Blue Mum

Posted: May 20, 2013 in The Big C
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Blue Mum

I said in my last post that I wasn’t going to write about cancer anymore, however in the unpredictable relay of life, the cancer-baton has been swiftly passed to my mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Before you all start panicking, she’ll be fine, she’s just a little blue, really she is.

Mum’s diagnosis came as a massive shock. We were all relieved at the end of my treatment and looking forward to moving on, when we found out. Unlike me, who went from check-up, to life changing diagnosis in less than two hours, my poor mother had to wait nearly a month to find out the extent of her cancer. Waiting for results is horrible and mum was already psyching herself up for wigs and mastectomies by the time her appointment came round.

After a nail-biting month of not knowing what was going on, it was good news and on Thursday she had a small operation to remove the lump and sentinel lymph-node. After that she’ll have 3 weeks of radiotherapy & 5 years of hormone therapy. Job done.

The C-word has become far too familiar in our family of late, although having gone through it once already, we knew what to expect – radioactive injections, blue boobs & radiation burns – we know the drill. Mum is home now and doing really well. I’m just relieved as it could have been so much worse.


I’m moving back to Manchester soon and saying goodbye to cancer world. I’ve had nearly a year in Paris Cottage country hospital and although the glorious countryside and Michelin star menu, courtesy of Jim and Doreen, is tempting me to stay, I’m ready to leave now. It’s beautiful here and it’s been a great place to rest and recover but I’m beginning to feel like I’m in Groundhog day. I’ll miss the country walks, the chat with village folk, the old fogies at my tai-chi group (which I secretly think might be a cult), the roast dinners, the getting to know my nieces and nephews, the hanging out with friends old and new, the going for coffee in beautiful places and most of all, the love and support my family & friends have given me over the past year.

Goodbye sheep & goats

Goodbye sheep & goats

Of course I can’t forget the Maggie’s centre which has been such a huge part of my life, as have all the friends I have made through having cancer. It’s a unique bond you form with people who’ve been through the same experience: the sharing of stories and battle scars and the hugs & tears over endless cups of tea. It’s really hard to put into words what Maggie’s does but you don’t have to be brave there, everyone just gets it.

I’ve been busy packing this last week and sorting through the debris of the last year. There are the chemo-beanies, the Picc-line sleeves, my wig Stevie, the surgical-socks and the pic’n mix of drugs left over from chemotherapy, all of which I’m not sure what to do with.  I don’t know whether to bin the lot or keep them for ‘just in case’. Stevie might be dragged out for weddings, but it’s my beanies I’m most attached to. Not only did they keep my head warm when I was ‘as bald as a coot’, they were my armour, they shielded me from prying eyes, so perhaps I’ll frame them or at least give them the burial they deserve.

It’s nearing the anniversary of my diagnosis and my mind is on replay. The anxieties I felt in the weeks before my diagnosis are now replaced by fears of recurrence. I’m now having 6 monthly check-ups and although they recommend vigilance, I have already convinced myself I have metastatic cancer. You might think I’m joking, but if you were in my shoes you’d be just as neurotic. There’s no way of distinguishing between the twinges of tissue healing (normal after a mastectomy), hormonal aches and pains and what could be potentially new tumours. They gave me the all-clear a couple of months ago, however the reality is that even the doctors don’t know unless they find something palpable. Scans are pointless unless you can feel a lump and even the best scanner in the world won’t pick things up at a cellular level. Obsessive self-examination it is then.

I met up with a cancer-buddy today and like me, she worries about the cancer returning. We were joking about how we’d already started planning the end of our lives, how we laughed! Tie up all those loose ends and have the holiday of a life time, that’s my plan. It sounds morbid but you have to think about these things. I’m not planning on dying any time soon, I’m just keeping my options open.

Now I’m on the other side of my annus-horribilis, I still find myself asking ‘did this all actually happen?’ I got cancer, my house burned down and then my mum got cancer, could life get any worse?! The answer is YES it probably could and if I’ve learned anything from this past year, it’s that life can throw all manner of unexpected shit at you and the best you can do is ‘BE PREPARED’ when the next pile of shit hits the fan. Get knitting that blanket of love and security because you never know when you might need it!

Of course it’s not all bad, good stuff happens too and I’m looking forward to a bit more of that. I have a little thing called life to look forward to.

  1. Amy Grenham says:

    Great post, and good luck moving back to Manchester. More than a little odd that both of our mammas ended up with the C diagnosis within a year from yours. Really pleased to hear Doreen’s treatment went well – give her my love. My mum is currently fit as a fiddle. xx

  2. Kerry says:

    Great post Kath. We’re with you all the way, but more so helping you along with having fun again. Give my love to your mum – I plan to go visit them with Jamie soon. I’ll give you a call soon to catch up once you’re back in Mancs xxx

  3. Thats a really good post Kath. Hope Doreeen is getting on ok and that you’re settling into Manchester life again. It must feel really good to be starting a fresh in a new house. Make lots of plans and bring on more sunny days ; ) When I have some cash I’ll come and see you, even if it means coming with Delilah. Surely we can find a beer garden with a late kids licence! Big hugs, Beki xx

  4. jeffriona says:

    Hope you get a lot more of the good stuff from now on, Kath xxxxx

  5. Pat says:

    Lots of blessings came out of my weird year with cancer and you are one of the special ones, Katherine. I will miss you but I’m glad you are moving on. You will be an encouragement wherever you go. Make sure you find a writing group or a writing buddy because you absolutely must continue with that! Thanks for the blog and all your support. God bless. Much love Pat xx

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