Friday, 29 October 2010

Ramble on.

When I started writing Alright Tit, it was never my intention to carry on for any more than a year after my diagnosis. When I hit that milestone, however, it didn’t feel like the story was over. There was so much more to write about – the new-nipple stuff; the Super Sweet stuff; the book stuff... Ending Alright Tit at my one-year cancerversary just wouldn’t have seemed right.

And so instead, I made plans to call a halt to blogging two years after my diagnosis. But, as the new deadline loomed, it fast became clear that those plans would also come a cropper, thanks to the bolt-from-the-blue discovery that I carried the BRCA gene (plus all the preventative surgery that would come as a result), and the even more surprising discovery that Mum carried it too. (I haven’t made a habit of blogging about Mum’s BRCA-Bullshit because, as I’ve said before, it’s not my story to tell – but I do think it’s important for you to know that this week she saw off the first of her prophylactic surgery with trademark brilliance, and that I’m enormously proud of both her and Dad.) ‘Okay then,’ I said to myself. ‘I’ll just wait until I’ve had all the surgery I need and then I’ll stop. There’s bound to be plenty of Bullshit-related tales to tell in the meantime.’ 
Lately, though, I’ve found myself running out of ammo.

It was always going to happen. For the past two and a half years my life, as you know, has been utterly consumed by The Bullshit. Even the down-time in between treatments, check-ups, surgery and hospital visits has been filled with a continual cancer-centred monologue in my mind, fraught with worry about my BRCA-heightened chances of recurrence. Until, of course, those chances plummeted like Rik Waller on a bungee cord after I took the decision to do away with my oestrogen-producing ladybits. Since then, there hasn’t just been a gap where my ovaries and right boob used to be – but what has also emerged is a gap in my brain; a gap where a colossal worry used to be. And I can’t even begin to tell you how fantastically emancipatory that feels. (If worrying that I’m worried about not having a worry to worry about. Or something.)

And it gets better. Because, when you add to my worry-vacuum the mood-enhancing, hairdryer-to-brain-fog benefits of having recently come off Tamoxifen (and onto an aromatose-inhibiting drug called Arimidex from which I’ve thus far seen no side effects), it takes liberation to life-changing extremes. So I hope you’ll appreciate that I’m not overstating my case to say that it genuinely feels – in a far bigger way than any final day of treatment or trouble-free mammogram or cancerversary milestone – as though a line has finally been drawn.

‘Everything is as it should be,’ said Always-Right Cancer Nurse when she handed over the clear histology report that followed my recent surgery. ‘Look at that sentence at the bottom: “No sign of malignancy”.’
I think my reply was something along the lines of ‘Omigodicantbelieveitbuggermethatsamazing.’
‘It says that everything they tested was unremarkable,’ she revealed.
‘Absobloodywonderful,’ I spluttered.
‘See? she said. You’re unremarkable!’ 
‘You know what?’ I replied. ‘That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me.’ 
And it truly is.

That, I think, is the moment at which the line was drawn. And when a line gets drawn, it’s as sure a sign as any that it’s time to move on.

You’ll have probably noticed from the frequency of my posts that there’s been less Bullshit-related stuff to talk about lately. But while that’s completely wonderful from a health point of view, it’s less wonderful from a blogging perspective. And it’s the very reason I’ve always intended to bring Alright Tit to a close. Because, I figured, what would I have to write about once the cancer stuff quietened down?

I said from the very beginning that I wanted Alright Tit to be a true representation of breast cancer. But what Ive realised while making my plans to finish writing this blog is that, in fact, I’d be failing in that mission if I bowed out now. Because, surely, a true representation of breast cancer wouldn’t stop the moment treatment ends, but instead show the hope of life beyond it, in exactly the same way that it described the struggle of life through it – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting; sometimes comical, sometimes upsetting; sometimes wonderful, sometimes less so.

I use the term ‘beyond’ breast cancer in strict contrast to the term ‘after’ breast cancer. Because, as I’ve said so often that it’s now formed in the shape of my freckles, there is no ‘after’, really. There’s no getting over it, pulling your socks up and getting back to normal. Because normal isn’t there any more. At least, not the normal that came before the word ‘cancer’. That’s not to say that life isn’t normal now – on the contrary – it’s just not a normal I’d ever anticipated. See, as magnificently freed, magnificently cloudless, magnificently mine as my mind feels now, I accept that The Bullshit will still be there every day. It’s there when I tuck into my pill-box breakfast; it’s there when I look in the mirror; it’s there in my mail and my conversations and my sex life and my wardrobe and the very fabric of my being. And, to varying extents, it will always be that way… but not enough to fill a blog.

And therein lies another problem. Because, two and a half years ago, I didn’t just discover breast cancer; I discovered blogging – something that’s become as much a part of me as The Bullshit will ever be. I often wonder how people even attempt to scrap their way through cancer without the help of a blog – I simply can’t envisage having done it any other way. I can’t imagine my life without it. When people ask how I made it through, I point them here. Not just to Alright Tit itself, but to the unbelievable opportunity it gave me to communicate exactly how I was feeling; to involve those closest to me in my experience in a way that would never have been possible otherwise; and to share with a whole horde of new friends – some of whom I’ve since met, some of whom I’ll only ever encounter online – the occasionally distressing, often ridiculous, regularly goofy, but always honest contents of my brain.

And so, dear friends, as of next week, things will be different around here. Because Alright Tit is no longer a blog about life with breast cancer. It’s a blog about life beyond breast cancer. It’s a blog about the stuff that The Bullshit put paid to. It’s a blog about what happens when your Grand Life Plan is fired a curveball. It’s a blog about love and laughs and family and friends. It’s a blog about the glorious trivialities that life is all about. It’s a blog about being a thirtysomething dork. It’s a blog about trying to make it as a proper author, about having your life turned into a film and about what happens when you’re not having kids. It’s a blog about a future I hadn’t exactly bargained for, but nonetheless adore. It’s a blog about the extraordinary life of an ordinary girl.

So yes, a line has been drawn. But that just means it’s time for me to pick up my pencil and start drawing new ones. And while the nature of The Bullshit dictates that there will still be updates about the state of my norks wherever necessary, I look forward to being able to finally write posts in which the c-word is never mentioned. Because, you see, just as I can’t quit breast cancer, nor can I quit blogging. It wouldn’t be right. I owe so much to this blog – both personally and professionally – and I owe even more to you for reading it. And so, if you’d be so kind, I invite you to join me for Version 2.0 of Alright Tit – a blog that’s changed my life even more than the cancer that created it.

26 comments:

Quarkmonkey said...

For a minute there, about half way through reading, I thought you were ditching the blog. And as was abundantly clear three quarters of the way through, that would be a tragedy, because fucking hell Mac, you can write.

Bring on version 2.0...

Fletcher of the Day said...

Too Right Lisa! There is a new normal in your life...You're beyond BC(before cancer) life and way into PC (post cancer) life and all the adventures great and small. It's incredible the way your life changes...I can only speak from our PC experience and say I NEVER imagined we'd be on the wonderful road we are now on.

Good Luck with 2.0. I'll be rooting for you!

XX Lori

PS There is nothing ORDINARY about you, my dear!

Rozzibee said...

Phew, I thought yuo were about to say the blog was no more.

Love your attitude. I know my cancer was different to yours, but cancer is cancer, right? And I have to say that your blog has really helped me, just like I hope mine helps others.

Leaky said...

There's absolutely nothing ordinary about you lady, and I'm not talking about anything bullshit-related. No jokes either, you are a pretty extraordinary girl. Fact.

Mrs Leaky xx

Blacksheep said...

I'm 18 months down the line with many a wobbly moment along the way and the ONLY c-word-related thing I let myself look at now is your blog because it is so bloody brilliant. For one horrible moment I thought you were going to stop...and then (yet again!) I saw that you are exactly where I want to be and where I bloody well AM!!! In my real life with all my lovely friends and family and no twatty cancer. Keep blogging lady cause I just can't tell you how much better you make me feel. MWAH xx

Anonymous said...

That has just made me cry (again). I'm not normally a weeping wreck, just something that happens a lot when I read your blog! So Lovely, here's to the next chapter (raises an imaginary glass of wine - will be a real one as soon as I get home!) and long may the blogging continue. Can't wait to hear about the mundane in your painfully truthful and amusing writing. Lots of love xxx

liljan98 said...

You definitely had me worried there for a moment, when I thought you'd shut down this blog in the meaning of stop blogging. I'm quite relieved that you won't. Yay for 2.0.

liljan98 said...

For a moment you had me really worried that you'd shut down your blog in the meaning of stopping blogging altogether! Happy to hear that's not the case. Yay for 2.0!!!

alhi said...

I thought you were announcing the end of the blog, so glad you're not. I've followed you for quite a while now, added you to my blog roll, bought the book and always look forward to updates! Bring on the mundane life, although I somehow think that's passed you by!

Kate said...

I'm so glad you're going to keep on blogging :) I've been reading from the start and your blog has been very inspirational to me. I look forward to version 2.0!

Kate.

Burly Chassis said...

Quarkmonkey put it perfectly...

swisslet said...

You had me worried there for a minute. Great news, kiddo. All of it.
ST.

Eliza B said...

Looking forward to reading and comparing notes as we make the most of life beyond bc!

E

Millennium Housewife said...

And it's a blog all of us out there hoped you'd get to write. Well done girl x

billy said...

Crumbs Lisa, I'm so glad you're not leaving us. You gave me the courage to write my own blog. You made me realise I wasn't alone in this too young to have breast cancer scenario, never mind my feelings about Glastonbury and Dave Grohl.

Here's to you.

Anonymous said...

As has already been said, I was a bit concerned about half way through that you would be giving up the blogging. I'm so glad you aren't. I originally found your blog through the awesome Stephen Fry and have been hooked ever since. I started off enjoying your honest account of getting through the bullshit, but after reading your blog, and following your tweets, and reading your book, I've ended up just enjoying reading about you. You write so beautifully and often so comically, it would be a crime for you to stop, and I, as well as many many others would miss that little slice of Lisa's life. So thank you for carrying on & I look forward to hearing about many more of your future adventures.
Lots of love and luck to you Lady. Xxx

Stela James said...

beautiful, you are such an amazing writer

work at home

Fen said...

unremarkable hah! Medically maybe, but you, my dear, are one remarkable young lady. Can't wait for 2.0!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're staying with us. We all love you loads.

Katrina said...

I'm so glad you're keeping the blog going. Life beyond the bullshit is important to us all, and to those who are going through the bullshit right now.... they need to hear there is life beyond it.

Thanks... xx

Anonymous said...

Ditto Blacksheep's comment! Couldn't have put it better myself. Totally brilliant blog.

Sophie said...

Wonderful. Your blog posts are always so readable - you've got a real writing talent there, if reader enjoyment is anything to go by.

Look forward to reading on...

Sophie de Albuquerque

marsha said...

Something about this reminded me of Dan Savage's amazing It Gets Better project, where he's getting Gay and Lesbian adults to post up videos of themselves on youtube in order to give comfort to kids getting bullied at school. His point is that he doesn't want people just to say "you can get through the tough stuff", but also, "look at my lovely life now I don't have to deal with this crap! You too could stick it out and have a lovely life like I do!". (you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject
and
http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject#p/f/0/7IcVyvg2Qlo )

Anyway, obviously I'm thrilled you're continuing, you're one of the best writers I have ever encountered and every sentence is an utter joy. I feel like I've learnt so much important stuff from this blog, but also laughed, cried and snorted throughout. Thank you!

xm

Freudus said...

Love the new look! And I have to echo all the other comments here. You and blogging were made for each other - so glad you're not calling it a day, because you're damn good at it.
mx

Anonymous said...

Love it from here to eternity!
Don't stop.
You're far from 'unremarkable'
xx

Anonymous said...

What an amazing blog I have only just found you through Psychologies. I lost my right one last Oct have now completed my treatment and am just having the preventative Herceptin. Like you I am trying to get back to normal but not sure what that is???? Still until my reconstruction I at least have 'lefty'!!! I think the main thing with BC is always to try to retain a sense of humour.
You seemed to have carved out a new life for yourself out of adversity, well done you must be proud. Good luck for the future xx