In times like these, sometimes it feels like there is nothing but bad news.

Julie Nancy has recently shared her story with us; a heart-warming, tear-jerking and uplifting account that perhaps we can all take something away from.

‘The last six years of my life (I am now 71 years of age) has been a very arduous journey, whilst dealing with my husband’s cancer and finishing with the Covid19 pandemic. I began studying with the Open University (as I did not have the opportunity for further education when I was young) around the same time as my husband was diagnosed with cancer. My studying had to take place in hospitals, chemotherapy rooms and during the night (thankfully I am an insomniac). I became a full time carer for my husband whilst trying to snatch time to study. I also managed to write a book ‘A Carer’s Chaos’ describing the different scenarios that took place during the time my husband was battling cancer which raised money towards a chair for the chemotherapy room. I was also a member of the Stroud Writers Circle during that time. I kept up with my writing and had different pieces of poetry published. I read my poem ‘I Am A Memorial To The Tortured Soul’ at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in 2017 and had a short story ‘The Unwanted Visitor’ published in the Stroud Short Stories 2015-2018 volume. I also had a poem ‘A Dusting of Death’ published in a pocket poetry book ‘Dust’, and three poems published in ‘Ways to Peace’ anthology. I was runner-up in a poetry competition ‘Travel’ (my poem ‘Sinner on the Southern Line’ was published in the Grafitti magazine). I found I held on to my pen tightly during that time as I felt I had lost myself completely and my writing was the only little piece of me left. My husband of fifty years, bless him encouraged me to keep taking my degree and continue with my writing no matter what. Sadly he passed away the first week I began one of my courses, but I knew I had to keep surging ahead through my tears to keep sane and deal with grief, funeral arrangements, taking control of all the paperwork and home etc etc. I also had to keep strong for my children and grandchildren who were also grieving. One saving grace was that when studying it took my mind away from the horrors of reality.

I have just discovered I have passed my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Arts and Humanities (English Literature) with a 2.2. pass. It is bitter sweet as my husband is not here to enjoy my achievement but I know he will be smiling down on me. I am now arranging my graduation (which hopefully won’t be disrupted by a lockdown).

To anyone reading this, never give up on your dreams. I discovered my writing was so therapeutic, and was a way of releasing many different emotions. It can sometimes be an escapism from reality, taking one into the wonderful world of fantasy. Be the unique person you are through your writing. Bless you all.’

Click here for more information from 2018.