Chaos reigns. Internally my cells are mutating, sprouting, fighting. Externally it is mirrored. I am finding it hard to settle to anything. I can drive, I am mobile, I can function, but I am tired and the pressing aches. My ribs feel restricted, as though held in by an elasticated waist-band and I don’t know if it is fear or the spread of cancer. Every twinge becomes palpable, every blemish a possible sign.
I visit a colleague I used to work with. A woman who survived breast cancer over thirty years ago. A woman who turned down radiotherapy and chemotherapy. “But hers was a different type,” the voice of doom that I am constantly trying to cajole tells me. “Shut up!” I snap and arrive at her place banging my car hard against the kerb outside her house. Two boys look up, shocked at both the noise and the event. She comes to the door “Was that you?” And yes, here I am, arriving with a bang. Here I am tumbling out of the car with my chaotic cells and a tiny bright yellow pot of tête-à-tête.
She tells me I must nurture myself and is concerned that my new diet is making it difficult for me to join her for breakfast. In my chaos I forget to bring anything along. In truth I am in an extreme place with my food. Not wanting to promote growth of the cancerous cells I have almost cut food itself out of my diet. At least this is how it feels now, but I am finding my way. The juicer will arrive soon and a water ioniser. I will get my head around the cooking of organic pulses and rice. I will work some balance into it. As it is, it is one of the few things I actually have control over so I am really going for it.
I go for acupuncture. She is attentive. She is thorough. We work on the fear of the cancer spreading. I realise that this is why I am feeling so resistant to the sentinel node biopsy which will be part of what will be done in three days time. I am scared to know the secrets it will yield. I am scared to know more, in case there is more. After the acupuncture it feels clearer. I will go with that procedure.
I can feel the buzz and throb that the needles activate in my body. Something is shifting. It reaches the serpent that rolls sleepily inside me. This is my energy! It can’t snooze! Not now. But it is tired. I am tired. I don’t know how it is I can drive home after the treatment. The calmness that surrounds me is totally new.
One thing I am starting to realise is that everything must change. The severity of the illness demands it. I know that one of the things I must attend to is my home. I can’t stay here. It is not a house for the sick. It is old and thick-walled and cut into the side of the hill. To heat it takes effort; wood and lifting. Most of all it is damp. My acupuncturist is precise: “It is damp and stagnation that creates tumours in the body. If you stay in the damp you will die.” I know she is right.
First I will rest. I will not go to work in the next couple of days. I will gather energy for what is to come. I will let it happen. Then I will recover. I will hunker down and heal. Then I will look at what needs to change. I will uproot. There is no nourishment where I have planted myself. It is barren soiled, water polluted, stifling and airless. It is time to let go of old ways.
Voice on the Wing