To give you a bit of background on me, I moved to Dublin when I met my lovely partner. For all the jokes I make about him hating the hospital and handing me over to anyone who will take me (not in a camel exchange way), he is still the best thing that ever happened to me and I love, as they say here in Ireland, the very bones of him. Twenty three years, and they said it wouldn’t last!
He is a Dub and used to go into a cold sweat just visiting friends in Cork. We lived together in Dublin for ten years, another twelve years in the UK and headed back to Ireland in 2018. As a child, our family moved lots of times. It was never a small move to a town up the road. We went from England to Scotland and back down to Wales. This meant that I never had any firm roots, but from the moment I arrived in Ireland, it felt like home. I cannot explain that to you. I did have an Irish grandmother but I never met her. Having moved so many times, you learn to make friends easily and, hopefully, keep them when you move onto the next adventure.
When I first got the phone call that this lump was melanoma in my lymph nodes, we decided that we would only tell our families. This was based on the belief that once the lump was out, the hard work would be done and we might not even need to tell our friends that anything had happened. I think as well, unconsciously, if you don’t tell people, it’s not really happening.
If this is happening to you right now, please take my advice and share it with your friends both old & new. Not for some attention seeking exercise, but because people are amazing. I have only known the fabulous ladies that I work with for a year, yet some of them have gone out of their way for me. They have taken me out for boozy lunches and pub teas; taken me for hot chocolates & delicious cake, brought me funny books & flowers and shared pizza at home with me; kept me company when my partner has had to work. These things are invaluable.
As for my old friends, I know they hate that they are so far away, but every WhatsApp message, every card & present lifts my mood. Conversations don’t have to be about cancer – I love the messages that are just about them, their jobs, their children or their pets. A drunken text at 2am makes my day, well my night, it makes me feel ‘normal’ again. One of my best presents was a book entitled Penis Colouring Book for Adults – this gives you the calibre of my friends!
I also have a whole other branch of ‘online’ friends that I’ve made through twitter. Roger has his own account and has lots of dog & cat friends. It might seem mad to you, but anipal twitter is such a lovely place to lose yourself for a few hours. Those friends have become an incredible support, many of whom have now become ‘real life’ friends having met at events like Woofstock.
It took me a long time to share the news of what I was going through and this post is really to say thank you to all of my friends, but also to encourage you all. If you are thinking of someone who might be going through something similar, just send a quick text, even if it’s only about Bake Off, they will be so glad to receive it. Equally, if you are going through this yourself, in the words of Hugh Grant, you might think you’re Ibiza but you’re really not. Don’t try to be an island, reach out to your friends.