Friday, 13 October 2017

Why you should never lose hope

Facebook pinged up a memory today. It's a post that my husband Dean wrote after I was told that I only had months to live on 21st October 2015. It makes me cry to read it, but as I am two years on, with no cancer in my body and a confirmation that I am in remission, I thought that this may help people in the same situation to keep on hoping and praying. There is no summing up, or trite message at the end of this post, I will just let the words speak for themselves.

**Wife update**

We're absolutely devastated to share the following update with you.

We had our consultation with the oncologist yesterday who advised that, despite the strongest possible radiation treatment, the cancer within Amanda's brain is still there and unable to be treated further.

Amanda is dying - she has a number of months to live.

What we can expect to see over the next few months is a gradual deterioration in Amanda's condition to the stage where she's going to be unaware of what is going on around her. She's already having problems using her mobile phone and TV remote control, and her ability to say more than 10 words in a sentence is impaired too.

Last night was tough. We lay in bed and cuddled, cried, laughed, administered Amanda some morphine and then she slept, holding my hand. Amanda's Mum and Dad have taken it hard too (for those with faith, please say a prayer for them too).

The palliative care team will be here from tomorrow so we can start to sort out ongoing arrangements.

The photo I have attached to this update was taken very near to our beloved Spanish home a month after she had her Triple Negative Breast Cancer removed in December 2013, and just five days before starting a very gruelling chemotherapy course. It paints a vivid picture - the walk ahead into the unknown.

This is an awful time for us. You can begin to understand now why we were reticent when seeing any comments to our posts wishing us positive thoughts. It's not quite that easy, unfortunately.

Amanda has faith. I'm without faith. But I know that Amanda will keep a place for me 'up there'. Prayers may well be appropriate for many of you, but cancer is clinically unresponsive to prayers.

My love, my life, my rock.

Tears falling.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

It really is the thought that counts

A friend asked me yesterday what I would recommend as a present for someone going through cancer. That was an easy question to answer as my incredible family and friends were unbelievably generous and thoughtful when I was ill, and I still remember how their visits and gifts brought so much relief at such a difficult time.

So, here are some suggestions from the wonderful gifts I received when I was in the midst of cancer treatment:

Anything that brings comfort. Warm fleecy blankets, cashmere bed socks, furry hot water bottles, dressing gowns or pyjamas.

Gifts that make them laugh. Comedy books such as the Timewaster Letters or Football Bloopers kept me upbeat during chemo.

Chocolates and treats. A friend sent us a ginormous box of Thornton's chocolates (and when I say 'us', I mean that Dean was extremely keen to help me out by eating lots of them).

Flowers and plants. There's something lovely about being surrounded by flowers, and when I wasn't mobile, I loved looking at them and enjoying the scent.

Entertainment. A friend brought me an audio book subscription and others brought box-sets and DVDs which helped a great deal in keeping my spirits up.

Home-made presents. There's nothing lovelier than a home-made gift from a friend. Some friends brought round their own jam, or home-baked bread and soup and another sent a clotted cream tea. A colleague even did a painting of me and another made me some amazing hats that she had sewn padding into so that I didn't look bald.

Faith gifts. People from my church sent 'holding' crosses, books and prayer guides and the vicar came round regularly so that I could take Communion.

Memory gifts. Dean asked my friends to send me their favourite memories and photos. It was so lovely to receive these letters and every one brightened my day enormously. One friend created a memory box which I still treasure.

Other incredible gifts. A friend organised a video message for me from a comedienne I liked which was an amazing boost. Others made donations to a charity close to my heart and another raised funds to sponsor a room in my name at the new building the Oxford College I went to had recently built. That was a really incredible gift.

Whilst simply still being here is the most wonderful gift I could ever have dreamt of, a gift that I attribute entirely to God's grace, the other gifts were uplifting and tangible expressions of love. I will never, ever forget them.

I hope this helps you to find a suitable gift for someone who is suffering from cancer. However, and I speak entirely from the heart, the greatest gift is just your support, love and friendship. That means more than you can possibly know.