Strange times

I think I’ve finally started to get in touch with my anger and, following on from my blog on how to be happy, has led to a short break in my blogging. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t feel angry at all. I felt shocked, frightened, bewildered and many other things but I didn’t feel angry. I never said “Why me?” or “It’s not fair”. I just accepted that I had cancer – and a pretty horrible kind to have (although there isn’t a nice kind to have) – and got on with things. You know how it goes, there are so many appointments with different doctors, lots of different tests and procedures to undergo that there wasn’t time for me to even pause to be angry. But this week, I have found myself getting angry. Angry with my compression sleeve, angry about my lymphoedema, the way my prosthesis doesn’t fit properly. I feel angry because this will not change. This is how it is. Forever. I may be able to opt for major surgery in which case my prosthesis may become redundant but I am not sure that this is something I am willing to go through. So day after day, I must get up and put on a compression sleeve so tight I can’t even pinch the fabric once it is in place. You know how you can pinch fabric with your thumb and forefinger to pull it or move it? Well, with the compression sleeve even that is impossible. I must massage my neck and across my chest several times a day to encourage the lymph fluid to drain away into other nodes. I must moisturise my arm every evening, starting at the top and gradually working down. It’s a real pain and I am more than fed up with it.

I know. I’m still alive. Stop moaning.

Our newish neighbours treated us to a fabulous Stand-Up Row in Public the other evening. We are not sure what happened but, sitting quietly watching television, we become aware of a lot of shouting several doors away. A group of people stagger past the front garden, pushing, shoving and swearing copiously. They disappear from view, shouting and continuing with an Oscar-standard stream of swearing and then we hear a noise, as though someone has come to grief in some way. We then hear more shouting involving someone having had far too much to drink and someone touching someone else’s girl. The procession begins to move back the way it has come only this time they proceed down the middle of the road. The women who have been shouting that the man has had far too much to drink suddenly stop by a car, open the doors and get in. The man takes the driver’s seat and, after a bit more shouting, off they go. All we can hope is that this is not the man they have all been shouting about.

But this coming week will be a full one. On Monday we travel north to the house of 2 friends who, after many years of thinking about it and shilly-shallying, are getting married. Mark is to be Best Man. I am to take care of Dog and maybe deck him out in something fine and resplendent, suitable for such an occasion. We come back on Wednesday and then on Thursday are being taken to the races at Goodwood on Ladies Day. This is courtesy of Macmillan for whom I have given a few talks to new members of staff and staff who might never meet the end user. My psychologist and my lymphoedema nurses are both funded by Macmillan who take a lot of the strain in the NHS in cancer care. I am truly grateful to them and now they are offering me this wonderful treat. I have never been to horse racing before so this will be a real first for me, another one to add to my year of ‘doing things differently’. It feels slightly incongruent that the thing I am most angry with is also the thing which is inadvertently offering me opportunities. Without cancer there would have been no Dragon boat racing, no Penny Brohn Centre and the new friends I met there and at my beloved Maggie Centre. No make-up sessions, no wonderful photo shoot from Mindy Coe, no lovely giggly lymphoedema nurses.

I can be angry and grateful at the same time, I decide. Although being grateful for cancer is not an emotion I ever thought I would express. Strange times, my friend, strange times.