77. Happy Anniversary to Me

So first up, apologies for not writing a blog for months, and huge thanks to all the people who have enquired after my welfare. I know from experience it’s always a bit worrying when a cancer blog seems to grind to a halt, but it is with good reason. Having unleashed my desire to write through creating the blog, and having unloaded all the cancer story through both the blog and my book, Under Cover of Darkness, I’m now incapable of stopping the writing muse, but have changed direction somewhat. I’m a huge fan of really clever chick lit – the kind that makes me laugh like crazy on one page then sob on the next, because it is so easy to relate to the characters. A couple of weeks ago I was suffering from the horrible hacking cough that’s doing the rounds, and decided to cheer myself up by reading Lindsey Kelk’s latest book, We Were on a Break. She is my absolute heroine for this kind of writing – clever, funny, almost like social commentary – so much so that I wrote to her when I was in chemo to tell her that her books were keeping me going during the long hours on the drip. She wrote me a delightful email back that I treasure, and as she matures even more as a writer, I eagerly await the arrival of each new book.

So, a hacking chesty cough and a funny book aren’t good bedfellows. And in fact I was tucked up in bed reading, due to feeling pretty grotty, and trying not to laugh because I knew it would start me coughing. After a while I realised that the more I tried to stop laughing the worse it got, and that the action of a really good laugh was probably a good idea as it would clear my chest. And oh my goodness, it did. A really good belly laugh is so good for the soul – and the chest – as it turned out, and I felt a lot better on several levels after having a good reading/laughing session. I also felt incredibly inspired and was itching to get back to writing my next book, which is the reason I haven’t written a blog for ages. There are only so many hours in a day and mine seem to be pretty over-subscribed at the moment. I’m fascinated by a style of writing that can address difficult issues without appearing too serious and deep. Humour is a great way of communicating otherwise unapproachable subjects, and I’m really enjoying playing with this in order to communicate some themes that are very close to my heart. Think Eat, Pray, Love kind of thing. And if I can get a film star to endorse it so it sells millions and gets made into a film, I really wouldn’t object.

And while I’ve been busy coughing and laughing and reading and writing, Facebook keeps popping up every day with an old post or photo of mine, usually one that goes back several years. Whilst everyone probably has a “No way, really?!” kind of reaction to random memories being shown in glorious technicolour, I find it extra strange because the last four years have been a real rollercoaster of experiences. The older the posts are (and the closer to 2013) the more bizarre it is, as at that point I was in chemo, which seems like another world away. I guess when it gets to June/July I’ll be faced with posts about the stem cell transplant, then later in the year a few pics of me with a bit of hair growing back. To top it all, last week WordPress sent a ‘Happy Anniversary’ message to me, as I started the blog on 11th January 2013. Wow. How my world has changed since then. The blog has been an incredible outlet for me, and almost immediately it became pretty much a life saver. Cancer is a terrifying and alienating disease and the blog connected me to a whole community of incredibly supportive new friends who kept me going in the darkest hours. It also gives me a means of offering support to people who are still in treatment and in need of that same support themselves.

I must say, with all this Facebook memory thing and the WordPress anniversary, it highlights times like Christmas in a totally different way. Different years bring different memories, but since my diagnosis in 2012 I think my experience and anticipation of Christmas has changed forever. I am lucky in that I always wake up and feel grateful to still be here, but Christmas is especially poignant – and not necessarily for the obvious reasons. My initial diagnosis and crazy round of scans and biopsies kicked off on 11th December 2012, so despite my best efforts that period is still a bit tricky for me every year. I don’t know whether it is heightened awareness/being a drama queen/hypochondriac, but as it gets towards my December check-up with Joe each year, I have to fight against a huge sense of déjà vu, as there has also been the odd scare around this time. In fact at the anniversary of the first year in December 2013, I was back in hospital having another biopsy to make sure that there was nothing sinister about my swollen throat and lymph glands. It was the same hospital and the same consultant, and I was terrified I would get the same result as before. Fortunately the tests came back fine, so that Christmas in particular was an important milestone. But what has niggled me in subsequent years is that my appointment schedule always seems to include a date in December. It isn’t easy to get the NHS to juggle appointments, but I thought it would be so lovely if only I could move it back or forward a month so I have December free. Sounds nuts, doesn’t it? I’ve had several people say they never think about it anymore and have just moved on with their lives, but I don’t seem able to do that in the same way; maybe because I am still very much involved with cancer through this blog and through contact with people still undergoing treatment – and I wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest. But I could do without being reminded of it at Christmas.

So imagine my joy when Joe scheduled my check up for November this time. Yay! The universe answered my prayer. I’m usually convinced that everything in fine, but it is comforting to have the whole spectrum of blood tests to back it up. Happily that was the situation in November so all is well, and I was free to enjoy December without the apprehension of the appointment. And you know, it really made a difference.

I am really temped to stop Facebook from bringing up all these memories, as in a sense I want to move forward – seeing those photos and old posts from what was a very challenging time sometimes give me a strange start to the day, and I don’t necessarily want to be reminded of it the whole time. Yes, I could take a holiday from Facebook, but it is also a means of communicating with customers through the Wessex Astrologer and Flying Horse Books pages, as well as advertising, so I do need to be on it. But then I realised how much I treasure those times too, because without them I wouldn’t be the me I am now, and I most certainly wouldn’t be writing – something I really, really love doing. So I guess I’m back at that good old gratitude thing; that I’m grateful to be here, and I’m grateful to have the perspective I do now. Yes, I would maybe have preferred another route to the new me, but it probably wouldn’t have been so effective. Nothing like a massive kick up the arse from the universe to catapult us onto another track, is there? And just in case the Universe is listening, I’m quite happy with this one, okay?

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017

Margaret

 

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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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3 Responses to 77. Happy Anniversary to Me

  1. Sue Joiner says:

    So good to read that, Margaret! Have you read about the latest research ( WDDTY writes of it) citing evidence that intravenous injections of vitamin C are looking to be very effective destroyers of cancer cells < not sure I am using the correct language here, but you'll get the gist of it,
    Love Sue J xxx

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  2. Vicky says:

    Dear Margaret,

    I haven’t commented on your blog before but I wanted to say how amazingly helpful your book was to me while going through Diffuse B lymphoma this year.
    Judy Hall told me about your book ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ during a reading I had with her shortly after my treatment in July. I have not approached Judy before but intuitively knew that her reading would be helpful.
    It was a year ago in Feb that I was diagnosed and can so relate to the anniversary feelings (not easy). As a person who is health conscious and alternative & complimentary health prone I so enjoyed your book and could identify with your thoughts and feelings about your treatment. Although mine was in no way as grueling as yours. I was so impressed with your fortitude in dealing with your diagnosis and treatment. Also you made me laugh which is so essential.

    I had the six rounds of chemo which finished in late June and had the all clear in August.
    When I started my treatment it was a blessed relief because my Lymphoma was in my stomach and I was in a lot of pain to the extent I could not eat or sleep. The chemo shank the tumours really quickly and I could come off morphine after the first month. I knew that I had to go down the conventional treatment route and I used homeopathy and Avedic herbs to counter the harmful effects. All my complimentary health friends were supportive with one exception who after knowing I was undergoing chemo told me I would kill my self and my son would be without a mother and I should consider diet etc etc.. Sending me links for ‘The truth about cancer’ blah blah !! I was so shocked and horrified it made me see how black and white people are.

    I am in fear of it coming back , why did this happen etc?? I realize that I need support of others who have been though similar. During my treatment I didn’t want that as if I was in denial that it was happening.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Sending you many good wishes

    Vicky

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    • Hi Vicky,
      Thank you so much for writing, and I’m glad the blog and my book have helped you. So glad also that you are clear now. I think going through cancer changes you for life: my outlook and attitude and just about everything is very different now, as I think it has to be. Staring death in the face does that, doesn’t it?! The complementary therapies I used absolutely definitely helped me, and that is another reason for keeping the blog going. People who have only just been diagnosed are finding their way to it and getting ideas about how to support their systems in a way that they won’t be told about in hospital – that’s for sure. I find that the fear lessens somewhat when I manage to meditate and practise mindfulness. The more I stay in the moment the less I am likely to go down the ‘what if’ route, but that is sometimes easier said than done! Guess it’s all part of our incredible journey, huh?

      Great that you got to see Judy. She is such a good friend and was the most amazing source of strength for us both when we were deep in the darkness of treatment.

      So good to hear from you and I wish you all good things and abundant good health in the coming years.
      Warmest wishes
      Margaret

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