Self Discovery (Poem 1)

Lathered up, I discovered you,
The need to check, another thing to do.
I never feared the worst, 
Preferring dark humour to outburst.

15thMay confirmed your type,
Much squeezing, sliding and punching the site.
Each appointment, test and scan with the hope of clarity,
In fact presented with enormous situational gravity.

Stepping back; disassociating; directing proceedings:
The only way to cope is through leading,
The unknown and ambiguous ahead.
The prognosis is grim from everything I’ve read.

Walking into the eye of the storm,
Facing into the horror and ordeal become the norm.
Treatment was the only thing making me ill,
Relentless chemicals were a bitter pill.

Knowingly carrying you around for six whole months,
Unknowingly growing you silently and calmly within.
Knowingly poisoning myself in the now,
Unknowingly letting go, as much as a control freak can subconsciously allow.

The time to cut you out could not come quicker,
Your tenacious invasive nature just made this trickier. 
You’d hidden deep and scattered,
You defied us all with your size and life,
No longer lurking underneath, your little cells were rife.

Your type defined by what you’re not,
No expert really knows what I’ve got.
The way forward clear only for moments,
Distorted and disfigured by new discoveries and documents.

The outcome is left unsaid, but known.
The route unclear and largely unknown.
The journey time unpredictable.
Propelling myself by embracing the ride and the unthinkable.

Cut away and stored in pathology.
Revealing you has revealed me.
Speaking my truth has become my ‘ology.
In the one sense tolerating less, in the other letting things be.

I choose to fight, but not to beat you,
Fighting to live, but not for life,
Each day is a gift of time in lieu,
Getting paid and getting on with my things to do.

It’s my choice to live, to laugh, to cry, to shout,
Being cheerful, learning as we go, is for me what it’s about.

3rd March 2019

Poetry

I would not describe myself as a poet. In fact until early March 2019 I had not written a poem since I was required to do so at school or university some 25 years before. 

And yet here we are with a small, but growing collection of poems

I wrote the first poem (Self Discovery) one Sunday whilst laying in bed, pretty low and exhausted following the delayed effects of radiotherapy. Or possibly the cumulative effects of the previous nine months: an advanced cancer diagnosis, 18 weeks chemo, several emergency hospital admissions, 3 operations, 9 weeks of carrying a surgical drain around, 3 weeks of intensive radiotherapy everyday plus a bone infusion. No clear margins and no idea how much cancer was left or where it was. 

I guess I was allowed to be tired and a bit fed up. 

Up to this point I had focused almost entirely on the physical and practical aspects of a diagnosis, i.e. running around the country going to various appointments to discuss, receive or assess the effects and success treatment. The effects were pretty significant and the success was hard to come by or pin down. In fact almost every appointment brought more bad news, more treatments and more procedures or ops. More uncertainty that is for sure.

It was on this Sunday morning that I found myself alone in bed; alone in the house and alone in my thoughts and fears. I felt that I could not talk to anybody about how I was really feeling. Up until this point I could barely allow my subconscious to think or talk about how I was feeling, even to myself. I had not really given myself much time for internal dialogue – it was just too much, too scary and frankly a distraction from the physical, practical, all consuming job of getting on top of this cancer.

To this day I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to write. 

I picked up a pen from my bedside drawer and a scrappy bit of paper (it was actually from a to do list pad – which is definitely my normal modus operandi) and I wrote a poem. It came in 60-90 mins from somewhere deep inside me. From the place that knew this cancer was not gone and this was not the end of my journey. I knew I wasn’t in remission. 

It was 3 days later on the Wednesday that I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. The cancer was still on the move.

Since then I have gone back and forth through various experiences on this journey and taken the time to examine how I felt and what I thought. 

I have found writing and reading the poetry an essential part of acknowledging the feelings and experiences I have lived through. A way to accept and discharge the feelings.

I hope they give you an idea of what it is like to have cancer and to endure its often barbaric treatment. I won’t pretend that they are easy reading but it is important that we share how you deal with cancer so we acknowledge its challenges for the many people who are directly or indirectly effected by this insidious disease. 

This is very much my journey and my experience. We are all unique. Each cancer is unique and how we respond to treatment is very personal. 

If someone you know or love is going through this ask them about their experience. And listen to what they say and how they say it. It will make a difference.

Poems to Date

Welcome to My Blog

Ever since being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer my friends and family have said I should write a blog or a journal. Trouble is I didn’t feel like writing. Updating everyone, answering and writing texts and WhatsApps was writing enough. Especially on the first lots of chemo that made my eyes go blurry and meant I had to wear dark glasses (even inside). Turns out one of the chemotherapy drugs I had in my first 18 weeks of treatment (Cyclophosphamide) is derived from mustard gas, so I guess that’s why.

I’m back on chemo again, but its more manageable this time. Throughout this experience I’ve been scribbling down odd thoughts in notebooks, scraps of paper and WhatsApps. The wonderful and growing number of people who are supporting me and my family are keen to hear how I am doing, so with some encouragement and an experimental attitude I thought I’d give this blogging lark a go.

I hope it makes you stop for a minute and embrace your life right now. I’d love you to have real conversations with the people who matter about the stuff that matters to them and you. Maybe you’ll look at the wonder of the natural world or be compelled to do what you’ve always wanted to do.

Maybe it won’t be for you, that’s fine too. If you don’t enjoy reading a piece move on to another or come back another day, don’t endure it. If you do get something from it I’d love your feedback. Feel free to follow and share the the blog and/or my twitter and instagram pages.

Click on the links for more information about why ‘The Cancer Gap”? or how I started writing poetry or my poems. Alternatively, just scroll down to the beginning of the blog or look in the menu on the top left of the screen. Have a nosey around, you’ll work it out.

Follow me here.

July 2019