The day I found out my cancer was back again was a shocking day. After all the treatment, the love, the support of everyone, the expert medical intervention, phenomenal care and sophisticated drugs, it was back. Despite determination on my part, it was still back.

That morning at the end of April dawned dry and pleasant. My heart was full of hope. I imagined that my scans from the day before would be clear and I’d have three months of real living.

After a cancer diagnosis, you live from scan to scan. I’d gone through all the likelihoods and hoped that thinking of the possibilities meant they couldn’t happen.

I had reared a hundred beautiful dairy heifers. I’d put another hundred Angus cross calves through my hands. I was proud of my work. Colm and Elaine and baby Peter had moved in next door. The swallows were back. The garden needed attention after not feeling my fingers for a year. I had the whole summer ahead and I’d get to it.

Tim and I waited in Dr Deirdre O’Mahony’s rooms. Deirdre appeared at the door wearing a glamorous blue tiered dress.

I envied her flowing blonde hair. My hairdresser Michael had said that I’d have highlights for Christmas. I passed Deirdre and my eyes landed on the desk and I knew something was amiss. It had a neat bundle of papers on it. Deirdre’s desk is always clear when she has good news.

There has been a change...

There was a bit of chit chat and then she cut to the chase. “There has been a change, it’s back across your lungs.” The tears flowed freely down my face. The colour drained from Tim’s. It’s so important to have someone with you. I couldn’t focus. I knew Tim could, so I allowed self-pity and despair to overtake me.

Deirdre gently pointed out the ominous white specks on my lungs. I knew I was in terrifying territory. I’d been there before but there had been hope. The words “advanced metastasised cancer” were mentioned. Deirdre recommended a new chemotherapy. It would begin immediately. Her goal was to stabilise the cancer, give me a quality of life and hopefully some time. The remainder of my life will involve treatment. The pain of the loss of my life as I knew it was stifling. Terror consumed me.

By the time you read this, I will have received my third round of new chemotherapy. I just could not write about it before now. It will happen over 24 hours every three weeks

Somehow, we limped out of that office. There was someone waiting to go in. All I saw was a shimmer of colour swimming before me as my tears partially blinded me. We held hands as we crossed the carpark to our car, squeezing fiercely to somehow eradicate what we’d heard.

Once again, I had to make the awful calls to my sons to join us around the kitchen table. Julie would already be there. It was the cruellest news to have to impart to my nearest and dearest. I was conscious of keeping the message simple for Diarmuid. “D, my cancer is back and I must have more treatment.” His face fell and I tried to hold it together. It was truly Groundhog Day. Back to spring of last year. I was broken.

I’m not going to pretend I’m brave or to tell you that I’m coping well. I’m not. I am trying to keep perspective. I might be lucky and I might not. I am trying to find ways of not thinking about it. Tim and I have to live and we must laugh and get on with our lives. Yes, we have the biggest black cloud pushing down on us. It crushes us at times and we cry and start over. That’s all we can do. I want to see my grandchildren grow. I want to see my own children continue to flourish. I want to be part of their lives. I want Tim and I to continue to share our lives.

By the time you read this, I will have received my third round of new chemotherapy. I just could not write about it before now. It will happen over 24 hours every three weeks. People don’t know what to say and I understand that. Neither do I. I will dig deep in the garden, I will rear more calves, I will love my people fiercely for as long as I can.

I need to get away from Groundhog Day.