Friday, 7 February 2014

Part of the story but not it all?


The Field of Light St Andrews Square

It's been my birthday this week and you know how it goes with these dates in the year. It stimulates reflection on life and the universe and so forth, pledges to make this year special and I even asked for a food processor for the first time in my life! It's still in pristine condition but I will get there.....really. Perhaps my biggest decision however was to join a writing class. It's a wonderfully old Edinburgh experience with a tenement stair being the entry to a different world. Our workshop leader has a well thought out method and an engaging other worldliness. My sense is already that I will learn a lot and who knows what will emerge?
I haven't thought of elaborate fictional plots but instead wondered about a similar approach to my blog where I weave through my own experience, what I have learned about life and love ( in its widest sense-a Barbara Cartland is not not my goal!) and I started not quite clear of my path but trusting that this would emerge.But I found that whatever direction I try to go in my inner steering wheel pulls me back to my lived experience of cancer. I consciously decided I did not what this to be my focus, no desire for the condition to define who I am, it is behind me and so on but somehow my subconscious wont let me. Although my blog has meandered through this territory it hasn't encapsulated it all, hasn't brought together what this life experience has taught me and who I have become as a result. I'm beginning to conclude that's still a story to tell, maybe not a best seller but its my unfinished business. It kind of feels that I can't write anything else until I have written this.
My reluctance to make breast cancer my focus has also been that many have written about this too. The story has been told so to speak and mine isn't so different or any more interesting after all. But of course it's my own story and how it has made me who and what I am in all my guises and no one can do that but me.
Perhaps what has convinced me was the controversy this week about a campaign by a pancreatic cancer charity with an image and a quote saying "I  wish I had breast cancer". It's caused a huge response from the breast cancer community. I suspect I'm not the only person whose main reaction was not anger surprisingly but honestly, it was that I felt hurt. Not just for myself but for all those whose lives have been changed by and lost to breast cancer.  Hurt caused by one group in the cancer community to another is hard to understand or forgive. No one wants any cancer and that's an end to it. And it does seem that the hugely improved survival statistics mask so much still.  And so my proposed book will be my attempt to build empathy and understanding for this vulnerable community.....it seems that job is not yet done.
My birthday is shared with World Cancer Day and in previous years I have wishes to change the title to F*** Cancer Day-in part because I'm angry it's stolen my birthday....and so much more. But maybe it's also my reminder to accept that its part of my story too, but importantly not it all, oh no.
Reasons to be cheerful
I had a fun birthday and even saw an Edinburgh Tram that evening as we set off to see the beautiful field of light in St Andrews Square. The trams are not an urban myth after all and setting aside any rants about costs and mismanaged projects, they really are quite splendid. Their  elegant traversing of the city sure to enhance it. Also we went to a house party where two excellent musicians played traditional pipes, sang Gaelic songs and told tales from ancient times in Highland Scotland. It was uplifting and quite wonderful. What a gift they have a what a pleasure it was to be part of it. 
That's me under the hat-fortunately the tram  took off in the other direction!!

4 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a wonderful time. :) Happy birthday! And congrats on taking the writing course. Sharing your story is a good idea. ~Catherine

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    1. Thanks Catherine. I really did.the writing course is excellent. I hope my stamina holds out!

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  2. Belated birthday wishes. It is very interesting that you write about not wanting to make cancer the focus of your "story" and yet..... I have always been interested in the stories we weave around our lives and since writing my own blog and reading that of others with breast cancer, I have become really fascinated by narrative medicine. It is the next thing I want to pursue in my never-ending quest to learn more. Will keep you posted!

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    1. Narrative medicine, an interesting phrase. I'm looking forward to hearing more! Axx

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