The first school carol service of the year

Tonight was the first school carol service of the year, at our sons school. He stayed in and was fed there, while my wife and I were to go for hopefully mince pies and then the service in the chapel.

It had been a stressful day before then. My daughter was having an interview to try and go to Cambridge Uni, her big ambition being to study engineering (Yay, go girl!). But the first session was quite tough and led to tears. Thankfully the second one was better, but we wont find out until January.

My wife had been home with her as she dialled in remotely, and as it was a cold day had made a spaghetti bolognese, a family favourite. We sat down with plenty of time to go. However standing up cooking takes alot of energy from my wife, and the smells and sight of the food means she often does not eat.

Well unfortunately today, it was worse than that. Her meal bounced, very rapidly. She looked awful, ashen faced when she finally came out from the bathroom. Sadly this has happened so often that the children know that we just have to wait for her to come back rather than going to try and help.

This was ten minutes before we were supposed to leave for the mince pies and carols. We were already cutting it fine, as we knew she wouldnt be able to stand and then sit on probably uncomfortable chairs for an hour or more, but now the pressure was really on.

And this is where another unfair aspect for my wife comes along. She wants, nay should go to things, and why should she be excluded? But the world doesnt make it easy. Ideally she needs us to park in a disabled bay close to where we are going, however by deciding that she cant spend too long at things, these spaces will probably have gone. So we have to either go earlier, or walk further, both of which will make things worse for her.

Her eyesight is bad, and she stuggles with lots of people around, and so again going late to events means that the ideal seat for her to sit at will be gone – prime viewing space doesnt always get held. We dont like to make a big fuss, especially at school events, for fear of embarrassing the kids, and so dont ask for seats to be saved.

Luckily tonight, despite the traffic and the tea not staying down, we made the carol service, and she managed to join in with the hymns. It was a lovely way to kick start the Christmas period.


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We went to see the Christmas lights of old London town

My wife made the suggestion yesterday to go into London and see the Christmas lights. With her blue badge, we get free parking at the station, and a discount on a family ticket, which made the trip a little more affordable.

When we got there, the decision didnt seem the smartest one. We knew there was a march for Palestine going on, and it was the day after Black Friday, but we really under-estimated the crowds. It was rammed. We got off the train at Charing Cross, and found the Strand closed to traffic. Despite the march not heading that way, the amount of people was quite something. My photo doesnt do it justice.

My son gets quite anxious around crowds, so this wasnt getting off to a good start. The other impact was that we could not get a taxi for love or money. No cars, no cabs, nothing. And the plan had been to get a taxi to take us to some of the hotspots, and save my wife from walking.

So we had to walk, through Leicester Square, along Regent Street and to Carnaby Street. We had to take frequent breaks, but even so I could see my wife becoming more and more laboured, head down, face drawn, colour draining fast. This was not what we had planned. A stop in a coffee shop for a restorative latte helped her, and we got along Regent Street, seeing the amazing angel decorations, then into Carnaby, where the theme was the universe.

You can see the people we were dealing with here. It was hard with working eye sight and hearing, but my wife was really finding it hard. Since her stroke she doesnt see anything down her left side, and when people are pushing into small gaps, and running along quickly, she wont see and was banged into a few times.

Oxford Street was worse (no photo I was worried about getting my phone out too often). It was like shoulder to shoulder along this road, and now I was getting worried about the trip and the crowds. I couldnt keep an eye on both children, and guide my wife along and watch where we were trying to go, and keep an eye out for any dodgy looking folk. It was very stressful.

We ended in China Town, a tradition for us at this time of year. And there were queues to get into every restaurant, even at 5 .30. My wife was desperate to sit down, and so we ploughed on to the end of the road, eventually finding a small place with only a five minute wait. The food was amazing, but we here saw the other problem of being out with someone disabled.

The tables were close together which I could see was making my wife worried as she is still scared of Covid. But also the toilet was down a steep stair case. Not ideal for someone who has eating problems, and can be ill at a moments notice. You realise that even while doing something nice, there is never a rest.

We did eventually find a taxi, and managed to get back to our train, my wife being guided more than walking her self. It was freezing when we got home, so I lit the fire and settled my wife in bed, helping her to pull her leggings over her seriously swollen ankles. She managed to get into bed with a hot water bottle and a warm drink to try and bring her back to temperature. Hopefully the long term impact wont be too bad.

So why do these things? We try to maintain as normal a life for our children as we can. We have always strived to make their lives fun.

But also why should my wife miss out? Why should she stay at home and not see the lights, not enjoy a trip out? She is disabled not someone to be thrown onto the scrap heap and left in the house to be forgotten about. The memories of our trip yesterday will last for a long time, and will act to block out the sad memories we all have.

Yes, it was frustrating at times, but the frustration is at the situation, the inequality for disabled people, and at my wifes illness, not at her. I am amazed and proud at how she managed to cope with it all. She has always been determined (we call it her water ski face from when she tried water skiing on our honeymoon and was determined not to fall off), and that determination has been evident throughout her illness. She battles through everything, long term incapacity, comas, 12 hour ops, and to be able to still walk through a heavingly busy central London is an inspiration to us all.

We are attempting something similar today, visiting RHS Wisley to see their lights. Some more of the determination will be evident I’m sure.


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Revisiting last new year, and thoughts of 2023

Its only November, but we are already starting to visit Christmas Fairs, and get present lists from the children. We are seeing friends to start celebrating the end of the year (December gets too busy to do these things with everyone). And inevitably my thoughts are turning to last New Year, and a conversation I had after midnight with two close friends.

One friend hadnt seen my wife for a while at that point, and had been visibly shocked at her physical appearance, and her health. She was really upset by the sight, which shook me and my other friend. We had a long chat over a few bottles of wine post midnight, where I filled her in a little on the previous few months. We also discussed the future.

My wife had gone to bed early, got up for midnight, and then gone back to bed. I remember finding the evening really tough, as our friends in couples looked really happy, while I was worried and unable to enjoy myself. It was the first New Year with that group of friends where my wife had not been able to last the whole night. She hadnt been able to join the meal, as her eating was also a struggle.

It felt really unfair. She wasnt able to partake of what should have been a fun evening. I felt we were disassociated from the festivities. And the inevitable discussions about the forthcoming year were hard.

My comments over that bottle of wine (or two) were that I didnt see my wife lasting until Christmas. Over the previous few months she had deteriorated and her strength wasnt good. She was struggling and not eating very well. Our friend burst into tears, saying she couldnt believe it, but honestly at that time, I couldnt see how my wife was strong enough to last another 12 months.

Yes, she has been through a great deal of tough challenges, and overcome them, but I had a feeling that her strength was running out, and the cancer becoming too powerful.

I write this now from a different viewpoint. Despite another hard year, she will be here for Christmas. I am quite frankly amazed as always at her resolve. She hasnt had any further treatment, thank goodness, but has managed to keep the disease at bay. We will be able to celebrate with her, and she will be able to celebrate with our newly born nephew.

The disease has spread throughout this year, and her strength is less than before, weight loss obvious now. But we have always wanted our wife and mother to be with us, so what more could we hope for. We are trying to embrace a more holistic life, my wife doing alot of meditation and healing the mind which have had some benefit. Mind over matter is an old phrase, but there may be some truth in it.

I have written before ( about how our relationship has taken a hit, and that is still true. My bitterness at the loss of my marriage is still here. However, we and especially me have worked harder recently to try and improve things. It isnt helped when my wife is such a light sleeper and I snore, or when she gets tired and cant hear or forgets things, but I love her regardless, it is the disease I dont want here. We are doing more things together, attempting to bring ourselves back together.

It is very strange, as in this world you never know when a serious issue will suddenly come around the corner. We have had years where we were planning a holiday, only to have my wife in a coma the day before we were due to fly. And maybe that was where my thoughts last new year came from, a place of bitterness and anger, leading me to a pessimistic mind set.

I do have a depressive tendency, and the challenges of the last few years have made this worse. I dont look on the bright side, I see the worst outcome. It can help with planning in work to see the downside, but makes it hard at home when I always point out the potential risks. I have again written about this in the past, and it is a constant battle, daily causing me to have mood swings up and down, close to anxiety attacks and an inability to focus, feeling overwhelmed.

A few things help, excercise and friends being the main ones. I have resolved to lose the extra weight (, which is taking a long time, and have met more this year with my best man from our wedding. We have rediscovered our friendship, which has been a great help for me (and him, he has his own problems). We have been out for drinks, and also to two amazing concerts (music being another thing that helps me). Earlier this year we saw Guns n Roses at Hyde Park in London, which was amazing, and then this last week we saw Queens of the Stone Age at the O2, one of my favourite bands, and another unbelievable live act. And it is them I will finish off with, a tune that maybe has a title describing the life of a cancer hit household too much.


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My wife is experiencing regular nausea now her cancer is more advanced

I mentioned in a twitter (or X) post recently, that when out for dinner, I will sometimes look across at my wife and just know something is wrong. Unfortunately this is happening more regularly. She will slightly push her plate away towards me, a gesture I know means ‘eat some of this to make me look polite’. She will then sit there hands in her lap, zen like concentration on her face.

This signifies that she is desperately holding down the contents of her stomach. We have had occasions when this hasnt worked. Usually at home, where the impact is more contained, but one memorable moment in Paris a year ago, where she at least managed to get behind a parked car before being very sick. I had to quickly pay, and hope the night of the other patrons at the outside tables had not been ruined.

We will then try to get her to her bed, where a damp cloth, and iced water will ease the symptoms. Typically after a couple of hours she will be strong enough and the nausea has passed enough to be able to manage a small amount of food, but I’m not sure whether a diet of Vimto and Lotus Biscoff biscuits is sustainable in the long term.

Apparently nausea is a common symptom in advanced cancer ( Another thing we now have to be aware of and careful with.

She has lost a hell of alot of weight. Her skin hangs off her bones in places, particularly on her arms and legs, where her limbs appear to be nothing but bones, no muscle or fat. Her shoulder blades are prominent, sticking out, and her face looks gaunt. Her stomach is now swollen as though she were pregnant, large and distended, while her breasts have now shrunk away.

Were you to see her for the first time in years, shuffling into a room on swollen ankles, you would be shocked at the change. Outside of having chemo, she looks the ‘illest’ she has done during the whole time of having the disease. She seems to have aged considerably in the last 9 to 12 months, drawn around her face and neck. We have to make sure she is helped into the car, in case she bangs her head on the door frame.

A persistent cough and flem on the chest is another concern, and this is taking a while to go away. To hear her sometimes struggling to breath whilst coughing having eaten very little tears my heart apart. She has turned before my eyes into a little bird, in need of help that I cannot always give. I dont have the ability, no one has the ability to shift many of these symptoms she is experiencing. All we can do is try to help ease them. I try hard to make sure she is comfortable, whilst also trying to give her as much dignity and space to be herself, but it is getting harder and harder.

When she gets tired she can get forgetful, which can mean things around the house being half completed, or her embarking on a trip out, but not being strong enough to get home. I worry, but know that I cannot force her to stay at home resting, I have to watch fearfully. A coffee with a friend is a great thing to do, but I know that conversation and the stimulation of being out will mean she is asleep on the sofa for the next few hours when she gets in. Goodness knows what my children think.

I have caught my son copying me, and protecting his mothers head as she gets into the car, offering her his hand to steady herself. He is only 11, and shouldnt have to do these things, but his kindness shines through. My daughter has passed her driving test, so now she can help with lifts, taking some of the burden from me. They are both a great help.

I said at the start of this year, that I couldnt see my wife being here for Christmas. I am a little more optimistic now, but still feel that we may not have her much longer. We keep praying for a miracle cure.


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Its time to get physical

So, summertime, and we have had a few family trips out. I mentioned previously how hard this can be with a disable wife (, but the other thing worrying me now is my health.

I’m not getting any younger, and the last seven years have been quite a stress on our family and me. The extra grey and then receding hair is testament to that fact (if anyone has any tips to stop thinning hair, please let me know, I’m not sure how long I have left before the razor hits). Some small niggling injuries have also hit me, a recurring achilles problem has required physio for a few months (thankyou NHS), while recently a frozen shoulder has decided to raise its ugly head.

These have meant that my usual fitness regime of running was not possible. I didnt go enough anyway, and the weight was slowly creeping up, but now it is noticeably worse. Day trips out mean lots of walking for me, as I try to cover the role of two parents. A trip to the swimming pool will have me in the water all the time, despite not enjoying it as my son loves the water. My wife used to love swimming with them both, but is very self conscious of her body, especially her bloated stomach and skinny arms and legs. She gets some funny looks from people.

We used the school tennis courts the other day, and despite only playing for an hour, and really just knocking a ball around, I was huffing and puffing after 30 mins.

This has got me worried a little for our future. It is inevitable that we will be a single parent family soon, but the last thing I want is for me to add to the stress by having serious health problems from being over weight.

I like my alcohol too much to give it up (possibly it is a bit of a crutch these days as well), and I like to eat well, so I have to increase the exercise somehow. As I said above running is out for the time being, so I am thinking of getting a cheap exercise bike to have in the garage. That way I can use it rain and shine, and listen to music or watch TV at the same time. Who knows, my wife may even become well enough to try it.

My biggest fear has always been how to tell my children their mother has gone, and I now realise that I want to make sure that I am in the best shape to be with them for as long as they need me. The weight must go, and the health issue have to be solved. Watch this space.

The song playing in my head was the following. Not cool by any stretch (no pun intended), but it works. My father in law calls her Olivia Neutron Bomb. Hes funny that way…


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Summertime, and the living isnt easy

We have been lucky as a family to have some trips out recently. My wife has been able to join us, despite her failing strength. This has been great for the children, they have both finished school, and the time together is a brilliant way to unwind, and make memories.

My wife has a blue badge, which means in the UK she is classified as disabled, and we can park in more accessible locations, and sometimes get better access to things we need or want to visit. Over the last months she has become noticeably more disabled, frail and weak. I always felt before we were judged because she could walk unaided, but now she does need help getting in and out of the car.

Her arms and legs look much thinner, and the muscle definition has gone. In some parts of her body you would think she only has bone with the skin hanging off. I am always put to mind of the harrowing photos of famine victims, with the lack of food causing extreme weight loss. Only now do I realise that a disease can have that same exact impact on a body.

She still walks with us, but after a week of trips, her ankles have swelled terribly. I presume this is due to her circulation not being good enough, and gravity then takes it course, pulling the liquid in her body to the ground. She isnt in pain, but I imagine it cant be a pleasant experience.

The children are great, and help where they can, above and beyond what they should have to do. We havent yet used a wheel chair, as we feel that may be a step too far at this stage. She isnt sick enough to be invalided, but with no treatment plan in sight, despite recent positive scan results, it can surely only be a matter of time.

I hate the feeling of having an invalid wife when we are out. Everything we do takes longer and is more visible -just the effort to get out of a car takes much longer than for anyone else. She cant see where to put her foot, and cant see where to hold to steady herself. You can see people pitying us, watching and waiting, almost tutting, while a seemingly young family struggles. No family should have to put up with the struggle of having a loved one unable to do some of the very basic things a human should be able to do. You feel under a spotlight.

And the tolerance in society has gone as well. People will just quickly stop their car in a disabled spot, not realising that my wife or an equivalent needs that space to get any chance of having a ‘normal’ existence. People push past, hurrying along, not noticing they have elbowed her in the face, which she couldnt avoid as she cant see out her left side (a real event that happened two days ago, leaving a nice large bruise on her cheek, thankfully not a broken bone).

I hate it, and she hates it. Mobility and independence was snatched away from her, with her dignity not far behind. Imagine being able to drive, having a full time job, a partner, children, fulfilling hobbies outside work, only to have those things taken away, while hearing how your friends careers, holidays and sporting endeavours are going. I struggle to cope with that, and cannot fathom how she doesnt go mad with anger and envy.

I find summer particularly hard, as everywhere you go there are happy families and friends, out and about, enjoying the good weather. Couples will walk hand in hand, not to lead one partner along the path, but because they just want to. Parents will sit on a bench to watch their children play, not because one of them is out of breath from walking 100 yards from the car in the sun.

I get jealous of couples. They have what I want, but have no way of getting. Date night, meals out, even a drink together in a pub beer garden. None of these happen in our lives. A physical relationship is long gone, never to return. On a selfish note I worry that this disease has taken away my only chance of happiness and love. Sometimes I would give anything just to have a hug from the wife I married, let alone anything more intimate. To feel her arms wrapped around me, and not be worried that the sheer act was hurting her. To feel her warm body against mine, and not have her ribs and shoulder blades digging into my chest. To hold her, and not worry about crushing her like a small bird would be the most amazing feeling.

We have been lucky to have many years post diagnosis with my wife. 12 months was mentioned at first, and we now have seven years. We have tried to make memories, and tried to enjoy life the best we can. But part of me does wonder at what cost. The stress and strain for me and my children when the inevitable comes, on top of the years of worry. Would a short illness have been better, is a question we should never ask, but the long term impact on us, plus the suffering my wife has had make me wonder in my darkest moments. To end in the same place, despite all the treatment and care, seems really cruel.

Summertime, and the living is easy, goes the Gershwin song (here in a Lana Del Rey version). But really, it fucking isnt for lots of people. Its hard, and uncaring, and a battle for many to deal with.


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Are you planning for the years to come?

Its been a while since I posted anything here. Unfortunately I go through phases where I can focus on this, and phases where I cant. Thankfully nothing bad has happened with my wife, and in fact her latest results are still stable, so in a way that is good news. Though as I have written before, it feels a little like putting off the inevitable, which is frustrating.

The uncertainty doesnt help when planning for the rest of the year. We all as a family desperately need a break. Realistically, the break we need is from the disease itself, but we will have to settle for some time by a pool if we are lucky, and if we can find the money.

I struggle with planning for this kind of thing. I am always conscious of how hard it is to take my wife somewhere. And I know that it is really bad to think that way, and I should give her credit, but I find myself falling into the trap of thinking I would rather we didnt do things, than have to cope or compromise. My wife loved to travel in the days before she was ill, but now my first thought is that she may get sick while we are away from our house, or I selfishly think how hard it is to look after her when she gets tired and needs a rest, limiting what we can do.

So I almost dont plan for this. I leave her to propose things, and go along, dropping the odd realistic expectation in, which doesnt go down well. But there are other aspects of out future I do think about. Usually during a long drive, thoughts will pop into my head about certain things.

I will find myself planning what I will say during my wifes funeral. It is almost an excercise in making myself cry. I will think of different things of her life I want to highlight, and how we will miss her. I will consider songs to play. This is a little morbid thinking about it in the cold light of day, but I think it is all part of the anticipatory grief process, an attempt for my mind to try and cope.

I think about what my future will be like. I desperately want to have a normal relationship. A life partner I can share things with, laugh and joke with, go out for dates with. I found that person, and have now lost who she was, and that hurts. I wonder if I will ever have that again in my life, and when that new life is likely to begin.

I think about my childrens future. My daughter is looking around universities right now, and in just over a year she could be going away to study. I think how she will cope, and how we will cope at home without her. There is a strong possibility that she could go away, and it could just be me and my son living at home, and our family dynamic will totally change. It has always been thinking about my childrens future that has hit me the hardest.

These thoughts can tie my brain up so much that I cannot focus on much else. I am too preoccupied with worrying about the future when things have changed, that I find myself missing the now, not planning for the short term with my wife. In a way it almost as though I have mentally moved on for a period of time.

I have written before of how we seem to live in a constant loop, scans, results, then waiting for the next loot of scans. I guess that the things I mention above are a way to try and mentally break out of that cycle. God knows at times we need, I need to break out of that cycle. There is a guilty, selfish feeling that I am wasting my life, that we have dedicated so long to my wife and her disease, that everything else has become ignored. It is a hard balance to try and keep, between advancing our lives, in the knowledge that my wife may not be able to advance hers, and trying to keep the present going as well.

There is a frustration and resentment that comes to the fore, and these feeling block and take over my mind. I do feel guilty for felling them, and so the self loathing contributes more to the guilt. I know I am doing the best for my wife, and looking after her the best I can, however in the back of my head is the thought that I need to have a future for myself. I need to have something to define me when this phase in our lives has finished, whenever and however that may be.

The one thing that does keep me grounded is music, and I listen to alot. Just this last week I saw Guns N Roses at Hyde Park London, and they blew me away. I had seen them last year, with a truncated set due to illness, but this week they played three hours, and were amazing. A great time, with a really close friend did make me feel better.

The track chosen to share though isnt by them. It is by the Happy Mondays, and is another all time favourite.


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I am worried about my wife being left alone

At what stage do you broach the topic of independance with a terminally ill patient?

My wife has always been very strong willed and extremely independent. Losing the ability to drive hit her hard, and she has found that tough to deal with. She now has to rely on people to take he anywhere that isnt within walking distance, and as we live in the countryside, that isnt many places.

She used to drive to visit her mother, which is a couple of hours away, and now again that entails more planning for me to either take her, or for her aging mother to come and collect. For a formerly proud and strong woman, this has really taken a toll on my wife.

She frequently mentions trying to see if her eyesight has improved enough to drive again. It was her stroke that left her without vision on her left side. Unfortunately the specialists have not seen any improvement in that aspect. She is also way too frail and slow thinking these days to not be a danger on the roads. It is sad, as the cancer has taken away something else, a topic I have discussed previously –

It is the frailness that is worrying me today. Yesterday she fell over going out the back door, when our cat ran past her and distracted her. She told me her foot caught, and she woke up face down on the patio. Her face is horribly bruised and cut, with a swollen knee, though luckily it doesnt appear that anything is broken, which is a surprise as her wrists are very thin. If you didnt know, it looks like she has been beaten up.

This isnt the first time that things have happened by accident. She has fallen over in the past, tripped over the stairs for instance. Glasses frequently jump out of cupboards by themselves, and plates often seem to slip from the table. One off would be an accident, but more than once becomes something I need to be concerned about.

She is losing her ability to do things safely, but wont accept that, and will continue to keep doing what she used to do. Is this safe? I cant tell her not to do things around the house, but I seem to spend most evenings fixing things that have broken or gone wrong in the house, ‘by accident’. When do we reach the tipping point?

And how do I broach my concerns with her? Telling someone you dont think they are safe to be left alone for extended periods of time must be devastating. She is 48, not old. She doesnt have a disease like dementia or parkinsons whereby she might be struggling, but the cancer has affected alot of her body, and she has started to waste away really badly.

We have been put in touch with a hospice in the past, but I dont feel we are at that stage yet, and she would fight tooth and nail against something like that. But I do worry the burden has become too much for me to look after her, along with all my other duties around our lives.

A further thing is that her back has now become bad, seperately from the trip. This will entail trips to a chiropractor, that isnt covered by health insurance. We thus need to find a way to take her twice a week to get this sorted as it is causing her chest to be in constant pain. She has a hot water bottle to try and ease it most of the time. Another worry for us all. I am hoping to raise some money to help pay for this treatment, so please consider donating.


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Its the anniversary of the diagnosis, should we commemorate it?

This month we will hit 7 years post diagnosis. Its been a long time, and feels like more than that. We have changed as a family in so many ways that we are not the same people. I have detailed elsewhere some of the history of my wifes illness, and you can either look through the previous posts, or there is a summary here:

But the question is, do we commemorate or celebrate? Do we even acknowledge the passing? When she was diagnosed, my wife was very gung ho about it, determined to fight and win. Her first round of chemo was on July 1st, and she bought US flag patterned leggings to wear for her independence day. It didnt work out quite like that however, and they were never seen again. The challenge became harder with every round, and with every hospitalisation and visit with doctors and specialists (we have seen over a dozen different specialists over the years that I can recall, along with countless talented and amazing nurses). So the fighting spirit whilst there, is maybe a little more subdued, less in your face.

We dont usually mention the anniversary. And why would we want to? We wouldnt want to be reminded of what we have lost, what has happened since, but it is an important day in our combined history. We remember happy events like our wedding, birthdays, and so on, and even remember the birthdays of relatives who have died, but this one feels different. This one has a dark cloud hanging over it. An anniversary of the start of the worst time of our collective lives.

Aside from the losses to cancer, a family changes immeasurably due to cancer. It isnt just the patient who suffers, though they suffer the most obviously. Partners, children, parents, friends, colleagues, are all impacted to some extent, whether they realise or not. Children have to watch the horror of their parent becoming sick and losing weight, maybe being physically ill, not being able to do the same fun activities with them. Parents have to watch their own child wither away and potentially die. Friends and colleagues will lose someone in their lives who may have meant alot to them. All caused by cancer. All contributing to the dark cloud overhanging the anniversary.

Fans of Stranger Things would appreciate this analogy, as it can sometimes feel that our lives now have moved into the Upside Down. A world that looks the same, but isnt. It has the same buildings, and roads, but there is a creeping terror on every corner, a spreading horror waiting to catch you, and drain your life away. (If you havent seen Stranger Things, do, it is great, if a little scary for kids).

Definately not one for us to celebrate, though I know some do. Not even a date to commemorate for us, though again I know some do. We will let it pass, not acknowledge the demons entrance, and regroup for the next round of challenges to come. For after a while the cancer becomes so all invasive and impacting your whole life that any opportunity to not mention it and push it away feels like a victory. To remember the anniversary is to give it more life, make it more real, and we dont want that.


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Celebrating my inspirational wife on International Womens Day #IWD2023

Why my wife should be celebrated on IWD2023

In early 2016, after a period of progressively worse stomach pains, my wife was diagnosed with cancer in the peritoneum, mesothelioma to be precise. This is extremely rare, and unfortunately incurable. That year she underwent 6 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, which managed to shrink the tumours enough for her to have a 10 hour operation in May 2017. During this the surgeons removed many major organs, before leaving her in an induced coma for a week, and then ICU for a further couple of weeks. All while our children were still in school (our daughter was 11, our son 6).

Thankfully she made a full recovery (or as much as it can be), and we managed to enjoy some family time, all the while hoping that advancement would be made towards a cure.

Unfortunately the tumours came back much faster than had been hoped, and in 2018, she started immunotherapy, which would be less aggressive than chemo. Where chemo destroys everything, immunotherapy uses your bodies own defences to fight the cancer. However, after 5 rounds, her body decided it didn’t like this, and effectively shut everything down, from initially her lungs, and soon everything else. I can still picture sitting by her seat in the hospital after 6 hours of waiting and encouraging her to breath as the doctor told her they were going to put her in a coma to save her life. That wasnt the first, and certainly not the last time I cried whilst driving home to the children.

This time for three weeks, they kept her alive, pumping all sorts into her body to stop its own urges, before being able to bring her gradually back to consciousness. But this story has to have a twist, and in that instance it was a stroke that has caused the loss of eyesight on the left hand side, along with an extreme loss strength and mental ability.

Recovery from that event has been long and frustrating, but we have managed to keep going. In 2021 she had more chemo, and in 2022 she had radiotherapy, all designed to try and shrink the tumours, that have now started to spread to the liver and pelvis.

This year, 2023, we received the news that the cancer has spread further and there are more tumours on the liver, and bones. She has times when she is extremely frail, has lost alot of weight, and can struggle with many physical aspects of life.

She has lost a high flying corporate career, made redundant after a year of treatment, and now has no prospects for work in the future, due to her lack of adequate sight, strength, and likeliehood of needing further treatment.

But through all this, through all the knockbacks and long bouts of ill health, she has kept her capacity to help others, put people ahead of herself. She has never complained, and has taken all the hits on the chin, trying to keep a positive mental attitude to keep fighting.

She has helped our young children navigate through pivotal times in their lives, as my 17 year old daughter has become a young woman, and our 11 year old son has grown up with barely knowing anything but a sick mother.

She has tried to make our lives exciting and enriched, even when she cannot eat she will cook meals, and even when she has to sleep she has made other people comfy and happy first. She will always give to others ahead of herself, and has a selfless attitude, despite having the right to be totally selfish after what has happened. She isnt bitter despite what she has lost, and is still losing.

In a world where extremely mediocre people can rise to positions of power and influence, I think my wife should be seen as a beacon of what a woman should be, and as such I celebrate her on today, International Womens Day.


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