'If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.' Marjorie Garber

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Sick of January's Cancer? Part 1

Lately, Cancer has featured a lot in the news and press here in the UK.

The Ace of Spades

At the end of December, the sudden death of Rocker Legend Lemmy was announced.
His crowning glory 'The Ace of Spades', in the early 80s is still a classic anthem. But he also sang lead on Hawkwind's Silver Machine, prior to forming Motorhead. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmy 
He was such a character, a rocking icon, taken swiftly by Cancer.
In one week this month, cold hard January, we lost two more great Britons.

Genius popstar, style icon, artist, actor, writer, designer David Bowie died on January 10th, aged 69.

I can't pretend to be his greatest fan, but from the glam-rock mid 1970s, through the Punk of the late seventies and the New Romantics of the early eighties until the power dressing mid-nineties, he had a huge impact on my life. Then in 2013, David Bowie was back at the V&A in London, and I was in awe of him again. 

For most of my life, listening to his music, watching him on TV, taught me so many things ~ about life as art, about diversity, how to be cool, how to dress, how to dance, how to be a rebel and finally in 2016, how to die with grace and dignity.

I guess because of the time difference between New York and England, news arrived here of his death on January 11th. It was soon all over the internet, every radio channel played his songs, every TV station broadcast tributes. I woke that Monday morning to this mass grieving, and I too was devastated...not only had the world lost a magnificent artist, but I was reminded of my own predicament. If someone who seemed as eternal as David Bowie could be taken by Cancer, what chance did I, a failed lawyer, an unappreciated artist, an unestablished author, a weak 53 year-old housewife, have to survive it?

Beautiful Bowie  (his final photo session)

He died when I was going through the first week of my third cycle of chemotherapy. I was already low. 

The next morning, I was booked to have a port-a-cath fitted to my arm at the Oncology  Centre. A port-a-cath is a plastic bubble attached to a catheter and line which is inserted into a vein. It's designed to permit repeated access for the chemotherapy. The line is fed along the vein from the arm to the chest area, and the plastic bubble sits just below the skin on your arm, so the oncology nurses can access your venous system from there to take bloods or give chemo drugs, without having to damage veins any further. Unfortunately nothing is ever straight forward for me. The line wouldn't pass beyond my clavicle, so after five attempts in one vein and two attempts in the other, it was decided that it would be a good idea to scan the other arm to see if that side would be better. Of course, it wasn't, so the procedure was abandoned. I had two holes, three huge bruises, a very sore arm and nothing to show for it. There was a suggestion that I could have one in my chest. My initial thought at that was to get the hell out of there, but I very graciously said that I would think about it ~ how very British. My intention was to never let them near me again unless it was my only option!

Thankfully, I was looking forward to a visit later that day, from my two dearest friends. Their second visit since I had been diagnosed. They arrived in a flurry of fun and love, all the way from Kent, somewhere east of centre. Then whilst preparing our evening meal, we all sang along and laughed along to Bowie blaring out in the background, and those lovely girls reminded me why I had to survive ~ because I was a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend who worked bloody hard at succeeding in those roles. In fact, even at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am pretty good. And do you know, they also reminded me that it's never too late to succeed at the other things ~ well, with the exception of law, which I never should have attempted in the first place!

I had such a lovely time whilst the girls were here. We went to the cinema to see 'The Danish Girl' ~ loved it and had a good cry too. We had to go to a midday showing, because I was having a CT scan in the afternoon. Going to the cinema at that time gave the whole experience a slightly surreal and decadent feel. We were cocooned in the darkness of the cinema, in the middle of the day, totally immersed in the fantasy of the film.

We then came home for a quick hat trying session to cover my balding head before we dashed off to the hospital for my appointment with reality. That evening, we went out for a fab Thai meal.

Then the next day, whilst we were still buzzing from the day before, Cancer struck again.

Alan Rickman, a wonderful actor and director, had died, aged 69. I loved him in 'Truly, Madly, Deeply', loved him in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' and just adored him, even more than I did Harry, Ron or even Hermione, in the Potter films. 

I was so sad but I couldn't allow the sadness to take hold of me because we were expecting my brother-in-law to arrive from Australia at lunchtime. We had a long leisurely lunch, talking about old times and future times. Then my dearest friends had to leave me to return to their own busy lives. As they drove off, I closed the door and had a spontaneous little cry, missing them already. Luckily, I had Hubby, First Born Darling Daughter and Hubby's Brother to keep me company so I couldn't get too sad...

Part 2 to follow shortly

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