Serendipity is one of my favourite words.  Someone once defined it for me as a happy accident and I love that idea. And I’ve encountered a massive bucket load of serendipity lately. 

The thing that’s amazed me, since I started this blog, has been its reach.  I’ve had some amazing comments from people (and a huge thank you to all of you who have left comments, it’s largely thanks to you that I have the motivation to keep writing). And Al keeps showing me where in the world people are reading the blog.  My favourite so far is Nepal.  I mean, just pause and imagine for a moment – someone in Nepal is reading something I’ve written. It’s truly mind-blowing.

But back to my lovely encounter with serendipity. Earlier this year Diana, my boss at Thistle, got a call from a guy called Jack from the BBC.  A friend had shared my blog with him and he wanted to talk to me about my taking part in a project called Alive: in the face of Death – – which he was working on with the photographer Rankin –

Alive: in the face of death is looking at the reality of death from all perspectives, and it involves the impossibly talented and incredibly lovely Rankin interviewing and photographing a range of people – people who work in the death industry, people who’ve had near death experiences, and people living with a terminal illness, which is where I come in. The project culminates in a Rankin exhibition at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool, opening in May. There will also be a BBC Culture Show documentary of the whole project, directed by the afore-mentioned Jack, airing 2 weeks later.

Alive seemed to chime with our own values, our way of looking at things and the way we talk about things openly. It’s given me the chance to voice my own thoughts and feelings about facing death. It’s involved a lot of crying, because it’s not often I let my façade down. But it’s been therapeutic crying. So I imagine for those that love me the documentary and photographs may be very upsetting. But it is the real me and I hope that my part in all of this will inspire rather than upset.

So to date I’ve been interviewed by Jack and by Rankin, who came to my house! And the truly mind-blowing part is that for one day I got to experience a Rankin shoot.  Hair, make up, manicure and clothes by renowned artists and stylists, and 3 different looks to represent how I see myself in the face of death. It also involved choosing clothes from a treasure trove of designer dresses, jewellery and shoes – my idea of heaven. And then the actual shoot with Rankin, who is so seamless you don’t even notice his expert direction or the subtleties of changing the lighting, the background, the wind machine (yes I had a wind-machine!!).  And he made me look amazing!!!  So amazing in fact that most of our friends can’t believe it’s me (is that an insult or a compliment??). 


And now I’m hoping and praying that all the excitement of being part of Alive, will keep me alive until the opening of the show in May. At which point I shall give Rankin a huge hug and tell him how fab I think he is, then hopefully down a few beers (or even glasses of fizz) with him. 

Thank you Rankin, and thank you Jack for this incredibly happy accident! And thank you to everyone who made the day of the shoot truly memorable for me, you know who you are!!

ALIVE: In The Face of Death will run from Friday 17 May – 15 September

at Liverpool’s The Walker Art Gallery. 

BBC Two’s flagship arts programme The Culture Show will show the documentary shortly after the launch of the show.

And you can see more of our pics of the day here 




  1. Kitty Brennan · · Reply

    I love it – though it made me cry.
    Well done Louise!
    love Kitty

  2. claudia · · Reply

    Wind machine? Wowzer 🙂 Louise, you’ve inspired me to start a little private journal listing of my own life’s serendipities. There are many, so many in fact that friends will often recount them back to me, and I am astounded I’ve forgotten those little gems and stories. Does forgetting means I am devaluing them? If so I must stop. I must remember. And as Lisa said on the comments in the previous post, if only I was able to incorporate half of your gratitude, acceptance and optimism my life would improve instantly! Thank you xx

  3. Karen Haston · · Reply

    Louise…. Wow check you out-glamor girl!!! Those pictures are great, expressing ones self… The make up running down your face snap, well I am reading to what I see from this one… The other two are very beautiful and ‘live’ I shall make sure I see this on the tv… What a great opertunity Louise… That was an exciting read!!! Hugs, Karen xox

  4. Corrie Martin · · Reply

    You look amazing, Lou. As always, your words are inspiring and special and smart and thought-provoking. Delighted you got some gorgeous pampering and another outlet to tell your story for others to see and hear x

  5. Gorgeous photos – he has really captured you x

  6. Gemma Suttie · · Reply

    Simply beautiful… but then that’s nothing new for me.

    I didn’t even know what Serendipity meant, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer haha.

    I love reading your blogs Louise because I miss having you around here. Diana always tells me how you are and when you’ve met up etc so thats nice but the blogs are also a good way of finding out how you are and what your thinking. Its really special that you write these.

    Much love and hugs xxxx

  7. Debbie Kong · · Reply

    Beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside; those photos have captured an amazing amount of truth, I was mesmerised and humbled
    Xxx debbie (the thistle volunteer one!)

  8. Hi Louise

    I’m sat hear reading this for the first time , I have been following Alan on Instagram for a while now and been following your movements, but never realised what you are both going through. Cancer has been with my family ever since my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back in the 80’s and thank god she is still with us today. I just wanted to say hi and pass on my thoughts and love to the pair of you, I know our meeting’s where a long time ago but I do remember them !

    Richard xx

    Richard Moran Photographer

  9. Lynne Learmond · · Reply

    A hollywood startlet!

    As they would say in Turkey, “Cok guzel cok sicak” – to you and me very beautiful and very hot!
    Amazing experience for you Louise, I love the photos, love the jewels and love you…. Lynne xx

  10. Louise Elliott · · Reply

    Oh Lou you truly are amazing. Im so glad that Rankin became a reality for you. It’s looked a very special experience. Xxx

  11. Louise Kelly · · Reply

    Thanks again for your words Louise. So beautifully crafted, and loved the photos you picked. Thinking of you all the time. xxxx

  12. Lesley ramage · · Reply

    Your blog really hits home on how precious life is and how we need to live life to the full . You are such a strong & remarkable person .
    God bless xxxx

  13. Hi Louise we have never met, your words makes me feel like I know you, your strength and courage are way beyond anything I have ever known. My father was terminally ill and died very soon after diagnosis, it was a horrible death. I wanted him to feel and do all the things you are doing, he just gave up, there was nothing except long painful silences nothing for me to hang onto after he had died. You are doing so much and leaving your family and friends so many things to look back on and cherish. You are in my thoughts and may the delays at the departures lounge be long and plentiful. You deserve every second of every day for a long time.
    With love

  14. Pat Mackinnon · · Reply

    Wow… You are simply stunning. Thinking of you and sending love and hugs. Xxx

  15. Geez Louise! I am so impressed with your courage. I never comment usually, but I want you to know that you have my attention, I love reading your writings. Thank you!

  16. I just found your blog today and I’m very moved by your courage and the whole thing. All the best from me to you. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Phil Clark · · Reply

    Louise, you look beautiful. There are many people around the world who admire your bravery and honesty. Lots of love from the Clark family.

  18. Avril Thresh · · Reply

    You are amazing! May you continue to have special moments like this, you deserve them. With much aroha from NZ x

  19. jacqui · · Reply

    Louise, I just saw this from reading the Daily Mail online in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am a Brit and have had some experience watching loved ones deal with this terrible disease and I am currently supporting a friend over here who was given a 3 week or so time limit back in January and here we are in May, she is still fighting.
    Your comments on having no regrets and living life to the fullest resonate so much; these have been my guides and mantras for years and while work and day to day stuff sometimes gets in the way taking a minute or two every day just to stop, step back and appreciate what we have is a must, though I accept not necessarily easy for everyone.
    I wish you well in your journey, I thank you for your courage in letting the world share it with you. Hopefully you will encourage many to think differently about life
    Take the greatest of care in the love of your friends and family and be assured I will be watching your progress and cheering you on. Hoping you get to see the exhibit!

  20. Stunning photos and an inspiring blog too! I had a bone tumour – chondrosarcoma – along with a sizeable piece of femur removed 2 years ago and replaced with a metal prosthesis. Some days are awful but you have reminded me that life is for living, here and now.
    Thank you
    Best wishes Amanda (

  21. CHRIS · · Reply

    I really admire you. I have just started reading your blog a few hours back, after the story in Daily Mail. This just reminds me on how precious life is and that we must all have cherish all the moments in our life.
    You are an inspiration and I thank you for that.

    Bucharest, Romania

  22. From a fellow Scot, living in the United Arab Emirates, who has never posted on a blog before, ‘Thank you’ for sharing your story with us. You are a true inspiration to all of us. I wish you many more days with your family and friends to enjoy every second with them. Very best wishes.

  23. Pauline Whitaker · · Reply

    Louise, the photos are amazing and what fun you clearly had with the photo shoot! You are giving everyone you come into contact with from those closest to you to complete strangers a big gift in both telling and showing them why it is so important to make the most of the here and now.
    Alive will be inspiring and yes hard to watch especially for those close to you but they too will be pleased and proud that you were able to share your deepest feelings. Another special memory for them to treasure among so many you give them.

    I wish you the strength and energy to go on making the most of every day and to hold on to your lovely sense of humour.

    May you have many many more days.
    Sète France

  24. Izzi Dee · · Reply

    I have sobbed and laughed my way through your blog…..for many reasons one is that your so strong, open and honest and although we have never met its made me appreciate everyone I have in my life and secondly everything….may you see a glorious summer and wear that sandal and I will look forward to reading more from you.

  25. Tracy · · Reply

    Hi Louise – I saw your story in the Daily Mail and went straight to your Blog. You made me want to contribute, I felt compelled. You live your life every day despite the enormity of your situation. I think you must be amazing!! I want you to know that I have listened. I will think about your words each day when I complain about rain or wind or going to work or the gym or anything else…these are luxuries, taken for granted. I wish you many more mornings of rain, wind & sunshine. I think you should just say stuff it & wear your pretty sandals everywhere – with socks if necessary! My warmest wishes to you x

  26. Librarian · · Reply

    From a fellow Scot in Doha, Qatar, i have just came across your blog in the Daily Mail, you are truly an inspiration to us all. Wishing you many, many more happy days with family and friends. Thank you for the blog and the postings. God bless you.

  27. Melanie · · Reply

    Louise, you truly are a remarkable woman… your words have truly touched me. Such positivity in the face of such tragedy – and to think I whinge about silly everyday things, but have never faced such hardship, and am sure were I to, I wouldn’t be the half the person you are. I can imagine what a treasure you must be to your loved ones, and will pray that you have a much longer time with them.

    May you experience much more happiness and laughter in your days to come! I’m sure your sandal will look awesome! I will be wishing some lovely weather over to Scotland. 🙂


    Melanie, China. X

  28. Ainko · · Reply

    Louise, I just read the article about you in the daily mail and I went through your blog too.. To tell you honestly, I think you are amazing and doing great with the given situation. May you have more happiness and time to laugh and enjoy.
    Ainko Maldives

  29. Dorothea · · Reply

    My dear friend Louise
    I think of you as my friend through your words and photos.
    I hardly ever look at blogs but the story about you in mail online was so captivating I wanted to know more through your blog. I feel you are fulfilling a very special purpose in communicating your experiences to others. I will remember you always and I send you my deepest gratitude for being such a shining light through a dark time.My best wishes to you to continue living with your strong spirit. Peace be with you.
    love from Dorothea

  30. Congratulations! Striking photos. You are beautiful — inside and out!

  31. Allie Brazas · · Reply

    You are an incredible woman. Thank you for changing the lives of so many people, including mine. You are in my thoughts and prayers, stay beutiful! Soul 2 Soul, my dear friend!

  32. I was very pleased to discover this great site. I need to
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