The Numbers

Recent figures show that 50% of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK now survive for 10 years or more.  Cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years.  People are living 10 times longer after their diagnosis than 40 years ago.  This is really great news for a disease that used to be considered an automatic death sentence.  This is no longer so – the numbers speak for themselves! But my next thought on reading this was, ‘Which side of the 50% statistic will I be on?’. And it struck me that, for someone who wasn’t Continue Reading …

In the News

There have been several headlines in the news over the last week about breakthroughs in cancer treatment, for example: ‘Revolutionary new cancer treatment makes patients SIX TIMES more likely to survive’ ‘I’m one of the first patients in the world to be saved by DNA cancer treatment’ ‘Thousands of cancer patients can DOUBLE their survival chances with new treatment’ How do these headlines affect you? I’m never really sure about how to react to them as experience has taught me that the story underneath the headline rarely meets the expectations set by the headline. That’s often because the treatment may Continue Reading …

Small Changes…….part 2

Take time to smell the roses and appreciate their fragrance Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of jobs or problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people and good things in life. These are some of the things from our HOPE course that we were thankful for: ‘A whole night’s unbroken sleep.’    ‘Check-ups have moved from 2 monthly to 3 monthly’ ‘Enjoyment of swimming. I might Continue Reading …

Small Changes……Part 1

Small changes can make a big difference in our outlook. Judy and I have recently held a Macmillan HOPE course at Coppice Library. The course is aimed at supporting people who have been through cancer, or are living with it, to live well. HOPE stands for Helping Overcome Problems Effectively and it covers many of the issues that prevent us from getting on with life in a positive way. One aspect of the course is for group members to keep their own Gratitude Diary. This entails making a daily record of things we are grateful from that day. And what Continue Reading …

Living with uncertainty……

This is one of the most difficult aspects of living with the aftermath of cancer. You will note that I have deliberately avoided using the phrase ‘coming to terms with’ uncertainty,  because the reality is that this is something to be lived with and managed, not ‘come to terms with’. For those of us not living with this threat, this Sword of Damocles, truly understanding what it feels like is almost impossible. The nearest that I can get to it is to think about that phrase so often used lightly and as banter – ‘ See you tomorrow unless I Continue Reading …

What’s in a word….

There’s something about the act of writing that eases the soul and frees the mind.  Perhaps this is why many people turn to the written word in times of stress, sadness or worry.  Writing about something as stressful and difficult as cancer or serious illness can be soothing, illuminating and supportive. For many people, keeping a journal is an easy way to express their feelings and thoughts about what is happening.  Research shows that expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings can reduce stress, improve how we are physically, and increase our quality of life.  Putting our thoughts down in black Continue Reading …

‘Hold Fast to that which is Good’

I made a recent trip to the Trafford Centre, during the Christmas sales! Glutton for punishment? Fool hardy, I know. The outing was at the request of a visiting family friend who had never been to our temple of delights. And as often happens when you look through the eyes of a stranger, you see things you’d missed before. In my case, it was the glittering letters above the entrance, “Hold fast to that which is good”.  Wondering what on earth that had to do with shopping, I Googled it when I got back home. Apparently, the saying is, “Test Continue Reading …

Regaining trust in yourself

I cannot tell you how many people, from all walks of life, have told me that one of the most difficult consequences of their illness and its treatment is their loss of confidence.  It seems to make no difference if you are a woman or a man, old or young, have a high-powered demanding job or are retired. Cancer is a great leveller in this (as in many other) respects. Of course one of the great problems with confidence is that no-one else can give it to you: you cannot get your doctor to write a prescription or buy it Continue Reading …

A List for Living

There seem to have been many references lately to ‘Bucket Lists’ – a list of things we would like to achieve or experience before we die (or kick the bucket!) What would be on yours?  When Helen Fawkes (a BBC correspondent) was given a life-limiting diagnosis, she considered compiling her own plan but did not like the term, ‘bucket list’. She preferred to compile her ‘List for Living’. Helen’s ideas included: seeing Stonehenge at dawn; pulling a pint in her local pub; being driven around a racetrack in a sports car; glass blowing; hot air balloon flight; and drinking a Continue Reading …

Regaining trust in your body

 For many of you, your cancer will have been discovered whilst you were feeling well and healthy – either through some sort of screening programme, through investigations for another illness or for a relatively innocuous symptom. You may have had few – if any – times when you felt ill or had very troubling symptoms (I know this is not true for all, but it is a common experience nonetheless). And then you hear the diagnosis, that word that will be forever etched in your memory. How is it possible to have the disease that so many dread without feeling Continue Reading …