The things I learned…

Photo on 2010-02-15 at 14.16To Not ask how and hope for better,

Arms easier in a buttoned sweater,

To find a hat to go in bed,

And answer doors with covered head,

To eat even when feeling ill,

(An empty stomach’s an acid pill)

To look for bras without a wire,

And hope they’re ones you can admire.

To dress up well on clinic days,

Like it’s a party, a social phase.

To massage scars until they move,

To keep a good tune in the groove.

To not expect to go to plan,

But hope it just might, if it can…

Some say wine’s fine with chemo drip,

My hospital was not that hip,

A good Chablis, not full Champagne

(The health and safety issues plain).

I learned to look for rainbows,

To not ask where the drain goes,

To do the rear end gown pose,

Elsewise the pantie line shows…

To laugh along but not alone,

That veins are disappearing prone,

To love and live and carry on.

Regardless hope, dignity’s gone…

Inspired by the poem, Things I Learned at University (Kate Bingham) I wrote the above, from my experience, and just wondered what you might think you learned? It is an education after all….

I asked some friends, they said,

“I learnt patience. I learnt to speak up for myself. I learnt that there are a lot of caring staff in the NHS. I learnt to share my experiences with others. I learnt how to not get wet hands when providing a urine sample…”

“I’ve learnt what it’s like to be stared at walking down the street with a tube hanging out my nose, how to avoid the people who take your blood (go for a walk when they come to the ward), how your body no longer feels like yours, what it is like to be showered, how wonderful and kind people are, how important family are, i’ve learnt far too much about laxatives, how to do a little a day and slowly build on that, how to appreciate the small things (when not depressed), how fickle feelings are.”

It seems unfortunate to me that there is nowhere to put cancer on your CV…

Good intensions…



I never was a runner when I was small at school,

I was okay at the hurdles, but at hockey I’m the fool,

I can not hit a tennis ball to save my wayward life,

Yet now I do my exercise, and satisfaction’s rife!


With dry hair motivation, that comes with middle age,

I’m doing lengths of breaststroke, it is like I turned the page,

I run for miles around, the calories I’ll kill,

Have bough a powered bike because we’re living on a hill…


If cancer has you fed up, focus on what to do,

For some it is their diet, but red wine sees me through,

I know that there are people who swear by aloe vera,

And meditaions good, but my concentration’s rarer…


We all have strengths and setbacks, the hilarious, the sad,

But though all life’s precarious, change might not be so bad,

I’m not up to competition, but I’m fitter than before,

And I’ve overcome my memories of school PE, what’s more…


There is a lot of information out there about cancer and lifestyle, but my advice is that being healthy is good, as is being in control -so maybe do something you would not have done if you hadn’t had cancer?  That way it did you a favour?  For me it is exercise, the link with survivorship is well documented, although finding high neck swimsuits and running tops is an ongoing challenge for the “Holding it All Together Club”!  Yet I am better than before!

Putting it behind us…

Scan 4

The hound is in the cupboard now,

I try to keep him there,

But sometimes he escapes somehow,

’Though these days that’s quite rare.

You’d like it if he hadn’t stayed,

But I can’t let him go,

In secret moments back he’s strayed

And that helps me, although,

You think that means I’m in the past,

Like I’m not moving on,

Yet actually it is a sign how far we’ve come along…

I didn’t wait “for ever” in rooms so clean and bland,

Or carry draining fluid jugs, or needles in my hand,

I didn’t burn my front off, or shrivel up my veins,

Surely I didn’t do, unless a benefit remains?

So sometimes I remember and there’s laughter in that too,

The day you said my head looked like a chicken’s head to you…

The time we held my hair on as we rode the cable car,

The jokes my dear are priceless, some funny days by far.

So though I don’t want ever to walk the hound, for sure,

It is good to think we had him, but he can’t hurt us no more,

Let’s keep him in a place where in our hearts we smile,

And remember how we’re lucky that he’s there once in a while…

I think this this article about looking back says it all, “Eventually the time came to invite my cancer to leave. She has left the place in a bit of a mess, and I’m conscious that she has kept the key. Still I’m hopeful that in due course all I will be left with is the rich memory of time spent with a stranger I never expected to meet.”

And thank you…

Finding others…

I do know sometimes that you mind,

Yet I’m not leaving you behind,

Just joined a new club, Cancer Friends,

For sticky moments and sad ends,

To talk to, without burdening you,

To ask the tricky questions to…

I know you care, I know you’re there,

I try to smile, some hope to share.

Who laughs at pills and ultrasound,

Or side effects? What’s more I’ve found,

The others in this club you see,

Don’t need brave faces, sympathy,

They value time and hope and glee,

And don’t keep feeding me green tea,

But best they give me energy

For saving you and saving me….


I wrote this for national carers week and I often think it is those close to people with cancer that have the most bewilderingly hard time… Sometimes it helps to join a group of people with shared experience, to keep the cancer from normal family life -I have lots of cancer friends and they are very precious to me…

It’s only hair…

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 16.42.42When I mention chemotherapy to people it is always the hair they ask about… Here is a photo of me when it started to grow back -too much for a wig but too new to colour, I was 41 and it has taken me nine years to accept that this was me


Hair and care and barely there,

I see you stare, not fair…

For years and years it hid my ears,

Shrouded my fears of Dumbo jeers.


A wig, no matter how I try,

Is alien and makes me cry,

And whilst my legs look like they’re waxed,

The rest of me is not relaxed.


A scarf, you say, you do admire it,

It makes me look like I’m a pirate,

And please don’t buy another hat,

It’s kind, but there’s no fun in that.


I must accept an unclothed head,

Uncovered when I go to bed,

Look forward to short grey instead,

It’s only hair -that’s what you said!


The dignity, whilst it remained,

The vanity is unsustained,

A side effect of being cured,

From which I don’t feel reassured…

What if…

1972 1

What if it comes back? I asked,

The doctors eyes fell low,

Best not to think about the past,

The future’s where to go…


But what if this lump’s it again,

How do I know we caught it?

He said, best course is to refrain

From thinking more cells bought it.


I need to feel I’ll cope next time,

That I’ll spot that its there…

That you won’t inject orange slime

And shave off all my hair!


The simple questions annoy you,

And yet there’s no solution,

I did the things you said to do,

And then I cut out dairy too,

And prayed for evolution…


I know it isn’t done to lie,

You have your reputation,

The treatment phase has now gone bye,

I need to settle down and try,

Long life repatriation…


Yet, what if it comes back now?

I’m sorry to demand,

I’ve earned a right to why, and how,

This time, I’m in command….


Me and my cat have made a recording of this poem at,

What If

Concerns about reoccurrence are there for most cancer patients and their families -I never did think I was going to die, but it isn’t enough to be told to put it behind you…  Yet I also find that many people say that if it happens again they will ask a lot more questions!

Clutching straws…

When I was ill I would put on a good blouse and my friend Sharron would take me to the Oncologist, then when I had no veins left it was the Angiologist, we always had a laugh and I remember my treatment with pain but also that humour.  I wrote this with that in mind…


‘Though not every day’s a good day, still a few are,

And not sure the things we could say, still it’s too far…

I can love and I can care, yet the pain I cannot share,

Just distract you through despair, let you see that I am there…


Whilst the treatment isn’t fun, sometimes it’s funny,

With our future all undone, what could be sunny?

Whilst slowly pickling you, there’s adventure in the new,

Like we’ll work out what to do, if we stick together too…


I remember when we met, young and passioned, out to get,

Awkward, youthful blushing threat, we conquered that and yet,

We need to hold that trust, to believe in fairy dust,

To let the joke adjust, else-wise we may combust…


I can stay and I can sing, yet the needles will still sting,

Just focus on this thing, this is now, but done by spring…


Me and my cat have made a recording of this poem at,

Clutching Straws


Ring 0808 808 0000

I work on the 11th floor, at 89 Albert Embankment, within Macmillan Cancer Support’s Fundraising Department, and we get a lot of very kind donations from enthusiastic supporters, but we are also told a lot of stories and we try to make sure everyone knows that Macmillan is there for them…


From a tower grand and tall,

Knitting hope for one and all,

Scared or sore or feeling silly,

Head goes hot or toes are chilly,

Looking for a helpful plan,

Speak to us, Macmillan can…

Let you say the things you know,

Keep the secrets you can’t show,

Be a friend upon the phone,

To the end, you’re not alone.

If the future looks quite sticky,

Or the chemo’s getting tricky,

Looking for fun things to do,

Helping others just like you,

We can run and we can fun day,

Morning coffee and a bun day,

Job info’ or high heat bill

Ask us and Macmillan will….

Do genuine and sound advice,

And care that comes without a price,

But if you want to donate too,

Then we’ll use that for others who,

Are in a cancer situation,

Across the lovely UK nation…


Me and my cat have made a recording of this poem at,

Ring 0808

A faint request…

When I was young and careless,

My hopes were wide and tall,

But life has let things fare less,

And now my wants are small…


A walk beside the sea shore,

Or bluebells in the wood,

An afternoon can be more,

Than any money could…


The crisp snow under leather,

The taste of scones with cream,

More time to be together,

These are the dreams I dream…


The practical I’ll sort out,

The pills, the bloods, the mess,

But life, that’s harder no doubt,

Despite my asking less…


Me and my cat have made a recording of this poem at,

Faint Request

This was written for a friend who’s husband also has cancer and who’s mother was critically ill….

I’ll try to be a fairy, to take your pain away,

Or be a clown and fool around, until we find a way,

I’m not an academic, my heart is solid though,

I’ll never beat the medics, my knowledge uptake slow.

The ending mayn’t be happy but it can be good, for sure,

I’m waving magic dust to ask for just a little more…

You’ve got into my soul and so I have a need to do,

I’d run and swim and somersault, if I could just help you…

Us nymphs can be annoying with our wishes and our tricks,

But bear with it, we’ll smile at all the things I never fix,

You seem to have a humour and I’m glad to see that still,

I hope the ones you love will be more able than they’re ill.

I get your undercurrent when you laugh at silly me,

You’ve earned the sky and moon, my friend,

I’d like to have the key…