stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


Hit me baby one more time!

Two and a half weeks have now passed since I finished my radiotherapy. Another huge box to tick off on my treatment journey. Hooray!

Radiotherapy was a weird experience… Going to the hospital every day for three weeks. Driving there, parking, walking to oncology, waiting in the waiting room, getting called into the treatment room which was always freezing, stripping off, being lined up on the machine according to lasers and my tattoos given for this purpose, being scanned, realigned and then lying in the machine in the cold for 15 minutes, getting dressed and going home with cries of “See you tomorrow” to the radiographers.

Each day staring at the ‘Disney Cars’ stickers which are stuck inside the radiotherapy machine, listening to the machine which is noisy and sounds like a cross between a hoover and a truck reversing, and each day wondering what the soundtrack for that day’s treatment would be. (The radiographers pick the music and my personal favourite was the day with both Spice Girls and Britney Spears… It was seriously weird receiving treatment to the strains of ‘Hit me baby one more time’! 🙂 )

The weirdest part was that receiving treatment didn’t feel like anything. I guess I have come to associate treatment with pain, or at least mild discomfort. But with radiotherapy there was nothing, just feeling freezing in the machine. Not what I expected at all. (the radiation burn on my skin did kick in eventually but only after the treatment finished and this is now thankfully on the mend.)

While the physical effects of radiotherapy were limited, (and definitely far easier to bear than both the chemo and surgery) it has been an interesting time emotionally. I have found myself feeling a bit lost and distressed at the thought that my three main threads of treatment were coming to an end. On thinking about why this is I have realised it is because receiving treatment is a positive, proactive thing and I am someone that likes to have a plan!

I like to take steps to move things forward in all aspects of my life and I don’t like the feeling that everything is happening around me and there is not a lot I can do to influence it.

This has highlighted once again to me the mental battle I have found dealing with cancer to be. This is such a challenge to me and an area that, without God, I think I would find impossible. I have found such comfort in the things that I believe He has promised me, both generally and specifically and this has proved a real source of strength in these turbulent times.

These promises and words of comfort are too many to write here, but below are just a few verses from Psalm 18 which I have found such an encouragement and I look forward to God bringing me into that spacious place that the Psalmist talks about.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.


Jumping hurdles

Today is Sunday (only just, but Sunday nevertheless). Just two more days left until I will be jumping another hurdle in my treatment journey. At 7am on this coming Tuesday morning I will be reporting to the hospital as Tuesday sees my surgery roll around.

I have found preparing for this surgery has been something of an emotional roller coaster (I even find the thought of the general anaesthetic a bit scary). I know in my head that the surgery is a vital part of my treatment and that it is such a positive thing, but my heart is still playing catch up on reaching such a positive place. It is a funny thing to know that something is good and right and yet still to feel so sad about it.

Over the past few days I have been really enjoying the Paralympics and they have served as a real reality check for me. I have been so inspired by the countless athletes who have faced all manner of challenges in their lives but who have chosen not to be limited by these challenges but rather to live their lives to the full. They are such an example to me and I have really found that watching them has helped me to pull myself out of my own personal pity party and gear up to face this next stage of treatment head on, all the while keeping my eyes on the treatment finish line.

I am so thankful for the excellent treatment that I am receiving, for the amazing hospital staff and for the love and support of my friends and family. I know that in this next phase I can trust God to give me the strength I need to face each day, just as he has done in the chapters that have already passed. As I prepare for the surgery I am reminded of and encouraged by the lyrics to Desert Song by Brooke Fraser (it’s such a great song – check it out on YouTube if you don’t know it) which talks about God’s faithfulness though the difficult times of our lives.

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness, or trial, or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am conquerer and co-heir with Christ
so firm on His promise I’ll stand

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here