65. Swanning Around

Before I get started I just wanted to say for anyone who is following it that I have updated the Vits, Tips and Resources page. I also regularly update my Pinterest board, which needs a completely different set of brain cells. I’m trying hard not to be confused about what I can Pin and what I can share. I’m sure I will get there eventually.

It has been a very busy week, filled with much excitement and a huge amount of frustration. The excitement came in the form of our dearest friend and Wessex Astrologer author Komilla Sutton calling in to the office on her way back from the Astrological Association conference. Actually, it wasn’t on the way back at all. She flew over from the US for the conference and was in fact on her way to Germany, but she drove all the way down to Bournemouth to see me and Stephen. A good two hours each way and we are deeply honoured and delighted that she came. It was a lovely surprise and we shared a nice lunch before she headed back. We also participated in a brisk walk back from the restaurant in an absolute downpour. Komilla kindly shared her brolly with me as I didn’t think it would rain so suggested we leave ours in the car. A stroke of brilliance on my part, obviously. The funny thing is that visitors to our country are always better prepared than we are. Or at least than I am. Here we are, a bit damp around the edges.

The frustrating part of the week was all tied up with computers not working, O2 cutting off Stephen’s mobile phone with no notice, and mail servers throwing absolute wobblies on Thursday and Friday so I could neither send nor receive email. If you were expecting to hear from me, I really wasn’t avoiding you; I understand that normal service has been resumed now and I look forward to trawling through four days’ worth of emails tomorrow. I may be some time. It is an excellent exercise in staying in the moment and not throwing a wobbly myself at a time of aggressive deadlines. Not too sure how I’m scoring on that front.

Despite my best intentions I always seem to end up writing the blog on a Sunday afternoon. I am beginning to see that the intention is seeded a long way ahead of a likely timeslot; given my fledgling abilities to be able to go with the flow instead of diverting the current to my liking, I gather this is so that by the time I can actually sit down to write, the blog is more or less formed in my head. And that is nice, actually, as it just flows out and I enjoy the writing as opposed to agonising over it. I don’t think I could have kept the blog going, TBH, if there was any agony in the process; definitely some agony in the content, or at least, trials and tribulations, but not in the writing. It is still a great release for me, which is somewhat of a surprise. When I started writing, it really was just a means of keeping in touch with people. I had no idea it was going to develop as it has, and turn into this amazing multi-faceted contact point. I find I am getting into completely different conversations with people since I was ill, and the blog is an incredibly useful reference tool for all kinds of stuff. I remember writing many blogs back that facing such serious illness removes the conventional boundaries in conversation, and we can end up getting very deep very quickly. How true that has turned out to be.

For instance, this weekend we went to meet some friends in Arundel, a beautiful town on the South coast of England which has a magnificent castle and an equally magnificent church. And lots of swans swimming in the moat, along with their fast growing cygnets, who must at least be teenagers by now. Can someone tell me what swans represent shamanically? They seem to be cropping up a lot at the moment. And I already know the obvious one about being apparently serene on the surface while paddling like crazy underneath. Here they are.


We had decided to stay overnight as it is quite a hike from where we live, so after a totally splendid curry with our friends (curry features very strongly on the blog) we retired to our hotel, which was actually more like a pub, but more of that later. The next morning was spent wandering around the town in the glorious and very unexpected sunshine. On our way to the restaurant previous evening we had noticed a sweet girlie-heaven kind of shop with scarves and jewellery and stuff that Stephen thought I might like to go back to the following day. He is lovely like that. So on the way back to the car after our beautiful walk we made a detour of about ten feet to go into the shop, and indeed it was heaven. I really love scarves and unusual jewellery, and this little treasure trove had loads of them, all so beautifully displayed that I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to afford anything. Me of little faith. And I really am trying to stop that negative self-talk.

In fact they were so affordable that I was finding it really hard to make a sensible selection. And most of it was somewhat predictably pink, which has obviously become the major theme of the blog. “Oh look, pink with a bit of a sparkle,” “Oh – purple and pink – beautiful,” ”Oh look, pinky kind of tapestry effect,” and so it went on. It was getting really silly – at every turn I saw another item I could cheerfully have added to the pile – but in the process we got talking to the lovely owner, who was interested to know whether pink had always been a theme in my life. Stephen is always very delicate with these situations as I don’t necessarily want to get involved in a whole discussion about being ill, but on this occasion it seemed the right thing to do. We told her a teeny bit of history regarding Fenella and the pink entourage that followed me in and out of hospital, and in return discovered that her mother has had a relapse from the lymphoma she was treated for twelve years ago, and is now very poorly. Sharing a common foe immediately opened up a very frank discussion, and she was interested to know which things had helped me along the way, and of course anything that might help her mum now. My voracious appetite for all things alternative – especially anything that can help defeat cancer – means that between the blog and my Pinterest board I have amassed quite an arsenal of useful information. Before it dawned on me that the blog could be such a resource I would try frantically to remember everything I’d taken or read about, often in a really unhelpful place like a shop, whereas now I can direct people to the blog, where they can at least explore a few ideas before deciding whether they want to take anything any further. The ‘contact’ link allows them to get in touch privately as not everyone wants to post a comment. I love the technology, and huge thanks to Mark, website designer extraordinaire, for sorting me out with that one.

The biggest thing I’ve found is that we need support on so many levels – and by ’we’ I mean both the patient and the relatives. People are open to different levels of involvement in their cancer journey, and we are at varying stages in our spiritual development. The more I become involved in this crazy journey, the more I realise that life really is a multi-coloured tapestry that has different threads running through it. I have had to realise that although it is in my nature to experiment and pursue many different options, others are more cautious and no amount of proselytising on my part will encourage them to take the same route, and neither should they; less is definitely more, so I now tone down my boundless enthusiasm to something that is a bit less exhausting, but hopefully just as encouraging. The cancer experience demands something very deep from us, and it is in exploring those depths that we start to see what makes us tick.

Back at the beginning of all this, from about Blog #2 I think, I started to explore the concept of surrendering or acceptance as a means of helping me to cope with my life as a newly diagnosed cancer patient. The whole control-freaky side of my nature took a massive battering as I came to realise how little control I had over anything. I mean, I never really had control anyway, but I thought I did, and that is the difference. In fact what would happen is that in everyday life I expected something to follow a particular route, then when it didn’t I would get incredibly bent out of shape and frustrated. All a huge waste of energy, I’m sure you will agree. And I am pretty sure, that for me at least, the control-freaky part was a fear that things wouldn’t go the safe and comfortable way I expected them to. And what then? How would I cope? I didn’t like to think about that. The revelation that I was held back by fear came as a massive surprise, but also a relief. I started to see that my decisions were based on an expected outcome, rather than an interest in what would happen if I didn’t interfere. In fact I began to notice that whenever I did get involved and try to effect the outcome I desired, things very often went wrong. So being in control was actually working against me. Interesting, huh?

You might wonder why I have gone back down this road when I am in remission, and in a post-treatment fashion living a full life again. Actually, it is more than full – it is more enriched, and it is completely different. I know that some people go back to ordinary life after cancer and forget that period of their life as if nothing had happened. Or at least they say they do. The truth of the matter as far as I personally am concerned, is that I am permanently changed by the experience, and I am grateful for those changes. I am enjoying exploring the new opportunities that life is bringing me, particularly in regard to learning to allow events to unfold as they should, and it is a lot less tiring now I’m not trying to control everything. Talking of control, I have just finished reading the most amazing book: The Surrender Experiment – My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer (see Book Blog). It is an autobiographical account of a man who gave up his career as an economist to retreat to a home in the woods because he craved a life of solitude – he wanted to tune into the flow of life and follow where it led him. He had absolutely no idea that he would end up firstly leading a spiritual community, then designing software that would make him millions. And being arrested by the FBI for fraud. It is a masterclass in giving up control, and it is so thought-provoking I just couldn’t put it down. So I clearly had no control over that situation :-)

So back to Arundel and the lovely lady in the scarf and jewellry shop. I finally managed to limit myself to just three items after I made a silent promise to have a clear-out and take some stuff to the charity shop. And yes, they all have a bit of pink in them. We had a lovely chat, exchanged contact details, and she gave me a beautiful candle as a thank you for our conversation. My heart goes out to her and all her family, and of course especially her mum, who sounds like one brave lady. We will be going back to Arundel at the earliest opportunity as we both loved it there, and we can catch up with the ever-growing number of swans floating gracefully in the moat. Oh yes, and the hotel that is really a pub with attitude? It was called The Swan :-)

Wishing you happiness and good health,

Margaret xx


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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