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Dazed and Brainless


Last week wasn’t any fun. I don’t remember radiotherapy being such an onslaught when I had it before. Perhaps it was because it was my head that was being blasted, and the being screwed to my face each day. It wasn’t the actual treatment that was grim…all the staff were really kind and nice; I made a hooky and proggy mat in the waiting room, I was whisked in and out with great respect. What was awful was how it made me feel…sick, dim, unenthusiastic, inadequate etc. I think I deal with cancer by pretending it doesn’t really exist, and last week was impossible to avoid. I hate feeling ill, and I fall to pieces a bit. I was certainly very weepy. As well as the radiotherapy I had my usual drips, and managed to develop some wierd pain in my leg, and my blood count has plummeted again. Altogether, I felt like a pathetic invalid, a person living in the shade. I wondered if I would ever write again. Everything seemed to be sliding downhill.

Then, att the end of the week I saw the rough cut of the film that is being shown on telly next Monday. That made me weep, but I think it was because my delicate ego was so assaulted by seeing myself on a screen. It woke me up a bit, actually. I am wearing the wierdest ear rings…rather Pat Butcher. I should go on that programme about what not to wear. And why didn’t my family tell me to wash my hair? However, if I try to ignore my own sad vanity, I think the team and the director have done a very good job in making a coherent film about cancer, poetry and life. I wonder what you people out there will make of it? Any fashion tips would be welcome.

Also last week we launched the Andrea Badenoch Fiction Prize, in memory of a friend who died of breast cancer in January. We read from her work, and toasted her work with champagne, down at the literary and philosophical society. I enjoyed it. I hope lots of women apply for the award. You have to be over 42! But I miss Andrea, so that made me a bit unhappy too. I still keep all her text messages on my phone. I think she would have liked the event though. We had great flowers and nibbles!

Anyway, I am feeling much better now. I spent the weekend with an old friend, and we drove up to North Shields and ate fish and chips on the fish quay. We had lovely talks about life and change. Only an old friend can see the whole picture really. I probably will write again, and already my radiotherapy experience is receding into the past. I am good at forgetting.