In July 2010, I was diagnosed with Cancer.
During that time, I was house bound for a lot of the time due to my treatment and it sparked off a prolific time in my writing career. This week I would like to share with you a short story that I thought would never see the light of day, as I wrote it as therapy of sorts after my treatment was finished.
Over a year later, and I hope that this story, as emotionally charged as it is, can help raise awareness of Cervical Cancer, and the solid fact, that age doesn’t matter, regular screening and educating people of the risks can save lives. I hope that you enjoy.
She was glad she bought her iPod with her today. Listening to the Goo-goo dolls at full volume was indeed calming and detritus in her ears at the same time. Smacking her hands to the rhythm of the beat moving the orange plastic chair beneath her, she concentrated on the words of the songs and on the speckled green in front of her on the walls.
Green was after all the most calming colour wasn’t it? She drew patterns in her head from one green spot to the next, interwoven finely like lace on the wall between the magnolia and an indescribable colour next to it. There was no artistry or craftsmanship in a hospital wall. Only contract painters, cleaners, and the odd spray with that ghastly disinfectant for your hands which made your skin sting.
The music rattled on reverberating in her brain. She shouldn’t be here, that’s what her brain and, to all extents her body was telling her. Yanking her wrist in front of her face to check the time, she should be walking to the school to fetch the eldest now. Although every day had, sort of, melded into ground hog day since last July when her job had disappeared into the ether. She kept telling herself that it wasn’t her they wanted rid of, that work had dried up months before she left. But she couldn’t help feeling just a little bit sorry for the lifestyle she had lost; and the money. The money came in really handy being a single mum and having two kids who constantly needed the “stuff” every kid needs. But then she would never be without them, and her strength of will and resilience had kept them going thus far. Almost a year down the line. But she wished she was walking down that old run down road to pick up the little blonde haired bundle of love that was daughter number 1.
Time flew from the time number 1 was a baby. Having to do everything for her, feeding, changing, and bathing. And now she was telling her mother what to do and how to do it with conviction and a grim steely determination she had seen somewhere else. Maybe when she was growing up? She couldn’t remember, but number 1 was too similar in her way to her mother and that was rather scary upon reflection.
Number 2 had started nursery school that September and was probably currently sitting in his grandfather’s van awaiting the arrival of his sister and a great big soppy cuddle and kiss. He was the make or break baby that just broke what was already fragile between her and the ex. But those brown eyes of his were worth every single moment of hardship and fight that she’d placed into the last two years on her own, without their father. Not withstanding the ten pounds a fortnight he sent her for both children, for food, clothes and necessities. Very good of him really. Number 1 was the favourite with the dad, but she told herself that she loved both equally, and resented that number 2 although only three years old was already being pushed aside and dubbed the wayward son.
Yes, she should be there with them, picking them up from school and then making tea, if this were any normal groundhog day that’s where she would be. She closed her eyes, music switched to the Foo Fighters and she breathed in the odd smelling air of the waiting room. A mix between damp clothes, body odour and that really strong stuff they used to disinfect the floor. She thought maybe in the undertones of that dry de-ionized air that there was a hint of spring flowers, maybe Zflora or some similar stuff that they used to make the place smell better. There was nothing worse than the smell of sick people, well, apart from the smell of fresh vomit, but it had been a few months at least since the last bug had visited the humble home.
It was even comforting to think of the house, which she was soon to loose. It had been a good starting point for the kids, warm, cosy, full of love, a true home. Even when the ex had left she had kept it full of love, no one could take that away from her. She was looking forward to a new start though. In this economic climate she wasn’t getting any work, and there wasn’t anything out there for her. She didn’t have an ego about having a degree. It was only a 2:2 with honours, but it had been difficult and hard work to get that much, having chosen on completely the wrong path for her. Funny how sitting in hospital waiting rooms gave someone perspective wasn’t it? Yes, hind sight, as they say. Precious.
Drifting away with the heady beats and slumping backwards in the chair she thought of what she could have achieved if only she’d “done it right” the first time around. Thinking back to seventeen, that was a good age. Offers on the table from most of the best universities in the UK, nice boyfriend, reasonably attractive, but very naïve. Where had it all gone wrong? Was it all pre-destined to fall to shit at 26? She giggled at this notion, attracting a few stray looks from neighbours in similar plastic orange chairs. She was oblivious with her eyes closed and wouldn’t have cared much with her eyes open. She had very low opinions on people who judged for no reason.
Yes, seventeen was a good age. No responsibility, only a part time job. Not having to worry about paying bills, chastising children, meals provided by two very loving and giving parents. What she wouldn’t give to be seventeen again. She’d started to feel the precipice of adulthood though, a late developer she’d started to push boundaries, getting drunk, and smoking. As if stumbling across smoking as an afterthought she lifted her hands to her mouth and started to chew her nails on the forefinger and middle finger. She could do with going out for a fag; a cigarette would calm her nerves really. Receptors in her brain made her quite anxious. Yes seventeen had a lot to answer for. She decided against going out for a smoke, and slipped even deeper into her iPod induced reverie.
She tried to think of the last time she was really satisfied with her life. Could she? Even on her wedding day, she was questioning there must be more to life than this? And every night since even on the rare occasion she got a gift, or had a racking orgasm, she was still asking herself the same question. Was life all about the mediocre? Did everyone just trudge through it trying to make a mish-mash of the best and worse of all things? Seemed a bit random, but even at thirty three she was still trying to figure out if she had a purpose on this earth apart from rearing two absolutely adorable little bags of trouble. It didn’t feel so bad when she thought of them. They made this depressing existence worth it.
Jumping as a heavy hand woke her from her malaise, raising a few titters from the judgmental neighbours in the waiting room she opened her eyes and jumped, she looked at the heavy set nurse in front of her.
“We’ve been calling for you the past ten minutes; we’re ready for you now.”
The nurse had extremely fine black facial hair on her lips which revolted her a little, but she followed her obediently into the specialist cell as she called it or the meeting room with the gynaecologist.
“We’re sorry to keep you waiting like this Miss Davies; we just wanted to check one or two things before we spoke to you.”
Here we go she thought they’re going to tell me that I need to come in and drain this cyst on the ovary again. She’d been here a few years previously and having polycystic ovaries she was used to seeing the gynaecologist at regular intervals since the age of thirteen or so. Every gynaecologist in this hospital had seen her private parts by now, she had no shame left. She nodded as if to urge them on, although a dry spot had sprung up in her throat.
“Well we have had a look at this morning’s scans, and the biopsy we took from last months’ colposcopy. It seems like we’re dealing with ovarian cancer.”
All her thoughts suddenly gathered from the dancing dots around her brain into one big bold typed word in her head CANCER. A small word that began with C and ended with d. She shook her head.
“p…pardon?” Cleared her throat and started to try again, but nothing would come.
And then came the flood.
What did she have to leave the kids? Nothing. What did she have in place for funeral arrangements? Nothing. What?….her brain failed and she broke down into a heap of tears in the arms of a nurse with facial hair, who was used to seeing people cry like this without knowing anything about them.
©Shân Ellis 2010