Saturday, 14 January 2012


This morning, I came across this poem in one of my old notebooks. It struck a strong, deep note of recognition in me, as though I had stored it away for the cancer journey, before I even had cancer. I'm going to send it to my daughter:


As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery,
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon, don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

C.P Cavafy

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Guest Blogger, David Haas, at Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, has kindly sent me this article about fitness and cancer. Check out David's profile at
- he's inspirational.

"Fight back with fitness - Ways to Boost or Maintain Your Exercise Routine”

The MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas has the slogan Making Cancer History. They, along with many other cancer researchers, mesothelioma doctors, and physicians believe strongly that exercise can become a powerful tool in your effort to fight cancer. Whether you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, mesothelioma or any other form of the disease, your diagnosis doesn't have to become the end of your fitness routine. If you were active before and enjoyed the benefits of being physically fit, then you already understand how important exercise is to the body and the mind. Here are some tips to keep your exercise routine going, while incorporating a little fun into your life.
* Take a Class

The local YMCA, fitness or community centre is likely to offer a variety of exercise classes you can participate in. While participating in class you need only exert as much effort as you're able to that day but will still reap the benefits of moving your body, getting out of the house and being around other people.
* Dance
Whether you dance at home or take a class at a local dance studio, the combination of music and movement is good for your body and soul. Choose a style of dance that revolves around upbeat music, such as disco, salsa, or jazz dancing. Dancing is a great total body workout and the music helps lift the mood.
* Spinning
Spinning on an exercise bike at home or at the health club is excellent aerobic exercise. If moving your legs gets difficult after a while, alternate between the stationery bike at your health club and the arm bike.
*Favourite Exercise DVDs
Remember the old exercise video tapes of the 80s and 90s? Many of them are available on DVD and can be fun to work out to at home.

As exercise increases your fitness, it can help you reduce or avoid experiencing side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The support and camaraderie experienced while taking an exercise class is also beneficial beyond measure, providing you with a physical outlet and surrounding you by friends and other people with whom you can talk. Thirty minutes of exercise daily can provide you with an improved emotional state, while maintaining flexibility, mobility and your aerobic health. Mesothelioma doctors and other physicians recommend incorporating exercise into your daily schedule as part of your artillery to fight back against cancer

David Haas


Anne Morgellyn comments: I can vouch for the value of exercise on the way to recovery - although it was a good eighteen months post treatment before I was able to undertake anything more strenuous than a walk to the bathroom! But just before Christmas, I signed up to Marcus Santer's online Qigong course, highly recommended to me by my singing teacher. I have to confess that I have so far mastered only one exercise - but spending only fifteen minutes a day on this gentle medicinal workout has significantly improved my balance and general energy levels.

Marcus Santer can be found on Google or at

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


The acupuncture I had post-surgery did a lot for my nausea, balance, and energy levels; but the little copper needles in my scalp, in spite of the therapist's best efforts, have so far failed to stimulate my hair. I am now resigned to male-pattern baldness as a lasting legacy of the tremendous bolt of radiation I was given to mop up any rogue cells remaining after the second craniotomy. It has been well over two years now, and, although the back and sides have been growing slowly but surely, my tonsure still refuses to sprout.
Tired of trimming the new growth with nail scissors to match the non-growth on the top, three days ago I ordered some electric hair-clippers from Amazon, which arrived this morning. At first, I was too terrified to take them out of the box, but once I'd found the right gauge for beginners (a series of colour-coded safety combs), I oiled the blades and gave it a whirl. An hour later, I had a perfect Sinead O'Connor cut and a fresher-feeling in my scalp, enhanced by Neem Hair lotion from Dr Hauschka. Now I know how boys feel when they get a new gadget: excited, thrilled, can't wait to use it again.

Since I've been in recovery, I have ordered a lot of stuff from Amazon, all of it good and speedily dispatched. I've had bathroom shelves, a phone, a digital radio, vacuum cleaner, a pad to stop my laptop sliding off my knees, tiny trolley cases guaranteed to satisfy the stringent cabin baggage allowances of EasyJet and Ryanair, a watch, an opal ring for my daughter's Christmas present, and numerous books and CDs. I have the entire collection of Thomas Mann, whose novel 'The Magic Mountain' (Der Zauberberg), has to be the best book about chronic illness ever written, taking in philosophy, the tensions in Europe before the Great War, and perceptions of time, expanding and contracting as the seven years of Casthorp's sojurn in the sanatorium go by. Jeanette Winterson was on the radio this morning talking about the solace which reading can bring to a troubled soul. How that resonated with me as I was reading 'The Magic Mountain' again in the early days of my recovery. Now I'm reading Dostoyevsky's 'Brothers Karamazov' again, for the umpteenth time, and it too seems to have a greater significance for me in my cancer years. The other great soul feed, perhaps the greatest, is music. As I write this, I am listening to Verdi's Requiem, for which I begin rehearsals this evening with Truro Choral Society.

In the meantime, the Amazon courier has just delivered another package, and I have a book case to build.