This time last year I had just come out of surgery! It marked being halfway through my treatment for cancer! One year on and I am writing this post from beside the sea! We are enjoying a short break away to recharge our batteries after a busy few months!
All climbers know that reaching the summit of a mountain is only half the story! Navigating your way down again is the other half!
From the accounts I’ve read of mountaineers scaling Everest, they say that the descent can be as dangerous as the ascent, if not more so! The fact that mountaineers are totally exhausted from lack of oxygen, food and water means that they can make simple mistakes.
Over these past few months I have been recovering from the effects of chemotherapy treatment and surgery. It has not been easy! My body was left with a number of side effects, which need to repair. The chemo has left me with tingling and stiffness in all my joints, especially so in my arms, legs and hands. The surgery has left me with a hernia! The stomach wall was weakened after such a huge surgical incision and developed a small hole through which some of the abdominal tissues now slightly protrude! Swimming regularly has really helped. Being weightless in the water has meant I can stretch without pain or discomfort!
Alongside this I have been taking a Barre class! My daughter–in-law introduced me to this last summer and from the first class I was hooked! It involves repeating intensive core conditioning exercises whilst holding onto a ballet barre. In my case I am hanging onto the barre for dear life!! It’s really hard work but has helped my body gain strength and tone. As a direct result, the tingling in my arms has now disappeared and my legs are strong enough to do a combination of walking and jogging. The joy of being able to move again without pain, is something I don’t take for granted anymore. The hernia does not bother me and the surgeon says he will operate to repair it when I’m ready! Although it’s a simple operation I’m not quite ready to face hospital and surgery again just yet!
Apart than the physical side effects, I am doing well. The reason why I haven’t posted for so long has been that I’ve been enjoying life again! I returned to work in September taking up the reins of leading my fabulous team again. They have all been so kind in helping me integrate back into the world of work after 10 months of absence.
I continue to have regular appointments with my oncologist to check on my progress. Since September, both my blood and scan results have been normal. My next check up is in March.
Over the past few months we have had many joys! Two more precious grandchildren have arrived making us grandparents of five! We’ve also had two trips to the USA, one where we celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday and the second to celebrate Christmas with our eldest son and his family. Second to playing with my grandchildren comes learning how to master machine appliqué and free motion quilting, theatre visits, weekly youth work, birthday celebrations and singing again with our music team….to mention but a few!
These joys in life help me to bear the challenges too! Friends of mine are still fighting cancer and continue to go through difficult treatments to kill off these rogue cells. I continue to pray for their healing, wisdom for the doctors who are treating them and for courage to keep pressing on! We said farewell to one dear friend at the beginning of January and we are saying another in a few days time. These two had lived long lives and seen children and grandchildren grow and flourish.
The deaths that are harder to bear are those of young people in the prime of life, some with young children. Rachael Bland from BBC Radio 5 Live is such a person. She began this fabulous podcast ‘You, Me and the big C’ with two friends who also have experience of cancer. She was only 40 when she died in September but has left this amazing legacy of openly talking about cancer. I applaud that! #YouMeBigC
When I started ‘climbing Everest’ all those months ago, I knew it would be the hardest thing I’d ever faced. It was and it is! I will continue to write this story as I make my way down the ‘mountain’ charting the ups and downs of the journey. My security lies in the fact that even though this is unknown territory for me, I have faith in God who knows the path ahead.
The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need……….. Psalm 23:1
And right now I’m enjoying walking on the beach!