Coping with cancer.


Quote  “Were no hope is left, is left no fear” Milton. 

Happy memories from last Christmas.

 I never wanted this blog to be a miserable “woman who’s husband has cancer”  moan.  But, I want to be honest    and walking besides a loved one with cancer is an emotional roller coaster,   Yet it is part of life.

I am not any sort of brave,  self sacrificing, martyr, floating around in a pink bubble of gratitude,  who has cheerfully carried on as if nothing is happening.   I am just an ordinary woman, dealing with a situation however I can and I have good days and bad.

There have been times when I have been unreasonably intolerant of  (what I see as) other peoples petty concerns,and times when I have lost my patience.  But mainly I have tried to carry on as best I could, but suddenly It all got too much.

   As we get nearer and nearer to the last PET scan and the results to tell us if the cancer cells have been “blitzed” (in the words of our wonderful Oncology nurse)  I am getting more and more anxious and that knot of fear in my stomach just will not go away.  It over rides every other thing in my life and tires me out.

All the coping strategies I have employed over the past 8 months, since all this started, suddenly are not working.

I am totally wrapped up in this, I can’t seem to get my head out of What if?

   I can only cultivate a glimmer of gratitude,… for the NHS,…. for the wonderful medical team,… for the fact we have a roof over our heads, (unlike the poor people of the Philippines)  for the fact that I am in a public service job, where I can take some time out , for  supportive family , for    friends and for a wonderful man who has stoically tolerated all his treatment without much complaint.

But just at the moment,  I can no longer see the beauty in the world.  Outside it is just grey and foggy.

I try to distract myself with people who are worse off than myself, and other things,  but all the time What if?  is shouting in my head and it is exhausting.

Michael spends a lot of time sleeping, and when he is awake he takes his time with EVERYTHING. He doesn’t want to to discuss anything than what is happening today and will not consider, What if?  

Things will sort themselves out!”

Naturally  this is to let his body recover, but I find this place of fear very  lonely.   I want to DO things with him.  Not to waste any precious moments.

I wake up with it,  every morning, that “what if”…in my mind.

What if?…the cancer has not all been eradicated and he needs more treatment?

What if?….He needs radiotherapy.  How will he react to this?    So far he is blissfully convinced all  treatment is complete. and will not think further than that.

What if?…..The back pain he complains about is a sign of more cancer and not just because of inactivity.

What if?….he needs more treatment and I need to juggle work and supporting him?

What if… contingency plans to sell my house and move to a cheaper place, so I can be free to give up work,  don’t come off?

What if?….He gets very ill?

What if?….he gets a lot of pain?

What if?….He dies?

What if?…..

………(..Just having a bad day!)

Love Denise

..and another quote I came across while writing this…”. Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead. “~Jerry Gillies (edited)

Lets hope this is what I have done.

What if?…..he gets better?


20 thoughts on “WHAT IF?…..

  1. Your anxiety is only natural Denise, and it’s just as well that he (surprisingly) doesn’t share it. Of course you feel very lonely with your burden, but would it really help if the two of you were worrying together or would it rather build up ?
    Only a few more days to go, and then I do hope, well everyone does, that you will receive wonderful news !
    Much love from France xxx


    • You are right.Anne. Michaels way of coping, by denial, maybe complements my pessimistic, “prepare for the worst and everything else is a bonus” approach.
      If if he is confronted with bad news and falls a apart. I will be prepared.
      Thanks for your good thoughts and love. xx


  2. Totally understand. I also understand Michael’s mode of coping. He has built a cocoon of safe thoughts so to be able to make it through the days. In all likelihood, he fully understands that there are no guarantees but shuttles those thoughts away. He is weaker from the treatment, etc and regardless, it is too difficult to confront the largeness of such other thoughts. Likewise, you are dealing with it best you can…but unlike Michael, you allow in those “other thoughts”. Sigh. I know the reality is that there is simply no choice but to carry on best one can (however that may be). That takes strength and it is hard to be strong every day all the time. Don’t feel bad about not feeling strong every day. You are human. Battles are never easy. Hugs to you (and fingers crossed as to the last PET scan!)


    • Hi Sue. I think the excessive sleeping is also his way of coping also. He didn’t sleep this much when he was having the chemo. now I think he just doesn’t have the energy for much else than getting through the day…….and you are right, we have no choice but to carry on.
      In Michaels racing terms, we can’t fall at the last hurdle!

      Love Denise


  3. Like Jane, I am going with the last “what if”!!! The unknown can be so difficult – and the waiting to find out the unknown is difficult also! I do like the Jerry Gille quote – and I think you have done a good job of listing your fears – hope that helps you to get it down on paper so that all those thoughts won’t be just in your head! Will keep up the prayers for good results on the test on the 21st – that time has seemed so far away and now it’s almost here! How long will you have before you get the results? Hugs to you both!


    • Three days to the PET scan at Christies, ( the big cancer hospital in Manchester) , then we see the Haematologist at our local hospital, on Wednesday 27th for results.

      Jerry Gille ( whoever he is!) is right. Confronting my fears, listing them and getting to know them has certainly helped me move on today….. and today is a new day.

      Thanks for your prayers Sandy.
      Hugs xx


  4. I’m also going with the last “what if” but I do understand your fears. Hopefully listing them, like in the Jerry Gille quote has helped you. I think you have been amazing throughout the last months. Please don’t beat yourself up about not being positive all the time and having days when you feel you can’t cope. I don’t believe anybody who has been through what you and Michael have been through could remain cheerful and positive all the time. Michael’s way of coping is just as valid, it must be hard to confront his fears.

    I’ll be thinking of you both on the 21st and hoping for positive results you deserve. Take care. Love from janet xx


    • Hi Janet…Thanks for your kind thoughts. .Well maybe I should go with the last “what if ” and make plans, although strangely, making plans makes me feel anxious as well and I can’t seem to get past the next ten days.

      I know Michaels way of coping is just as valid as mine and I leave him to his “way” But I think we both have got to the point where we are a bit overwhelmed, so he sleeps and I angst! LOL!

      Wonder who Jerry Gille is? …I will google him!

      Love Denise



    Jerry Gillies, an award-winning former NBC newsman, has been one of the most highly-respected workshop leaders around the world since 1971. He is the author of six books, including the bestselling Moneylove, was the founding director of The Biofeedback Institute and is currently working on his next book, And the Money Keeps Rolling In.


  6. Denise, I think you have coped amazingly. Coping well takes a lot out of you, so no wonder you are finding these last few days hard. Sending you my best wishes that you find the strength to get through these awful “waiting” days and I pray it is the last ‘what if’ you get to cope with. Gwan’s Mum xx


  7. Now that you’ve listed your fears and introduced yourself, time to out them into one of those boxes you’ve been packing, and tape it shut. They’re there, they’re real and uncomfortably close at hand. Some how acknowledging all that, honoring it, makes it that much easier to put the box of fears in the corner and get on with the business of loving life for the time that we are here.


    • Very well said Sylvia. In fact now you’ve said that, I vaguely remember in some counselling course long ago, listing our fears on a piece of paper and sealing it in a box,. Listing my fears here has certainly helped and I feel so much better now, so I will certainly try it.

      ” get on with the business of loving life while we are here” I like that too.

      Love Denise


  8. Denise, such an open and honest post. My dad has been diagnosed with bowel cancer, sleeps a lot too… hope all goes well at the hospital.


    • Hi Dina, thanks for dropping by my blog.

      Well all did go well and my husband is now in remission.. He sleeps less now but still tires easily but I can see him getting stronger DAY BY DAY.
      It sounds like you have a long road ahead. All my good wishes go with you and your dad.

      Love Denise.


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