Breast cancer lesson number 91: Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

Bearing my soul to all who know me – and quite a few who don’t – has brought with it some rather unexpected and surprising moments. Fellow sufferers have found comfort in a friendly face. Strangers have become friends. Old friends have become new friends. Distant friends have become closer friends. Family have become more like friends.

Every comment, post and email has meant the world to me. But there are a few that have shown me just how little we really know about those around us – and the challenges we all face. From miscarriages, grief, illness and tumours to difficult pregnancies, IVF, house issues and family troubles. You name it, they’re all there, on a doorstep near you (and maybe even on your own).


I feel so privileged and moved that people have been able to reach out to me at this time and share the sadness that occupies their waking hours and disturbs their sleep. But, I also feel sad that had I known about some of them earlier, I might have been able to make a difference at a time when they needed me perhaps more than they do right now (a hairless cancer fighter is probably not first in line for the trenches!).

People often describe cancer as the invisible illness. And, in many ways it is (especially when it grows silently inside you at a time when you are feeling really well). But, the thing about cancer is that you don’t need to understand the complexities of a diagnosis to know that someone is fighting for their life. Cancer comes with its own support network. People get it. And that makes it so much easier to share with the world. Sadly, other challenges (each one difficult and hard in their own right) cannot be softened by such a public airing. 

So this is my little way of saying spare a thought today for all of life’s fighters. I can guarantee they are closer than you think.

Quick PS: As a rather more light-hearted aside, I confess to having bought some shorts. Apologies now if the weather takes a turn for the worse. But, if it is any consolation, they are really nice shorts and Duncan will permit me to wear them further than the garden, which is a first!