Friday, 30 March 2012

DAY 10

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DAY 10

Energy level: Bouncy
Attitude: Optimistic and happy
Physical Condition: Pretty good - but a bit of a sore back

Wow - here I am into double figures and at the end of my second week. That flew by pretty quickly!
Today's visit to Radiotherapy was fast and efficient as usual. No more pain in the throat or neck yet. I even got more stickers - another smiley face and four silver stars. They made me happy :-)

I had a bit of a sleepless night as my back and legs were aching. I'm not sure what that was about but it's still a bit painful. I have my heated wheat pack on it now and have taken a few painkillers. Hopefully it will go away. I think that as long as I don't get a temperature I'm okay.

I have learnt a new phrase though: Neutropenic Sepsis. I have to carry a big red card with me everywhere saying I am at high risk of developing it because I've recently had chemotherapy. Basically it means that my own natural defences against infection have been destroyed so if I catch anything it is going to be serious unless I get some antibiotics quickly.

That's why I have to take my temperature each day - if it ever gets above 38degrees I have to go into hospital. It was 37.3 last time In took it :-) All is well.

While I've been going through all this I have found it helpful, comforting even, to read other people's journeys through cancer. My favourite one is Writing My Way Through Cancer by Myra Schneider.
I even emailed her to tell her and she has kindly emailed back a few times to encourage me :-) She has also given me permission to reproduce her poem that I liked in full - so here it is:


I'm going to throw open my windows and yell: 'halleluiah',
dial up friends in the middle of the night to give them
the glad tidings, e-mail New South Wales and Pacific Palisades,
glorify the kitchen by making sixteen summer puddings,
watch blackberry purple soak slowly into
the bread and triumph over the curved glass of the bowls.

When it's all over I'll feed my cracked skin
with lavender and aloe vera, lower my exhausted body into
foaming suds scented with honey and let it wallow,
reward it with a medal, beautify it with garlands of thornless roses,
wrap it in sleep. Then from tents of blurred dreams
I'll leap like a kangaroo, spout like a whale.

Once it's over I'm going to command my computer to bellow
'Land of Hope and Glory,' loudspeaker my news
down these miles of orderly streets where the houses wear
mock Tudor beams and plastic Greek columns, dance
the Highland Fling in front of controlled tubs of cockerel geraniums,
sigh with enormous satisfaction when I make the evening headlines.

When it's finally over I'm going to gather these fantasies,
            fling them into my dented and long lost college trunk,
                        dump it in the unused cellar       
                                    climb back to strength
                                                up my rope of words.

                                                        Myra Schneider

Writing My Way Through Cancer  Jessica Kingsley (2003)
Multiplying The Moon  Enitharmon (2004)

Reading her book not only tells me what it was like for her to go through radiotherapy and chemotherapy in her treatment for breast cancer, but also - being a well-known and published poet who runs so many courses and workshops - she also explains how writing can help you through something like this and gives tips on how to get started. Now, I am no poet, but even I have been inspired to give it a try!

One of her techniques is "dumping" where you get all the negative and angry thoughts out and onto a page, Another idea is making lists - where you can list everything that is bothering you - or, as above, everything you're going to do when all this hospital stuff is over!

This is what I came up with on my first attempt:


First we're going to fillet your flesh, like a butcher
Leave you disfigured and unable to speak as you did
That smooth white neck wil be crisscrossed with red
Then we'll inject you with poison,make you sick as a dog and sore
Bruises will show on your skin with no provocation
or warning. Your hair will leave in disgust at the sight of you
You will grow thin and gaunt

We will force our instrument down your throat
like we're teaching you sword-swallowing
We'll attach a cheeswire, make a hole in you
and saw you in half from inside, a neat trick eh?

Then we'll burn you with our sinister rays
over and over again until you can no longer swallow
and your skin is raw and angry
But you can't be angry
This isn't covered by the Geneva Convention
You lie there and take it.

Then, we'll have saved your life



  1. I like her poem, but I like yours better -- very graphic and full of emotion!!!

    And btw, a thought about your back and legs aching: It's possible they're sore due to muscle cramp, and if so, the best thing for you -- drum roll, please! -- is ... MAGNESIUM.

    Wish I'd known its power to deal with cramps -- would have taken it straight through two pregnancies ...

    If you think your pain is because of cramping of any kind, magnesium acts as a relaxant. You might want to ask your doctors about it. (Are they giving you regular doses of vitamins/minerals to get through this???)

    As always, you are so inspiring, Berni!

    Hugs from across the pond ...

  2. Berni, what an amazing first attempt! I am so thrilled for you because you have a poet's feel for words. You really do. I can feel the sound patterns running through your poem and listing is a great technique to get you started. Wow, you've got some striking images in there too: the idea of being forced to be a sword-swallower or being cut-in-half. My group always tease me for putting smilies or stars on their poems but laughter is the best medicine, isn't it, and your poem definitely gets a sticker from me :) Please keep writing when you feel like it.

    I'm so glad that our heartfelt 'thank you' card for the hearing loop and the limericks found their way to you courtesy of the lovely Tracy. It was strange not being at Silverdale Library on Thursday. It feels like home to us.