stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


Machu Picchu or bust!

A few months ago a message popped up on Facebook, that was addressed to me and some other lovely ladies asking… Did any of us want to join a group that would be trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru in September for the charity CoppaFeel?

I laughed it off as being impossible, and just mentioned it to Joel that evening in passing. His response, “You HAVE to go! It will be amazing!” My response to his involved listing all the reasons why this was the most ridiculous idea ever and why I couldn’t possibly go. I was too unfit, I could never raise the money, what about little Jonty… The list went on… The next day I mentioned it to my folks and their response was alarmingly identical to Joel’s… “You HAVE to go! What an opportunity!”

This got me thinking, maybe I should do it… What if it isn’t a totally ridiculous idea… (even though it is TOTALLY not the sort of thing I would normally do… Like ever!!)

So, a few days later, with a petrified heart and a trembling hand, I paid my deposit. I was in!

The training began immediately and has had a fair few ups and downs (a particular downer was some pretty epic blisters that took a month, seriously, to heal!) And now, here I am and it is less than 24 hours until I leave.

I am still really scared (and this fear is only heightened by all those people who tell me how brave I am… Why is this brave? Is there something no one is telling me??) but I am also so proud and so thankful to have this opportunity and to be well enough to climb this mountain (ok I know…many mountains!)

The words of Habakkuk 3:19 have been spoken over me so many times in my life, but today they seems particularly apt and I rejoice in their truth:

GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

See you on the flip side! I look forward to sharing some photos and stories with you when I return from Peru!


From fear to freedom (the story of my little ditty)

Some of you may have seen a song that I shared on YouTube earlier this year called “I choose Freedom”. It is a song that I wrote to mark my second cancerversary in April (and had great fun recording thanks to some studio time given to me for my 30th birthday by my amazing husband). It is a song that means a lot to me and I have wanted to share its story for a long time, so here goes…

One of the things that has struck me time and time again when I visit the online cancer chat groups that I am part of is how many people live in fear… Fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of recurrence… It takes many guises. Cancer has struck fear into their hearts and they just can’t shake it. I know about this first hand, as I was absolutely one of those people.

The speaker Christine Caine recently wrote about her cancer diagnosis and what she says about fear really hit home for me:

Fear cripples, immobilises and paralyses us… Fear simply shuts us down, and when we are shut down we cannot fight the good fight of faith. I had a faith battle ahead of me, and the real enemy was not cancer, but fear.

That is how I felt, crippled, immobilised, paralysed by fear. The fear of recurrence coloured my every decision and filled up so much of my headspace there was little room for hope and even less for dreams. It was a place of captivity and certainly not freedom.

One Sunday about a year ago, we were visiting the church where my husband now works. We went along to the evening service and it happened to be about healing. The sermon was about the woman who had been bleeding for many years and who came to Jesus pushing through the crowd. When she got to him, she touched the bottom of his cloak and she was instantly healed (Mark 5:25-29), It was a lovely service, but nothing particularly remarkable happened to me as I listened.

After the service the children’s worker came up to me and said, “Cath, I feel the Lord has shown me that you are like that woman. You have come to Jesus and he has healed you. Now it is time to let go of the heavy burden of fear that you are carrying.” This really spoke to my heart and she prayed for me and then we went on our way.

About two days later I realised that something had happened, that everything had changed. I realised that in that moment, on that unremarkable Sunday evening, something truly remarkable had happened. I realised that the burden of fear that I had been carrying for so long had been completely broken off me and I had been set free. I literally felt like I was no longer carrying a heavy weight, and this dark, heavy burden had been replaced by hope and joy and this completely changed my life!

It was amazing!

Since then, the fear hasn’t returned although I do still have to choose to walk in this freedom. I have to choose not to allow myself back into old thought patterns if I feel them creeping back. I choose to stand on the truth that in Christ I am free and that is truly a wonderful thing.

Here are the lyrics to the chorus of the song and a link to the YouTube clip in case you haven’t seen it. I hope you enjoy it!

And that’s where life is in the freedom of His grace
And there I find joy and rest in his embrace
And I’ve let fear go, it’s a choice that I have made
And I choose freedom, every single day.


Goodbye Addenbrooke’s (sort of)…

Today we got up at the crack of dawn, bundled into the car and fought through traffic all the way from London to Cambridge for what, it turns out, was my last appointment in the Oncology Unit at Addenbrooke’s hospital (not my last oncology appointment of all time sadly, but I am being transferred to to a closer hospital so I did still get to experience the joy of giving the receptionist my discharge paper on the way out! I didn’t explain the complexities of my transfer to her though when she congratulated me on my discharge!)

I was unsure of how I would feel going back to that familiar Thursday morning breast cancer clinic, with its waiting room full on chairs packed in tight rows all facing a TV whose sole purpose is to loop adverts about the hospital… The waiting room with signs reminding you to tell a member of staff if you think you are going to throw up… The waiting room full of people with ranging hair lengths, and smiles and greetings between friends made in the chemo suite… The place where you always have to get weighed before you go and see the doctor, even though there is no discernible reason why if you aren’t having any treatment…

It is a strange place and it felt strange to be back there a whole year since my last appointment (crazy hey!), in amongst this world that is now such a small part of my daily life, in a town that I used to call home but that now feels strange as when we left, so many of our good friends did too…

But, in amongst this strangeness was the most hopeful appointment to date with my most wonderful oncologist and after it was all over, after I had waited, been weighed, waited some more and been poked and prodded for the umpteenth time I left a bit stunned at how positive it all was, and very thankful and hopeful for the future.

The truth is I think I am still a bit stunned by the experience.

But… It feels like a new season is beginning and that is a great place to be. Although I will not miss the Thursday clinic one bit, I am so thankful for the fantastic care I have received from so many amazing doctors and nurses and Addenbrooke’s over the past two and a half years. I am also so deeply thankful for how we as a family have been so supported by the love and prayers of our wonderful friends and family, and for how we have been carried by a faithful God who never let’s us go.

Thank you everyone! Here’s to the future! May it be one where I hopefully get weighed by strangers less frequently!!