Come, tell me how it is….

I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday.  She apologised to me for “having a sook” to me about some very valid and heartbreaking issues in her own life.  She went on to say that I was probably glad she had, as it would tickle my funny bone that anyone would basically dare to complain to me about anything.

The thing was, I WAS glad.  But for a totally different reason.  I was glad because maybe for a few minutes this friend remembered the Julia that I was before my whole personality seemed to become defined by cancer.  Perhaps she remembered the friend from long ago, the one that would rather listen than talk, the one that would give you a hug, tell you it would be ok, somehow, and suggest tucking into 42 wines (with me of course), while putting the world to rights.

The thing is, people are frightened of me.  Frightened of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, of having problems of their own, of having the audicity to voice them in the presence of the dying woman.  If I had a dollar for everyone who has apologised to me in the last 15 months, as they have stopped themselves mid-sentence about something to do with their own lives, and said “oh but you don’t want to hear about that, it’s nothing compared to what you are going through!”

Here is the thing.  I DO want to hear about that.  If I loved you before, I love you now.  If you were my friend before, you are my friend now.  If you are a friend I have made since cancer, well, I’d like you to meet Julia, the one who is interested in your life, loves, what makes your heart sing, and what makes it break.  If you are happy about something, I want to hear about it.  No need for guilt because I have cancer, and some day I’ll die from it.  Honestly.

And your problems?  They do not cease to exist, or diminish, because mine are “bigger”.  Sure, the outcome for me, one day, will be nothing short of tragic, but if you take the “end result” out of the picture, and it is something that I very much try to do at the moment, I’m still exactly the same as you.

Some of you might remember this girl:


Remember how you loved to have a long lunch, or a drink on the deck, or a really bloody long lunch that ended with a drink on the deck, and sometimes it didn’t end before midnight, with that person?  Remember how we put the world to rights, and we whinged and bitched, and shared our frustrations and our funny moments?   You weren’t scared of saying the “wrong thing” to me then, and I don’t want you to be now.  This is ME folks.  The very worst thing that could happen is you will say something REALLY stupid, and I will see your face freeze at the horror of it, and I will say “oh my god, did you really just SAY THAT?”  And we’ll burst into fits of hysterical laughter and pour another glass of wine.

The very greatest gift you can give me at this stage of my life is yourselves.  You very flawed, human, broken, funny, batshit insane selves.  Because I am flawed and human and broken and funny and batshit insane myself.  That’s why we’re friends.

So, pull up a chair, sit by me.   Tell me how it is, for you.  I’m sick of talking about me.  Wine’s chillin’ :)

15 Comments on “Come, tell me how it is….

  1. When my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer while I was pregnant with our first child, most friends dropped like flies. I think they didn’t realize that we wanted conversation and support and a chat about everything in life EXCEPT the cancer. It was eye opening. My husband wanted to talk about cricket and footy and movies and we wanted people to treat us like normal. I totally appreciate the normality you crave. My thoughts are with you. I gave birth to a healthy girl and my husband recovered fully.

  2. I am new to this blog. We have never met. But I think you’re awesome. I would love to drink too many wines with you!

  3. I always look forward to reading your blogs Julia & love your tenacity without ever having met you! Somehow I feel I have known you for years! My husband, Gary, always enjoys me reading your blog to him too & has said a couple of times now he would love you to hear an interview with a doctor who specializes in cancer patients. He is a bit of a radical like you & has a totally different attitude to the medicos with regard to cancer. A statement that you said a while back on finding out that there was not really much more they could do for you really reminded Gary of this interview. If you’d like to have a listen, just let me know…….xox

  4. I don´t know you other than through this blog, although I would love to know you in real life. I have been guilty of this I am sure but it is so obvious when pointed out. You are an amazing brave woman fighting demons and you write brilliantly. I salute you and your lovely family and wish good things for you. And lots of wine.

  5. Don’t stop talking your blog just keeps getting better and better and more and more honest and relevant for me!

  6. Agree wholeheartedly with the above, and with your blog. You just be beautiful you, and hope (and ask that) everyone just be themselves. xxx Sending you love and health and happiness.

  7. Hey Julia, I feel like I know you. My friends are you. I read your blog when I can. Sometimes it’s just too much. You know when you’re full of sadness and it overwhelms you. Life has joys and laughs but also sadness, loss, fears, tears and anger.
    Friends want to protect each other. You don’ tell your friends all your fears, all your sadnesses, all your anger. To some degree you protect them from the horror and shit of Cancer and the crap it has bought you and your family. Just as friends try to protect you from their horrors and shit. Just as they would have before fucking Cancer, but with it, friends do feel protective, more protective. Friends want to make everything better, want to have back the life you’d planned with each other. The good, the bad and the ugly……. yeah, but it’s hard. We know you cry yourself to sleep and there’s nothing we can do to change that Cancer will win sometimes. I hate it. You hate it. We all fucking hate it. I will try, every day with all my soul to share my joys and some of my shite, but it’s hard to “dump in” the circle of woe. It takes courage, strength and of course LOVE. Lots of love. Maybe that’s all it takes, but also the veil of Cancer needs to be gently lifted so we can all remember how we used be. Cancer changes us all. Stares us in the face, and all we can do is look back at it with …. what…..?? …….. I don’t know.

  8. I love the way you can be so open, I have recently been supporting a close friend with a teenager who has cancer and I remember her saying to me, thank god someone is blabbing on to me about the normal annoyances of life, I get enough cancer talk it’s so nice to hear something else and this has stuck in my mind every since. She knows I’m there for the hard chats, crying, sobbing and rants of which there have been many but she also knows that to keep her head above water it’s nice to chat to friends about their lives as well because soon that will be her world again and she doesn’t want to miss out on all the things good and bad in her friend’s lives. I’d love to meet you in person and share a wine, you are stronger than you know and I love to chat.

  9. Thank you Julia and friends for sharing with honesty, reading your messages has helped me with grief of losing a courageous friend with stage 4 cancer, ovarian and bowel and liver just 3 days short of scheduled surgery and a further 6 months chemo. RIP Gillian, your spirit is strong and you are.much

  10. pull up a pew with a brew or two….. sounds like a great idea.

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