Jigsaws – a new addition

Something lovely happened in our world two weeks ago, and I have been dying to say it out loud ever since.

My sister had a baby!

It has been like a huge secret that I have been bursting to share, and I can feel a ridiculous grin spread across my face as I type because it really is the best thing that has happened to our family in quite sometime.  Nowadays the prevalence of social media means that you have to be careful when getting excited about someone else’s news, and of course it has not been my news to ‘tell’ really so I have kept quiet (well as quiet as is possible for me).

When I first read Lisa Lynch’s blog Alright Tit.com there was a point where she found out that she was to be an auntie to her brother’s baby entitled Auntie Gobby.  This little moment of happiness, of hope, she fixated on and she clung to with everything that she had.  I now understand all of her feelings, because all of a sudden we have something positive to focus on – something that matters so much more than any of the small things.  My mum is a proud granny, my sister and I are humming with excitement, the children are excited to teach the new addition to the family all of their naughty ways.  For months the children have tried to guess whether it would be a boy or a girl, Noah wanting it to be a boy as we are girl heavy on our side of the family.  Isla willing it to be a girl, and choosing a very traditional name Emily, which I knew my sister and her husband would never opt for.  We went to great lengths to explain to them that it did not matter whether it was a boy or a girl because the most important thing was that the baby was healthy, this of course fell on deaf ears, because the boy wanted ‘team boy’ and the girl ‘team girl’ in the most obvious child like way.

Well she is a girl, and a very perfect one at that.  She has dark hair like my sister’s girls but lighter skin like Noah.  She has a look of my niece when she was a baby, but at the same time she has a look of her very own.

It is difficult for me to explain my feelings about my new niece other than to say that there are certain times in your life that fit together like a jigsaw.  Ashani Lye is one of the missing pieces of my jigsaw, I haven’t even met her yet (which is hurting my heart) but she has fit right in just where she belongs.  She is a miracle baby in more ways than one, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to be very special indeed.

Isn’t life funny? one minute you are rushing around, never quite taking stock of the important things, and the next minute something so wonderful happens that forces you to stop and realise that the privilege of life is a wonderful thing.  I suppose that is just the way it is, and I more than anyone should know that.  A lot of the time my jigsaw is at the confusing strewn all over the floor stage and some of the time I stare around at it and think ‘where the hell do I even begin?’. Sometimes though, just sometimes, everything seems to fit into place.

The new addition to the family has brought things into sharp focus for me.  A few years ago when we were considering the possibilities of IVF treatment before my chemotherapy began, I had a very different view.  We had decided not to have anymore children.  We had concluded that we were more than satisfied with our ‘lot’ in life.  We had two healthy children and as we sat in the consultation room we decided that we would leave things up to nature from now on.  We were well aware of the side effects of chemotherapy, and yet do you know what?  It was still an incredibly difficult pill to swallow for me personally (you would have to ask my husband how he felt about it all).  Even though we knew we were lucky, and even though we decided to put my health first – the reality of someone telling you that you will not be having anymore children and the decision being taken out of your hands is as unfair as life gets I think.  So much so, that when good friends of ours announced they were expecting again I burst into tears, completely irrationally of course because I was so happy for them, but I felt selfishly sad for something that maybe could have been.  Having said all this I am left with more than my hands full, and in reality a third child would have left us squarely outnumbered I am sure.

The past few weeks both myself and my sister have worried so much for our younger sibling as we know only too well that being a mum is hard.  On the day(s) she was in labour I had a fleeting conversation with my cousin, stating out loud that I wished I could have gone through it for her.  Of course I couldn’t, but the want to protect someone you care about from going through unimaginable pain is a real one.  Everyday we are dying to ‘help’ or impart knowledge from our own experiences, but she doesn’t really need that, all she really needs is sleep… and perhaps a hot shower.

And so I will continue to grin at my little darling niece.  The baby who makes me smile a ridiculous grin each time I see her.  The baby who cheers my whole day up in her little combat onesie, and the day dreaming thoughts of finally having my cuddles with her.  She makes me forget about things that have been, and look towards the nicer things to come.

A little reminder that life goes on, one of the final pieces of my jigsaw for sure.

 

To Jay and Paul, thank you for making us all smile (and sorry in advance for anything her cousins teach her in the future)

Source Art: Yolande Sanchez and Disney image from Pinterest, Alexazdesign Etsy.

 

This Time Around

image

This one was never going to be easy to write. I nearly didn’t write it actually, and then I thought that there might just be another person going through the same things – the same worries and fears and that fact, after all, is the very reason to share it.

As I have said before, the diagnosis and the surgery and the treatment is not the end.  Not by a long chalk.  You also have to live with the after effects of cancer, and that is no easy thing to do.  Some months ago I decided, after much procrastination that I would ask for my implant (on the mastectomy side) to be changed.  This could have all been done last year of course, but I was not in the right place to have it done at that stage.  After a year of living with the side effects of the drugs, the lack of energy from the chemo and the hormonal ‘ups and downs’ I decided to bite the bullet and ask my specialist what she thought?  She agreed. Shit.

And so I found myself back again. Back in the same ward, in the same hospital, waiting to hear again where I was on the list of those going in to surgery.  I sat with my husband on the same couch, watching the same fish swim up and down, watching me right back (I have a history with fish watching me at all important points of my life, just ask my best friend about my first labour and my irrational hatred of my pet fish lining up to stare at me – mid contraction).  Anyway I digress, these kind of thoughts tend to happen while wondering what is to become of you – just before you go into surgery.  My husband commented that it felt odd to be back, and I agreed.  Ever thankful that he was sitting there at all.

This time there were a few things the same – and a few things different.

This time I was not crippled by the fear of the unexpected, and I was able to notice more of the things around me.  The young girl sitting with her mum worried sick for her, the hospital tag said she was born in 1995.  The older lady with the trendy hair and pretty tattoo running down the back of her neck. The young couple sitting cuddled together with fear in their eyes.  The cheery nurses at the start of no doubt a very long shift.

I was called in first again, which was lucky for me.  The anaesthetist made me smile by not believing that I looked my age – I can tell you that I very much feel it after two children and all of this, but I took the compliment and shall brag about it for the next few years wherever I can.  Although the nerves kicked in, I chose to remember the words of another mum who once told me, that anaesthetic is just like a lovely long sleep (any sleep deprived mum will take this as a huge positive no doubt).

Soon enough I woke up after surgery and after sometime I realised that I had not even said ‘hello’ to the lady in the bed next to mine.  Usually I would avoid such things as I prefer to keep myself to myself, but I thought it was only polite.  I was glad that I had been friendly because we went on to have a nice little chat about our consultant, and how lucky we both felt we were to have her.  This is the lady who has watched over me from the beginning.  She is fiercely efficient and professional, but more than that she is kind.  She always looks you straight in the eye, always cheery and smiling, always warming her hands when she examines you.  You can tell that she cares, in all the small things that she does, and it means a great deal.  We both agreed as her patients that she just ‘gets it’ and that is a priceless quality in my eyes.

We also went on to speak about the books that we both liked to read which was nice, and we even swapped some of our favourites. We both found out we were being kept in overnight at the same time, and so she reminded her husband to bring in her Kindle and I sat with my big old fashioned clunky book.

The children also came in to visit me which was lovely.  They looked nervous and upset, and so I pointed out the electric bed at which they delighted in moving me up and down on – until I had to declare that I was too motion sick to take anymore.  I had saved them each a chocolate biscuit, and let them climb up onto the bed for a cuddle on my good side.  The boy lay next to me and asked detailed questions about my cannula.  The girl took her turn, and stated firmly that she did not want me to stay in overnight. I tried my very best to distract them with talk of the weekend and suggestions that we play ‘doctors and nurses’ when I returned home, but it was to no avail.

There was one other thing that the children’s visit helped me with (it answered a very important question that I had been mulling around in my head for a while).  You see, I had to come off Tamoxifen (a hormone blocking drug) two weeks before the operation, and I worried silently if I would ever want to go back on it again? To face the reality of its side effects for many more years. That was until I realised something very important.  This drug is giving me more time.

Time to be with my children.

My son’s angst as he snuggled into me and told me of his day was almost palpable. My daughter was weeping (tired tears) as she left the ward without me to put her to bed that night.  In fact, her tears in the playground as she tells me she misses me each day, are starting to truly tell me their side of this story now.  When wondering whether to continue to take Tamoxifen again, the answer to the dilemma is simple.  I am a mum, their mum, and as long as I am fortunate enough to be given a drug to keep me here then I will bloody take it, every single day.  If it means that I get to be here when they need me to be & for as long as it is possible, then so be it.

The truth is that the guilt of asking for the operation has weighed heavy on my shoulders, but I made the decision based on my own reasons – albeit quite selfish ones.  The decision to keep taking my medication is a very personal one too.

This time around a few things are the same, and a few things are different.  I am very different.

This time around I will be going home to play doctors and nurses with my little people, and I can’t bloody wait.

Winnie The Pooh - If There is Ever

Memory: 3rd February 2017 6am – When asked what they wanted to be when they grow up Noah exclaimed that he wanted to be a footballer, Isla a doctor.  

This will change many times over the years I am sure, but just so you know my lovelies.  It doesn’t matter what you choose to become, as long as you are happy.  That is all that really matters.

[Most of this post was written under the influence of some fairly strong painkillers]

Both Sides Now

img_5130

There is a moment in a famous film that makes me cry.  Every time.  A moment when Emma Thompson’s character realises that her husband’s gift is a Joni Mitchel C.D.  All at once life seems so unfair, and the tears fall as the realisation sets in all around her.  And then she takes a big deep breath, so as not to show that her heart has been broken, and she ushers everyone out to the school concert.

Life goes on, whether you want it to or not.

It has been a rocky start to the year for me, the end of last year beckoned new beginnings and the chance to close the metaphorical book on things that needed to remain in the past .  And yet something happened that I think will change the way I look at things forever more.  A friend of mine passed away – the angels took her, far too soon.  She passed away as a result of breast cancer and it really hit me.  All at once the change of year seemed unwanted, as if time was moving on for those who did not wish it to.

Grief is a strange thing, a private thing.  How do you even begin to be a friend to those you care for who have lost someone so dear?

One thing that I have learned is that you don’t do is to rush them.  To speak, to do, to even grieve.  As a friend, the thing that you want to do the most is to comfort, to ‘help’, but it turns out that the best thing that you can do sometimes, is to do nothing at all.  That is not to say that you can’t show that you care.  Standing beside someone in tough times, in silence is sometimes the only thing needed.

I had always thought that I had the qualities of a good friend, and I have to a certain point, but I have learned a few things of late that have made me take a good look at myself, as a friend and a mother.  It is ok to show kindness, when it is needed.  It is ok to be around, but at the right time.  It is ok to show that you care.  The question is, when the right time is I suppose.  I have made a few mistakes in this regard which I intend to learn from, in the hope that this will make me a better person going forward.

img_4886

And so the children have begun their school term again, somewhat begrudgingly after the lovely times we spent together over Christmas.  I have noticed changes in them both.

The boy has grown taller and wider.  New clothes are needed and he has started to notice brands, and ask for certain trainers.  He is too big now to share a bath with his sister, and he regularly asks to stay up later – wearing this like a badge of honour.  Older children get to go to bed later or so he says.

His sister on the other hand, is on a rollercoaster ride of growing up.  She too has grown, but she needs her sleep to grow, and tiredness remains a daily battle for us both.  I am struggling as a mum to get her to eat, I have noticed that her appetite wanes in line with her tiredness.  I have become almost desperate to ensure she eats and remains happy, doing things that I always vowed as a mum I would never do (making special themed packed lunches) going in to school where I can, or even inviting friends for tea.  It seems to have worked for now, there have been three whole days of no tears.

And as for me, well I continue to plod along.  One day at a time, with plenty of laughter and music along the way.  I have truly looked at things from both sides now.  I have seen the beginning and the end of this cruel disease.  I have realised that moments and memories are to be treasured and learned from – that is all we can do in the end, is to try our very best.  And so I will keep on trying.

Sometimes, just when you think that you have life all figured out, you realise that you really don’t know life at all.  I know that I certainly do not..

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
 
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
 
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
 
Moons and Junes and ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
 
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
 
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
 
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
 
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
 
But now old friends they’re acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.
 
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
 
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
img_5129
Songwriter: Joni Mitchell
Art: Olivia Pendergast

One Last Smile – the day they brought you home

I have written a poem for a friend of mine, who lost her battle with breast cancer, and well because when all is said and done, home is the most important place to be.

image

One Last Smile

It was nearly Christmas time, on the day they brought you home.

They wanted you to stay, of course, but you would not hear them say.  There was somewhere more important that you had to be that day.

Away from wires, and tubes, and the oxygen, you came.  For there was somewhere very special that you had to be again.

Through the hills, past streets and houses, you drove on by to be.  Round bends and winding corners, until only you could see.

A very special place, the only place, it seemed.  That you could finally be you, and you could finally be free.

For it was family & friends for you, that proved the greatest treasures of all.  A Yorkshire girl through and through – it made you stand up, and feel tall.

Just down that cobbled hill, and in through the front door you roamed.  Everyone was waiting, on that day they brought you home.

The fire lit, the laughter rang, and the dog barked happily.  Your husband hugged you tight, your children beamed, as they held to their mummy.  For you had returned on that day, through the cold and wintery streets.  You had come home again, to settle at your seat.

Your sister and your mum held so tightly to your hand, that they dare not let it go.  And so, you whispered in their ears, for you had wished that it would snow.

All of your favourite people, in one room, just for you.  Your best friends looked on to watch, they did not want to let you to go.

Your darling twins and nephew brought you hugs and kisses too.  And you stopped to pause, just once for breath, as you smiled at them anew.

This was, for you at least, the most perfect place to be.  Right back where you belonged, at home, with family.

As the wine began to flow and the dancing did commence, the happiness within your heart could scarcely take it all in.

You hugged those dear to you, and laughed, and joked, as the tears filled up your eyes.  How lucky you felt to be, and proud, to have this precious prize.

In amongst the singing you stopped, and paused, once more.  To catch your breath, and take it in, on that day they brought you home.

For out of the small window, just beyond the light, you noticed a small snow flake, it was just within your sight.  And as you went to touch it, you knew your time had come, to gently let go, of the kind arms of your mum.

It was a wish so softly spoken that no one else would see you hear.  Not even those who held your hand, the ones you held most dear.

And so you slipped on your coat quietly, for it was time for you to leave.

You did not wish to say goodbye, as you caught their eyes, and then.  One last look, one last smile, one last touch. You did not dare look back again.

image

For it was snowing gently as you left, and all your wishes had come true.  From down the cobbled hill you could hear the angels calling you.

The coldness of the Yorkshire air gently beckoning you in.  As you wandered through the snow once more, past the stables, just like The Inn.

You had done what you set out to do, you had made it home again.  On Christmas Day far far away, from anywhere but them.

As the snow flakes began to settle, on the cobbles and the stone.

Your heart, it swelled, your head held high,

on that day they brought you home.

image

For Wendy – I am glad you made it home again, all my love.

 

 

 

The Jumblings of Life – a shepherd and a reindeer

image

It has been a little while since I have written anything down, my thoughts and fears – our day to day carry on.  It seems that the jumblings of life have picked me up and swept me along as if there is not much time to stop and take a breath.  But stop I must, because next week almost to the day is the school Nativity.

This time two years ago I made a promise to myself not to take any of the things that I had in life for granted – ever again.

I remember it as though it were yesterday, the determination that I found deep within me to make my little boy’s first play at all costs.  I remember it because I refused to keep the all important appointment, the one where I knew that the almost unthinkable would become true.  The one where I knew that those dreaded words would be spoken – you have cancer.  As I have said before I did not need the confirmation at that time, I already knew, and so I refused to listen on that day and instead I made room for something much more important.  Far more important.

There was something about making that play… Perhaps I needed to go… Perhaps I did not want to miss the memory… Perhaps my boy needed to catch my eye in the crowd… Perhaps he needed the thumbs up as much as I needed to give it?  I remember it clear as crystal, and that is quite something given that my memory is fading.  I remember the children singing the all too familiar songs, the nerves on my boy’s face, the tears welling up in my eyes.  Tears of happiness though, not sadness.  Tears of gratitude, that I had made it.  Tears of pride.

Since then a lot has happened.  An awful lot.

I am still no good at being the organised mum.  We still rush around in the mornings at one hundred miles an hour, except now my little girl has started school as well, and so there is double of everything that I do not seem to be able to manage.  There are something’s that will never change.

The hardest part that I have found of late, is coping with the second school term and my daughter’s seemingly endless tears of tiredness.  She is exhausted, I am exhausted, and this does not make for a calm day to day carry on.  I still forget important school things, money for the tombola, hats, gloves, drinks and the all important afterschool snack.

Something’s will never change, maybe I will never change.

There are a few things that have changed though, and for the better I would like to think.  I make more time to visit friends when it has been a while.  I say yes more often than not to the weekends away for some ‘me’ time (although these are laden with guilt).  I frequently drop everything and collapse in a heap on the sofa to watch a movie with the children, or I say yes to treating them both to a hot chocolate and over-priced cake at our local Costa coffee.  More than anything I have noticed a shift in myself.  An empathy (if that is the right word to use) towards those who have been through similar things to myself.  A good friend recently told me that he and his wife had lost a dear friend to breast cancer, and he paused as he told me, as if unsure as to whether he would be hurting my feelings.  He went on to explain that their loss had made them think of me, and what I had been through.  It did not hurt my feelings at all because I understood their loss and the emotion and anguish that they must have been feeling.  As time goes by I am feeling less raw and more hardened towards those difficult discussions.  If anything, I had a sense of pride that he felt that he could confide in me, because cancer is a lonely place – not just for those going through it, but for friends and family too.

Sometimes I do  get angry at myself for letting the jumblings of life sweep me along.  For taking for granted some of the little things like health, and love and happiness.  I suppose though, if I have the presence of mind to put the breaks on and just stop, just for a moment, then that might just be enough.

This year I do not need to remind my husband to take some time off to go to the Nativity.  He has already done it, he is already there, because the importance is tangible to us as a family.  This year we have a shepherd making her school play debut and reindeer with a very important line to say.  This year advent calendars are once again counting down, the tree is yet to go up and there are lists and lists of things to just ‘get on and do’.

I have decided that I will not be remembering the exact day that those words were spoken to me, as I know many others do.  I am going to enjoy the fact that my memory seems to be erasing some of the finer details of that day from my mind.

Instead, I will be trying to catch the gaze of my children from within the crowd as they seek it out.  As soon as I do, my face will light up and my heart will swell as I signal the all important thumbs up to them both where I can.  Children, it seems are better than medicine – it turns out that they are the best thing of all*.

image

 

* Even though they drive me to distraction most days.

Repaying a kindness – always remember

image

I am not sure what you call it, but I will try to explain regardless.

The most simple words I can find are, well, working class. Do we still cling to the class system?  Are we still defined by our parent’s social status?  Possibly or possibly not so much nowadays.  And yet on an evening when I have fielded questions about who is Grandma’s mummy, and who was her mummy? and eventually who will be my own children’s children’s grandma, and once answered – the then inevitable, but what if you die mummy?

I find myself back in the thought process of what I would like my children to know – you know what if.  So I shall address the rest of my message to the only people who really count… my Noah … my Isla…

Well my loves therein lies another lesson for you and I will try to explain the best way I know how.  You must always, always, pay back a kindness that is shown to you.  Always.

There is no doubt that your daddy & I have some of the qualities of the working class.

Honesty, integrity, hard working and kind.  You probably won’t fully understand what I am telling you until you are much older, perhaps with families of your own and even then, who you will become and how hard you work will just be a part of you – it will be in your heart & soul.

This time last year I was recovering from treatment, a treatment that I received for free on the NHS.  All of the appointments, the surgery, the therapy, the drugs and treatment, all of it for free.  Had I been on a private healthcare plan I would have seen each part of my care broken down pound for pound, and yet I received the same level of care regardless.  And to say I am grateful is an understatement, however, sometimes to be grateful is not enough.

When you have been brought up with good values, sound values, you understand the ideology that when a kindness is done to you, you return that kindness – many times over where ever you can.

So tomorrow on the 9th October your daddy will be running the York Marathon.  He’s not a runner – he has trained, sure, but the reason he is running at all is because of me.  You see, I am the love of his life.  Now we don’t go in for soppiness, your dad and I.  We have never even spoken about it – and yet I know that he feels the same way that I do.  We share the same values in life.

You must always repay a kindness.

So tomorrow is the big day.  The day Gareth Matthews will run the York Marathon.  He is not a runner.    And yet… every single step your daddy takes tomorrow will be for me, for my nurses, doctors, surgeons – a thank you for a deed done to us that weighed far greater than we can ever repay.

Be proud my loves.  Be proud of every step your daddy takes as he is no ‘natural’ runner and yet he is putting himself out there, he is running twenty six miles all for one person, and one person only.

Your mummy.

Tomorrow we will wake up early & wish him well.  We will cheer him on. We will fight against the cruel disease that takes families apart.  For it has not taken us, not yet anyway.  Daddy is running the whole thing for love and the thanks that we owe to St James’ hospital in Leeds & Yorkshire Cancer Trust.  Every single step.

So thank you, a huge thank you to all concerned.  There will never be enough thanks I don’t suppose, but if there ever was someone to look upto in your lives my little ones – you see your daddy over there? Gareth Matthews?

He is the best daddy in the world, and he is all yours…

Thank you – from the bottom of my heart Gareth Matthews for repaying the kindness paid to us all last year.

It means the world.

If you would like to contribute to Gareth’s race his page is here

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gareth-Matthews4

image

image

 

My Secret Diary – my voice

image

I have been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

In all honestly I have struggled to write anything down lately and I can’t put my finger on why, how, or even when it started.  You see I have changed since all of this began, quite a lot it seems, and it only really dawned on me more recently when this ‘secret’ diary of mine became nominated for an award.  How lovely you might be thinking or what on earth is wrong with her?  What an honour for others to recognise your writing and to be shortlisted to represent such an good cause.  I thought that too for a while, until I slowly but surely felt a pressure to write instead of feeling the freedom and enjoyment I usually have when jotting down my thoughts.

After the initial elation of being nominated really for anything, the reality began to set in that in order for anyone to actually vote for me, they would have to read what I had written and judge it for themselves.  It would also mean that an awful lot more people would be reading my story and my life.  My little life.

Another worry I had was that I would not know anyone if I did go to the awards.  I had previously met three girls at another event and that was all.  This presented me with a few problems because it meant that I would have to overcome anxiety to speak, and not only that but actually explain who I was and the subject of my writing – which is not so easy for me nowadays.  And so perhaps it was a combination of these things that made me freeze and no more words came out.

This has happened to me a few times over the months and each time something has happened to shake me out of it.  This time it was a short message from another mum who was experiencing some of the same emotions that I had done all that time ago on that One Particular Day when I drove to pick my boy up from school feeling a numbness inside, and once again I was reminded sharply of exactly why I write.  And so I kept reminding myself over and over after that message that it was an honour and a privilege to be nominated for such a thing, and that I would be representing all those whom I have come to know that have been face-to-face with the shitty C word.  Oh how right Lisa Lynch was.

image

Having said all of this I still did what I do best, and I pretended that it was not in fact happening (I am pretty good at denial) and sure as you know the days passed and all of a sudden it was the night before the event.

Of course I need not have worried because the girl whom I had arranged to travel with was even nicer than I already imagined that she would be.  As we both sat on the train we chatted and the inevitable explanation of who I am came out, and yet I found that her story was equally as tough to tell and she told it without falter or pause for thought.  She kindly introduced me to her lovely friends and they welcomed me as the newcomer warmly and openly, much to my relief.  Eventually the evening came and I finally decided on an outfit that I didn’t much care for and donned a brave face, hands shaking.  The night had arrived and after the meal, the nominations were read out dutifully.  In particular when the main award was read out a brief synopsis of each person and their blog story was told, and I felt like mine was a surreal tale about someone else.  I didn’t win, but I didn’t need too.  All of the right people on the night won for their own reasons, each as important as the other.  I knew on that evening that the importance of raising awareness to a room full of parents far outweighed my anxieties.  In particular I had the pleasure of meeting a girl called Heidi who has been diagnosed with breast cancer too as a young mother.  She won ‘Best Writer’ for her blog Storm In a Tit Cup, writing a darkly humorous account of her own.  That girl has lost her baby, gone through treatment, and continued to look after her two young children all in the knowledge that she has stage 4 cancer.  It is hard to know what to say when you meet someone as amazing as that, so we decided to dance instead.

Overall it is a good job that I did not win an award in the end, because I would have undoubtedly fallen up or down the steps to the stage or descended into a pool of tears.  There was one thing that I wished I had been given the chance to do though, to thank those who have supported me and those who continue to do so.  My long suffering husband, my mum and sisters and auntie who all felt my nerves, and the friends who have continued to hold my hand along the way.  I am not sure there will ever be enough thanks, but thanks there should be, because it is family and friends who have been there step for step too.

The next day I set off home and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be at home more in my life.  I felt a pull and a need to be with my family – right back where I belong.

You see, I been having a little think recently about where I want to be.

There is no doubt that I have changed, not for better or for worse, but just different that’s all.  I still laugh and joke as I always have, but the nerves come a little more easily nowadays, as do the tears.  I have decided that I may continue to write this ‘secret diary’ of mine, or that one day I may just stop.  For now though I will keep on jotting down all of the things that come along and hope that just one other person will read this and think ‘I am not the only one’ or even that perhaps my children will read this when they are older and remember the day that their mummy came home.

image

Thanks to Sarah, Julia, Emma, Helen and Heidi