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Under Cover of Darkness

Margaret Cahill was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma sometime after being unwell. Her world came to a shuddering halt as, with many of these conditions, there were no definitive answers available, just a long journey of uncertainty ahead.

Trying to let work colleges, family and friends know what was going on was difficult. When a close friend called to let her know how distressed they were at not knowing she decided to start a blog in the attempt to keep everyone up to date. Some twelve months on from a successful, to date, conclusion to her treatment, this blog has been re-born as a book.

As and owner and editor of her own publishing company she was far more comfortable dealing with other peoples words and initially found the idea of writing anything for wider public reading very daunting.

Time marched relentlessly forward with Margaret eventually preparing to undergo stem cell transplant, as the considered and only manner of possibly having a positive outcome to the treatment of the condition.

In writing her journey down a road sadly travelled by many, she has created not just a blog, but a ribbon of hope to others traveling a similar pathway. She has held out her hand and said, come walk with me and we will see how things progress.

Filled with laughter tucked in amongst the darker moments, reflection of the treatment and the struggle to overcome the side effects makes powerful reading. The manner in which she takes on the regular visits to hospital armed with her collection of duvet, pink of course and other must have bits and pieces, in pink of course, to make the stay a little more endurable is heart-warming.

Her burgeoning friendship with Dot the tea lady, who has her own particular way of dealing with the drinks requests, and coming to terms with the entire philosophy of hospitalisation, makes interesting, light hearted reading.

Life becomes more challenging as the treatment ramps up; Margaret does not hold back on how she is feeling and the effect this is having on her partner, herself, her family and friends, which while sad, shows the other side of chemotherapy and illness; the side that we all know exists, but is not often discussed.

One of the interesting facets of this story is the research into alternatives that may help and benefit her on her journey, the effect of eating various foods to help build up her iron count and  the eventual coming to terms with the philosophes she has always tried to include in her lifestyle. Accepting that while there is merit in both the modern and the traditional medicines, sometimes, particularly when it is your life is on the line, you need to be able to step back and accept a blend of both.

In her own words, ‘there is something amazing about the human spirit and its capacity for survival; whatever the situation, there is a primal instinct that draws us together in times of danger,’ which sums up Margaret’s very personal support system in its entirety, as well as the brave hearts of the many medical and support people who are and were involved in Margaret’s journey, as well as those involved in similar journeys of their own.

AuthorMargaret Cahill