Everybody has a book in them, or so it's said. But it's something else again getting it onto the page and to a place where it might be shared.

I have been writing since I was a young child. Always, my dream was to see my name on the spine of a book. Books gave me life, a dream to live by. Through their portals I could escape so easily into other worlds. Books also saved my life ... yes, really!

This is the story of my books and my journey as an author, including a very personal view of my journey through Life. I hope it will inspire and give hope to writers and readers young and old.

Getting published can be a waiting game. It's hard .. and getting harder. But then sometimes it can happen in an unexpected way and suddenly, we truly are living our dream. And we realise that it isn't after all the winning that is important, but the journey that is ours along the way.

I would love to hear from anyone who connects with what is written here. A signed copy of any of my books is available. You have only to write and ask:

Wednesday, 6 March 2019


Broken-Hearted Clown
In my last Post I shared my own personal experience of living with Cancer. I'd like to be able to say it as it is, but often there are no words to adequately describe emotion. You have to feel it, to live it, to truly understand. Most of the time I feel out of kilter with the world. People talk of Summer. Look forward to spending time with family and friends. Book holidays in the sun. They have a future. Something to reach for, to live for ... dreams just as real to them even on a cloud-filled day.

As I write this, I am exhausted. It an exhaustion reaching right through to my soul. Life comes one small step at a time. A challenge a day - a letter to write, nothing too drastic like cleaning or clearing out a cupboard, something I'm longing to do! On really bad days, it's simply about getting up, sitting on the sofa, having something to eat, reaching the end of the chapter of a book. It sounds pathetic ... but it's just the way it is.

Cancer isn't the only thing going on with me. A lot of mental/emotional symptoms are indicative of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress) which I've lived with ever since I was young. I struggle to walk because of chronic osteo-arthritis. I can't write or draw or grip because of arthritic hands. My only consolation is that I can still speed type which is a Blessing. Meanwhile, the Cancer travels on, perhaps reaching into my bones with time, adding further layers of pain, difficulty and frustration I have yet to face. People try to push me into treatment.

'There is another way!' ... they say.

Saying 'No' to treatment doesn't mean I'm in denial. Nor am I running away or quitting. No-one can run from Cancer. As I've said before, I believe in 'Quality' rather than 'Quantity' of life. I don't want to spend the end of my days, however long or short that might be, recovering or going through treatment ordeals which leave me weak, vulnerable, and in constant need of care. I'm not afraid of reaching the end, of Death itself. But right now I'm still on the journey towards that state of being. Once begun, it can often prove agonising, always challenging, fraught with difficulties and upset, disillusionment and an over-riding sense of loss and grief and pain ... and yes, Fear!

No-one can forecast how the end will come. Everyone is different. Even the same Cancers react differently in people.

In the past, I have used pain in the aftermath of challenging experiences as a way of sharing openly with others who feel equally devastated, abandoned, betrayed, alone. It's a positive way of showing others they're not alone. We can reach out ... connect ... help one another through.

I have sat in cold dark places with young people who feel they have no future, listening and learning from them what brought them to this state of being. Writing books about pain has been both a cathartic experience and a strength, creating a voice and a space for others to identify with and share, learning that there is a life beyond this physical, emotional, mindless pain they feel now. I have spoken at Conferences, teaching professionals what it feels like to be the other side of their desks, to be the one not listened to or understood, the one left abandoned, isolated, insecure, alone in a dark and desperate place where no-one wants to be.

Yes, there can be a positive purpose to pain.

But right now, for me, no-one is listening. No-one is hearing how it really feels.

Who do I turn to as another agonising migraine shifts my sight, creating swirls and patterns, which morph into an endless tunnel of darkness, a pinprick of light shining far far away, where at the end of which is ...


TOTAL BLACKNESS rules my world.

I feel my way around my home. Seeing it in my mind's eye. Climbing stairs. Finding my bed using instinct, sinking beneath the duvet exhausted by the dread that my sight may never return. The dawn of a new day brings light, exploding, paralysing, blinding, intrusive, unyielding. I draw the curtains, blocking out the day. Yes, I can see again, but pain implodes in my head. The cycle repeats, happening over and over again.

I've got to make some positive out of all this madness and pain, and all I can think of is separating out the confusion of stress busy knitting itself into a garment which tightens its grip around my head for another round. Once I have my list, however small each stress might be, it's about dealing with them one at a time:
  1. One-to-one support is something I urgently need. A Cancer Specialist to talk with and share my fears ... what to expect, who and when to call rather than waiting for an emergency. I've had pens and leaflets given me, each of which presents the clear message: 'For as long as it takes ... no-one need ever be alone with Cancer!' It's a wonderful, inspiring message offering Hope. But it's not true, or I wouldn't be where I am right now, in such a dark place that folds in on itself, making me feel like a small anxious needy and very frightened Child.
  2. Finance ... I need someone who can give constructive advice and support, working through my income and outgoings, discovering if there is anything I'm entitled to and not getting,
  3. End Days ... ensuring I have my Will, and a signed certificate saying 'No Resuscitation'
  4. Travel is totally out of the question. I need to stay with the familiar or it presents another frightening scenario. Without transport of my own, going anywhere involves some kind person offering a lift, hiring a taxi, or travelling by train. I cancel my forthcoming annual journey to Norfolk where veterans and families of RAF 100 Group Association gather in May. It will be only the second time I have missed this annual event in over twenty years, shared with my Family of Kindred Spirits.
  5. Group involvement ... being with people is something I just can't handle right now. That might change in the future. But for now, it becomes a stress when it means keeping up a 'front', holding it in place long enough. I exclude myself from groups.
  6. Pain Management
I keep switching the heating off to save energy, power, money. I eat a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, bowl of soup for lunch, slice of toast for tea. Living frugally is the order of the day. But then we were poor in childhood. I learned from experience how to cut corners and save, to 'make do and mend' ... as they used to say. There is the ongoing dread about Council Tax due to start again next month. Yes, I do it in easy stages, paying monthly, but it still takes from what little I have.

Pill Party Zone!
Latest news in is that finally, I've had an upgrade in medication and a higher dosage of Morphine manages pain to a better degree, alongside a cocktail of pills for other disabilities. These disabilities mesh with the Cancer so it's not always possible to know the source of pain. Pain doesn't come labelled! So when asked where pain is coming from ... hey, it isn't that easy! I don't always know. Yet I'm the one experiencing it! I live every moment of life with a symphony of different kinds of pain working in grating harmony throughout my body.

Oh joy!!!

It can be hard to understand why we suffer, why people live with pain, how pain becomes a living breathing entity with a life all its own caught within the entrails of our body. Usually the worst kind of pain comes from within, hidden in dark places others cannot see. It's impossible to explain. To make sense of, to understand, even for the person in pain.

Yet it is this very Pain that provides a connection with others in a profound way ... enabling, empowering, embracing, connecting with people on their own journey of pain, providing companionship, and the means to help and support others. This in turn provides a unique blend of comfort, understanding, warmth and love, drawing people out of dark lonely places, and on into the light.

God can use our suffering in unexpected ways.

Pain can become a Gift.

Through sharing how we feel, we touch lives ... lives which otherwise would remain stagnant and still, unaware they are not as alone as they feel. There are so many others in the wider world who can accompany them on their journey ... there for them when they stumble, picking them up when they fall, holding on during those times when you just want to let go and die.

There is purpose in pain.

We don't have to deny or try to block out or ignore our pain, but instead, find ways of using it to the Power of Good.

God is using me now.

I know this is true because ...


Aching for a cuddle, comfort, company ... a Friend!

Then again, what about the pain inside as well as out?

Bandages identify physical pain. They indicate where that pain is, making it easier to understand. It's pain that will heal ... maybe. While inside, there is so much more going on for which there are no words. If only it were as simple as handing over emotional pain and the experience from which it came to someone and saying:

'Here ... hold this for a while so that you can understand how I feel and what is happening to me.'

We can't do that.

Mental and emotional pain cannot be seen.

If you haven't shared the experience, you can't truly understand. So people with this kind of pain pretend they're okay, trying to become the way people need them to be. Yet all the while, inside, it feels like the long silent scream that goes on ... and on ... and on. It grows, festers, clogs, stopping healing taking place. Healing in this instance takes time, trust, patience, sharing, and more than anything else, finding someone to trust, to share with and believe in, knowing they will treat you as an equal rather than a broken person.

There's another name for what I'm talking about here. It's called: 'Holding Space'.  It means opening our hearts to someone in need, offering unconditional support, letting go of judgement and control ... simply being there for another human being, treating them with dignity and respect and as an equal no matter what their experience, who they are, however much you know about them.

Heather Plett's blog about just this touches me deeply, and I feel the most positive step I can take now is to pass this on to my readers:

Heather was able to offer her mother a gift just when she needed it most ...


I'd love to be in the same position as her mother when my time comes.

Held in love, copyright Janine Harrington

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