We take it for granted, a social convention, wishing a Happy New Year. This year the words did not flow for me. I was visiting a close relative, about my age, recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and undergoing a severe treatment regime.
During the past 20 years, I've had the pleasure of traveling the world to spread messages about breast health, education and the importance of medical research to find a cure, and I've felt such a strong, universal desire and need to make a difference in this fight that truly spans countries, languages and experiences. .
Three months ago my wife died of ovarian cancer, after a three year battle to try to overcome her illness. Her name was Beata and she was just 41 years old - a beautiful young woman with a beautiful spirit, full of love, kindness and excitement about the wonders of life.
A day later the results were back and it wasn't good news. It was cancer. I was totally stunned and broke down in tears. We were all shell shocked - I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be cancer.
I don't feel Christmassy this year. I've tried to hide from it, if I'm honest. It reminds me of Mum and I don't feel strong enough for that at the moment. We're going to a family friend's house. We've known them since I was six weeks old and they're practically family, but we've never been to their house on Christmas day before so it's a new kind of Christmas for us.
Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with womb cancer. I had spent six years trying for a baby, including four years of failed fertility treatment. I had been due to start another round of IVF when tests indicated a problem which turned out to be cancer.
As a breast reconstruction specialist, I am acutely aware of how our mastery of breast reconstructive surgery has extended the role of surgical intervention to healthier and younger lives.
For me this year I am definitely looking at things differently. My life and the life of my partner and everyone closely connected to us has taken a turn. Suddenly the things we took for granted aren't a given any more and that is strangely horrible and liberating at the same time.
Everything in our lives then abruptly changed. After a quick physical check, the paediatrician at the hospital took my husband and me into a side room away from Naomi and told us that she suspected the lump was a form of lymphatic cancer.
I would love to be able to write a touching article about how I feel my friend is at peace now, and not in pain anymore. However, truth to be told, I miss her and can't bear the thought that her life was cut short, at only 18.
So at the start of the year the plan for this post was to list 40 amazing things we did... however we only did two things, so now this post will be much deeper and instead I will list 40 things, my 40th year on earth reinforced or taught me.
It was in June of this year that we heard the words no parent ever wants to hear. We'd taken our three-year-old, Millie, to the doctor's because she'd been experiencing tummy pains and sickness. A series of tests revealed that Millie had stage four neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that mostly affects young children.
Hodgkin's is rare - there are only 1600 or so new diagnoses in the UK each year. So I feel pretty unlucky. But then again it's not rare to get something. And in fact the lifetime incidence of Hodgkin's is in the region of one in 500.
As a family we've had a tricky twelve months health wise and this Christmas it's made me reassess what is important. So in the spirit of bagging a bargain and getting what I want here is my own letter to Santa.
Positive improvements are happening all the time in bowel cancer diagnosis, treatment and care. But we need to do better. It's staggering that bowel cancer stubbornly remains the UK's second biggest cancer killer.
When you're a teenager, sex, relationships, self-esteem and everything in-between can be tricky to navigate, but, to churn out an old cliché, they're all valuable parts of growing up. But what happens when you throw cancer into the equation?