Jenni Osborn

Jenni Family

10 years is a long time and no time at all

My youngest is 10 and I can’t quite believe where the time has gone. How can he be the long-legged pre-teen he is now, when just yesterday he was a bouncy smiley baby?

I have changed jobs 4 times in 10 years. Workwise 10 years ago feels lost in the mists of memory.

I have also changed churches 4 times in 10 years. Not necessarily unusual but prior to that had been part of the same church community for 20 years, it’s been a bumpy ride but I’m starting to feel a more consistent hopefulness.

10 years ago this week I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I’ve written a lot about this over the years! 10 years on and I live with such mixed feelings about this part of my story: I have good friends and family members who live with cancer and will do so for the rest of their lives; so many bowel cancer patients have post-surgery life-limiting issues to deal with that have not impacted me; many bowel cancer patients do not live long after diagnosis or surgery; I am relieved in a way that is difficult to fully quantify that I have stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale.

This year has actually been the most medically challenging since the cancer diagnosis – being hospitalised at the end of last year was no fun and I’ve emerged from that experience with renewed respect for the NHS and her staff, with new diagnoses that present challenges and with a new medication regime that has had an impact on a longer-term problem. Add to that the current problems we are experiencing dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak globally, these are interesting times we live in.

Life moves on and the cancer recedes into faded memory, not just because my memory is nowhere near as sharp as it used to be!

However, as has become my custom, I will be grateful. One thing I have learned in the past 10 years is just how crucial thankfulness is for living a life that is good. So, 10 things to be thankful for:

  1. A sunny day – after so many rainy windy days today feels like spring and it cannot have come at a better time!
  2. A chance to gather with those who have supported us over the years at Easter this year.
  3. The NHS – to go along with the recent 9 days in hospital, by the time March turns into April I’ll have had 5 different appointments for 4 different aspects of health care. I’m grateful for the ongoing care I have received from our local hospital and GP surgery.
  4. The Gather Collective – new church community that is actually related to a previous iteration of church we have been part of.
  5. Friends – I’ve written so much over the years about the blessing my friends have been to me and that remains true. So many people I have the privilege of being friends with who have loved and supported me when I have fallen apart as well as just being wonderful friends in more normal times too! If we are friends then consider yourselves part of this – there are so many of you I’d miss someone if I tried to name you all.
  6. Family – I’m eternally grateful for my parents, Mum-in-law, sister (and her family!) husband, boys and cousins who all make me the person I am as well as giving us so much love and care when we need it as well as when we don’t!
  7. Work – I’ve had a few different jobs but each one has taught me something I didn’t know before, often both in terms of the practices of the role as well as working with people of all sorts!
  8. Books: learning and escapism – I am thankful for the ability to escape into stories of many sorts as well as the distraction that comes from learning new things. I’m currently studying Psychology and really enjoying it.
  9. Boys – my boys continue to be both the best thing in life and parenting them one of the hardest things I’ll ever be a part of! They are amazing human beings with an incredible capacity for love, compassion, laughter and life.
  10. Time – I’m grateful for every minute of the last 10 years, it is a privilege that I do not underestimate. I’m also grateful, because I’m determined to be, for the slowing down I have had to do particularly in the last few months. To add to the cancer survivor label I am now also a stroke survivor with a heart condition and arthritis (the latter having been the case for the last 13 years, though only actually diagnosed about 3 years ago!). Just typing this has made it sound so stark because of course, I am all those things but I am also me. I’m not the same person I was pre-cancer diagnosis, it has changed me but in doing so it has made me the person I am today and that will never not be the case.