I can now see why people draw up wish-lists in John Lewis or Harrods before sending out wedding invitations. I have been deeply touched by the offers of help from friends and colleagues on receiving my news. But it is hard to know what is really meant by “Is there anything at all I can do?” and even harder to know what to suggest. At the beginning, I found myself resorting to the absurd: “Well, the front path needs re-laying” or “You could find a very quick cure for this particular cancer”, perhaps out of embarrassment or dismay at finding myself in a situation where I need help. The equivalent of a John Lewis dinner service or a set of crystal wine glasses from Harrods has been Manel, on an overnight visit, getting up early, going shopping, and making meals for the freezer for days when Nurse J and Matron A are too exhausted to cook; or Bobbie just being there (with marzipan chocolate) at my bleakest moments; or a group of our neighbours inviting us round for coffee and cake and setting up an easily activated e-mail list; or American visitor, Ann, taking the saw and secateurs to the back garden; or Sian in Scotland sending lovely long letters; or Jane taking me to medical appointments when I’m too jittery to drive; or Cigdem sourcing raised loo-seats; or Kate doing preliminary coffin research or Candida lending me the perfect black dress. And for all this help and the very many other offers, I am hugely grateful.