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Thought It Was The End, But Now I Am Not So Sure.


What a unbelievable week it’s been! Cancer is a disease of mountains and ditches, and I suppose this has been a particularly deep ditch. The hospice sorted me out a bit. They fiddled with my drugs, decided that I was allergic to one, (which I had never liiked anyway). I was rather delirious…very worried about Shelley’s death on Emmerdale. Infact I think it was my main subject of conversation. I hated the thought of falling into icy water! And of course I was concerned about the rehearsals for A Manifesto For A New City, which had been going really well. I have such a work ethic that I find it impossible not to feel bad about doing my job properly, but of course no one minded at Northern Stage, and everyone just stepped into place and took the load.

On Monday I came home, swollen and loopy, to my wide bed and with a great sense of relief I climbed back into my old personality, which felt baggy and ill fitting.. A large part of my family arrived..mothers , sisters, daughters, babies, and took up nursing positions in armour all over the house. Doctors, palliative friends,district nurses, brothers, other friends all visited. My support team womans the trenches. The verdict is this: the new drug…faslodex, which is the hormone one, isn’t working, so I am returning to the goddess Tam ( Hallo Jo Shapcott, I should never have left the temple, please let me come back). Even if I wanted to ( and I don’t) chemo is no longer an option. My consultant has passed me on to the palliatives. So the best option is that TAM stabilises the situation again, ( which it has done before in 2002) but my liver is worse, I’m a bit jaundiced, and I feel as if I am wearing a heavy iron belt when I walk, and my arms look like something left after a chicken dinner. Why is it that cancer makes one look so weird? I think it’s philosophical thing…we have crossed the line of beauty and only people that love us can still see it. However, I do look much better today, a week after the crisis hit. Acupuncture has been miraculous. I am having it every two days, and it has got this tired old engine working. The health service is actually being very helpful, but generally people like me go downhill quite fast. But my body has this strange rallying spirit, and acupuncture triggers this into positive energy. I am not deluded, but I can feel my mind taking control of my body, and the blood moving through my veins. I am still hungry, thirsty. I love the flowers, cards and music people have sent. It has all got delightfully vivid. Last night I invented a dance to go with a song I wrote with the Tulips about Wheelie Bins. I even have plans for The Wheelie Bin Ballet!. It’s very difficult for everyone aound me, as we are all in an up and down state of shock, but on the whole I am not depressed. I feel as if I am at an absolutely GRAND party and I don’t want to go home. Dying is like dumping a world that one loves. I am not quite ready yet. I’m not sure how it will go, but I might not go down the expected route just now.

I want to launch the First Aid Kits For the Mind with Emma Holliday for one thing. I want to see the Manifesto Play..and I want to get to Umbria!!! I want to finish knitting this blue shawly thing. And see the plants grow up in the garden…And today I got copies of the wonderful Bloodaxe Anthology THE POETRY CURE (please order from Amazon or Bloodaxe) that I edited with Cynthia Fuller at the university.

I am afraid that visitors are difficult to fit in with such a large family. And talking gets too tiring. Letters are lovely of course. It’s only tonight that I have been able to get to my email, so I am sure that lots of people think I am dead or dying. I shall keep you all posted. Thanks so much for all your thoughts, that are playing no small part in this feeling of recovery!!!