This Time Around

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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

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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.

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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
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Songwriter: Joni Mitchell
Art: Olivia Pendergast

My Secret Diary – my voice

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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.

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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.

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Thanks to Sarah, Julia, Emma, Helen and Heidi

 

A Trip to London to visit the Queen

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I need to write something down.  You see of all the things that we have done together my darlings, this is possibly the most important one.  I have no doubt that you will remember bits of it.  It was after all a fantastic day, but I want to help you remember it all, every little bit.  I want you to know why we did it.  Why we did it together as a family and even that grandma came.

For the days running up to our big trip you were beyond excited until there were finally no more sleeps.  After all the games we have played, it was finally the day that we went to London ‘to visit the Queen’.

Now bear with me, I need to remember every little detail of this because I know how important it will be to you.  More important than your sports day which you graciously bowed out of, because your family means a thousand times more to you.

It all began as we boarded the train (this was your most favourite part).  You clutched your tickets like they were made of gold and we waited for the conductor to check them.  He took them from you and spent a long time looking over them.  When he returned each ticket he had drawn a picture of your face and it made you both laugh out loud.

It was a long journey and the taxi ride seemed to make it even longer.  I started to wonder if I had made a mistake bringing you all this way.  It was late and it was past your bedtime as we drove on through the night.  We arrived at our hotel and you delighted in jumping on the hotel room beds – you had found a second wind it seemed.

In the morning you woke us early keen to go down to breakfast.  There was a secret door in the wall outside of our room and we pushed on it, of course, and it lead to a mysterious corridor.  Just like a magic door from our story books.  You even loved the breakfast part of our stay. (although you decided that you did not actually want any of the sausage, bacon or beans on your plate).  Soon after breakfast it was time to meet our host.  You see we had been invited to London to do a very important job.  A charity very close to my heart had asked us to help them plant a very special garden.

Cancer Research had created a garden at The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016 in memory of all those who had lost their battle with cancer.  The Life Garden.  A legacy, and a tribute to all those who left money in their wills to fund the research towards finding a cure for cancer.

At the entrance I watched your little faces as you stared open mouthed at the horse drawn carriage that passed us by.  Giant Shire horses with heads held high, trotting at speed around the beautiful Palace grounds.  I doubt you had ever seen horse so big before.  We were taken to the garden and we had our pictures taken.  Although it was pretend gardening, we decided to plant magic beans there – all spread out (incase they should grow into beanstalks).

Even when it rained we cuddled and smiled because, well, there was something quite special about the garden I think.

All too soon it was over with, but we had done it all together. The Garden of Life born out of the most lovely concept.  Legacy and remembering.  You can even visit it ‘virtually’ and see the beautiful meadow with one hundred thousand flowers on display.  Each flower represents a person, a person who has fought their own fight, yet had one thing in common a belief that finding a cure is possible.

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It was past lunchtime now and you had both done so well.  We headed to the city centre hoping to find somewhere to eat before our next showing.  We sat outside hurriedly eating our burgers, and shooing away the pigeons and one little duck who just kept coming back.  You laughed and laughed at my efforts to move him on as he quacked back at me.

Eventually Big Ben chimed and we headed to our show at Shrek Adventures.  It may have been the tiredness but we had tears about the unknown and the darkness of the show (I admit this was not the reaction I had expected from you).  We listened to the story of witches, Rapunzel, the Gingerbread man and Puss in Boots and eventually we were transported back to the streets of London.  You both cried in the shop for various overpriced merchandise but as I tried to explain through gritted teeth, I could have bought you a real donkey for a hundred pounds!  Instead we agreed on a real London teddy bear from the obligatory tourist shop on our way to the Underground.

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We were tired, so tired and again it crossed my mind again if it had perhaps been too much for us all?  We did it though, we finally went to London as we always promised you, and although we did not see the Queen this time we did see Big Ben, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the infamous Thames River.  I hope that we do have the opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace one day when we have a little more time, but on that day we did as much as your little legs would carry you to do.

In your own words it was the ‘best day of your life’ and I am proud that you helped me do something so nice for others who have lost their loved ones.

 love mum x

If you would like to visit the Garden of Life you can see the virtual meadow and the 100,000 flowers each representing a person who left money to this worthy charity.  Friends and family can search for the name of their loved one – such a wonderful legacy.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/leave-a-legacy-gift-in-your-will/guidance-for-executors/welcome-to-the-life-garden

A Smile of Recognition

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There have been many people who have held my hand over the past year or so, metaphorically speaking, and they know who they are without me needing to say. (the indicator here is if your heart skips a little as you read this – then yes, I am talking about you)

I remember during my recovery watching the drama The C Word, and wondering how Lisa Lynch could have possibly mustered up the courage to meet the girls she befriended during her illness?

These were girls that she had never even met in real life before.

I recall the scene set so clearly on the sea front as she stood there waiting for them with nervous anticipation & then the smile of recognition when they all finally met each other.  The three of them sat on the pebble beach and made a toast to the one who had not made it. They chatted and laughed like old friends, as if they had known each other for many many years.

I could never do that, I thought.

I had avoided the offers of group sessions at all costs, as the idea of talking to people I did not know was just ‘not my cup of tea’.  And yet somehow or other through the wonders of social media I have been lucky enough to have met two other ladies who wrote just like me.  They wrote about their own stories in their own way, each with their own individual style. Rosemary and Allie.

Rosemary’s blog Cystaract [cystaract.wordpress.com] caught my attention on the day that her own mum wrote a post about how she had felt throughout her illness.  It made me sit back and think of everything from a differing point of view.  She writes of her family, her husband, her son and her parents.  Rosemary’s writing is clever and thoughtful – while at the same time searingly honest, just as she is. #TeamPositive is the overriding theme (as much as it can possibly be when writing of something so difficult)

Allie’s blog AllieMoonJourney [alliemoonjourney.wordpress.com] also caught my attention the day that she read a post I had angrily written about IVF choices (tentatively hoping that it would not offend anyone). Allie writes about her beloved Pats and their friends and family too. I went on to read her blog in turn which is about a girl, very much like myself, who decided to write about her own rollercoaster ride with a hope to help others going through the same thing. Allie’s writing is honest and insightful, with a burning positivity.

imageIn all honesty I am not sure how we became three and my memory will not allow for me to re-tell the finer points.  It is just that we seemed to have formed a bond of familiarity and understanding between us along the way – no group sessions, no awkward questions, just three very normal girls going through illness at the same time, as chance would have it.

And so it came to be shortly after writing my own bucket list and as the New Year arrived, I decided to ask if perhaps we should all meet one day?  I had been thinking about it for a while and I decided to honour my ‘don’t put off til tomorrow, what you can do today’ promise to myself.  The others excitedly agreed and we pencilled a date in the diary despite ongoing appointments, scans and the pending arrival of a very special little grandchild.

The day finally arrived and I found myself driving to meet these two special people.  Doing the very thing that I had been convinced I would never have the strength to do.  I was nervous and the butterflies in my stomach fluttered and lurched around.  What if they don’t like me?  What if we don’t get on? Neither of which were particularly necessary because the friendship was already there, meeting or no meeting.

And yet there is something about illness that wipes your confidence and makes you less sure about yourself.  Somehow the carpet is pulled out from under your feet & when you stand up again you are unsure and unsteady.  You are definitely not the same person who fell down.  Time is a healer it is true, but when you carry battle wounds it is something that can never be taken away.

So I found myself driving, regardless of nerves with a smile on my face.  I knew that I would be meeting friends who understood it all.

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It is true that each of us is very different with our own unique story to tell, and yet each the same somehow.  We are part of a kind of club or ‘tribe’ as Rosemary once wrote.  Nobody wants to be a member of it, but as soon as you are you stand tall and lift your head up high as best you can.

Our meeting was very special, sharing good food and wine and most of all laughter.  We met Rosemary’s new grandson too who was the perfect reminder that life goes on and that every moment is one to be cherished.

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This post is dedicated to Flynn David Albone – the little ray of light that we all very much needed.

Art credit: Yolande Sanchez

 

Holding hands – Race for Life

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I have a bit of a history with the Race for Life.  The first time I ran it was with my friend Jane, we worked together at the time.  She had lost her father to cancer and she vowed that she would do something to raise money for the charity that had helped with his care.  Jane couldn’t run and neither could I.

We both trained, and when the day finally came I was glad that I could stand by her side and be her support.  As it happened on that day Jane went over on her ankle, painfully swollen she had to slow down – and so I did too, much to her protests.  We walked the race, step by step, together, and if my memory serves me correctly she ran the last part.  She was so disappointed that she did not ‘run’ the race and she felt like she had let down those who had sponsored her (of course she had done nothing of the sort).

The next year we ran the race again, and this time we did not stop.

That was many moons ago.  I have moved on and I live and work somewhere else nowadays.  Even so, I often think about our old life and the friends that we left behind.  I look back at the races that I ran and I realise that I didn’t truly understand the pride of the people running and how it really feels to run in the memory of someone that you have lost.  I understand it now though all too well.

One day recently I was sitting at work and I received an email from a friend that I used to work with.  How lovely that we still kept in touch I thought.  This email was not one that I was expecting however.  As I read the words, I slowed down so that I could take them in – the words were telling me that Jane was ill.  She too had breast cancer – my heart sank, and I had to re-read it again just to make sure that I had not made a mistake.  No mistake had been made.

On the very same week I received another message asking if I would take part in the Race for Life 2016.  This time though, it would be a large group of friends and family who had decided to run together in memory of a very special lady – Connie Holmes.

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Connie also got through breast cancer, and fell ill again more recently.  The cornerstone of her family, the pride of her children, Connie was a beloved wife, mum and grandmother.  The race is to be run on Holmes Hill – and I agreed without hesitation, to give my support even though I cannot run.  I am unfit.  My back goes frequently and I struggle with fatigue daily.

If there is one thing that having cancer has taught me though, is that anything is possible.  I can and I will run that race.

The Race for Life is not about running, it is not even about raising money.  It is about community and standing together against a rotten, shitty disease that takes people from their loved ones, cruelly and unfairly.  Sometimes it feels as if it is unbeatable, sometimes it feels as if it is everywhere we turn, and it does not discriminate.   And yet something is stirred in those that it effects, friends, family those who want to join together and help to find a cure.

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As the race day draws near and the nerves begin to kick in, I cannot help but wish that I was running it in the state of health that I used to have.  To most 5km is not a long distance and indeed it probably isn’t for those who run regularly.  For me however, it will be quite a challenge.  I cannot help but wish that I could run it with Jane, together, helping each other through and making each other laugh.  Not this time though.  Jane is in recovery, as am I, and if we are lucky we will regain some of our health and be thankful for it.

This time, I will be running for the memory of Connie Holmes, on Holmes Hill, and the day has all the makings of something very special.  We have checked the weather forecast and the rainy weekend will have a few hours of sunshine at the precise moment of the race.  I will be running with Liz, Alison, Marcella, Carolyn (in India) Georgina and her grandchildren Alfie and Oli  and Zadie, together with many, many others who are determined that cancer will not win,

hope will though – hope for a cure.

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This post is dedicated to Connie Holmes. 

I am honoured and inspired to have been asked to join with your family and friends, holding hands and uniting together in remembering a truly special lady.

 

Race for Life is organised by Cancer Research https://www.justgiving.com/detricematthews8

 

 

Great Expectations

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Another week goes by and I have realised something.  I have always set myself pretty high standards, and non so much as being a mother.  It is the single most important job I will ever have.  I am the centre of our house, the provider and the ‘go to’ for most things, and I love it even on the days that I can’t quite manage.

Ever since I had my little boy years ago, it is as if I have always tried to do my very best, to be the very best I can be for them, even sometimes to the detriment of my own wellbeing. I am sure that I am not the only one who gives up her slice of toast when little hands come wandering, or stops midway through the washing up at the slightest call of ‘mum’ and I don’t resent it, not at all.  I would give them my last breath if I had to a thousand times over, and yet just lately I have begun to question myself more and more.  Am I good enough to manage it all?

I have been reminded of something that I promised myself a while ago,

I promised that I would cherish the small things and slow down a little to give myself a chance to enjoy life.

And while I do cherish the small things now more than ever – the spontaneous sloppy kiss or the little morning snuggle, I have invariably found myself slipping back into the busy rush of life.  The very thing I promised myself that I would not do.  The mornings in our household are rushed during the midweek and I very often find myself tired out before I even get to work.  I regularly miss breakfast, I drink too much tea and really take it to heart if I have forgotten to send one of the children off for the day with something that they needed.  By the time it reaches the evening I am often completely spent.  I have been known to hop into the children’s bath as I run it for them, and more often than not I do not have the energy to cook an evening meal for my husband.  I just do not have it in me and that is a tough thing to admit.  I am finding more and more that I am having to ‘let it go’ when I find I can manage no more.

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I had a review at work not so long ago, another milestone for me.  It was a funny sort of conversation, as my boss is actually a friend and so the honesty involved was given candidly.  We went through the given format, and eventually one of the questions asked was what I felt to be my biggest achievement to be over the past year.  I had answered ‘returning to work’ and my boss said that it had given him a lump in his throat to read that.  Perhaps it did, but it was the complete and honest truth. On an average day I struggle to concentrate, struggle to even get dressed and yet I get through the days, by some short miracle.  The very act of going to work is a positive thing, it helps keep me on the road to recovery which is turning out to be longer than I first imagined.

It seems that when asked outright about how I am, some surprising answers are given. 

A friend recently asked the same thing.  The answer is, I am good, we are good, but sometimes I find the days a struggle.  It is extremely frustrating to feel fatigue and continue to raise a young family.  It is upsetting to snap at your husband and children when you don’t really mean it, yet tiredness continues to be a reality for me.  It is a difficult thing to explain, and I am not even sure that I have explained it well enough, but I continue to try my very best.  My friends have given me some kind advice, to get more sleep and to let things go when I realise that not everything is achievable – and I will take that on board because sound advice it is.

I love my children, and they continue to make me smile everyday.  They wake me early and encourage me to get on with living.  We don’t have a perfect life, there are arguments and tears just like any normal family, but on the whole we are happy and healthy, which in itself is a blessing.  I just need to remind myself to take care of me, because if I don’t I won’t be able to take care of everybody else.

Never judge a book by it’s cover springs to mind as I wonder quite how to explain the way it feels.  How it feels to get on with everyday life.

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