The trouble with cancer is it's always there; scratching away, nails on the blackboard, a dog barking in the middle of the night or the wind rattling the windows when you've just watched a horror film. It's just there: first thing in the morning, last thing at night, meddling, fidgeting in your brain. Will there be more cancer? It asks. Hopefully not, they got rid of the original little pest and the chemo, radiotherapy, Herceptin and Tamoxifen – the wonderful medical people are throwing everything they've got at it – is the belt and braces to keep the little blighter away for good, I tell myself. Excellent, my grey matter responds. But then my irrational self shows its ugly little head and off we go again, Will there be more cancers…? You get the drift.
However, there is a flip side to 'cancer noise' and I can only call it a heightened sensitivity.
The first weekend after results day, the Friday of the week after Christmas which will be forever engrained in my brain, my oh so supportive hubbie and I went for a walk. We've done this walk several times. Local people will know it as the Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs walk. We first did it with babes in slings, then rucksacks, then prams (I use the plural as I had to return one which fell apart in just a year and was told that prams weren't really meant for walking with children but for loading into cars. But that's another story). We did it again with their little legs skipping behind, for a short while with their long legs skipping in front and now, well they tend to have better things to do.
So, it was just me and him walking a walk we'd done several times before. Funny, I thought. I've never noticed the smell of the peaty path quite so keenly before. Forgive the cliché but there was a glint of sun over the ripples on the lake and I thought it was mesmerising. Children laughing always makes me smile – isn't that just the nicest of sounds? – but that day it made me beam. And then we went for a cup of tea. It was just a cup of tea in a refurbished pub on a cold day with a loud, crackling fire and candles oozing lavender and jasmine (I think) flickering atmospherically. That cup of tea was the most wonderful cup of tea I'd ever drunk. And I drink a lot so that's a pretty bold statement. And so it goes on. I can't really explain it. It's just that when people say nice things to me or others, I really, really notice. When people crack a joke, it's very, very funny. When a song comes on the radio which I love it makes me cry. But it's ok, it's just happy to be alive tears.
And all those moments, which happen several times a day, well they blot out the cancer noise too.
I hope I appreciated these things before.
And writing, writing really keeps me focused on the positive and I've been doing some of it this week. I've submitted to The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperFiction, as part of a two week opportunity to submit directly to a publisher who normally only takes agented submissions. Writer friends, you have until 21 April to apply so get to that pc forthwith! Click here for the website.
I've also sent my pages to Chase Magazine for the next issue – and the latest edition can be seen here: pgs 64/65. This month I finally take a look at some of the books languishing in my To Be Read pile, namely, The Hundred year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window by Jonas Jonasson (apart from the story, I marvelled at the translation from Norwegian), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (inspired to read by Joyce's wonderful second novel, Perfect), God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (quite harrowing in parts but infinitely readable) and finally The Man Who Forgot His Wife by John O'Farrell (an amusing and touching romp by one of my favourite authors). If there are any of these lying forlorn in your TBR pile, I thoroughly recommend them all.
What books are beckoning you from your TBR pile?