“Um yes, I actually had a bye bye boobie party for my left breast….we made cookies in the shape of boobies….with little dolly mixture sweets on top, for the nipple…” – I can not believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but they are. What’s more surprising is the person I’m saying them to is Jeremy Paxman……yes Jeremy bloody Paxman, of Newsnight! Because there I am, on Newsnight, live on the bloody BBC talking about Lefty, my imaginary Cancer character C-Monkey and boob shaped cookies…oh dear god.
This was not another morphine moment, I wasn’t hallucinating, I was sitting in a studio, in front of the legend that is Jeremy Paxman talking about, well, everything – my C-Monkey and his incessant ramblings, drunken bye bye boobie parties, mastectomies and how my blog has helped me. In all honesty I’m not really sure he knew what to say or what to think of the bonkers girl in front of him rabbiting on, but he was very sweet actually, he smiled a lot, I think he may have even laughed. (Well you can’t be mean to someone who’s had cancer can you, I’m pretty sure there’s a rule about that somewhere.)
I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at first. So I said no. No way. No thanks. I was tired, run down, feeling a bit emotional and worried it might all go horribly wrong. Worried I’d end up a blubbering mess, sobbing in Jeremy’s arms, snotting all over his nice jacket about my lovely Lefty and my nice bras that don’t fit any more….on live TV! Oh dear god that would be so humiliating. Poor Jeremy! No, definitely not. So instead I suggested they call my friend Tessa Cunningham. Tessa interviewed me a while ago and is simply lovely. Tessa would be articulate, well-mannered, there would be no risk of swearing, crying or making a tit of it with Tessa (excuse the pun), no she’d be perfect.
So decision made, that was that. Except it wasn’t of course. Because a few hours later there I was talking to Paxman about Lefty and boob shaped cookies. I’m not entirely sure what happened but two things definitely helped to change my mind, a conversation I had with my boss and also, of course, C-Monkey. Both reminded me what I’d come through and that although I was tired it was because I was trying to get my life back on track – I was tired because I was working hard, working on getting back to the old me. Living my life, going out, doing…stuff. Normal every day life stuff. And what a bloody privilege that is. C-Monkey told me I couldn’t do it which was the final push I needed, god I hate him. So that was that. I was going on Newsnight!
And I’m glad I did because for those few hours I felt really brave. And I didn’t make a tit of myself, or cry or stare mutely at the camera, caught speechless, the moment he started speaking to me. (Which for those who know me would be hugely unlikely anyway….me, silent?! Pah! I’m just surprised he managed to get a word in!)
The high afterwards was incredible, amazing even. I couldn’t sleep for all the adrenaline and excitement that was rushing through me. Wow, what an experience, what an achievement. I couldn’t believe how far I’d come since that horrible day back in the summer – take that C-Monkey! High fives all round, even one for Jeremy. Well no, maybe not, I don’t think he’s a high-five kind of person.
That was back in October. Almost three months ago. And I haven’t written since.
I’ve love to say it was because I was out there, going crazy, seizing every moment of life, carpe diem all over the place, in everyone’s face. But no. Far from it.
You see what I’ve actually been doing is a really good job of pretending everything is ‘fine’. I’m fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine. I’d thrown myself into action mode when the diagnosis got made, started writing, moved house, got the first two big operations out-of-the-way, started a new job, got a new boob, started a Facebook page for other girlies like me…..But what I hadn’t done, not properly anyway, was stop and really deal with any of it. Sure there were moments, of course, the odd sad day but I don’t really like being sad, so the “I’m fine” shake off dance would quickly kick in.
To back up a little, Lefty, when we last left him had been reborn! And all was marvelous. Except of course, it kind of wasn’t, but I was too busy being “I’m fine” to really face it. The implant was great don’t get me wrong, it’s just, well they still didn’t match. Not at all. I can see how that might sound really superficial but it really does matter. Every single day, several times a day you see your body and when somethings not right you can try to ignore it or overcome it as much as possible but it’s hard. And when you’ve convinced yourself that just “one more op…, just one more” will fix it, and it doesn’t well you get seriously deflated (me not the boob).
So I stopped writing. I didn’t want to talk about it or think about it any more. I wanted to forget and be fine. Instead I resolutely buried myself into every distraction I could. I wanted to continue pretending I was fine, totally fine, while I silently counted the days to the next operation in December. Yes another one.
I’m now three operations in from when this all began and things are starting to look a bit better. Much better in fact. But there’s going to be at least another one….after that I don’t know. I’ve stopped saying “there will only be one more, then I’ll be done” because, well, one has turned in to three, three big operations in 6months and now there’s another on the horizon. Exhausted, doesn’t even touch the sides. But seriously, I’m fine….really. Ok so that sounds like a big lie, and maybe it is but it’s starting to become a much smaller one these days.
C-Monkey and me are now more at peace with each other too. Well I say at peace, we just sort of just ignore each other. I’ve stopped letting him in and he’s stopped screaming so loudly. It’s more of a quiet despair now. Silent companions if you will. A curt nod at each other, a mumble here and there, a few barely audible rants in the shower (it’s still his favourite place), but mostly we just sort of stay silent. I know he’s there, he know’s I’ve tuned him out. It is what it is.
On the plus side he has given me back my gym kit, so I’m going to get my wobbly (not in the right places) self back to the gym for some gentle exercise which may help with all the PMA bollocks.
And I’m going to write. Because it helps. Because I like it. And when I’m not writing it just means I’m hiding, which isn’t good.
So then C-Monkey, I know you’re still there and I know we are not completely fine….yet…but we bloody well will be. Oh yes, 2013, I’m coming to get you!