Good Afternoon, and hello new subscribers,
Many of you will remember that a while back we had a little survey to establish how often you wanted to hear from me. The consensus was once a month. So today a little reminder popped up in my calendar and my heart sank. On the writing front I have nothing much new to say. My life is hectic, but far from exciting, and with the exception of listening to Meredith & Hodge come to life via audio, I’m not being very productive. I’ve got a million ideas (and I am jotting them down), but I can’t for the life of me string a coherent plot together at the moment. I have done bits here and there, but realistically, Not If You Paid Me, the next in the Meredith & Hodge series will be lucky if it reaches a kindle near you by the end of spring next year. Then I realised I should introduce you to the people who are more important to me than writing. I hope you’re sitting comfortably; this will be longer than usual!
This is a photograph of my beautiful daughter, Ellie. It was taken in early November at her 30th birthday celebrations. Her birthday was on the 4th, a Monday, and family and friends had lined up a weekend of celebration, culminating in a family meal on the Monday. Ellie named the weekend, “Hello thirties, bye bye Boobies”.
Ellie was diagnosed with breast cancer, at the tender age of 29. Her mastectomy was booked for the 15th November, so this was going to be her last chance to let her hair down for a while. I think it’s fair to say she did.
My birthday is late January, and Ellie gave me tickets to the opening night of Lion King, at the Bristol Hippodrome in September. We’d had a girl’s day out to London nine years previously to see it at the Lyceum, and she knew I’d love the opportunity to see it again. It was during our journey to the theatre she told me she’d found a lump, and thought she probably should get it checked out. She did the next week, and the doctor referred her to the hospital.
This was my baby. It wasn’t going to be cancer. So when, some three weeks later, we went to get the results, I was fairly relaxed. Until we were called to see the consultant. I knew bad news was coming when the doctor opened the door and stood back for Ellie to enter, and she stumbled. This wasn’t a consulting room. This was what Ellie and her cousin Lucy called a crying room. Softly decorated with comfortable chairs, and a box of tissues on the coffee table. But she didn’t cry. Not when she was given the news, not even when he said because of her young age it was likely to be a genetic issue, and if that was the case it would mean she needed a bilateral mastectomy. If she could be brave, then so could I, and, dry eyed, we asked a LOT of questions.
Over the last two months we have had to visit the hospital numerous times each week for MRIs, biopsies, meetings with surgeons and plastic surgeons, meetings with the consultant to get the various results, and a morning of pre-op assessments. The operation was scheduled for the 15th November and Ellie had a final meeting with the surgeon the day before. The results from the MRI guided biopsy taken the previous week hadn’t come back and the operation the next day had been cancelled . . . And that’s when my baby cried.
Ellie had spent almost two months mentally preparing herself for this operation. A significant part of her anatomy was going to be removed, and as a self-employed dog trainer and walker, she’d stopped taking new clients, cancelled her puppy classes for the foreseeable, and found alternative walkers for her regulars. She’d also arranged for her own lovely dog, Riddle, to go into boarding for a few days. Having bought her first little flat the year before, she had no savings to speak of, and now she would have no income coming in for even longer. But what caused her the most distress was the fact that the cancer was not going anywhere the next day.
The operation has now been scheduled for the 29th November, so please keep you fingers crossed that nothing happens to delay it this time. I’m proud to say she has bounced back, and has been overwhelmed by the support and understanding she has received from her friends and clients, and more than a little embarrassed that one of her clients set up a gofundme page to help her out while she recovers. I think it’s really sweet, as Riddle has written it.
I asked Ellie if I could write this and I could feel her rolling her eyes. She’s not one for seeking attention, but she does want everyone to check themselves. So here’s her original post written about a month after her diagnosis:
“I’ve been debating whether or not to post about this for various reasons but here goes. Last month I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in a few weeks, 11 days after my 30th birthday I’ll be having a mastectomy and after that radiotherapy. At the moment it looks like I will be able to avoid chemo but every time I go to the hospital the news seems to get worse so who knows!
Obviously I am absolutely gutted, I am already completely emotionally exhausted by having to be at the hospital virtually every day, but the point is, I AM GOING TO BE ALIVE!
And the reason for that is that as soon as I thought something wasn’t right I went to the doctor and it’s been caught early enough that it’s not spreading to my other organs yet. If I had left it, well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
So please everyone, if you want to do something for me for my birthday please just go check your boobs and your balls and go for your smear tests on time etc., because it absolutely CAN happen to you! Get checked, catch it early and get it cured!
Funny hospital stories to follow…might start a blog…or write a book…gonna have a lot of time on my hands! 🙈
PS: thank you so much for all the support/cards/flowers from my family and friends all over the country/world. So much love xx”
On a cheerier note, the other reason my life is hectic are these beauties. Edie and Frankie. My beautiful grandchildren, and I’m happy for them to take up my time any time they like.
In other news, The Wrong Shoes audio should be live within the month . . . I still have a few free audio promo codes for Misplaced Loyalty and Ill Conceived, drop me line letting me know if you would like UK or US codes if you would like to give them a listen. More on that in the next newsletter. I’ve taken up enough of your time.
Happy reading and listening,
Go and check your bits!
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