I'm not a particularly musical person. My husband Dean thinks my musical tastes are appalling, and my Spotify playlists are at best, pretty ropey. However, during my cancer 'journey' there were many songs that summed up my state of mind, the emotional highs and lows and the transition from loss to hope.
This is my soundtrack to cancer:
You're All I Need To Get By - Aretha Franklin
This was played at our wedding, and is dedicated to Dean. Clearly Dean wasn't all I needed to get by (chemo, radiotherapy, whole brain radiotherapy and three surgeries were pretty pivotal), but he has been absolutely phenomenal throughout.
You're My Best Friend - Queen
I dedicate this to my unfailing supporter, best friend, ally, and defender, my Dad. Present at every appointment and every hospital admission, my Dad stayed strong even though his remaining daughter was looking like she may not make it. There are no words to describe how wonderful this man is.
(Something Inside) So Strong - Labi Siffre
This disease with its partner in crime, migraine, did test my physical and mental strength. But, I'm still here...
No Surprises - Radiohead
Cancer delivered a fair number of punches and blows, a terminal diagnosis having me on the ropes (to over-use a boxing analogy). After repeated bad news, I just prayed for no surprises.
Underdog (Save Me) - Turin Brakes
I knew I was spiritually saved, but there were many moments when I wanted to be saved from the grim realities of cancer.
Beat It - Michael Jackson
No-one 'beats' cancer although some are fortunate enough to keep it in abeyance. You just take arms against it with any tools you have at your disposal. Mine were friendship, love, prayer, faith and hope.
Faith - George Michael
Without it, cancer can seem insurmountable. For me, faith underpinned my journey.
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
There have been some very troubled waters in my life to date, but I have been blessed with the sturdiest of bridges that even Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have been proud of.
Amazing Grace - John Newton
Such a beautiful hymn. 'Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.' These lyrics really resonated with me and still do.
Can I Kick It? - A Tribe Called Quest
Well it was kicked, but mine was only a bit part whilst the key players (brain surgeons, oncologists and specialists) took centre stage.
Harder Than You Think - Public Enemy
Cancer treatment is freakishly hard, mentally and physically. However, the more it throws at you, the more you build up your inner strength (whilst your outer strength is that of a new-born chick).
With a Little Help from My Friends - Joe Cocker
As emotionally sung by Lady Kate at my 'pre-funeral funeral' (an unusual get-together of 200 friends and family to say my goodbyes), this absolutely cemented what I already knew. My friends are incredible.
Getting Better - The Beatles
Just when I was completely at peace with my lot, some green shoots appeared. Instead of the imminent death we had all prepared for, there was a joyous yet tentative period of improvement. Could this really be happening?
Feeling Good - Muse
What a turnaround! I was not only feeling well. I was feeling good.
One Day Like This - Elbow
Despite numerous hiccups and false alarms, the unthinkable happened! Expecting the usual bad news, at an appointment to ascertain the results of a worrying thorax scan, my oncologist explained away the non-cancer related findings and unequivocally pronounced that I was in remission. Wow! You don't get many days like that.
Jump Around - House of Pain
Cue, a blast of my favourite track, Jump Around. This mind-blowing miracle led to a celebration of life, God's grace, a good-bye to pain and a tentative step towards a new life.
Hallelujah - Alexandra Burke
God is amazing. Fact.
Go Where You Wanna Go - The Mamas & The Papas
Woo hoo! My driving licence was returned two years after my seizure. A huge step for me and a huge relief to everyone who had been patiently driving me around.
Heroes - David Bowie
Finally, this song is for all those who are going through cancer. To the survivors. To those who have lost their lives. To those who have lost a loved one. To everyone in my personal journey. You are heroes to me.
If you want to listen to this eclectic (or more appropriately) eccentric Spotify playlist, you can find it below.