It’s been two weeks since my Everest expedition was cancelled (well, hopefully postponed). Thank you to everyone who wrote to me with their condolences after they saw my post on social media or read it in the news. And if you didn’t already know, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why.
It feels pretty insignificant right now – everyone’s life has been turned upside down. And a decade of unsuccessful IVF got me well prepared for things not going to plan. Actually, if I’m honest, it makes it easier when you’re not alone. I’m just experiencing the same feelings as all the Olympic athletes who have been training so hard for this summer; and all the people who have had major life occasions cancelled – like couples who had weddings planned; and young people who were preparing for exams. Everest will still be there next year, and the year after that, and if I ever get to stand on top of her, it will be all the sweeter.
So I’m fine, and luckily everyone close to me is too. It’s a bit weird looking at an empty diary – probably for the first time in my life. But I’ve never been a person who had a problem finding things to do. My messy cupboards should be very afraid. I’ll be baking cakes if I can get my hands on any flour (I couldn’t yesterday). And I’ll be writing. I’ve been working on my third book for the last three years. It involves a massive research project – the biggest I’ve taken on – and the chance to focus on it over the next few months is a blessing. So here’s a teaser – this week I’ve let my research take me to World War II heroes– from Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader to Dame Vera Lynn (can you believe she’s just turned 103 and re-released her song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – how poignant!)
I’ve been using it as inspiration to think about what I can do to help the world in this time of war…
As a fertility campaigner, my heart goes out to all the patients who are devastated by having upcoming cycles cancelled. I know how hard it is to feel you’re running out of time. Also, to those who are pregnant after a long fertility struggle. Having waited for this, I know that excitement has been eclipsed by fear for many of them. And to all the people who are unhappily childless when family feels more important than ever.
As a human being, I feel for all the NHS workers on the front-line, risking their own health and lives to help others. And the people who are having to say goodbye to loved ones and who have lost their jobs and businesses. I can’t see how it will be financially possible to bail everyone out. I’ve also been thinking a lot about anyone who is feeling lonely right now – because human connection is vital to human happiness. Researching and writing my book 21 Miles taught me that.
So I won’t be flying to Nepal on Monday. But I will be trying to do something to help – I’ve signed up as a NHS Volunteer and I’m also planning what else I can do. It will be big. It will be brave. Because that’s my job.
Stay safe and well,