Watching a horror film the other night about a young mother learning to live with the death of her husband, I was struck by an unsettling thought.
We spend life largely ignoring the only certainties in it.
Of course it’s easier, nicer, more bearable to focus on the superficial things. No one wants to be that person at the party.
But life’s great miseries come for us all sooner or later.
Before the pandemic, some of us were already eternally settled in the no-man’s land between the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick, as Susan Sontag…
Our world is changing fast. Things we once took for granted feel threatened. Our health, our livelihoods, our futures uncertain. While some of us adapt quickly to the new normal, others struggle.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to infiltrate every waking moment of our lives, it’s natural that we experience waves of emotions. It’s showing the cracks in the way the world has always operated; a world where profit comes before people, where the rich get richer, the sick get sicker, and the poor get poorer.
But as Leonard Cohen sang, the cracks are how the light gets in. It’s…
In July last year, the UK proudly came together in celebration as the NHS turned 70. It’s a wonderful privilege to have a free healthcare service, and all of us have been or will be a patient at some point in our lives.
Despite the Leave campaign’s claim that Brexit would provide £350m a week for our national health service, the ongoing political turmoil continues to cast an ominous shadow over the future of the NHS. For instance, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has warned the government in a recent paper that crashing out without a deal will have catastrophic…
No matter where you are in life, there’s nothing quite like a cancer diagnosis to turn your world upside down.
In my case, I was 32, running a small business with my partner, and happily living in leafy suburbs with friends.
When those around us were meeting mortgage advisers, wedding planners and midwives, we were sat in clinics and waiting rooms for fertility specialists, oncologists and surgeons.
So, this is what life has in store for me, you find yourself thinking. The whole thing seems long and tortuous, and you struggle to think ahead a week at a time.
If I had a pound every time someone said ‘cancer’s a bitch’ or ‘fuck cancer’, the drinks would be on me. They’re not wrong: cancer sucks, especially during those first few weeks where time moves at glacial pace while you wait for answers.
The waiting and uncertainty is enough to drive anyone to distraction, and everything around you feels serious, cruel and grey.
There’s no magic potion to make it all go away in an instant — well, not quite yet. …
I’ve worked as a freelancer in content since 2012, but always struggled with job titles. I never felt entirely comfortable as a copywriter. The words I wrote were never salesy. Every project started with who we were writing for and why. As the years went by, I was fortunate to be more selective about the projects I took on — churning out content for content’s sake held no interest. …
I’ve been pretty fortunate that, for the past four or five years, repeat work and referrals have kept me busy. There have been some quiet periods, but I’ve usually relished them, trusting that there’s always more work in the pipeline.
Until I was diagnosed with cancer.
I made some hasty decisions which made life a lot more difficult a few months on.
Yes, it’s a cliche, but cancer is an emotional rollercoaster: some mornings you wake feeling that the world is ending; other days, you’re gripped by a fierce determination to carry on with life as normal.
Once I was…
“He who laughs has not yet heard the bad news”, said Bertolt Brecht. But I beg to differ.
Living with bad news that you repeatedly have to break to others is unbelievably awkward. Most of us aren’t comfortable talking about illness and mortality, and you find yourself downplaying the situation to avoid upset and embarrassment.
The one thing I’ve found that helps relieve the tension when talking with friends about cancer is humour.
That’s right, just having a good ol’ chuckle about it all.
There’s no prescribed way of dealing with cancer. In the early days after my diagnosis, I…
I wrote this during what was hopefully my last ever chemotherapy session, a date that had felt beyond the horizon for a long time. As I lay on a ward in Velindre Cancer Centre with other patients smiling and dozing their way through various treatments, and nurses bustling past, it seemed a good time to reflect on 2018.
Well, it was an interesting year.
It would be easy to look back and focus solely on the negatives, but there have been a load of good times too: holidays with friends in Seville and Amsterdam, four beautiful weddings (and thankfully no…
If you’re fortunate enough to have avoided a chronic or life-threatening condition, you may never have considered what actually happens when someone receives bad news from a healthcare professional. We’ve all seen it it dramatised in films and on TV, but I wanted to share my experience and thoughts about how mine went down in real life.
In mid August, I was excitedly setting my out-of-office message in anticipation of a fun weekend in Amsterdam when the phone rang. It was a doctor from the breast clinic at Llandough hospital. The call went something like this:
‘Hi Nia. It’s —…