#BloggersBeatingCancer: Fighting cancer with coffee and a hashtag.
When blogger Emma Critchley, (Island Living 365), lost one of her best friends, Sarah, to cancer earlier this year, she wanted to do something positive. So with the help of fellow blogger, Sarah from Mumzilla.co.uk, the idea of bloggers using their influence to raise money for charity was born, culminating in a virtual coffee morning next Friday 30th September 2016 at 10.30am.
It’s a chance for everyone, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, to gather together in person or virtually with their friends for a coffee, have a natter, make a donation and make a difference.
Why not join in and together we can raise funds so that one day we can beat cancer…for good.
When I was asked to write a blog post about my own experiences of cancer for #Bloggersbeatingcancer, I made a little note of it on my blog planner and pressed on with all the other items on my ‘To do’ list.
Eventually, it rose to the top of the list and I finally had to sit down and think about my #Bloggersbeatingcancer contribution.
I didn’t realise how hard it would be.
You see, all the feelings, emotions and pain I felt about my own story and the loved one it involved had been pressed down, locked up, contained. Occasionally, in the years since it happened those feelings have broken free and bubbled to the surface, catching me off guard when I least expected it. The ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ haunting me once more. The tendrils of regret and grief slowly but surely winding their way around my heart again, making it hard to breathe. Eventually, they’d unravel and recede, leaving in their wake a dull ache.
Yet, in the hope that I can help in some small way, I’m unlocking the vault. I’m dusting off the difficult memories, the fears, the pain and the grief that cancer left in its unrelenting wake.
This is my ‘cancer’ story. Please read it. Please give.
Sorry I wasn’t there at the end.
Oh, how I wanted to be.
I remember the phone call so vividly.
When I finally realised how serious it was, I knew I didn’t have a second to lose.
I called the office.
Love, please can you come home now? I need you to look after the kids. I need to leave. I need to be there.
I was frantic.
I was panicking. Shaking. Through a mist of tears, I fumbled with clothes and toiletries and my overnight bag.
I had to get back home. My childhood home. My miles away home. I was needed there.
Every. Second. Mattered.
The sound of a key in the door.
I’m here. I love you. Don’t worry about me and the kids. Go. Drive safely.
Through snow. Through ice.
Let me get there in time. I need to be there in time. I’m needed. Please.
Seconds. Minutes. Hours.
I wasn’t even sure where I was heading. Which hospital? Memorial Hospital? Probably? Surely?
I’ll reach the hospital in 15 minutes. 10 minutes. 5 minutes.
I’m here now.
The mobile rings.
I recognise the phone number.
Are you driving?
Can you pull over?
My blood runs cold. I can’t breath.
Don’t say it. Please.
I’m so sorry…
But I’m here. I’m at the hospital. I’m at the entrance. I’m…
I’m sorry I wasn’t there at the end.
I can’t bear the thought of you not having your family around you when it mattered most.
Of me not being there for you.
I know I was there later.
But that’s not the same.
I’m sorry I couldn’t comfort you.
Couldn’t soothe you.
Tell you it’d be all right…We’d be all right.
Tell you I love you so much.
More than I can ever explain.
I love your courage.
Your good heart.
I love you for loving me.
I love you.
I’m sorry I couldn’t take away your pain.
Share it, even.
I’m stronger than you think.
I would have done it.
I look back and remember how painful it was for you.
How much it hurt.
I could see it in your eyes.
I’d never seen such fear and anguish reflected there.
I’d never seen you in agony.
I wanted to make it STOP.
If you were in pain before then, you never showed it.
You kept it to yourself. Not wanting to burden anyone or have them worry on your account.
That’s how it always was…Looking after everybody else.
If they were okay, you were okay.
I’ll never forget that night when I laid beside you and held you.
You’d always been the one to hold me.
You were always the one to wipe away my tears.
To comfort me.
To stroke my hair.
To whisper that it’d be okay…Because we had each other.
When I was afraid, you were there for me.
It was a long night, that night.
But in the midst of the horror of it all, I felt closer to you than I’ve ever felt before.
But I’ll tell you this…I would have given anything to take away your pain: The crushing, devastating power of it.
If only the depth of my love could somehow quench the thirst of your grief.
So, I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry I wasn’t with you at the end, Mum.
When cancer tore your wonderful, caring, generous, loving brother away from you…and we never even knew it was there.
Please support #BloggersBeatingCancer:
You can donate at our fundraising page now:
#BloggersBeatingCancer Virtual Coffee Morning:
Join us on Friday 30th September at 10.30am, for coffee and a social media thunderclap. Use the hashtag, get your friends involved, and get fundraising if you can.
Anyone can take part in the virtual coffee morning. Who doesn’t love coffee and a natter? Get hold of your friends, chat online, it could be the friend who now lives abroad or the one who lives in the next town. Thanks to the internet you can chat to them like they are in the same room.
Join us, have a chat, make a difference.
Man. Powerful stuff girlfriend. I absolutely didn’t dribble and snot into my porridge at all, ever. I don’t have a cancer story (thank goodness), just a few (a lot actually) ‘we beat cancer’ stories. It’s a great cause.
I’m glad you have we beat cancer stories!
I’m not going to lie, I tried to read this twice before and had to stop because I was bawling my eyes out. Powerful and emotive writing Jane. Thanks for writing such a heartfelt piece! xxxx
Thank YOU, Emma, for taking action and kicking off the #bloggersbeatingcancer campaign with Sarah. I will be hosting a coffee morning chez Taylor on Friday.
Beautiful you. Very moved x
Thank you, Nicky. xx
Wow. Beautifully written. I’m so sorry for your loss and your experience. Thank you for sharing
Thank you, Nicole.
Oh wow, excuse any typo’s because i”m writing this with tear filled eyes, who am I kidding, they’re running down my face. So beautifully written and I’m so sorry for your loss and that you didn’t make it in time to comfort your mum. My Dad has Myeloma and best friend diagnosed this year with Breast Cancer, I am so fortunate to still have them both here and they’re both fighting it with positivity, they amaze me daily with their inner strength #fortheloveofBLOG
Oh, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I really do hope your Dad and best friend get through it and I admire them for their positivity. xx
A lovely idea and so great to see women joining together in such a good cause! Isn’t it what girl power is all about! I hope you will raise a lot of money. I will be out that day but will be thinking of you all!!! Very beautiful post of yours here. You always depict feelings (or bring a lot in me!) so well… #fortheloveofBLOG
Thank you, Cecile.
Oh Jane this is beautiful, so moving and emotional. Thank you for sharing your story, I am sure it wasn’t easy.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Ellen.
Oh Jane this is so emotional. I feel guilty for my tears but I am so sorry that this happened to you. Just so so sorry my lovely. You’re so brave to write this and to share xxx
I’m so sorry that you too have been affected by this cruel disease. It was a beautifully written post and really made me feel so emotional. It highlights just how important it is to join together to raise money so that one day, perhaps our children’s generation won’t be affected in the same way as we have been. Thank you for sharing with us #fortheloveofBLOG x
Thanks, Fi. Yes, a world without cancer..That would be amazing.
I can feel that knot at the bottom of my throat (or is it the top of my chest?) after reading this. It could have been written for me. My mam turned 70 this week, only she isn’t here either. We celebrated her 50th and I remember it like just yesterday but she never made it past 54. I also spent every day by her side for 4 months and yet missed the most important day of all, The day she could no longer go on fighting and took her last breath. I struggled with it for years, knowing I wasn’t there to hold her hand when she needed me most. And now I have two kids of my own, grandkids she never got to meet, the fact I wasn’t there to hold her knowing she held me all my life, weighs down on me often. I know your pain. We probably share the same knot at the bottom of our throat.
On a practice note, you mention that your mum also lost her brother to cancer too. Have you explored a genetic connection? Back in 1998, my mam did genetic testing as she’d lost her sister to breast cancer too. Turns out there is a fault gene (BRCA2) in the family. I did the test myself in 2012 and have the same fault meaning I have about an 80% chance of getting breast cancer too. I underwent a preventative double mastectomy when my first MRI scan showed up some (thankfully benign) lumps. The odds just looked too good. I don’t want to scare you, but it may be worth exploring for yourself and your family. After all, isn’t that what this is all about? If I can raise awareness of the BCRA gene, hopefully more people can be spared cancer’s grip. Happy to provide more details if anyone is interested.
Finally, I know how it feels to wish you could say sorry. Biggest regret of my life not being there to hold my mam’s hand when she needed it most. It’s a heavy burden no-one can ever take away with reason or compassion. Just know you’re not alone. And your mum loved you.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful and heartfelt comment. I know the post is a bit ambiguous, with a twist. (Mum is still with me, my uncle isn’t). This is the story of me not being there in time to be with my mum to support her when her brother died from cancer…I wanted to write it from the point of view that although we grieve for the departed, we also grieve for those we love so deeply that it’s hard to bear their sadness and pain when they lose someone they love…I was too late to be there when Billy died and too late to be that loving hug and person to lean on for my mum who was by his side when he died (although I drove straight to the cottage and was there for mum that night). It was all so shocking. He had been to the doctor earlier that day and was prescribed sip feeds when we all feared he was gravely ill and needed admitting…He was gravely ill. He died hours later. It was only after he died, we discovered he’d had cancer of the oesophagus…A specialist and GP said it was COPD…
it’s awful when you can’t be with someone in their hour of need. I’m sure you have your mum great comfort being with her that night. And sometimes we all need our own space to grieve too. Everyone handles it differently don’t they. Your uncle sounds like a lovely man who will be terribly missed by his family.
What beautiful writing and for such a great cause.
Thank you for your lovely thoughtful comment. So excited that the #bloggersbeatingcancer campaign has hit its target of £1000 if gift aid is included.
Such a gut wrenching post and so moving. I have to admit that I stopped halfway through, and had to come back to your post when I was better composed. I am sorry for your loss. It’s a devastating thing, the C word. I know someone now, who is suffering, and trying to keep a brave face. If only wishes could take hold. Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam xx