No 16 on the List for Living

16) See Stonehenge at sunrise

This was just how I imagined it would be. As we arrived, it wasn’t quite day or night. In the distance, Stonehenge emerged out of the mist.

There was something very special about the dawn light. It seemed velvety soft. With stripes of pink sky on the horizon, it held all the promise of a sunny day ahead.

Frost covered the fields which surrounded the ancient stones. The light may have had a warm glow but it was a freezing morning.

This was so different to the last thing I did on my List for Living.

Just days to go before the end of my horrible toxic treatment, I was racing towards the finish line at the British Grand Prix circuit with David Coulthard.

Last week I had my final chemo, for a while at least. So being at Stonehenge a couple of days afterwards for my List for Living to see the sunrise felt very symbolic. Slowly I will start to feel better as the anti-cancer drugs leave my system. It means that I have a new start.

As it got lighter, pinks and purples started to spread across the sky. I was alone in the prehistoric circle of stones. Waiting and hoping.

There was no guarantee that there’d be a sunrise. It had to break through the mist and the low sung clouds.

But then at exactly 5.14am I got to see no 16 from List for Living. Sunrise at Stonehenge.

It was glorious. As I watched the sun get bigger and brighter and higher in the sky, I felt excited about my future. It may be shorter than it should be but I know that it will shine brightly. Seeing the start of the new day at one of the oldest monuments in the world was such a simple thing but it made me so happy.

I’ve wanted to do this for ages. It felt incredible to be stood in the very heart of Stonehenge all on my own and see the sunrise.

Well, I wasn’t quite alone. Rache was with me. She’s my friend who came to chemo with a bundle of mobiles. Rache always has four or five phones with her. She’s sometimes known as Raquel. What else could I wear for the occasion than my Raquel wig?!

As the sun came up, we were the only visitors. While I was in the centre of the stones, Rache stood on the outside of the circle taking photos. Most of the ones on here were taken by her. We’ve known each other since A Levels, back then we also both took a photography course. We’d often get sent out to take shots of random things. Graveyards, bad perms, clock towers.

This has to be the best place that we’ve ever taken photos together.

We were so lucky with the weather. It’s only on certain days that English Heritage allow small pre-arranged groups of people into Stonehenge in the early morning. I don’t think that the weather could have been any better.

There was something magical about the sunrise. Before and especially afterwards I felt so terribly ill. But for that moment, the chemo side effects seemed to lift.

If it was just up to me, then I doubt that I would have seen it quite so soon. When I first wrote about my list, the BBC’s West of England correspondent, Jon Kay offered to help and it’s thanks to him that I ended up at Stonehenge on such a perfect day.

It was a great way to mark the end of my latest treatment against my stupid cancer. I don’t know what will happens next or even how much time I have left.

I’m sure that when Stonehenge was built no one could have predicted that people would still be enjoying it so many years later. It’s a timely reminder that some things last a whole lot longer than expected.

Big thanks to Jon Kay and English Heritage.

26 thoughts on “No 16 on the List for Living

  1. wonderful pictures, I go past the site often now on my way from my home in the westcountry to LHR but your dawn pictures are really special

  2. Oh Helen I am with Aimee. Photos wonderful and such words. Hang on in there. Luv Jeannie Marshall

  3. Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing your experience at such a magical place.

  4. Beautiful pictures. I love standing stones. My favourites are the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis but love the mysticism and magic of all stones . I am sure this was a wonderful experience and hope you draw so much strength and power from it Helen xx

  5. Wow. Looks incredible and I’m so glad you had that moment of calm before the chemo storm to take in the sunrise. How very special that you were able to get right in there, and see that new day happen. Feel better soon. ~Catherine

  6. Your list for living has encouraged me to write my own list for living. I am so very glad you were able to see the sunrise at Stonehenge, I’m sure it was incredible!

  7. Your photographs are amazing, I’m so pleased you had a lovely morning with your friend in such a beautiful place.

  8. I am LOVING your list for living Helen and I think you are amazing. Such an inspiration to all. Look after you….bless you Izzy XX

  9. Rache/Raquel sounds like a fabulous friend to have alongside you. There are many stone circles in Sweden – such immense myth, power and peace surrounds these places. So great you were lifted by the sunrise – what a change of scenery!!! Keep being awesome X

  10. Stonehenge is a fascinating place. I saw it for the first time 2 years ago though not at sunrise. Such a great experience for you, and a wonderful memory to treasure and re-live. You are an inspiration!

  11. Dear, dear Helen, the pictures are amazing! But, you have described the experience so beautifully that I could imagine every detail, every sun beam, the smell of frozen morning and the glory of that magnificent place! I wish you do all the things on your List for Living, and comprise many new ones. Love!

  12. Very uplifting…always makes me smile! I look forward to your reports (with photos of course) on many more days like this x

  13. Hi, hope your enjoying your time off from chemo. It seems we are taking a similar journey as I have just received my 3rd diagnosis in 5 years. This time they are discussing chemo as the tumour is in my spine. Scared as never had chemo before and hate feeling sick and needle phobic so prob picc line for me. Just wondered what chemo drug you are or were on as know how much you suffered.
    Great to read your blog. I am due to start mine soon and would love you to follow it too. Xxx

    • Kate I just had my first chemo – I was absolutely terrified, but it was not bad. I know every chemo is different, but really i just feel so good to have started some active treatment. I’ve got loads of tablets to help me through side effects. Try not to worry too much in advance, everyone is very nice and I dont think it will be as bad as you fear. I got some nice foot massage to help relax me at the start and to be honest just chatting to people now and then was good. Good luck

  14. What a fantastic experience Helen, I am jealous. I love Stone circles. What else do you have planned – seemingly summer is now on the way so we are all looking forward to more of your adventures.

  15. I’ve been following your journey from my home here in Perth, Western Australia :) As a former cancer patient I send you much love, hope and happiness, keep fighting Helen xx

  16. Hey Helen, Hope your doing ok as not heard from you for a while.
    Hoping your just trying to make the most of this lovely weather we are having.
    I would love you and your followers to also follow my own personal journey similar to yours. I have a blog, but unfortunately dont have the array of friends and connections with the media to get anywhere near your huge following, albeit it well worthy. Please follow and post via my link here http://katescancerjourney.wordpress.com/
    thanks again, and thinking of you. x

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