When news broke that I had cancer serious enough to warrant tough treatment, my world (as I’ve stated already) fell apart. The cocoon of our family took a hefty blow. I’ve always tried to deal with problems by trying to see the positive side of things, but in this case, it was difficult. I found it hard not to cry when telling people and, likewise, the recipient found it hard to keep it together, too.

Let’s be clear; there is nothing wrong with not keeping it together. To cry a few tears is the most natural thing in the world. I rang my friend, Don O’Neill and promptly burst into tears. “Kay, whatever you’ve to tell me, stop crying!” I did. Once I had my story told he said,

“Remember, every time you are sad, you are empowering the disease.”

This thought has stuck with me and helped me to stay focused on getting through the tough days.


The hardest part is resting. While I was in hospital, my family went into their own positive mode and things got done. Tim, Julie, D, Philip and Colm are my rocks. I can ask them for anything. Julie engaged a housekeeper. She also took time off work to keep Diarmuid’s life on track. Diarmuid took on household chores. My daughter-in-law, Elaine, went shopping and arrived to hospital with carefully thought out items for anyone in my situation. Philip and Aileen did all sorts of practical things. My sister, Bernadine, is a trained reflexologist and she came into the hospital nightly to calm me after treatment. Friends took me shopping and we tried to do practical things. Honesty among family and friends is paramount when going through a crisis. To tell or not to tell the story is a personal decision. I have always lived by telling my stories to my readers. This story could not be kept from them.

Remember, every time you are sad, you are empowering the disease.

Several of my friends and sisters-in-law started cooking dishes for us. I found these tasty and lovely. Laoise, my sister-in-law, did a dinner per cycle for the lads in her home while I was in hospital. She puréed fruit from her bountiful tunnel for me and took me out to lunch. My friends took me to lunch and the garden centres. There are so many people in my corner. Friends Evelyn, Michael and Pat meet us every cycle. My cousins, Sheila and Patricia, are in constant contact with valuable support, as are Tim’s and my siblings. The term ‘it takes a village to rear a child’ comes to mind! It takes a village to help bring a cancer patient to wellness. There is nowhere better than our rural communities for practical support.

We don’t have time

I got reacquainted with old friends. Another Mary invited me to her home and we had years of catch-up to do. Ed and Eileen had us to a barbecue, again a catch up after a long while. Time is so precious and sometimes we just put things on the long finger and drift from people who are fun and intelligent to be with.

I got magnificent bunches of flowers and gifts from near and far. Friends and work colleagues put lovely gift boxes together for me. I felt truly loved. The post started to arrive from my readers; I was overwhelmed. You have no idea how much support you are giving me. I received beautiful, short, long and treasured e-mails, Mass cards and good karma messages have come from everywhere; cousins, friends and readers. Text messages are a whole other level. Candles have been lit for me in churches near and far.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me a good wish in your head. To sit down and write a letter takes time and headspace that many people do not have, yet so many have taken that time for me. I love your letters and news. I feel loved, particularly by the rural and farming community and my children’s friends. There’s an inner circle of friends that sustain me on a daily basis. It means that I have no time to brood or dwell on my situation. The weeks are slipping by and I’m trying to be focused for Cycle 4, which begins on 4 July. No matter what your situation; life still goes on.

Read more

Sometimes it's hard to keep the bright side out

Katherine’s Country: an early drought