Following a Wise Star

“There is a crack, a crack, in everything,

that’s how the light gets in.”

— Leonard Cohen


Chronic illness and disability is a day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, proposition.


I am blessed to have remained mainly buoyant during most of my decades-long lung decline.


I count myself lucky compared to many poor souls who haven’t the resources and support to stay as well as I have, against the odds. I have also been a regular at Pulmonary Rehab, which is the biggest single change you can make if you are stuck in worsening breathlessness.


Shortly after I was diagnosed with severe emphysema, I went to the Net. This was 2001 and help was scarce. Prognosis, gloomy.


I did find the legendary COPD advocate, the late Bill Horden and a couple of things he shared have turned out to be real gold. (I shall discuss his theory of numbers in a later post).


Bill wrote these powerful words, and I’ve never forgotten them:

“If you find you are severely depressed, say, ‘I’ve got a right to feel like this, but I know it can only hold me back’, then get up off your duff and do something to make it better.”


We can already feel we are imposing on our loved ones without making them bear the added burden of our sadness and disappointments. But if the feeling persists, tell your doctor; there are anti-depressants that may help.


I wasn’t in a deep hole; more stranded on a baking hot, featureless plain of more of the same, day in and day out. With no blue sky: Meds, infections, puffiness, fatigue, wasting, weakness—the usual cluster of symptoms of lung disease that can, at a stroke, seem unbearable.


Browsing the Net and, out of the blue one day, I shot a letter off to the famous astrologer, Penny Thornton, (who included the late Princess Diana among her celebrity clients in the UK and USA).

Why Penny?

I dunno.

It was a moment of sheer lunacy. And I wasn’t expecting anything more than a cursory response. I wasn’t in a position to pay Penny for a consultation and expected a nice British brush off.

I told her how I felt my once promising life now lay in smoking ruins!

And I asked was there anything more to be done?


I was astonished on March 12 to receive a long reply from Penny Thornton.


In the first instance, she said my heartfelt letter was more poignant because she had just buried a close friend (lung cancer), lost another last year (bowel cancer) and a third was now battling breast cancer.


Penny was incredibly generous with her advice (which I shall keep private, for now).


She affirmed my loss and difficulties, and pinpointed exactly when the hard years had begun, just before the New Millennium.


She also talked about my strengths and about new beginnings and she dared me to start a blog! She said she would ‘follow’ me if I did!


Then she said those magic words that every sad or angry person can so easily forget: ‘This too shall pass’.


When I thanked her for her help, she replied:

“I was worried that you might be offended at my pep talk, but I no longer second-guess myself because so often when I’ve gone back and ironed out the wrinkles, so to speak, it turned out to be the wrong thing. Fortunately, you took it on the chin, and I hope you’re still in get-up-and-go mode. I know you have so much to give.”



Penny Thornton’s website:

One thought on “Following a Wise Star

  1. Barbara, thank you for these references. I shall follow up on Bill Horden. I used to be an astrologer and have always found it a great tool for understanding. My teacher said, “Astrology is like coming to a fork in the road. Your instinct is to go right, but if you knew what was on the left, you might prefer to go left.” I am so glad that Penny responded to you and that you began this blog. Well done. Huntie


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