THE BLOG

Signs

27/04/2015 13:24 BST | Updated 24/06/2015 10:59 BST

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted Gd to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, "The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we'll paddle to safety."

"No thanks" replied the religious man. "I've prayed to Gd and I'm sure he will save me"

A short time later the police came by in a boat. "The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we'll take you to safety."

"No thanks" replied the religious man. "I've prayed to Gd and I'm sure he will save me"

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. "The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we'll fly you to safety."

"No thanks" replied the religious man. "I've prayed to Gd and I'm sure he will save me"

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with Gd. Ushered into Gd's throne room he said, "Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood."

"Yes you did my child" replied the Lord. "And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in."

I've heard this story on more than one occasion. The moral is clear - don't ignore the signs. They may be indirect, but they are the assistance that is needed. That's easy to say, but sometimes it is hard to spot the signs, hard to know what they are and what they mean. I do think, though, that one of the good things to come out of this battle with Genghis, is that I am getting better at this. Here are three signs that I have spotted in the last few days, that I have allowed myself to follow.

The first came in the form of a food supplement, pressed on me by a friend. I'm always sceptical about this sort of thing. It's always suggested or given with the best of intentions, but I trust my oncologist when he says that if cancer were curable purely by diet, why would the NHS spend so much each year on treatments. This particular food supplement wasn't suggested as a cure, but as an aid to dealing with some of the side effects. It sat in my kitchen for a few days. I Googled it - the reviews were very mixed. But then my bloods came back poor, and I desperately wanted chemo to go ahead. So I took the supplement - and my bloods were good enough to have the chemo. Sign number one - don't always be such a sceptic.

The second came in the form of more practical assistance. So far I have rejected any thoughts of claiming help from the government, although I am a candidate. I was unwilling to apply for a Blue Badge, because I don't feel that I'm disabled. I was unwilling to claim PIP (Personal Independence Payment - a benefit payment for the seriously unwell) because I don't have to rely on the money. I was also under the impression that PIP would only be available to me if my doctor filled out a form certifying I had a terminal illness. To do this seemed to me to be tempting fate and it was just a step too far. But one day I checked - and I don't need to claim I'm terminal to get PIP. And suddenly, the whole idea of asking for some extra help no longer seemed so bad. One of the nurses had already offered to help me with the forms. So in the end I went ahead and did it - claimed PIP and asked for a Blue Badge too. Sign number two - don't be pigheaded.

The third sign was very physical. Some years ago, my kids bought me a mug with "Super Mum" written on it in big letters. I've always used it at work, and with pride - it reminds me of my kids all day long and it reminds me that I should be proud of being a working mum. The other day, as I was getting ready to leave the office, I took it to the kitchen to wash it. Somehow, I dropped it, and it smashed. I was really quite upset and struggled to avoid the implication that I am no longer a Super Mum. The next day I had chemo and during one of the conversations with the nurse, I found out that I have been tolerating one of my chemo drugs for longer than any of their patients has done before. However, it's pretty clear that my body is now starting to struggle a little with it. But that's not the end of the world - there are alternatives, or they can reduce the dose, or the frequency. The fact that I have done so well, and that there are alternatives, made me feel really chipper. I felt like I have been Super Mum, but it doesn't matter so much now if I can't keep it up because there are other ways to go. Super Mum can reinvent herself. Sign number three - as Maria said in The Sound of Music, every time the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.