Living with a melanoma

Archive for March, 2012

Pause for thought

My daughter the Doctor texted me today.  (My poor, demented Mother used to get Abbie and I muddled and would often introduce me as ‘my daughter, the doctor’, I would explain, again, that I was a nurse – one memorable time Mum said, ‘yes, but it sounds so much better if I say you’re a doctor’ !  There went decades years of nursing!)

Nothing unusual in Abbie texting me – but what was unusual was the content.  She said that she had just listened to Pause for Thought and that I should too and so should Steve.  Well, today has been busy and then its ‘chill out Friday’ – so we’ve only just got round to listening to it – we have both sat utterly transixed and then in tears.  So amazed that Abbie heard this.

Chris Evans had a Rabbi speaking today and he was talking about the story of Abraham and Issac as they journeyed to the place where God had told them to go to sacrifice Issac.  The Rabbi wondered how Sarah felt being left and the strength and resilience that she must have had.  He used a story to explain further.  He told us about the potter testing his pots.  The potter would never test a weak pot because he knew it would break.  Instead he would test the strong ones that could withstand the knocks and blows. And so God is with us – when we are taking knocks and blows that test us and our understanding of God we need to remember that He only tests the strong ones.  He tests the strong ones with the necessary resilience to withstand the blows and come out stronger and clearer in their faith. The very act of testing us helps us to see that we are strong and we can manage and cope with what is thrown at us.

Thank God that Abbie had the radio on – Chris Evans’ breakfast show at 2:48:30 on the iplayer, we pray for an anesthetist with as much skill and prowess as Abbie when Steve has his surgery.  This broadcast certainly ticked our boxes.


Pre op assessment

Well, we turned up – all bright eyed and bushy tailed for Steve’s pre op assessment.   I seemed to completely forget that I had worked at the hospital and decided that we had to check that we were in the right place (despite being over half an hour early).  So we duly went up to the 3rd floor of the ATC and were greeted by an extremely friendly Health Care Assistant. I explained that I knew we were really early – should we go for coffee – but no, she was ready and would see Steve straight away.  I could have kissed her – Steve has got the waiting capacity of a melting ice cream on a hot summer’s day – crisis averted!

And she was so good – so competent – she knew what surgery Steve was waiting for and very quickly found out all she needed to know.  Steve grew about 6 inches when he was told that he was very fit and needed no blood tests nor an ECG.  He was swabbed for MRSA (had to swab the tricky bits himself!) and off we went – out before we were due to go in.  

We were composing the ‘your HCA is excellent ‘ letter in our heads when the mobile rang – ‘whops’ she said -‘ so sorry , can you come back for photos?’  Oh well – nearly got away!  We went back for the form and got sent to Medical Photography – deep joy – I am sure its about a mile from one end of the hospital to the other and we walked it.  Now, as fit people that shouldn’t be a problem – but I had chosen my favorite killer heels – not good news!!

Anyway – photos done and that was that.  We are well informed and the HCA described in great detail how the skin graft is looked after!  And Steve might have to stay in overnight after surgery – big dilemma – he has no pyjamas!  Shall we go for  T shirt and boxers – or buy PJs that he will never wear again?

Talking of buying things – the car has now been purchased – awaiting collection on Saturday – this necessitated a trip to Bedford where Steve and my youngest son inspected the Supra (oh yes, I know the name now!)  I imagine much intaking of breath and ‘well mate’ exchanges – but bought it is.  I am composing a ‘wow, that’s fab’ face – ready for when I first see it.  (Apparently I am not to worry – its a man thing – which is presumably why I am not insured to drive it?)  It certainly ticks all the boxes as far as Steve is concerned!


back home

thank you all for your lovely messages.

I’m back home now – that feels so good.  We are, of course, delighted with the news but remain anxious.  So we have spent some time wondering why we are still worried – well, the whole SGC (Steve’s Got Cancer)  scenario remains and our lives are still different from what they were a month ago.  Tomorrow we are going to Addenbrookes for Steve’s preadmission assessment – we are anticipating various measurements and blood tests to get some base lines prior to the surgery on 12th April.  We are, of course, enormously grateful for this week’s news – but we are greedy – we want to know that there is nothing in the nodes and  that there is no need for Steve to enter onto a Clinical Treatment trial.  But we do know that life will never be the same as it was before – we are forever aware of the fragility of today.  

Hence – I have returned to no tree in the front garden and a plan for the grass that remains.  Steve has, whilst I have been away, spent loads of time discussing this fancy car with my youngest son – it appears to have grown into a real project – and necessitating a trip to see one tomorrow.  I don’t pretend to understand the associated man talk – but it seems to require multiple texts – and yes, more discussions about wheels.  I wait with bated breath!

Great News

As you know, I am away from home at the moment and the last time I was here was when we got the bad news – so imagine how I felt when I saw a ‘blocked’ call on my phone – but – this time – a message left by a surgical registrar from Addenbrookes saying that they found no more cancer cells in the bit that they cut off Steve’s back two weeks ago!!

I had to listen to it twice to be sure that i had got it right! – and I had.  Thanks be to God.  We still have to go in for the wide excision and the node biopsy – but the outlook is different than we thought it might be.

I’ll write more later – but  just wanted to jot this down – what a beautiful day


Well, I’m away from home today – feels very strange.  I am on my weight management training course – it was when I was here last that we got the dreadful news and I had to come home pretty sharpish.  That was the remarkable day when I knew that although what we were going through was going to be incredibly tough but that there were people out there who could and would help.

One of my fellow counselors was with me when Steve rang after he had been to the GP – and she was incredible.  There was only two of us on the course that day – and she is also a Christian.  She held me – both actually and metaphorically – and then knelt and prayed with me – if it had to happen it happened in the right place.

My daughter phoned the vicar and asked for his help – Nick was on the phone in less than 5 mins – I know he’s very responsive – but I have yet to find out what my daughter said – she’s an anesthetist and is very used to telling people what to do!  Who does she take after I wonder?!

So here I am alone in my room trying hard to catch up with some work – its late and I’ve lost my sense of bed time.  Hopefully Steve is fast asleep – never more so than now have we been aware of the luxury of sleep – so easily taken from us so but restorative when its good.

The plans for the car are progressing – I am still not at all sure that I have any idea what sort of car it is – but I do know that the tree in the front garden is being incrementally felled to make room for it – any idea how long I have wanted that done!?  Oh well, result’s the same!  My youngest son (who is a mechanic) is advising – it seems that the wheels are things to be admired – I can’t say I have ever noticed – oh well – eye of the beholder and all that !  I’ll let you know when I’ve grasped the finer detail – maybe a picture?



Today we organised Sport Relief mile in the village.  This was one of those ideas that I had that I thought was such a good one at the time!  Little did I realize the amount of work involved!  However, the Sports Relief team have been great – they have phoned, emailed and constantly reassured.  Multiple parcels have arrived over the weeks, culminating in hundreds of bottles of water and medals.

So we set off down to the Rec this morning – have you any idea how cold it was at 08.00 this morning (which was really 07.00?)  Oh my word – it was so cold and so damp.  Nevertheless – all our helpers turned up – bright eyed and keen – do you know the nicest thing anyone said to me – ? ‘Here I am – what would you like me to do?’  We put up banners, arranged tables, set up sound systems and taped across trees.

Then the great British public turned up – and they were so fabulous – crowds of them – so many more than we had ever hoped for.  We had tiny ones running and the WI – who topped us all – 79 – think she was the eldest!  Everyone was cheerful – and understanding that it may not have been measured to Olympic standards.  Then all our helpers cleared everything away.  The boys warmed up again – they were so cold! And we then watched the sun come out when w got home and it was all over.  Thank you all

And for a few moments we forgot that our lives have been shaken, we forgot that our future isn’t as certain as we had once thought.  But we didn’t forget that every little helps – we may only have played a small part in the terrific Sport Relief total of over 50M – but contribute we did.  Every one in their own way gave of themselves for others today – what more could we ask – ticks all the boxes for me



As you can imagine – we have been looking closely at our priorities recently.

In fact, we began this BC (before cancer) – we remembered Nick and his ‘Big Rocks’ which were the subject of a sermon one Sunday.  I looked up the work of Stephen Covey and his discussion about the important things in life.  Then we bought a whole batch of amazingly coloured marbles (don’t know the collective noun for marbles!) and found some appropriate jars.

We bought 3 large marbles, 5 medium marbles and many many small ones.  Then the fun began.  We decided our 3 main priorities in our life together (I’m not going to tell you what they were – or what they are now – somethings are too private!). What ticks all your boxes? For example they could be;

  • your children
  • your faith
  • work

Then we did the next tier of importance with the medium sized marbles.  Again, some ideas;

  • reading a book
  • doing exercise
  • getting that essay written
  • cooking good meals
  • phoning a friend


then we thought about the smallest marbles;

  • watching TV
  • washing the kitchen floor
  • the ironing
  • surfing the internet
  • checking facebook 20 times an hour

I could go on and on!

Then we had fun – we put all the tiny marbles in the jar first – and guess what – there was a precious little room for the medium marbles and no room at all for the big ones.  Oh, so no space in our life for the things that matter?

We tried again – this time we put the big marbles in first, easy to fit in – then the medium ones and then we could fit all the small ones in too because they fitted round the big ones.

So never has this held more poignancy for us – if you don’t prioritize the big things in life you will quickly fill all the available space with  the trivia and there will be no room for things that really matter.

We have the jar of marbles on a shelf in the dining room – just so we don’t forget to make space for the things that really matter.


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