October is breast cancer awareness month. A lot of ladies object to the way it’s promoted; breast cancer is not pink and it’s not fluffy, it’s just plain shit. I don’t really care, the important thing is to get the message out there, especially to younger women who don’t think it’s a risk until they’re over 50. During a recent post-chemo steroid high I volunteered to “get involved” on behalf of the charities that support me, so don’t be surprised if you see my silly old scarecrow mug in local media. I have always hoped for fame or at least notoriety but never dreamed of hitting the dizzy heights of a feature in KM Extra. Here’s hoping.
Cancer diagnosis often leads to reflection and introspection- and it’s hard not to ponder the totally unhelpful “why me?”. In truth it’s more relevant to ask “why not me?”. The facts are that breast cancer is the biggest killer of women in my age group (YEP THAT’S RIGHT- WOMEN AGED BETWEEN 35-49) and if you were born after 1960 the lifetime risk for men and women of getting some kind of cancer is 1 in 2. Obviously your lifestyle choices are an important factor in determining the actual risk of developing this illness. We’re all dealt our cards, if you like, but how you play them is pretty bloody crucial. Using that analogy you could say I’d challenged Victoria Cohen Mitchell to a hand of poker whilst blindfolded, and very, very drunk. The truth is I’ve played my cards with a voracious appetite for certain pastimes which have a pretty crappy track record when it comes to life expectancy. Despite my mum’s efforts (which involved beating, social humiliation, denial of basic human rights YES IT DID MUM) I have been a smoker for over 20 years. Funny thing is with hindsight I don’t even think I was even addicted to nicotine before my diagnosis and now by Christ do I need a fag. I’m a regular consumer of alcohol (to say I drank more than the recommended limit would be a slight understatement), and like smoking I only managed to abstain during my pregnancy. Let’s leave it there- there may be time yet for me to become a politician. It’s a tricky thing to consider whether I’d change the way I have lived my life. Obviously if I’d been asked to choose when I was 19 between living an abstinent and long life which guaranteed watching my son grow up I’d choose that over spending the next 20 years pissing around and generally achieving not very much, yet I have experienced more, fun, love and laughter in those years than many people would if they lived twice over.
I had a “cancer off” in the chemist this week with a man who pushed in. I know I’m supposed to be living in the moment and enjoying the sun on my face etc but this bloke really pissed me off. I’m not proud of playing the cancer card but he got me going and he shouted in my face that he had cancer too. I shook my fist and yelled “it’s not a bloody competition!”. Not my finest hour but made me feel better. And when I left the shop lo and behold he’d parked on a DOUBLE YELLOW. I mention this because I’m aware that I should be trying to be mindful. I was thinking of those motivational phrases that you buy printed on a background of sunsets etc and I’m not generally a fan. I remember a summer Sunday (mostly liquid) lunch, during a heavy downpour where I quite literally put into practice not “waiting for the storm to pass” but “learning to dance in the rain” . What a hoot singing and dancing in monsoon weather in the street! Although a word of advice for those who might also fancy giving this a whirl. First check there are no pedestrians coming and if there are make sure they are not accompanied by toddlers who may be easily frightened and then definitely DO NOT accidentally squirt shampoo in the small persons eye as this could make the parent very cross and spoil the whole thing for everyone.
We’ve got some big family occasions coming up which kicked off with my mum’s birthday this week. I baked a cake and I don’t think she was amused that we actually used a blow torch to light the candles. Accommodating the family, I issued a daily itinerary and copy of house rules. Let’s just say the dynamic in my family is complex and I thought it would be helpful for expectations to be in black and white. This was a dry run for Christmas when I will be adding a yellow card/sin bin penalty system. I’m sure readers will agree these are sensible guidelines rather than the diktat of a slightly mental anal retentive.
Happily mum’s birthday passed without incident. I was most disappointed that she didn’t seem to like the most thoughtful gift which was a recreation of a photo of me and my siblings taken nearly forty years ago.
In other news, Super Ted crawls, god help us. His mastery of the remote control has developed at the same speed as his sense of humour, I swear he deliberately turns the telly over to “Cocaine Coast” as soon as my mother arrives. Highlight of the week: the clever people off of The Chase were the contestants on Tipping Point!
Next week I start the second half of chemo, 5 consecutive visits to hospital and what sounds like a more brutal regime with high risks of infection. I’m frightened.
Oh and the dog is poorly 😬