The FAIRLADY editorial team is small – just 16 people. It’s an open office, so we work very closely together, relying on each other for help and support when things get tough. And they do get tough: when I started at FAIRLADY 10 years ago, there were 30 members of staff and far less emphasis on digital so, like many other businesses, there’s now more work and fewer people to do it. Anyway … the point of this is to say we’re a bit like family: we laugh and grumble, get annoyed and get over it – but we always pull together, usually over gorgeous cake and bubbles, which helps. And up until around October last year, that gorgeous cake was almost always baked by Pia, our food ed.
At one of those teas, Pia mentioned a pain in her back, which she put down to spending long hours on her feet in the kitchen. But it was so uncomfortable that it niggled at her. Something wasn’t right. So she saw a doctor, who scheduled a biopsy. The biopsy revealed a malignant tumour in her back, a Ewings sarcoma. This was at the end of October last year, and Pia went straight into surgery to have the whole thing removed.
When she came back to work, she was still in pain. Stoic as she is, she assumed it was part recovery from her op and part her own hypersensitivity to her situation. Her doctors reassured her, telling her to wait until March 2017 for her scheduled check-up.
But in March the news wasn’t good: the original tumour had been removed, but the sarcoma had metasteses in her lungs that hadn’t been picked up earlier because they were still too small at that stage. Pia is now being treated for stage 4 lung cancer, which means six months of weekly chemo, followed by daily radiation treatments for another six months: a year in total.
So far, I’m delighted to say the results are excellent: her existing tumours are now half their size, and no new ones have appeared. In her unflappable way, Pia is taking each day as it comes. She had delicious cupcakes made and delivered to us all for Women’s Day (not in the same league as her own, obviously), and we can’t wait for her to be back. Family is family.
I’m telling you all this for a few reasons: firstly, because so many of you have asked where Pia is because you’re missing her food pages – we are too! We miss her as much as you do, I assure you. But watch this space – she’ll be back. Secondly, because we need to learn to trust our instincts. Pia knew something wasn’t right, and thank God that was picked up at her check-up. And thirdly, I know October is breast cancer month and we should all be feeling ourselves up regularly, but I think we should also always be aware of the rest of our bodies too. Breast cancer is not the only one.
From all of us, to all of you, we wish you a happy, healthy October … and year, and lifetime!