Scratching on the blank slate


‘You know what you should do,’ the consultant haematologist smiled, ‘you should write a Blog.’ He looked very proud.

Of course I nodded gamely. No point arguing. The sun was shining, the registrars and nurses poised with their clipboards on the daily round, everyone beaming in my direction. The cheeriest chemo patient on the ward. (Or so I’ve been told. Unless they tell everyone that).

‘You could talk about your experiences with the treatment – you’d have so much to say.’ The registrars and nurses seemed to nod as one.

‘Great – I’ll do it,’ I probably said. I can’t remember. This was a couple of weeks ago. All I know is that I hadn’t the least intention of following his advice.

I couldn’t think of a worse idea.

I knew exactly what he was after – the confessional tone, the grimly ‘gritty’ subheadings. Losing my hair, losing my strength, my fertility – all the delicious side-effects which accompany a cocktail of drugs pumped through your veins.

Basically, the kind of self-aggrandising narrative that friends and relatives would dutifully read and comment and re-tweet, out of a dogged sympathy for my Resolute Bravery in the Face of Adversity.

Writing about leukaemia just seems like a cheap shot. Inevitably self-pitying, introspective – and somehow insufficient. Is a serious disease enough to turn you into a scintillating object of interest? Are you blog-worthy just because your bone marrow is misbehaving and your chromosomes are really messed up?

On top of that, my reservation with blogs has always been that it’s too late now and the only ones people actually read were all sparked off around a mythical golden age of the blogosphere explosion circa 2007.

On the other hand though, blog success is probably worse than failure. I’ve already received one or two saccharine messages praising my Inner Strength – and suddenly an email addressed ‘Dear Beautiful Hannah’ from a usually austere family friend got me a little bit scared. What next, a card from the Duchess of Cambridge telling me I’m an inspiration? (A teddy from Pippa?*)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is all specious, because here I am with my first blog entry.  After splotting out all these doubts and misgivings, why am I still writing?

*This bit is disingenuous. Nothing would make me happier.


  1. eva says:

    What do I know? What can I say?
    I do not know you, but I know your mother and I care for her… she is worried, she is sad and I want to help.
    How does it feel to have to fight this nasty illness? I cannot even begin to imagine.
    As in a lottery, the dreadful disease seems to fall indiscriminately and randomly onto people. My best friend had to confront it a few years ago, she is now fully recovered but I remember well the look in her eyes and the utter feeling of impotence on my part… unable to do anything to lighten her suffering.
    Forgive us all for our clumsiness, including the consultant haematologist… We can only offer you a genuine desire to help. We can only tell you that we would like to remove the devil, the monster from you but the process is slow and painful.
    Trust love dear Hannah, it is the only thing that is untouchable and immortal. Let those that love you love you further and take all the fuel that it produces. There is no better weapon.
    All my love beautiful young girl. eva

  2. Martin Cummins says:

    Hey Hannah

    I’ve just registered to follow you I hope you don’t mind.

    I think if I try and come out with any words of support they’ll sound cliched so I won’t even try but I’ll be thinking of you.

    Fight the good fight!


  3. Mia says:

    Dear Hannah,

    I think the blog’s great. Really inspirational.
    (I met your mum through a writers’ group. I think she always thought we’d get along.)



  4. Lisette Teasdale says:

    I’m glad you’re blogging Hannah, and look forward to more. When you described the reactions of other people to your illness, I remembered Anais Nin’s remark that “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”. To the doctors who treat you, you are an interesting case, not the first or the last but interesting nonetheless. To friends your age, you might be Goldengrove unleaving, the first time they have encountered the possibility of such loss. To family and those who have known you since childhood, and maybe see you through the filter of that childhood, you trigger huge emotions that have to be squeezed into bite sized cliches about beauty and bravery, but try not to get too frustrated even if you feel neither beautiful or brave, those overused words just mean you are loved and cherished. So that’s how others might see you; your blog is a great way to show the real you. And one day, when your kids are the same age as you are now, they can read it and wonder who on earth Pippa Middleton is. xxxx

  5. Anne-Elise Briantais says:

    Salut Hannah!
    Merde je suis sous le choc! A part ca j’aime beaucoup la facon dont tu ecris…
    Je suis vraiment navree d’apprendre la nouvelle, j’aime bien l’idee du blog, en tout cas je suis de tout coeur avec toi et a ta disposition si tu veux pratiquer ton Francais. Je te propose pas l’Italien…

    C’est un peu confus tout ca…

    Gros bisous, mille baci!

    +++ Anne-Elise

  6. Mike says:

    I know Vesna, Hannah, and can only wish you all the very best.

    Great photo, but what are you wearing round your neck!?

    xx Mike

  7. You’ve been writing ever since I’ve known you, so I don’t see why you should stop now, you poetic mother lover. Yeah, so don’t stop. If you do I will talk to my people and send Pippa round with a teddy. I’m not sure if it would make you that happy. Imagine all the security men. Imagine the press. Imagine the dress. The truth is words have music too. That’s why you’re still writing. It might sound sloppy, but remember I love you too. Let’s dance.

  8. Serena says:

    Dear Hannah, I enjoyed your blog, so get well and write! (I just thought that up) My daughter got a letter from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was exquisitely polite. I’m working in Ghana this week, so your fan base is spreading. I read your blog to the team I’m working with here of Ghanaians, Senegalise, Kenyans. I wonder how news reports about 3 parent embryos and lynchings in Egypt sit with you when you have so much to cope with just now. I am one of Vesna writing friends. My name is Serena. x

  9. Susana Vogel says:

    Cara Hannah,

    mi chiamo Susana Vogel Morselli e sono la cugina di Patricia Evans, un’amica della tua mamma.
    E’ la prima volta che rispondo a una blogger, ma non é mai troppo tardi per imparare a fare qualcosa di nuovo. Mi ha raccontato Patricia che tu hai vissuto in Italia e che stai imparando l’italiano. Io come Patricia sono nata in Argentina e vivo qui a Piacenza dal 1980,ma non vorrei annoiarti troppo con la mia storia.

    Mi piace molto il modo in cui comunichi quello che stai vivendo nel tuo blog.

    Un “in bocca al lupo” di cuore


  10. Cath Connor says:

    Only met you once, very briefly and all too awkwardly – but you made an impression on me and showed me how much you love your mother and how she loves you. I saw it in the exchange of glances between you even though you were talking to me, I saw it as an invisible cord and read the subtext, I saw it in the casual drama of your conversation. I wished I was part of it…………..

    You are lovely, your mum is lovely – what more can I say!
    Whatever you do – GET WELL SOON!

    Cath (one of Vesna’s friends)

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