Oh, I’ve been having a rubbish week. All ouch and sorry for myself and wanting to be more healed, more ready to get on with it all, less tired – and all of it faster. And I KNOW I need to rest, to recuperate, but here’s the thing – before January 3rd (when I was recalled after my mammogram) I felt totally fine. Really well. Incredibly healthy. I was going to advanced yoga and pilates classes, walking almost every day, feeling fitter than I had in years. Since then I had a bunch of biopsies, and then a massive surgery, and now I feel like rubbish. Before, I had cancer in me and I felt great. Now (hopefully, I get pathology results this week) I no longer have cancer in me, but I am broken and cut up and feel rubbish.

It’s taking me back to how I felt in the year or so after the first time round, when I was making my solo show Breaststrokes (cancer, swimming, journeys), and this feeling of (for want of a much better word, when the world is full of so many actual injustices) … ‘injustice’.
At that time so many of my friends were having babies, I was having chemo that was making me infertile.
This time round it’s a bit more about how I live with being middle-aged. That my (sick/healing) body is underlining my middle-aged-ness. And the injustice/unfair part comes when I get out of bed, relieved not to be attached to drains and then I think, well other people don’t have to be grateful they can get out of bed without carrying three drains, why do I have to be grateful for that now? Other people don’t have to be grateful for good surgeons, why do I? Other people don’t have to think “Oh well, I’m doing so much better this week than I was last week”, why do I?
And of course it’s rubbish, I have no idea what’s going on in all those other lives around me, but I know for sure that I cannot possibly be the only person in my terrace, let along my street/borough/city/nation/world having a bad week.
Self Pity Woman is not a glorious sight. (Though maybe she has a very gorgeous black-and-blue cape?)
I hate moaning and I hate complaining and I hate me when I whine. And I feel very whine-y, but it is absurdly hard (for me) to snap out of it just now, when the way I usually ‘snap out of it’ is by exercising – swimming, walking, running, dancing.
And I’m reminding myself it could be so much worse, counting blessings IS of great value. Reminding me that I AM hugely fortunate to be here and now, that I could (through no actions of my own, merely through being born elsewhere) be now having cancer for the second time in a war zone, or somewhere with no treatment at all. All of that.
I know I’m lucky. I know I should be grateful.
And mostly I am.
But sometimes, I want to pout. I want to say it’s not fair.
And even as I do so, I hear my father’s voice saying “Life’s not fair.”
He was a labourer from the age of 14 to 65, died at 67 of his second cancer, was a PoW during WW2 for 4.5 years, he knew about ‘unfair’. And he was right.
Life’s not fair. Get on with your life.

This is me, ten years ago, in Breaststrokes, singing and dancing the ‘Cancer is the answer’/’I don’t want to go’ song.
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I love those frames by designer Becky Hurst, I love the way Colin Grenfell lit them and Sue Ridge photographed them so they seemed to be floating.

These are the words. Niall Ashdown made music for it, and Nick Powell recorded it, it’s a very jaunty little number :

Did you eat too much beef, pork
Did you ever talk
On mobiles, or walk
Under pylons?

Did you ever choke, smoke dope,
Snort too much coke?
For a joke? Or wear
Too much nylon?

Oh lord it’s a shame, all the same
There must be something to blame
It’s a wonder you continue to smile

Well I’ve got to go, no
Why don’t I stay?
I’m dying to hear what you say.

Does your bra dig in
to your skin
did you drink yourself thin
on gin and tequila?

Do you use deodorants
chemical exfolliants
Did you get them from an organic dealer?

And what about pills, chills, ills, bills
Sensual thrills?
(I know a really good healer.)

Well I’d love to stay, hey
How could I go?
I’m dying to hear what you know.

I’d like to protest
or even kindly suggest
that in terms of my chest
you don’t know what is best

it’s not the things I repressed
or the times I obsessed
or feeling depressed
that made the lump in my breast

quick before I forget
I’ve read every word on the internet.

Well I’d love to stay, hey
How could I go?
I’m dying to hear what you know.

So if cancer, is the answer
there’s a chance
I’ll have to go
And though I’m grateful
For your faithful
Attempts to help me grow

I don’t want MRI
Radioactive dye
Cat scans and needles that make me cry

Don’t want more chemo
Don’t want more radio
Don’t want my dreams-o to fade-io

I’m just trying to say
In all kinds of ways
I just don’t want to be dead. Yet.

So I’ve got to go, no
Why don’t I stay?
I’m dying to hear what you say.