Back in November, when things were on an even keel, I had organised for myself and a small group of friends to go to a Gin Festival in London to celebrate my birthday as a treat for us all. I don’t usually celebrate my birthdays in big ways. They are usually sedate affairs involving Ross and the bairns and Tesco Club Card vouchers. Organising an afternoon do in London felt quite an extravagance! I hardly ever go into London these days, I spent years commuting from North Hertfordshire to the office on Regent Street, and if I’m honest, I don’t miss the Big Smoke too much. I like living in our little country town.
When I found out that I’d gotten a bit poorly again, I had assumed that my friends would just go to the festival without me. My friends like gin! We’re not called the Gin Club for nothing! But then I was being told that plans needed to change, the afternoon was not going to happen without me.
Given that I’m not fit for much at the minute, in quite a lot of pain, and can’t walk very far, I decided that I’d like to have a few close friends round for a sophisticated afternoon tea, for a chat, and to help me deal with my new tea and cream scone obsession.
But then something strange happened. I follow blog via Facebook called Hurrah For Gin. A Mum, called Katie, who tells it how it is in her struggles with motherhood supported by gin. She’s hilarious and strikes a chord with me. Read her blog, buy Gin Bunny art. She’s funny. I think we’d get on.
The other night, I noticed Katie was running a competition to win a bottle of gin. She was after a a funny story to give everyone a giggle. I decided to enter, thinking it would have been nice to give my friends who were missing out on the Gin Festival a cheeky tipple of gin during our afternoon tea. My story wasn’t funny, it was quite maudlin, but it attracted a lot of attention.
I didn’t win the competition for said bottle of gin. Katie was after a funny story, not my doom and gloom one, and the lady who won it, definitely deserved it a whole lot more than me. I can’t mix my medication with alcohol, so at least she’ll be able to drink it and enjoy it.
However, it didn’t stop there. It’s fair to say, things went a bit mental! My original comment had been that my breast cancer had spread to my bones and was no longer curable and that I’d like to win the bottle of gin to thank my friends for being there for me during such a difficult time. There were lots of nice comments and ‘likes’. Facebook is good for things like that.
My comment was still getting a lot of attention, and Katie had shared it on her page. By Sunday morning, I had to enlist the help of my good friend Fiona to liaise with various different people and companies who wanted to donate things to my Afternoon Birthday Tea and Gin Treat.
I have been totally overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity of strangers. Little me, turning 39 next week, with a husband, two kids, 3 cats, a penchant for gin, wit and sarcasm, but now with the support of the wider Gin Community helping me thank those that are closest to me for making this whole shitty journey a bit more manageable.
Cancer, you really do suck. But you will not suck the joy out of my life. Not a chance. Not when there are people like Katie from Hurrah for Gin, and Fiona, and the rest of my support group who will drop everything to help me out if I need anything.
My Facebook alerts have gone mad, but it’s in a good way, and it’s taking my mind off the pain and the cancer, and it feels wonderful.
Thank you to everyone who has taken time to keep the light shining. You have no idea how overwhelmed, humbled and grateful I am.