Tuesday, 1 January 2013

And so it's 2013....

January 1st. A new month, a new year.

Last year, I wanted to draw a line under 2011 and forget - or at least try to forget - all the horrible experiences of the year. My little family and I had suffered much over the previous 8 months and I hoped that going to bed (before midnight) and waking up in a brand new year would mean we could leave all that nasty stuff behind us. Well, we all know that there were some ups and downs during 2012, don't we? - starting off with the scare in January (yes, I couldn't even manage one month without experiencing that sinking feeling when the consultant finds something that makes him worried and I trundle down the path of scan - wait -result). Thankfully, it was just a scare, but it did make me realise a bit more emphatically that I can't relax and assume that my body is now behaving properly.

February brought my PET CT scan and confirmation that I appear to be in remission - usual caveats applied, obviously! That took a while to sink in, as I was out of the habit of dealing with good news about my health....however, finally I accepted it and felt that I could move on to focus on dealing with the facial palsy resulting from my surgery.

Good friends helped greatly during the year - Fin, my old university friend, really helped my confidence by taking me on a star-studded extravaganza with a night at the Olivier Awards ceremony. Who doesn't love a chance to dress up in a posh frock and sip with people you are used to seeing on the television, stage or pages of a newspaper? My local and church friends, my running friends, my wonderful school friends, other friends - all gave unstintingly of their time, support and advice to help me adjust to being in remission and learning to be confident again, bit by bit, sometimes one step forward and two steps back. And of course - my little family. Neil, Amy and Adam continued to help me every day, in small and big ways. Whether it's been taking me to hospital for my eye surgery and further check-ups, coming shopping with me, planning and taking me on wonderful holidays or making me cups of tea - they've done it all, quietly and for no other reason than that they care for me and want me to be well and happy.

So I start 2013 feeling and looking much better than at this time last year. I have been out for a run this morning, as part of my plan to be as fit and healthy as I can be. When I think how scrawny and lacking in energy I was this time last year, I can see how much progress I've made. My face has improved and (hopefully) will continue to do so, although it's all very marginal. I have more eye surgery in two days' time, on the 3rd, when I shall have my eyelid bling repositioned and an eyelid lift, no less! I shall have a fortnight of looking as if I have gone several rounds with a prize heavyweight boxer, with bruising, swelling and those little strip stitches that fall off before they're supposed to. This will all be accompanied by some pain and discomfort, but hopefully by the time all the swelling has gone down, my eye won't look so heavy and it will be more like my right eye. Fingers crossed, anyway!

I've still got a raft of appointments in store. My next oncology check-up will be in just over a fortnight and I can feel the stirrings of anxiety as I get closer to the date. I try to tell myself that it's silly to feel like this and that there's no reason to think that the oncologist will find anything wrong, but there's still that nagging doubt and worry. I can sometimes go whole days without actually thinking about having had cancer, but I'm not yet at the stage where enough time and distance have passed that I can relax about it. It still hovers in the back of my mind, waiting to sneak up and catch me when I don't expect it. I'm sure this will get better but not quite yet.

And finally, on this day, I remember Anne, a friend from university who was married to another friend, Fin. A lovely, kind, intelligent, funny and beautiful girl, who died of cancer exactly 10 years ago today. I know Fin misses her every day. Spare a thought for her and for Fin.

Here's to 2013 - may it bring you all  you wish yourself.


  1. Though I'm sure both your op and the apt will go just fine, I'll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you anyhow Ali.

    I don't think your thoughts about your upcoming apt are silly at all. I can only imagine how hard it would be to forget something like that, and think you are doing a great job of living in today, whilst not forgetting or living in the past and making lovely healthy plans for your future.


  2. I love the idea of eyelid bling although you might not be so happy about it. All this 'stuff' is positive and moveing forward, you know. A great way to start the year. You will always be anxious before any of your check-ups - it's natural.

    I've realised that I spent last year in recovery from being 'ill' myself. Now I need to shake myself and say 'Get on with it'. You are an inspiration to me and many others, I'm sure.

    Let's meet up some time soon. Neutral territory like Croydon?

  3. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?