It was a tough week... and then it wasn't.

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I started writing this blog titled "it's been a rough week" last week. It was mums day 1 to day 12 post chemo no' 3 and it was hard. Least hard for me. As my aunt was the one looking after her and then mum was the one going through it, but there is something about being far away from it that makes it so hard too. Not being able to help. Not being able to see how bad she is. Not being able to just sit with her. So at the end of her bad bout of post chemo hell she came to stay with me for a few days and it was so lovely to have her. 

This chemo round had wiped her. It made her so very nauseous that she couldn't even listen to podcasts or watch telly. Which makes her feel shit as it is. I can't imagine feeling held hostage to just your bed on a normal day let alone when u feel life is passing you by and you don't have as much time. So not only do you feel so sick you don't wanna talk to anyone, you can't eat, it's hard to take your medication. You then just feel like you are doing nothing. You are just here. Worse than existing and before mum had got cancer, that had been her fears. Just existing. So when she got cancer she decided "fuck that shit, I'm gonna live" and then chemo said "ha, not right now you are not"

So the words touched her lips "I don't think I can do this" and my biggest fears rose in my throat sitting there waiting to spew out. "Mum's gonna give up, mums gonna give up and I have to be ok with it. I cannot be angry"  

But I was angry. But anger is surely fear coming out in a way that I know how to express. I know how to be angry. Well. Spent my teens being the best angry person so I feel I have that common pattern down. But really. I was just scared.  

There's a whole heap of understanding I have in this situation but selfishly, my 14 year old self wants to stomp my feet and say try harder. You CAN do this. Do NOT give up. For me. For me you cannot give up.  

But that's not fair, although granted, I don't think many other people would feel anything different. I'm not beating myself up. But I still don't think its fair.  

But... day 12 13 14 she felt better. And on day 16 as she drove home from mine in London, back to sunny slough, she felt... normal. She messaged to say she had a glorious drive back and the sun had been shining and she felt normal. Not like a cancer patient. Not Ill. Not surviving. Just normal. And my heart skipped a beat and I breathed.

You don't realise you are not breathing until you do again.  

Day 17 18 19 that followed have been "normal" too. No grand plans of taking over the world and climbing Everest of running a marathon. Fuck that. Currently she is basquing in the glory of normal life and I couldn't be more pleased. Having a cuppa with her best mate, then having Chinese with her other bessie. Then reading books and watching TV. Coming to mine for a roast last night like our good ol Sunday's we used to have regularly. It all felt blissfully normal.  

I think there is a lot of pressure when you are given a time that's tick ticking away, to go out into the world and "do" but really, all you wanna do when you feel like "you" has been stripped away, is just "be"  

Mum doesn't need to take over the world. Well not just yet :) She needs to just be. Being isnt existing. Being "content" versus being unhappy for me seems to be the difference between living and existing. If you can be content and grateful with your lot. With the car ride home as the sun shines on your face, then you don't have to stress about "doing" anything. But I'm sure, whilst you are spending your days missing that feeling of the sun on your face or the simple act of having a cuppa with your oldest friend, then you miss the magic cos you are worrying about what you "should be doing" and that, that is not living. 

Mum's always said the cancer is hear to teach her (us) something. It's not happening "to" her but it's happening "for" and as each stage passes you do realise there is so much to discover and learn. About life, about relationships and dynamics and strength and being "you" Not all the lessons are nice, or fun. Some are so painful I'd like to bury my head in the dirty, muddy pitt that is cancer.  

But you don't. You can't. And instead mum is teaching me to embrace it all. She has no idea how wonderful she has always been. Anything good in me is from her. And I am so proud of everything she is. I think she thinks I want her to become something else. Something extraordinary but I just want her to be her, and to be happy being her. Cos she is extraordinary already.  

Now we brace ourselves for chemo no" 4 and armour up for the shitty bit but know that there is sunshine at the other side. We can't wait for the sunshine.

🌝 

 

Happy International women's day!

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We are on our 2nd full day in Reykjavik Iceland and we have 2 full days left! We are lying in the sun on our hotel beds, stripped off all the layers and writing our blogs. We've had a day of mooching about.

We went to the penis museum followed by a church visit. To repent our sins obviously. And then we spent the day in coffee shops reading and writing and doing some work. 

We are both reading Pema Chodrons "When Things Fall Apart" I just read a chapter about letting go of hope. Letting go of the idea to be better, do better and to just get good and "being" Another chapter talked about how wasting time on our self image is like coming upon a tree of singing birds and wearing ear plugs. She talks about our resistence to what is and how we need to start having some self compassion. To see our resistence and start wondering about it. To stop hiding from it with (whatever means we use to try to be better, look better, dress better, come across as better) To just try to accept ourselves but face our discomfort of who we are, head on. To look at our thoughts and watch them and not run away from them.

There's been a lot of silence on our trip. Lots of convo too, but mum and I are obviously comfy with each other. So we let the silence be there. It's something I have learned over the last few years. To not always say something. To not cover up my thoughts with chatter. My thoughts make me uncomfy at times and so chatter helps silence them. The chatter would include moaning or slagging someone, people, myself off. The chatter might be voicing my angst or whining at my short comings. I notice when you try to stop that. When you see your negative shit but do not then use whinging or moaning to fill that void of unease, you are often left with silence. That doesnt mean the thoughts stop. To be honest sometimes it encourages the thoughts more. Which is the whole reason I never would have in the past, let there be silence. 

But now, with my most close people, silence is inevitable. 

I watch my thoughts go by and they make me feel shit. I attach to them without thinking and then have to purposefully pull myself away. I dont think being a strong woman is about not having those thoughts. Or not even, letting the thoughts get to us. They do. They will. There will be glimpses of sadness as a quick fleeting thought comes in "I'm boring. Have I got nothing to say, would mum laugh more with someone else, am I being positive enough energy for her, would she have more fun with someone else" I don't know if we can ever truly let go of the thoughts altogether. But the strong side of me says. "These thoughts are not true. These thoughts are ok and dont make you a weirdo. These thoughts are not who you are. They are just thoughts" 

International women's day... I dont know what the ethos is directly behind it. Other than a celebration of women. 

Today I celebrate the bestest woman I have in my life, my mum. I celebrate myself. I celebrate how strong we are seperately and as a team. I celebrate that our strength comes from our vulnerability and our ability to be ok with being scared. Of being imperfect. Of having thoughts that dont serve us and moving on passed them and letting go of the need to be the perfect daughter, mum, cancer patient/carer, human. We are not perfect and this journey is going to be far from it. Letting Pema Chodrons words about "hope" and being ok with things just "being" sink in.   

 🙏🏽

 

The Rawness of it all

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Nearly 3 weeks has past. I haven't cried cried for a few days. I've had a slight escape and got drunk with friends. There is guilt there for her but it was also needed and the guilt is short lived. Mum would tell me to stop being ridiculous. 

I worry that I have stopped crying so much is that I am disillusioned. That we have no idea what is going to hit us and that the tears are Gonna come back heavier and harder. But then I also think no. We are just on a road of acceptance. And not acceptance of death. We are not just giving up. But acceptance of the cancer and the scenario and being able to say "ok universe this is what you got. Let's go" In the awareness and acceptance of that things feel better. For now.  

We have been clearing my mum's flat. She's a alight hoarder 🙄and it has been therapeutic. Clearing old energy thst she no longer needs. Keeping the good ol faithful sparking joy items and not keeping things that she just doesn't love that much. We have bags and rails of things to sell and give away. Fundraiser clothes partay is coming your way. 

We are talking about clothes she might wear to chemo. Sparkly dresses shes worried shes might never get to wear again. Fuxk it. You bloody will. Let's sit in chemo in dresses and pink wigs and live it up.  

We found scarves that she never wears and decided to practise head wraps (I'm awful) for when she loses her hair. Apparently she will. Although I'm sure you can get a freeze cap thing? But she looks cute in the head wraps so maybe I'll just get better at them.  

We also had a family row. Some anger and basically fear. Fear at the system. Fear about getting lost in a process and not getting the best care. Cos we get it. The nhs cant surely give the best care to everyone. Surely there is a priority list. And as we are still in limbo we just all have fear bubbling over. But we are a family that rows and then we are fine. We need it. We need to say the rawness of it all. We need to say. "I am scared" im angry cos im scared. I'm shouting cos im scared. I'm saying hurtful things cos im scared. 

I am scared. But I am also feeling inspired to take this challenge on. I feel inspired to be mums wing woman and turn up to the cancer party arm in arm and say DJ. Play our favourite song. And dance like noones watching as we dance battle our way through this. 

I'm lying in bed waiting for mum to come to bed so we can breathe and visualise and love the cancer away.  

 

Xxx 

 

Cancer: Accepting it but not letting it win!

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It's been 5 days since mum told me she has cancer (incurable at that) 

Day 1 and 2 felt like a hole I would never get out of. Any positivity or zen like behaviour I have learnt over the last 15 year's just wondered away waving back at me with a smug look on its face. It was like positivity and hope were laughing at me. "And you thought we could save you" It rounded the corner and I didnt think I would see it again. 

My mum on the other hand. Has been her best self. Full of energy, light, love, acceptance. This mostly made me so happy and so glad that someone was able to find the light in this situation, but it also partly angered me. "Oh now you wanna be happy? Now you wanna live life?"  

My mum, 55, single mum, a registrar for births deaths and marriages (she married me and my husband just one month ago) is a woman of love and passion. She has always had fire in her belly, fiercness with her opinions and a sting in her tail. Some people do not like my mum. Those people do not understand her. Those people are not her people and for years, that hurt me. She was loud, assertive (some would say aggressive) she would tell you what she thought and not always diplomatically. She's a defensive soul. Always felt under attack but quite honestly I feel like she often was. If not by other family members, then boyfriend's or co workers. And I'm my mother's daughter. So this angered me a lot. Other people I felt, would dull my mum's shine. 

And when other people weren't. Anti depressants did. My mum has always been depressed. From as far back as I can remember. Not to my agreement. I often felt like she was being a drama queen. "Just suck it up mum, think positively, move on" I had little understanding for depression growing up,despite my grandad being manic depressive my whole 14 years of life that I knew him, but still,I dint get it, nor did it resonate with me. 

Over the last 5 year's with a change in my job and a change in my own happiness ups and downs, I started to understand my mum a lot more. She gave up alcohol 6 years ago and has been sober since *which I am sure isnt the easiest thing for someone who likes to numb out her feelings. But she's done it and done it with grace and ease. But I would say that the last few years my mum hasn't seemed like the firery, opinionated, sweary mum I knew. The one that gave me my fesityness. In some ways, this was a good thing. She wasnt on the attack or deffense. She was calmer. And perhaps if she had felt more content, this would have been a good thing. But she withdrew more and more.

My mum is the most wonderful woman. She empathises (sometimes over relate ay mum?;) but, she listens, she hears you. Like really hears you. And her energy and ability to laugh in the worse case scenario is infectious. But antidepressants, boredom and lack of hope in herself to live her best life, took away that umph she had. From time to time we saw it. But her disbelief in herself over took any belief she once had. The glimpses of self acceptance and self love would show up from time to time (years worth of self help books would force that out of her) but then the ego, the fear, would come again and she would retreat back to her living room to swipe on Pinterest and eat teackaes. 

My mum. A woman capable to run workshops and facilitate a room, someone who could do stand up and hold attention anywhere, would curl back up into a quiet place in her head and a(void) life. Don't get me wrong, she still did stuff. She went to Skyros (her life long dream) She went on a Tantra holiday, yoga holiday, did a week long boot camp, would go to workshops in London, did the Hoffman course, image work therapy, spent time at AA occasionally, would take on new adventures and she did keep living. She did. But it was just the self belief that wavered, which I felt quitened her soul.  

Until she got cancer.  

and there she was. Her firey, funny, full of light self. Who would have thought it. Suddenly she wants to live. Cos quite frankly at times she hasn't wanted to. But it seems that now she does. I know. Why wait till death is a knocking to really decide you actually want to? Well that's just the way it is  thats just how it works sometimes and as sad as it is. If she gets only a small time of really wanting to live live rather than another 50 yrs existing,then hey, she would take that option any day. 

We all know this cancer will change our lives. We know there are harder days to come. We know she has cancer, we know time may be limited, but what we dont know is what time we have. We don't know the details. We don't know how this is all gonna go down. But all we do know is that we have to stand together in acceptance. 

What you resist, persists. 

So whilst people may not understand this, we are not going to create a hostile enviroment for this cancer. The more we try to anger or stress it away the more the enviroment for it to breed will become. Yes we will stand up to it but no we will not fight it with fear and hate.  

What we will do is learn about it. Find out all we can. And then in understanding it we can have less fear. And with less fear comes peace and with peace comes a body ready to heal. Be in physically or mentally. Either way. This is time for mum to heal. Not to live in darkness anymore but to actually be the light that she has always been but to now know it.  

So we have decided to talk to the cancer. So many people avoid it. So many people don't say the word (but me and mum have never been shy to use the C word) people say cancer like it's full of shame. Pain and horror. And whilst of course, there is that. There is love that has already manifested out of this. My mum has never felt so much connection and love. People reach out. People are kind. People are there and instead of pulling away like in the last year, she has leaned into the love.  

Also, the authenticity of the situation. There has been a lot of "chirpyness" since diagnosis. Lots of brave smiles. But yesterday. We had a row. She dint want to do the things I was asking her to do. "We don't have the time mum"  I was saying. "Stop being lazy" and mum fought back that she just wanted to sit and have another cup of tea. She didn't want to do her exercises etc and I wasn't having it. We shouted. I stormed out. I called my aunt in anger and frustration. And all whilst this was happening I didn't think it was sad. That mum had cancer and we were rowing. It felt real. It felt like us. We row. We are opinionated. 5 mins later we were fine and still loved each other more than anyone else in the world. Arguments are ok. Passion is ok. We needed to be frustrated and get it out rather than fester. Cancer loves that kinda enviroment. Cancer wants us to be stressed and angry and let our guard down. 

So instead we will not. 

Instead we have opened the door and welcomed her in. "Oh hey there Cancer, what brings you here? Fancy a cup of tea"  

"Huh" Knocked for six. "They let me in?" She thinks. "They werent meant to let me in,I was gonna just boulder my way through the door uninvited, unannounced. And ruin their lives"

"Want a biscuit with your cuppa? What brings you here today? Do tell us, let us take a perch and we can sit and chat" we say.

"Well what the fuxk is going on?" Thinks Cancer. "This is uncomfortable. I don't like kindness." 

"You are welcome to stay for tea and a biscuit but quite frankly, after that, we will have to let you out. We got shit to do, things to see, butterflies and sun and love to do. We cant stand around here moping and chatting with you for ages" 

"Thank fuck" thinks cancer, "cos y'all arent reacting at all the way I like."  

She sips her tea. She watches on timidly. Unsure. And when the time comes, we open the door.  

And away she walks. Saddened, weak and confused.  

We wave her on, "thanks for the visit" we say as we close the door behind her. 

Thanks for the short visit!