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 I’ve 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.