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Little dreams

I’ve always had big dreams or maybe I should say expectations.

My maternal grandfather, a self made man who worked hard and lived big, and who still looms large in my memory, used to frequently quote the verse from Luke chapter 12, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”. I suspect this verse has permeated my mother and her sisters’ psyches and been passed on to me. Anyway, in adulthood, my anxious temperament and critical spirit paired with my reasonably quick brain found a happy home in  the public service.  I thought I would have a big career in government and public policy. I thought I would make some difference.

And then came cancer. My stage 4 diagnosis at age 34, eleven weeks after the birth of my long awaited daughter, Violet. The world as I knew it fell out from under me. I cannot imagine ever being able to describe that first month. I was in the abyss.

My dreams now are little.

I want to stay alive – “just give me till she’s twenty”, I beg God, knowing that I will only be 55 then which is still too young and Dave will be only 50 – too young to lose a partner. I hope I live longer than my parents, so they don’t have to lose a child.

I dream of an old house in the country with a wide central hallway and leadlights framing the front door. Dark wooden floors, open fire places and a huge white kitchen to cook in. Room for my friends to stay, and a comforting, beautiful environment for my little family.

Sometime I dare to hope that I can be completely cured – that SIRT treatment will be my miracle. But more often I simply hope that the doctors can continue to pat down my metastases as they pop up – sort of like a game of hungry hippos but with chemotherapy drugs and ugly tumours.

“At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.” 
― Paulo Coelho

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The fairytale and the abyss – Violet and I at chemotherapy (December 2015)

21 thoughts on “Little dreams

  1. I’m not really religious, more agnostic, but the only phrase that comes to mind is ‘may God/Allah/Buddha/ all of the above bless you’.

    Hugs through the ether. XX Cilla

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  2. I’m in tears and don’t understand your pain but marvel at your strength and spirit and pray with everything in me that your dreams, big and small, come true. Xxxxx

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  3. i have read and re-read your words many times and I can only say how beautifully and honestly you have expressed the impact of this shocking disease. You are continuing to make a difference. You are much loved by many. May your hopes be realised.

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  4. With tears in my eyes I read your story so beautifully written. I’m so glad we found each other on Instagram so we can be in touch and follow each other’s lives even though I’ve never met you, we both got struck with awful bowel cancer. Mine was stage 3 and I’ve just completed treatment and for me, I just want to get on with life. I pray for you and know you will watch your precious daughter grow up. X

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    1. Thank you Joanne. I too am so glad to have found you. There is real comfort in other people who are experiencing this. I’m so pleased you’ve finished treatment. What a wonderful Christmas present xxx

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  5. This is beautiful, Caitlin. I’m sorry I am only reading this now.
    There is no fairytale without the abyss, but I wish you didn’t have to stare into it. I have such a strong belief that you will survive and be well. I can’t very well express the agony I feel for you, thinking of you being away from Violet for a night, far less forever. There but by the grace of God go we all but not, I deeply hope, you. I am thankful for your friendship and keep you in my thoughts. Laura xx

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  6. Caitlin, it is very brave, and generous, of you to be sharing these experiences and your blog will help others who find themselves in a similar situation. You are a gifted writer and it is is privilege to be sitting here sharing your thoughts. I am just about to step out into the coldness of winter in Cambridge, UK, and will be carrying thoughts of you with me.

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