Frances on being an older person with cancer

Amrik reading a book
Amrik reading a book

Frances' life changed when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma later in life. Though the treatment has left her feeling more tired, writing and talking about her experience helps her cope.

Frances' story

The only thing that really saddens me is that I don’t have the energy to be an active granny to my adored grandchildren, as I used to be. Otherwise, we get out and about, travel; we’re planning a short trip to Germany. This summer we had our 50th wedding anniversary and had a lovely celebration with the family. I’ve also written and published a set of books during this time – I like to think of myself as primarily a writer rather than a cancer victim. The cancer does keep trying to get in the way, but I keep him down. On my website francesthomas.org I have a link to an occasional blog – Life, Writing and the Unwelcome Guest. Mostly I blog about writing, but sometimes I talk about the cancer too – if you don’t talk about it at all, it becomes the elephant in the room, and I think people need to hear something about it, if you’re to be honest with them.

My husband has been hugely supportive – not always in the best of health himself, he’s ferried me uncomplainingly to the seemingly endless appointments that cancer seems to generate. Family and friends have been warm and supportive too. We have good neighbours who will rally round in case of emergency, though we don’t like to call on them unless we have to. But it’s very good to know you have friends. Sometimes, I think, they feel that they don’t know if they’re saying or doing the right thing – but they don’t really have to. Just being there and friendly is enough

You ask about good and bad days. Unless I’ve gone down with a bug most days are pretty good. My diet is pretty much as it always was – though I’ve lost a bit of weight, which I’m pleased about. I don’t really exercise as much as I should – but that’s because I’m lazy, not because of the illness. I think the main thing with cancer is not to let it take over any more than you have to. You’re still the person you always were, in spite of this intruder. Don’t let it get the better of you.