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Misty Friday 5th March

05/03/2004

I am having a recently felled sycamore tree in the garden made into benches. You should see the new wood. It is moist, banana white, delicious and I feel like eating it. Since the latest session with the doctors I feel more and more concerned with getting the garden organised for the summer. I have always wanted a swingy sofa that creaked slightly. I’ve written before about wanting a sculpture of a lovely big woman, and I’ve got various plans for that. I am going to make a wild flower meadow, and yesterday a parcel of dusty, grassy seeds arrived. It’s a very long steep garden, and when you are sitting in it, it’s like being in an echoing and magical valley. It’s a big green dip in the city, a ‘nature corridor’ and I like to think that it’s full of beasts, of badgers, foxes, hedgehogs and worse.

On the cancer front I have been thinking about these drugs I am being offered…it’s not really a CHOICE because one has no idea what any of the drugs might do, and no one medical will make any claims at this point. I feel like offering to rewrite the information sheets they give out at the hospital, because not one of them says anything good about any of the treatments. There is an awful lack of HOPE about all of it. I mean, I know they must be careful what they say, but there must be something good about these treatments. Which would you go for?

1. V (Vinorelbine) gives you nosebleeds, anaemia, constipation, tingling in extremities, fatigue. Given as a drip. Got no idea how well it works.

2. C (Capecitabine) nausea, diahorrea, dry hands and feet, fatigue. No idea of its track record either. You can take this in pill form.

3. T (Taxol) Joint ache, fatigue, nausea, hair loss. I have more of a relationship with this drug, as I took its sister drug taxotere before and it had very good results, so I feel more positive towards it, even though on paper the side effects are just as bad. It comes from yew trees. You take it once a week for 3 months as a drip.

4. Acupuncture. Although I would do this anyway, maybe it’s time to turn my back on chemotherapy and just have acupuncture, which I completely believe in….and all the other things…..faith healing, nice food, juice, massage etc etc

5. Just keep taking the tamoxifen, which I have just been put back on, and hope it works.

How do I decide? I have a month of scans and stuff before making a decision.

The other thing to consider is that it’s not as if I am in pain. I haven’t really got any symptoms apart from tiredness. I can see that pain would drive one to chemotherapy.

This decision is all about quality of life and all that stuff. My geatest fear is the long groggy fading away, but I also realise that death isn’t nice really, or at least it’s a bit like birth and can go any number of ways. I feel that I must be firm with my doctors and make them talk about death in a hopeful way. These medical conversations are full of silent chasms that are so hard to climb out of. Is it because of fear of suing?

Other conversations are so much more uplifting. Doris, my healer, said that THEY don’t want me yet. She said that it would be fine when they did, but I had a while to go. I agree with her!

Today I am running a writing workshop with people who work in primary care. I am looking forward to it. People have such interesting lives, although they often don’t realise it! On Sunday I’m doing another workshop about mothers and daughters. This is a dangerous subject…explosive! I have been thinking of ways of treading carefully, like tiptoeing across a minefield, so that we can write without too much pain. At the end the library at Bishop Auckland is providing us with Sunday tea ! Let’s hope there are tissues too.

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