Friday, March 18, 2011

A Year to Go

Do you ever wonder what you would do if you were told that you had a year at most to live?

Would you sell up and travel the world, seeing all the sights that are on your to-see list?

Would you curl up in a ball and just let it happen?

Would you find all the people who you have fought with, are still fighting with, have hurt in your life, so as you can apologise to them?

Would you go sky diving, parachuting, hot air ballooning or some other mad activity that you had always been too scared to do?

Would you accept it? Would you deflect it and stay in blissful denial?

About 4 months into a diagnosis of cancer I was in the attic looking for some photos and I found a medical dictionary. I decided to look up my cancer - multiple myeloma - too see what the book would say. I read along, yes yes I know all that - it's a cancer of the plasma cells of the bone marrow.......yes yes I know! Then I read the last line which said: 'People usually survive for 3 to 5 years after diagnosis'. I almost fell through the attic hatch. What? WHat? WHAT?

I could not believe that I was looking at just four and a bit in this world. Why didn't the doctors tell me? I asked them repeatedly about my prognosis. I asked one of them if I was going to die. In my own attic I had the answer waiting for me - I had between 3 to 5 years to live! WTF?

I almost fell through the attic door. Then I sat and just cried. What had I done to deserve this? I started to do the maths about how old my kids would be when I died - Emma would be 14 and Cathal, my little baby would be just 7! I couldn't breathe such was the panic thinking of how little time I had left with them. How would my husband cope with two young kids, how would my family cope and would my young soon forget that I had ever lived.

I decided there and then not to accept those odds. I looked at the publication date of the book and saw it was at least 7 years old. There had been so many advances in cancer treatment since then.

I fought
I am still fighting
I have had a bone marrow translant and gone through hell
I am here
I have met people who have been living with myeloma for 15 and 16 years - I guess they decided not to accept the 3-5 year prognosis either.

I am living with myeloma for 4 years and 4 months now. I intend to break the five year prognosis barrier and push on to be one of those living with this cancer for 10 or 20 years.

Emma is almost 14 and Cathal will be 7 in the Summer. I have no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

I am fearful for my future at times, but I have hope and sometimes hope is all that we need.


18 March 2011


  1. A very powerful piece Brenda. Stay strong and concentrate on your children. They are the real people in your life. Don't suffer fools.

    I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma back in 1995. At my 3 month appointment I was told how very lucky i was to have lasted that long. Well 16 years later and 2 further occurences i'm still here and have no intention of going anywhere soon. My kids have grown up now Thank God but still seem to need my time !

    Stay strong, you're not alone Brenda. Good luck.

  2. A great piece. And I wish you great peace, Brenda.