I woke before the alarm this morning.  Pre-dawn hints of daylight promised a clearer start to the day, a pause in the continuous monsoon downpours. As I dressed, streaks of pink formed and disappeared. An ordinary late September day.

As the morning wore on, gathering clouds brought the pause to an end as more rains hammered down, the grey sky giving its clear message that rainy season is not ready to retire quite yet. A typical late September day.

storm clouds over Yangon

By this time in the rainy season, there is a musty heaviness in the air.  A constant dampness. The relief of a refreshing shower before sleeping cleanses the clamminess we gather during these days.  A unremarkable late September day.

yangon monsoon

It was such an ordinary late September day four years ago today. So ordinary I can’t remember how the day started, or what time it might have rained. I have no recollection what I ate for supper that evening.  What I do remember is the chill of fear in my gut during when showering before sleeping.  I can remember exactly how it felt when I felt the lump that should not have been there.  I clearly remember exactly where it was.  And that it was still there when I prodded after a few moments, praying I might have imagined it, or it might have disappeared.

At that very moment, that particular late September day became suddenly extraordinary.  Memorable.  For all the wrong reasons.

Four years ago, in the evening of 23 September 2009 I discovered the lump which was to challenge everything I thought was sure. How sweet the air must have felt that unremarkable morning in late September four years ago as I went about my ordinary daily journey.  Oblivious to what was ahead of me only a few hours away.

We have no idea what is ahead of us, what unpleasantness might be on our horizon. We must not forget to pause and drink in the little details around us and the precious moment we sometimes miss.  Tomorrow may look very different.


20 thoughts on “Before…….

  1. This so resonates to the August day I found my lump, 3 years ago. Had been to Shrewsbury with a friend…….mooched around book shops, had lunch, a wonderful day spent with a good friend.

    Had a shower before dinner, and every certainty I had ever know disappeared……I feel sick thinking about it now…..but I’m here, now trying to look forward without Captain Paranoia sitting on my shoulder at every thought


    • Oh absolutely – that moment is just burned into my memory. I do hope that you are having a break from the Captain, as I suspect he is planning more time on my should over the coming days as the Big Checks approach., Bleurgh! x

  2. Hi! I just got reading through a few of your posts and I had a quick question. I am involved in the cancer community and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks! – emilywalsh688(at)


  3. You are moving forward, and I’m so glad for you Philippa – even if it’s damn hard sometimes. Those anniversaries are so marking, eh? The line in time when everything changes. May you find moments of peace, rest and savouring for the present. ~Catherine

    • Thanks Catherine – I really appreciate your words when you are in such a tough place. Yes, it is anniversary season – yesterday was 4 years since I saw the Doc who was to become a major part of my life and actually a good friend. It is indeed so important to embrace those precious things around us. P x

  4. I miss you so, sweet P. At the beginning of this post, I smiled remembering last year’s monsoons. I smiled with your repetition of it being an ordinary late September day. It reminded me of sitting with you in Gustos, with all our writerly friends, writing and talking about writing. And then came cancer. Like a punch in the gut. You lulled us to the horrible, then reminded us of the beautiful – to take our time, to be present. To pay attention.

    I miss you. ❤

    • Oh Becky – I am so sorry, your comment was languishing in the spam folder! I am so glad I found you, and rescued you!

      Thank you so much for your lovely, supportive and warm comment. We all miss you terribly, on our creative Wednesday Gusto evenings. I think we need to skypeeee 🙂

      Big hugs to you and F
      P xxxxx

  5. dear philippa,

    how wonderful we have the benefit of sharing our stories, especially the ones that harken back to the day when life as we knew it changed us forever. and though those stories are stark and sobering, the emotions so cataclysmic, it is good to take what we can from them to see how far we have come; to honor the day for the changes we’ve been put to task for -to realize that every drop of rain is a miracle, every fragrance sniffed from a flower is beauty we can apply as a balm to our psychic and physical wounds, and that each new day brings with it possibilities that can also alter our thinking, our feeling, and enhance our sense of gratitude for this incredible cyber community, all those who GET IT. some might sum all that up and simply say that misery loves company. but we know better – that living with grace under fire, still being able to reach out and embrace and help so willingly to share the burdens of those who struggle with much of the same wounds with love and support, listening, compassion, empathy and a fine-honed sense of hopefulness that can uplift, inspire, and soothe, and give respite to others’ hurting hearts. we hold onto one another, fill the universe with powerful and enduring caring and love – and know we are not alone.

    much love and light to you, my friend, XOXOXOX,

    Karen, TC

    • Karen, I am speechless at how exquisitely you have encapsulated the essence of that incredible bond that there is. I am compelled to share your comment in its own space……. The world is a placed filled with more love and light thanks to you, thank you SO much xoxox

  6. dear Philippa,

    thank you so much for your most kind response to my comment. it gives me such joy to be able to have those incredibly close bonds that once none of us could have ever imagined! today would have been hugh’s and my 46th wedding anniversary; letting me know that you were moved by my comment is a beautiful gift and helps me know that I am not alone. please feel free to share in whatever way you wish. now I am off to read your next post!

    love and light, XOXOXOX,


  7. Pingback: October – a pause for perspective | Feisty Blue Gecko - a tail of the unexpected

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.