Christmas stories

Catriona's story

Catriona's storyChristmas 2010 was a strange one, I feared it may be my last, and I wanted to make it count.

It fell between my final two cycles of chemotherapy for an aggressive primary cancer. I was bald, bloated, fatigued and afraid. Nonetheless, I was determined to share in the annual Community Christmas Day lunch organised by local churches. With my jolly, red Santa hat pulled on firmly, I helped serve our assorted guests, many with complex or chaotic lives, with a delicious meal.

I paused to serve soup to an older woman, mother of one of the organisers, who has cognitive impairment following a severe brain injury.

“Young lady,” she said, “can I tell you something?”

I nodded and waited. Her eyes crinkled into a smile and she uttered just two words: “You’re beautiful”.

The bland reality is that she said this to every woman present, probably several times. But in that moment, the kind eyes, the happy face and two small words were a precious, priceless gift, piercing my unspoken sadness and filling me with joy.

Five years later, fit, well and in remission, I still treasure the gift of words spoken to my soul.


  • 56 years ago