A life without flowers

By on Dec 7, 2017 in Blog Posts, Cancer, Summer | 7 comments

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“Normality is a paved road: its comfortable but no flowers grow on it” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

I found this quote on my twitter feed this afternoon.

We tell our kids that they can change the world. We tell our colleagues that they have potential for greatness. That they should unleash their potential and aspire for more. We tell them that, if they work hard, they can be extraordinary.

I have an extra-ordinary child, in Josh (in Chris too but this post is about Josh). He is bright beyond measure, he’s brave, and forthright and determined and has “good attitude” in bucket loads. He inspires so many people, including me.

I wish he didn’t. I wish he were surly and average and sulking in his bedroom. I wish he preferred his PlayStation to his parents. I wish he was a pale and peaky youth and listening to inappropriate music with his hoody up and his pants hanging low. I wish he was smoking and drinking and staying out too late. I wish more doors were being slammed and more exams failed. I want more dirty clothes on the floor and dirty dishes under his bed. I dream of a smart-mouth and foul language. I wish for more body odour and fewer showers.

I wish for any damned thing but this.

I am – or at least I was – a coach. I’ve spent the last ten years selling people the dream of achieving greatness. To be leaders and innovators. To change the world.

But what if it was enough not to be any of those things? What if it was enough to get by? To have a comfortable life?

Yesterday Plan B (or was it Plan C?) failed.

The PET scan shows that the tumours in Joshua’s liver are more active. There’s a glowing bright spot that represents a new lesion on his spine.

It’s not over yet, and even if it was there is much to be grateful for. We have had a wonderful year filled with special moments. We’ve taken time to make every day the best it can be. There’s been fewer arguments, less moaning and more appreciation in this year than our other years combined. It’s been a year we didn’t expect to have and we have (mostly) done it RIGHT. I’m proud of Josh. I’m proud of Chris and Shannon. Hell, I’m even proud of myself.

But I would choose shame and ignobility in a heartbeat if you would tell me there was a cure.

I would relish a life without flowers if it meant he would live.


  1. Adelia

    8th December 2017

    Post a Reply

    Dear Penny and family,
    You have been through so much all ready and even though the road ahead is not clear on the directions you need to take you continue to inspire so many people.

    Don’t give up, stay strong and never ever stop believing that he will be cured.

    I will continue to keep you and the family and especially Josh in my prayers and thoughts. May God keep you all safe and may He give you the strength to keep on fighting this horrible disease. May HE show His grace and heal Josh.

    Lots of love

  2. Heather

    8th December 2017

    Post a Reply

    Beautiful writing Penney, as usual. I wish life were more “normal” for you too. Thinking of you and Josh and your whole family. <3

  3. Frieda Marie

    11th December 2017

    Post a Reply

    So truthful and inspirational. The fear of hope is tangible and the irony of the lessons is not lost. Thank you for your honesty.

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