Tag Archives: Gayle Sulik

Ten years

Ten years ago today Sarah and I got up worried and early to begin one of the longest days of our lives. We travelled to the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool, to the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic, to find out what we found out.

And ten years later part of me finds it hard to travel back to what Sarah has written here. But most of me is immensely relieved, and grateful, that she is alive to write it. And that the years have in no way dimmed her fire and passion for our National Health Service, or her determination to keep it safe from officious predators, as you’ll see when you read on.



22nd February 2007

This is me on the 22nd of February 2007. It is the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, age 43.

So today, the 21st of February 2017, marks ten years from that diagnosis. There is no whoop of delight, no fist pumps here. No, this is not a celebration. It is a mere observation of a fact, a fact that I am still here to observe. And of all the questions I asked that day ten years ago during the hours in the hospital, the main question, the one I remember the most, was when I said, ‘Will I die?’

But thanks to modern medicine and surgery, some great doctors and surgeons, a hefty dose of luck and some of my own tenacity, I did not die of breast cancer. At least, I haven’t so far. Continue reading

I remember you: For Rachel



Today a very personal post from my partner Sarah about her best friend Rachel, who died three years ago.

When Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago now, she fairly soon wanted to find her sisters. Other women who’d shared some of her experiences and ‘been in some of the same rooms’ as we always described those places and days of rapid diagnosis, treatment decisions and prognosis. Other women she could really talk to.

Well finding these sisters took a while, a great while. But eventually, through social media, into her life they came. Americans for the most part, and an Australian living in the States in one very particular, opinionated and lovable case. Rachel from New Jersey.

Their friendship was brief, as you’ll hear, but deep and intensely joyous. Their regular Skypes changed the sound of our house. And Rachel’s love brought the sparkle back into Sarah’s eyes. A spark and a sparkle the eventually ebbing grief of these past three years has never subsequently extinguished.

And of course Rachel and these years since changed my life too. Made me value the living of it more than ever before. But you’ll know about that already if you’ve read my ‘Year to live’ posts.

So here is Sarah, remembering Rachel. Continue reading

2012: Friday Walks, The Darkling

This week we decided to make sense of last week’s walk, where we’d loved the first half but not the second. We wondered if the Thurstaston Common half of the walk could be mixed with our long cherished Shining Shore walk to form the perfect longer walk.

Our planned route.

Parking at the top centre of the map in Royden Park, round the eastern edge of the green bit, Thurstaston Common. Through Thurstaston, along the tops to The Dungeon, Down to the Shining Shore, along the beach past the sandstone cliffs, up onto the cliff top . Then along Telegraph Road (an obvious piece of eighteenth century enclosing), through Thurstaston again, climbing the south western part of the green bit, Thurstaston Hill, then down through the woods to the top centre in Royden Park where we started. About eight miles we reckon.

Starting at the ‘Barking Mad’ Café. Four stars?

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2012: Friday Walks, ‘I think this is one of my favourite places’

We did our core walk again today. Our principal meditation, ‘The Shining Shore’. We’ve done it just about every month this year, getting to know the land in great detail. Seeing how much familiar lanes change with the seasons.

We’ve never walked it this late in the summer, with the hedgerows this full.

Blackberries, getting on time for hedgerow jam…

Though we wouldn’t pick the fruit from this roadside. Plenty more in quiet car-free lanes ahead of us.

Looks beautiful, but it’s Convulvulus, a pernicious bindweed, that makes its way in the world by strangling the competition!

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2012: Friday walks, There and back again

Come with us, dear readers, to a land where magnolia trees flower in colourful profusion, next to a vast, bleak marshland, which the sea abandoned centuries ago

Back to the Dee Estuary this week, and a new walk. Ronnie takes us on an adventure.

“Tolkein fans may have already spotted that we’ve purloined the subtitle of ‘The Hobbit’ for the name of this week’s walk. So be it, but that does not mean we’re hobbits. Only one of us has hairy feet, we rarely have two breakfasts, and neither of us has a ring that makes us invisible.

But we do like an adventure. And as we’ve ambled up and down the Dee coastline these past weeks we’ve kept wondering ‘How far upriver does this Marshland stretch? What lies beyond the fields we know?’

So this week we nosed our way down to the marsh front just by the Harp Inn, where we last went on my ‘official’ birthday in January, and strode off, upriver, into the misty marsh…

Leaving our trusty steed behind us. Not knowing when, if ever, we will return

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2012: Friday walks, The life force

Sarah’s hands, calm and determined, St Bartholemew’s church in Thurstaston

Early March, Ronnie takes us round this week’s joint walk

Well, this was our first walk together for four weeks. Last week Sarah had a cold, the week before she was jet lagged, and the week before that she was in New Jersey, because her best friend Rachel had just died from metastatic breast cancer.

So we carefully picked our ‘home’ walk for this week. The walk we consider to be ‘the one.’ From which all of our other regular walks flow. The walk we automatically go on in times of need. We went to the Shining Shore.

The last time we went to the Shining Shore was only four weeks ago. Rachel was in hospital but, as ever, we were confident she was coming out. And so, on the walk, we made a film just for her called ‘Miss you.’ To make her laugh. It contained dancing, singing, jokes and, well, it felt like Rach was on the walk with us, looking at us through our cameras.

Rachel never got to see the film, of course. And so, setting out on the same walk four weeks later, we are very conscious that one of us has gone. And also very conscious, as we walk, that in four sad and grief stricken weeks for us, the life force in nature has been doing what it always does, renewing life.

Leucojum, ‘Spring Snowflake’ – like big snowdrops

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2012: Friday Walks, The Shining Shore

The Shining Shore, Thurstaston

A cold and gorgeously blue Friday in early February, we put on our walking boots and go. Ronnie walks us through it.

This is our default walk, our ‘home’ walk. Several times a year, for the past couple of years we’ve done this one. Meditatively wandering through the seasons. We know individual plants and corners on this walk as well as we know anywhere. You may have been here before yourself, it’s the one we did a year ago on our ridiculous ‘Running, jumping and standing still (sort of)’ film. I don’t think we could ever tire of it, any more than we could tire of Plot 44, Sefton Park or the Cathedral. This walk is at the core of our beings.

It’s another one over the far side of the Wirral, closer to the mouth of the Estuary than the ‘Cuckoo Lane’ walk we’ve taken you on twice already this year. It centres on Thurstaston, a tiny little village that looks like pure old England.

St Bartholomew’s church yard, Thurstaston

Eager Sarah has found the snowdrops!

And they are gorgeous

So far so idyllic, but what’s this? ‘Memory card full’ my camera blandly informs me. ‘But how can this be?’ I respond (and other non-idyllic phrases that need not concern us here). A few photos in and I’m supposed to make up a whole blog about a church yard? No, fortunately Sarah comes to the rescue with her trusty iPhone. And I take most of the rest of the day’s pictures using the amusingly retro ‘Hipstamatic’ app. Here we go! Continue reading