So a very good friend of mine once said, “Friends come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime!” I quote this often as I’ve been blessed and have acquired many friends of the lifetime variety. An eclectic range who bring ridiculous amounts of banter, humour, love and life lessons. But in the past two years no one has perhaps taught and inspired me more than Ellie Jeffrey.
Ellie and I have been friends for 10 years; we were on the same Broadcast Journalism course at Leeds University. I think we bonded over a shared sense of ironic humour, fitness and being les enfants des divorce.
Ellie grew up up north and I in London. We graduated; she moved to the big smoke and started grafting hard for her career in journalism. I started writing for a women’s magazine and working as a broadcast assistant on BBC Radio London. We’d have endless catch ups where we’d question our career paths and if it was worth all the sweat, tears, arsehole bosses and feelings of slow progression. My course went about a tangent, but Ellie persisted and not before long was working as a reporter for Sky News.
… Fast forward a year or two; Ellie received some news, which at 27 you quite frankly don’t expect to hear. After discovering a lump she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The biggest shock – ever, but not more so for Ellie.
I don’t want to attempt to tell Ellie’s story on her behalf, because I can’t. Back in May this year, just after Ellie had returned to work and she was recovering towards normal. She was told the cancer had in fact returned and spread. Not only had it spread to her pelvis but she was given the prognosis that she had just ‘more than three months’.
I struggle to type that. When confronted with the reality of our mortality it gives life a whole new perspective. I’ve always thought that if we were told our ‘expiry dates’ at birth, many of us would lead very different lives.
Ellie has started to document this journey with her blog Written Off; not only is it beautifully written but through Ellie’s experience, I think we can all share and learn a heightened sense of humanity, not taking things or people for granted. As she said to me the other day (to this effect), “Chrissa, when something’s not working in your life take control.”
We all have the option to live our best possible lives, but all to often excuses and self pity get in the way. I’ve always admired and loved Ellie, but never more so than now, her strength, optimism, positivity and zest for getting on with it is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Through her experience I’ve gained so much strength, learned so much about seizing the opportunity and being fearless as I do so. What’s to lose? Tell the guy that you love him, go travelling, get over the grudge… Anything really is possible.
She came over for lunch the other day, with a fresh new hair cut and I had to say, “Ellie to be honest if you were to tell somebody walking down the street what you’re going through, they wouldn’t believe you.” Girlfriend is looking fllllyyyyyyyyy!
To read Ellie’s story in her own words (you must) visit Written Off