When I last spent time writing a blog I was indeed free of the demon cancer that had haunted me since those days in October 1984.........and for the next handful of years as I faced operation and treatments eventually for 4 major cancers.
Since then I have had 6 further skin cancers again involving treatment,operations and skin a very destroying disease.......... as the result of former aggressive cancer treatments.

However now again I am on that turbulent threshold of what seems to be perhaps further cancer,awaiting results of the second lot of biopsies is traumatic to say the least.
Far from being alone, as I know of so many awaiting alongside me,hence the need to get this blog written as perhaps a sort of stepping stone for others facing these traumatic times, wondering how to get themselves through such worries.

But it has also focused my mind on how I ever got through after the first unpleasant batch...........and made a life for myself.
Perhaps it is one well worthy of sharing;because so many of us travel down these difficult routes and find ourselves at a loss of where and how to move on.

My story begins soon after my return home after 6 weeks of intensive cancer treatment in a Hospital specializing in the disease some 70 miles from my home.
I had been cushioned during those 6 weeks by meeting others suffering various forms of cancer; sharing our individual journeys had proved most cathartic;ensuring we had bonded well and had great support to start our very own routes when back home.
However,in most cases these dear ones had in numerable family back up,which is invaluable when facing deeply troubled times.
This is an area that we totally lose out......we have no family backup.
We had just struggled through very many years of hardship,with my husband losing weeks off work.........and pay....due to being at my side through those times of near death experiences as I lurched from one operation to another,and from one Hospital to another.
With John.... my husband...... working 10 hour days some 6/7 days a week life at home was very lonely,especially in comparison to the cameradrie we had all experienced just previously.In fact I was on the verge of deep depression.

A quitter I am not,and I am blessed with determination and a fighting spirit........ and the one thing I enjoyed at all times was writing.So I picked up my pen and I wrote to all those that I knew to be suffering or recovering from the disease,that quickly snowballed into sending cards when they had special appointments,had to meet Consultants,undergo procedures,face results.......all those testing times.Then came those long telephone conversations,
and wherever possible...... even visits.
This generated such a lot of contact it was dubbed The Sunshine Club!!!It certainly brought many a smile to very many faces.....including my own.......there was simply no time to be depressed.

The McMillen Nurses had noted what a great uplift this line of communication was,stretching out right across areas of our County and so I was approached and asked would I form an official Cancer Support Group.
In fact, that was the beginning of the very first Pembrokeshire Cancer Support Group,we arranged meetings in a nearby Hotel room,devising all manner of raffles etc to meet the costs,and from the dozen or so that eventually formed the almost every Town and Village has one of their own.
Gaining inspiration from these meetings, I especially formed a friendship with this one lady,also a recovering cancer patient, but whom was also nursing her husband with the disease........she had already started up a first AA group in our County..... as sadly, she was also a recovering alcoholic.
A lady that had several real battles on her hands.
We struck a cord,and formed a bond.
We both shared the same dogged determination,the same drive and we could visualise the great need in our county for a Cancer Centre........and this became our one focus and aim.
Whilst continuing counselling,gathering donations,having car boot pay for our Hotel room for our Support meetings.......but our minds were busily formulating plans to get our dreams into fruition.

During this time another dear lady,a terminally ill cancer patient, witnessed our drive and knew the crying need for a place of our very own, in due course she donated her most beautiful double fronted Victorian Manse for this specific purpose.
As you can imagine it was a wonderful, very meaningful and heart rendering gift,that brought tears to our eyes......equally of joy and gratitude..... whilst feeling the pain of this particular lady.
However it then started a very serious time of hard work........raising public awareness to our needs,establishing all manner of money raising events,visiting many firms.....virtually going "cap in hand!"........whilst chivvying each and every able pair of hands in working over time....... to turn this lovely property into what we envisaged.
This detached property was situated in one of our Towns,not ideally in the centre of the county perhaps, but on a wide quiet residential street,facing south and greenery.It had 3 floors,a large back garden,a front courtyard.....was in supreme all the retaining features of a Victorian property.
All floors were utilized.............initially the back garden was dismantled and the ground tarmaced to provide safe door to door parking facilities.A Stair lift was fitted to make all floors accessible to all,and eventually the lower ground floor housed a complete commercial sized fitted kitchen.....with ancillary rooms used to house freezers,larder and the like.Two other rooms became a fully functioning restaurant.
The ground floor with its large sun filled bay windows became the main meeting/seminar rooms,a fully functioning library/quiet room,a music library..........whilst upstairs became respite rooms with ensuite facilities, plus therapy rooms where various many therapies became very much part and parcel of every day life for those in need.
The front courtyard became an out door sitting area in warm weather.We had our very own Chaplain..........the restaurant served beautiful meals for meeting days,plus a take out facility for those bed bound sufferers,a great and much used and loved asset........and Christmases/celebrations were especially a treat.
It was most beautifully furnished out from donations and kind hearted gifts presented weekly,it really became a sanctuary and home from home for many patients...... and their families.........all whom were made welcome.
A Charity Shop in the town helped supplement the donations,and there was funding by our own NHS......... who had backed this scheme from start to finish.
It was opened by a well known T.V personality and simply went from strength to strength........... with eventually many willing hands helping out.
However when my partner,Doreen lost her battle with the disease it was decided to dedicate the building in her name.............. in aid and honour of her hard work.
All that time John and I had been working on several Hospital Committees,begging,praying,pleading for yet more cancer services to be brought into the County, as we had obviously been forgotten for many years,we were really bereft,and slowly we were achieving something precious on each new week,or at least each month........our County was on the map again.......regarding Cancer services.
Such a welcome and great boost for all cancer sufferers following on behind us .

But there was still one vital area that had not been addressed and we both felt this was the final goal,and must have....... as we had encountered so much real need as we travelled around visiting dear cancer patients in Hospitals,at home.

We needed a Hospice.

It was indeed to be our one further aim.
Again it was to be a question of being in the right place at the right time it seemed!!
During all our meetings with various Hospital Committees, we had met this one lady who showed such great interest in our work in developing this beautiful Cancer Centre.......which she now visited weekly herself.......little did we know at that time,but she was a lady also determined to make a mark here in our beloved county..........and she eventually donated her own home,a bungalow, in the Cathedral City of St Davids with the sole wish that this should become ..........a Hospice.
The lady was Elizabeth de Guise.........a rather famous Mills and Boon author no less.
It took something like 15 long years to get the eventual permissions to turn a bungalow in a residential area into a Hospice,it took many more years and a mammoth amount of red tape for planning permission to extend,change and adapt this property...........and though a member of my family remains the solicitor throughout..........our own involvement was mainly through raising awareness and cash.
We ourselves had our Silver wedding celebrations during this long period of little happening,and we instructed our friends there were to be no gifts........ though if they felt inclined.... they could donate cash to our Hospice Fund.
On opening those envelopes containing cash just after our own
anniversary, believe you me, we were deeply touched and humbled to find that no one had donated less than.............ÂŁ50......This may not seem a fortune to you, but please remember, these dear ones were mainly of pensionable age and many disabled.It touched us to the core,realising that these people believed so much in what we were trying to achieve....... that they had dug very deeply into their own oft meagre pockets.
It made the project even more poignant.
Only during these latter years this Hospice has been duly completed.......... and now fully functioning.... though very small......we still believe that from small acorns mighty oaks doth grow!!

However, although my very own legacy of Cancer Support Groups are very much alive and flourishing I am delighted to add,the same cannot be said for our beautiful initial Victorian Cancer Centre.
The original was eventually sold some 8/10 years ago..........when the NHS funding was at first halved,and then sadly,
completely taken away.
In its place, a town house in a busy street was purchased so that the ground floor could be utilized as a shop....... providing much needed funds,leaving the upstair rooms only for stair lift,no parking facilities.... so in fact very far from ideal
for purpose................ and so far from the beautiful original Cancer Centre formed between Doreen,myself.........and the kindness of the lady who first donated her beautiful Victorian Manse.

However, although my story touches on many varying aspects, the main idea behind this is simply to promote the feeling that, yes,there is life after Cancer.It may not be the route you personally wish to take,we are all individual, and we have to follow our own heart and what may work for us.
Getting so deeply involved in Cancer care........and all life limiting illnesses in my very own County....... has proved highly cathartic and encouraging for me through my long haul.
I was only 44 years when this Cancer story began.
Today I am very much older,frail from other pressing diseases,and cancer possibly revisiting yet again...........and the out look is totally different....... as I certainly have not the same stamina to fight the good fight .........other than on paper.
Yes,I remain equally busy on paper and computer......ready to reach out and proffer an understanding ear,a helping hand,some uplift and may not sound much after the former involvement........but it keeps my mind ticking over and I prefer to think of others.... and reach out to them in their hour of need.........than sit at home here,biting my nails and feeling sorry for myself!!

Dear bet your life..........yes.......there is life after cancer.........

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Published in Senior Chatters


    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Hello Waylander……..nice to meet you and thank you for seeing through the purpose of my message,sadly too often a subject that does not get openly aired.

  1. passaggio

    Agree with Way, Keeper. Lovely Blog. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Wishing you the best as you wait your results of your recent tests. x

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Thank you Passaggio for your kind comnments……….a case of if I can help a few others on my way through… then my living will not have been in vain.

  2. PamfromTX

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Keeper. Rest assured that we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers as you await the results of your tests. Big hugs to you, my friend.

  3. foreveryoung2

    What an achievement KOD – well done!! You and your friends have certainly made a difference in your County for cancer patients and their families. This is a dreaded disease to deal with on your own and the more facilities available like this is much needed, especially if one is living a great distance from the big cities.
    I was a palliative care volunteer, and loved it, but the Committee became so self-centred and in-fighting for “Power” that I decided to leave. I don’t understand this kind of behaviour from “Volunteers”, and I don’t like to play these sort of games. I miss it, but that’s the way things go sometimes.
    God bless you and may your tests come back clear. Love fy2 xoxo

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Dear Foreveryoung2;
      Always good to hear from someone who understands a little of the dilemmas faced and indeed the hardship seeing the work of 3 people rubbished some many years later……… took an immense struggle to get such a beautifully fully fitted,fully equipped Cancer Centre up and running,a life saver to so many……..
      and then have it taken away and replaced by something inadequate and inferior.
      Once in this business of caring it becomes a part of you!!
      Thank you so much .

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Very kind of you Cappuccino, but quite frankly no one knows how they will react until their backs are up against the wall………..with a disease such as cancer you have 2 choices………… up and baling out by not taking the treatments etc…………..or stamping your feet and deciding life is too precious and fight,fight,fight!!

  4. macathy

    That was amazing achievement ,sorry the minds that be. Didn’t see things like you and kept it going.At times they need to get sick I think see then if up would change the way they do things.Yes there is life after cancer lots of us are still her to prove it,praying for you while you await your results of the tests. .mac.

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Indeed yes thankfully very many in this day and age have survived this disease and gone on to bigger,better things…………but sadly there is much yet to be learnt and after we had put our heart and soul in building up services for our beleaguered county it was certainly someone hale and hearty,never known illness that pulled the plug and the county lost its wonderful asset.
      Thank you for your understanding.

  5. roseinbloom

    Keeper of dreams. I am truly sorry that you have such a horrible disease, but I admire your strength and determination to live and make a difference. There was life for you during and after cancer. You are an awesome lady.

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      You are very kind Roseinbloom,however really when faced with these diseases I think it brings out that certain something……………..either the deepest despair……….or the rugged determination that I seem to have found!
      I wonder if I have it now though?!
      Thank you for your reply.

  6. goldengirl1224

    KEEPER..I would echo Rose’s comment. You are definitely an awesome determined and inspiring lady! Its a difficult and often lonely walk for many cancer patients ….even with the support of family and friends..and moreso for those not blessed with that support.
    What a great service you provided through all your hard work and dedication to provide resources in your community that they can utilise
    to share their journeys…their hopes and fears with others who understand.
    I wish you all the best as you continue to face your own challenges….hang on to that wonderful fighting spirit…!

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      I am indeed humbled by your lovely comments along with many others here Goldengirl…………the story gets told only when I hope and know it will help others in what they may have to face.
      Whilst essential to keep giving so that depression never has an oppertunity to drown any positive thoughts and outcome.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  7. lani36

    K.O.D., such a fighting spirit will not go unrewarded, yes there is a good life after the dreaded disease, i have a Daughter testimony to a cure, she has had three episodes in her young life and has been cleared now for 12 years, my son Two years ago , was found to have Leukemia , a hard journey alongside my dear son, he has been told he is cured of Non hodgkins “LYMPHONA,” a wonderful result and Gods gift to save my children from this dreadful string of diseases…
    I t is hard to go through such trauma as you have faced , and such bravery i’m sure will not go unrewarded …. keep up the good fight …..
    Helping others seems to be a need within us ,being there, we understand that to reach out and help in some small way, is vital for research …
    I write poetry as most know and all the proceeds of my books ,go to childrens cancer research, and i,m proud to be fortunate enough to be able to do this , even in a small way…..God bless you Keeper of dreams …… Lani xxxx.

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Whilst I almost had second thoughts about posting this blog Lani, I am certainly pleased that it seems to have been the right thing to do……. as it has and is reaching so many hearts and souls. Dear ones,many like yourself whom have seen what this disease can do to your children must be utterly devastating……..bad enough when it happens to you, but unthinkable when touching your offspring.
      I can feel for you from the bottom of my heart and I can also understand why you use the monies from your poetry ……a gift from God…… help support research.
      Whilst I find by freely giving to others, it strengthens you within and although I can no longer “man” our Cancer Centre, I am still there at the end of the `phone or P.C……..and I am still somewhat involved …….and would have it no other way.
      Thank you for sharing and I wish you and your beloved family every blessing and freedom from this disease.

  8. sylvestercat

    Hi Keeper,marvellous and keep going and if any one tells of a set back just dont believe them,stick to your convictions and believe in yourself as you have done through this ordeal.

    1. keeper of dreams Post author

      Thank you Sylvestercat for your comments and kind thoughts. I firmly believe there is only one way………….and that is to continue in whichever way one can,
      and yes I shall!I wish you well.

  9. vonMichael

    Hello Keeper,

    despite that awful illness you smile very, very nice. That means to me, you will beat that illnes with your strong character.

    And re to your question; as a Christ I say, yes there is a further life. And I solace myself with the thought of meeting more interesting people after death than on earth.

  10. jenna

    Thank you for sharing the challenges you have faced Keeper. You are such an inspiration, a very strong, amazing lady.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you await the results of your latest biopsy

  11. keeper of dreams Post author

    Thank you Jenna,you have all been so very kind and I hope that my blog may reach out and help other struggling hearts should they too recieve such a diagnoses.There is certainly life AFTER cancer !!