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Lessons from Cancer


Day 6 post chemo and I’m up at 4am to write. I’m definitely back to normal. It came suddenly, unexpectedly. This returning to normal. Like my friend Caroline said “the next minute you’ll wonder what that was all about“. The last few days I felt so exhausted that it was an effort to get out of bed for 5 minutes. The human body is incredible. And so, if you perhaps face this journey, then know that it does not last – that feeling of not being yourself.

To say I’ve learned many lessons so far sounds rather corny. I can definitely tell you that there is a bigger picture, a golden thread we cannot see. Perhaps Kai is finding his purpose to build robotic boobs for women one day (he asked if I’m getting a robotic boob). Bailey is learning that looks really don’t matter. She said to me that she’ll make me some hair and stick it on ‘so that people won’t be scared of me and still like me.‘ My knee jerk response was that with hair made by a 5 year old and stuck on with cellotape I’ll be scary as shit. But I was the adult and I explained that people really don’t care what you look like.

I learned that it is possible to have a puffy elbow. For real. Who knew. Appreciate your lymph nodes guys! They are 3mm under your skin and they work harder than naked mole rats. They (lymph nodes) are the guys who make you look not puffy. If you don’t yet know about these wonderful creatures called naked mole rats then go look at them here: They are truly fascinating and not only because they can’t get cancer.

I learned that your support network is the most important thing on this adventure. I call mine the #Fgeorge army and words fail me here. They are the most incredible bunch of people. We have had meals delivered, flowers, plants delivered, kids taken to school and brought back (even their lunches were packed and apparently the music in Celeste’s car is way more fun than in mine), impromptu visits and words of encouragement, jokes to keep it light. Weekends away. Gym equipment being brought from afar so that I can do some light exercise after. A thousand play dates for the kids. Play lists for my ears. Our parents have cared for us. Our friends and family have been there every single step of the way. #FGeorge shirts are even being printed. It is impossible to name everything, because it is daily and constant. And it is beautiful.

And one more thing about this group of friends we have, they don’t even know each other’s stories. They don’t realise how strong they are collectively, like bloody termites to say the least. In this group there are moms who have suffered unimaginable loss; a child, a husband, a sense of security due to crime. People who have lost friends, moms, sisters, a father and a brother to cancer. There are plenty who have survived strange family members, who have built their own businesses, who question the status quo to the point of being asked to leave their schools (two of them), people who make every day a success through sheer hard work and honest determination and unconventional ways. People who always support others, never put themselves first. My own sister in law who is on this group survived a brain tumour, our friend Nicola also survived cancer. Every single person on this group has seen hardship, has survived something and has their own story to tell. (Perhaps) there is a book here.

The power of humour. I have laughed unreservedly since being diagnosed. I’ve had the opportunity to make inappropriate jokes about cancer. (I’m INTJ and I rather like dark humour at times). The kids and I laugh about my boob and my scar and my ill use of my right arm and my hair (every day they pull on it to check if it’s falling out yet). We are honestly having fun with this thing. In your face George!

It is such a cliché but everything comes into perspective, becomes clear. Almost like people who practice Minimalism, you start to question the importance and relevance of every single thing. ( When I had wine with Idele and when I had Hibiki with Eze before my chemo, I really tasted it. When the cat woke me up this morning and Tom’s little hand reached out for him, I traced that hand and I relished in the purring sound, the softness of my duvet. We caught it early, we caught it in time. We are fighting it and we are beating it.

A last note to this post and this one goes out to my strawberry beard (whatever) camel man who is also alpha dad. He once caught a shark with his bare hands, a small one, but still. He caught it to put it back over the surf break in order to save it. He is doing that for us now.


  1. I had no idea you were going through all this Karen. I saw you at @Play not long ago and talked about silly things. :-/

    I just read all your posts and felt all the emotions you have been experiencing, so acutely. I had no idea you could write like this. Isnt it strange how little we actually know about the people around us? We all just keep pedalling like hamsters on a wheel – and focusing on all the wrong things.

    I love your sense of humour and how real you are. I’m truly inspired by you.


  2. Flip, the image of you with a wig made of cellotape and hair by a 5 year old… You’re too funny. It was so good seeing you briefly the other day. Thinking of you.x


  3. I see you’re future when you kick this!
    You definitely need to pursue public speaking and support mentoring, you’d be amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

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