The first time that I celebrated beating cancer, more than a decade ago, I bought myself something very special – a ruby ring.
The sparkle made me think about the bright future that lay ahead after getting the all clear.
Now, don’t go thinking this was super expensive. After some haggling, it cost me something like £38 in a Turkish market. I wore it everywhere during my time abroad. Its chunky band felt comforting when I was a bit stressed.
But I only realised just how precious it was to me when I was covering the story of a devastating earthquake in Italy. We were staying some distance away from the disaster zone. It was the early hours of the morning and I’d only just gone to bed, when there was a violent aftershock. It was the same strength as the quake itself. My hotel room shook so much that I was convinced I was going to die.
Once it stopped and I’d established that the hotel was safe, I went back to bed. I know that might sound strange but I was exhausted. However I was aware that I might have to suddenly flee the room again.
So I slept with the ring on. It was the only thing in the world I didn’t want to lose. After that I was a lot more careful. For years I continued to wear it and I managed to keep it safe.
That was until the end of last year. Around the same time that I had the painful symptoms which led me to be diagnosed with cancer again, the ruby in my ring cracked and eventually shattered. Sadly, I had to stop wearing it.
Fast forward to now and yayyy once more I’m celebrating killing the cancer.
This time I’ve spent a lot more than £38. I’ve bought myself a Mulberry handbag . It’s something that’s been on my wish list for years.
Coming face to face with your own mortality gives you new meaning. You reassess what’s important and it changes your perspective. It also told me that I needed a fabulous new handbag in my life.
I didn’t actually plan to buy it quite so soon. When I went into the shop with my friend Lynne, I only went to look. Honestly. I saw the one that I loved but I needed to think about it. You can’t buy something like this on impulse.
My friend told me to just man up and buy the bag! I didn’t need much persuasion.
And so that’s exactly what I did.
It’s a fantastic feeling to suddenly have something I’ve wanted for so long. To me it symbolises beating cancer twice. It may be only a bag but it makes me so happy every time I look at it.
Last week me and my bag went to the dentist. You’re not allowed any treatment on your teeth while you’re going through chemo. Risk of infection and all that. It was lovely doing something normal even if it was a trip to the dentist. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t need anything too awful.
On the way home we popped into a little shop on a main road. The man behind the counter said he could help me and that I should come back in an hour.
When I did, he gave me back the sparkle that I was missing. The jeweller had found the perfect ruby and fixed my ring.