Let’s face it, for most of our lives we inhabit a middle ground, characterised by routine and its attendant minutiae. There’s coffee on take off, wine on landing and fretting over what’s for dinner in between.
If cancer has taught me anything, it’s that at the edges, things get really interesting. Yes, you are confronted, challenged, exposed and saddened, but this opens the door for comfort, reward, protection and love.
Today, a lady called Amy called by. She, too, has three children, the eldest of whom is at school with Amy. She and I have met two or three times. This is what she brought:
I can’t even begin to list the number of kindnesses that have been shown to me in the last six weeks. But this gesture in particular really got to me. That she is almost a stranger makes her generosity all the more poignant and is, I think, a truly articulate expression of how tragedy unites.
I didn’t get to thank Amy in person because I was on the phone with Jane, a Breast Care nurse. These specially trained nurses work as case co-ordinators and patient advocates, plus they participate in multi-disciplinary panels, where non-straightforward cases are reviewed by a range of experts. I met a Breast Care nurse in hospital but was too arrogant to pay her much heed. I left the big pile of literature in the hospital. My attitude was “I don’t have cancer anymore. I don’t need you.” Then my pathology with its lousy margins comes back and with tail between my legs, I scurried to get back in touch.
I was seeking Jane’s advice on how to access a radiation oncologist to explore whether further treatment is advisable. Also, because I’m at real sixes and sevens on this decision I asked her view on whether she thought it was necessary. Her response was “I can hear you’ve got little kids in the background. I totally understand your need to do all you can to get fully well.”
It’s not often the kids get mentioned. But when they do… man, it’s Kryptonite, obviously.
Then I get off the phone to find this basket.
I’ve not cried since returning from hospital. But on spying that? The taste of strawberry muffins with tears is quite something.