my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

in which I get some bad news


When our lovely daughter Louise died, aged 21, I really felt I didn’t want to go on living. But, gradually, through the love and support of my husband Ross, son Tommy and my fabulous friends, I came to an understanding with life, and realised that I could re-discover my old zest for it.

Since Louise died we have travelled the world – from Bhutan, where we erected prayer flags in her memory, to Kerala, Zimbabwe, Kenya (where we interred her ashes with those of her grandparents), Switzerland to ski and walk in the mountains, and then a move to Singapore with Ross, where we have been capitalising on the delights of the Far East: India, Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Indonesia. All in 9 months!

Suddenly all this recovery is catapulted into outer space. Yesterday I was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma of the calf, and here I am today in hospital having had a biopsy and a PET scan, waiting to hear the prognosis. Our 30th anniversary dream diving holiday to Wakatobi in Sulawesi cancelled – we should be there right now!

*          *          *

The tumor began as a suspected hematoma in the calf, which would not go away: I had a couple of weeks of ultrasound and massage, with lots of stretching but it seemed to get increasingly painful. By Monday this week, I was beginning to have difficulty walking without limping, so decided to go back to the GP. Suddenly I was being rushed to a vascular surgeon, having an MRI, followed by a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon and, finally, today into hospital to have a PET scan and biopsy.

Post biopsy feeling sore! Post biopsy feeling sore!

The last 36 hours have been very dark indeed. Reading up on Soft Tissue Sarcomas (STS) of the calf was hardly comforting: not only is it extremely rare, but also the treatments include chemo, radiotherapy and excisions, sometimes all three, and often two of the above. Then there’s no guarantee that the excision will not affect your nerve, and you might be unlucky enough to lose your leg; at best your calf muscle will probably be damaged.

But the worst scenario is that it could have spread to the soft issues of the lung, liver and pancreas. In that case it is usually terminal.

Last night I could not sleep, hardly surprising really. ‘Why me?’  As Louise would have said, ‘Its not my fault’. What have we done to deserve all this bad luck:  the deaths in close succession of my mother, Louise, and then father, with Ross’s prostate cancer in-between? He at least is now clear. I have never believed in God and I certainly would not be tempted to do so now!

At 3 am I am sitting on my lounger overlooking our softly-lit pool, all calming turquoise and gently fading pinky/mauve lights, the palms gently rustling in the breeze, and breathing in the scented tropical air. Out of nowhere a big storm rolls in, forked lightening and soft rain. I begin to think how much I love my life, my husband, son and friends, and I am not ready to go just yet. So much travelling to do, so much laughter and joy to be had…but later in the darkness of the bedroom as I toss and turn and remember my maxim, Carpe Diem, I can see that elusive day flitting away from me like a will o the wisp,  tantalisingly out of reach.

*              *              *

The worst moment today was when I was recalled to the PET scan: ‘We think we have seen something on your pancreas and liver and need to re-check it’.

As I lie in the tomb-like scan, tears roll down my cheeks, my whole body trying not to convulse – you have to keep very still – silently shouting out, I don’t want to die!

And maybe my time has not yet come: the radiologist confirms that while there was indeed ‘hot spot’ ie tumor in the calf, what they had thought were shadows on the other internal organs turn out to be my gut. Phew!

But we are not out of the woods yet; the precise nature of my tumor has to be diagnosed and treatments agreed. I will come back to England for those, at least 6-7 weeks of horridness. I will probably lose my calf muscle – no more mountain walks – but should be able to ski again in due course. These are small but meaningful mercies if one can at least continue to live.

Author: vickyunwin

I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 ( and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site with my blueprint for health and well-being.

11 thoughts on “in which I get some bad news

  1. My dearest Vicky. Words fail me. You have encountered enough nightmares to last many lifetimes.

    Let’s pray that it’s a local issue and that you have the strength to get through this ordeal, not just for yourself, but for Ross, Tommy and the huge number of friends who adore you.

    I will support you in any way I can 24/7.

    My love to you and healing wishes

    Maryon xxx

  2. I simply can’t believe this. I am so sorry. Everything crossed that this is indeed localised and that the treatment will be successful. Let me know if you need a buddy to accompany you on your hospital visits. We are thinking of you all. Much love – Janie xx

  3. Just a stranger passing by.

    I feel your helplessness. I myself went through a near-death ordeal and was cooped up in the hospital for a month, 6 years back when I was 24. Of which 2 weeks, I was in induced coma and on life-support. The waiting, the never-ending tests, the cold sleepless nights – all of that, I understand.

    You are strong! Look forward to the diving holiday at Sulawesi.

    Hang on in there!

  4. Vicky, this is indeed terrible news for you & your family. Thinking of you & wishing you a safe recovery …your strength of character will be put to another test but I feel sure you’ll hold it all together. With lots of love & positive thoughts.


  5. Oh Vicky what a bloody nightmare – I am so sorry – you absolutely do not deserve this after everything you have been through – you have inspired everybody with the way you not only coped but grasped life again after losing your beloved Little Lou – you are a strong and amazing woman and I know in my heart that you will be fine but that doesn’t take away the fact that you have some difficult weeks ahead of you – I still remember how you supported me through my blog when I was ill 6 years ago so please keep all those who love you posted through your blog and keep that chin up xxxxx

  6. Dreadful news Vicky. We are so sorry and thinking and praying for you. Tim and Mary-Ann xx

  7. Such bad news, especially when you deserve all the breaks – given what you have already had to deal with. Please start planning NOW for the good times, the treats you will give yourself when you come through this, the lands you will visit, the seas in which you will swim, the mountains you will scale. Draw them, dream them, envision them. And, when you go to sleep… think of Mana Pools and the elephants and the Great Zambesi… these will all succor you in the darkness before the dawn. Your friends and family are all with you, Ross and Tommy, and we will be the wind beneath your wings. So much love to you… always and forever


  8. oh Vix I’m sorry to hear this, thinking of you. Apply some old African magic & grit and it will see you through. lots & lots of love to you & Ross. Robs xxxx

  9. Dear dear Vicky, words fail me, the sheer bad luck of it all. I am thinking of your description of the storm rolling in on the horizon and the glimmer of the light of the day to come, let that be the analogy for this dreadful situation. I hope the storm doesn’t last for too long, that the lightening is minimal, the rain gentle and that a new dawn is quick to follow. I send you much love Caroline xx

  10. Dearest Vicky

    What a bolt from the blue. Just can’t believe what life has thrown at you but I see you are already planning a strategy to get through each day and hopefully you will be able to draw on the energy, love and support of all those around you who love you so dearly to help you through this and out the other side to celebrate life … and your 30th anniversary. Our fondest love to Ross and Tommy but most of all to you, Chrissie and Richard xx

  11. Dear Vicky,
    Chris and I wish you lots of courage and strength, I am sure in 2014 not too far away, you will start discovering new horizons again, Hugs and love, Gul

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