Skip to main content

3rd September

Yesterday, when I was at St Bart’s waiting for a blood test, I had a phone conversation with a very old friend who lives in the north. I was at university with her in the seventies. I haven’t seen her for a few years. I could feel the difference in energy between the two of us. I’d had quite a weepy morning. I woke early. Maybe because the GP has reduced my morphine a bit. Maybe anxiety.

My partner said I seemed distant. She suggested we do some therapeutic drawing as I had no idea what was wrong. What emerged was the realisation that I am going to die in the near future. Somehow that difference in energy between J and me in the conversation yesterday has brought this home to me as a reality. My partner and I both cried and sobbed. For me the realisation felt too hard to bear. I think my partner has been more in touch with it.

Yesterday I had a counselling session. I knew I was avoiding things. The counsellor didn’t push me on it.

This afternoon my partner and I are out at a nearby lake. I could easily cry again, tears are not far away. I feel angry and frightened. The unfairness of it. I know life isn’t fair but I think we all have a feeling it should be. I’ve looked after my health, I don’t drink or smoke, I eat well. I know it’s just random bad luck. I tell myself this, but the feeling of unfairness persists.

I suppose this is what will happen, my energy will diminish, I’ll do less. Gradually I’ll get to the point where I do nothing, perhaps. Hard to imagine.

I want to fight it, but I don’t know what I can do apart from what I’m already doing. I take vitamins, I walk, though sometimes that makes me tired, though not usually. I’m upping my intake of carrot juice, which I’m fed up with, but I think it’s good for me. I eat healthily. Perhaps I need to restart my attempts at meditation, and bouncing exercises that are supposed to help the immune system. Is this all a desperate and pointless response to the inevitable decline that the doctors have predicted?

All my life I have fought. I joined the communist party at 14, I became an active feminist at 23, I fought for gay rights. Now I’m determined to not “lie down and die” just because the medical profession tells me I’m going to.

The first weeks after my diagnosis I was depressed. As soon as I started fighting back, with diet, exercise, vitamins and so on, the depression went, and hasn’t really returned. That in itself is enough of a reason to keep up the efforts.

I still feel healthy, I’m not in pain, I can do the same things I’ve always done.


28th September

I find my self crying uncontrollably at times. Yesterday some friends cancelled an outing we’d planned for the weekend. I was inconsolable, crying as if something terrible has happened. I know one thing that goes through my mind it’s that this may be my last chance to do this, whatever it is. I know that’s something that often comes into my mind. Now I’m waiting for my drugs in the hospital. It’s an hour wait. I didn’t expect that. Before it’s been very quick. I have to get back to work but I’m going to be late. I’ve warned the person concerned, it’s rationally not a big deal, we can reschedule, but I’m finding it difficult not to cry. I don’t want to start because it’s hard to stop, unless I take a particular homeopathic remedy, which I don’t have with me.

Crying is happening a lot at the moment. Usually over something trivial. Also arguing with my partner, feeling unfairly treated. I can see where that fits in with my situation, life is treating me unfairly and that gets put onto my partner, but it’s not always so clear. The other night I was thinking about my grandson who is in his thirties and can’t get his own place to live, even though he earns a decent salary. Housing in London is just too expensive. When I was young and in his situation I moved to the north of England where a house was a real possibility. He doesn’t want to do that, and I was thinking what if he did? I was distraught thinking about his moving to Liverpool, where a friend of his has gone to solve his housing problem. I couldn’t beat the thought of it, even though this was all on my own head as he has no intention of going.

I think the emotional pain and the fear are spreading out into many aspects of life. Sometimes the tears come and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just cooking or cycling somewhere.

I had an unexpected event. I had a sharp spike of pain, after a gradual increase. I had asked the doctor to reduce my morphine,  as the pain level had been low all summer,  to test whether the shrinking  of my tumours had been enough to need less morphine. My pain levels started to go up, gradually, up to 2, then 5. Disappointingly, it seems I need to stay on the higher dose. This despite more than a 30% reduction in the size of my tumours due to chemo.

It took a month to get back on track with my pain at a level of half to one. I think a lot of this was stress-related, due to the return of the pain I’d had last year. When I had my Alexander-technique lesson, which I do every Monday, my pain would be back to half for the rest of the day. (It’s a technique that teaches you how to use your body in the best way.) So this was clearly not just pain as response to a physical situation. At the moment, the pain seems to be steady at half to one, with my morphine intake back to the higher dose.

Copyright Tuppence King

By Tuppence King ©


Leave a Reply