Saturday, 25 January 2014

The only thing we have to fear......

Last night I felt a tiny lump above the line of oh so familiar scars; soft under fingertips, like a grain of rice floating beneath skin. Logically I know this is nothing - a piece of gristle or old scarring left behind from those endless hours on operating tables.....a recent ultrasound and mammogram having confirmed I am, at present, tumour free.
Yet somewhere in the back of my mind there is a small voice that whispers the fearful mantra 'what if....?'
My hip aches with a dull constancy, waking me in the quiet hours and causing me to toss and turn like a restless hound, trying to find that comforting position where I can drift away once more. I know this is tamoxifen exacting its price; yet in those unguarded moments between sleep and waking, that familiar voice still echoes its lingering thought around the dark recesses of my consciousness.... 'What if...?'

This is the reality of cancer.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Falling and rising

When I was small there was a big oak tree at the end of the garden. It grew at a 45 degree angle, and had a wide flattened trunk full of knots,bumps and ridges. It was the king of trees; good for scrambling up and sitting face towards the sun, with bare legs and bare feet dangling over the edge.
I loved that tree, the feel of rough bark on skinny knees; toes gripping and slipping as I clambered up to my lofty lookout. Unafraid of heights, and oblivious to danger, I would climb and sit; balancing on branches to peer over the back gardens and beyond, trying to catch a glimpse of the river.

One day, the inevitable happened; in a state of natural curiosity I leaned too far out, lost my balance and tumbled heels over head to the ground; bringing down a rainfall of  the acorns, twigs and leaves I had clutched at on my way down. 
I can remember the thud as my back hit the ground and the gasp as my breath was knocked from me; but no pain. Fortunately I was unbroken and, unflustered, I merely lay for a while looking stunned, before rising on unsteady legs  and wandering back inside to do something else.

This was not the end of my tree climbing, as undeterred, I soon outgrew the stunted garden trees; preferring the tall sweeping boughs of  those in the park or woods in which to make my lofty eyries. My fall had taught me you can do one of two things; stay with feet planted firmly on the ground, or pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start to climb once more...... 

Friday, 17 January 2014


The moon guided me home this evening , proudly riding above the grey blue clouds to spread a soft glow on tired commuters below. I wanted to stop and take a photo, or sit and gaze a while; but the relentless stream of humanity heading away from the city made this impossible.

A clear moon on a still night, a mystical presence calling my mind back to Morocco. My father and I lying across soft divans, on the roof terrace of a house high in the Atlas Mountains, marvelling at the wealth of stars revealed in a sky unpolluted by electric lights; while the villagers all around settled slowly into sleep, soothed by a candle's golden flame........and the moon, large and impossibly bright shining benevolently down upon us all.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Scarred, for life

Over time, I have learnt to become blasé about the scars that cross my body; so am always quietly taken aback at the reaction of others upon seeing them for the first time. Not that there is ever a flicker of revulsion; rather one of sympathy intermingled with a mild curiosity.
There is inevitably a mention of 'bravery' and of 'having been through the mill'; but for me, nothing I did was brave...... rather everything I went through was down to sheer bloody mindedness and the natural urge for self preservation. Bravery is something else, a purer driving force, belonging to those who risk their all for others on a daily basis.There is nothing brave about putting your life into the hands of caring professionals who are infinitely equipt to keep you alive..... that is the only sensible option.
My scars, as a fellow cancer sufferer so eloquently put; are the tattoos of an incredible journey, which act as a testimony to the amazing healing powers all our bodies possess.

So by all means ask me about the scars, my journey, and how it was for me.....but don't ever call me brave.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Eye spy

From time to time I get the distinct feeling I am being watched by a small, beady pair of eyes, high up where the corner of the wall meets the ceiling.
Like the Cheshire Cat,  a little day Gecko flickers in and out of my peripheral view, scathingly mocking any human attempt to reunite him with his vivarium. He contemptuously ignores anything that moves in his direction; then at that split second when he is just a hair's breadth away, quickly darts to the sanctuary of the bookcase, safe in the knowledge that even the smallest hand in the house is too big to slide into the space between wall and wood.

He seems perfectly content to remain at large for the time being; so I find myself setting out little bowls of  Gecko food daily, like an offering to some Far Eastern deity, to ensure he is well fed; then checking their fullness for signs that he has feasted.

Secretly, I enjoy seeing him dash up and down; the green of his skin in stark contrast to the white wall. Unfettered by glass walls, he is free to roam where so ever he chooses, exploring as yet undiscovered hideaways .

It is becoming clear that there are some attractive advantages to being a gecko!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lost and found

Walking in the wild wet woods today, I stumbled across flowers lying abandoned under a bramble thicket; tossed and tumbled as if thrown aside uncaringly. I couldn't help but wonder whether  they had, in reality, been lain gently in fond memory of love and loss, before being scattered by the wind; or wilfully cast away as a deliberate act of disdain.
There is something infinitely sad that clings to abandoned objects; an air of defeat that echoes around them. The battered shoe lying all forlorn in the gutter, the small pink mitten snagged on a thin branch, the coat hanging over the back of lonely park bench; they all have secrets to whisper into the ear of the curious passer by should they care to listen, tales of a time when they were cherished, desired and cared for.
Like many others, I have at times felt cast aside, lost, battered and bewildered at life's seemingly harsh twists and turns. Yet for every loss there has been a gain, a realisation or rediscovery to balance the  sadness and disappointment. This is, after all ,the true essence of living.