Archive for the ‘Good Ending’ Category

This is it – my last post on the blog.

On this day a year ago I was told I had breast cancer. Today I begin a new year – my journey beyond breast cancer.

Thank you for walking this path with me. I will miss our cyber-friendship. Please keep in touch.

My blog stays open. You can leave comments and contact me through it.

To those who join the breast cancer path after me and find this blog, I offer my warmest good wishes.

I close with the words and music that have filled my head and my home for the past week – the focus of my hope and my future . . .


King of Kings, Majesty

God of Heaven, living in me

Gentle Saviour, closest friend

Strong deliverer, beginning and end

All within me falls at your throne

Your Majesty I can but bow, I lay my all before you now

In royal robes I don’t deserve, I live to serve your majesty.


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I made it to the Knit and Knatter group today.

12 women knitting, one man crocheting and me looking for inspiration.

One woman called herself a born-again knitter – there were a few of us rekindling dormant skills.

But it was the man who inspired me. He has been crocheting for 30 years and was making a replacement for the astonishingly complex jumper he was wearing. I have never seen crochet like his before.

I crocheted blankets for both of our children when they were babies. But my favourite creations were my wooly hats.

And look what I found online – a man crocheting hats. What a great idea.

I sense a project coming together.

Hats are achievable, portable, colourful – and I now know a man who can help me if I get stuck.

I can’t wait to have a go!

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10 days of prayer and repentance. Would you dare to even start?

Straight away you might tell yourself this is not for you. Like me looking at a masterpiece of hand knitting, your mind will tell you ‘You cannot do that” and “You would never finish it

. . until now?

Meet Kelly Needham – a young christian woman who finds herself at home alone for 10 days. She has a choice of being resentful or of accepting this as a chance to do something special.

10 days of prayer and repentance – turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

She set herself the challenge to use the time to reflect on Psalm 139.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139: 23-24

As I cross the bridge toward my life beyond breast cancer I join Kelly on her journey.

Meditating on these two short verses will be part of a good ending for me.

How about joining us and praying for Kelly?

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Crossing the Bridge – three small words that convey a lot.

The metaphors you use give significant clues about what an experience means to you.

Looking back I have spoken about other metaphors of transition like hanging up my stethoscope or parachuting out of my job.

Being told I had cancer of the breast was like falling off a precipice. The laws of nature seemed to change; gravity disappeared and I could no longer rely on what had always been.

My handbag flew away – my purse tumbled upside down and the pages of my Filofax fluttered away in the wind. What I thought was important, even urgent, disappeared into the ether.

I was disoriented . . . falling . . . with no idea how far I would fall or what I might hit along the way – and watching my appearance change day by day.

This blog has been an important reference point. A different force of gravity that keeps me anchored. A place where I can explore what is happening and feel safe within its structure.

And the framework is you – saying ‘I am with you and I am praying for you’.

Thank you for being there. I wonder if you realise how much it has meant to me to have you alongside.

in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

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I am crossing a bridge.

The bridge is metaphoric, and yet it is real.

Bridge over the Atlantic, Clachan, Isle of Seil

On one side is the place where I have been for the past year – the land of my experience of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. On the other side is the place where my journey beyond breast cancer begins – a new territory to experience and explore.

Looking back I realise I stepped on to the bridge when I left home for the 6 day training course. As I interacted with colleagues I felt energised to move forward.

And then I went to Scotland to be with my family. Visiting my roots and connecting closely with my family rekindled my sense of life and purpose.

The bridge spans ahead to 6th October – the anniversary of my diagnosis. There my journey beyond breast cancer begins, and there I will close this blog.

Only three short weeks to go.

I notice that I chose a picture of a small bridge that I remember crossing many years ago. And that it is in Scotland – the land of my roots.

Millau Viaduct, Southern France

I could have chosen pictures of other bridges that I have visited that are vast and exposed . . .

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

. . . or that are narrow and enclosed.

Both rekindle happy memories, but neither represents my journey today.

My small bridge tells you that I am in a comfortable place that feels friendly and achievable. And it feels that way because of YOU.

I could not have walked this path without all the love and support of others.

Thank you so much for staying with me along the way.

Please do not sign out yet, my future includes you.

And there is a whole new territory to explore together one step at a time . . .

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Why the silence?

This is my longest gap between posts since I started the blog, and I missed you.

I have just returned from a 6-day training course and I could not get reliable internet access while away. The course was about language in action. It is my treat to myself as part of my preparation for moving forward beyond breast cancer. More about that later.

City of Words by Vito Acconci

The way we use language has a powerful effect on ourselves and on our interaction with others.

The connection between language, thought and reality is made by the definition of words

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Change your thought and you change your world

Norman Vincent Peale

So why spend 6 days learning about what language means to us and how we use it? . . . because I am curious to explore every aspect of what it means to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

How I use my thoughts and words affects my relationship with myself, with others and with God.

Tomorrow I travel to spend some time with my family in Scotland. You will find me in the Quiet Zone of the train heading north – my head buried in the course manual. What a treat!

As I move forward beyond breast cancer I have a lot more learning to share.

Oh, and by the way, I had my second Herceptin today.

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Hmm – a challenging title.

Maybe it makes you feel uncomfortable.

“We prefer to avoid these difficult conversations” said the reporter on the news this morning.

And yet this is what goes round and round in my head as I walk the journey through breast cancer treatment.

I need to learn to live life to the full, while recognising that I must also prepare to die.

Might that be a useful framework for us all as we choose how to spend our days?

Tree of Life

The news today is that NICE has refused to support Avastin for NHS treatment of advanced bowel cancer. £21,000 per patient is not cost effective for a potential 6 weeks of prolonged life for some patients.

As I see it, the sting in the tail of this story is that, if you were given a gift of six weeks and told to make them the most cost effective weeks of your life, you would not choose to have them at the end of your life when you are dying of cancer – and certainly not while you are also on chemotherapy with no sense of taste, no hair and no energy.

And if you were given a gift of £21.000 of tax payers money, you would certainly be able to create more value with it now, than when your health and strength are almost gone.

Let’s have these difficult conversations about life and death sooner rather than later.

I have spoken before about how aware I am of the many people who get no 6-week warning that they will die.

No preparation time; no chance to repair relationships; say sorry; go on a world tour; change career; live the life they wanted.

Apparently, when you reach the end of your life, you are more likely to regret the things you DID NOT DO, than the things you do.

How interesting that this month we also have evidence that introducing palliative care early in the treatment of cancer could help patients live for longer, as well as improving their mood and quality of life.

Let’s explore what it is like to shift our focus away from numbers and cost at the end of life and look at how rich and valuable life is for you and me today.

How much is it worth to you to have 6 weeks of health, strength and freedom? Well chances are, if you are reading this, you have it.

So what needs to happen for you to make the most of the life you have?

A key skill is to begin with the end in mind. Life is precious and the future is unknown for us all.

Without a doubt, as I travel the journey through breast cancer treatment, I learn most through exploring what it means to me to learn to live and prepare to die.

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