A Dark Anniversary

This week sees the eighth anniversary of a life changing event that shook my family to it’s core. A time my brood and I were ushered, or more accurately dragged kicking and screaming, onto an unwanted emotional rollercoaster sojourn. A ride with no height restrictions, or indeed any other discriminatory parameters, allowing for non-participation.

My wife’s incurable cancer diagnosis blindsiding me to such an extent I felt as though I’d been hit by a moving carriage from one of the adrenalin racing rides. This existential odyssey unsought, however when press ganged into it you’ve no choice but to hold on tight and under no circumstances scream to go faster.

It’s also important to understand that although this diagnosis makes the victim a ‘ticking time bomb’, if the patient and family adopt the correct mindset it’s still possible to experience times of joy. Whether that be courtesy of a fond recollection or new life event, or even just developing a hitherto unseen resilience of character manifesting from the chaos.

German philosopher Nietzsche taught us “Out of chaos comes order.” Perhaps, though, on this challenging life event the Rocken-born scholar’s advocacy of “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find some meaning in the suffering” bears more relevance.

From a personal perspective, despite all of the utterly turgid times in the past eight years, I’ve found some solace in the writing of a daily blog, setting up my own website, along with undertaking numerous voluntary roles for cancer charities. My wife Karen’s own staff an unshakeable desire to prevail in battles against her nemesis in a war she ultimately can’t win.

I’ve found chronicling my daily thoughts, which I’ve had printed into 23 books, a great outlet. Since the creation of my website writesaidfred.org in March 2015, I’ve posted 1299 self-penned pieces, which cumulatively have attracted in excess of 40,000 hits in around 150 countries globally.

This project isn’t monetised, however the website wasn’t created for that purpose. I still retain copyright and, who knows, one day may seek financial recompense for the 100,000’s of words I’ve written on the site. However, under current circumstances I’m happy with my present literary strategy.


Eight years…… Eight year then, Karen!

What a mix bag you, the kids and I have endured during that time. You both physically and mentally from nine months chemotherapy, monthly injections, hundreds of days feeling lousy, scores of hours in West Yorkshire medical establishments, along with the numerous scans and invasive treatments undergone. Not to mention the dreadful emotional strain this journey has taken upon us both.

On the plus side, though, misery hasn’t held the emotive monopoly. There’s been happier occasions during this time. Adventures in the shape of cruises, sun/city break vacations, witnessing of numerous theatre productions/music gigs, attending family celebrations, along with laughter at innumerable incidents/comments.

This will seem a bizarre notion, but ultimately, the family’s current overriding emotion should be that of happiness. A feeling borne from your unexpected existential longevity which astounds many, including those who diagnosed tumours had taken residence within your petite frame. These cankers, odious squatters whose mayhem is currently restricted by your medication, but who’ll eventually be able to take full control with dreadful consequences.

Many people stop me to inquire as to your health. My response ordinarily that of you, the kids and I co-exist under a best case scenario. Your unwanted skeletal visitors won’t ever leave, but you maintain a reasonable quality of life under their shadow.

No one knows of the strength of the rope mitigating against the fall of Damocles sword, but hopefully it’ll bear similar resilience to your extraordinary fight since that dark dark day in November 2010.


  1. Hugs and love to you and your family, Gary. My mom has had Alzheimmer’s for 6 years. In hospice for 2. I learned; life happens for you, not too you. We feel feelings that need to go, for us to stop resisting, to accept life, and to be predominantly at peace. Our mind is all over the place at times; our spirit knows we are OK. Thank you for sharing.

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