900 Cancer Diagnosises A Day

Someone just rang me up on behalf of Macmillan. It was someone asking for donations, as you might expect (I don’t think they’ve ever rung me up for anything else, and yes you can get annoyed at cold callers, but at the end of the day it’s their job and at least this time it’s for a charity not for PPI or something). The line used to get donations this time was ‘900 people are diagnosed every day with cancer in the UK*’.

900 people. Every single day. Now of course, their reason for telling me this was to get donations, but 900 people is a LOT.

That’s 900 people who are hearing the news every day, and then 900 people who are going to have to go home and tell their family and friends. 900 lots of family and friends who are going to have to hear the news that someone they love has cancer. Well over 900 lives that are going to be affected by cancer on any given day.

Not all of these will be terminal, like Mum, but some will be.

It makes me so angry. I hate this disease. I hate what it does to people. Not just to the people diagnosed – but their family and friends too. Look at my family – a unit of 5, plodding along. Mum diagnosed the first time and we did okay. We accepted it, we dealt with it, we brushed ourselves off and got back up again.

Then round two hit. My youngest brother is doing okay at the minute. But at 15 years old he saw his Mum for the last time, and that shouldn’t be something which happens to anyone. My middle brother is doing okay at the moment too. He’s in a decent job with bright university prospects. But last year it hit him hard, he had an incredibly difficult time at university and ended up not pursuing that particular course and that particular uni. Dad’s taking things in his stride but it’s clear he’s not exactly ‘living the dream’, so to speak. I don’t want to write much more than that on the 3 main men in my life – it’s their life to share if they want to and not really my place to do it for them. But they have been deeply affected, as anyone would be if their spouse or Mum died?

Me? Well, it’s been 2.5 months since Mum died and almost 24 since she was diagnosed. I’m not back at uni yet – it doesn’t feel possible at the moment and my GP was fairly explicit that she didn’t think now was a good time to go back, either. I’ve been struck down with anxiety so bad that it can take me a long time to even venture as far as the kitchen opposite my room, and that’s if I make it.

I’m working on it, but I’m currently faced with having to find a new place to live, and new support, which isn’t exactly helping. I have found an absolutely brilliant charity this week though who have really been helping me out, and I am so grateful.

Building my life back up is not something that is going to be quick or easy. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to take time. My Mum hasn’t just died, but she was ill for 20 months and if anything, that’s currently affecting me more.

I get frustrated often. I am desperate to get back to the person I used to be. The person who was able to hop on a train and nip down to London for the day. Who spoke in front of rooms full of people. Who enjoyed living and learning. Who socialised. Who never stopped. I used to be able to do all of that and now some days I can’t travel as far as 3 feet, and I feel unable to even comment on something on Facebook, never mind talking to hundreds of people.

Then I hear stats like this and I get even more frustrated because Mum’s cancer wasn’t a one off and it sucks. Cancer is affecting people every single day and I feel powerless to do anything about it. I’m not a scientist, I can’t cure cancer. I can’t take the pain away from people. I can’t cure their loved ones or better yet, stop them from even getting ill in the first place.

I wish I could, but I can’t. So I feel like I’m standing here watching it all from behind a glass screen. No matter how much I blog, no matter how much I scream or stamp my feet (figuratively, of course), it’s not going to fix this.

It’s times like this when I wish I had the faith that my Mum held so deeply. I wish I could believe in this bigger plan drawn up by a loving God. But I’m struggling to. I’m working on it. But it’s another thing which just isn’t that easy.

*At a very quick Google, I can’t find their evidence for this, but I didn’t look very hard. But whether it’s exactly 900 or not, it’s still a lot.


Over the last couple of months, I have been losing my faith. I don’t have a religious faith, but I believe in good people; in the ability of good people to change things. Due to various things that have been going on in my life, I have been struggling to keep believing this. I’ve had a lot to work through and it’s taken my head away from always being where it needs to be.

The moment I realised how bad this had got was when I was stood in a room with a bunch of amazing young people doing awesome things in their communities and I just couldn’t feel ‘it’. Don’t ask me what ‘it’ is, because I don’t know. But I didn’t have it.

Volunteering is something I have built my life and my identity up around. It has been such a major part of my teenage years, the time I’ve been developing who I am, what I’m doing, what’s made me, ‘me’. Cue, a bit of an identity crisis!

Long story short, after a lot of fumbling around in the dark, trying to work out what on earth is going on, I’m still not entirely sure. However, I have realised that it is down to me to make my way in life. It is up to me to work these things out and there is as much time as I need. Nothing and nobody is going to ‘save me’ or ‘fix’ anything. It is not their responsibility, it is mine. Yes, I can use all my resources but at the end of the day, I have to work this thing out, whatever it is. I will keep volunteering, I will keep studying and working and I will get out of this.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been child minding again; one four year old, one five year old. They are gorgeous children, very well behaved. They have cheeky smiles and giggle at silly things. They hold my hand when we cross the road and bury their heads in me when they’re scared.

Today, the four year old handed me a daisy which was ‘for me’. For now, that’s all I need