One Particular Day



On one particular day shortly after my treatment ended, I had a day that I would much rather forget.

It was the first time that I became a little worried about myself.

You see it was a beautiful day outside – really beautiful.  It was fresh with a biting chill in the air.  It was gloriously sunny and much nicer than some of the Summer months had been.  I could see all of this and yet I did not breathe it in, I did not appreciate the sunshine, I did not even smile at my own children.  What a thing for a mother to say.

On that day it wouldn’t really have made a difference what the weather was like outside because I did not care. Everything I did was automated.

I did get up, and I did manage the school run, but I was tired and pretty low.  Those are the kind of days where you jump back into your pyjamas and lay down with a cup of tea.

Yet sometimes a cup of tea is not enough.

Tea is usually my ‘go to’ when times are hard.  I say this not because it has any particular healing properties, but just because I find it comforting and warm.  Yet on that morning I couldn’t really taste my cup of tea, it seemed bland and tasteless and I realised that it had been this way for sometime.

I vaguely remembered watching the drama ‘The C Word’ and Lisa Lynch wishing that she could get over the ‘grieving’ part of breast cancer, so that she could just get on and enjoy all of the nice things, in the precious time that she had left.

All of a sudden I understood what she meant by this, and it was being hammered home to me as real life took hold.  The guilt associated with not truly appreciating each and every single moment, when you have been gifted a second chance in life, is at times overwhelming.

I knew that it would all pass eventually, that it was all part of the process – but nevertheless it was bloody hard to go through.  It was so hard and so lonely, and I was exhausted with it all.

On that particular day I was just angry – and bitter – and sad.  I was tired, but the worst bit was the numbness.  I’d had enough.  I had well and truly had enough of ‘the bullshit’.  And that is the truth. As I always promised I would tell it.  I almost feel like apologising for explaining it this way, but that is the way it was on that particular day.

On that day I was not positive or ‘fighting’ but struggling, and getting by the only way I knew how.  I put on my favourite old movie, I cried and I slept a little – I believe they call it ‘convalescing’.  Apparently our society has lost the art of convalescing, and I can wholly understand why.  Our generation are not ones to just stop or lay down in order to get better, yet this is where I found myself, and there was no way out – so I begrudgingly accepted it.

After what seemed like a few hours (it must have been six) I got up and I got ready, eventually. I got dressed, I did that school run and when I met my children I hugged them tightly not wanting to let them go.  Once again they had given me a reason to keep going.

It is so hard to explain, but after a life changing illness the way you feel and the way you see things alters and shifts.

It is almost like looking through a child’s periscope as the colours change and move around. 

Perhaps it is a good thing after all, as the things that I once took for granted have become all too important.  Yet on the other hand there is a miss, a huge miss for things that used to be.  The way I used to be.

I knew that I would get past the dark days, because I had so much to be thankful for and to be grateful for.  I knew that at the end of it all I had my beautiful children, my husband and my family around me – but some things you just need to get through on your own.

On that particular day I realised that perhaps tea was not enough, and I even wondered what to do*.

I did know in my heart of hearts, (remembering the advice once given to me by a trusted friend) that I needed to just keep going.

The path to recovery is a difficult one and I am trying my very best to look forward, but it is much easier said than done.


*Visit The Haven for a cup of tea


Little Best Friend – forever moments


The very best moments I ever had with you..

The day they laid you on me I’m sure you could hear my heartbeat.

The night you wouldn’t sleep, sat up in our bed learning ‘paper, scissor stones’.

Your first taste of chocolate – a giant golden Easter egg, your face was priceless.

The times that you ask me to stroke your back when you’re sleepy.

Sitting on a park bench sharing sandwiches.

Your excitement at seeing a rainbow – followed by a chorus of the song.

A fleeting glance to check, is it ok to jump in puddles?

Yes always.

The absolute silence when you realised you could eat the chocolate coins in your Christmas house.

Flying a kite at the seaside.

Jumping up and down on your bed after bath time.

The day you walked into big school all on your own.

Your uncontrollable giggles when you realised you were ticklish.

When you exclaim you are playing your ‘unicorn’ (recorder) oh so proudly.

The night you read How To Catch A Star, all the way through to me, all on your own.

The day you drew a picture and wrote my name on it.

The tears in your eyes as you try to battle the nerves in your tummy.

You can do it, I know you can & I am proud of you.




When All Is Said & Done – Lean on me

One of the ways that cancer tries to infiltrate your life is to make sure that it gets into every, single, nook and cranny.

Just in case it missed out any little bit of you that it had not quite reached yet, it seems to keep on going.  By this, I mean that as well as physically harming you, emotionally it drains you and those around you, bit by bit.

You may think that you are strong, you may think that you can stand up to anything – and maybe you can – but what you cannot do (no matter how hard you try) is to protect your loved ones from the harsh realities that cancer brings with it.

I have struggled with this part the most I think.

Not because I can’t accept the fact that I may one day have to leave my little family (and that they in-turn will lose me), but more so accepting the fact that I cannot protect them from it all.  I have had to realise that it is an impossible thing for me to try to control.

I have had to let it go, and that in itself is no easy thing to do.

The person that you can least protect is the person closest to you, in my case my husband.

It seems that people tend shy away from mentioning how they cope – especially as a couple.  Perhaps this is because we don’t like to admit any failings.  Perhaps our very British stiff upper lip tends to appear to stay strong in times of hardship.  Yet even less talked about, I have found, is how a relationship copes under the stresses and strains that illness brings with it.  We tend to mostly keep things ‘behind closed doors’ in our society, and whilst I agree that privacy is an important part of any relationship – I equally think that it is important to be open and honest.

When all is said and done, ‘this’ has nearly, very nearly, broken us.  It brings a tear to my eye just admitting that (albeit a defiant, angry tear).

I have been with my husband for many years.  We are the best of friends, and we understand how each other ticks.  However, the vows that we said to each other eight years ago have been thoroughly tested over the past few months.

‘In sickness and in health’ has a very real, true, meaning now.

You see, when you are poorly your other half is there for you sure – but when you are really ill the pressure builds and builds and builds, and it is sometimes unrelenting like a pressure cooker.

I have made no bones about the fact that my husband has been there every step of the way for me.  He has held my hand, he has brought my sick bowl, he has driven me to appointments, waited for me and put up with all the emotional ‘ups and downs’ for months now.  He is solid.

Yet I have found one thing to be very true. Whilst this situation has made us love each other more on the one hand, on the other hand it is dragging us apart, almost like a giant game of ‘Tug of War’.

Tiredness has affected us both, it brings with it snapping and grumpiness.  Emotion has caused tears and anger on both sides.  Struggling with maintaining jobs and home life is unrelenting and a daily reality for us.  Happiness & relief at the end of treatment for him – whilst I experienced feelings of numbness and anxiety.  A real wanting to spend as much time together as possible (should time cruelly run out) and yet, at the sametime the very real need for some serious head space.

I have read a few accounts written by others where the resulting pressures of cancer have caused the end to their relationship.  On top of everything else (as if you need it) a relationship ends when the person you tend to lean on just cannot deal with it all, and this honestly, does not surprise me.

Heart picture

Everyone has a limit & cancer seems to have an uncanny knack of finding that limit.

Having said all of this as a couple we are all too aware that we are lucky, very lucky, and we finally seem to be coming out of the other side.

We are all too aware that the situation could have been much, much worse.  We are all too aware that we have a fantastic support network of family and friends.  It has been bloody hard going but I know that it will take more than ‘the bullshit’ to break us.

Leaning on each other is the only way we know, when all is said and done.

Feature Image ‘Hearts On Fire’ by Sharon Cummings

Our First Dance

John Legend ‘Stay With You’

Remember Remember – Bonfire Dreams

I love the Autumn.  I love the cold crisp weather and the crunching of fallen leaves under foot.  The weather is turning, Winter is coming – but not just yet.

The children love throwing the brown leaves around like they are made of paper – we get to take chilly walks, sip hot chocolate and search for conkers in the park.  As I get older I feel like I am getting much more appreciative of all the amazing colours on display, almost in a romantic way.

This year the children are old enough for us to take them to a bonfire and they are so excited about it.

They have watched the fireworks through their bedroom windows for days now – always insisting that curtains stay undrawn just in case they should catch a glimpse of a sparkly shower.  Every now and then a loud boom makes them jump out of their skins and they feel the need to tell me how loud it was, each and every time.

imageBedtimes have taken that little bit longer – soothing to sleep is understandable, and reassurance needed as fireworks displays carry on throughout the night.  We are lucky as our children seem to sleep quite well once they are actually asleep and so we have not suffered any sleepless nights (touch wood!).

When I was a little girl I remember loving the fact that we all got to stay up past our bedtime.  The smell of the bonfire as it catches light, the anticipation of the firework display and a real sense of community as other families gather round the warm glow of the fire.

This year as always, I am unprepared.

I have been out to buy new wellies to replace those grown out of.  I have managed to think far enough in advance to make us all some sort of bonfire themed supper (sausage sandwiches to fill up empty bellies) to be eaten before we go out in the cold.  Wrapping up with extra socks and jumpers – making it too warm to be indoors – and searching through drawers for wooly hats and gloves, just in case it should get too cold for little ears.

As the darkness draws in the children’s excitement grows.  As does mine.

My husband dashes to the shop for an even more ‘last minute’ purchase of sparklers.  Surely every child needs to write their own name against the night sky?

It has been a long few weeks for me.  My health has not been the best, and my back helpfully decided to give up on me just after our trip to the theatre.  More time off work, more tears and more worries about things I am trying to put to the back of my mind.  Bonfire night is the perfect distraction – my favourite night of the year by far.

This night is all about family – and after all that is what it’s all about isn’t it? I have to admit that I am a little worried my little girl is still too young for the loud noises and the cold, but we can always leave early should we need to.

Life is for living.

The evening might not work out the way we had hoped – it might rain, someone may throw a ‘food strop’ (hopefully not my husband), the firework display might even be a flop BUT all we can do is try.  Try to make the good times and enjoy the here and now.  Just in case tomorrow comes too soon.


Nowadays it seems that neon flashing sticks have replaced sparklers, chocolate crepes in place of toffee apples, and there is a barrier around the fire where once we lit our sparklers as children (pre health and safety days). But one thing remains the same, the tradition of gathering around the fire and gazing into the dancing firelight is just mesmerising.

All too soon the evening draws to a close once more. Tired little faces try to stifle yawns and pretend that they are not tired.  It is time to go home, and a lovely time has been had by one and all, another one for the memories.



A Very Special Birthday Party – for a very special girl

RRDD01My little girl has been wishing for a birthday party for a whole year.  A whole year is a long time when you are three years old.

Her brother has had parties that she has enjoyed.  On his 5th birthday she was allowed to invite one friend… she took me literally at my word and invited one of a set of twins (much to my embarrassment!).

She has gate-crashed many a ‘Do’, sometimes wearing her famous Snow-White dress and always patiently waiting at the side of the party table whilst others enjoyed their party food.  Always singing along with the chorus of happy birthday, joining in all of the dancing & games and all the while hoping for the coveted party bag at the end (sometimes not getting one, which inevitably ends in tears).


We have had one hell of a year.  One hell of a year.

As a family we have been stretched to our very limits.  Illness has affected us all in ways that I never thought that it would.  It is still evident in our daily lives, as ‘everyday’ things have become that little bit harder.  The weekly supermarket trips are now few and far between (mainly because I cannot face the whole experience) but, you can be sure that upon every single trip my little girl will insist at stopping in the cake section.  She then explains to me in great detail that when she is 4 she would LOVE a Frozen cake and when she is 5 she would LOVE a Minnie Mouse cake.

What she really means is that she cannot wait to be a big girl.  She cannot wait to turn four and join in all of the things that she has watched her brother do over the last few years.

To her growing up and being ‘a big girl’ is a badge of pride to be worn oh so proudly.  No matter how much I wish that time would stand still as her mummy and that she would just stop growing – she is wishing the exact opposite.  I have accepted that she is indeed growing up and that she is becoming a lovely little lady as a result.  She is getting taller, more intelligent and she just loves life and I am privileged as her mother to be able to witness her change from ‘our baby’ into ‘our little girl’.

So I have decided that this is her year.  


This is the year that she will have her very own birthday party.  My eldest niece loves that my daughter’s birthday falls on Halloween (what a great excuse for a party) and so the theme of fancy dress will be an easy choice.  It is not going to be anything flash or fancy – a church hall, a children’s DJ, cake and PARTY BAGs.  I want her to smile from ear to ear, and to be able to dance, play games, twirl around and more than anything watch her sit in sheer delight whilst everyone else sings happy birthday just to her.  Just this once.

It might seem silly to other people.  She might seem too young.  She may not even remember, but there is a chance – just a chance, that she will.

If she does remember I want her to remember the best, most anticipated day that she has ever dreamed of, because whilst I am still here I will do my utmost to make all of her wishes and dreams come true.

So it has come to be that there are ‘no more sleeps’ and she is finally ‘a big girl’.

She has duly measured herself against the kitchen wall and she is indeed that little bit taller, much to her delight.  She has shrugged off the classic princess dresses (which I am quietly pleased about), and the witch costume that we had previously bought especially for the day – instead opting for her dinosaur outfit, full on head, tail and huge dinosaur feet and I just love her for that.

Individual, headstrong, beautiful and perfect in everyway.

Our big girl.

*picture courtesy of Rosie & Radish