite during the day but come alive when the lights go out!' 'With only 350 of these ever available it???ll be a short winter, so get in quick or you???ll miss out! Each Night Kink dildo comes with a certificate showing your unique product number and is hand signed by its creators.' The aptly named ???Game of Moans ??? Long Shaft??? replicates Jon Snow???s signature Valyrian steel sword in sex toy form. Geeky Sex Toys is offering the toys from a price range of $50-$149. When: 06 Mar 2019 Credit: Geeky Sex Toys/Cover Images **All usages and enquiries, please contact info@cover-images.com - +44 (0)20 3397 3000EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MATERIALS ONLY TO BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH EDITORIAL STORY. THE USE OF THESE MATERIALS FOR ADVERTISING, MARKETING OR ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL PURPOSE IS PROHIBITED. COVER IMAGES DOES NOT CLAIM ANY OWNERSHIP OF THE MATERIALS. MATERIAL COPYRIGHT REMAINS WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND/OR SUPPLIER.**

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