I Can Breathe, My Gift of Hope

This blog I share, not only to celebrate my cancerversary, but also to offer hope during these unrivalled times. I draw a comparison with my fears and worries 36 months ago with the way some people might be feeling today with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic causing fear, death and grief worldwide and the anger, pain and confusion many are experiencing sparked by the disgraceful killing of George Floyd.

Today 14th June 2020, marks 3 years since I had my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. I can never forget sitting in the operation waiting area with a stomach filled with angst, because of my impending 8 hours operation and also of the horrifying images of people burning alive as the Grenfell fires raged.

My blood pressure had shot up and the anaesthetist kindly told me moments before my operation that I had a 50/50 chance of making it as I had a heart murmur (a condition I’ve had since birth). It felt like I was coming close to the end; I honestly had no idea if I would wake up after my operation. My head was filled with questions about what death would be like: would I know I was dead? If so, how? Would I become conscious just before my heart stopped? Who would break the news to my 3-year-old daughter? Luckily I didn’t need to get the answers and thanks to the NHS, today I am here stronger, hopeful and more resilient than ever.

Just as I felt then, it might seem for some now as though we will never get through these days of chaos and uncertainty, but we will, of that I am sure. The arrival of better days is already on the way. Just yesterday New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country Covid-19 free! Now people are enjoying large sports matches and joyous time with friends in pubs again.

The carotid choke hold that cuts off air to the brain has now been banned in police stations in the states of Michigan and Phoenix. Countless brands and organisations like Starbucks such as Arts Council England have openly proclaimed that Black Lives Matter. This is such a huge step considering just a few years ago, it was declared an extremist statement.

Therefore, I encourage you to keep the situation in perspective. Be grateful that you have breath, when others were not granted that gift even when they begged for it. Yes, these can be worrying times and when you feel that way please write, breathe and talk your pain through it. Allow the feelings to do what they came to do (enable you to process the situation) and then leave your body. I guarantee you; you will feel better soon afterwards. This new era offers hope of unparalleled positive change, just as the thoughts of my surgery did.

My daughter and I this month

Now I have a whole new appreciation for life. I have cleaned up my diet, I work out 4-5 times a week regularly, I enjoy the outdoors and being around good supportive people and I am filled with gratitude every single day. I implore you too, to seek happiness and to be physically and mentally well.

To end, I would like to invite you to help others who are not coping as well as they could be during this time by taking part in the ‘I am Glowing’ campaign. Simply send me a photo of yourself glowing and tell me in a sentence what you are doing to stay happy and healthy during these times and I will share it on my Instagram page. Email: admin@strawberrywords.co.uk. As abolitionist Harriett Tubman said, ‘Each one teach one, together we reach one. Let’s help each other through this and spread the gift of hope to all.

Photo credit: Gavin Telfer

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