About FBG, the Tail and me…

Who is behind the Feisty Blue Gecko?

I am a Scottish woman, who has been living and working in Asia (as a humanitarian and development professional) since mid 2000. After 16 incredible years in Asia, the time has come to move continent, country, job and home and move to Africa with an interesting bundle of baggage.

I have lived and worked in Nepal, Mongolia, India, Sri Lanka and latterly spent seven years in Myanmar during times of phenomenal change.  There is a flavour of my “other life” here.

And what is behind the Feisty Blue Gecko Blog?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I had just taken up my new post in Myanmar in 2009 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2b/3a Breast Cancer.  This blog has aimed to describe my experience of a very common diagnosis in a very unusual setting, providing a unique perspective on a subject of importance and interest to women.

I discovered I had breast cancer on 2 October  2009, so I think I have contributed quite a bit to Breast Cancer Awareness.  I don’t advise this approach – there are easier ways.  This blog is one of the easier ways.

In the early days of diagnosis and treatment, writing this blog aimed particularly to help me process and deal with what happened and what continues to happen.  To share one experience of what is a very common disease.  To tell my story as it unfolds, in a way that helps me and keeps family and friends with insights to what goes on during and after treatment.

This blog has documented that record of the unexpected.  I had absolutely no idea where it was going when I started, and still can’t be entirely sure.  To this day, it still depends on many unknown factors, in particular, the “elephant in the room” – possibility of progression or recurrence.  Life changed at times  beyond recognition on my diagnosis and I found that I had a great deal to get off my chest.  Quite literally.  This has been the biggest and scariest challenge of my life.  Breast cancer is unknown in our family and when I was diagnosed I had not been close to anyone while they were undergoing any form of cancer treatment.   I know that much of this is revealing and personal, but I have been encouraged by the number of other blogs by women with breast cancer so I think I’m entitled to have a shout too!  We are all different and I know my perspective is also unique.

This part of the story started on September 23 2009 and these are the headlines, in mainly chronological order.

To the future!

While I remain in reasonably good health, the focus has enabled greater attention to life and work overseas. I am constantly inspired and amazed by my surroundings and never tire of observing and recording the rich, tiny details which surround me.

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to end, but learning to dance in the rain!”


28 thoughts on “About FBG, the Tail and me…

  1. Pingback: a change of direction « Feisty Blue Gecko – a tail of the unexpected

  2. I’ve just read several of your blog posts after learning about you through “Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.” I have added you to my Blog Roll and look forward to reading your upates.

    I am a colon/rectal cancer survivor (diagnosed in June 2008). My cancer journey included two rounds of chemo and 32 days of radiation and I’m lucky enough to now be in complete remission. As you have written, every persons cancer journey is different yet sharing our experience has the power to help and lift up so many other lives.

    I wish you strength and send my prayers for your complete healing.

    Much love,


    • Thanks so much Tamara – I really appreciate your comment. I am just heading out of connectivity for a while and will reply properly very soon.

      Thanks and take good care, warm wishes

    • Hi FBG, we are cancer researchers at Tufts University, studying nutrition in cancer patients and survivors. I came across your blog because of the common interest we share to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. Our research team is conducting a CARE survey to understand how we can provide the best nutrition support to cancer survivors. If you have 2 minutes, please post on your social media page about the CARE survey. The link to the survey is http://ow.ly/VZkWE. Thank you for contributing to this important research!
      Please also feel free to contact me directly at fang_fang.zhang@tufts.edu for questions.

  3. I am a colon/rectal cancer survivor (diagnosed in June 2008). My cancer journey included two rounds of chemo and 32 days of radiation and I’m lucky enough to now be in complete remission. As you have written, every persons cancer journey is different yet sharing our experience has the power to help and lift up so many other lives.

  4. I am a colon/rectal cancer survivor (diagnosed in June 2008). My cancer journey included two rounds of chemo and 32 days of radiation and I’m lucky enough to now be in complete remission. As you have written, every persons cancer journey is different yet sharing our experience has the power to help and lift up so many other lives.+1

  5. Good morning,
    I’m really happy to get connected with you and your journey. I was diagnosed with a locally advanced breast cancer in l998, and am in the blog world writing about women with cancer – breast and others.

    Wishing you all good things,

    • Me too Jody – thanks for your comment and it’s great to connect. I have added your link to my blogroll.
      All good things to you too, warm wishes, P

  6. Looking forward to catching up on your blog and journey. So far so lovely 🙂 so nice to “meet” you and am grateful for the shared inspirations. Thank you for inviting us into your experiences and thoughts.

  7. Dear Philipa,

    My name is Michael Foti and I am the Director of Business Development and Syndication for Empowered Doctor. Our company, Empowered Doctor, focuses on the latest healthcare news. Currently, we are news affiliates of The Chicago Tribune, Arizona Central, and CBSNewYork, supplying their website’s health sections with the latest advances against cancer. Over the course of our extensive research on the topic of breast cancer, we came across your blog and I found it to have a plethora of great information and I believe it would be very appealing to our readers. We’ve recently launched a program to identify and publcizie someof the top breast cancer-related blogs on the web. As such, I’d like to congratulate you as your blog has been selected as one of Empowered Doctor’s Top Breast Cancer Blogs. I’ve included the code below which will allow you to copy and paste it into your site in order to display your award badge. Again, I’d like to congratulate you on your selection, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Additionally, be sure to visit both CBSNewYork.com/health (on the right hand side under advances against cancer) and ChicagoTribune.com/health (and then click the cancer central tab) to see the continuous work we do for the fight against cancer.

    One of the perks of being selected an Empowered Doctor Top Blog is being featured on a dedicated page on our website, as well as being profiled in upcoming articles. We would greatly appreciate you displaying your award badge, as many of our other nominees have. A few examples are: http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/ , http://journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com/ , and http://bethlgainer.blogspot.com/ .

    Here is the code to display the award badge (simply copy and paste):

    Again, congratulations on your selection and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Michael Foti

  8. Pingback: Meal Packaging: Mohinga? | simplify sustainability

    • Hi Tony – I just wanted to thank you for these comments and for your kindly words and support. I am so sorry I did not reply at the time you wrote – it was during some difficult days dealing with loss and grief and I did not pick up on your words. Thank you and I do apologise. Phllippa

      • Hi Phillipa,
        Thanks for taking the time to reply, especially as it’s been a difficult time from what you say.
        I still think that FiestyBlueGecko is one of the best blog titles I’ve ever come across & the blog lives up to it too.
        I wish you all the best

  9. Namaste Philippa. You know, I have a touch of vertigo too. My stomach goes crazy just looking at things or thinking about them. I have walked down the Eifel Tower in the days when I could. I wouldn’t like to try it now because my stomach would screw up. I am Anthony and I live in Kathmandu. I’m from Bournemouth in the UK. Best wishes for a complete recovery Philippa. Anthony (just noticed that you’ve already had 96 visitors from Nepal. Wow)

    • Namaste hungry dai! Thank you so much for your comment, and it is good to connect with another Kathmanduite! How long have you been there? I lived in Ktm from 2000 to the end of 2005 and have enormously fond memories. I met my hubby there so you never know, we could be cousins!

      Thanks for your kind words about my health – I am wel looked after and doing my best to keep on keeping on 🙂

  10. Pingback: The Butterfly Light Award | The Asymmetry of Matter

  11. Hi Philippa! My name is Cameron Von St. James and I had a quick question for you! I was wondering if you could email me at your earliest convenience at cvonstjames AT gmail DOT com 🙂 I greatly appreciate your time!!

  12. Hi Philippa, so lovely to meet you here! I have read your about me and I am so inspired. I lost a good friend to cancer and I have a few friends and family who are now in complete remission. Where in Scotland are you from? I lived in Aberdeen with my family for 4 years before we moved to Australia, but I missed Scotland so, so much, I went back alone and lived in Edinburgh for another 12 years! It was there where I met my Spanish husband! Scotland will always have a place in my heart! Looking forward to following your blog! Farianti xx

    • It is lovely to connect with you, and thank you so much for your comment 🙂 I lived most of my childhood in a beautiful part – Perthshire, in spectacularly beautiful surroundings. Then I spent a couple of decades in the more central belt (Glasgow and West Lothian) before moving here, so I have connections around the country.

      I have been delighted to find your blog and love hearing of your updates. 🙂 P x

  13. Hello,

    My name is Amanda Roberts and I am the author of the blog Two Americans in China. I found your blog and contact information through Expats Blog. I am the author of Crazy Dumplings, a fun food fusion cookbook that was funded throughKickstarter. My dream, though, is to write a cookbook written specifically for expats about how to cook foods and dishes from their home country in their new adopted country using ingredients that can be found locally. However, my only experiences cooking abroad are in China, so I thought it would be a good idea to get information from the worldwide expat audience. I would love to hear about your experiences cooking abroad. Please click the following link to take my survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3DKT52R (Works best if using Google Chrome.) I will include a link to the blog of everyone who responds and helps me out in the book.

    Thank you so much for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Thank you for your comment, Amanda, and it is good to connect 🙂 I love the sound of your book, there is so much to say about refining cooking according to a new context and how creative that can be. I have filled in your survey and look forward to hearing how the book progresses 🙂 Warm wishes from Yangon

  14. Hi

    My name is Joyce, I am a marketing executive at expatfinder.com which is a leading expat information and services website.

    I saw on your blog that you are and expat. I wish to interview you to further share some of your tips. The questions are mainly about the housing, the daily life etc.

    It just takes 5 minutes (or more depending if you have lots to say 🙂

    Of course, if you accept we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.

    If you are interested to participate at this project, please send me an email at interview@expatfinder.com.

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