Saturday, 9 May 2015

Living in a Box

The following is written retrospectively and NOT in real time. I am currently three years in remission and intend to be so for the foreseeable future...

So instead of concentrating on my blog I have been concentrating on living. I've stopped giving myself a hard time about not writing so regularly because it's ok. No one is holding out for my cancer pearls of wisdom. No one is holding onto my every word as a way of coping, managing, getting through this utter cancer crap. However having watched a couple weekends ago the drama "The C Word" based on the amazing, talented, funny and inspirational Lisa Lynch who died far too young, it reminded me why I was writing the blog in the first place. First and foremost it was for me to get rid of all the shit in my head that  cancer had the audacity to leave behind when it decided to fuck with me in the first place. 

I was writing this as some cathartic process to make sense of my 'brush' (as was not going to give it a bigger status than it deserved - it's was just brushing no more!) with cancer and once that was done to get back to 'normal' and see my time in treatment as a blip in my life. However 'borrowing' from the lyrics Nick Drake's "Time Has Told Me" - my blog has not turned out to be a troubled cure for my troubled mind! And, if I am being absolutely honest, I fear there is no cure for my troubled mind. It's just now permanently troubled - troubled by my cancer experience and that's just the way it is. There is no eureka moment which will appear at the end of my blog when I will be made whole again because I will never be whole again - and that's not just because they loped off part of my tit and carved out lymph nodes from my armpit. Oh no! It's that the experience was so overwhelming that you never ever really get over it. It's too huge to park someone in the recesses of your mind, even if you think you have. Yes you may forgot the detail and the specifics, but the day you never forgot is the day your life changed forever. 

You may try to store this part of your life in a box somewhere in your head with the lid firmly shut, but its a box that keeps straining to open every time you have an ache or pain that wasn't there before or lingers too long, a cough you can't get rid of as well as every other little thing in-between that occurs  suddenly and unexplainably and just doesn't feel  right. It's the little tablet I have to pop into my mouth each morning because I don't want the cancer to come back, the tentative but necessary checking for lumps or bump in my breasts in the shower, my recoiling from a sensuous touch by my partner in fear of what he might find lurking there that I haven't, the lymphodema that surgery left in my arm, the numbness under my armpit where they removed my lymph nodes, the tingling and numbness in my toes that I still feel from the neuropathy caused by the strong chemo drugs along with all the other little incidental things that play on the mind.

So when I see a programme like "The C Word" and hear and feel Lisa's pain it reminds me of my own. It reminds me of why I started writing this blog, like her to make sense of what was happening to me at the time and to maintain some sort of control in what was a fucking uncontrollable situation that I did not ask for or want to be part of. To put my story onto paper then file away in a box, shut the lid and move on. But like Lisa and so many of us going through this it isn't what happens. It becomes part of the fabric of who we are and even though we may mask and hide it from the outside world its still just below the surface.

Although that time has passed and I didn't quite achieve what I set out to in the way Lisa did, I still feel compelled to write about it, even if it is spasmodically and when my heart and mind can cope with it. Her story resonated with me and so many others. However each cancer story is different and no outcome is ever the same regardless of the initial diagnosis. None of us know what our ending is going to be regardless of whether we have cancer or not. However I did have cancer and who knows it may not be my only 'brush' with it. So I think it is important to continue to write about it and forget about trying to forget about it. I know now that there will be no epiphany at the end. 

It's just very simple in that there is a story to tell which I think people might find interesting. It helps me to make sense of what happened to me, but doesn't help me forgot about it and will not result in it being the end of it just the end of telling this story and this story alone. I need to tell it, finish it and let it out of the box for good. And when I move on it's not from the cancer, but from this particular cancer story.

So even though there is no rush and it will be told at whatever speed it chooses to be told at, I do need to continue to do it. It's not about getting to the end destination in order to find my 'holy grail'. What's more important is what happens on the way there.

So will keep plodding on and when it's all done, hopefully I'll be able to live outside of that box I've created and stop trying to jump back in and close the lid. I'll be able to flatten the box and shove it in the recycling and then anything after the story has been told is just the way life is...

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