As we sailed away from France and towards England, I started to think about the future and a new chapter in my life. It is still hard to believe how far I have come in the last few months and how nine months ago I was blissfully unaware of quite how drastically my life would change. It just goes to highlight, how we must never take what we have for granted, especially as far as our health is concerned. This journey has been a difficult one at times, not just for myself but particularly for my close family and friends. Writing this blog has made the journey bearable and the support I have received, because of it, has provided me with the strength, hope and willpower to battle on. Some of this has come from complete strangers or long distant relatives, and through their comments and those from my nearest and dearest, I have conquered many a dark night. There have been times were I have felt so poorly, that I doubted I would ever recover or be strong enough to leave my sick bed, never mind travel to a different country. Slowly I have started to feel like my old self, but alas my old self is no more. Today, the career I worked so hard to achieve, seems more like a distance memory and as each day passes, I mourn for the person I once was and the people I have left behind. But I must and will look at the months and years ahead as an opportunity. New adventures are to be had and there is life in the old dog yet. My cancer is now in remission, statistics state that I am likely to be here for between 18 months and two years but I have never been one for statistics and I have beaten the odds in many of the paths I have taken before. So I am counting on my remission for lasting for 10 years, that should give the very clever people a good chance in producing a drug or learning a new method for beating this rather inconvenient host that has decided to bury itself deep within my bone marrow. So what’s next? Well there are a couple of things for sure, 1) I do need to earn some money even if its just enough to help us scrape by and 2) I am going to make damned sure its doing something I enjoy and that ensures a good work life balance. Not that I haven’t always loved my job but there is no going back to the old days when work took first place more often than it should. I will look back with pride at the things I have achieved. From a very young age I wanted to make a difference to people’s mental health. Mental illness can be so debilitating and it is so often surrounded by mystery causing ignorance and fear. If I have only achieved in changing a few people’s attitude towards mental illness I will have done what I had set out to do. But I think I have done more than that and I know I have always been true to my purpose and calling. During my NHS career I have worked within mental health, with both adults and children, with a range of disabilities that has spanned from those suffering from a lack of confidence, to those that have required sectioning and the most powerful of medications and even with those requiring Electro Convulsive Therapy as a last resort. I have spoken out when I have felt something to be wrong and put my neck on the line more times than I care to remember. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing, the job satisfaction I have had is worth far more than the financial rewards I may have gained working in the private sector. Knowing that I have made a difference is much more important than the varies accolades and awards I have achieved for doing so. Besides this I have riches beyond monetary value, a loving husband, mother, sister, brother and two beautiful daughters and now the most adorable grandson. Aunts and uncle’s cousins, nephews, good old friends and a whole big bunch of new ones. I have a beautiful home surrounded by countryside and except for the few lingering unwanted guests, I have on the whole relatively good health. So now that I am retired I have new paths to follow and journeys to have and to be quite honest I have learnt a fair few things thanks to cancer. The biggest lesson of all is that I am loved it has taken me over fifty years to get there but it’s true, I am loved by many and it feels good.
THANK YOU, yes I mean you, and you and you and YOU and you and You, you too and most of all YOU!
PS chapter one of the new me, my new life has just begin.