Mothering Sunday Musings


I quite like the word musing and I particularly like the definition that offers ‘wool-gathering’ as a potential alternative because wool-gathering is exactly what I feel my brain is currently only capable of.




plural noun: musings

  1. a period of reflection or thought.
    “his musings were interrupted by the sound of the telephone”
synonyms: meditation, thinking, contemplation, deliberation, pondering, reflection, rumination, cogitation, introspection, daydreaming, dreaming, reverie, brown study, abstraction, preoccupation, brooding, wool-gathering;

I’ve noticed a distinct lack of clarity in my actions and thinking and even in my conversations recently and I guess some is due to the sleeping issue, some is age and some is Tamoxifen and the other hormone therapies doing their stuff. In a sense it’s a comfort that woolly thinking is actually some sort of evidence that the drugs are getting around my system, but my goodness am I finding it frustrating. It’s one of those things that’s amusing at the start and then quickly becomes an irritation. Forgetting words, using stupid alternatives, misplacing things and just simply not feeling as on top of everything as previously. I’m hoping that this might subside in time but some of my peer group are doubtful about that and they report the same experiences and frustrations.

Take this last Friday for example, it was the final day of the Where Now Course at Maggie’s in Oxford and as all things come to an end at some point we finished with a group lunch, with everyone contributing something. One of the group said to me ‘I’ve brought along a couple of anchovies, they could either be added into something or eaten on their own’ and I thought ‘Ooooookaaayyyy, rightie ho, perhaps I’m missing something here’ and ‘Why on earth would anyone bring two anchovies?’. The aforementioned anchovies quite naturally turned out to be avocados. Around the table people asked if someone could ‘pass those yellow things(tortillas) in that round thing (bowl)’ and so on. We’re used to each other and our foibles now and it’s comfy to be amongst your peers whose brains’ also feel slightly muddled at times and we can laugh at it together. But for me away from that context I am finding it an irritant. I suspect it’s irritating to those around me too.

The group on the course have formed a connection that feels easy and right; we can talk about a whole host of things, stuff that is cancer related and stuff that’s about as far away from it too and I’m grateful to Maggie’s for facilitating these new friendships which I sense are going to be long-term and genuine.

Last week also had two other significant events take place. The first one was a quiz night organised by our son Ben with Nationwide Building Society in aid of our nurseries in Gunjur, The Gambia. It was a good night with a dreadfully hard quiz but full of lovely generous people who gave up their Wednesday night to come together and share some of what they have to help others who have very little. We gave a short overview of our work there and the theme was that in our lives we ‘have enough’ and of course take things for granted. I shared that fact that a cancer diagnosis in The Gambia is a very different prognosis than here; for all of its horror when I was diagnosed I could at least rely on the medical services available. I can’t imagine how it would be hearing those words and not having the facilities to tackle it head on for as long as it takes. We are indeed fortunate.

I was thinking about Gunjur today. It’s Mothering Sunday here in the UK, significant for me as it’s the first since diagnosis and I mused about the lives of mothers all over the world and how they must differ. The mothers I met in Gunjur are hardworking, caring and embracing. There is of course nothing in terms of maternity leave or reliable childcare once mothers return to work and so many of the teachers in the nurseries bring their babies to work. This is one of the nursery teachers at work. How beautiful is she?


The other big event of last week was an appointment with my Surgeon to check on my progress. As always he was charming, funny and somehow manages to talk about things in a way that makes them palatable, understandable and acceptable. He uses funny euphemisms, not to avoid talking directly about difficult subjects but to help conversations flow easily and tough questions to be asked more confidently.

After a conversation to explore the events following my surgery last April, I was examined and decreed to be healing extremely well and no obvious lumps or areas of concern discovered. We chatted about my side effects and how they are impacting on my quality of life and explored alternative drugs and the potential side effects of those and the advantages and disadvantages of switching, but concluded that I need to stick with it for now and possibly for the next years’ worth of Prostap injections and then consider a switch.

Then the charming Mr Coombs suggested I ‘pop over to have a mammogram done’. He would walk me over to the Breast Clinic himself, drop me off to have it done and then when I returned to his office we’d look at the results straightaway. He mentioned that I had 4 little titanium clips in my breast around the tumour site to help locate the radiotherapy beams and also to help when screening mammograms as they highlight the area where the tumour was growing and if it reoccured that would be a likely place for it to show up again. Before I knew it Steve and I were sat in the waiting area and I was in shock saying that I couldn’t believe I was sat there again. Silly really, because I knew this was on the cards but I thought it was a couple of weeks away, time enough for scanxiety to fully set in. A few words from Steve including ‘get over it and get on with it’ helped me focus on the task in hand and then my name was called.

For the sake of you dear reader, I’ll gloss over the actual process and how it felt (take this omission as a hint that it wasn’t exactly up there in my top ten things I like to spend my time doing). A wrong turn on the way back to Mr Coombs found Steve and I almost getting gowned up before we realised that we were heading in the wrong direction. Hospitals really need fool proof signage, especially for the woolly headed. Eventually reunited with Mr Coombs and my mammogram results he declared ‘I see no current evidence of mischief there’. As I’ve already mentioned, we are indeed fortunate.


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