Don’t get your hopes up

Don’t hold your breath

The die hasn’t been cast yet

It ain’t over till its over

Don’t sell the skin before you’ve caught the bear

There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip

Don’t jinx it

Don’t get ahead of yourself


The phrase don’t count your chickens before they hatch, is playing on repeat.

The terrifying, hopeful, standing-on-the cliff-edge thing is that Josh seems to be getting better.

“Did you notice his face, this morning?” I whisper to Shannon as Josh goes to shower. Shannon silently guides me into the hallway and points at a picture of Josh taken four or five years ago. Over the last eight months we’ve seen Joshua’s weight drop and drop and drop but sometime in the last six weeks the trend has, mercifully, been reversed. His cheeks have plumped out. Looking at him this morning, I see more of the Josh in the photo and less of Ivan Lendl. Don’t count your chickens.

The orange plastic vomit bowl that’s lived by his bed for eight months has been taken downstairs. He hasn’t needed it in more than a month. Don’t count your chickens.

Josh pretends he doesn’t notice our goofy, hopeful/fearful smiles. It’s a school holiday and he wants to get in some time on the PlayStation before his brother wakes up. Even this is a triumph – for months reading, playing computer games, and even watching TV has required more concentration than he has to give. Don’t count your chickens.

Shannon and I admire Josh’s bum as he leaves. There’s meat on it! We speculate: Is this the Y90 doing its job? The new chemo regime kicking in? The benefits of following the new diet? The effects of his Reach for a Dream trip? Don’t count your chickens.

Over and over I find myself catching Shannon’s eye. Did you see how much he ate? Did you notice how far he walked today? Did you catch the sound of him laughing with Chris? Don’t count your chickens.

I mentally catalogue of changes:

  • Weight up. Don’t count your chickens
  • Nausea and vomiting, once in the last month. Don’t count your chickens.
  • Energy up and hours spent sleeping down. Don’t count your chickens.
  • Physical stamina up. Don’t count your chickens.
  • Blood clots gone. Don’t count your chickens.
  • Mental energy and humour, better. Don’t count your chickens.

When I am alone though, the filthy voice counters:

  • He gets nosebleeds. He’s probably developed another blood clotting disorder.
  • His abdomen looks swollen to me. The ascites is coming back.
  • He doesn’t have side effects from the chemo YET.
  • He gets tired too easily. His haemoglobin must ben low.
  • His shoulder aches. That’s sure to be referred liver pain.
  • His skin looks yellow. He is getting jaundice!
  • He eats ice. That’s a sign of anaemia. He probably has another bleed.

“Notice that Josh is gaining weight. Enjoy it. Don’t infer anything.” The voice of sanity implores.

“It’s a blip! There. Is. No. Cure! He’s not a transplant candidate! His liver is still enlarged! You will loose him! Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!” The filthy voice roars back.

The battle rages night and day.

And when I stand back, here’s what I understand: Cancer will never leave. At best Josh will be able to say, “I have beaten cancer for now”. Only the spectre of loosing to it offers a definitive end.

My internal factions are noisy and chaotic and ungrateful and annoying and, I realise, they are adorable when pitted against their cold cousin certainty. I think I’ll keep them for now.


Don't count your chickens but he's eating!  five years ago