Tag Archives: breast cancer

An archive to mark a milestone

One year ago this week, I began chemotherapy, following an operation for breast cancer that I alluded to here.  I managed to keep my blog going for another month or so, but eventually it was just too hard, and I gave it up in early December 2012.  After I finished radiotherapy in April, I started blogging again here in May this year. That means that there is a gap of nearly 5 months during which I wrote no posts, which made it awkward to start adding a ‘This time last year’ link to the bottom of posts, as I had done in 2012.

So I’ve been meaning for some time to put together links to all my blog posts in a single file. You can now find any of my posts through the ‘All Posts’ link above the header, which takes you to a drop down menu by year.

It has been interesting going through the whole run of posts.  I’ve found a few broken links, which I have/will fix, but please alert me to any others you may find.  I realise I have a terrible enthusiasm for puns in my titles, which seem hilarious at the time, but now just mean that readers will have no idea what the theme of the post was.  Can I recommend Her Dedication and Our Sedentary Ways as examples of this?

Some of the posts are dated – who cares about Sarah Palin any more? Others made depressingly accurate predictions about the decline of the Australian Labor Party or the rise of the military in Egypt. In general, I don’t make any claim for the predictive power of history, though I stand by the quote on my header:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

My doctors, on the other hand, have been able to give a much less depressing prediction for my own future. I had various scans a fortnight ago and things are going well.


Thank God for Anaesthesia

Fanny Burney, diarist, letter-writer and novelist, was one of Jane Austen’s favourite writers.  She was the second daughter of the musician and writer, Charles Burney.  She was born in 1752, and spent her early years in Norfolk, but the family moved to London in 1770.

In 1778, Fanny published her first novel, Evelina, or, A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, and other novels followed.  She became a member of the ‘Blue Stocking Club’.  In 1786 she became ‘second keeper of the robes to Queen Charlotte’, with a salary of £200 per year, 2 servants and an apartment in Windsor Castle.  Her social-climbing father loved her appointment, but Fanny apparently hated it, especially from 1788, when George III began to show signs of madness.  She retired from the court on half-pay in 1791.

Frances Burney's (1752–1840) last novel before...

Frances Burney (1752–1840)  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile the French Revolution had broken out.  During a break in Surrey the next year, Fanny met a group of émigrés who had settled nearby, including Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Piochard D’Arblay, the former adjutant to the marquis de Lafayette.

Despite her father’s disapproval, they married, in the Church of England on 28 July 1793, and a second time, 2 days later, by Roman Catholic rites.  It was a happy marriage, although they had nothing to live on except Fanny’s £100 pension and the profits of her writing.  The following year, at the age of 42, Fanny bore a son, Alexandre.

In 1802, the Peace of Amiens ended Britain’s long war with France – temporarily as it turned out.  D’Arblay had returned to France in 1801 to try to retrieve his property, and now Fanny and their son joined him in Paris.  When war broke out again, the family was trapped, and Fanny didn’t return to England until 1812.

In September 1811, Fanny D’Arblay was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she would need a mastectomy.  There was no anesthesia and precious little hygiene.  Fanny later described her operation to her sister, Esther:

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