‘What’s Next?’ After Cancer (part one of three)

I had moved to Hassock, just outside Brighton to move in with my boyfriend at the time, a few weeks later it started to crumble and we soon split up. I then found myself living back in that land of uncertainty again where this time nothing was familiar. I’d sold my business so I had no job or income, I didn’t even know where the local supermarket was, I had no friends in the area and my relationship, my ‘rock’ had disintegrated. There I was very alone and pretty flabbergasted at how I could be in such a situation after such a triumphant year.

I had no idea what I was going to do with myself, no purpose, and no cashflow except the sale from the business which was buying me some time to figure myself out. I was so ‘in the mess’ that I couldn’t see any of the changes in the bigger picture. I was just focussing so hard on the bigger picture of; ‘What the hell am I going to do now?’, especially as the intensity of my last year and my amended priorities due to that now left me rather unemployable. I couldn’t work to a structure, I had been free-flowing for the last year, and that kept me sane and healthy. I felt like I no longer fitted into the normal world, as I’d been closer to death than most and had expanded from that experience to larger than my previous self.

I found myself trying to drop my Cancer story and figure out what next. I was boring myself with talking about it, but it seemed I didn’t have much else to say. Everything I had done for the past year had been aimed towards my healing. And people would ask me about my diet, my supplements, my quirky routines and rituals, and then the Cancer story would come up again. It was actually harder to keep it in, than it was just to let it out. I remember being on a writing weekend at dinner with 10 other women, and I sat there silently wondering how long it would take till Cancer would come spilling out my mouth. Surely enough one of them asked why I drank only water with lemon and ginger in, and what my supplements were, and how long I had been vegan for and then whoosh…out it all came. There I was faced with 10 open mouthed women and suddenly I was holding the floor when the questions came in. The woman running the course after a while said ‘I’ve heard of you. You’ re the woman who had brain surgery in Thailand…I’ve seen your video announcing your diagnosis online. I remember thinking at the time you were so calm…… but I thought you were going to die……. And here you are sat in front of me’.

My story fascinated people, and however much I tried to drop it and move on, it followed me. I would suddenly become the most interesting person in the room when it came out. The spot light was on me. People didn’t know what to say, it was often left to me to fill the air. I felt pretty self-conscious about it. It was a lot of attention, even for an ex-burlesque dancer. This wasn’t performance. This was real, and it was me.

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