In a little over 2 days, it will be two years since HD (then HRM), and I sat in the hollow grey room at the hospital, and we knew when the Macmillan nurse came in with the consultant, that it was going to be bad news. It all seems a bit surreal, people tell me how brave I've been, how well I've coped, you're an inspiration and you've helped me get through my own treatment. But it's weird, while all I can ever say about cancer is it is the arse end of a dead ferret with the largest set of diseased knackers hanging off it, which are persistent little fuckers and take about two years to see off (give or take, depending on whether they are attached to said, festering ferret with nodes or not). Life can be utterly amazing and it's because it can be so bloody brilliant, soul lifting, heart bursting, and face achingly joyous, that when a massive crap bit comes along, it hits you square end on in the frisky bits, or in my case, in the tits.
So for me, I had a cry, stared down at the splendid Eartha's and thought, right, lets get on with this. My odds of reoccurrence weren't tip top, the shit bag disease was already in my armpit and was growing faster than you can say, Ferrets Natty Ball Sack. But for whatever reason, be it my glowingly positive outlook, all the support I had, the fact that I noshed my way through sack loads of fruit and veg and ditched anything resembling a Jelly Baby, and got my trainers on whenever I could. I even bought one of those head torches, so I couldn't use winter darkness as an excuse not to move my bum cheeks off the sofa. I don't know why I got cancer, but I suspect mega stress over the last couple of years played a devils hand in my direction. You could say that getting my knick-knacks in a wedge over the situation wasn't going to help me a single jot. Not my mindset anyway. I even banned people from saying…. (insert whiny voice here for extra emphasis), "oooh you poor thing, how do you manage?" Or other such stuff. Well largely same as you to be honest, but my life back then was constant hospital appointments, counting out tablets and stabbing myself in the stomach with stingy needles to keep my white blood cell count in order. I may have shit my brains out and spewed everywhere more recently than you and I don't want to down play it, because cancer is a complete and utter c-word. But, I just got on with it, it was my life and what was happening at that time. Somedays I felt not too bad and occasionally I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering when the bed would stop rotating. I just took the some days good:some daysterrifyingly awful concept and applied it in appropriate terms with some fairly bad and frequent swearing.
It can either eat you up until you can't see the black from the white, or you can get past it and do what you need to, to survive. I don't look at things quite the same way as before, it has been a great leveller of weird and bum trauma flavoured sorts, but if a delivery is late, or it rains when it shouldn't, or the traffic is bad and I'm running behind; you know what, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't – look around you at the sky (obviously not when you're driving you plonker) or enjoy a tune on the radio, it is only a passing moment in time and things will get worse, but they will also get a lot better if you just open your eyes and see it.
Years ago and for a completely different reason, I was going through a tough time and my boss came and chatted to me as he could see I was a bit down. He later sent me this story, and it has stayed beside me ever since:
" … Just before I dropped off to sleep, my memory presented me with a half forgotten story, used in Buddhist meditation, which I had once loved. It is about an Indian prince who gave a ring to his jeweller and asked him to engrave on it a sentence that would sustain him in adversity and restrain him in times of success. In due course, the jeweller returned the ring, engraved with three words :
' It will pass.'
(From: A time to heal by Beata Bishop)
I've lost so many friends in the last two years and people who I thought the world of, but that is also life and death and taxes…. they're the only certainties and the rest is up to you. It might be my turn in a few months and while I am not afraid to die, it's inevitable sooner or later. What I don't want to do, and this would break my heart, is to waste a day, moaning about some trifling bollocks. That's worse than cancer in some ways, as you have a choice over that.
My fabulous Papa, who died last year.
And to close today's diatribe, I've been to have my left Eartha, tattooed yesterday, and no not a massive multi-coloured ferrets arse, but to have the nipple done. I was lucky enough to be asked to model for one of the best nipple tattooists in the country, and she trains most of the people that practice this specific and skilled area of tattooing. It meant I could share my story with the student who did my areola (definite Monty Python tinny word, right there) and that I hope it helped them, having me explain how I no-longer have any feeling on that side, under my arm and down most of the underside of my left arm as far as my elbow. It will never come back, but I still have my arm and it still all works, so not so terrible in festering ferret bollock terms.
A bit like Spirograph, you get to choose your nipple size.
The lovely Lisa, from Whitethorn Fields Clinic, starting my new nip.
They build it up, layering both carefully matched colours from the 'other side' nipple, also using different methods from pointillism, to zigzags to achieve a realistic skin appearance.
During just under two years, I've gone from WHAT THE FUCKETY FUCKING FUCK?!!, to 'Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, here is my new left cheb, it's slightly perkier than the right on account of it being a fake one, but it's still very much a part of me….oh, and all those lines, they're just scars.'
It will pass, if you let it.
Current status: Front Door Bell
P.S Lisa did finish it, but it's currently under a dressing for a couple of days.