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December 5, 2012 / Kate Gross

May you live all the days of your life

Though I’m not sure I’m in the zone for uplifting – sitting in the Addies day unit having my first dose of FOLFOX (sounds sexy, eh?) – I want to try and write something a little more joyful than my last few posts. I want to write this because joyful is what I have been feeling for a lot of the last month. This feeling of wellness, of being able to bounce out of bed and play Transformers overwhelms me because of the paradox of the Nuisance inside. I’ve luxuriated in the sensation of energy coursing through my body, in pulling down the garage door and feeling muscles somewhere under my flabby tummy respond. I’ve enjoyed wanting to engage with the world, with the boys, with friends without feeling the drain of tiredness shutting down my desire to talk or read or emote. I am well over the op now. But there is a shadow of how it might feel to lose my wellness again when the chemo kicks in, when the boys bring home vile toddler germs from nursery, when I am so tired I can’t hold up the hefty historical tome/A Suitable Boy. So during this in-betwixt time which has just ended with the first injection of foxyfol into my veins, I have been trying to be joyful, and I have been joyful, and I wanted to record some of my little pleasings.

Outside. Have you ever seen Ely cathedral on a sunny day in November? It stands proud above the flat fens, their unbelievable dullness making it seem even more remarkable than it already is. The end of the autumn leaves at the Botanic Gardens and the warmth of the sun on the back of my neck when I’m all wrapped up in coats and scarves. My strong legs taking me down to the Co-Op, and my strong arms lifting Oscar onto my shoulders to watch the Chinese dragons at the Mill Road fair. Going out into the cold starry Cambridge night with Billy for a drink in the pub.

Inside. Cleaning the kitchen (oh how I love to clean, though I do it badly by Jenny’s standards). How nice 47 Ross Street is when the toys are tied up, and B and I sit in the glow of many scented candles and amidst the foliage of our weekly floral deliveries. Seeing our very best friends around our dinner table, eating too much meat and cheese, reclining on the sofas eating cake. Teaching Oscar and Isaac some Gross-dancing to Baby We Were Born to Run. Sitting quietly in my attic watching the big Cambridge sky at its bluest, like a primary school hymn.

And in my head. Being engaged by aforementioned hefty historical tome and remembering that reading is just my best thing. Letting the tome remind me that history doesn’t just unfurl itself, it is a patchwork of decisions and indecisions made by people every day. Being happy that I’ve inhabited the world where those decisions are made, though happy that I’m not right now. But nonetheless finding my hinterland come alive again as I look out of the attic to Goma, to the elections in Sierra Leone, to the dispiriting sight of our politicians cowing from doing the right thing in Europe or with the media. Not being too emotionally frail to watch Forbrydelsen III, or indeed the trailer for the new Les Mis movie (*weep* over Hugh Jackman’s guns). Grabbing control of life by setting a date for Billy and I to get married, even if it is a foxfolly to do so when my little white blood cells will be so weakened and the fall of my wedding dress ruined by a picc line.

But before I get too Livestrong on you all, let me reassure you that this is not some crazy gratitude for cancer giving me time to stop and watch in wonder at the world around me. Though, like all the best cancer clichés, that is just a little bit true. Family will attest that my joys have been interspersed with irritable, sad and tired Kate. But my betwixt-time has been properly lived. I’ve carped my diem with some vigour – because “whilst we are talking, envious time is fleeing”. I hope to carry on doing so, though I will take a while to get used to this ‘new normal’ and how my body feels with this odd cocktail of toxins flowing through it (not to mention the exciting pearls of radioactivity which will light me up in time for Christmas). But whatever it does, I shall try to be Swiftean in my endeavour to live all the days of my life. Dear readers, you have given me so much courage with your stories of how to be in times of uncertainty, and been on hand to help me pluck the day whilst it’s ripe in so many ways. Thank you.


Leave a Comment
  1. Sasha Howard / Dec 5 2012 12:20 pm

    Oh Kate will I ever learn to wait till I get home to read your blog. Weeping gently into one’s iPhone in an open plan office. Not cool.
    It was so lovely to spend time with you and your 3 boys at the weekend. I hope that Addies day care has comfy chairs, plenty of sunlight and some cheery faces. Love S xx

  2. Jenny / Dec 5 2012 4:40 pm

    Impatient North should also have waited until home time. Such amazing words that so perfectiy evoke the fun we have managed to have over the past few weeks in spite of the Nuisance and because of you xx

  3. David / Dec 6 2012 7:57 am

    What wonderful writings you make. Thank you for sharing them, they are a delight and a heart-warmingness to read. And there is no better than to be enjoined to live all the days of our lives, whether now or at any time.

    Love the name of the new drug – all you now foll of foxiness?! Sounds wedding-perfect 🙂 x x

  4. Harriet / Dec 7 2012 1:50 pm

    Hello lovely. Tommo sent me a link to your blog and I have just caught up – my, you wriite beautifully. Today’s my day off, and I’m meant to be sending final comments on a programme plan while Malachy’s sleeping, but I think having read all posts through once I might start again now and deal with misplaced milestones at a later date. I’m v glad you read a book that recommended blogging.

    Much love,
    Harriet xxx

  5. Caroline Al Shammas / Dec 9 2012 6:47 am

    I’m so glad to be able to have these beautiful and precious insights in to your life and mind, despite being physically so far away Kaker. Thinking of you every day xx

  6. Emma Gordon / Dec 11 2012 3:31 pm

    Dearest Kate
    Your blog (and ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’): guaranteed to have me sobbing uncontrollably within 2 seconds. I first read it a few weeks ago after I had a hissy fit because the fecking dishwasher broke AGAIN. Let’s just say you delivered a healthy dose of perspective. And I am very glad that you mentioned the subject of your and Billy’s nuptials because I have been secretly looking forward to it (have rather presumptively assumed we would be invited – now don’t feel you have to). I will send you a letter soon filling you in on life in Singapore but in the meantime much, much love to you, Billy & the boys xx

  7. Anthony Measures / Dec 18 2012 1:54 pm

    Dear Kate,
    Thank you so much for sharing your blog – it is truly inspirational and I’m sure is not just a help to you and your family but also to others who are are going through something similar.Your words resonate so well with what my Mum has been going through, and I think I will share your blog with her – it will make her smile.

    Playing with the boys at Transformers must be fantastic – what better way to keep you focussed. Helen and I have many conversations with George about Transformers and the numerous noises and actions they perform…

    Lots of love to you and the boys,
    Anthony, Helen and George xxx

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