Bloggers for Peace: Monthly Peace Challenge – Quote This

Every month Kozo at Everyday Gurus inspires a new B4Peace challenge.  This month’s challenge is all about quotes. The quote below is my own, it’s my mantra and I hope perhaps it is something that strikes a chord with you too.

B4peace quotes

 

You’ll find more beautiful B4Peace quotes here, here and here 🙂

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Wilful Insubordination

It’s 15 months since my original diagnosis, the diagnosis that seemed to spell doom because just about all the features of the tumour pointed to invasion, aggression and far from satisfactory medium/long-term disease free survival.  Trawling the World Wide Worry-maker in hope of some success stories left me shell-shocked and saddened. The number of very young women (and later in my research men too) facing their final hours inside a couple of years of this kind of diagnosis was, quiet frankly, frightening.  I stopped visiting certain forums because the scale of lost life and lost love was too painful at a time when the extent of my own challenge was yet to be confirmed. It took three months to establish exactly what I was dealing with and what it would take to address it.

Much has happened in 15 months. A mastectomy and immediate reconstruction using acellular dermal matrix, three rounds of FEC chemotherapy followed by three rounds of Taxotere. Nine Herceptin infusions. Steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, a bi-lateral salpingo-oophorectomy. A permanent needle intolerance that developed out of nowhere and seems to be going no place fast. It’s hard to believe this sack of bones and blood is a body any more. From the neck down its more like a modern masterpiece of medical experimentation, a Damien Hirst of intricate and iatric well-healed scars but scars nonetheless.

It would have been easy, very easy indeed, to give in to the monster; to accept this kind of diagnosis doesn’t turn up too many long-term survivors. By long-term I don’t mean the 5 or 10 years medicine considers when calculating statistics. I won’t even have reached my mid-fifties by then. I mean proper long-term, the forty or fifty year kind, the kind where I could safely be described as a little old lady. Or a cantankerous old bag, I don’t mind either way. Giving in to tyrants has never been one of my biggest strengths though.

Yesterday I had my first “routine” follow-up appointment. The English language is so laughable at times. Routine means usual, ordinary or everyday. Funnily enough I was not in the habit of regularly baring my breasts to complete strangers. I most certainly wasn’t in the habit of letting complete strangers touch me. Not so long ago anyone trying that might find themselves in possession of a sharp slap. Time and context changes everything.

Have you ever wondered how strange it might be to talk about work and children and holidays for 15 minutes while someone you barely know thoroughly examines a part of your anatomy normally reserved for those with a privilege pass?  A year ago I’d have considered it very strange. Today it is almost routine.  In these situations the talking me exists somewhere separate from the hunk of meat laid out on the examination table – the hunk of meat that happens to be the only home I have. The talking me converses with humour and gratitude about the past 15 months and she is even coherent enough to answer that yes, there are a few areas of the reconstruction that could be improved upon now the foundations have settled. The nice-but-barely-more-than-a-stranger consultant is kind and enthusiastic, suggests those improvements are completely possible with liposculpture, a procedure that is far less traumatic than those that went before.  The talking me laughs and says you can take as much fat from my butt and stomach as you like because there’s plenty to give. Not this year says friendly consultant because now we need to give your body proper time to recover from everything it has endured. The talking me wonders if it’s just my body they’re thinking about.

I spoke to my father the evening before this appointment and joked that if anything untoward showed up following a treatment regime that would easily pole-axe Attila the Hun then I must be truly damned.  The appointment came and went and I am not damned, at least not at this moment. There is no sign of disease today.   I breathe a small (and in no way complacent)  sigh of relief whilst giving cancer the regal two-fingered salute it deserves.

The past 15 months has been an exercise in wilful insubordination. No doubt the rest of my life will be spent perfecting that skill.

FUcancer

Courtesy of Cancer Research UK

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all” -Dale Carnegie.

 

Bloggers for Peace: Belated Post – One good thing about music

I hear the phrase is “better late than never” and hopefully that’s the case with this belated post for the August Bloggers for Peace challenge.

A lot happened for me in August including: more hospital visits; a holiday in Dorset designed to aid recuperation but in reality an opportunity to assess how resilient and capable my body is despite well over a year of vicious medical interventions; the complete absence of any mobile or mobile internet signal for two weeks; preparations for my new career; and everything that happens when you try to buy a house…  Each of these things deserves a post or two in its own right but today the topic is music and peace.

This challenge has probably been the most difficult to date because music is as much part of me as my freckles.  Thinking about music that inspires peace in my life has taken me back through experiences spanning almost 40 years.  The music I’ve trawled through includes songs from the 70’s right up to today and every single piece has something significant attached to it.

One of my earliest and happiest memories is accompanied by The Carpenters ‘On Top of the World.’ I think I’d have been about 5 years old. I remember my Mother singing along to this on the radio while she prepared food for us. My Mom brought a great deal of happiness to everyone around her; her positive attitude and placid nature meant that our house was filled with peace and love.  It was usually filled with music too because she loved the radio and records (no digital wizardry in those days) and would frequently sing along while doing the housework or baking cakes.  We didn’t have a lot of money – in reality we may well have been classed as poor – but we didn’t need it because the simple things in life were far more valuable to us.

I gained a lot from my Mom’s approach to life, her kindness to others, joy in nature and the serenity she brought to our home.  I still think about her every day and I  wish she was here, singing in the kitchen while baking lemon meringue pie.  The Carpenters certainly left a lasting impression because I associate them with a safe, secure and loving home.

Having had almost a month to think about this challenge I decided The Carpenters are in the running but they don’t bring the greatest sense of inner peace.  Those songs are ‘Don’t Give Up’ by Kate Bush and Peter Gabrielle, and ‘Wild Wood’ by Paul Weller.  Here are the lyrics – if you haven’t heard these songs before you can find them by clicking the titles below.

Don’t Give Up

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight
Taught to win
I never thought I could fail

No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face
I’ve changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Don’t give up
‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around
Never thought that I could be affected
Thought that we’d be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground

Don’t give up
You still have us
Don’t give up
We don’t need much of anything
Don’t give up
‘Cause somewhere there’s a place where we belong

Rest your head
You worry too much
It’s going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don’t give up
Please don’t give up

Got to walk out of here
I can’t take anymore
Going to stand on that bridge
Keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come
And whatever may go
That river’s flowing
That river’s flowing

Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs

Don’t give up
‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not the only one
Don’t give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up
You still have us
Don’t give up now
We’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up
You know it’s never been easy
Don’t give up
‘Cause I believe there’s a place
There’s a place where we belong

Forest

Forest (Photo credit: wackybadger)

High tide, mid afternoon
People fly by in the traffics boom
Knowing, just where you’re blowing
Getting to where you should be going

Don’t let them get you down
Making you feel guilty about
Golden rain, will bring you riches
All the good things, you deserve now

Climbing forever trying
Find your way out, of the wild wild wood
Now there’s no justice
There’s only yourself, that you can trust in

And I say, “High tide, mid afternoon”
Oh, people fly by, in the traffics boom
Oh, knowing, just where you’re blowing
Getting to where you should be going

Day by day your world fades away
Waiting to feel, all the dreams that say
Golden rain will bring you riches
All the good things, you deserve now

And I say, “Climbing forever trying”
You’re gonna find your way out
Of the wild wild wood
Say that, you’re gonna find your way out
Of the wild wild wood, of the wild wild wood

Both songs infer a sense of being lost, facing tremendous difficulties and finding a way back from desperate situations.  When I think about the last 40 years (and to be honest I try not to dwell in the past too much because some of it is pretty bleak) there have been too many desperate situations, too many desperately unhappy times and very significant periods of inner turmoil.  Of course there’s also been very happy times but I cannot recall one period in my life that I could call truly care-free.
That, perhaps, is why these two songs more than any others stand out for me. They serve as reminders that no matter what happens I never give up, I might get kicked and battered but I find my way through. Somehow peace and I walk hand in hand away from the chaos.