Life in the Third Decade.

Whether you consider it started at the twelfth stroke of midnight, first of January 2020, or a year later, I think we can all agree the third decade of the Twenty First Century has not started well. But even if we have lost loved ones, friends or fellow bloggers, life inevitably goes on, though ‘normal life’ still seems a long way off. My life took an unexpected turn a few weeks ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer; treatable and curable, so at my age ( not that I’m that old… ) can’t complain! It IS tragic when young mothers get the more aggressive forms of breast cancer, it is tragic when any young person or child has cancer, life is not fair and none of us know the rules of the game…

In the space of a few weeks I have entered the system, had all sorts of tests and my operation brought forward. The NHS has come up trumps, but it is true that breast cancer has had a lot more attention and research devoted to it than other cancers. It is also true that if you have other undiagnosed chronic conditions you are not funnelled so swiftly and kindly onto a pathway.

Many of us have tests of various sorts over the years with all the wonderful magic waves, magnetism, ultra sound that exist these days, then feel a bit guilty when it turns out nothing is wrong, you were just anaemic or it was just a pain, nothing serious.  Then one day the atomic super scanner does find something; to say it’s unexpected is not true. I have lived with cancer all my life, brought up on the stories of my grandmother, who died of bowel cancer at 56 when I was little; the only grandchild she would get to meet. My grandfather had died suddenly the year before, also 56. A short time before, he had been saying how good life was, with lovely little me and my grandmother returning from hospital after a ‘successful’ operation. Family legend has it that Grandma ‘gave up’ after losing her husband; the reality was that there was no cure for bowel cancer then. But it is true that my mother walked into her mother’s bedroom one day when she was undressing and saw lumps on her body. She was shocked that her mother had not told them or gone back to the doctor. I seem to have always known this story with its vivid image of cancer bursting out all over the place.

 Few modern women can be unaware of cancer, expecting or fearing our wombs, ovaries or breasts to be invaded at any moment, not to mention all the other parts of our bodies. I am not a doctor or scientist, but the simplest explanation I have read is that it would be a surprise if people and other creatures did not get cancer; our bodies are a mass of living cells designed to constantly reproduce, sometimes they go awry. When my aunt in her seventies sailed through her mastectomy I said I would never be afraid of having one; my mother had a mastectomy in her nineties and took it in her stride, living long enough to die of old age. With my father dying of leukaemia and my sister surviving cancer a long time ago I have glibly assumed it was just a matter of when, not if I would get cancer. Humans are living long enough to increase our chances of succumbing; there are no magic bullets because there are a multitude of cancers, lots of people get better or have a long remission, others don’t. I have no more right to survival than anyone else, only to not cause my family any more stress after losing their father nine months ago. The Game of Life is strange; a local friend has just had a mastectomy and my old school friend was having breast surgery the day before I got my diagnosis, I am certainly not alone.

Warning Cancer Joke

Doctor: ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you the tumour is malignant.

Patient: ‘Oh thank goodness, I was worried it was cancer.’

And more irreverent thoughts…

Daughter on phone trying to sort out my iPhone account…   Me:  ‘Just tell him I can’t sort out my phone cos I’m a widow and I’ve got cancer’–  Yay, now I have two reasons for not doing things…

Yes there are plenty of positives. I can’t go to the camera club AGM as I’m isolating ready to go into hospital on Friday – oh hang on, roadmap delayed, AGM will be on Zoom, I can go…

Our family has a tradition of feeling guilty, about pretty much everything and now a weight of guilt has been lifted off my shoulders. I can hold my head up high and look others in the eye. No longer feeling guilty for going around being healthy while others have so many medical burdens to bear.

How lucky that my younger son and his fiancée have given up their rented home and are moving in with me this week as part of their plan to be in a better situation to buy their own place. Their planned seaside break next week has turned into being carers, not so lucky for them…

My NHS daughter will be organising her brothers and the NHS as she did last year; as she is a physiotherapist she will make sure I do my exercises.  

It has rained a great deal, summer solstice was a wash out, but at least my garden won’t need watering for a little while because…

As I am having lymph nodes taken out as well there will be lots of things I can’t do with my right side like gardening, cooking, housework… More importantly maybe I won’t be able to type much – good excuse for blogging being erratic, though perhaps I’ll post lots of pictures.

To go with my garden pictures here’s my favourite happy garden tune ‘English Country Gardens’, an old folk song arranged for the piano by Australian Percy Grainger and played with gusto in this original recording.

Percy Grainger & Eugene List play Grainger “Country Gardens” – YouTube

46 thoughts on “Life in the Third Decade.

  1. I’ve got everything crossed for your op & treatment. I’m sure it will be fine. You have a very good attitude! And you are correct about the improvements in cancer treatment. I wish inflammatory bowel disease was curable! I’m here in Orkney with a massive flare of my UC. We’ve had to change the ferry tickets while we waited for aprescription to come from the mainland! [I was running low on supplies]. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have such a good attitude about this, Janet, and I know that attitude can have a huge impact on recovery, so I know that you will do well, and be well. However, I want to also tell you that I will be wishing you all the best through the surgery, and throughout your recovery. As positive as we can be about things, we are also human, and no doubt, have our own personal worries about details. Just know that there are lots and lots of us wishing you well, and keeping you in our hearts! And, of course, we want to see you blogging again when you are fully recovered! 🙂 Take good care! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I am so sorry you are going through this but I know you will come through it with flying colours. You have an incredible strength of character that you have proven in the grace in which you have gone through this past year. Take whatever time you need because we will always be here whenever you need us.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m sorry to hear that you have been diagosed with cancer. Here’s to a successful treatment and recovery! It’s good that you have family close by to help out. Thank you for sharing the “Country Gardens” video–a very lively rendition of the tune!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tuI wish you the best with your treatments. It seems like you have a good atittude about everything, and this will surely help. And how nice to have your son and his wife around for help…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your exceptionally positive attitude is already part of your cure and recovery. Life has heaped much on you in a short time, Janet, and yet you remain an inspiration to many with your approach to this next hill to climb. I’m sure it will all go well, and I look forward to seeing you back to blogging soon.
    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very sorry to hear of your diagnosis, Janet, but I’m pleased to hear that it is treatable. I hope all goes well this week, and that your wonderfully positive attitude helps you through the weeks and months ahead. Having the support of your family is great, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, that sucks! 😦

    Excellent news that it’s treatable/curable. 🙂

    The older I get, the more I’m coming to terms that sooner or later, preferably later, something’s going to take me off this mortal coil. (I still do have one or two threads of hope that I’ll et out alive though – must be the writer in me! 😀 )

    Having been there myself, might I add, that if you haven’t already, you need to give yourself permission to be fully enraged about this. It is tragic! It is unfair! Because its happening to you.

    No amount of knowing it probably will happen, or how many others in your circle have it, hearing that cancer has shown up in your life, is a burden that no-one else, no matter how much they love you, can share. Have a good old tantrum as often as you need, and be buggered with anyone else’s feelings.

    We need to express that dark side of our emotional journey through cancer just as much as the more positive stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I too am sorry to hear this but love your amazing determination and positive attitude! Thankfully, medicine has come a long way, as you’ve written. Still, I’m not sure how much that really lessened the blow at hearing the news initially. :’-(

    All the best to you, Janet. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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