I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do

Sara el Hassani, whose blog Living with Secondary Cancer is moving and uplifting

The young consultant was facing me across the desk, eyes lowered, body language open and kind. I thought I’d mis-heard, I was only 23, I’d taken my mum to hospital for investigations, her cough wouldn’t go away, but it couldn’t be cancer, that happens to other people.

My mum had left the room by this point, those were the days when the next-of-kin asked the difficult questions in the privacy of the consultant’s room. She didn’t ask the questions I asked, I make my living asking questions, so I know how to probe. She didn’t hear the words ‘cancer’, and the quiet ‘maybe six months’. She didn’t hear the consultant tell me there was nothing they could do.

I felt like screaming at him WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO? THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING! But I didn’t, I only said it in my head and sobbed out loud.

Nearly 30 years have passed, I’ve lived more years without my mum than I did with her, she’s missed a lot because there was nothing could be done. Not that the cancer could be cured or even halted, not then. Now maybe, but not then.

I have a lovely friend called Sara who has secondary breast cancer. The word ‘incurable’ has been used, but for Sara, that does not mean nothing can be done. Her blog Living with Secondary Breast Cancer is both moving and inspiring, I recommend you read it, you’ll laugh and cry, I do.

Later this month I’m digging the pink tutu out of the wash basket to wear it for the Race for Life at Temple Newsam. The event, which brings together women of all ages, shapes, sizes and levels of physical fitness to run, jog, walk or stagger five kilometres to raise money for Cancer Research, remember or celebrate a loved one who has fought the disease, or those who just want to take part, it is a wonderful event.

I’ve asked a few folk for sponsorship and have achieved my modest £50 target – conscious that people now have less spare cash. You can sponsor me if you wish, and I’ll be very grateful, but actually the best thing you can so is to do something, something to kick cancer. Don’t say you can do nothing, you can do something, whether it’s giving money or time, or looking after yourself and preventing cancer.

Mum, wherever you are, Sara, the whole pink tutu thing on 26 June is for you. You’ll laugh, you really will.

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