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December 21, 2013 / Kate Gross

Not Yet, Not Yet

I’ve been having these cataclysmic dreams about plane crashes. In one of them, Billy and I watch a plane fall out of the sky. In another, we are in the first class cabin watching through a glass cockpit as we plummet towards a brightly-lit cityscape, and I turn to Billy and say “don’t worry, the boys will be alright”.

My tumour markers started rising a month ago, and since then I’ve had scan after scan to work out what the Nuisance is up to. It now seems that my story isn’t going to have a happy ending. The cancer is back. It’s back like one of those horror movie villains you think you’ve killed, but who rises from the dead and scythes you down. Back in my colon, back in my liver, and now also in my bones. This, my friends, is it. The news you fear the most, the phone call you can’t bear to make, the words it hurts to write. For those of you not in the cancer-know (you lucky buggers), once it spreads to the bones it is pretty much incurable. You can live with it, sometimes for a long time, but once it’s got a hold on the bits of your body that make you tick, as mine has, we are talking a year or two if I’m lucky and months if I’m not. So, I return to my half-life in January. Back to chemo, and this time it’s the really baldifying one. So I expect I will die bald, which because I am nothing if not vain seems spectacularly cruel.

Despite my foreboding dreams, we weren’t expecting this. When we first got my blood results, knowing the Nuisance might be back was enough to send me to my knees and beg for this nightmare not to be starting again. But after a few days, I accommodated myself to the idea that for a time, and hopefully for a very long time, my cancer would be a chronic disease, and anyway might still be cured. I could bear periodic chemo, periodic operations, so long as they were just that: periods punctuating longer spells where the good life carried on. But then the news turned bad. And whilst I have felt since my diagnosis that I was on borrowed time, I am railing. Every fibre of my body shouts not yet, Not Yet. I find moments of peace, but there can be no accommodation with this reality.

But friends, don’t despair. I’m not going nuts, and neither is Billy. We are sad, heartbroken, desolate. For now, beyond words, though I expect to have more than enough to say come January.

And come what may, I know that there are people who love us near and far who will walk with us every step of the way.

But that is enough gloom. Right now, my Christmas tree is glinting at me and my family (briefly) resemble a John Lewis tableau. There is a muddy dog to stroke, his still-pungent farts threatening further turdy offerings under the tree. Soon, there will be festive arguments to adjudicate between the boys, and I will open my now traditional piece of unwanted electronic goods from Billy. We have our annual New Year’s holiday under huge East Anglian skies and I will let the freezing cold waves trickle over the tops of my wellies just because I can. All this goes to say that no life is pristine, and amidst the so-called perfect days there are always unexpected dog turds to be navigated, large and small. But in the same way, even the very worst days have moments of bliss if you can only appreciate them. Now there is a truth worth living by, for however long you have. Happy Christmas, everyone. And I mean it. Happy Christmas.

16 Comments

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  1. natashareviews / Dec 21 2013 2:40 pm

    I came to your blog after reading your piece in the Guardian last month. I have no words to express how much I love your writing and how much I wish you, brilliant and funny woman, and your gorgeous husband and boys did not have to experience this cruel disease.

  2. Gary Hunter / Dec 21 2013 2:42 pm

    Hi Kate; I’m on planet cancer too; If you’re like me you get a bit pissed off with well-meaning folk telling you how brave you are, so I’m not going to. I always feel like shouting “I’m not brave, bravery implies a choice.” However….your words are beautiful, moving and inspiring. You’ve given me a metaphorical arse-kicking. I have haematology coming up in January and CT scans etc. so I’m wallowing in self-pity but it’ll pass. I wish I could write something that doesn’t read like a platitude. Anyway; good wishes to you and the family. Bob Dylan said that any day above ground is a good day! We’re still here. Xx

  3. Rosamond Roughton / Dec 21 2013 5:11 pm

    Merry Christmas Kate. All the love in my heart goes to you and your family. Ros x x

  4. Sasha Howard / Dec 21 2013 7:44 pm

    Not yet, not yet we all echo. So, so many voices lovely Kate xxx

  5. Suzy Meek Geere / Dec 22 2013 12:35 am

    I have always felt of all human traits, courage is the greatest, it inspires and restores faith.
    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this Kate , would that we all have your courage.

  6. Tracey Lattimore / Dec 22 2013 8:13 pm

    You beautiful girl. And if there was anything in the world to stop it, I would, we would. Have a precious Christmas, all of you, and build beautiful memories for your boys and Billy to treasure. And anyway, it’s not over yet. xxxxx

  7. Matt Mercer / Dec 23 2013 10:46 am

    I’ve only had the good fortune to meet you once Kate. But my memory of how you lit up that lovely room with your kindness, compasssion, insights and sheer likeability remains so strong. But as for yoiur bravery and courage, well, there are no words. It’s so unfair. I, we, are all so sorry. Wishing you and the family the happiest of Christmases… xx

  8. Sandra / Dec 23 2013 11:06 am

    Dear Kate,
    miracles can occur…
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

  9. hebe in dc / Dec 23 2013 3:01 pm

    You have my utter admiration, and not just for the way you have so beautifully written what must have been the hardest words to write. I truly hope you have the most wonderful Christmas, and I am sending all the good wishes in the world to you and your family.

  10. Ann Marie Bennett / Dec 25 2013 2:08 pm

    For days I’ve wondered what to say and the words aren’t coming ….you’re are an amazing woman; God bless you and your beautiful family. You are never far from my thoughts. With so much love for you x

  11. Caroline Al Shammas / Dec 27 2013 11:30 am

    Love you so much Kaker xx

  12. Tom Pravda / Dec 27 2013 7:31 pm

    To your huge New Year skies, to the love that surrounds you, and to all your Moments of Bliss. You and your family are very much in my thoughts.

  13. Jean Gross / Dec 31 2013 10:37 am

    Hello everyone who reads Kate’s blog.

    I’m Jean, her mother and wanted to let you know what I think will help Kate right now. We need true stories please from people who lost their mothers in childhood but have not had blighted lives or a permanent inner sadness. Of good, golden and not wicked stepmothers. Of miraculous survivals . Lovely poems . No messages about courage or battling please, event though to all of us on the outside it does look like amazing courage. Help in finding a publisher for the book Kate is making from her blogs; one day Oscar and Isaac need to have it on their bookshelves and as adults understand more about their very wonderful mother .

    I’m also doing a rota for weekly flowers – of a simple, spring-like nature – and if any of Kate’s friends would like to be on it please email me at jean.gross@btinternet.com.

    Jean

  14. Anna / Jan 6 2014 12:45 pm

    A late, post Christmas message from me my dear, hoping the East Anglia skies were blue and majestic, the dog turds glorious and festive arguments cheering!
    Seriously, I hope you had a beautiful celebration. I’m with you, I send you love and the largest, breath-knocker-outer of hugs, Anna xxxxx

  15. Laurie Lee / Jan 7 2014 4:03 pm

    Hi Kate. I hope you had the good Christmas you were looking forward to above and I hope Billy got the new electronic device that he wanted ;-). I hope the wellies were only lapping with water and not washed away in hurricanes. I’m sorry to hear the latest twist and turn in the story and hope very much it won’t be the last change of fortune. Funnily enough, our family also got a new fur baby this year. A Dachshund-Jack Russell cross puppy, now five months old, called Woody. He’s a lot of fun and we have luckily found an excellent non-electronic device for finding his hidden turds in the yard and occasionally the house. My shoe! The rest of the family are very happy with that.

  16. Vikki Dean / Jan 16 2014 12:47 am

    Kate (and Jean)
    Wretched, horrid news. I wrote a little last year about losing my Mum to cancer as a girl. Of course I wish I hadn’t and would give anything to have her back. But I remember her, I live fiercely and feistily to make her proud, and I feel absolutely that everything she gave me – even on chemo days which I (now) realise must have been truly awful for her – helped make me into the woman I am today. And indeed into the mother I am now. I miss her – beyond words – and I mourn for all the moments we should have had together, deserved to have. But It didn’t blight my childhood, or my adulthood. I hope that is of some comfort at a horrible, crappy, undeserved time for your fabulous family. The love lasts Kate; it really does.
    Vikki x
    P.s. On the news front, Barbados rocks. I love being High Commissioner. The kids are brown as berries, Abi has learnt to swim properly, we have no tv and spend loads of time outdoors, the work is fascinating and there’s lots of it to do. The offer of Gross-Boyle sunshine escape stands.

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