by Jo Franklin, children’s author
This week I turned my full focus on a new project. It’s one that has been bubbling away in the background for a while, in a couple of different guises, but as I sent my latest wip (work in progress) off to my agent for what will hopefully be her final comments, the time had come to throw myself into something new. I felt totally invincible as I do every time I start something new. The publishing world were going to love this book. What’s not to like? It isn’t even written yet. There can be no bad words in it. So I began. It was great.
And then I received the terrible news that a lovely friend of mine had died.
Thank you Sue Eves for this rare photo.
I guess it wasn’t totally unexpected. Cancer is like that. It creeps up silently, screams aggressively right in your face and then dares you to strike back. The doctors have a powerful array of weapons but they are something of a blunt instrument and nearly wipe out the whole person, not just the unwelcome visitor.
Once Sue had come to terms with the diagnosis – Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer – she got on with it. The prognosis wasn’t good, I can’t remember the exact figure she told me but it was something like only a 20% chance of survival. I can do the maths. It meant that there was an 80% chance she wouldn’t make it. But we never talked about the 80% and concentrated on the 20% instead. Grueling treatment followed and some serious surgery followed by more treatment. She also turned to alternative treatments to supplement the traditional and I believe this was a major factor in her being able to reclaim her health for a while.
She was a great friend to me during this time. I was cracking up and she didn’t bat an eyelid about my more bizarre behaviour. In fact she was probably the only person who could see exactly how unbalanced I was. She didn’t judge. We talked about stuff. Old and new and we both got better.
Of course, I wasn’t the only person in her life and she shared with me her excitement for her daughter’s progress through the various ups and downs of being a budding actress. She told me about her sister who lives in Wales with a gaggle of horses. Somewhere in the mix her mother died so there was lots to deal with there. All the time we were both writing. Sometimes the output was better than others. That’s the writer’s lot.
And then the cancer came back. More treatment and I knew my friend was slipping away. On Thursday 8th September 2016 her suffering came to an end. She was 56.
It’s been a tough few days. I had to tell our friends. Share my grief. Hear theirs. I am sad that my lovely friend was taken away too soon. But I am also grateful to have known her. We had a laugh and shared all sorts of knocks and bumps along the way.
My life goes on now and although she isn’t with me physically, she is in my heart and I hold her enthusiasm for my own writing very close. I’m going to go back to my new project with renewed gusto, because I’m writing it for you, Sue. With a massive thank you for being my friend.