Perfectly Frank: Mountains to climb

Mandie Stevenson with friend Dani and pugs Frank and Rudi at the summit of Ben Lomond
Mandie Stevenson with friend Dani and pugs Frank and Rudi at the summit of Ben Lomond

It’s been a pretty quiet and chilled October for me which my body has benefited greatly from.

I had another hospital check up. My organs are stable once again, which is excellent news, and I am consumed with sheer happiness being able to deliver this news to my family and friends.

The one small downside which I am trying not to focus on too much is the tumour on my sternum bone is slightly larger.

We will possibly need to change my treatment next year. But for now I will enjoy the remainder of the year doing the things I love.

I have recently discovered a new hobby – Munro bagging. I have decided to try and climb several different Munros across Scotland.

The first challenge undertaken was Ben Lomond with one of my best friends, Dani.

After four and a half hours, we reached the summit where we enjoyed breathtaking views before descending again.

And, of course, we had our pugs with us, Frank and Rudi.

I wondered how Frank would cope with the journey. However, between the fun he had running around with his pal Rudi, the attention from all the other hillwalkers and the sniffs he had along the way he was one very happy pug.

Our two mountain pugs literally slept for days afterwards. I think what I enjoy the most about hill climbing is feeling free – a few hours without any technology controlling my life – but my favourite part was spending good quality time chatting to my friend.

Dani and I met at high school and drifted our separate ways after school, which quite often happens in life between friends for no real reason.

Shortly after my cancer diagnosis, Dani reached out to me and, before we knew it, we were back being as close friends as ever like we had spent no time apart.

I always tell Dani that she is the angel that flew back into my life and I truly believe that she is one of the silver linings in my diagnosis.

It’s great when you have good people in your life to bring out the best in you.

I can’t wait to do more next year in the better weather and I will hopefully rope my brother into coming along too.

Last week, I had my first ever music lesson. I was really quite nervous about this as learning to play an instrument does not come naturally to me.

I had added learning the ukelele to my bucket list and a friend kindly surprised me with lessons for my birthday.

Deep down she knew I would never organise the lessons myself and, being a true friend, she is keen to see me complete my bucket list.

My ukelele is very special to me as I purchased it when in Dublin with friends in August 2016.

My ambition is to learn to play my favourite song Run by Snow Patrol. I belt it out often enough in the shower so I will not have any issues with the lyrics!

My teacher has asked me to choose ten songs which he will teach me to play. I did laugh inwardly thinking I will be taking lessons for years if I have to learn ten songs but I hope to prove myself wrong.

And it’s been far too long since my last trip. I am in the process of booking a visit to Belfast with friends for January 2018.

It’s best to start the year as we all mean to go on!