Days to Remember

Time has been rushing by of late and at home things have been extraordinarily busy. Over the last few months we’ve been through the stresses of revision and final exams, reflected on my son’s three years at university which seem to have passed by in the blink of an eye, received the results and classification is his degree and started planning his next steps. We’ve reviewed job adverts, prepared him for interviews and celebrated two very good offers which take him closer to his ultimate goal – four years further study (graduate entry medicine) in order to become a doctor.

I’m so very proud of J and what he’s achieved. University is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, a time when we’re unencumbered by thoughts of death and hardship. Unfortunately his university journey was marred from start to finish by more crises and calamities than some folks experience in 50 years.

At the start of 2012 it was uncertain whether I’d be here now because the extent of my malaise was yet to be determined. Our lives turned upside down in that instant and for J, a deep pervasive depression began to take hold. Every day was difficult. Some were just plain awful. Those events, the days, weeks and months of trauma, we choose to leave behind. I know that eventually they’ll gather so much dust that they’re obscured from thought, displaced by altogether happier and healthier periods of our lives.

After so much chaos and consternation things are finally looking better. Health, for both of us, is heading in the right direction and luck (if that’s what it is) has decided to make a long overdue appearance. We have some very special days to remember, free from the shadow of cancer and depression, free from people who’ve been unsupportive (and mean) and free from physical and emotional purgatory. In the last two months there have been some very, very good days. It feels as if we’re living a different life and in many ways we are. For that I am more thankful than words will convey.

Yesterday presented a particularly good and special day to remember bringing with it a new wave of optimism and positivity to hold in our hearts. After three years of effort and J’s tremendous determination in the face of much adversity, we celebrated his degree during a wonderful ceremony at Bristol Cathedral. His formal graduation could not have been more well-deserved, it’s a day that will stay with us for the rest of our lives forever bringing an overwhelming sense of happiness, pride and achievement. To have any prospect of entering medical school J had to achieve at least an upper second class honours degree in Biomedical Science and that’s exactly what he did. Well done J 🙂

These are the days to remember. They remind us that with love, tenacity and enduring faith we can achieve much more than our circumstances appear to support.


What makes Christmas exciting?

2012 has been an eventful year for us primarily due to my diagnosis, on-going treatment and the wider impacts this has for our individual and interdependent lives in the years ahead.  We’ve already shared our birthdays under the shadow of cancer and now we’re about to enter the festive season while I prepare for further chemotherapy on 28th December.

Talking to my son last night, or rather while I was talking and he was IM-ing questions and responses over Skype from the university library, we mused on a number of topics including Christmas.

I know it’s silly and sentimental but I couldn’t resist asking whether he’s looking forward to it this year even though he’s past the excitable youngster stage.  I thought he might say he’s looking forward to having some time off from university, would prefer Christmas cake to Christmas pudding and hoped to receive some support with the assignments he needs to complete during the break.   Instead he said he was sad that I have to go for chemo on 28th, he wants to come with me as he’ll be home that day and yes, he’s very much looking forward to Christmas this year.  Not just looking forward to it but positively excited about it, as much as he was when he was a young child. The most excited he’s felt for several years.  He says he doesn’t know why he feels this way, he just does and I think that’s a wonderful way to be.

“I’m so excited Mom.”

So excited.  Once he said it I could feel my own enthusiasm beginning to unfold, peeling back the tape and undoing the wrap shrouding the playful spirit that resides deep inside me.   His raised eyebrow when he discovers a stocking outside his bedroom door on Christmas morning, anticipating the look on his face when he opens his gifts.  Hearing his half-hearted grumbles about the impossible way I combine sticky tape and paper to make  unwrapping impervious to quick release of the contents within and making sure he reads every gift tag, acknowledges and is grateful for the kindness others show him.  The wrapping, the smiles, the laughter and the corny Christmas cracker jokes.  The time spent together doing nothing in particular, simply enjoying the opportunity of each other’s company for a few days.

I’m sure I may (will) find I’ve forgotten some essential ingredient when the day comes. Or I might deliver a less than perfect Christmas dinner when my slightly addled brain throws precision planning and timing into a spin. But I already know those minor inconveniences won’t stop us enjoying this Christmas.  More importantly, neither will the unpropitious spectre called cancer.

Christmas 2012 is exciting.  We’ll be here, together, to enjoy its true spirit.

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas