Tuesday, 21 June 2011

For the Roses

Fathers day has left me thinking of my own father as these days do.He died now almost 17 years ago but he is often in our conversations and certainly in our hearts as a family.I havent mentioned him yet in the blog and my reflections are in part its because it felt too close. In the last few days as I have thought of this a line from a Joni Mitchell song is returning to me.Its from "For the Roses" and its the line about a poet who asks someone " to circulate his soul around". Talking about this in the blog feels a little like this but I also know its part of not only my story but many others too.

When I was first diagnosed almost 17 years ago my father was also being treated for prostate cancer. During my treatment his condition became terminal and he died two weeks after my radiotherapy ended, probably my lowest ebb. I am sure I dont have to describe how hard that was for everyone.It made all the experiences harder for us all and took its toll for a time. Its also probably what gave me the drive to do what I do not only for breast cancer but also in my wider work, trying to make a difference. I see it in others too in our sector where their experiences leads to fantastic efforts to improve things for others.

The experience for families affected by breast cancer across and through generations is hard to describe-the combination of fear for those you love and if like one mother and daughter I met you end up being treated at the same time its also not being able to help just when you want to most. I know from my own experience how cruel this is. What we know currently is that 80% of breast cancers are not inherited but Breakthrough's research has certainly opened up more understanding and treatments further down the line for those who are.

I have wondered of course about the link with prostate cancer-some of the treatments are even the same-again its why our Breakthrough Generations study is so important to further understanding. Like so many of you I really want to do what I can to stop more generations of my family experiencing what we have had to.
So all of you who celebrated fathers day I hope it was special and for those like me who do what you do in part in their honour-I wish you ongoing success.

The reasons to be cheerful are many just now. I write this from a beautiful setting where I am bewitched by snow cap mountains and the smell of the rose field in front of the house. The neighbours are largely goatherds and shepherds.One shepherd is a regular visitor. With a beer in hand he will regale us with tales in a language we dont understand. The tales are peppered with names like Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron. He clearly has an opinion on both and I consider asking his opinion of the health reforms in England but I am not confident I would grasp the nuances of his reply! His dog Jacko has taken to regular visits-for company and biscuits I suspect. I think its perhaps some time since he visited the poodle parlour however. Come here just now Jacko till we find some of that nice rose water........

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