Book Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson

I Wanted You To Know

I read ‘Missing Pieces’ by Laura Pearson a while ago and really enjoyed it – so when I was offered the chance to read an advance review copy of Ms Pearson’s most recent book, I accepted it immediately.

Since reading Missing Pieces I have followed Laura on Twitter – and so knew she’d been through a breast cancer diagnosis whilst pregnant with her second child.  That personal experience has clearly been the driving force for this book.

Here’s the blurb:

“Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.
Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.
Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.
From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a true love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.”

This book is absolutely, brutally, brilliant.

I cried A LOT reading it – and Laura doesn’t shy away from the shittiness of breast cancer at all – but it’s not all doom and gloom.  The relationships between Jess and her daughter / mother / best friend / father / ex boyfriend / best mate’s brother are all explored beautifully.

I guess I empathised most with Jess’s BFF Gemma.  One of my best friends had her own breast cancer journey a couple of years ago – and I was the one trying to be a supportive friend.  Admittedly I didn’t have to take care of a newborn like Gemma does in the book – but we did borrow her son as our 5th child for a week to take him away for half term.  It’s the balance of trying to keep things ‘normal’ whilst still recognising that things are never going to be normal ever again.  The letters Jess writes to Edie also made me really emotional – as there were many things my friend was scared she wouldn’t see – her daughter smashing her GCSEs and A-levels and turning 18, her son going to his Middle School prom and starting High School – all the type of things Jess addresses in her letters to her daughter who isn’t even a year old at the time.

Just like ‘Missing Pieces’ a dysfunctional family is central to the storyline – and written about so well – and you could totally empathise with lots of the characters (and want to punch others).

This is not a fun, easy, light hearted read – it really does make you think about being grateful for what you have RIGHT NOW – and speaking up for that, telling people what you think – and not waiting until it’s too late – or almost too late.

Whilst it made me do big snotty crying, I still really enjoyed this book – and a huge thank you to Netgalley for my ARC.  I know there will be people where this is a bit too close to home – and I’m not sure whether it would be a good or bad thing for someone in a similar circumstance to read it.

Most of all, and very selfishly, I’m bloody chuffed that my friend didn’t have to write letters to her children like Jess did………

 

 

 

 

Wonky wigs and sore feet!

Last Friday was a friend’s wedding 40th birthday party, and the dress code was ‘black and sparkly’.   One of my best friends, Mandy, was also in attendance – and we were asked if we’d been shopping together as our dresses were so similar – but we’re just girlie swots who do what we’re told when there’s a dress code!  I love this photo of us (even if we do look like we’re trying to be the next hosts of Strictly!)

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And it’s a good job there was someone taking proper photos, as our selfie attempts (ok, my selfie attempts) were rubbish!  Our teenage daughters would be ashamed…

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My lovely friend Mandy has had a pretty horrible year – having been diagnosed with breast cancer back in January.  It has been AMAZING how she and her gorgeous family have dealt with it – and you can read about just how amazing on her blog which has already helped lots of people going through the same.  Throughout this year, though, I have never seen Mand without a full face of slap and a wig on (she now admits to being a bit of a wig addict)  I may have to confess to initially looking straight through Mandy on Friday night as I’m not used to her with long hair, as she usually rocks a shorter one (thankfully when I realised that she was stood next to her husband I twigged who it was #somefriend!!)

It was really fabulous to be ‘out out’ together. Anyway – much gin (me) and vodka (her) was consumed and there was LOTS of dancing.

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Totally not induced by the booze (ahem!) I told Mandy how bloody chuffed I was she was there and dancing with me.  She agreed, saying back when she’d been invited in February she’d said she’d come if she was up to it – but at the back of her mind she was actually thinking she’d come if she was still here……..

Obviously this induced weeping from me and an emotional hug – but I was clearly being a bit too ‘huggy’ as this voice piped up ‘Er, Lib, you’re pulling my wig off’!!

Thankfully the wonky wig was sorted out and Mand looked at stunning as ever, and I wiped up the snotty face from hysterical, tired and emotional weeping!

If recent years have taught me anything, it’s be grateful for the little things – like dancing with your mate until your feet hurt – and that 40th birthday parties are ace!!

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Guest Blog: It’s all about me

Yesterday I blogged about my boobs, and it made me think about this excellent blog post by my friend – who is currently recovering in hospital from an op – and has far more important things to say about boobs than me.  She writes so eloquently, I wanted to share it with you all – so here goes.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

It’s all about me!

Most, if not all of you, will remember the “No Make-Up Selfie” craze that swept social media last year. I duly took part on my personal FB page. I remember loving the unity between women as they complimented each other, understanding that a photo without make-up was a hard thing for many to do. There was sense of unity & it was lovely to see women supporting other women, not to mention the fantastic comments from lots of men. I also remember being surprised by the criticism about the craze. Cancer charities saw a rise in donations & it definitely raised awareness, which can only be good in my book!

It raised my awareness & prompted me to check myself as I’d not done so for a while. I then wished I hadn’t, which was a stupid thing to think but better than the thoughts that raced through my head when I found a lump. I went to see my GP who talked about breast mice & dismissed any concerns around cancer or simple links to hormones & the migraines I’d experienced.  The GP went through the tick list for identifying cancer from a lump & mine didn’t tick any of the boxes. I did what all internet savvy peeps do & googled breast mice as soon as I got home. Everything the GP had said tied in with what I read. I still felt a sense of disatisfaction with the GP’s approach, but I breathed a sigh of relief & carried on as normal.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. The lump seemed to be more uncomfortable on an increasingly regular basis. I was still convinced it was linked to hormones, although the migraines have become less frequent. It was really disconcerting to have a lump in my breast that I seemed to be increasingly aware of. I went back to the GP. The infamous breast mice were discussed ago. The difference was, this practitioner decided to take a “peace of mind” approach & referred me for tests.

6 weeks, 2 mammograms, 2 ultra sounds, 3 fine needle biopsies & a mammotome later I have a diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), described as pre-cancer cells, in the lump & another area. The spread of these cells means I am having a mastectomy & reconstruction in September. The after treatment will be decided after the removed breast tissue has been tested.

So, I have met my surgeon & have avoided the temptation to request 2 new Double D numbers! I know what to expect in September. As long as I have a plan I am fine. I will be busily preparing endless lists & filling in calendars in preparation for the family members who will be stepping in to cover my Mommy duties. My “Northern Bird” sister in law is intending to come round to devise a spreadsheet. The title of this blog entry stems from the numerous conversations we’ve had since all this started. She gets I don’t want a fuss but is concerned for me at the same time. She expresses this through taking the pee out of me!! Her approach is perfect!

Obviously a mastectomy is a big thing to have, it took me a while to learn how to spell it properly. It’s a big thing to have, both psychologically & physically. However, I am grateful it has been diagnosed now rather than further down the line when it could have been a lot more than pre-cancer cells. I only have a tiny idea of how someone would feel if being given a  true diagnosis of cancer. Whilst this is still a possibility, it should only be a small one. What will be will be.

The reason I am writing this is a) to save myself needing to send numerous texts to let people know or ruin completely pleasant conversations and b) to raise awareness. It was the someone starting a trend to raise awareness that has brought me on this path. I also want to say to people not to be afraid to question the professionals. I questioned mine, but I should have done it a lot sooner.  If I had not gone back to the doctors for a further explanation……well you can imagine the what ifs & maybes. I want my story to be a reminder to others both male & female to check all your lumps! If you have something suspicious, make sure you are thoroughly checked & examined. It’s better to make a nuisance of yourself & be safe, rather than sorry.

In the meantime, I have a good few weeks to fit in work, holiday & fun with my boys. After the op I will have plenty of recovery time.  I will need to ensure I relax, which isn’t my strongest assett. Guess what I’ll be doing, other than hospital trips, sleeping etc, to fill my time……

………………………….CRAFTING!! Yay!

So, nothing more to see here. What are you waiting for? Off you go…go check yourself right now!!