Kate's Blog

Follow me if you will as I try to navigate through the ups and downs of my world.

I'm writing this blog to help me make sense of all that has happened - from my diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while pregnant with my third child in May 2008
, through to my reflections on chaotic family life as I try to pick up the pieces of my life again.

The kids are so small, and I'm working hard to keep us all safe and to stay in remission.

Stay with me - it won't be all doom and gloom I promise!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


I was offered a job today. A part-time job I really wanted in a great school. I am quietly pleased with myself - the interview was challenging: I haven't worked for three years and I had to admit to the gaps which would necessarily be there after some time out of a profession which changes faster than is strictly necessary! But as I said to them, I'm a fast learner.

It's all a big step forward on the journey to my future - my healthy future where my cancer is nothing but a horrible memory. This time three years ago I had started my chemotherapy, my hair was falling out and I didn't know if I would see Christmas. I wouldn't and couldn't have imagined that I'd ever be well enough again to apply for and accept a job like this.

It's the same old stuff - yada, yada yada. This time three years ago yada yada yada. But I'm still living with the legacy of what happened in many ways - physically and emotionally. It's increasingly a private legacy: there's only so many times you can say these things to the people around you without, I don't know, sounding as if you're going on.... I seem to be able to 'go on' on my blog though. Sorry.

Anyhow - that's good news for me and for the family, although there'll be some changes around here! I do feel bad for Hattie - our peaceful days of lunchtime CBeebies' watching will be truncated. But I'll still be at home for part of the week, and we need the money. And maybe I need to get back to my career. My other career.... I'm still hoping, probably in vain, the writing will take off.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

What I'm Going To Be When I'm (ahem) Older

See - I've neglected my blog too long and my blogland friends have turned their attentions elsewhere - very understandably I might add. But I'm still here, and I'm determined to keep going. Maybe I can encourage you all to come back by some scintillating posts. Hmmmm. That's a problem right there then!

So, I was going to tell you some stuff about me which you might not know. Why should you? And then I began to think about myself in a kind of analytical sort of way. And then I began to wonder where I'm heading (in a life-journey, metaphorical kind of way rather than a heading off on the school run kind of way) and I thought about all the stuff I still want to do before I die as a happy and very old woman.

Here goes:

- I'm heading off on the tran-Siberian Railway just as soon as I can (don't hold your breath)

- I want to publish a short-story that I'm really proud of. In fact I want to publish the next Booker Prize winning novel, but small steps and all that.

- I need to ride horses in Argentina

- I want to experience at least one of those exotic beach holidays that other people always seem to have. You know - three weeks in the Maldives or somewhere with just Roger and a HUGE pile of books for company

- I want to buy a house in Pollensa in Majorca

- I want to travel to New Zealand, Australia and .....oh, to a host of other places too

- I want to have a really toned and bendy body, in an, "aren't you fabulous at yoga and pilates?" sort of way.

- I want to be able to achieve a zen-like approach to life, and be remembered and missed as that serene and wise old woman

Ok - this is actually a list in progress I've just realised. To be added to as and when. I have noticed a certain wanderlust theme - tricky with those pesky kids in tow, no money and annoyingly tying jobs. Anyhow...... a girl can dream.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Back to Work

So - if I go back to work next year (it's looking maybe like 4 days a week - it's the only offer I've had which isn't full-time!!) I'll feel guilty and sad at all that I'm missing. Hat's still small, the other kids are not big and they all need their mummy. I'll need to fight to be able to have enough time to see their school plays and concerts and to see Hattie settled for her mornings at nursery. I'll still be organising all the shopping and cooking and washing with a big burden of marking essays, planning and general work-demands hanging over me too. Can I cope with secondary teaching (high school, that is) and all the stresses that it brings, along with all the current stresses of family life.....as well as the ongoing saga regarding my health????

But - we need the money first and foremost. Even with childcare (lots to be thought about there) the money I'll earn will come in very very useful. I'll have all those weeks of holiday when I'm free to be with the kids and Roger and I'll still have a day a week to get myself, the house and the kids organised. Bills need to be paid, and life is always too expensive however hard you try to be frugal, something which isn't a natural character trait of mine I'm forced to admit. The time has come I guess, but with Hattie just 3 it's come quicker than I anticipated. I worked before I had Hattie when the other kids were very small. It was just two days a week and I remember how hard it was just to get everyone out of the door. And now I have to give Ed his treatment twice a week in the early morning just to add a small detail of fun into the mix.

Underneath it all, though, I have to admit to a little (and sometimes very fleeting indeed) flicker of excitement at the prospect of finding some sense of myself again -an adult, work-place me with something new and challenging to do. Teaching changes all the time - I haven't worked for three years and there'll be a steep learning curve up which to climb.

I need time to write though, and I need space to stay well. Three years ago I was dying and since then I underwent a year of hardcore treatment to get into remission. I'm coming up to 2 and a half years in remission now. It's a good length of time, but it's not 5 years. Not yet.

I've got to find a balance so that I can keep healthy and keep my family well. What a terrifying prospect.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


I just can't get anything done!!

How am I expected to clean the house, shop, cook, do the washing, ferry the kids around - all with an obstreperous Hattie in tow - and also write regularly, blog regularly and chase part-time teaching work for September?????

And all that's without factoring in the haemophilia. This morning I optimistically - and some would say stupidly - dressed for a run. My lovely child-minder friend was having Hattie for the morning (.... some crazy idea that it'll get her used to me going back to work), and I thought that I might just be able to sneak away before returning to the long imaginary to-do list in my head which began highlighted in bold, 'Hoover Ed's Bedroom' (oh.... the glamour of my life). I won't continue down the list but you get the picture.

Anyhow.... Ed has had a painful bleed deep inside his knee since Monday tea-time when he went out to play football. I treated him on Monday night (new blue needles) and again yesterday morning. But this morning he was still hobbling - packing him off to school, while tempting, didn't seem to be the entirely responsible option. So, after changing out of the fetching running gear, off we went to hospital. Last week he was there on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, this week he missed this whole morning and may have to go tomorrow if things aren't settled.

I am meant to be starting to write an article as well as ringing and arranging to visit several schools today. I also promised Rog I'd look over his latest job applicaton letter (for a headship - not bad!), and I wanted to run (did I mention that), and I needed to clean, as usual. Now I have about half an hour before the school run and all I want to do is lie comatose... or at least slump with a cup of tea in hand.

I also wanted to post on my blog today. Have actually done that! I've achieved something then!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My Love Affair with the City - It's Starting Right Now

Who-eeeee! The kids (well at least the older two) have started going to a local theatre club on a Saturday morning.

For 3 hours!!

Now I'm not saying, in any way, that it's lovely to have three hours of relative peace with Rog and Hattie. Three hours with no squabbling, no crazy TV watching (Ed), and no listless Saturday slouching (Martha).

All I am saying is that they enjoy their drama, and we enjoy heading towards our local cafe and kind of experiencing (remember there's still Hattie spilling juice and dropping toast)the blissful Saturday mornings we had pre-kids.

We've always dreamed of moving out to the country. Not far, just to the beautiful Tyne Valley, where I could live my fantasy of country housewife (ha ha). Yes - chickens, ducks and dogs all figure in this life I've concocted. I've always explained to anyone who'll listen that as soon as we can we're heading out of the city.

But recently, as the kids inch ever older, I have to admit to a certain pleasure in city life and what it can offer. Last week I met a friend for a pizza one evening, went to my course at the university and did a Zumba class. I would have taken Hattie to the Sage Concert Hall to take part in a music class if Ed hadn't needed a trip to the hospital (which given the haemophilia and my trials and tribulations is conveniently only minutes away)......and the kids can go to a drama club on a Saturday morning. Not to mention the Tyneside Cinema which is the most wonderful art-house cinema in the centre of Newcastle, and fabulous Pannis with its wondrously, life-affirmingly handsome Italian waiters (get the picture?) and its beautiful, beautiful coffee.

If I'm sounding smug or like some kind of crazy city-phile, you only have to show me an old farmhouse in fields surrounded by sheep, for the grass over there to seem seriously greener. But I'm learning to love my city-life all the same for the good things it can bring to a tired girl who is faintly remembering who she used to be beneath the exhausted and rumpled mother she's become.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wednesday Blues

I've been for a run! Well - more like a power walk with sporadic and very short bursts of running. But still - I got myself into gear and headed for the park. And I've booked a Zumba class for Friday too.

I'm pretty sure that there won't be any discernable change on the outside for some time to come.....but I feel fitter already.

It's been such a hassly week. Ed has been backwards and forwards to hospital after hurting himself at a roller-skating party at the weekend. And yesterday - again - I couldn't find a vein. The upshot of me not being able to treat him myself before school, was that we had to spend the best part of the morning at the hospital; Hattie missed her music session which she loves and spent most of the morning wailing in disappointment; and I??? I could feel my blood pressure rising! Today we've just returned home from the second visit of the week - it ran so late that I just got Ed back to school in time for the afternoon session. And even then he was eating his lunch in the car on the way. I'll be lucky if Hattie gets any sleep at all before I have to whisk her out of bed and go to fetch the kids.

On top of this, I have one seriously overworked, seriously stressed husband who's not sleeping due worrying..... and we have no bloody money. I need to find a job, and fast! Although I'm not sure how all the ferrying, cooking, cleaning and washing will get done if I'm working as well.

So - I'm pleased that I did actually head out to the park this morning before the hospital appointment. I was almost distracted by the state of the house (how I wish I had a cleaner), but in the nick of time I decided that some fresh air would do more for my spirits than a clean house. And it did - although the stairs selfishly didn't hoover themselves while I was out.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Weekend and all that stuff.....

Another weekend filled with kid-related activity.

Before I start to moan about how exhausting it is to have three small children, and I'm afraid to say that this had been the intention of this post - a familiar theme of my blog, I'm sure you'll agree - I need to announce Harriet's third birthday. While this is hugely significant for her (chocolate cake with Smarties and "cangles" or should that be candles??), it is enormously significant for me too.

Three years ago I was visiting my tiny premature daughter, born at 32 weeks, in the Special Care Baby Unit. She spent her first days hooked up to tubes with an oxygen mask strapped over her impossibly tiny face. I had just come from another part of the hospital having had a scan to see if the cancer had spread from my chest into my abdomen. My prognosis was poor and my first dose of chemotherapy was scheduled for the following week; and after that I was facing the best part of a year of aggressive in-patient chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and radiotherapy. My other two small, small children were waiting for me to come home.

I am increasingly bemused to think how I managed that time from moment to moment. I know I spent my days, and nights, waiting to die. And I never, never, never thought I'd be making Hattie a cake on her 3rd birthday here in May 2011. She had a party with all her family this weekend. And along with singing, "Happy Birthday to you", we all quietly toasted my health too.

I'm not out of the woods yet - I have to get to her sixth birthday to throw the mother of all parties. I'm planning one too. It'll be my 45th birthday just after her 6th. On my 40th I was still very unwell, so a party was not really in order. But if I'm here on my 45th - and I'm more confident than I've been for the past three years that I might just get there - we're celebrating in style. I'm already saving for the holiday of a lifetime for Roger and I.

It's good to look forward - I can tell you.

So - luckily for you, I'm not going to moan after all. I'll save that for next time!