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Cancer and other stuff

Another blog? That was quick

OK people, I’m going to keep this as brief and as factual as I can for the moment – again the blog comes into its own when having to keep people informed when there are big developments. Hopefully you are sitting down? Good.

Yesterday I got my scan results which revealed that the cancer has spread far and wide, fast. It’s now moved to my spine, ribs, adrenal gland (no, me neither) and liver and probably more places. The fact they are not telling exactly how much (just ‘a lot’) or where exactly (just ‘in a lot of places’) speaks volumes – it’s unspoken that it’s not good and I have been told my time is now limited. I don’t know what timescales we’re talking although I suspect, based on how bad I’ve been feeling for quite some time and how quickly it’s come on, that I will be lucky if I get another couple of months, at best. I’ll be starting on a drug which protects your bones from the cancer, helps them stay strong so the risks of fractures and breaks is lessened. Thankfully this can be given at the hospice in Hampstead where I’ve been going for a long time, and where I feel safest. I don’t think there is much point in being in the hospital any more and I don’t really want to sit in ‘the chair’ surrounded by people who are having chemo which is aimed at making them better when I have no such hope any more.

Clearly we are both stunned. And yes, devastated. BUT I always knew this day would come and I’ve been lucky to have been as well as I have during all this time. As in my previous post, I did so much for so long and that was great. And in a way, I’m almost relieved. I have been feeling so bad for quite a while and I kept trying to explain it away as something else and hang on to the thought it was just a blip and I’d start to feel better, very soon. At least now I know I wasn’t actually being a baby about the pain, or imagining it. There was something very wrong the whole time.

There’s a lot to do and think about now but I just want to assure everyone I’m as ok as I can be. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare and I’m so, so grateful that I had the opportunity to do a lot of ‘sorting’ well in advance of this day and there is nothing I have to rush out and do because it’s already done and was done a long time ago. Now I just get to enjoy the time I have left with my family and friends. And we get to laugh and remember all the amazing times we had, and start saying our goodbyes, making sure nothing is left unsaid. I’m glad for that, so glad. Few people get that chance and the people I leave behind can hopefully draw some comfort in the fact they always knew how I felt about them and that I died a happy woman because of the man who captured my heart from our very first date.

I know this is probably hideous news for a lot of you reading this but the last thing I need is sadness all around me, there’s time enough for that when I’m gone. In the meantime I intend to buy outrageously expensive new boots, cuddle the kittens till they can’t breathe, laugh laugh laugh as hard as I can and bury my face in my husband’s armpit at any given opportunity (he’s so tall and I can’t lift my head at the moment as my neck is mega sore. And actually it’s the very core of him I want to breathe in, every second of every day I have left).

I am not afraid of dying. Not any more. Me and death will be just fine because everybody dies, it’s what happens. I haven’t gone yet, I’m still here. With a sense of humour and a personality and a very clear sense of who I am which I never had pre-cancer. And that’s a gift in itself.

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21 thoughts on “Another blog? That was quick

  1. Dear Fran,
    You don’t know me, but I’m so, so gutted to read your news. I found your blog through Ellie’s and have been following you for ages. My mum has stage 4 breast cancer and your blog has given me amazing insight into the way she might be feeling (because she doesn’t really like to talk about it). I’d love to see your blog made into a book, I know it would help so many people.
    Sending you so many well wishes.
    Jane

  2. If there is one thing you have shown to all of us, is that you had the balls to look this s****y little C right into the eye and say: “f**k you, you may kill my body but you can’t kill my spirit!” You won and the waves of courage combined with utter honesty will live on and on and on dearest Francesca. As you rightly said: we all have to leave this planet – but you leave with the love you consciously absorbed and the wonderful spirit you made visible to all of us. We are honoured to have been able to witness a strong woman wearing her funky blue little boots in a hospital. Bravo.

    Huge hug x

  3. You are an amazingly beautiful woman. I am very sorry and mad at this f… cancer! But I wish you lots of love, tenderness and laugh for the time you have left, lots of cuddles with your lovely kittens, lovely colourful boots, wonderful true moments with your friends and loved ones and peaceful goodbyes.
    Julie

  4. Hey Fran, i’m another one you don’t know but just felt that I had to leave you a comment. I actually came across your blog about a year ago, my Dad had just been diagnosed with adrenal cancer (no, we’d never heard of the boody things either). Reading your blog gave me HUGE insight, perspective and understanding that I will always be grateful to you for as it meant that I could (in my late Dad’s words) give him confidence and support at a time when he felt like he was ‘fading’. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    you and GB are in my thoughts xxx

  5. Millie on said:

    I also found your blog through Ellie’s, and just wanted to say thank you for reminding me of the importance of appreciating the people you love every day, and of making sure they know what they mean to you. It’s so so easy to get bogged down but all that really matters at the end when [one] goes is that you are surrounded by love, and that you are filled with happy memories, happy thoughts, and happy reassurances.I am so glad that you will be. I don’t know if it’s weird to say this as a total stranger but I will think of you often. Have a BALL over the next however long xxxxx

  6. HI, Another stranger who came across your blog via Ellie’s. No words, no head tilts just love to you and yours.

  7. Fiona Kehily on said:

    Been following and thinking about you. So many people have. Agree about the book. xo

  8. I work in a breast cancer centre. I have found your blog helpful to know how to help my patients. Thinking of you and your family- good luck on your next stage of your life, Sue

  9. Hannah Browne (Dowding) on said:

    Dear Fran,

    I’m not sure if you’ll remember me – i used to do HR at Lansons a few years back. And we had a fun day doing pink aerobics together once….i think i ended up pinker than the tshirt they gave us…

    This is going to sound cowardly, as it is…but I have been reading your blogs from afar for a while now – in awe, in shock, in admiration. What could i say that a) you hadn’t already heard a thousand times b) wouldn’t sound patronising (though unintentionally) c) wouldn’t make me seem like i was crawling out of the woodwork…. So i took the coward route and said nothing. Just glimpsed from the sidelines. For that I am sorry – and to that i do not expect any response so be assured this is not a ‘make me feel better’ contact from me.
    I just simply want to say that you are an inspiration, your blogs are so open, and whether you know it or not, with me as the example, you are a part of so many lives and mentalities even those of us who are not ‘in’ your daily life as such.

  10. Hannah Browne (Dowding) on said:

    I wish you ANYTHING for this part of your life and journey. And i wish strength. For you and all those who love, admire and follow you.
    How do i finish this?? I don’t want to be even more cliche than i may already have been. So i think i will just say “Keep it Pink” … X

  11. Dear Fran, I nearly didn’t reply to this post since I don’t know you and I recall in an earlier posting you felt that you didn’t want to share your life with strangers. However, as a former hospital employee and cancer patient, I do want to share my thoughts. I have seen a lot of death–from infants to the very elderly; from those who lingered and wasted away with ALS to those who collapsed and died on the spot; from those who died surrounded by friends, family, and love to those who died neglected and alone. I have seen people who prepared themselves and embraced their passing and others who fought it and were frightened. As you rightly point out, death comes to us all–some sooner than others. The ideal way to die is in one’s sleep, but that rarely happens. The second best way to leave this world (from my observations and my own feeling) is to be surrounded by loving family and friends and to be cared for by professionals who do their best to keep you free of pain and at peace.You are clearly young, but it sounds like you have lived life fully and from what I have read in your blog, you are surrounded by love, laughter, and caring family, friends, and health professionals. I pray that you may embrace and enjoy the gift of time that remains and I wish you a peaceful journey and a soft landing. Thank you for sharing yourself, even if that wasn’t your intention. Party til the end! Lots of love from Deb xx

  12. I’ve been following for a while too and have been amazed by how you’ve just gotten on with your life despite all the sh*t that’s been heaped at you. I never understand why stuff like this happens to such good people who love life and have so much to give. I hope that you navigate through these next months in a little cocoon of warmth, love, laughs and good times with all those who are important to you. xxx

  13. Deborah on said:

    Love you Francesca. I hope to see you soon. I feel honoured to have met you. I know that sounds like some godawful yukky comment but I mean it. You are an inspiration about how to live whether you like it or not woman. Much love and enjoy those armpits! Sounds blissful xx Deborah

  14. Hi Fran, I’ve followed your blog intently after losing Ellie and although I am sad to hear this news (it’s hard not to be) I’m also glad you had the opportunity to write this post and say your goodbyes properly. It all happened so fast with Ellie that I don’t feel we really got the chance to do that. I hope your remaining time with your loved ones is as happy and full of love as it can be. I believe in something far better on the other side. Promise me one thing, you’ll give Ellie a big hug from her friend Jay and tell her I love her. We’ll keep fighting the fight for you down here. Sending lots of love xxx

    • Of COURSE I will, she will always know that anyway in the same way I always will. And yes, I feel sad for you that you never got that time to properly say goodbye. I am absolutely convinced she is up there now, getting everything ready for a welcome drink which is a huge comfort. And thanks for your message xx

  15. jbenamor on said:

    I don’t feel sorry for you, because what you’re going through is something that we will all go through at some point. We’ll all die, most of us from cancer or something similar.

    Reading your words I feel impressed by you, because you’ve come to terms with your mortality, you’re at peace with the truth and that’s something many of us will never achieve.

    I hope when it’s my time I’m as brave and as strong as you.

  16. Sophia on said:

    Thank you, again, for helping me understand and navigate a situation that would have been so much more difficult if you hadn’t been prepared to share your blog so openly. You are a truly fantastic writer. Thank you again, so much xx

  17. Lucy Ratcliffe on said:

    A stranger that came to your blog through Meg. I couldn’t not salute your bravery, honesty and beauty. Touched by cancer like so many. Sending you love and joy xxxx

  18. Another stranger that has been touched by your writing. Reading about your situation helped me face the death of my father in August and I just wish that I had read something like your blog before I lost my husband when I was 29. Instead, I pretended it wasn’t happening and then was shocked. I respect you a lot and I have been sending your blogs to all the oncologists that I work with just to let them know how a young woman really feels when she is coming to terms with cancer. Enjoy your husband, friends and music. Karen

  19. Thank you for your truth, showing us your world as it is, awake. Feel the energy waves of love, compassion, joy and understanding you have created moving outwards in more ways you will ever know. Gratefully

  20. So sorry to read your recent blog post. Started reading your blog a while back and look forward to your updates! You’re a breath of fresh air with your positivity and pragmatism! I hope you’re doing as ok as you can be! All the best! Aisling

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