1. In the beginning

Saturday 12th January 2013

Talk about being thrown headlong into 2013…..I have to say, never in a million years did I think that I would be preparing for our Christmas party on 7th December then taking a call less than a month later to be admitted to a cancer ward. I imagine everyone has the same feeling when they get the dreaded diagnosis of cancer, so this blog is going to be my journal as I find my way through a very different landscape to the one I expected in 2013. Stephen and I have been touched and even overwhelmed by the support that has poured in from more people than we realised we knew, and it already impossible to keep everyone updated with the latest news. My hope is that we can use this blog to keep everyone updated – please do feel free to post in reply. It will be lovely to stay in touch.

For anyone reading this who hasn’t followed the story so far, here’s a bit of history. We went on a business trip to New Orleans in May/June 2012 and I flew back with raging tonsillitis, which very soon became bronchitis. Had some time off work but I never really regained health and my tonsils just got bigger and bigger. The right one in particular took on the appearance of an alien life form, and after 4 visits to the doctor and 1 to the nurse I was finally referred to the hospital. We saw the consultant on 11th December (5 days after the afore-mentioned party, so we had actually started to feel a bit Christmassy) and within 5 minutes she had very gently given us her diagnosis. I am so grateful that Stephen came in with me. I was prepared to go to the hospital on my own as we were both so busy at work, but an intuitive nudge got me to ask him to come along to the hospital. An even stronger nudge on the way there made me realise he had to come in with me. Thank heavens for intuition. In the 15 minutes we were in her office, the consultant organised an immediate MRI scan and forced her way onto a theatre list for the following Monday so I could have a biopsy. A CT scan followed, then although we were going back to the consultant on 4th January I got a call on the evening of 2nd January (hangover only just gone!) asking me to come in the next morning for more tests, and be prepared to stay over. Over the next 2 days the story just got worse. Mantle cell lymphoma is a very aggressive and rare cancer and to stand any chance of survival I need to have equally aggressive chemotherapy which will see me pretty much out of action for the next 3-5 months. I usually stay well away from conventional medicine as far as possible, but this is non-negotiable. I will take the best from all forms of treatment that are available, conventional and alternative, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. I have some very dear and gifted friends who are advising me on the supplements to support my system as it is ravaged by the chemo, and I have a truly wonderful consultant who is taking advice from the leading expert on treating mantle cell lymphoma. I am in good hands. I’m going for my PET scan on Monday – that’s the one that will make me glow in the dark :-) – then on Tuesday I go in to have the Hickman line put in. Early Wednesday I start the chemo.

Stephen and I are just taking each day at a time. There is no other way for us at the moment as the bigger picture is too difficult to deal with. A friend commented on the unusual name of this cancer – a mantle usually covers something, and she wondered what could be revealed from this experience. I do believe there is a spiritual imbalance which is at the root of physical illness, which is why I have called this blog ‘Under Cover of Darkness’. In the hours before dawn everything does indeed appear very dark. But just as the Sun rises to bring light into our lives each day, so do I look with hope and optimism towards a revelation that will help all of this make sense to us.


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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20 Responses to 1. In the beginning

  1. Lyn says:

    Dear Margaret,
    Very much enjoyed reading your first entry.
    As a mater of interest Lyn and I have a couple of paraffin lamps (showing our age), just in case we cannot afford the electricity! :)
    In their centre they have a mantle, this acts as the element and provides the bright light that alleviates the darkness. :)
    Love from both to Both.


  2. Wendy Gawtry says:

    Just read your entry Margaret and as have said we cannot be with you physically but we are there with you in spirit. Will be good to be able to share your progress. Love and hugs Wendy and Brian. xxxxxxxxxx


  3. Bernadette says:

    Right I am glued to your blog and thank you for letting us into your journey. Much love.


  4. Lisa Gawtry says:

    I want to send all my love too you both and say how amazing you both are the support you give each other is outstanding and i want you both to know Im here for you both always and love you very dearly always and forever Xxx


  5. Chris Mitchell says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Margaret, and your positive and optimistic outlook is wonderful and I’m sure is exactly what you need. One little snippet that I’d like to share that may or may not be of help – a former NHS colleague of mine is a breast cancer survivor, and the chemotherapy worked very well for her. The first time, she had the nausea side effect often associated with it, but also went to see an acupuncturist. The acupuncturist didn’t make any claim to be able to cure the cancer, but did say acupuncture helps deal with the side effects of chemotherapy – so after that Nicky went to see the acupuncturist the day before her chemotherapy was due and said that by doing that she had hardly any nausea at all following each chemo session.

    Wishing you all the best in this journey, with love and healing thoughts.

    Chris xxx


    • Hi Chris,
      Many thanks for that. I do have a local acupuncturist so I will give him a call when I come out of this bout. Hard to know how I’m going to react so for this first time we are a bit in the dark. Mxx


  6. Darrelyn says:

    Hi Margaret,
    So glad you are doing this Blog. The title is fabulous. Your journey will be extraordinary. We will walk with you now every step of the way. Have trust and faith in the process and be of good courage. Much love. xxx


  7. Neil says:

    Margaret, just stopping by to let you know I am with you in spirit through your journey, and I’ll be checking in here to see how you’re doing. You’ll be getting massive beams of Light from this end! Few things for you – I used to always stay away from conventional medicine too but have come to learn that some things we do need extra help with on the physical plane and the help has really been beneficial. Also, I have always believed too that illness was a spiritual imbalance but then through my own adventures now i am open to the possibility of it just being another challenge, another quest our soul signed up for and therefore there is no blame and no imbalance, just another life experience to experience, absorb and transcend. Only the strong ones get the biggest challenges, right? Your Virgo Moon and Pluto have a new focus, a new project. A spiritual upgrade, perhaps. Margaret 2.0! And finally, here’s a wonderful article (below) that I think you’ll be interested in if you didn’t already see or hear about it. I love you, and I believe in you. To the journey! Neil xx



  8. Hi Margaret,
    What a wonderful gift you are offering us with this fabulous blog – straight from your heart to ours – thank you. Many years ago when I was facing a major health challenge, I was offered the opportunity to tune into a healing circle once a week at a set time. All I needed to do was relax during those 5/10 minutes – it felt very powerful. Maybe if it appealed to you, those of us who would like to, could do the same with you from around the world at a set time each week . Just a thought.:) Sending you lots of aloha XXXXXXXX


    • Hi Margaret,
      Thank you – that would be really wonderful and it so kind of you to suggest it. Let me know when to tune in and I will be there. I think visiting time is 2-4 pm and 7-8 pm, so anything outside those times would be good. Mxx


  9. Kris Brandt Riske says:

    Hi, Margaret,
    Wonderful blog, wonderful way to stay in touch with everyone. We are cheering you on to robust health with lots of hugs and healing thoughts from way, way, way over the ocean and beyond! xoxoxo


  10. Kim Farnell says:

    Dear Margaret, we’re all with you. Please say if there is anything you need to make life simpler at any point while you’re on this road.


  11. Hakan Kirkoglu says:

    Dear Margaret, wishing you good recoveries and good health very soon. My thoughts and prayers are with you, loves.


  12. Payday Loans says:

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m
    thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for inexperienced blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.


    • Hi there,
      Only just saw your email as it went into spam. Thank you for your comment – but I’m not an experienced blogger, I just started this as a way of keeping in touch with people while I’m ill. I don’t find WordPress the easiest site to use, but then I didn’t want to pay anything. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess! The only think I’d say is to save your blogs until you have something interesting to say that other people might relate to. Once you get a few responses it is tempting to post any old thing but that way you will run out of material pretty quickly. Good luck with it!


  13. Hiya, sorry, only just seen your comment as it went to the spam folder. Thank you for your kind comment and do please share with your students if it would help.


  14. I feel terrible Margaret that I have only just realised your condition. I’ve been ‘out of the grapevine’ so had no idea when I corresponded with you by email lately. What to say? I’m shocked but struck by admiration by your bravery, openness, and your beautiful way of dealing with the process. Sending all my love and praying that things go well for you – Deb x


    • No worries Deb, you have quite enough to be going on with! Thank you so much for your support, and I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. I find it a huge release to write and I am bowled over by the lovely comments and support that come back – it really does help. Have yourself a good, relaxing weekend! Mx


  15. Caron Rogers says:

    A greater force clearly wanted me to read your blog. Having not seen much of your boys recently, I have bumped into Matt on the the last three weekends! Apologies from Malcolm as he didn’t recognise Matt in the Beach Hut & you were hidden from his view. Just starting on my journey reading every entry of yours, I thought it best to start at the beginning – a very good place to start! It may take me a few sessions but I will get up to speed & in the meantime will be constantly sending positive thoughts to you, with love Caron x


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