Thursday, 3 November 2011

Every third Wednesday.

I spent the entirety of Tuesday writing a post which, at 10pm after a particularly laboured day, I decided was rubbish and therefore deleted. It’s no big deal; just one of those things that happens sometimes. Anyone who writes must accept that some days it just doesn’t work out right, and be prepared to be brutal with the backspace button. I think the problem with Tuesday’s crap post, however, was that I was writing it out of an obligation to blog rather than an impulse.

I don’t think it’s a major revelation to state that the best posts are borne of the latter; those which come from the heart or the gut or an itch to get something said. And while the mantra of blogging ought to be quality over quantity, those of us who blog must occasionally succumb to a pressure to post which is a) entirely of our own making and b) stupid. And Tuesday was just one of those days.

The way I ought to look upon my blog is as a place to write when I’ve got something interesting or important to say; a place to communicate en masse whenever there’s news; a place to deposit some honesty when I’m feeling inspired. And, most days, I do see it that way. Some days, though, I get it all wrong and, rather than looking upon my blog as all of the above, I instead see it as a place to let people know I’m still here; a place to satisfy the folk who are asking where the next update is coming from; a place to fill the awkwardly quiet gaps when, actually, there just isn’t a whole lot going on.

Other days, though, there’s more to it than that and, as well as all of the above, I wind up wasting several hours dancing around a subject, never actually writing what I really want to write for fear of upsetting someone or offending someone or, as was the case on Tuesday, coming across in a way in which I don’t ideally want to be seen.

I shouldn’t have thought about it as much as I have but, given that I’m a sensitive little sod, a comment left on my last post – in which someone mentioned that they thought I had ‘resigned myself to dying in the near future’ – has upset me rather more than I might have let on; both in my response to it and the way I’ve discussed it with my family. Given how completely, unspeakably wrong that person is, I ought to have just brushed off the remark with a ‘pah’ and a ‘don’t be daft’ and a roll of the eyes. Because – as anyone who knows me will tell you as vociferously as I – there isn’t a speck of truth in that observation. I’ve got 2012 holidays booked, a Super Sweet 40th to plan, a soon-to-be-born nephew to lead astray. And yet, erroneous as the comment is, it’s got under my skin… because now it’s affecting the way I write.

All of a sudden, I’m questioning the thoughts I impulsively want to publish; worrying about admitting to perfectly natural signs of weakness; holding back on writing about my utterly reasonable fears of what The Bullshit’s doing… and all because I’m anxious that, if one person has brought themselves to that incorrect conclusion, more of you might think the same, too. Hence Tuesday’s unpublished post wasn’t just crap, but dishonest. It was 1,500 words of me trying to persuade you that I’m constantly bright and breezy; that I’m dealing with the reality of incurable cancer in a way that’d make you proud; that my new diagnosis may be heartbreaking, but it’s not going to get in the way of me having a marvellously carefree time. And it was the most unconvincing thing I’ve ever written.

Anyone who read my last post will no doubt have already noticed how at odds the tone of this is with the tone of that. In the last, I was all bossy and kick-ass, while today I fear I’m coming across more meek and apologetic. And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest problem when blogging about a subject like living with cancer: the way you feel differs wildly – not just from post to post, but hour to hour; text message to text message. (Yesterday I sent one telling someone what a tough week I’ve had, then mere minutes later, sent another to somebody else filled with exclamation marks and in-jokes.) I simply don’t believe those people who purport to be breezing and positive-thinking and carrot-juicing their way through secondary cancer, preaching the holier-than-thou act about being grateful to the universe for giving them the illness-shaped opportunity to realise just how precious life is. Just cock off, will you? Yes, of course it’s perfectly possible to enjoy lovely times despite your shitty predicament and, by ’eck, there are plenty of things in this mess of a situation in which to find laughter – but don’t tell me for one moment that the fear of what incurable cancer really means doesn’t occasionally grab you by the throat and shake the tears out of you to such a point that you collapse dejectedly into a wet pile of peg-ready washing.

Because – and let’s get real here – in actual fact, all of this is a big old hopeless confusion of not quite knowing how you’re going to feel from one minute to the next: of one moment feeling like you’re hanging on by a pathetically frail thread; the next feeling like you could go twelve rounds with the Tyson family and emerge both unbeaten and with perfect nails. Imagine that being your life. Imagine that being how each day feels. In fact, just imagine trying to keep a Twitter account going in the midst of that mess. It’s ruddy impossible. Not to mention downright exhausting.

The perfect metaphor for this multiple-personality existence is every third Wednesday, when P and I head to the hospital for a full day of cancer-related fun: first a consultation and check-up by a senior oncologist (often the Curly Professor), followed by the age-old charade of trying to extract blood from veins which have already had to endure so much that they’ve either carked it or emigrated to Canada, after which there’s a wait for results of platelet counts and white-blood-cell shiz before my next round of chemotherapy can be made up and packed into a take-home box like the world’s most unappetizing chow mein, then finally the administration of my IV drip of zoledronic acid – a treatment designed to strengthen my pitiably fragile bones, rather like a Ronseal for skeletons. This routine generally lasts from around 10.15am to 4.30pm and is both pulse-freezingly boring thanks to all the waiting around and mind-bustingly difficult to negotiate thanks to the ludicrous amount of new, life-altering information to take in.

This Wednesday, for example, we discovered that a) the tumour-marker levels in my blood had raised, when we’d hoped for the opposite, b) the continued manageability of my pain remains a good sign and that c) due to the unusual nature of my headaches and migraines, I’m being sent for a MRI to determine whether I might have metastatic tumours in my brain. And, in the gaps between, P and I were taken out for an amazing tapas lunch by my lovely publishing agents, discovered that some dear friends of ours are going to have a baby girl, and snogged the faces off each other in the waiting room. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what my life looks like.

But, in writing honestly about that, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m being defeatist or pessimistic or alarmist. When I tell you that I’m bitterly disappointed that my tumour marker is up, I don’t want you to conclude that I’m being unhopeful. When I tell you that I’ve looked into the symptoms of secondary brain tumours and worried myself silly about the similarity to my own experience, I don’t want you to suppose that my outlook is fatalistic. And when I tell you that, when I went to my Uncle’s funeral this week it freaked the bejeezus out of me because there’s a chance I might be next, I don’t want you to assume that I’ve resigned myself to dying in the near future.

Because let me say this once and for all: none of this – none. of. this. – means that that’s the way I’m thinking. As difficult and as heartbreaking and as beautiful and as hopeless and as daft and as schizophrenic as all of this is, the very last thing I will do – even if I find myself in a position where there isn’t the slightest shred of hope – is resign myself to dying. Because, jeez, even if I do find out that that is the case, I won’t be resigned, but going down in a blaze of super-extravagant, hilariously-memorable, creatively-sweary, over-hyphenated glory. For now, though, the reality – and the way in which I must impulsively finish this blog post – is to say that, heck no, I haven’t resigned myself to dying in the near future. I’m just really bloody frightened of it. And fuck you if you think I didn’t ought to say so.

27 comments:

Val Grainger said...

Wow...bloomin marverlously put post....xxx

Chez said...

Brilliantly honest as always, can totally relate to sometimes feeling like I've got to watch what I'm writing on my blog in case it upsets or offends anyone....well f*ck 'em, sometimes it's just gotta be said. At the end of the day, it's your (& my) blog(s), they can always (b)log off if they don't 'effin like it!!! Btw, I only 'know' you through this blog but, I have NEVER, EVER gotten the impression that you had resigned yourself to dying!! Quite the opposite missus! Lotsa love, Chez. xx

Katy said...

Fantastic post, I get some hideous comments on my blog but try not to take them too seriously, people can be strange ; ) write on.. your blog is fab!

soulfood said...

you are brilliant, writing and telling how it is, there wasn't any hint you had given up on life, keep on being your feisty self!

janjan said...

as ever, a brilliant post
Fuck people who read their own perceptions into your writing
xxx

fenngirl said...

Bloody hell - some folk just need to put a sock in it. If I know anything about you, Lisa, it's that you have a wonderful lively spirit and take the best you can out of some shitty situations. It's your blog and you should be able to be honest about how secondary BC isn't all zen calm and acceptance. I love your writing even though I am sometimes in bits reading it. But then there's also the laughing and snorting along with the snotty weeps. Keep being you.

Love Mel xxx

twirlyaitch said...

Fuck yes you're allowed to be scared. You spend most of your time being so bloody upbeat, why can't you just let go and scream at your nearest and dearest and blog/twitter followers? It's nice to see you're human cos most of the time I'm in awe of Superwoman! Hell, I now realise you're human and you're STILL superwoman! Bloody inspirational you are girl. Please don't feel you need to put on a front for us guys - we love you just the way you are xxxx

Charlotte said...

A fabulously honest post I'm just sad that some insensitive twat left you with the feeling that you needed to explain yourself. You are bound to have feelings that bounce up and down and occasionally, dive into the realms of fatalism, negativity or are down right maudlin. That's perfectly normal and you should neither berate yourself for it or worry about it.

You're brave, strong and really quite amazing and I'm pretty certain that every one reading your amazing blog, well, those with an ounce of sense, knows that.

Anyone that writes a blog about such difficult experiences is never resigned to kicking the old bucket. Writing gives hope and hope is the one thing that everyone with terrible illness needs and must have. Few are brave enough to share that hope like you.

You carry on doing what your doing. If you feel the need to waffle crap go right ahead. I suspect that your crap is pretty good reading.

Lottie -x-

PS - You're not allowed to die, there will be many people very very cross if you do so (not least my fabulous mate Sbry)bare that in mind before you even attempt to cross over ;-) x

candygirl said...

To the person who commented that Lisa sounded like she had 'resigned herself to dying in the near future' I'd like to say.... sod off! Seriously! Have you ever been diagnosed with an incurable illness? I bet not! What you mistook for resignation Lisa's part, I took for courage on Lisa's part to be able to look at her current situation and prepare for all eventualities whilst hoping and believing for the best! Would it have made you more comfortable if Lisa had glossed over it all? Well guess what? This is Lisa's blog and she is entitled to write whatever she wants, as and when she sees fit! It really irks me when people try to make taboo, the possibility of dying, especially when it's the only thing, we as humans, are certain of.

Lisa, I applaud you. Keep on doing you. Unless they are in your shoes, no-one has the right to pass jugdement on your feelings

Love, Caroline x

Clare said...

Amazingly honest, as always and you had every single, right to say that godammit.

Fight the good fight flower, just like you always have done, because I can't see any resignation anywhere around here!

If I had pompoms, then I would be shaking them a'la cheerleader stylee right now! Gimme an L.......

Andrew P said...

Such a great post Lisa! That twat who left that comment didn’t even have the guts to put their name to it (was probably the same dick who tweeted you a few weeks ago!) There are some very strange people out there - try and ignore them (not always easy I know) You’ve always been honest in all your writing – that’s what we all love about you! This is your blog. Not theirs. They can go fuck ‘emselves! Sending huge hugs always! Ax

Trish said...

Love your honesty. Keep writing from your heart.X

Lou said...

Lisa, you are amazing.
I've been following your blog ever since I read your book and been meaning to comment ever since, especially since I saw the horrible news that your cancer has returned.
Regarding the 'think positive, drink carrot juice and chant yourself back to health' brigade pah! It's just ridiculous pseudo-science lapped up by gullible people who have never had to deal with anything more traumatic than an imagined wheat intolerance or minor yoga injury.
That said, your glass-half-full approach to life is inspirational and that would be true, with or without cancer. However at the moment I would say you have to answer to no one and your emotional state is your own damn business from minute to minute.
From reading your book and blog I can see you are brave (not because of cancer, you just are), talented, successful, funny, popular and very much loved. Most people could live to 100 and not tick half those boxes. Cold comfort I am sure, but still....
You are in my thoughts and I wish you so well.

Nicole said...

Keep it real Lisa--that's why I love you and your blog posts. Anyone who's been around for awhile (or, I imagine, the people that know you and love you in 'real life') knows you aren't the type to just pack it in and give in to dying...or anything for that matter! Keep being yourself dear!

Hugs to P, scritches to Sgt. P,
N

findit13 said...

ahh, the world wide web. Its full of freaks, pervs, angry people, nice people, and those of us looking for answers or a laugh. I'm sure most of the people, probably 99.9% of us who come here to check on you, just simply care and don't want to upset you, and ya, just generally care. Until we've had to go through what you are, we really don't have the right to place judgment on anything you do or say. And I'm sure anonymous #1 was just an uneducated person, leaving their "two cents" worth, which they should of shut the f*ck up, because none of us really care what they have to say. You shouldn't let it all get to you, in the grand scheme of things, their opion means NOTHING. Plus, we all think your great, and wish there was something we could do to change the way things are. I guess I've been lucky, I've only had one obnoxious post on my blog, that was a man wanting to send me photos of his penis. I had to try to imagine, what kind of man is turned on by a bald, overweight women with one boob? And that one boob isn't very nice. freaks, just ignore them. :-)

Catherine O said...

Ah, she’s done it again. Another brilliant post, well worth waiting for.

I’m always amazed at the people who think it’s their right to only read what they want to read and woe betide anyone who dares to write otherwise. A friend of mine is still recovering from major brain surgery for a stroke earlier this year and a helpful commenter (also anonymous wouldn’t you know?) decided to have a go at her for being too upbeat and said she ought to have some consideration for people whose outcomes weren’t so positive :/

We’d all love to hear that you’re going to think your way out of secondary cancer, of course we would, just like we’d love to hear that Psychic Sally’s earpiece is just to tell her the kettle’s on. But you keep it real and your readers (well most of them) love you for it.

gemmak said...

Ok, I know its getting a little repetetive that I keep saying how amazing your writing is...but it is! ;) I know the issue of not not blogging for fear of offending or upsetting people only too well, in the main thats why I dont much these days!
As for being resigned, what bollox was that person thinking?? I dont believe anyone would resign themselves to dying and I know for damn sure neither my dad nor our mutual friend who knew the bullshit only too well ever resigned themselves. Quite the reverse! Yes, they were scared , angry, frustrated, happy, sad and all the other emotions you describe but never, ever resigned.
You say is how it is girl because you know how it is and dont even be tempted to stop to assuage the idiocy of some! ;)

Mean Mr Mustard said...

Who the fudge told you you ever had to apologise for what you write in this blog? For reference, I just went back and looked at the comment that started this post off, and seeing as how they seem to be flogging alternative medicine crap at you they can keep their homeopathically futile opinions and stick them up their quack arses.

Don't apologise. Don't stop thinking you're failing to be not just strong against all this but so fucking awesome that the rest of us are taking our strength from what you write here when it's up to us to look out for you. And don't get knocked off your stride by some arsehole commenting on here. Keep on rocking, Mac. Because you do, you know, rock.

feistybluegeckofightsback said...

Well whaddya know - blogspot is open here now so I can finally keep up to date with you and not have to speed read every time I am in Bangkok for the checks. But it's a bittersweet privilege because of the blasted progression.

I think the way you talk about the precarious balance of offloading, informing and communicating is so true. And particularly how difficult it is to express the things we REALLY want to say but are afraid it will upset people.


But it is your blog, and your experience with the Bullshit and being able to be true to yourself and how you feel is what counts. And I know how we veer from feisty optimism, to more sombre thinking and to anger and rage. That's the nature of the wretched cancer beast and what it does to us emotionally and mentally as much as physically. To share that through the blog is honest and accurate and true to yourself.

I remember someone wise (no recollection who unfortunately ;) ) telling me that feedback from others is often far more about them than about ourselves. I am sure that the comment that upset you so much is an example of that.

I'm not sure if you're able to travel - any chance you can jump on a plane and come over to sunny Yangon? It's sunny, warm and the rains have stopped at last.

Take care and keep telling it like it really is. Big warm hugs
Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)
xx

feistybluegeckofightsback said...

Well whaddya know - blogspot is open here now so I can finally keep up to date with you and not have to speed read every time I am in Bangkok for the checks. But it's a bittersweet privilege because of the blasted progression.

I think the way you talk about the precarious balance of offloading, informing and communicating is so true. And particularly how difficult it is to express the things we REALLY want to say but are afraid it will upset people.


But it is your blog, and your experience with the Bullshit and being able to be true to yourself and how you feel is what counts. And I know how we veer from feisty optimism, to more sombre thinking and to anger and rage. That's the nature of the wretched cancer beast and what it does to us emotionally and mentally as much as physically. To share that through the blog is honest and accurate and true to yourself.

I remember someone wise (no recollection who unfortunately ;) ) telling me that feedback from others is often far more about them than about ourselves. I am sure that the comment that upset you so much is an example of that.

I'm not sure if you're able to travel - any chance you can jump on a plane and come over to sunny Yangon? It's sunny, warm and the rains have stopped at last.

Take care and keep telling it like it really is. Big warm hugs
Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko)
xx

smurph said...

Fabulous post yet again. I never got the feeling that you'd resigned yourself to anything except keeping on keeping on from your last post anyway. Your honesty always comes through in your writing-the funny side, the tough side, the vulnerable moments-and that is part of what makes it compulsive reading and you someone that so many strangers like me are wishing well. You have been realistic throughout. It is The Bullshit after all. You could only have been perky and 100% positive every single minute if you were in denial. And you couldn't have lasted like that for long considering it proved its sneaky nature again and again.
Love hearing what's happening-whether it's a good day or a bad day. Even if it's a line because you just can't be arsed writing anything longer. It's your blog and your life-I just feel privileged to be allowed in some of your thoughts.

Freda said...

You're doing great, Lisa, it takes guts to share things the way you are doing. It's that honesty and lack of self-pity that drew me to you in the first place. In some amazing way, you help your readers to feel better about their own lives. Of course we wish things were different for you, but we know you are living life to the full and we are so glad you are surrounded with such tremendous love.

Eve said...

"...I’m dealing with the reality of incurable cancer in a way that’d make you proud..."

Job done. You already are. What a fucking fantastic post - and the honesty of this one just shows again (especially along with the readers' comments) that you being upfront, who you really are, is what makes this blog so brilliant in the first place.

A Hong Kong Gardener said...

Nicely put, Missus.

x
Donna

Twinklyone said...

Just popped over 'cause I was thinking of you. (and wondered if I had maybe, just maybe, missed a tweet about a new blog post). I think there should be a button on your blog that one could click to say "just dropped by to say 'hi'".

Pauline Castledine said...

beautifully said as always. so sorry someones comment is making you question what you write. We love you for your honesty, whit and kick ass attitude... please dont change x

lilianavonk said...

I know exactly what you mean about the best writing being inspired by impulse, rather than obligation; I know that my sharpest writing has been about topics that I am truly passionate about (often when I'm pissed off about them), I think because anger or any other heightened emotion has a way of sharpening our metaphorical swords like nobody's business.

And in this instance, anger, despair, longing, and incredulity are all to be expected--what makes you uniquely you is how much hilarity, rambunctious goofiness and inimitably stroppy refusal to brought down is in there as well.

But please know you do not ever have to update this blog out of obligation, okay? Yes, we want to know how you're doing, but more than anything, I think this blog should exist as a vehicle for you to express your feelings, venting or rhapsodising about your life as needed, and to give you an aesthetic outlet as well.

The only contract you have signed with us--your readers--is to be yourself, and sometimes that's a person who doesn't feel like writing. And that's okay. Looking after Lisa should always be Job One.

PS: Congratulations, Auntie!! :D