Shared Stories

My saga with the builders has continued this week and there is dirt in every nook and cranny of the house, despite my best efforts at containing the dust and debris. Builders always seem to leave you with even more work that needs doing than what there was before they came swooping through the house. Another week of disruption and research in between before it is back to some form of normality.

In order to maintain my sanity, I decided to take a day out from what has become the daily routine of noise, dirt, dust and making endless cups of tea. I set off early for a day of tranquility in the Lake District. It was the best decision I could have made. I live relatively near the Lakes, as they are also referred to, and although I have been many times over the years I have lived in the Northeast, I have never visited the area this time of the year.

I tend to take a trip in the autumn as I love the vibrant show of burnt autumn colours the area is particularly known for. I follow the autumn watch closely as summer draws to an end and wait until the colours are at their best before making my annual pilgrimage. However, to my surprise and delight the Lakes were awash with lush greenery interspersed with a vibrant palette of colours provided by rhododendrons everywhere. It was breathtaking and I fell in love with the Lakes anew.

It was also a journey down memory lane as Eugene loved the Lakes and whenever he visited me, we always spent a day touring around the area, visiting the many craft and tourist shops on offer. Eugene adored craft shops, galleries and any other venue offering creative goods. However, it was also mainly during the winter when we visited and I so wish he could have experienced the Lakes sporting its summer colours. As a very creative person, he would have been speechless by the endless colours vying for attention.

I have continued to do research into the cultural environment in which Eugene and Pieter lived and to provide some insight to the reader of how it has evolved over the years. The relevance of this evolution is the impact the changes have had on their day-to-day lives. In addition, as part of my research I sent out a request to other prostate cancer sufferers to share their stories and experiences with me, were they willing to do so. I was overwhelmed with the response and it was comforting to know there were others going through the same highs and lows we had experienced.

I was also touched by the sense of camaraderie communicated by those who contribute to the various networks and discussion groups available online. It is obvious that the encouragement the participants offer each other through these forums was of great support and comfort to those sharing the journey as cancer patients. It was also disturbing and upsetting to realise just how many men were affected by prostate cancer.

However, on the other hand it is encouraging that a significant proportion of sufferers had their cancer under control through various medical treatments. Since Eugene was diagnosed research has improved both the treatments available as well as the quality of life of patients. Alas, the recent advances came too late for Eugene. There was one common theme that kept reoccurring and that was that many men delayed going to the doctor with their concerns, instead hoping it would go away. Procrastination in these circumstances could mean life and death.

Following the upheaval associated with the building work and the fact that in the North of England we continue to experience cool weather, my husband and I are off to Crete in search of sun and heat. I am delighted to add that the building work is finally at an end …. for the moment, that is. I shall report back on the break and its contribution to my reflections in a couple of weeks.


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