Saturday, 15 July 2017

Thinking about cancer

I'm going off-piste with this post as it is not to do with my writing. However it's a piece I've been musing about for a few days now so I'll go ahead anyway and see what happens.

On May 18th I was given news which I was not expecting. After a few rounds of tests and biopsies I was told I had cancer. Luckily it was Grade 1 so not aggressive but nevertheless had to be treated urgently by way of a hysterectomy. I hardly had time to process this information before I had a date for surgery and had the procedure on June 6th. I was lucky that I didn't need any chemo or radiotherapy and have been told that there was no sign of the cancer spreading so it has all gone, subject to an appointment with the oncologist later in the year.

My problem is that I feel a bit of a fraud. I hear harrowing stories of people's battle against cancer. I watch medical programmes where people have a difficult time dealing with a cancer diagnosis. And I feel a fraud because my experience was not like theirs. Most of the time I forget that I had the surgery - until I overdo things and then I remember when the ache sets in - and the whole 'cancer' thing seems to have passed me by somewhat.

I mentioned this to my OH the other day and said that I don't feel like I had cancer. His response hit home in a big way. He said 'But you did have cancer.' And it hit me that it was true. Cancer had invaded my body and I had been a cancer sufferer for a brief time. I was lucky, it was caught early and could be treated easily with surgery. But for a time I had indeed had cancer.

I'm not trying to trivialise what I went through. There were some dark thoughts and a few secret tears but for the most part I just 'got on with it'. But I still struggle to think of myself as someone who had cancer. I don't feel like I went through enough to link myself with all those people who fight and struggle and suffer. I feel like a fraud.

All this is rather baffling and complex. I don't know why I feel the need to write about it but I do. I'm also trying not to be too 'romantic' about the whole 'cancer survivor' thing. I curse myself when I start noticing things and rejoicing in them - the smell of a rose, a beetle's iridescent body, a scampering squirrel - but a little part of me thinks that the story could have had a different ending and I need to remind myself every now and then that life is good and there is joy and beauty all around.

So I'll try not to beat myself up too much and to be thankful that things turned out the way they did. But I don't think I'll ever completely lose the feeling of being a fraud when it comes to cancer.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sometimes this writing lark is bad for my health...

The other day I spent some time plotting out the final parts of my WIP. I congratulated myself on working out how everyone would behave, what actions would move the plot towards its conclusion and how I would round everything off in a way that satisfied me. Major progress and I felt really pleased with myself.

And then I went to bed ...

Would my characters leave me alone to rest? Not a chance! They bothered me and prodded me, unhappy with my plans for them and suggesting ways that I could give them a much better outcome. I struggled to get to sleep and lay in a frustrated heap beneath my duvet cursing my stroppy characters.

I suppose it's my own fault. If I hadn't created such feisty characters then I could have got a full nights sleep. But there was no chance of that once the brain started racing. I spent too much time trying to get these characters to behave themselves but they are determined to do what they want. Some people have said how lucky I am that my characters are driving the narrative. And I do agree, that is making the process of writing this novel so much easier than others I've attempted to write. But I do wish they'd learn to behave when it's bedtime!

And wouldn't you know it, when I sat down to write yesterday they all went AWOL! Nobody to be seen and I struggled to write 500 words. Perhaps they were tired after keeping me awake all night... Who knows? But today I'm going to show them who's boss and we'll get some more plot written. I'm going to give some attention to the characters who were behaving in the wee small hours and let the rest of them have a lie in...