I’m a forty-four year old woman: I’m an artist; was once a teacher; became a self-employed gardener in order to have time to write a book. I’m a mother to two teenage boys; girlfriend to Paul; a lover of mountains and proud to be Munroist number 5764. Home is an old fishing village on the northeast coast of Scotland. And yeah, one other crappy detail about me, at the start of 2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Loads of people get horrible diagnoses all the time so really it isn’t anything special or extraordinary that I found myself with membership to the cancer club. To be honest I’d been expecting it, but the news was still received like a swift kick to the balls. For me, the hardest thing to get my head around was the fact that twenty years earlier I’d held my own mum’s hand when breast cancer stole her life from mine. It had taken me most of my adulthood to recover from her loss. And now I feel a bit more than scared that breast cancer is going to do the same again – to my sons.
Cancer is common, but it is a lonely journey – not just for the sufferer, but for their nearest and dearest. We all have our own story to tell and this blog is a part of mine.
I made the decision to write it because a few people had said flattering stuff like, ‘you’re so brave,’ ‘you’re an inspiration’ or ‘you are a remarkable woman.’ I didn’t believe their words. At all. In fact I didn’t like their words – they bore no resemblance to me. I thought they were said because friends felt sorry for me. Because they thought I was a goner.
I’d confided my feelings about all this to my friend, Mel, but she told me, ‘No! They are saying these words not ‘cos they think you’re a goner, but ‘cos life’s dealt you a shitty hand and you’re facing it head on with spirit and humour and getting out and doing what you love rather than letting cancer drag you down.’
I hadn’t thought of it like that.
2017 is going to be a medical triathlon of chemotherapy, surgery and then radiotherapy. For me, the most frightening aspect of the treatment plan is the chemotherapy. It is the unknown. The blogs which follow are an account of the highs and lows I experienced; what chemotherapy was actually like for me; and, importantly, how it is possible to make the best of a crappy situation.
List of posts (linked once live):
- Discovering the lump
- A Week from Hell and then Another
- Telling my Teens their Mum has Cancer
- Important Questions for the Oncologist
- Chemotherapy Round One…Ting-Ting! (hills climbed, Fyrish and Meall a Bhuachaille)
- Being a Baldilocks
- Chemotherapy Two: a Painful Arm and Mountain Days (hills climbed, Stac Pollaidh, Ben Rinnes and Bynack More)
- Halfway Scan – Halfway Hills (hills climbed, Beinn Bhuidhe Mhor and Meall Fuar-mhonaidh)
- Chemotherapy Four: Docetaxel Sucks but my Confidence Grows (hills climbed, Ben Lomond, Cul Beag and Meall a Bhuachaille full ridge)
- Chemotherapy Five, Another Scan, and TT Races on the Isle of Man (hills climbed, Meall Fuar-mhonaidh)
- Chemotherapy Kiss off and the West Highland Way
- Surgery and A Short Walk 1
- Surgery and A Short Walk 2-
- D-day: Results
- Kindness From A Stranger
- Walk to Freedom: Radiotherapy and Cul Mor
- The Path to Recovery is Paved in Platinum, Protein and Pons (hill climbed: Beinn a’Chrulaiste, Glencoe)
- Fun but no Sex in the City (hill climbed: Arthur’s Seat)
- Fun in the City: Part Two (no hills climbed, only stairs up to the Daily Record building for photo shoot)
- The Secret to Losing Weight and Transformation Photos (hills climbed: Luinne Bheinn and Meall Bhuidhe, Knoydart)
- A Special Summit Camp (hill climbed: A’Mhaighdean, Wester Ross)
- Seven Hells and The Real Full Monty Highland (hill climbed: Meall Fuar-mhonaidh)
- Book Deal Boost, Sir Chris Bonington’s approval and Mel’s Last Munro (hill climbed: Beinn Sgulaird)
- Life is a Catwalk: The Show
- Just Another Mountain – Book Cover Sneak Peek (hill climbed: Fuar Tholl)
- 29. Edges of Depression (hills climbed: Ben Macdui and Cairngorm)
- 30. Surfacing from the Edges of Depression, Being on Lorraine and a Cool Encounter (hill climbed: Meall a’Bhuachaille)
- A Hallowe’en Blog bla bla nobody cares
- It’s Life Mel But Not As We Know It. Coronavirus and the Mountains (hill climbed: Beinn a’Chearcaill)