MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer Diary #24

Wednesday, 17 February: I can’t quite believe I’ve been writing these cancer diary updates for almost half a year and it’s longer than that since the tumour in my lung was first detected. My time on earth would be almost up by now if I’d decided not to have treatment for the cancer, which is a strange thought.

What I also find strange is the pain on swallowing; the acid reflux, the ‘sunburned’ skin and the astonishingly tenacious fatigue are not caused by the cancer, but by the treatment. I’m trying not to think about the side effects of radiation that can start weeks, months or even years after radiotherapy – things like acute radiation pneumonitis. Stranger still is the fact no one – absolutely no one – knows what the cancer is doing. And we won’t know until around mid-April.

At least the side effects are continuing to wear off although energy levels aren’t back to what they were. I still struggle to visit all the blogs I follow so apologies if I’ve not been leaving comments as I used to – my brain seems to work more slowly and most of a day can disappear – same with replying to emails. I’m sure I will return to ‘normal service’ in time so bear with me if I don’t reply straight away.  

I’ve also put a wee toe into the work pool again. I’ve been asked to do a workshop and a talk online. I wasn’t sure at first, especially when I was feeling so tired and guilty at not having time for everyone’s blogs and emails and messages. In the end, though, the appeal of doing something ‘normal’ – as normal as online instead of face to face can be – was too strong to resist. I’ll share the details in a post soon.

The weather hasn’t always been great for walks. There have been days when keeping warm meant wearing so many layers of clothing I resemble the Michelin Man made me wimp out and stay at home. I’ve managed some walks and some tidying in the garden.

Every year I love to see lambs appear in the fields. My son always laughed at my excitement on seeing the first ones – but for me it wasn’t only seeing cute it was the wonderful feeling of having come through the darkness of another winter. This year, my delight at seeing my first lambs was tempered a little with the thought this may be the last year I am able to relish the feeling of having survived another winter.

It’s not a maudlin thought. It doesn’t depress me. At the start of last September I wasn’t sure if I’d see snowdrops this year, or lambs. Now, I think I probably will see the daffodils flower in my garden and maybe even the apple blossom and smell the roses.

114 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer Diary #24

  1. Never aplogise for blogs, emails, or anything else. That you are still here and writing is a joy to your true friends. Nothing else matters.
    I hope that you are still here to complain about the freeze next winter, and for many winters after that one.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Lovely, Mary.
    I’m glad you decided to do the workshop.

    I had a walk on Pendle Water earlier in the week. I saw some hazel catkins on the way back to the car. They’re the first ones out, apparently. It made me think they may be the optimists of the arboreal world – they set off earlier than everyone else, confident spring will catch them up. You, too, I hope!

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    • Thanks, Damian (Peter). I think I’ll enjoy doing the workshop. I love seeing catkins coming out – actually I love seeing everything come to life in the spring. There’s something so hopeful about seeing crocuses appear and daffodils. Autumn and winter depress me – all darkness and cold.

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  3. One season at a time Mary, seems to be the way to go. I noticed crocuses today and thought ‘how amazing’. To think of us at school. None of us knew what paths our lives would take. And here we are. Still journeying. Lambs still skipping. Spring showing us it’s beautiful creations. Xxx

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    • You’re right, Janette, one season at a time. There are a few crocuses coming out in the garden. And here we are – and yes, still journey – and the world will keep turning regardless of what happens to any of us 🙂

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  4. I can’t believe it has been half a year either, Mary. You made the right decision on the treatment and you’ve been going through all the challenges nicely. I’m glad you’re feeling a little better. It’s lovely to see the lambs. I keep praying for you 💗🙏

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  5. I’m glad your symptoms are easing a bit, Mary, and that you have some ‘normal’ work lined up, it’s good to have a focus beyond health issues. I can barely imagine weighing the daily symptoms against a timeline and quality of life issues. Maybe something to explore in a future post? In the meantime, focus on what makes you feel GOOD, like lambs and spring flowers. 🙂 ❤ 🙏

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  6. Thank you for the update, Mary. I’m glad to hear that the side effects of your radiation treatments are improving. It’s wonderful that you will be able to lead a workshop. Those gamboling lambs are about as cute as they can be.

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    • Thanks, Liz. I’m looking forward to leading the workshop – the last time I led any creative writing workshops was last March, a residential one completed shortly before lockdown stopped all face to face gatherings. I love seeing the lambs and over the next weeks between now April there will be many more to see in the fields.

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  7. Those lambs are so cute, haven’t found any round here yet. Maybe it is one day/hour/just this wonderful minute. It’s what I try for, and so rarely achieve. Good to hear your ongoing story. Hang in there!

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    • Thank you, Hilary. These are the first I’ve seen here, though some will have been born earlier, and more will appear in the fields over the coming weeks. Love seeing them when they play together.

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  8. You never have to apologise Mary and I think it is great about the workshop and talk online.. you need to remind yourself that whilst you are fighting on one front against this disease you are still Mary Smith respected author and freelance journalist with a mile long list of credits to your name and a voice that still needs to be heard.. Treat yourself to a new kick ass jacket to go with the boots.. a new lipstick and some expensive perfume (doesn’t matter they can’t smell it)…go get ’em. Lovely photos and those lambs are so hopeful… you will be around to see your daffs.. or I will eat my hat…love you ♥

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  9. I think the workshops are a great idea.
    On a very basic level it will help you feel that you are doing something that makes a difference to other people’s lives, at whatever level.
    Which is something at the heart of how you like to move in the world.
    So if you’re doing that, then it it will feel like an affirmation of your life – something I imagine part of you will be craving.
    Of course, I might just be projecting here…
    ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, firstly, I hope that time never comes for you but, secondly, if it does then I’d be touched to think my posts might be of help. But, let’s hope that won’t be necessary. Glad you like the lambs. I’m sure I’ll be posting more photos of them in the coming weeks!

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  10. So pleased to hear that the side effects aren’t as acute, Mary. And brilliant that you’re taking on work. Those snowdrops are beautiful. Wonderful to see these first signs of spring.

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    • I’m pleased, too, that the side effects are wearing off, Wendy, and I’m really pinning my hopes on the weather in March being milder and sunnier to help my energy levels increase. I think doing the workshop will be quite a morale boost (if it goes well!) and let me be Mary Smith the writer than Mary Smith the person with cancer. It’s those lambs jumping out which make me feel spring is really nearly here.

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  11. Prayers, wishes dear writer. No emails, nothing is important than you, your breath. Do not feel guilty or bad for even a mili second of your life from here. Dwell into yourself, in nature. You have come out to be braver than you had ever thought of yourself. Hope to keep reading your experiences.

    Nara x

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  12. Beautiful lambs and snowdrops..
    A workshop to find some normality in your life.. a good start to your year, Mary… Let me know when you discover normal I never have been.. Haha…. Stay strong anday you see many more springs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Carol. I love seeing lambs.
      Ha ha, you will notice I put quote marks round the word normal – like you, I don’t think I’ve ever discovered it 🙂 I just meant leading creative writing workshops was something I used to do before Covid lockdowns and cancer swept all such things away – and even though it can’t be face to face, at least it is some work.

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  13. Hard as it is, Mary, it is best to focus on the positives in life. None of us know how much time we have left on this earth. People die of strokes, brain embolisms and heart attacks every day and I’ve noticed a big uptick during this pandemic in stress related deaths. I can’t believe its been six months either. The time passes so quickly. I am glad you did the workshop. Doing something that makes you feel useful is a big mood booster.

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    • What you say is true, Robbie, though I suspect very few people live their lives as though each day might be their last – I think we’d all be exhausted. But, yes, it is best to focus on the positives in life and doing the workshop and the talk will give me a boost.

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  14. It’s always time we count on that lets us down; yet, the time we don’t account for contains all those happy memories of life lived without counting minutes and hours. Those daffodils will be happy to see you Mary, and it’s wonderful news that you’re doing a talk and workshop. Good luck and enjoy those lovely lambs!

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  15. Thanks for the sheep, Mary. I always enjoyed seeing them appear in spring when I lived in the UK. Not likely to happen where I live now, especially in current times. Anything that feels normal (even if it is this altered new “normal”) is good, and even if it requires a big effort, I’m sure you’ll feel better for it (and others will as well). We never know what’s around the corner, so enjoying each moment is a good approach.

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    • Sorry, you are no longer is a position to see new lambs, Olga. I’ll sure I’ll post more pics of lambs over the coming weeks for you to enjoy. I may find the prep for the workshops more time consuming than before, but it will be good to be doing some work – and great to see other people, even if only digitally. Just wish I could get my brain into writing mode.

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  16. Mary, it is wonderful that you can share a bit of your life here on your blog and please don’t feel the need to apologise for not being able to comment /visit others. It’s lovely to see you here, the lambs are beyond cute (and I miss them so as used to see them everyday in Yorkshire) and it’s fantastic news that the side effects for now are much better. Here’s to Spring filled with flowers, fragrance and lots of warming sunshine. Enjoy doing the workshop … I think you’ll thrive on the feeling of normality. Hugs xx ❤️

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    • Hear, hear to lots of warming sunshine, Annika. It is very absent today with grey skies and driving rain but at least having seen some lambs I do know it will get warmer. Sorry you no longer have the chance to see lambs in the fields – there will, I’m sure be more pics of them to appear! Yes, I think moving away from being a cancer patient – even if only for a short time – will make me feel good. Hugs xx

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  17. The mindfulness people remind us that every time we see something we should consider it as if it was the last time… or something like that. On the other hand, you can also look forward to planting things to come up next year. I keep wanting to mention Neville Shute’s On The Beach, but never being sure I should do so.
    R sends kisses, as always.
    I send hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hugs back to you, Jemima, and a kiss for R (my Valentine). It’s many years since I read On the Beach. I was young enough to be upset that something didn’t stop the radiation and allow a happy ending for at least some people! Living for the day is a good policy. The government hasn’t given me a suicide pill, though – and I’m not sure I could take it – but who knows.

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  18. You are sounding really positive Mary – that’s great – and I am sure doing your day job again will give you even more of a boost. Go for it! Enjoy the lambs and snowdrops – they really are signs of hope – and ones I am sure you will see for many years to come.
    Kepp smiling! Happy spring thoughts coming your way x

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    • I think it’s a combination of the side effects wearing off and seeing the lambs, Sue. Maybe Pilates is helping, too! I’m horribly stiff and un-supple but that will change (I hope) and I think it’s good for my energy levels. xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Steph. The creative writing course you attended was the last one before lockdown last year. I can’t quite get my head round all that has happened since then! It will be good to do some work, which I hope will lead to the participants’ creativity. The organisers have emailed me some posters so I’ll be able to post details.

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  19. Hi Mary- a workshop- Fantastic – count me in if it’s not already booked up! I get v excited about the first lambs too, if they seem to be coping with the weather, and snowdrops – and I think you’ll get excited about them loads more times. Love from Juliet and the llamas XX

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    • I’ll post details soon, Juliet. It’s in Aberdeen and at one time that would probably have ruled it out if people had to travel there but as it’s online, it’s accessible to many more – though I think they have to keep numbers fairly low or it doesn’t work well.
      The lambs seems happy when I saw them. Let’s hope we don’t get snow like the year of the first residential course!

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  20. Cancer does make you self absorbed, it’s inevitable as your life revolves around appointments, treatment and coping with things you never anticipated. The treatment continues to throw up problems even when it’s over, but you will (hopefully) get used to them and learn to cope. The brain fog is a lingerer for many – my memory is shot to pieces these days. You will adapt to a new normal as things settle down and glad to see your already looking at a workshop. Live for now and continue to enjoy the spring, lambs and snowdrops always help to lift the spirits. xx

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  21. The photos of the lambs jumping just brought tears in my eyes. It’s so beautiful, and such a reminder of life reborn – of the cycle of death and life and death and life again. You are so contemplative, Mary, and you help us all deal with that cycle of reality. But I always search for the snowdrops and daffodils. A friend phoned today and called me “Pollyanna” (and not in a complimentary way!) but, really, aren’t we lucky to be alive, waiting for snowdrops? You show such strength and resolve and an ability to see the beauty in all things. Thank you so much.

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    • The lambs are lovely aren’t they – and such a wonderful reminder the cycle of life has come back round after the winter. I hate the winter so much. I am happy to be seeing the lambs and the snowdrops and seeing the crocuses will soon be in flower but there is a tinge of sadness it might be for the last time – all the more reason to enjoy them this time 🙂 Thanks for your support, Pam.

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      • I understand the sadness and believe me it’s really hard to feel happy when it’s winter. I’m looking out my window now at another snowstorm. It’s so damn cold! But we must remember that those daffodil bulbs are starting to work down in the soil. 🌼

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  22. Mary, beautiful lambs, snowdrops and words from you. Not keeping on top of your admin matters not a jot to us. What matters are your side effects are lessening and an online workshop and talk will bring you back to you. Sally’s suggestion of a new lipstick is a great one. Go get ’em, Mary. Something normal. Yay. ❤ You will see the daffs…. ❤ always. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jane. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post – and the lambs and snowdrops. They are both very cheering 🙂 The side effects are definitely decreasing, though I wish my energy levels would increase. The constant rain we have just now isn’t helping. The daffodils and I need some sunshine. xx

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  23. What a wonderful and hopeful post Mary. Power of prayer and optimism, you are still here and will most certainly see spring. I’m not expert, but my husband did have maximum radiation for his cancer 11 years ago, but I think part of the delay in results is that your body needs a time out after radiation before any next steps so nothing would be happening if need be anyway. Keep those boots kicking! 🙂 xx

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