As my lovely mummy said in her post a few days ago, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I have been woefully silent for a few months, but it is extra woeful (no idea if that makes sense? Right now it is too late for words and meds are taking effect!!) to be silent now we are in September, when we should be trying raise awareness of childhood cancer. I have been thinking about what I could do and was coming up pretty empty handed. I have been struggling with my writing a lot recently and I have about a million posts half written out, but not finished.
Today CCAM and what it means to me, and others, hit me extra hard for various reasons, some of which I will go into over the next few days if I am well enough – if not, it may be over the next couple of weeks. So I was sitting in bed/lying in bed like a beached whale, with a mountain of paper tissues growing beside me, ugly crying, and I felt as though I needed to do something to let out my feelings.
What has happened to someone I felt close to in the last month or so has hit me, well, like a wrecking ball, and for certain reasons, of which I will not go into now, explaining to others how I feel has become particularly difficult. I will go into those reasons in another post because I think they are really important, but that is for another day.
On an average day when I feel I need to let my feelings out, I would normally write a normal blog post, but like I said, I’m struggling at the moment with that. So I decided to do what I haven’t done in god knows how many years: I wrote a poem. Actually, I wrote several poems, and as usual with me it turned into an epic (in length, not content) monstrosity, set to rival Ulysses (again, in length not content!). At this moment I am thinking of releasing them one at a time, but if I wake up tomorrow when I’m not quite so manically tired and think Jesus Christ I released a terrible poem, how embarrassing, what have I done?… then this one may remain a stand alone poem.
And I might accidentally end up slipping and hitting the delete button…
Now, I have not written a poem since I was in Year Two when I was trying to appeal, as a cute kiddie wink, to the mean people who love deforestation in order to save our rainforests. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.) However, whilst I might not have saved our rainforests, I did win a poetry book and that was, and is, obviously the most important thing. The point of me telling you this is not to brag about my mad six year old poetry writing skills, but because this may not be an amazing poem and I want to warn any potential haters to back off, like this kid with forks over his eyes. (Seriously watch the video. Bold statement here, but easily one of the top five videos on the internet – and I actually think by saying that I’m not even giving it enough credit.)
At this stage I don’t even feel like I really know how to write a poem, because generally when reading one, if it doesn’t rhyme then I’m sorry, but I’m out. This one only has a few rhymes, so sorry about that, but I’m trying desperately to remember everything my lovely English teacher, Mrs Stocker, taught me about poetry at English GCSE, and I’m really hoping reading this doesn’t make her die inside. Mrs Stocker: if you do read this and it is massively disappointing, I just want to let you know that I actually used the word stanza today multiple times…. so that’s something at least, I guess? And, Mrs Stocker, if you are even two percent dead inside after reading it, please contact me immediately and tell me to remove the damned thing. Your honesty will be rewarded with gin.
Anyway. I’ll stop rambling on now like I do when I’m nervous… Here you all go….
A Collection of Poems for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Childhood cancer is being told you are fit and well
When you can see,
When you can feel,
Your body fading a w a y.
As you unwillingly trade
Your vitality, your strength, your young, healthy body that is free to
And dance as it pleased,
For a thin, frailer frame that struggles to carry supermarket shopping;
Then even reach the supermarket without the arm of a friend.
That struggles to keep breath in the aisles amongst the
Throws of an
Panic attack. That struggles to
Function and get
Of bed in the morning.
Childhood cancer is the lack of awareness amongst doctors,
Who prescribe Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, as though it cures cancer.
Well, in the dreams of childhood cancer and their parents it does,
But in the real world I, and the rest of childhood cancer, walk,
It does not.
Childhood cancer is the ignorance of specialist consultants
Who assure you there is nothing to worry about,
Who you are only too happy to believe
Until you reach breaking point and your body
Childhood cancer is the ego of a surgeon operating incorrectly,
Happy to reach his knife outside his area of expertise
And ever so careful stab and slice it into my back.
Inside my spine,
Sucking my nerves, tumour and whatever else happens to be around
Up, and away.
Well most of it anyway.
The rest he spread up my spinal cord.
Childhood cancer is being told you’re all clear,
Until suddenly the monsters your mummy and daddy warned you about when you were young;
They’re back and double the size.
Childhood cancer is the breath you never think you’ll take
After hearing you have a potential twenty five percent chance of survival.
It is waiting the weekend and discovering you can somehow,
After all you’ve been through,
Live, laugh and love for those two whole days,
Not knowing whether you will be alive for them next year.
Childhood cancer is being lucky enough to undergo life saving surgery
But unlucky enough to write these words.
Childhood cancer is
Incontinence; self-catheterisation; dysfunction in more ways than one.
It is post traumatic stress disorder; overwhelming anxiety; paranoia.
It is depression and repression of memories of those hours,
Blue with pain and begging to die.
It is the shame of screaming those words
As your friends die around you.
Childhood cancer is registered disabilities.
It is cowering in your wheelchair,
Eyes down and blurred with tears,
Putting clothes back on the rails to avoid asking the shop assistant
Disabled changing room.
It is hating the fact you now need to ask,
As your old self breezes past with her beautiful friends
And her beautiful, working legs;
And her beautiful flushed cheeks;
And her beautiful hair that she was never nearly grateful enough for;
And her beautiful life she didn’t take nearly enough time to appreciate;
And her beautiful ease, bounce and laughter as she turns, without a second thought,
Around the corner.
It is finally making it to the disabled changing room,
And your mum pulling your trousers
Off one leg,
Then the other.
It is her sliding clothes over your ankles,
Over your shoulders,
As she helps you stand quickly to check
That your incontinence pants
And your bloated stomach,
Swollen like a baby in a diaper –
- The shape of the woman you are –
Are reasonably well hidden under this new look,
So that you can sink back into your wheelchair
Like you’ve just run that cross country where you qualified for Surrey,
Like you’ve just floated off stage after that ballet recital you danced in,
Or like you just stood up to look in the mirror.
Childhood cancer is feeling hideous in that shitty skirt,
Proportions all wrong,
But buying it all the same.
Because you know that no outfit is going to turn you,
Turn your body,
Into the girl who took your breath away moments ago.
Childhood cancer is sending your mum to the checkout with your purse
At twenty three,
As you hang back near the exit,
Because you are too anxious yourself to pay.
After all, when it was your turn, what would you say?
How could you ever follow that girl you saw today?
Childhood cancer is hating yourself for no longer being that girl.
It is you filled to the brim, overflowing with self loathing
Because after all the self love and acceptance you preach,
There is no self love, you are left battered and beaten.
You are hating yourself for that reason.
And what brought it on was as simple as clothing.
I just want to say that not all parts of this post reflect how I still feel, but I can wholeheartedly say that at times in the past it is exactly how I have felt. I would also also be lying by saying I never feel like this any more. I am just lucky enough to be able to say that I feel these things left often than I used to.