WHY? WHY? WHY? does every item about someone who has died from cancer talk about them losing the battle? Cancer is a disease – you don’t fight, you are treated (or not) for it. It doesn’t matter how strongly you think you are “fighting” you live or die of the disease like other diseases…you don’t appear to have to battle diabetes, motor neurone disease, heart disease, HIV, malaria…What is it about cancer that you are assumed to be in a war zone where you will be triumphant if only you can be strong enough?
I’m not. I’m living with cancer (yes…you can say that word without use of the Big C of any other euphemism), being treated for cancer (there I go again) and there is not a battleground in sight. I am not fighting…neither winning nor losing, just living….for the time being….with CANCER
As this year starts to wind in its neck, I am reflecting on the number of obstacles I have negotiated this year (which I already knew were on the horizon when I predicted 2015 as my annus horribliest). They have come and gone…and I haven’t.
- Deaths – 2 (my friend/my cousin)
- Marriage – decree absolute achieved after finally starting to realise that the whole 23 years had been a chimera
- Sale of “family” home
- Trumped up, desperate allegations delivered by the police from my former friend – TWICE!
- continuing treatment of cancer
But as it turns out there are silver linings
- I am still alive
- I have a lovely new home which I have furnished and adorned without having to refer/defer to anybody
- I find I do have a sense of adventure. I started the year in Israel in an attempt to “connect” to my roots in some way…it may demonstrate how shallow I am that I did “connect” in the music-riven Bible Belt of the Deep South of US in the Fall of the year. Both trips really drilled down into my inner core and are helping me in all sorts of ways.
- (…and going back to being shallow) I like being a UK size 10 (and even bought an item of Size Zero clothing this year)…AND…I have a pair of leather trousers.
- I have people (who I love and who love me) surrounding me as much or as little as I want
- continuing treatment of cancer
- I am happy
..and to return to the night before Christmas. I have not, or not as yet…broken the trifle dish…last year I had only pedestal to serve…this happened twice. Fingers crossed for this year.
Who are these people? At every turn (and, it seems this lady is “for turning”….a lot), I seem to be encountering the phrase “your Christmas Day outfit and style” – this dilemma is not one I am familiar with, shop for or…to be perfectly honest, give undue consideration to…I am not a Christmas jumper kind of person and glitter/kitchens don’t really gel. For me, it is really a day that is barely one step up from a pyjama day but includes smoked salmon. That’s my take on it but my table will, naturally be heaving…Philip in the Cabbage Van has made his first visit – the prelude to Christmas order and he or another will be back midweek in one of their fruity or veggie vans…
Elvis and my other Deep South Christmas merchandise will be up and will, inevitably set the required tone…
But…Santa, LBD and glitz aside, health issues continue. More treatment on Monday when I imagine I will have to confront the newly found heart problems but am trying to let it ride and just keep taking the tablets. What a can of worms this cancer lark is. With eyes firmly on the future, not past it seems the treatment can cause the same survival issues as the disease…maybe it’s better (?) to die from heart problems than cancer…who knows and guess I won’t get to choose, but I can sit and ponder.
My friend was interred at Highgate Cemetery this week. She now has a foot (or some ash) in both of her much loved worlds – the Caribbean, where she will forever stalk its marine life and north London, her other home, near the Ladies’ Pond. It was another day of memory, poetry, tears, flowers and rum but inevitably some bass notes of black humour.
Poems all the more poignant as they were in her own handwriting…
and there goes my heart..breaking all over again…
It seems that payment is being exacted for my transatlantic blast by way of a series of breakages.
Dad fell and broke his hip and is doing his 86 year old best to re-mobilise. He is frustrated and fed up but is making amazing progress. Undoubtedly the thought of being held captive for much longer is firing his resolve!
And why only earth should I think there was just the one major problem to deal with? My heart seems to be malfunctioning as well. A routine echo (echocardiogram) hasn’t shown good results. I have to attend every 3 months for these checks in order to continue the use of herceptin (which is keeping the cancer at bay) but has known cardiac side-effects. It appears that marked changes are showing in my left ventricular function. Hopefully this can be treated with medication which will be assessed in another 3 months. If the increased medications don’t work then, I was told, it will be decided whether my life is more at risk from the treatment for the cancer or the cancer itself…Back to rolling the dice…
…and all the surrounding stress seems to be resulting in all manner of other breakages…
- Coffee pots x 2
- Teapots x 2
- Baking dishes x 1
- Wineglasses x 3
- Cat dishes x 3
but who’s counting?
…and so we will scatter my friend/my former friend/my beloved dead friend? And…whilst the “sensible” is discussed and arranged, I ponder the unorthodox/the daft/the disrespectful/the offbeat/the quirky/the fearless which is how I remember her. How can there be so many websites dedicated to ideas surrounding the “disposal” of ashes? It’s an industry. I am torn between heartbreak/loss and thinking just how we would have cackled (there is no other word) at the possibilities.
A small sample below of those that have tickled me especially when thinking just how wrong they could all go…
• You can pour ashes into a striking piece of sculpture (if you happened to have a striking piece of sculpture to hand)
• Mix them with clay or concrete and make something. (something? hmmmm) A builder had his made into paving slabs. He said he’d been walked over all his life, he fancied more of the same when dead. (Is this for real?)
• Commission an artist to mix them with paint and create a portrait (can’t think anything other than gruesome or more akin to Grimms Fairy Tales)
• Fire them out of shotgun cartridges. Speak to a gunsmith (wonder where I find one of these?)
• Have them pressed into a vinyl record which will play your favourite music (on what?)
• Scatter them from a hot air balloon or a light aircraft (both of course readily accessible).
• Scatter them at sea (“The Viking Longboat Urn will give a send off to remember: set upon the water, set adrift and set alight. Then as the fire ebbs away the boat sinks gracefully below the water”) “gracefully” ?
• Have them made into a crystal windchime (why?)
• Have them mixed with glass and made into an ornament (“an ornament” – what kind of “ornament” would that be?)
• Keep some in a locket or a pendant. Really lovely things (really?)
• Have them made into a firework display (now we’re talking but not sure that amongst my acquaintance is a firework maker…damn!)
• Launch them into the stratosphere, where they will encircle the Earth (how? especially when neither handicrafts nor science was your thing)
• Bury them in an underwater reef (I am not sure this is permitted…is it?)
• Have them scattered from a radio-controlled helicopter (recipe for disaster but oh how perfect).
There also seems to be a dedicated vocabulary for this activity which includes such staples as “farewelling” “water soluble scattering urn” and even Trip Advisor gets in on the act with reviews on places to go/what to do…
Having already prepared my will; Power of Attorney; DNR order and Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, it looks like I have yet more to consider…