Ally McLaws – living with cancer during a pandemic: A week in the life of someone who counts the days

There’s been a lot happening in my life this past week – makes a change from the usual routine of pill swallowing, sleeping and shuffling about the place.

For a start, on Sunday my mate Stuart completed the Berlin Marathon in fine style and between our fundraising pals and family raised more than £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. More than 2,770 Facebook and LinkedIn viewers followed my tracking app commentary during the run and we tuned in as Stuart lost his nipple guards and ran the last 15 minutes bare-chested.

Monday was an unexpected trip to hospital to unblock my PICC line in time for treatment on Tuesday which took me back to ward five of Crosshouse Hospital for half a day.

I’ve mentioned before the horrible side-effects I’ve been suffering with this new treatment regime which began 12 weeks ago. A horrible taste from food and a second skin growth which sheds constantly on my tongue – just not pleasant at all. The medics have recommended a fungal treatment – and yes, it’s another pill to be taken twice a day.

This now boosts my tablet intake to 22 first thing in the morning; 12 in the middle of the day; an injection in the midrift about lunchtime; and seven more tablets after dinner. There are even variations in what tablets to take depending on how close I am to receiving chemotherapy or having just had it. I am so glad I only have to swallow them and can rely on Laura to sort them all out.

The celebrant’s words and service order are now written and signed off. My friend and I worked on the eulogy and it’s agreed and finalised too. My sister’s reading is in hand, Laura has selected a verse and I’ve written my personal message – so that’s a good thing for us to put behind us now.

On Friday, the district nurse came round to “service” the PICC line in my arm. I have had calls and letters from the NHS regarding my third Covid booster and flu jab, and also about going for another MRI scan to check on the radiotherapy treatment on my brain tumours. Then there were the online forms to register and complete for our Covid passports – not that we intend on going clubbing anytime soon!

Today, I might clear out more stuff from the wardrobe and see if I have any heirlooms worth leaving to my kids.

I’ve got an old Esso World Cup sticker wall chart with only two badges missing; a few old watches; some cuff-links; two bags of golf clubs; and a couple of typewriters up the loft to divide up.

There will be no fighting over my rubbish when I go, that’s for sure.

Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. See the full range of services and all columns at

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992