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Why 2012 Should Be My Annus Horribilis

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if at the beginning of a new year everyone said, that was the best year, EVER!

It rarely happens, and although I got to the end of December thinking 2012 was pretty good… considering. It could definitely have been better! In fact, I’d say a few people may have enjoyed a nervous breakdown in the same circumstances, were they that way inclined.

This year, I learned I’m a bit of a strong bugger.

Normally, I’m not one for revealing too much about myself online – I leave that to other bloggers who are happy to share a lot more of their personal lives, and who are often much more adept at crafting inspirational messages as a result.

Me? I tend to keep my head down, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I had so many plans. I’m a BIG planner. And doer – normally. But this year, it seems life had BIGGER plans.

So, what happened?

In short? Cancer.

A lot of it.

Not me, thankfully, but three people very close to me. Too close.

Back in 2007, when we were all set to move to Barcelona we instead found ourselves on a plane to Australia as Dan’s dad was diagnosed with advanced cancer. It was bad.

Not long after, my mum was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

We spent a while going over and back between families. Mum had surgery and rallied as if it was just a little blip in the proceedings, and we eventually moved to Melbourne for a while to spend precious time with Dan’s dad, as the outlook was grim.

It was touch and go for a long time, but five years later, he’s still here. Still fighting, still strong.

And I know that being here helps him keep going. He is so attached to our little girls, we need to be here.

Then in March 2012: BAM.

Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.

A month later, my Dad was told he had advanced bowel cancer.

Where was I?
On the other side of the world.

I wanted to go home so much, to be there with them. But I wouldn’t have been able to go without my two girls – who were at that stage 5 months and 2 and a bit. And the last thing my mum and dad needed were two kiddies who didn’t sleep properly interfering with their treatment and recovery.

Still, I was intent on figuring out a way to get home. It was tearing me apart not being able to be there, and made living in Australia harder than ever before. I needed to go anyway.

Then – you couldn’t make this up – at the beginning of May, my lovely, beautiful, wonderful husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Right then, life sucked.

What the frig are you meant to do with all that emotion?

Life sucked, and then it stopped.

In milliseconds, all I could think was: I can’t lose him/ I need him/ he’s my soul mate/ he’s the other half of me/ the girls can’t lose their daddy/ what would we do/ I need to go home/ I want us to go back to Europe, where we belong/we need to be here.


Once my head stopped swirling, an amazing calmness enveloped me. Even then I thought it weird.

That survival instinct never ceases to amaze.

We just needed to get it sorted. Everything would be alright.

And you know what?

It was. It is.

Mum, had her surgery and was well enough to visit us in September. Dad had surgery, and has just finished a gruelling six months of chemo, but is on the mend. Dan was diagnosed and treated so quickly we now joke that he only had it for two days. He had one large dose of chemo and will be checked regularly for a few years, but things are looking good.

We never did make it back to see my folks, but that’s all going to change this year. Yay! And I think we deserve it.

I REALLY need a break!

So, you see, although 2012 had the potential to be an undeniable Annus Horribilis, it wasn’t. There were many wonderful moments in the year, too; personally and professionally. And it made me realise I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was, and more of an optimist. Or is that realist?

As for the lack of travel over the past year, I’m sure now you can see why it wasn’t a top priority. Sure, having kids can ground you for a little while, but sometimes bigger things come into play.

And although I dropped off the radar in May for a while, I wanted to keep adding articles to the site. More, I needed to write. Writing – even pithy content – is cathartic. It makes you enter another zone. It allows you to forget the real world, even for a little while.

So to those who’ve stuck around; kept coming back, kept commenting, reading, sharing and subscribing – THANK YOU!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

*Stay tuned for our travel plans, and what I have in store for Eco Traveller in 2013 (although, I should probably keep it all under wraps, as you see what happens when I make plans!). Take care!

Filed under: Ed's Blog, Featured Articles


Linda hails from evergreen Northern Ireland, but is currently living in Melbourne, Australia. Her passion for travel and the natural world has seen her working as a writer and editor on a number of websites. Linda has articles published in magazines and newspapers in Australia and the UK, and has also contributed to the inspirational travel book 1001 Escapes to Make Before You Die.


  1. What a year – I’m happy everything is going well with your family. I had a lot of cancer surrounding me too, unfortunately two friends passed away within 5 months. Here’s to a healthier 2013

  2. Fran B says

    Great article Linda. Very heartfelt! I have a wee tear in my eye. What an unbelievable year. Here’s to good health, good friends, lots of love and laughter for 2013.

  3. Goodness me, truly a horrible year, you very, very much deserve your big trip this year then, hope it is wonderful!

  4. Johanna at ZigaZag says

    Oh Linda, and when I met you I never knew the anguish you must have been going through. You strong thing, you. I totally relate to being so far away from close family, and the feeling of being so totally helpless and useless when all you want to do is be near them to help. The life we choose, or the cards we are dealt with are never easy, and with or without illness around I think that every expatriate has their own demons to deal with. One Way or Another. Of that I’m sure, I so hope that 2013 is awesome for you and although it sounds as if there is still so much you will have to deal with, I hope that life around that offers lots of happy surprises and good fortune. I pshall be watching and supporting your blog, and your endeavours in online media, that’s for sure, and wish you so so much of the best.

    • Thanks so much for your beautiful comment, Jo! I agree, I’m sure all expats have to work through their own issues. At least I know here I have a wonderful family and group of friends, so there are definitely many good times, too. And because the good times nearly always outweigh the bad, life’s not so tough 🙂

  5. Michelle Bermas says


    Wow, loved your post and your honesty.

    • Aw, thanks Michelle. I always worry when I post this type of article, but it’s actually provided a little release in a weird way. Hope 2013 is good to you!

  6. Oh Linda!! I had no idea! I’m so sorry to hear of the all trauma in your life in 2012 and I sincerely hope that 2013 is lucky for you and Dan and your Ma and Pa.
    All my love, Crissy xxoo

    • Thanks Crissy. Must admit, it was a bit of a roller coaster year. Would prefer to have a little less chaotic 2013! Hope it’s good to you, too 🙂 xx

  7. What an awful year you’ve had! You didn’t even mention the house move you had as well! Cancer torments all of us at some stage but three close family members and hubby is a lot to cope with. I hope 2013 is a better year for you and that you will get away at some stage. You are one incredibly strong lady but I think you need more bubbles when I’m next in Melbourne!!

    • Hi Jenny… ’twas not the best, but as they say – things can only get better! Definitely look forward to catching up for bubbles and chats sometime during the year 🙂

  8. I didn’t know about Dan!! OMG how awful. It is so difficult being torn between the hemispheres. You are a star and a great friend. But an even better Mum, Wife, Daughter and daughter-in-law!

    • Aw thanks, Natasha… and sorry, I thought I’d said. You know what it’s like sometimes, you never know who you’ve told and who you’ve haven’t so you end up saying nothing!

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