Some years ago, the Doctor sent me off for a chest Xray. I had had a persistant cough, that wouldnt seem to go away.
Imagine my surprise when I opened the Xray, & discovered I had a mass in one lung. I hightailed it straight over to the Doctor's surgery. My file was not in the drawer. I knew he must have it in his room. I knew the hospital must have notified him of the Xray outcome.
He looked very grave when he saw me. He told me they were unsure what it might be, but had recommended physio therapy to see if it was a 'plug of mucous'.
I duly endured the physio, which left me unable to walk most days, after the treatment, as it seemed to really upset my back. The Physio therapist told me I needed physio for my back!
Next step was a repeat xray of the lung. No difference.
In the beginning I had laughed off the thought it might be cancer. The Doctor did not laugh. He was a measured, kind, cautious, very thorough man. He sent me off to see a Specialist.
That is when I began to feel frightened. Thoughts swirled through my head. Disbelief. Denial. I had given up smoking. I couldnt have cancer.
But the fingers of fear kept chilling in my soul. Little veins of cold, slivering unexpectedly, catching me unawares. I would lie sleepless. I tried to tell myself it wouldnt matter. I could afford to die, & it wouldnt matter.
GOM refused to talk about it with me. He just scoffed, & seemed to laugh it off. My daughter rushed about in her life, not listening, not seeming to care how disturbed I really felt.
The day of the Specialist appointment came. I had been for CT scans, dyed scans, further Xrays. Armed with all these I set off to see the Specialist.
I was terrified, though I kept telling myself not to be. But I had so badly wanted someone to accompany me, to hold my hand, to assure me it would be alright.
The morning of the appointment, my daughter picked a fight with me. She was furious & nasty. She stormed off out. She left our granddaughter in GOM's care. He used it as excuse not to accompany me. He claimed he needed to stay home, & look after her, she was a toddler.
And I took myself off to the appointment. I shook as I drove the car. I told myself I needed to stop being silly. But the small frightened piece inside me felt utterly betrayed. Bereft. Alone.
It has shaken me to write about this. Surprisingly, it has brought tears to my eyes. I had thought I was well over it. What a shock....
My mother was very supportive, but she lived in another country. She believed my daughter, & GOM were in denial themselves, & ignoring it was their way of dealing with it. Perhaps...
The lung tumour is thought to be benign. It must be, because 18 years after they found a trace of it on an old Xray, it has not killed me. I am still ok.
I have had 2 other cancer 'brushes', for want of a better word. Both would have certainly killed me if not for surgery. I discovered the existance of one tumour while I was caring for my mother, in her last days. I did not want to worry her, or frighten her, so didnt tell her about it. And I didnt let myself think about it really. I just felt it could all wait. I did not then know that it would be my mother's final days.
I had the surgery after she died, & they 'got it all', as they say. It frightened me also.
I think the thought of cancer is a process, or processes. I can still remember the processes, so clearly. The anger, the disbelief, the denial, the welcoming of it almost, at the end. All seem to be steps on the way to dealing with it. Rationalising it. Trying to make sense.
I dont think that anyone can understand those processes, unless they have experienced it themselves.
No matter how much support you have, or how much you are told you are cared about, it is essentially a journey only you can make. I have not had to have any treatment long term, I have been lucky.
I am sure the treatments must prolong the processes of a mind trying to make sense of it all.
My Best Friend J, has had to deal with all of that. One day, I must ask her about that journey.
A friend has been diagnosed with a cancer. I can only offer support from a distance. I know in some small measure, perhaps, what she is dealing with, in her mind.
This is a photo of my first ever little school case. It is 58 years old! I can hardly believe I still have it. As you can see, it is battered & not unscarred from it's long years of faithfully containing, & carrying. My mother kept it for a lot of those years, & it has had a chequered life, as far as contents go.
Once I got a new bag for school, I used this one to store the dolls clothes I made for my doll family.
I think my mother used if for keeping knitting patterns, & sewing odds & ends. After my mother died, it spent some time at my brother's house. My SIL cast a wishful eye upon it, for decor purposes. My brother said NO. He sent it to me, filled with copies of old family photographs, bless him.
Now it serves as a storage case for the junk jewellry I use to make doll jewellry. And carefully holds button treasures, & braids, my son B gave me. Salvaged from an old clothing factory beneath his attic flat, in the mid-city, he shared with his lovely partner.
The stories & memories that can be contained within an old object are sometimes amazing.
When I look at the old case, it takes me back to my first terrifying day of school.
There was a Polio epidemic, sweeping the country. The schools were closed the year I turned 5, which was the age most children began their school days, in New Zealand. So I had led a sheltered existance up to my first day at school.
There was no Kindergarten, or Play Centre or Pre School in those days- well not in our small, rural town anyway. And I am sure they were all closed for the Polio days too.
Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet.