Blood(y) Cancer Memory


I spent Sunday with my brother,  who I cared for during his fight with a bitch of a blood cancer.  I spent nearly every day for 5 months in the hospital, sometimes going back and forth several times a day (usually when I forgot something he needed desperately like medication or the iPad). Those long months of waiting and watching and hoping, all the while becoming fluent in a language of white cells and neutrophils and more. Sadly I've seen two of my friends become fluent in this language more recently. Cancer is a bitch.

But my brother is a miracle man, and I was saddened to see Olivia Newton-John had cancer again. Her hospital and doctors saved my brother's life and my sanity. When a doctor cries at the news of remission, you know you're in the right place. When you give them your favorite champagne when you leave, you know they're worth it! (Dr's Genevieve and Joel, I'm talking about you both!)

The worst thing about cancer is death. The second worst thing is being so helpless while your loved one is undergoing treatment. If you could do a round or two for them just to ease the worst of it, you would.

But strangely I sometimes miss those long days at the hospital. Not for the stress or the pain or the loud MET calls and smell of cauliflower coming from the kitchen, but I miss the time with my brother. I was his primary carer, and I gave up everything to be that for him, and be with him. It's not for everyone but I have never been afraid of the dark waters in life.

Those days of talking quietly about patients down the hall, or sitting in the corner and writing while he slept. Sitting with him for chemo session and running down to the cafe for a chicken and avocado focaccia (his craving during treatment). Making sure I got there in time for doctor's rounds, where sometimes the resident would hide behind the curtain with Fred to catch up on the cricket score.

When he was finally in remission, and out of hospital he lived with us for two years to recover from the brutal treatment. His body was skeletal and battered, his soul shattered. Slow days and slow healing ensued. I work from home and I watched his recovery. Our days had a rhythm.  Coffee, brain training for both of us, because his brain was like swiss cheese from the medication and I'm just dumb. Then I would work and he would potter, or sleep. Sleep is nature's healer and he needed a lot.

It was a slow, slow process but now he's better. Working in his dream job that we talked about before his diagnosis. Living by the water, which as a little crab, he needs.

On Sunday we ate breakfast at a cute cafe, and drank coffee, read the papers, and talked about nothing.  It was so perfectly ordinary. When I left, we hugged. Those long hugs say more than any words. "I'm glad you're here," our souls say.

I have known extraordinary but I am grateful for ordinary. It is a privilege not given to everyone.

Sending love and light to anyone who has a beloved who has battled with, or is battling a blood cancer.  Donate here if you want to help find a cure. 








Everyday I'm shuffling...words.


I am writing. This week I have constructed 20,000 words into sentences (a good start) and as a first draft, I'm fairly happy with them. I am also obsessed with checking my lemon tree, which is only three years old and had yet to yield a crop until now. It's delivered it's little yellow fruit, and I'm planning to make lemony things.



I have also been cooking. I told my daughter that I cook as though I have just exited WW2 so I am trying to make it more interesting. Since two family members have diet issues, I cook FODMAP, so I am planning to cook my way through the Asian Inspired FODMAP page on Pinterest. So far I've made the chili prawns and rice noodles, and pork meatballs with Asian greens and brown rice. Super easy and tasty.

When not writing, I can be found cooking and reading. These are the books I have read in the past month.

  1. Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
  2. Secret Keeping for Beginners by Maggie Alderson
  3. In the Skin of a Jihadist by Anna Erelle
  4. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Condo

I'm now reading:

  1.  Craft for the Soul by Pip Lincolne. 
  2. The Age of Magic by Ben Okri
  3. FODMAP recipes

All in all, it is peaceful. I have another 100,000 words to thread into a thrilling, beautiful, romantic, inspiring but time to weave the magic,  thanks to my dear publisher who moved some deadlines for me.

Life does move forward; even in the hardest times, it is moving. I was talking about the time my brother was in

I was talking to my brother on Sunday about the months he was in hospital. We both feel like we've come out from a cave. He was deep in the cave, I wasn't as far in but still the calendar as we know it changes when you're in hospital. Your daily planner becomes the daily treatment schedule.  Below is is the final round of chemo my brother had for his Burkitt's Lymphoma.


When asked what day it was, I would answer, "It's Day 8 - That's Vincristine and your port change is tomorrow."

Or, "It's Day 11 post chemo,  you will be feeling better soon."

Now the days are back to normal and the week presents the usual music lessons, work, gym sessions, cooking, caring, and loving.

If you had told me five months ago that I'd be crapping on about my lemon tree and pork meatballs, I'd tell you you're mad.

"Can't you see my life is falling apart?' I would have screamed at you.

But it didn't. I got through it, and so will those of you who are facing uncertainty right now.

There will be lemons on your tree. Just be patient. It all changes. Everything is moving.

"Do you know the land where the lemon-trees grow,

In darkened leaves the gold-oranges glow,

A soft wind blows from the pure blue sky,

The myrtle stands mute, and the bay tree high?

Do you know it well?

It’s there I’d be gone,

To be there with you, O, my beloved one!"