So it’s back into Southmead Hospital tomorrow (Tuesday) for me – with surgery on Wednesday to remove the growth on my shoulder – and along with it most of my shoulder blade. I’m unsure whether or not they will fit something there to replace the scapula – but the surgeon did say that I will recover most of the use of my arm and shoulder – so that’s good. Quite honestly I’ll be glad to get this over and done with. I am in a fair amount of constant discomfort and frequent pain, and this operation will – I hope – remove at least one cause of it all. And the other thing is that as soon as I’ve had this operation we can then programme in the radiotherapy in a couple of week’s time.

I’ve “slowed down” a bit in the mornings over the past week or so. It takes me an hour or so to get going and for the painkillers to kick-in. Once I’ve caught my second breath and been moving about for a while, then I am relatively ok – but I do tire easily and yet I am getting bags of sleep! However, I am assured that if all goes according to plan I will be more or less back to normal after a short recovery period. I certainly hope so! Those of you who know me well will know that I have never been ill in my entire life – and never been in hospital before. So, it doesn’t come easily – and I don’t like it!!!!!!!

However there are some compensations – not least the number of friends and family who have taken the trouble to come and see me or write or phone. Despite my current predicament, I saw most of my “Elmore” cousins on Friday when we laid to rest our last remaining aunt on Friday at Dummer, near Basingstoke. Auntie May Rose – Maisie as she was universally known – was the youngest of eight siblings, born in June 1917 – and she was my Godmother. She had been ill for sometime and spent the last few years of her life in a charming nursing home near Dummer, where she was extremely well cared for. Her funeral – officiated at by my good friend Fr Clive Parnell-Hopkinson – was a bespoke affair. She was shouldered into church by two nephews and two great-nephews; another nephew, a niece and great niece read the lessons; and a further niece and great niece paid her a tribute in the service. All-in-all a very family affair.

The night before the funeral we had the pleasure of the company not only of Martin (who stayed for the weekend) but also of Petty Officer Paul McQueer. Paul and I met when I was at Faslane, since when we have become good chums. On Saturday one of my cousins from the other side of my family – cousin Robert King – arrived and stayed for the rest of the weekend. Terrific to see him. And the icing on the cake of weekend visitors was when Lt Cdr Richard Williams and his lovely wife Caroline came for Saturday lunch and also for tea when they were joined by Commodore Andy Willmett. Richard and I served together in HMS FEARLESS when he was the flight commander on board. We shared some hilarious runs ashore in various exotic corners of the world – not least a Mexican-champagne-fuelled-time in The First American Coral Beach Hotel in Cancun, and a subsequent visit to a Mayan Indian village deep in the Mexican countryside. For our expedition, we had booked an open-top VW Beetle. However, when we went to pick-up the car it was not exactly an open top. Sure enough it had no top. But it was just a regular Beetle the top of which had been removed – cut off by an angle grinder!

Cdre Willmett was the top man in Gibraltar for most of our time out there (1997-2000) and was a stalwart of the King’s Chapel and sang in the church choir. It was from his house that we watched the spectacular fire works display in Gibraltar harbour on Millennium Night. Great to see a good pal!

So – today an easy day after the busy-ness of the weekend. Having said that a college friend of mine, Fr Nick De Keyser is very kindly calling today and taking me out to lunch at The Lime Kiln pub. I think I’ll need to go to hospital for a rest!!!!

I hope to be home again on Friday – all being well. Meanwhile I expect Fiona will be keeping the blog up-to-date with all the news – oh! And there are some new pics on the blog if you’re interested.

Comments on this entry:

  1. My dear friend Graeme,

    Forgive me, I’ve only just found out that you’ve been engaged in an Oncological battle, in which I pray to God that you win! My San Diego colleague and friend Fr Ned Kelly knew that I was your oppo and has just told me about your battle and this blog – hence here I am!

    Graeme, may I say publicly now how much I have enjoyed yours and Fiona’s friendship over the years and in particular when we lived next door to one another in Boulter Lane in the early 90’s. And I’ll never forget how supportive Fiona was to Joan, my late wife, when I was deployed. Also Graeme, I’m not sure that I’ve ever thanked you properly for officiating so lovingly, earnestly and professionally at Joan’s funeral back in June 2005 – you were a great source of comfort to me and my sons at the time.

    Now you bugger! – beat this cancer so that we can have a few beers together WHEN I next see you!

    Love Bob.

    Lt Cdr Robert Hawkins MBE Royal Navy · Tuesday 27 January, 2009 · #

  2. Dear Fiona

    Thank you so much for the news. I’m so pleased that all went accordingly to plan and obviously its good news about the decision to ‘blast’ the tumour on Graeme’s ribs. Do give him my very best wishes and of course I’m thinking of you both.

    Take care.
    Love. Irene

    — Irene Dougherty · Thursday 29 January, 2009 · #