Life On The Other Side – Post Surgery

Life on the other side -post surgery.

Every cancer diagnosis and treatment plan is unique.  There is no one size fits all solution, but where possible surgery is invariably the first port of call whatever your type.  Cancer is after all a disease and left untended will grow and spread like a predatory weed.

This does not mean that it is an easy option.  Major surgery comes with major risks but when balanced on the precipice of life, it is a welcome one and one that few I suspect decline.

As I fast approach my 51st birthday I cannot help but feel nostalgic for this period last year when the arrival of February signalled the start of the final count down to my midlife status.

Now a year on, it would seem that “life on the other side” is an apt descriptor not only for this beyond midlife stage but also for this period following my surgery.

So how is it?  Well challenging and different, for sure.

Not surprisingly  the predominant post-op emotion is one of relief.   The build up for surgery is so intense that to wake and see the blue gowns and hats of those who hours earlier had spent time getting to know you the individual rather than you the sick patient, whilst they hooked you upto a vast array of equipment, is a euphoric moment. This is of course swiftly surpassed by a tsunami of emotion at seeing the reassuring and smiling faces of your loved ones.

In the wake of joy, however, there is often fear, both of failure and the unknown, after all waking up does not signify success and it is by no means over yet.  Once you have been abducted from your perfect life and placed on the cancer train there is no emergency exit, you have to stick to the route that has been designated for you until, with any luck, you are let off and this is not easy to come to terms with.

Tessa Jowell’s inspirational R4 interview on her cancer experience the week of my admission, drew attention to the raw fragility of human hope in the face of this most tenacious of diseases.  Positivity, heralded by all as being key to winning the fight, is all very well but grief for what was, what could have been and what will never be is to be expected and indulged.

Amidst all this darkness, however, there is humour which comes from the most unusual places.  In my case it was the giggles of my teens at the sight of the ridiculous surgical stockings which made my already skinny pins look like pipe cleaners.  Add to this the joint hysteria of my husband and I, when after being discharged from intensive care onto the ward he took charge of operating the disabled chair to lift my bruised and battered body into the bath.

Yes the humour was all at my expense but it was a much needed bridge to normality and in a perverse way an attempt to claw back control from the cancer that has dominated my family’s nightmares for the last six weeks.

Hospitals are by their nature a cocoon, the outside world is suspended in time whilst you come to terms with how your new body looks, feels, functions and moves.  It is a period of rebirth, a new normal.

Relief at this point for being “on the other side” is accompanied by gratitude for the selfless expertise and guidance of the nurses caring for you.   Nothing is too much trouble as they work towards helping you prepare to leave and leave you must.

My first steps outside the doors of the hospital were accompanied by an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. Cancer aside I had entered a strong, fit midlifer eager to embrace the second half of her life.  I left weak, wracked with pain and full of uncertainty.

Now the battle really begins as I learn to listen to my changed body and work with it not against it, to cope with the weeks ahead.   Forwards not backwards, upwards not downwards, outwards not inwards – one step and one day at a time.


Editor’s Note :  If you are interested and you haven’t done so already, you can read the beginning to my story here.   Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day.  








  1. Catie
    February 19, 2018 / 11:51 am

    I have no words and won’t annoy you with platitudes. Cancer has touched my family many times over the last few years and it’s a complete bugger. Your strength sharing your story is amazing, thank you!!! Stay strong. Your virtual friends are all behind you. Much love ?

    • Jo
      February 19, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      Oh Catie thank you for your kind words. I am sorry to hear you have had to cope with this. We all know the stats about the likelihood of being affected but just hope we will never be one of them. In our family of 4 my sister is the only one to have not been hit by the cancer stick so far and I hope it stays that way. There is only one way to go now and that is forward so I hope it can only get better from hereon in. x

  2. February 8, 2018 / 8:02 am

    Beautifully written post Jo, every word was special. I’m so glad that you are through the surgery and am sending lots and lots of love and strength for your recovery. Looking forward to that fizz. xxx

    • Jo
      February 10, 2018 / 4:37 pm

      Thanks Sharon. Your words and acts of support have been invaluable over the last few weeks. My eye is certainly on that glass of fizz! We have lots to celebrate. X

  3. February 7, 2018 / 11:12 pm

    I can not begin to imagine how scary this must be. I had a scare when Marigold was born but luckily it was a muck up in the lab and I was actually ok, for that brief couple of days my whole world seemed to have been robbed of me. I wish you all the best, and I am glad you have such wonderful family support. #tweensteensbeyond

    • Jo
      February 10, 2018 / 4:36 pm

      Oh I am sorry to hear you had such a scare, particularly at the birth of your daughter as that is a time for precious memories. I am glad to hear, however, it all turned out well. What I have found on this journey is that every day is better than the last and this helps to make the next one less scary. It’s all about taking it a step at a time. The more you overthink the situation the worse it all becomes. X

  4. Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas
    February 7, 2018 / 5:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this heartfelt post with us. I am sending you all my love and a hug across the blogosphere. Stay strong and let the love of your family ease your recovery #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      February 10, 2018 / 4:33 pm

      Thank you so much, that means a lot. My family and all my friends – cyber ones included are all helping to keep me upbeat and strong. X

  5. February 7, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    Jo I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to go through this. I don’t know you or your family, but it sounds like you are surrounded by people who love you very much and I wish you well for your recovery

    • Jo
      February 8, 2018 / 2:05 pm

      Thank you Suzanne. You are right I have been incredibly lucky with the support I have. In my experience times of crisis definitely bring out the best in people. I hope you are keeping well.

  6. February 7, 2018 / 1:57 pm

    I hope everything is going well for you (or as well as can be expected given the circumstances) You seem to be facing this crisis with humour and heaps of positive thoughts. Good luck with your next stage of recovery xx #tweensteensbeyond
    Mary Mayfield recently posted…Empty nest againMy Profile

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:44 pm

      I am certainly trying Mary and I think the presence of my mother has a great deal to do with that. She has had a Cancer battle of her own in the past and is truly inspirational so even if I have my moments of despair and rage i am quickly reminded that giving up is not an option. X

  7. February 7, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    Feel better soon 🙂 (Hate cancer. Hate it)

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:42 pm

      Bless you thank you. X

  8. February 7, 2018 / 10:52 am

    I’m full of admiration, and even in your post op recovery you are up for writing such a heartfelt and amazing post. Its so true how we need humour in the midst of our pain to lighten the load, I’m grateful for that too. Wishing you a steady recovery and a return to full health. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:42 pm

      Waking at 4am is taking on a whole new meaning – it used to be menopausal now it’s the time I creep out of bed to make a cup of tea and sit quietly writing for a while about whatever is there. Thank you so much for your kind words they are greatly appreciated. X

  9. February 7, 2018 / 10:46 am

    You are a very brave and strong woman, to share this so openly with us all! Thank you, and I wish for you and your family, a lifetime of hope, positivity, and of course, good health! xoxo #mg
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…The chaos of the smile theory: An UpdateMy Profile

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:37 pm

      Oh thank you Lisa, that is kind. Each day I have been wearing the official C badge I have been so humbled by the stories of others I have read about in a similar scenario or have met along the way and I actually feel quite weak in comparison. They do, however, serve as a true inspiration for facing each day as it comes and keeping focused on the way forward. #mg

  10. February 7, 2018 / 12:59 am

    I love the light in this post when your words describe your children’s laughter, like you say at your expense, but gosh we need those moments of laughter more than ever when we are in such turmoil. I am just so sad for what you are going through, knowing you have such love around you is great to hear. Please know I am thinking of you, and not just when blog post appears, but you are in my thoughts. I admired you already as a writer, but now I admire you even more. You are truly inspirational.
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…do we have to forgive?My Profile

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:33 pm

      Oh Mac thank you that means so much. I don’t want to turn my blog into a sickness diary but equally want to indulge those moments when I feel there is something worth sharing. We will have to set up a mutual admiration society as equally I love your writing. It always strikes a chord with me and when drafting this post thought of the #mg link up straightaway. I appreciate your kind wishes and support, it means a lot.x

        • Jo
          February 10, 2018 / 4:33 pm

          You are welcome Mac. Thanks for taking the time to pop back. X

  11. February 6, 2018 / 9:53 pm

    All the high fives for you lovely lady. You are brave to share this and we can look back soon over that glass of fizz and laugh about your pipe cleaner legs! You are doing great. Keep resting in the meantime xxx

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:29 pm

      Yes I have my eyes firmly on that fizz Nicky in that fabulous bar you posted on Insta this week! Meantime my feet are firmly up and my legs are getting thinner by the day! X

  12. February 6, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    I hope your recovery is swift, your healing steady, and a year from now you look back and go, “Huh, I beat that! Look at what my body can do!”

    Thanks for sharing and being honest. I know I went through a bit of grief when my right bicep was forever scarred by removing an atypical mole. Now every summer instead of being a nice looking woman in short sleeves I’m a (hopefully) still nice looking woman with a 2-inch scar down my bicep. Stupid skin cancer.
    Katy recently posted…If Hockey Moms Got A MedalMy Profile

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      Oh I hope so Katy. The secret I have found at the moment is not too push too far ahead at the first sign of feeling better. I overdid slightly at the weekend and am paying the price for that. Sorry to hear your story it glad you have pulled through with what sounds like a rather impressive war wound. You could make up some great stories about that! X

    • Jo
      February 7, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Thanks Kelly, my lovely family are doing a fine job. I am still lucky to have my mother with us at the moment who is very good at just taking charge – it will be interesting to see how we all fare once she heads off next week for a much needed break. Husbands and domesticity are not a great combo. X

    • Jo
      February 6, 2018 / 2:45 pm

      That’s very sweet thank you Liz. As I said I am on this train now (shame it is not the one you were on but without the soggy yoga pants of course!!!) so I may as well try and grin and bear it. Big hugs. x

  13. February 4, 2018 / 4:13 pm

    It’s hard to know what to write here Jo. I hope you are not in too much pain and recovering asap. I’m sure your family are spoiling you rotten and you enjoy that, you more than deserve it.
    Laurie xx

    • Jo
      February 4, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      Laurie I am getting stronger daily and looking forward to putting this section all behind me. It just goes to show that you never know what is around the corner. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and comment. It means a lot believe me. Look forward to finally catching a coffee at some point. X

  14. Jo
    February 4, 2018 / 1:09 pm

    Oh bless you Susie – humour is a big part of our family life so I guess I just can’t quite shake it off and actually it has helped my teens feel more comfortable with the whole situation – “if mum is still laughing then she must be fine right?!!”Xx

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