Over the past few years, I’ve done less and less cards, and gone more and more into doing a blog-e-card. I wasn’t sure that I’d have the energy this year after my operation last week, but let’s see…


For those who haven’t been in touch over the past year, last Christmas I was almost breathing a sigh of relief, as we thought that I was clear of potential metastatic cancer, then in mid-January the bad news came. I’d been returning to the classroom (on a gentle run in), so we scrapped that, and I’ve been in a mix of working from home, and off sick, whilst I’ve gone through more radiotherapy/ chemotherapy and have continuing ongoing treatment (you can read more in the cancer archives) – the hope is that after this recent operation will remain ‘Stable Mable’ with NEAD (no evidence of active disease) for quite some time … and just finding ways to live with the side effects and lack of energy! Outside of work, am keeping an eye on this (excluding coffee – or tea – neither of which I drink, good hot chocolate instead please):

*not sure of original source, sorry

Happy Christmas

Nice version of that for Christmas, when I’ve been in a ‘well, going to be on my own for Christmas, do I mind that’ (it can be a struggle) … but the Christmas I had a couple of years ago on my own was quite enjoyable – snuggle up with the foods and the crappy TV – not yet fit to drive so… I’ve bought a ‘Chicken Dinner’ and some extra pigs-in-blankets on the side – what more could you possibly want?

Christmas has become a bit of a challenge for many people – too much to do, too much pressure to be perfect (having raced to the finish line with work before the Christmas break), so pleased to see people starting to do a more sustainable but less pressurised Christmas. I really enjoy that most friends we go out for a nice dinner together instead of having to think of something to buy 🙂


For me, of course, there’s a whole lot more to Christmas (although I will thankfully take the Christmas break, though lost it to sick-time this time, but ah well, grateful for that):

I’ve had lots of people send me ‘themselves’ playing Ave Maria on the recorder, if you’d like to enjoy:

And you may have seen Robbie Williams all over the place with his Christmas album .. he’s on Giphy too:


If you want to give, there’s plenty of charities that you can donate to online… including some metastatic cancer organisations – I went for Shelter this Christmas – and MoneySaving Expert has highlighted some specifics.

Onto 2020

So, I’m on medical leave until 10th February, mostly to give my head some space … as someone described it, the ‘mental gymnastics’ of living with not knowing if your next scan is going to show progression (and either a change of treatment regime, or worse, really bad news), or whether may have 20+ years – it’s all very unknown, so makes you think about how to live your life knowing you may never get old enough to retire (but keeping pension going just in case), and also how to do things that are important!

One that some of you may know about is that I’ve been awarded a two month writing scholarship at Vaughan Park in New Zealand, combined with 3 public lectures in New Zealand, and some speaking in Australia – flying out on 28th February (having had treatment at beginning of week), flying onto Melbourne on 1st May, and returning to UK 10th May, ready to have treatment on 11th May (and yes, got some plans for looking after my house, though if you’re a friend who wants to stay message me and we’ll see)… And this was officially announced in the Vaughan Park newsletter:

I had to write a little bit of blurb (although I think my Durham fellowship has now expired)

I’ll have a week off when I get back to try and get over the jetlag, then we’ll see what the summer looks like, where my mental health is at, and where my energy levels are at (…so not expecting to run all over New Zealand as 1) I’m working and have a book deadline 2) I need some recuperation – apparently the beach is right near the writing chalet – been fortunate to have been before, so hopefully my friends over there will come and see me – I’m about half-hour drive above Auckland, hoping to speak in Wellington, and maybe even Christchurch). I’ve got some leave to take over the summer, and then next academic year plan to go to 80% workload, taking Fridays off to sleep and/or see people and/or travel on a quieter day ….

Meantime, this caught my eye on Instagram:

Featured image: by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.