Straight Talking

Big day today - the PICC line in my arm was taken out and I saw my oncologist for what, I hope, will be the last time. I'm now referred back to being under the care of my surgeon and will be closely monitored. It's a strange feeling, signed off, but not really because no-one knows if you better until you've managed to live a 'normal' lifetime. For now I'm on doctor's orders to go home and live my life and not wait for cancer to come back. Yes it might, there might be cells there and we'll just have to deal with what could present itself then, but it might not, so I need to make myself stop worrying about things that may never happen. As for the PICC line coming out, I was very nervous about that, but it was fine. Not that I'd want to do it again, but not as bad as I'd imagined!

The neuropathy persists and the oncologist agrees with colleagues that it may take months for the numbness in my fingers to go. I've not hand sewn for ages now, and I'm missing it. I hope that my fingers will be better sooner than they anticipate, or else I'll just have to teach myself how to sew without actually being able to feel the needle or thread. At the moment I'm about as dextrous as threading a needle with boxing gloves on!

While we're on the subject, I spotted an item in the news today about how some people with cancer get upset when other people use certain language and phrases about their situation. Things like 'brave' and 'battle', 'keeping positive' and 'winning (or losing) the fight'. I'm not at all brave, even though I've been told often that I am. If I could choose to not have cancer and deal with everything that comes along with it, then I would. I think that's probably more cowardly than brave. For me 'brave' is having a choice and doing it anyway. I'm not brave, but I'm quite a good actress, I can pretend I'm OK most of the time, I can wash my hair, put my makeup on, add a smile, and look as though I'm alright. If only for the sake of Amelie, to protect her from the worst of it.

As for a battle that can be won or lost depending on how positive you are, or how hard you fight, well that's just ridiculous, and I do think language like that is hard to take. It's the doctors and the researchers who have the fight, the scientists who continue every day to strive to find solutions and options for cancer patients. From where I'm standing, a lot of what it means to have cancer is down to luck. Unlucky to get cancer, lucky if it's found in time, lucky if the treatment works. There are statistics that reflect how many people are lucky, and for the first time today I asked my oncologist what that meant for me. I don't know whether to pay much attention to statistics, all I know is I'm going to try hard to get lucky.

Thank you for your kindness, love and support along the way.


  1. About 1 year after the start of the chemo, I discovered the neuropathy was gone. It left my body quietly, which was good.
    I don't like the idea of having to battle or fight cancer either. I don't really look at it as having luck or being unlucky either. I just look at it as something I had, I dealt with it and all the procedures and it doesn't necessarily mean it will return. Cancer didn't return for my father and many other people I know, so why would I expect it to return to me? I try to live each day to the fullest and I am grateful that I can.
    It's been 5 years now since my last chemo.

  2. I do think you are brave -you accepted the diagnosis, went through the surgery, the treatments and continue to experience all the side effects - you didn't give up. But beyond all that you have so openly talked about what you have and are going through and I think that is really brave. No one would choose to have cancer - I know this from experience. But we do choose how we respond and you have made and shared many wonderful responses - look at the quilt that you are creating as a result. Above all, Laura, you are truly inspirational.

  3. Congratulations on returning to your normal life.

  4. Many of my friends and family who have been diagnosed with cancer have said the same. I think we often use words that are inadequate because we can't find the right word for what is in our heart. My best friend and I had this discussion last weekend. She developed sepsis after a botched surgery. A year and a half later, she is finally feeling better, but concerned because it can come back. She wanted to know how I deal with knowing that I will never be "cured". (I have dystonia and early Parkinson's.) She didn't see the late night internet searches, the tears, the angry outbursts, she saw the "happy face" fa├žade that I put on for the public. I gave her the same advice I was given years ago - live each day as though it is your last - listen to your body and respect it - seek joy.
    You will adapt. You will learn to celebrate the days the neuropathy seems to abate a bit, and accept the days when chemo brain makes understanding simple sentences seem like they are in Mandarin. You will flourish in your new reality. Just give yourself time and be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Sending love.

  5. Dear Laura, I totally agree with what you write in the last paragraph. I heartily wish you a normal life - and that one day you will say, back then ... !!!
    You wrote in one of your last blogs that you can not continue sewing the Ruby Star Quilt just because you have these side effects of chemo - would it be an idea if we, i. Your readership or fan club ;-) could take over something from this work? I would be very happy if I could take some work from you! Just let us know xx

  6. There is nothing I feel I can say that is either pithy or wise. So I won’t. But I wish you well Laura. Go, go, go! Xxx


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