Paint on a smile and crack on!

It’s 6.40 and I’m awake already. I find sleeping a problem and I didn’t go to bed until 2.30. Now I’m annoyed with myself cos I feel tired and I’m in Kingston today 🙂 back with my team and Emma. The last time I was in Kingston was just before I started chemo and I didn’t know when I would be back with them. I had also arranged to see my friend Leanne on the way home so today should be a happy day.

Emma had texted me last night to say she had had a meltdown at work, we agreed not to talk about it on the phone that night, but leave it until I saw her. Poor Emma as she must be struggling to know what to say to me. If she tells me how upset she is she knows it will only hurt me. If she tries to cover it up then she knows that this will also hurt me. She can’t win. I’m dreading hearing her story as I feel so guilty leaving her to run Kingston. She does 3 peoples job without me there. I worry how long she can cope for. Not because she can’t do the store manager’s role but because of the lack of resource with me being out of the business for so long.

I have spent the morning messaging Dawn, Lauren’s mom. I have known her since I was 3 years old, we grew up together as she lived over the road in Kingswinford. Due to Lauren coming down Sunday and me explaining cancer to her, Dawn and I were worried she was okay. It was nice talking to her. We had shared memories of our childhood which were lovely to remember. The beauty of texts or messages is that the other person can’t see you. Many replies I sent were through tears. Why can’t I stop crying? I think that going through this shit makes all of your emotions to anything super sensitive. I don’t cry often, it’s just not me. Steve was always worried that I would get depressed going through Chemo (a known side effect) but I think it’s cancer that depressing. Oh no am I getting depressed?, should I go to the doctors I thought? No, I’m not depressed. I’m just feeling everything at a different level and I need to feel this. I need to cry. I said in one of these messages to Dawn that I would be painting my smile on today and pretending that I was fine, how wrong you can be sometimes.

So I shower and get ready, my head is sore and I’m worried about the long day I have planned. Hearing about Emma’s meltdown and I know that I should just cancel and sleep but I can’t do that as I love being in Kingston.

I’m ready for work, Steve is on late’s working from home. He says that I’m gorgeous (he always says that whatever I’m dressed in) and I think those still unused condoms are still playing on his mind. I tell him to behave himself as he has to start work in 10 minutes, and I set off to Kingston.

I have a playlist on my phone called ‘Love Songs’ it contains some of my favourite songs. I think that I need to create a cancer playlist. It’s on shuffle all songs,  I skip most of the songs and just listen to the ones that mean so much to me at the moment. I need to listen to ‘Jar of Hearts’ and get angry with Harry. I had a touching message the other day. This person didn’t want to give her cancer a name, she said as she didn’t want to be friends with it. That made a lot of sense to me now. As I drive I cry, listening to favourite songs. ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ comes on by Oasis, this was my Christmas gift from Chris and Lauren, this brings a smile through the tears.

I am dreading seeing Emma as I don’t want to cry, I want to be strong for her. I sent her a text to say could we have coffee first in Nero’s so that I could hear her meltdown story before I started work. So the plan was to cry all the way into Kingston, so that it was all out of my system. The songs kept playing, I skipped loads hoping ‘Jar of Hearts’ would always be the next song to make my strong.

I have decided that cancer is very much like being pregnant. When something is growing inside you, you get to the point when you want your body back. I want my body back, I want me back! I want to be at work, I want to be strong, I want to be able to plan fun things, I want to just be normal again and I definitely want to stop bloody crying.

As I get to Kingston bridge, just a few minutes away from the store, ‘Jar of Hearts’ comes on. I’m happy now because I can get angry and be strong for Emma.

I walk towards the store and she is there, we go to hug each other and start crying instantly. For goodness sake, this wasn’t the plan! ‘Be strong you soppy mare’ was what I was thinking to myself but the tears just wouldn’t stop. I ordered coffee through tears and thought that the others in the queue must think I’m mad. Am I going mad? Probably always was but thought it was normal lol.

We sat and talked through her meltdown. Now the next 3 hours I can’t possibly write about in detail, so I will have to just give you the details as it’s just too painful. My boss was in Kingston and the business have organised for another Store Manager to come in and run Kingston for 6 months. That I would work on projects from home or from the High Wycombe store. I cried with Emma for 3 hours. I’ve lost them. I recall the conversation in the park that day before my operation. I knew this day would come. I knew that no matter what I did I would lose my BHS Kingston family. It’s not just the whole team it’s the friendships that you build through the years, sharing moments of each others lives, you become a family and I’d lost mine.

My boss tried to get me to see the positives. That I could focus on getting well, take the whole of Christmas off and then if I’m well enough I can come back.  I don’t want bloody Christmas off, I want to live. Not living is worse, this halfway house I’m stuck in. Cancer is taking away my life, the life I had.

I knew that I had to stay away from the store for their sake. I had to just walk away and let them forge a new way of working without me. I couldn’t be part of it from the sidelines, I couldn’t undermine the new Manager. So today I walked away from Emma, my team and my world of work before cancer struck. I have been told it’s still my store for when this is all over but when will my nightmare ever end? When will I have my life back. I’m watching it slowly erode from all angles and I can’t stop it.

Emma and I leave together walking towards our cars. I don’t want any more tears, no long tearful farewells. I hug her quickly and just say “I am sorry”

So Emma and my much loved team, ‘Crack on’ as I type this through tears.

Now I like to bring humour to my posts as I document my journey through cancer. To offer hope, make people smile and sometimes make people laugh but there is no joy in the shit for me today, just tears.

After yesterday’s post and most days I get private messages of support and love. My cousin Nicky messaged me yesterday to say that she would love to see me in a ‘humour killed my tumour’ t-shirt. I love all my messages of love and support every day from you all. Today I’m exhausted, no one can make this better and sometimes you just need to be alone in your thoughts, so no messages please today as no one and no words can make this feel better.



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Married to Steve, I have two children - Rebecca and Richard. Steve has two children, Lauren and Chris. Rebecca lives with us (nurse Rebecca) and my mom Judy also has become nurse and housekeeper but lives in the West Midlands. My son is in the Army and comes home when he can. I am 47, born in 1967 and I was told I had bowel cancer on 22nd Feb 2015 and this blog is my journey through it. I hope it helps you as you were the reason I started it.

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