It’s the time of year when I normally get very introspective (yes, more so than usual) and productive with my writing, and these two things mean I write something about what I’ve done this year and what I want to achieve next year. But having had cancer not so long ago makes that tricky – and the expectations I have for myself that it shouldn’t be tricky, make it trickier. Are you with me?
When I had my routine CT scan in August (ish) it didn’t come back clear, so my consultant sent me for a PET scan. That didn’t quite come back clear, either – it showed a 7mm lymph node growth, so my consultant said I should have an MRI and an ultrasound guided needle biopsy to take a closer look at it. I had the MRI in September and yesterday I almost had the needle biopsy.
It’s Wear It Pink day today – a day when people wear pink to raise awareness for breast cancer and the charity Breast Cancer Now. The idea is to wear pink for the day, donate to the charity, and put on or take part in some sort of sponsored event to raise money – like a bake sale or a run and so on. But I do wonder how many people throw on a pink t-shirt and think “okay I’ve done my bit, I’m raising awareness now”. I know lots of people like this stuff and I might be on my own here, but I’m not too keen on participating in these sorts of things – which is why you won’t see me wearing pink today or going to a charity coffee morning in September. There are a lot of emotional aftereffects of cancer, even for years after remission, and if something is going to throw the disease in my face I want it to be really worthwhile. Charities do a lot of good and when lots of people donate money due to the attention the charity receives on days like this, it can really make a difference and my emotional issues and avoidance tactics aside, I think the work charities do and the attention they receive is great and very important.
Alternatively titled “I’m not crying, you’re crying”.
My mum and I went to see Keane at Royal Albert Hall last Saturday, and it was possibly the best gig I have ever been to. Background: I’ve loved Keane since I first heard Somewhere Only We Know in 2004 when I was 16. I loved Keane back then when I was known as a greb (greebo, emo, goth, type thing) listening to Linkin Park. I loved them while I was seeing so many other artists – Alicia Keys, Green Day, Bon Jovi, Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and while I was listening to the music my dad got me into – various Motown and 1960s-80s rock bands. I’ve loved them all the way through to present day when my playlist is mainly made up of Post Malone, French Montana, Giggs, Drake and whatever else I hear and love on Radio 1. Keane have been a constant – there’s only one album I don’t own, I love their sound, and I have been waiting for years for them to come back (after their seven year hiatus) so that I could see them live.
All the leaves are changing and nothing is changing and maybe everything is changing. My mother sings California Dreaming while she stands smoking at the kitchen window, just the first two lines, nothing more, she doesn’t know the rest – sometimes softly to herself, sometimes with vigour, with an excitement about the sky being grey, whether or not it really is. Sometimes I look in the mirror or catch my own mannerisms, think about my ways, and realise I am becoming her a little and I love it. I talk like my dad. I tell people to pack it in and stop mithering and find myself repeating sayings I assume are a bit northern and explaining it away with as my dad would say. My family is the best family to ever exist and we don’t need to be perfect because nobody is – I can only emulate the best people I know, and they are the best people I could emulate because they never left. Others left and said they had come back but they haven’t, not really.
I had my gastroscopy on Friday and it was the best endoscopy experience I’ve had so far – not least because the only thing I remember (thank you, sedation) is my doctor straight after the procedure saying “nothing serious”. As a result, I’ve had an extremely relaxed weekend.
Happy bank holiday! For me, this long weekend is appearing between scans and checkups, as snatches of joy often do. I had my PET scan on Wednesday, which was a breeze – it’s always easier when you’ve done something before. I had a nap during the scan last time, and this time was no different, except this time my leg didnt jerk in my sleep and wake me up panicking that I had unintentionally moved. The results should come back in a week or two. Next Friday is my gastroscopy, at a completely different hospital, so Peter and I are continuing our tour of the local medical establishments.
Anyway, I wanted to share a poem today, because I haven’t posted one for a while and I haven’t submitted much to lit mags or had anything published for a while, either. Here’s something I wrote on the way home from a friend’s house last week, and the photo that follows is my terrible attempt at taking a photo of the moon that same night.
The moon behind the church
I want to live where I can see the moon. I want to be with people who can see and nod and agree with my assertions about the beauty of the moon. When the traffic slows, I like to think it’s because every driver is trying to get a really good look at the moon. I want us all to turn off our own moons – headlights – and slow to see the moon behind the church.
I pull over to take a picture. Get my good side, it says, keeping its cheek turned. I comply, the photo doesn’t turn out quite right – I don’t have the tools – but I am happy to sit, forget the day the sun had burned, and let my head cool as I admire the moon behind the church.
I haven’t posted for a while because I haven’t had much inspiration to write and I’ve been busy with house-related things. I did finish writing my memoir and came closer than I’ve ever gotten to having a full-length book published, but it didn’t work out so I’m back at square one with that. Not very much news on the lit mag front either – I haven’t been submitting much but there is some of my stuff that has been accepted but not published yet, and with no date set, and some stuff that’s been out for ages with no response. Meanwhile I’ve closed Peeking Cat to submissions and it’s probably going to stay closed for a while as my PhD gets underway in October. But people keep submitting stuff, which is a bit pointless because I have to either reply saying we’re closed, or just delete it. Continue reading
I have two poems out in the new issue of Vamp Cat Magazine! This issue has the theme of wanderlust, so my two poems are suitably travel-related. The first is about visiting the seaside with a friend, and the second is about driving to see family at Christmas as a child. You can read them here.
I’m so pleased that my creative non-fiction (well, sort of fictional dramatic narrative of non-fiction?) “Lucky” has been published by Bonnie’s Crew! I wrote this short piece this time last year around the time of my second and third cancer diagnoses. Read “Lucky” online here.