Taking the plunge

No matter what the scan results had been that Friday, Tom and I had planned to go to the small Greek island of Lefkas for a week.  A holiday was just what we needed. Tom had been working without a day off for five weeks and I was beginning to feel stronger; my body was getting used to the chemo and the effects of radiotherapy were behind me.

Literally taking the plunge

I longed to swim in the sea and lie in the sunshine; no hospital appointments, no daytime TV, no emails from people wanting to know the latest – just Tom and I and beautiful beaches. Our suitcases were packed and I was planning on leaving cancer at home.

“How much?!” I choked down the phone. Insurance for a week in Greece was going to set me back £300! As soon as you mention the big C to insurance companies they start adding zeros. Going to the states? The figure begins to resemble a telephone number. The whole booking experience is upsetting enough, with a random stranger casually running through their checklist asking, “So, is your case terminal?”

“Well the pessimistic doctors think I’m fucking terminal, yeah. But I don’t, I think I’ll beat it but I guess you’re more interested in what Current Consultant thinks. So yes, I am terminally ill at 28. Anything in your life that’s not working out quite the way you planned it?”

But of course I didn’t say that. My diplomatic middle-class answer came out more like, “Er, well yes, they tell me that’s the case,” and the insurance begrudgingly paid we were off like any other couple.

That’s what is so great about the chemo I’m on; no one can tell I’ve got cancer. My disguise is convincing; energetically sprouting hair and thick, long eyelashes enable me to look like any other 28-year-old woman. My only give-away? Roll my sleeve up and puncture marks and the occasional bruise decorate my arm from endless blood tests.

And now, as they say, for something completely different. The villa was stunning and the views of the beautiful turquoise sea were breathtaking; this was just what we needed. On the second night of the holiday Tom and I returned to the villa after a meal out. As we looked out over our balcony towards the bay we admired the beautifully lit up pool of the neighbouring villa.

“Let’s go down to our pool,” Tom suggested. We wandered down to find our pool lights weren’t working; it was pitch black. I looked up in wonder at the stars; you don’t get that in Brixton. As I looked back down Tom had gone. Then I looked further down and I realised he was on his knee. As one of my best friends often says in a moment where words fail you, ‘Eeeeek!’

I was caught a little off guard. We’d talked about marriage but I didn’t think a proposal would come in the pitch black – we could hardly see each other! “Yes,” I said through tears. A ring was slid onto my finger. ‘It’s massive,’ I thought and then I caught sight of it. A multi-coloured parrot ring with pink, faux diamond eyes. The perfect fit but not quite what I’d imagined.

The ring!

After we had gathered ourselves together and headed back inside Tom explained that he’d wanted to propose by the pool but when we got down there, discovering that the lights were out, he’d already plucked up the courage to ask and went ahead despite the lack of light! The ring was a prop belonging to the flamboyant character Brian Badonde from the TV show Facejacker, which Tom was producing.  We would choose the real ring together when we returned to London.

That night we were once again giving the cancer the V’s. We believed we had a future together and we would face the challenges that lay ahead as a team. One of the nicest parts of that evening was making the calls and sending out the texts to loved ones; for the first time in a while we had good news to share – we loved each other and we were getting married.

Me and Tom


32 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Davina Bidart
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 13:24:08

    Congratulations on your fantastic news and the ring is gorgeous.
    Thinking of you
    The Bidart Family
    Down Under xx


  2. michelle
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 14:05:26

    Congratulations. You write so well on the blog and really funny at times. I dont know how you do it but what else is there to do. A fellow cancer patient, Michelle


  3. Midge
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 22:15:54

    Congratulations. Enjoy every minute.


  4. Pam
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 09:35:56

    yessssss xx


  5. Rachel
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 19:38:28

    This made me smile and shed a tear or two (of happiness). Such exciting news for you and Tom to share at last. I found people to be so lovely and excited when we got engaged and i’m sure you’ve also found this-savour it! What a romantic fiance you have-hope the wedding planning is going well. Do you have a dress or am I jumping ahead of the blogg??xx


  6. Becoming herself
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 07:56:40

    Such wonderful news – and beautifully told, too. Many congratulations. Lovely pic of you both.


  7. Sarah Croft
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 16:49:59

    Hi Ellie, I was so sorry to hear that you had been unwell. A friend of your mums told me about your blog. Have just read it all and have laughed, cried. You are truly inspirational. Sending you much love from a very old friend; Sarah Daglish. A big congratulations to you and your very handsome fiance. Take care xxxxx


  8. Ness
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 18:49:05

    Hi Ellie-congratulations to you!-my cousin Pip thought I should read your blog for a number of reasons and i have to say you are a fabulous lady!Pips aunty (my mum) visited Lourdes last week-I asked her to put in a good word for you with the ‘Big Lady upstairs in the blue frock’ and light a candle for your continued health and happiness and she did! Whether you believe in miracles or not-its worth a try hun!
    PS Love the ring!(keep the parrot!)


  9. Peas and Cougars
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 20:37:32

    You guys are so cute together! Congratulations!


  10. Laura
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 13:14:45


    I like this blog post! 🙂

    Congratulations!!!!! Love the ring, it’s cute!

    You must show us the ring you pic, and all wedding-y details! I can’t believe you have the dress! I am SO excited for you!!!!!!!!!!!! ( and Tom!)

    YAY! Finally things are looking up for you! I am so pleased! xxxxxxxx


  11. Laura
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 13:15:07



  12. Chris
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 23:15:26

    I am a 1-year (so far), post-menopausal survivor of HER2-positive breast cancer. I found your blog thanks to Judith Potts of the Daily Telegraph. I am in awe of your courage in chronicling your fight with such naked truth…and yes, it is a fight and you are a warrior.


  13. Martin Fenchurch
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 14:20:02

    I was directed to your blog by Judith Potts Telegraph online piece. So grateful you are choosing to share your story online giving hope, inspiration and confidence to others. Wishing you continued success with your treatment Ellie.


  14. Stacey Stockdale
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 23:33:03

    Just read your blog which Mum told me about. You are a truly inspirational person! Wishing you all the luck in the world for your teatment..keep fighting!! Congratulations to you both on your engagement xxxx


  15. Geoff
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 16:42:52

    Oh for goodness sake I’m a guy … so why does this AMAZINg new chapter in your life bring tears to my eyes?

    Sand, that must be it … sand. The builders are busy at my house and maybe I’ve accidentally brought some to work on my shirt and the breeze has recently dislodged it. Yes that must be it.

    Or maybe that’s THE most beautiful blog entry and Tom is a true romantic.

    Good luck to you both and you dear Ellie are one of my everyday heroes. Fight on girl, you can do this !! For you and your ‘husband’


  16. Geoff
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 16:45:46


    1. AMAZING (not AMAZINg) – doh
    2. Ness is right, keep the ring 🙂
    3. Better get back to work; more sand just blew into my eye


  17. Ellie Jeffery
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 18:00:19

    Thanks Geoff! Such a lovely message to come home to.


  18. Jordan and Jill
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 06:27:08

    Congratulations guys awesome news!! Love the blog Ellie!!!


  19. Lorraine hughes
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 10:11:18

    Fan-bloody-tastic! And what a hottie you have there 😉 I got engaged on the 11th September too! I’m so pleased for you. Check you out, grabbing life by the balls! And you look as stunning as ever. Lucky guy. Have you set a date? X


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Oct 22, 2011 @ 11:01:59

      Hello love,
      Nice to hear from you and thanks for coming along to the blog. Congratulations on your engagement – I will be facebook stalking you to have a look at your fella! We’ve booked the 10th of June for the date – can’t wait! I hope you’re well and doing fab, lots of love, Ellie xxx


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