HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


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February joy

Where did January go? I can’t believe it is already February and I have yet to put pen to paper! I love February, in spite of its biting cold and the feeling of never ending winter. I love February because it is the month of my boy’s birthday!

This time next week my big boy is turning three. Hooray!!

He is so excited! He is having a little fireman party which he is thrilled about and he talks every day about his birthday. He sadly still hasn’t overcome his dislike for cake (read more about that here!) although he did amazingly have one tiny bite of a friend’s Frozen/skiing themed birthday cake on Saturday. He said it was “ok” (which wasn’t hugely encouraging considering I had made the aforementioned cake!)

Nevertheless, he is determined to have a birthday cake of his own. A few days ago he said, “Mummy, for my birthday, you can make me a beautiful fire engine cake… But I’m not going to have any of it!” For some inexplicable reason he is also adamant that while the rest of us will eat party food on his birthday, Daddy should be provided with yogurt to eat!?! So it looks like Joel will be missing out on this fire engine cake too! 😉

Just like Jonty I am also really excited for his third birthday. But for quite different reasons.

For me, anticipating this third birthday kicks up a whole lot of emotions and a whole lot of memories.

When my cancer was first diagnosed I was so sure that it would kill me. And soon. When I was diagnosed I decided that my goal was to live until this beautiful baby, who was then just eight weeks old, turned three. Just three more years, please God! I obviously had no way of controlling or ensuring that this would happen, but still, this was my aim.

I figured that as I have a few memories from when I was three that if I could just live until then, maybe, just maybe, my beautiful boy would remember me if I was no longer around. Maybe he would remember the intensity of my love for him, how wanted and cherished he was by me. Maybe he would remember my voice or my laugh or the way I sang to him or rocked him to sleep. Maybe he would remember just one of those things…

If I could just make it to his third birthday.

And so now here I stand, just one week to go until the moment that I wished for so fervently.

Just one week to go and I am so thankful.

I am so grateful that I am not yet a distant and hazy memory in Jonty’s mind, that he doesn’t need to remember how I loved him because he still knows it in his every day. I am so grateful for each day’s hugs, laughs and even struggles, because they mean I am still here. I still get to love him and share this crazy, wonderful and beautiful life with my crazy, wonderful and beautiful boy!

Happy birthday precious boy!

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Somewhere between vigilance and paranoia

At the moment this is where I find myself, treading the fine line between vigilance and paranoia. Trying not to ignore what my body is telling me (like I used to before cancer), that aching limb or infection that just won’t improve, while at the same time trying not to be a hypochondriac, trying not to fear that every ache and pain is metastatic cancer.

I joked with my GP the other day that I should get frequent flyer miles for coming to their surgery so often and he just smiled faintly and said that they don’t mind if I visit as often as I like with my random ailments. They might not mind, but the thing is… I do! I mind very much and I would very much like to not see them for a really long time!

That’s one of the (many) things I guess I didn’t know about cancer before I got it… That it’s not over when the active treatment is over. Side effects endure (chemo really is nasty stuff even one year on), the fear of recurrence lurks in the back of your mind, your dreams for having children have to change. The after effects are further reaching and more varied than I ever could have imagined.

This is a strange place to be. Surely I should be thrilled it is all over and just be getting on with things. And I am… Really! I cannot tell you how pleased I am not to be a regular in the hospital anymore and my life is moving forward. But still, a strange sense of desolation remains.

In thinking about this I was reminded of a passage in Habakkuk 3 (v 17-19).

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

I feel that this passage describes perfectly how I feel at the moment. There are many areas of my life that have been devastated and that remain desolate. But, this has not robbed me of joy or of blessing. Even in that place I know the goodness and love of a faithful and amazing God!


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Be kind to yourself

The last few weeks since my surgery have been filled with special family time, days out in Cambridge, enjoying little man and the last of the summer and Joel’s last few weeks of holiday. But they have also been filled with lots of physiotherapy and adjusting to my new normal post-surgery.

Like each aspect of this cancer journey these weeks have been a bit up and down. My general recovery was remarkably quick, as predicted by the doctors (not believed by myself) and just a few days post-surgery, on a sunny Saturday, I was strolling round a national trust property! That certainly took me by surprise!! Regaining the movement in my arm on the other hand has been somewhat slower and more tricky… But each day is a little better and movement is slowly being restored.

I have been desperate to get back into exercising but I continue to be really tired and unable to do all that much physically. This has been a great source of frustration to me as I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!!

On Tuesday at a hospital appointment I was chatting to one of the lovely nurses, telling her the grand plans of my exercise regime and she gave me some wise words that I have been thinking about since then… She said, “Be kind to yourself.”

This got me thinking, how often are we our own worst enemy and harshest critics. How often do we expect unrealistic things of ourselves or do we not extend the grace that we would to others to ourselves.

For me, how this looks is giving myself proper time to recover, accepting the continued help from others, building up my strength slowly and trying to be ok that there are many things that used to be so easy that I still can’t do… and probably slowing down my exercise grand plan! 😉 I’m sure it looks different for you, but the principle is the same.

God is such a kind God and He shows us so much grace. As we are called to emulate Him, let us not only be kind to others and show them grace but let’s be kind to ourselves too.