Two years have passed since my first and last mammogram, where I found out that left to their devices, it was extremely likely my breasts were going to kill me. I’ve discovered anniversaries are a time for reflection, assessment and, in my case, getting into a right royal strop.

This came about because I was pondering how, if at all, to mark the occasion. Briony my (alternative-but-as-efficacious-as-any-traditional) medicine woman counselled that I should make an effort to acknowledge the date. This got me thinking how it was a shame any such celebration would be led by me, and wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to remember to reach out at a time of year which is so full of significance for me.

Ted is not an unkind person, but commemorations are not his strong point. So I had come to not expect it of him but what about my friends and family? None of them are exactly bathed in glory! No-one else cares. Poor fucking me. To my shame, before I knew it I’d worked myself into a Catherine wheel of resentment, and no-one was safe from my hot sparks of self pity.

Once I’d burnt out from being furious, I tried to work out ‘what the fuck brought that on?’ and as is my wont came up with a theory of sorts.

When I was going through the shit properly, it was the isolation that slayed me. I used to rail against the fact that not only was I awake at 2am contemplating my future, and the possibility of those I love living a life without me in it, I was also the only person doing that. Of course I was loved, supported and cared for, but I was alone. Anyone who has given birth knows what that’s like. And in fairness, having attended a birth, I also know what it’s like to want to help, and not be able to, plus I know about being scared to get a cup of tea in case I miss something, but really wanting that tea anyway.

Still my little pity party was a knock off of the original resentment towards the inevitable aloneness. Once I worked through that odd episode I turned my attention to marking the occasion and settled on a dawn walk alone to the Byron lighthouse, lunch with my best buddy, and dinner out with Ted where we could drink champagne to celebrate.

And then I realised, the cancerversary had actually come and gone. My massive ego was totally happy to chastise loved ones for forgetting, while not even remembering myself. Buddha was right, this was so perfect I tilted my head to the sky and laughed.

Still I will carry out my plans, but on 12 August (operation day) instead of diagnosis day, because there are so many reasons to celebrate. I am better now. I have sifted through the detritus and found the jewels. “What hurts you blesses you.” said Rumi “Darkness is your candle.” The experience turned on the lights to my spirit and I’ve enjoyed a rich (yet non-religious) appreciation of the sacrosanct ever since. I’ve woken up, and have learned to receive, to move, to forgive and perhaps most critically to not give a single bead of sweat over to the small stuff. Clearly I still lapse into martyr mode, slovenliness and, as this post testifies, dis-grace, but the not giving a fuck thing? That I have nailed, my friends.

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Saturday morning post-walk breakfast, one of my week’s highlights.

People who followed this blog have asked me why the writing stopped dead in its tracks. It’s because writing about cancer helped me through it, but once the treatment had finished, I needed to distance myself from it all. Everyone who encounters tragedy is in danger of letting it define them, and to continue writing here could have seen me fall foul of that.

But you know what they say about babies and bathwater, and one of the many treasures of cancer and this blog was it caused me to take the dust sheet off a craft I’d forgotten how much I loved AND was good at. The words helped me so and I’m finally ready to use them again in my new blog, Magic in Motion. In it I will explore how moving physically has transformed my identity from a hill avoider to a seeker of stairs.

So thanks for everything,, but it’s time to move on up.

I’m better now.

6 Comments on Thanks for the mammaries

  1. Hey Sam, happy anniversary and wonderful that things have moved on in so many positive ways since that frightening time. So yes farewell to thelittlec – it was a privilege to have a chance to share your journey and what you wrote inspired so many of us – but as you say it’s time to move on. Sending lots of love and really looking forward to reading Magic in Motion. Mark xx (p.s. LOVING this final blog title! x)

  2. Hi Sam – it was so strange to see a post from ‘the little c’ appear in my inbox this morning. It evokes such a mix of emotions – the sadness and fear that I felt for you at the time combined with the joy and pride that I feel for you now that you’ve come through it and out the other side. And a cheeky wink thrown in when I think back to our post-surgery catch-up at my place that day…you know the one! ‘The little c’ was probably the most extraordinary blog I’ve ever read, and I know helped you to get through that time in your life. But it was equally as helpful to us as friends to get a better understanding of where you were at throughout it and helped shape the ways in which we tried to support you. I am SO excited to learn that you’re starting a new blog – where do I sign up? With love xx

    • It is so interesting to hear that it helped you too, when I truly was only doing it for my benefit. Your empathy throughout has been the best, I am very lucky. And what went on at Macdonald St, stays there 😉

  3. That’s such a great milestone to reach Sam and a beautifully written piece to commemorate it. I am so pleased you’re going to keep writing and can’t wait to see the new blog once it’s up. Maybe you can add a link here so we can find you? x

    • Hi Kate, thank you for your lovely message. Sorting out the new domain is on my list! But of course I’ll let you know all about it. Your support throughout have meant a great deal, thank you.