ovarian cancer

I’m Done…and I’m also not done in the same breath

EDIT: this post is not about issues with the NHS…I LOVE the NHS. It is sadly at a crisis point but the staff, despite this, have always provided me with exceptional care and for that I am very grateful. This post is about something entirely different. It is about a very personal view I have on whether or not to have treatment in the future. This view wasn’t brought on by recent events but was, as many of you know, also documented in my book. I always said I would have treatment once and never again. I have received many hurtful replies to this post that have upset me deeply. I hope the intention of the post is no longer misunderstood. With love xxx


Since I was discharged from hospital a couple of days ago I’ve been think and I’ve come to a firm conclusion…I’m done…let me explain.

When I went into hospital on Friday 29th December I had a bit of chest pain. I wouldn’t even say it was significant chest pain. It was just there. All.The.Freaking.Time. Instinct, however, took over, as it so often does for me, and I found myself heading to a&e. After several hiccups, including my notes being lost and the staff thinking I’d already been seen, I was eventually seen.

When I was seen the Dr’s main concern was my heart. An ECG (heart trace) was done – all fine. Blood pressure checked – low. Pulse checked – high. And then they listened to my chest and everything changed.

‘Your breathing capacity on your right side is reduced,’ came the worried response of the Dr caring for me. ‘We are sending you for a chest X-ray.’

So, off I went like an obedient child. I was taken on the hospital bed because, despite the fact I had run and done yoga that morning, someone with a reduced lung capacity isn’t expected to be able to walk. Someone….not me.

Moments later I was told that I had fluid on my right lung.

‘No, no, no,’ I tried to explain. ‘That’s just scar tissue. It was there at my last CT scan. It’s totally fine.’

The Drs exchanged a look. ‘Would you like to see your X-ray?’ They asked.

I wondered over with them to look at their computer.

‘Oh, fuck,’ I whispered as I gazed at the screen. Staring back at me was an image of my chest; 2.5litres of fluid nestled beneath my right lung and pushing it up under my collarbone.

‘So, it’s not the scar tissue you saw.’ My dark sense of humour reemerging.

‘No,’ replied the Dr. ‘It’s fluid. A lot of it.’

They explained that they needed to admit me. That I needed more tests and a chest drain.

‘You’ll be in for a while.’ They explained. So, my husband left to get some sleep in preparation for what lay ahead (it was now 1am) and I lay on a hospital trolley in A&E until about 3am. I was then taken to the admissions ward. It was mayhem.

The ward was so overrun with patients that many were sleeping in the corridor in chairs. Seriously! The staff were clearly overwhelmed by the situation. It was heartbreaking to see, not just for the patients, but for the staff. How are they expected to provide a standard of care in these situations?

My trolley was wheeled to the back of the ward and I was left in the corridor. No one told me what was happening. I wasn’t introduced to any staff. I was just left.

‘Fuck this.’ I thought.

I got off my trolley and went over to a staff member and introduced myself. I asked what was happening.

They started to apologise, telling me that the ward had been like this for over a week.

Over a week?! Seriously, how are staff meant to provide care in these circumstances? I took their hand and told them not to apologise because it wasn’t their fault. They brought me water and fruit. A human connection had been made in the chaos of the night. I wonder how many other patients had told them that it wasn’t their fault…

A few hours later a Dr came and took blood tests. They didn’t ask if I wanted blood tests. It was procedure.

‘What are you testing for?’ I asked, although no longer caring as I hadn’t slept for over 36 hours.

After a while I was taken to another ward, respiratory. Things were quieter here and I was given a bed in a bay.

Everyone around me clearly was very unwell with flu symptoms. I asked the nurse if they all had flu. ‘Yes,’ she replied.

I explained that I don’t have a spleen (and therefore a compromised immune system) and what precautions I could take. Moments later I was moved to a side room and advised not to leave it until my discharge. From that moment I was surrounded by four walls, my only solace a window that looked onto a corridor. There was no greenery in sight and I could barely see the sky. This wasn’t a room for providing care or promoting healing….this was a prison. Was I being punished?

Over the following few days I underwent many more procedures. In fact, in less than a week I had:

  • 5 chest X-rays
  • 2 blood tests (which took 7 attempts)
  • 1 cannula
  • 1 CT scan
  • 3 doses of morphine
  • A needle inserted into my chest cavity through my ribs to take a fluid sample (several attempts)…which led to air on my lung
  • 1 chest drain  (several attempts)
  • 2.5 litres of fluid drained from the space around my right lung
  • Paracetomol
  • Anti sickness tablets
  • Countless blood pressure checks (through the night, preventing sleep)

I was cared for my three consultants, one surgeon, countless nurses and health care assistants and junior Drs.

I stayed in four different wards.

I slept in five different hospital beds.

I, no doubt, cost the NHS £100s, if not £1000s.

And, whilst my care was exceptional and I love and respect each and every wonderful person who cared for me during this time. I am still done.

I am done with being medically treated as a condition not a person.

I am done with tests.

I am done with interventions.

I am done with ‘the standard procedure’.

I am done with the unanswered questions.

I am done with the needles.

I am done with the scans.

I am done with the X-rays.

I am done with not sleeping during the night.

I am done with getting lost in the system.

I am done with hospital food (or lack of it).

I am done with exposing myself to hospital acquired infections.

I am done with being away from my home.

I am done with being confined to a room and not going outside…for five days!!

I am done with having to tell loved ones that I am unwell.

I am done with loved ones seeing me in hospital.

I’m done with not spending the night beside my husband.

I am done with all of it.

I don’t want any more tests. I don’t want any more queries. I don’t want to be a fucking patient any more and, if it came to it, I wouldn’t want anything more interventions. No chemotherapy, no radiotherapy, no nothing. I. AM. DONE.

I asked one of the people who cared for me this past week what they would do in my situation. What they would do if, worst case, they were told next week (when I get my results) that they had a cancer recurrance. Would they have treatment? Knowing that it would only extend their life by a matter of months, at the expense of any level of quality of life. Or would they turn it down? Embracing a potent

‘I really can’t answer that.’ They replied, with the most honesty I’ve ever had to that answer. ‘No one can answer that unless they were in your exact situation.’

And that’s the reality. None of us know what decision we would make until we are faced with any given scenario. I didn’t know that I would have a positive attitude when faced with stage four cancer, but I do. I didn’t know that I would love my body more after the addition of my colostomy bag and all of my scars, but I do. 

This is my decision now, in the face of potentially life changing news, once again. My decision may change. But today, I am done.

Before I finish this post I’ll tell you what I’m NOT done with; I’m not done with yoga; I’m not done with running; I’m not doing with walks in the woods or on the beach; I’m not done with holidays; I’m not done with adventures; I’m not done with movie nights, cinema dates or theatre trips; I’m not done with weekends away; I’m not done with days out; I’m not done with seeing my friends or playing with the children in my life; I’m not done with time with my family; I’m also not done with my second book!

I wish you all a happy and healthy day.

Love and light, Fi xxx

12 thoughts on “I’m Done…and I’m also not done in the same breath”

  1. So glad you are home Fi and can enjoy spending time with your family. I’m so sorry that you had to experience the NHS at probably one of the busiest times of the year. I’m a retired nurse and worked in the NHS for over 40 years and also been a patient several times. As you have said, it is wonderful in so many ways but it does need a huge injection of cash – more staff, resources etc.
    I’m still totally blown away by your outlook on life. It is easy to be positive when life is going well. However, you have managed to remain upbeat in spite of all that life has thrown at you. I don’t know many folk who could do that, I couldn’t!
    I’m twice your age but have learned so much from you and we have never met! I totally respect your current feelings regarding future treatment but equally respect it if you changed your mind on that – it is your body and you must do what you feel is right for you.
    I will continue to pray for you and your family. Much love. xxx

  2. I got your point immediately. It is beyond comprehension to me that you got ugly and hurtful replies to this post. What is wrong with people? Is the healthcare system in England beyond reproach? Of course, it’s not! That is NOT what you were writing about though.

    I live in Canada, and like you, we have socialized healthcare. It is a sacred cow here. You dare not criticise it (which, by the way, you were NOT doing in your post re: the NHS) however, I criticise Canada’s healthcare system freely all the time, because it deserves the criticism. The people (doctors, nurses, techs, etc.) are almost all great. (There are bad apples in every profession) but the system is broken. The way you wrote about the emergency department, how you did not have a bed, etc. was all too familiar to me. It is the same way here in Canada. Maybe worse. Perhaps if I had never lived in the US I would be inured to socialized medicine, but I received the VERY best medical care while living in the US. We paid for our health insurance, just like we pay for car insurance, home insurance, and life insurance. We did it gladly. Here in Canada, it is “free”, which of course is a lie. Our taxes are high and we pay for it dearly. We lived much better in the US than we do here in Canada.

    My point is, that you did none of the pointing out of facts, which I’ve done here, about socialized medicine. You wrote an eloquent post about your reasoning for not continuing with treatment should you receive the worst of news. I was moved by it. It is very, very sad that some people missed that, and took it as an attack upon the NHS.

    God bless you, Fi. We may or may not agree about the benefits (or lack thereof) of socialized healthcare, but that is irrelevant. Your battle with this cancer has been worthy of a warrior princess. This post, for me, was not about the NHS. It was about you and your spirit and how you want to spend the rest of your life.


  3. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Oscar Wilde. But I guess you know this one well, don’t you, for you shine so brightly! :))) Be gentle with yourself.

  4. I am sad that you had unkind reactions to your post. Maybe knee jerk reactions and not considered responses ruled the comments.

    I experienced the admission chaos on the 16th and 29th of December when my Mother was admitted to hospital. (She had her 94th birthday on her first discharge. Second discharge soon). Both times there were around 10 people on chairs and trolleys awaiting beds. It was organised chaos but the staff were great and Mum even got a cuppa once when waiting for a bed.
    I am a retired nurse who has had cancer.

    Let the colours of Thailand warm you.

    I send you,

    Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upeksha.

  5. It’s our body and that is what my children told me as I have been riding the roller coaster to recovery. Private medical care is not all it is chocked up to be either. One more year for blood work and lady checks but I’m having it down at home. Not traveling hours away because they told me too!

    Should you decide or if you become uncomfortable and can’t do the things you love. We can survive with one lung and our bodies will adapt as yours has with all your organ reductions.

    My choice is if they can’t take it out or shrink it with minimal radiation it is a done deal. Keep living with your joy and we will keep kicking our way to the light! Love you girl.

  6. Hey Fi I am not ‘done’ reading your inspirational blog, healing hugs and positive energy flying your way girl.

  7. You are taken on a trolley for hospital insurance reasons. No one judges if the patient can walk or how much yoga they do. They really aren’t interested.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.