My letter without bits cut out

Some of you wanted to read the full it is. Excuse grammar etc. It was an outpouring of emotion x

My name is Tracey Gleed and I am 53 years old. I am a mother of two grown up children and work as a primary school teacher. In January 2016 I was diagnosed with Primary Peritoneal Cancer. I had never even heard of it but it is a form of Ovarian Cancer and treated in exactly the same way. I received the usual treatment of six lines of chemotherapy and major debulking surgery. My scans currently show No Evidence of Disease. My world was turned upside down and I cannot express the emotions I went through. Some of this distress was because I felt as alone because no one had heard of my form of cancer. I found a support group on line quite quickly and the marvellous, brave ladies on that site got me through my early, darkest days.

I remained in a state of distress for some weeks but several events made me turn my mind set around. My treatment plan gave me a sense of positivity. Something was being done and I held on to the belief that I was going to win this battle. Also my son got engaged announcing that ‘he wanted his mum at his wedding’; a sentence that filled me with love but sadness. He had an engagement party and I spent the whole time considering that I would not be at his wedding. The next day I realised that whilst I had spent the whole time worrying about something that may never happen I had spoilt what would have been a very happy day. From that moment on I have viewed everything differently. I live for the day and enjoy it as much as I can. Nobody at that party knows for sure that they will be at the wedding. As cheesy as it sounds, as many people say the phrase to me, but it is so true.

I do have days where I find myself harbouring on negative thoughts and I hate those days. I view my journey as a tunnel and the days that I am at the bottom of the tunnel are far worse to bear than the days that I am at the top. I’ve also realised that when I have really bad days those feelings of anxiety do not last.

I have had amazing support from family and friends and even made friends through this. I felt quite guilty accepting offers of help and trips out but accept that friends feel helpless and this is their way of coping. My children have been incredibly brave. If my mum had gone through this when I was 21, as my daughter is, I would have never have been so strong. My son refused to speak about it but when he came to see me in hospital after surgery, he could not stop crying. That was the most upsetting point for me throughout this. It is tough for loved ones and they all react differently.

I have recently returned to work teaching mornings only. I am proud that I returned only twenty six days after my last chemotherapy but I wanted to get back to a ‘normal’ life. It has been tough but definitely kept me positive. I was overwhelmed to begin with and conscious that I looked different in my wig. I was certainly taught a lesson when I rather accusingly asked one pupil why he was staring at me and was it because I looked so different. His reply was, “It’s because I’m so pleased to see you Mrs Gleed.”

I do not know if or when my disease may or will return. I have changed as a person. I do not get so stressed anymore over silly things such as the grass needs cutting. I have two holidays booked before Christmas. Having things to look forward to and making memories are the important things now.

29 Replies

  • What an inspiring post, Tracey. It's early days for you yet, too. Many people are floored by a diagnosis like this for ages. I came to similar conclusions after my diagnosis and treatment. Even things look Ke a walk, looking at the trees' changing colours or birdsong are special, even now.

    Don't forget there is a COPES coffee morning on Nov 5th. We've got a lady coming who has done gorgeous bags, scarves, purses, jewellery etc. Fab for Christmas presents. Coming to COPES has surprised many members. It's not like they expected it to be. It's just like a coffee morning but everyone understands the angles of coping with a diagnosis.

    I'm hoping to get to say hello there n person sometime!

    Enjoy your well-earned holiday.

    Love Wendy xx

  • Sorry about all the typos! (iPhone predictive txt!) I think you get the gist.....

  • I haven't forgotten. Every Saturday so far has been busy. Not so the 5th and I adore crafts x

  • There are lots of bargains to be had. Look forward to seeing you. xx

  • Hi Wendy what is COPES and is it near me I live in Essex? There is no support group near me that I know of for Ovarian Cancer and am very interested.

    Thanks Dee

  • Hi Dee

    COPES is a support group for any woman in Essex diagnosed with a Gynae cancer. We meet on the first Saturday of each month at the Women's Clinic, Sourhend Hospital. It's from 10:00 till 13:00. Our next drop in coffee morning is Nov 5th, when we have an Accessories sale - bags, jewellery, scarves etc - It's free for all women diagnosed and we have all sorts of support and activities. Often, there is a CNS to answer any queries and sometimes there is a complementary exercise or therapy session. Sometimes women bring a friend/daughter/Mum to their first few meetings. That's fine with us. It's very relaxed and the coffee mornings are run by patients and ex-patients.

    I hope you can make it to one of our mornings.

    Love Wendy xx


  • thanks for posting this ! Xx

  • Lovely post Tracey xxx

  • Great post xx

  • A really positve post, I understand what you are saying about your sons wedding, I was exactly the same and was slow to buy an outfit. But I went ahead and from then on things fell into place. I had one fantastic day except this granny was sent to bed to babysit the five year old grandson, think this illness batters us emotionally as well as physcally. You have got it together exactly, we live for each day and make the most of it. Most of all we are too hard on ourselves so that has stopped for me. I tend to view things differently, I am glad you are settled in at work. Funny how our minds work, a neighbour today came over to my husband car when parked and was looking at the tax disc and nct. etc. Of course all kinds of things came into my mind. If I had been dressed I would have gone out to him. I have no idea what he was thinking but I went out after to see if he had a fender bender with someone and all was fine, So now what happens happens, it is not my problem and hubby can deal with anything that may arise.

  • That's wonderful Tracey xx

  • Thanks for posting full letter it's emotional endearing and made me feel connected... This disease can be very isolating but the support I have found here currently gets me through each day ... Love it thank you for sharing x

  • What a brilliant piece.

    I identified with so much of it, particularly with how it has been for your children and how important that is for you.

    My two daughters were 19 and 15 when I was diagnosed and my top priority has always been about how my illness impacts on them. They, like yours, have been amazing and continue to pull me, sometimes kicking and screaming through this "journey" of ours. I am so proud of them but also very sad. I do my try my best to remember it is not me who has put them in this position but the cancer over which I have no control.

    Thank you so much for posting.


  • I went through the same feelings as you. I'm still here 4 1/2 years post diagnosis. I set myself goals and live for every day. I never turn down an invitation and take every opportunity to make memories for my family. Yes, I have my dark moments but they are far outweighed by good days. Good luck to you for the future, your positivity will help you and others immensely xxx

  • Hi just read your letter and can so relate to it. I am amazed you are back at work. I to have dark days. I call it the shadow on my shoulder always there but less noticeable some days than others.

    Hugs Dee

  • Thank you for your wonderful post. Although my children are younger, I can identify with so much of what you say. It's really great to read your positive post. Hope you continue to be well and grow stronger. Very best wishes, Sarah

  • Oh Tracy - thanks for sharing this with us all. It has made me cry today - although much as I recognise the emotion, I also recognise this feeling that we all need to just enjoy every moment. I remember reading one post elsewhere which said the best way to avoid the down days, is rather than telling yourself "I won't be able to...." you simply re-focus and say "I may not be able to ....". For me that immediately frames my thoughts and feelings better, even now when I've had recurring cancer. All the very best to you and your family, Caroline x

  • Thanks for sharing your letter Tracy. It expresses what many of us here feel and the ups and downs we go through sometimes daily. My son also came to the hospital daily to see me. He is 27. He never broke down but i could see in his eyes how he felt. My daughter too has had her ups and downs emotionally but the are both so strong for me.

    I just finished chemo for the first time and I feel like I was doing something actively to fight but now its a wait game. Stressful waiting for the CT Scan then stress waiting for the results.

    I wish you continued NED on your journey.

    XX Carol

  • Amazing post Tracey xx

  • Your letter is reassuring at first I did not make plans but when I got my head round it I threw myself to planning things like a sixtieth birthday party of which was when I first dianosed two years ago and doing a lot of skiing (spending kids inheritance) on holidays such as Egypt Spain turkey four times and manorca and Tunisia also Gibraltar just celebrated my grandadaughters eighteenth weekend gone and planned a holiday in February in Cumbria for all my grandchildren and daughters and husband so there will be twelve of us so all of a sudden life got busy and I believe it's keeping me from thinking about the alien in me. Big hugs to everyone thanks for your inspiring letter keep it up

  • Tracey, thank you for sharing your pre edit letter. It's really touched me. This is a great site for sharing those emotions that we can't discuss at home-like our awareness we may not make that big wedding. You put it so well, particularly the part that no one really knows their future. thank you, T. X

  • You are awesome and I loved what you wrote! It is exactly how I have felt, currently feel and will continue to feel! I really praise the days that are good which now are more often than the bad days or even just down days! Thank you for writing your thoughts because it is so upbeat and will hopefully help others! I wanted you to know that it was a great reminder for me!



  • Hi Tracey,

    First of all, I hope you had a lovely Lanzerote break as we did and wasn't the weather lovely and hot?

    What you wrote has hit a nerve with me my daughter is 29 and my son is 28 and it was my son that was the emotional one,he shaved my head for me and cried at the end of my bed when I was diagnosed.I found I had to jolly him along as if he saw me being positive he was also.

    I have the same outlook as you, no point ruining the good times thinking about the bad,but I do have emotional meltdowns,one on holiday when I was in a shop looking at fake handbags and fight song came on the radio!

    I don't make apologies for it anymore,we have all been through a lot and I am amazed how brave we all are.I do admire you going back to work so soon and your positive attitude,I am positive you will be there for the wedding.My daughter postponed hers for 2 years because of me and got married on the beach this June,I was so happy to be there,it's moments like that that make it all worth it,

    Long may your good health continue and thanks for being someone that wrote what a lot of us feel

    Lots of love

    Carole xxx

  • I had a great holiday but isn't it expensive with poor euro rate!!! I already mentioned on here that I had a melt down because I couldn't pull my wet swimming costume off. No energy at all so cried instead. Daft! Thank you for your wedding story and I will be at my sons. Back to reality now and no more sangria xx

  • Yes Tracey,

    It is expensive,but we both deserve it! Oh yes, the Sangria delicious only if you have the sun on your back though,feeling a bit cold here at the moment I think a mulled wine is more the ticket.

    I feel like my energy levels have really dipped and can't do what I used to but in Lanzerote I was doing aqua aerobics walking about 6 miles a day and swimming 50 lengths of the pool a day!

    Never beat yourself up about a cry,I admire you for the job you do

    Carole xxx

  • Wow that's a lot. I walked ten miles one day but could hardly get out of my chair the next day for back and leg pain. Then it mysteriously went! Anyway well done on all that exercise. Just so happens I love mulled wine. Not allowed to sell it at school Christmas fayre but we get round it by giving it free with a bought mince pie! Has to be done xx

  • Oh don't think I'm not in pain,haven't done anything the last 2 days,but I'm in the depths as I have a "routine scan" on Thursday maybe a post coming on as am feeling I need a bit of support!


  • Thinking of you and everything crossed xx

  • ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

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