Archive for the 'Cancer Journal' Category

Two Years On

Posted in Writing, Linda's Web Site, Cancer Journal on August 9th, 2006

In 2005 I went to Italy, England, Vietnam, New Zealand and Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

2006 has been a quieter year so far. Sydney in the summer is hot and humid. A time to stay quiet and soak in the relaxation..

The first version of a website dedicated to Emma is finished and I have put some of my diary entries on this blog and linked to the site.

The UK in springtime: where else in the word would you get daily rain combined with a constant threat of drought?

It is June 2006 and World Cup fever runs high:

The English complain about the hot weather and lack of water in their first match against Paraguay.

In their very first World Cup victory, the Aussies come back from behind to beat Japan 3:1. Later they go out to a dubious penalty to Italy.

England is out: the ten men of England- minus wayne Rooney battle on heroically and are knocked out on penalties by Portugal. National gloom and relief in quiet corners.

Now both my teams are out.

Another gloomy drug doped year for Le Tour. Landis is shamed.

No more heroes.

My Daughter Emma

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on May 10th, 2006

In March 2003, Emma had her first operation; in July, the second and the cancer seemed to accelerate remorselessly from then on. In less than a year she was dead.

In February 2003 we met en famille in London for a last meal before our long journey to the southern hemisphere. She was clearly not well and could hardly eat. I felt very reluctant to leave and it came as no surprise really that almost as soon as we arrived in Sydney, we learnt that she was to have an operation. We had to leave for New Zealand almost immediately and, as luck would have it, were out of phone contact because my new Aussie mobile did not have roaming activated although I was assured it would be working. When finally we did speak she was upset not to have heard from me. I was shattered by her frantic and desperate anger with me and suddenly terrified of what was to come.

I always keep a diary when travelling but the kind of journal I wrote from July 2003 was altogether different. It was handwritten in hospital waiting rooms, on trains and planes and in the dark hours of the many wakeful long nights. Every so often I would type it up and add reflections when a little distance gave me better insight. Looking at it again I am puzzled as to how I sound so rational in what was a confused and anguished time. Even now, three years after, it is painful to read. The extracts on this blog are linked to a new web site dedicated to her memory.

Memory Place

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on March 1st, 2004

There is a place for remembrance near a tree on the edge of the fields near the village. Today I placed a stone from the Simpson Desert and a striped shell B brought from a beach near Edinburgh with her casket. And wild daffodils from the garden at home.

Face forward

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on February 23rd, 2004

Feel very desolate all the time and am trying not to give in to my darkest thoughts. If Emma could face such suffering and the prospect of death with courage and wit and without recourse to anything but her own self-reliance and the support of her family and friends, then I can too. We have our children and friends around us and baby Emma who is such a treat. Life will go on with wonderful memories. And she goes on publishing- this time in the Daily Mail next Tuesday.

Life on the Web

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on February 18th, 2004

She lives on in her web log. The word got round and what was a partly secret journal known mainly to strangers became a way that friends and friends of friends got to know her and posted their responses to her brave spirited journal entries. These speak of a witty, humorous, lovely young woman who touched all who met her and left an enormous gap in the lives of her family and close friends.

From across the world we have received so many messages from friends and colleagues. Having read her journal, they feel they know her a little. One old friend said he had spent two hours early on a perfect Sydney sunny morning reading it and wondering at her courage and vitality.[John Hughes who died suddenly in 2006]

The messages are all about her courage, her sense of humour and marvellous wit. She has been understood posthumously for what she truly was in life. She would have laughed to hear that said. She never really realised how much she meant to the people she touched with her strong and irreverent spirit.

The Guardian G2 special ran a 4 page special with Emma’s words only. She would have been ecstatic and highly amused to imagine her new fame! The Daily Mail wants to run it too. Having to fend off TV interviews too. Our girl is keeping me on the run as usual.

Last days

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on February 7th, 2004

She fought hard to stay in the world. Though the efforts by the nursing staff to give her comfort were strenuous, the infection was overwhelming. It took from Friday when the fever took hold to the following Wednesday for her to reach a kind of stability- I almost said peace but that word does not express it. What I mean is that when her sweet mouth softened and her face took on a look of childhood innocence, she seemed at rest.


Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on February 5th, 2004

This morning Emma died. She fought hard for a week to throw off an infection that started last Friday. But it proved beyond even her.

Feeling relieved and devastated at the same time. She does not have to go on suffering in that terrible way but I cannot imagine a life without her.

Going home to gather strength for the funeral and what follows.

Being positive

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on January 28th, 2004

A quiet day at home, early slight snow followed by grey skies and drizzle and then snow drifts again. Routine tasks: bank checks, sorting national insurance, tidying up and watching the Hutton report live on TV followed by Prime Minister’s question time.

Today is the second go with Calex: no signs it has been effective so far but may be it is slow acting. After this more treatment of an experimental kind if she can stand up to it.

Positives: two better days, a walk outside and within the hospital; less nausea and vomiting; determination to face more treatment, not giving up yet…

Emma has had a couple of relatively good days and is about to have more chemo. In bed yoga seems to have a great effect. She has also been off the TPN lines for a few hours and been able to walk outside for the first time since new year. The photo with the baby was on one of her really bad days so she showed great strength in being able to do it at all. Another change is her wish to pursue more treatment no matter how experimental it might be. So she is determined to rally herself and press on. I hope the treatment does not overwhelm her completely.

Two Emmas

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on January 21st, 2004

On January 21st Emma Thérêse Candy met Emma Louise Ham Edmonds: not much talking but communication of another kind. Baby, all 7 lb 4 oz still curled in neo foetal position, and oblivious to the excitement around her. Dark hair and very pink. Emma’s face so tight with pain.

The very same evening we had a meeting with her doctor and the palliative care specialist at the hospital and the message was for the first time spelt out: no hope of a cure and that symptom control was going to be hard. She continues to suffer severe discomfort, nausea, vomiting and pain and it may not get any better. She is being extraordinarily brave. There will be more chemo to give it a final shot but, as she says, it is clutching at straws. She has started to prepare herself.

We are working on what to do if she can be given some kind of stability medically: Home nursing with hospice visits can be arranged. For the moment she needs intensive nursing and new problems arise each day. She may die of a sudden infection.

Making her house ready just in case it will be possible to have some time at home and be nursed there with support from a hospice. It seems a fond hope somehow.

Her good humour never leaves her but she is becoming firmer about what she wants and who she will see. She is frustrated about not feeling good enough to do anything useful. Getting out for two hours to see the new arrival was a terrible struggle but she was so pleased she managed to be the first visitor. A yoga session in the hospital bed and she then had a much better day.

Worse still

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on January 20th, 2004

Tomorrow we hope to see Emma’s doctor. She is worsening by the day. Yesterday it was oedema and now infection and so the ordeal goes on.

And now from the silence in East Dulwich, there are signs of life.