And finally

I’m sitting at the breakfast bar in The Byre kitchen. This is where I perch most days to work, the heart of our home. In daylight I can look across to the rusty red of Aldourie Castle the other side of my beloved loch (she’s become my loch over the course of the past year). Red kites often surf the thermals opposite the kitchen window, soon the house martins will return to take up residence in the eaves and, with any luck, the Ospreys will settle back on their eyrie. I can hear the whirring as David sweats out the stresses of the day on the turbo trainer, B is down in her cave watching some American horror series and calling her friends. I love the sound of her laughter, I can still remember being overwhelmed the first time I heard her chuckle as a baby, joy at your child’s joy never recedes. By my feet Charlie and Eddie – 8 week old Labrador pups and the latest additions to the household – are softly snoring, across the kitchen Gus and Henrik stare me out with their furry feline fury.
The air is thick with the scent of a life gently moving forward, of a leaving behind. I’m leaving behind my cancer and its ripples, I’m parking them here and now. It’s time.
In my mind I imagine gathering up the many words, pages and pictures of this blog, shuffling them into a straight edge then boxing them up. I’ll choose a pretty box, brightly decorated, something which indicates the contents is precious but still a nod to the fact of it needing contained and restrained.
I always suspected I’d know when to bring this part of the blog to a close and over the past few days I’ve felt the moment drawing closer and now, this evening, it suddenly presented itself.
Cancer has receded. It doesn’t take up centre stage, in fact most days it doesn’t even get a bit-part. My brain has softened and started to accept the twist and tightness of my body, the noise of battle has been turned down so low that mostly its barely a whimper. I’m struggling to remember the last time I cried.
Writing about my cancer and recovery over the past year has been an extraordinary experience. Cancer released something in me that I didn’t know I had, it gave me a way to process, pick apart and sift. Through writing I felt my way towards answers and understanding I don’t think I’d have found my way to otherwise and it gave me a way to communicate when I lost the power of speech. I’ve been truly touched and moved by how many friends and even strangers have got in touch to say my words have had an impact, which feels like a bonus because, as I’ve said many times, rather selfishly this was written for me and for David.
But I don’t want to write about cancer anymore. I’m not even sure I’ll continue to write unless something nudges at me. I just want to get on with my life and I will.
So this may or may not be goodbye. Goodbye to a blog about cancer, for sure, but possibly the start of something much more important…a blog about life after cancer.
I think that’s cause for celebration so I raise a glass and dedicated these final few words to all of you who’ve helped me, too many of you to name but I hope you know who you are, and how crazy lucky I feel to have you all in my full and fortunate post-cancer life!
Pen xx

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11 thoughts on “And finally

  1. It’s helped you. It’s helped them. It’s helped us. Reflections can only ever serve to both arrest and accelerate thinking. I’d say you’ve achieved both very well. But who gives a sh$t what I think, what anyone else thinks, what matters most is where you are now and that you are happy(er). Enjoy those wee guys, new beginnings.

    1. Thanks Cat, I’ve felt you right there, at my shoulder, through all of this. From the pre-surgery gifts and food parcels to the thought providing comments and all round Cat-energy, you’ve been a lovely constant. X

  2. Pennie, I wanted to say Thankyou for sharing. You have a gift for writing so I very Much hope you find your ‘nudge’ find something that inspires you to continue. You truly are remarkable, so inspiring and brave. You’ve made me cry and smile reading your words and feeling touched by your honest reflections.
    I hope when we’re allowed to we’ll be able to bring the children to visit and catch up properly. All my love Hannah x

  3. I have come to your story late, sorry. I have binge read every entry today, like a woman obsessed / possessed. You right so beautifully. So many statements I want to tell people about, because they ring true to me, and sometimes have said – the conveyor belt and walking through treacle.
    My cancer, different, but brought me to the same finding, “there’s a freedom in talking to a fellow fighter”, but I was in the depths of drowning before I discovered that. My journey was a lonely one, with no-one to be honest with.
    Your writings have been a great comfort and inspiration.
    I have tried to be involved with Cancer Support, I will sign-post your blog to anyone who could find the words inspiring. Not just the medical stuff, but returning to work, and facing leaving work (that’s a month a way for me).
    Thank you Pennie, being able to find the words to record your journey and now share with people is a wonderful gift.

    1. Diana this means so much. I’m gutted you went through your cancer alone, don’t go through any more of it without knowing that I’m linking my arm through yours. This tribe of ours is an amazing support. Here for you. Always. Pen

  4. Thank you for your beautiful writing. It’s both put into words and normalised how I have felt, but been unable to express as eloquently, through much of this past year as I have been only a couple of weeks behind you on an almost identical journey (bizarrely also as a fellow Cambridge girl, now Scotland based and managing the feelings of my 11 year old daughter alongside it all). ‘Hard to kill’ is going to be my new favourite response!

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