I know why I got cancer: bad luck. Not Facebook-induced bad luck, or bad luck caused by failing to salute a solitary magpie or cutting my fingernails on a Sunday. Just normal, run-of-the-mill, hit-by-a-bus, step-in-dog-shit bad luck. So walking under a window cleaner's ladder last week was both an act of anti-superstitious defiance, and my way of giving myself a kick up the arse when I found myself on the verge of attributing my bad luck (and therefore breast cancer) to the place I live.
In my stupider moments, I've considered whether P and I are living in an unlucky flat. There's no getting away from the fact that we've had a monumental run of poor fortune since moving in two years ago – the deaths of several family members, two miscarriages, work trouble, The Bullshit... and, I guess, with an unfortunate recent past such as that, even people as seemingly reasonable as P and I can't help but wonder in our darker moments whether there's more to it than just crap luck.
So by adding to that my desire for an office, we somehow ended up having the shall-we-move conversation, and invited round an estate agent to value our flat. And along came Mistress Doom: a joyless, negative woman who clearly thought the word 'mortgage' would flummox me, patronisingly speaking in the I-know-more-about-the-housing-market-than-you equivalent of an English tourist who TALKS REALLY LOUDLY to Spanish waiters, as though speaking a different language also makes them deaf and stupid. She whined about the state of the market and grunted as she made her way around each room, as though she were peering round the doors of a Croxteth crack den instead of our actually-rather-bloody-delightful-thank-you-very-much west London flat. Needless to say I quickly packed her off without a cup of tea, oddly pleased that she had been so negative and joyless. Because, I realised, this moving house malarkey could turn out to be equally negative and joyless, and are P and I really up for that kind of stress after the year we've had? In the new house versus nice holiday debate, I know which side I'm on.
The trouble is that when something as huge as cancer suddenly lands in your lap (or tit), being forced to put it down to bad luck falls way short of the mark. You want to find something to blame it on. You want to be furious with whatever caused it. You want to attribute it to a specific thing, because then at least you can reason with it being there in the first place. Your mind runs wild with the numerous things you could have done to create the situation, just as you would with any other kind of bad luck, be it life-changing or simply nuisance-making. (I momentarily wondered whether my failure to walk through my brother's favoured 'lucky turnstile' at the Derby games I went to last season might have contributed to their subsequent relegation.) But of course there's no reasoning with The Bullshit. It's there. That's it. Get on with it. And that's a really fucking difficult lesson to learn.
There's also the sense that when something changes your life in such a gargantuan way, you want to change something else to reflect it – be it your haircut or style or career or surroundings. Which is why, I imagine, we've suddenly turned to our home in the hope that it can shoulder the burden of the massive about-turn in our lives. But the truth is – bad luck or no bad luck – we've loved living here. This place is testament to our ability to have a bloody lovely time whatever the weather. And actually, with no kids on the horizon and having finally put our flat through its party paces to see it cope admirably, where we are right now is just fine.
We could bankrupt ourselves for the sake of more space. Or we could stay where we're happy, do all the finishing-touches jobs that will turn our little flat from fine to fabulous, and swap stamp-duty payments for flights to the sun. I'll pretend I'm Carrie Bradshaw and make the spare room my own by creating a little office space for these moments (the Ikea flat-pack desk is already up – and I thought chemo was an endurance test). We'll turn our garden into THE place to be this summer. We'll fix the niggling/boring/non-cosmetic jobs that'll keep my Dad happy. We'll buy window shutters and concede that the cat takes the crown in the battle of Sgt Pepper vs Tord Boontje curtain. (I know. Cat over curtain. It's surprised me too.) We'll go on amazing holidays and eat in lovely restaurants and have weekends away and I'll buy my moisturiser in Clinique instead of Costcutter. We'll save ourselves more stress, and instead have fun making up for the lost time that The Bullshit robbed.
Last Saturday we bought a lottery ticket. I can't say I checked it all that thoroughly. I just glanced over the numbers to see if I recognised any I'd seen on the draw earlier that night, quickly figured I hadn't, then threw it away. Forget crossed fingers and lucky numbers – I reckon that's as sure a sign as any that, when it comes to the things I have the power to change, I'm happy with my life as it is.