Thursday 18 March 2010

No apologies necessary.

I find it difficult to understand when people tell me that they ‘feel sorry’ for me. I can appreciate why they say it, of course – shit, I’d probably say the same if I met me (well, that and perhaps it’s time to curb the swearing) – but that doesn’t mean that it sits comfortably with me.

It’s a remark I heard a lot in the immediate time after my diagnosis. But back then, I tended to agree with whoever said it. Hell, I kinda felt sorry for myself, too. Now, though, in the wake of The Gene News, it’s been a sentence I’ve started to hear more frequently again. But this time around, hearing it said just feels plain weird. Because the thing is, I don’t feel sorry for myself at all. Quietly pissed off, maybe, and perhaps a little frightened, but definitely not sorry for myself. Because, meh, it is what it is. And the best thing I can do is just get on with it.

Tomorrow afternoon sees the first of what I’m assuming will be many gene-related appointments, now that I’ve been launched back into the system – albeit this time for cancer prevention (I hope) rather than treatment. And, naïve as it might sound right now, I reckon I’ve got my head around it all as much as I can. See, to my mind, if there’s anything – anything at all – that can be done to reduce my chances of another round with The Bullshit – by however small a percentage – then I’m damn well going to use my powers of kick-ass to ensure that it gets done.

Prior to any preventative surgery, however, will be a series of testing to determine whether or not there is currently any residual cancer twatting about inside of me that we don’t know about. And that, right now, is a far scarier prospect than anything a scalpel can administer. My way of dealing with it thus far has been to assume that there are cancer cells, bobbing about in my body like a lost team of canoeists. Some might call that cynical or defeatist. I call it going equipped.

It’s not everyone’s way, granted, but I like to picture the worst-case scenario. And while I know that a part of me does that because it assumes I will therefore be immune to any further shocks (which of course I won’t), I also think it’s something I tend to do in order to give myself more chance of a happier outcome. Because if I’m prepared to receive news of an impossible-to-treat cancer, then hearing something even a little less terrifying will be a pleasant surprise, no? I know, I know. Blonde Logic.

I explained it to Tills earlier this week. 
(That's Tills there, by the way. She'd like me to point out that she's prettier when she's not tired. But frankly I think she knocks Penelope Cruz into a cocked hat even when there's baby-sick on her shoulder.)
‘You did that last time around, didn’t you, expecting the worst?’ she queried.
‘What, before I got my CT scan results? Yeah, I s’pose I did,’ I agreed.
‘Mm, you’re good at it,’ she said, in a statement that anyone other than a best mate would have taken offence to.
‘S’pose,’ I nodded. ‘I just like to be prepared, is all.’
‘There’s a theory about that in therapy,’ said Tills. ‘How uncertainty fucks up people and makes them fantasise terrible things to fill the gap. But you’re priming yourself, really.’ (This is why I love Tills so much. Nobody else could spin my Blonde Logic into deliberate intelligence.)
‘I guess that makes sense,’ I said. ‘I just want to get on with things, y’know? It’s like imagining the most awful thing somehow allows me to get past it so I can, I dunno, just carry on with everything else; carry on with nicer things. Like today,’ I added, in reference to the meeting I’d just left to discuss a possible screen adaptation of The C-Word. (Yes, you heard that right.)
‘You are good at it though,’ she assured me. ‘You have a great way of planning lovely things to think about in difficult times.’

But smart as Tills undeniably is, I think that last comment was spoken from behind friend-tinted glasses. (Y’know, the same way that true mates never tell you when you’ve made a tit of yourself after too many beers, and always disagree when you whine about your enormous bottom.) Because of all the lovely things I’ve had to think about during my difficult times – and, boy, have there been some lovely things – I don’t think I can really take credit for ‘planning’ any of them. And while my mantra has always been ‘when the chips are down, book a holiday’, what Tills mentioned is different. None of the better things to come out of The Bullshit were premeditated; just the universe’s weird way of paying me back. The blog happened because I just felt like writing. The book happened because a literary agent saw Stephen Fry’s tweet. Those things were happy accidents, coming along at a time when I needed them most, and making me feel even jammier than I already did – despite The Bullshit; despite the Bullshit Gene.

So, you see, there’s no need to feel bad for me. It’s all good. I don’t feel sorry – I feel lucky.

Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. I do feel sorry – sorry for anyone whose life isn’t as wonderful as this.


Anonymous said...

I know you don't want to read or hear anything about how inspirational you are, so at least let me say, that this post got me thinking. About how I act and react in difficult times and all that.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

You're amazing

Tracey-Jane Hughes said...

This is absolutely fab, and you're so right about things happening for the good.

Anonymous said...

yes, as always, you have a point. I remember when you first got the book deal, texting you to ask 'is it wrong to be jealous of your mate that has cancer?' Brilliant things happen to you, not because youre distracting yourself, not because the universe owes you 1(million), but because you are clever and motivated and talented.

Loving the product placement btw.x

Anonymous said...

Yep. Good post Sis, but one has to ask... Who ordered the water from Starbucks? Now that is just plain wrong. Do not let me see such behaviour again!

Take it easy,


lilianavonk said...

Thank you for the implicit permission to stop finding you inspirational and instead start resenting the hell out of you instead, cos quite frankly, I've been raring to go on that one for some time now.

IMO, Tills has it all over Penelope Cruz, not just for her fabulous taste in best mates, but also because she bears no resemblance whatsoever to the unholy spawn of Manuel off Fawlty Towers and a rubbie duckie.

No bloody clue what the fuck you're on about with regard to all the swearing, though.

Anonymous said...

Great post Lisa. Definitely don't feel sorry for you - just sending supportive vibes via the interwebs.

On a side note, did you ever watch the cartoon "He Man and She - Ra" as a kid.

I have an image of you and P if full garb fighting the evil Bullshit.


Lucy said...

Only you could make this awful thought make me giggle... ' whether or not there is currently any residual cancer twatting about inside of me'

Keep the cracking words coming Lisa.


Charlotte said...

Oh Tills is pretty isn't she.

My maxim in life is "Hope for the best, expect the worst". It's not negative, it's just sensible, and you know what, most of the time the best is better than I imagine and the worst is not half as bad as I imagine.... and I'm not blond.

Sceen adaptation - yay!

Anonymous said...

Having to wait for news or a plan must be so frustrating - you seem like an action girl ready to kick ass. I can't feel sorry for anyone like that!