Friday, March 30, 2007


I'm all glowing and proud to have been invited to write a piece for another site and, now I've seen it posted, I'm even more so because of the lovely words that have been said about it.

This isn't so much of a knitting/crafting blog but I have mentioned it here and there and now you can read more about it, the piece is called Chemo-stitches.

So gazillions of thank you's to Pocketina of DIY, not die, I'm proud to be up there on your blog!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bodily landscapes

The weekend before my mastectomy I had a little personal event. I needed to mark and grieve and say goodbye to myself as I was - mark that I was going to lose my breast. I decided to do it as a piece of landscape-natural art. Once upon a time, when I still had great dreams and aspirations that I believed could happen, I was very interested in the work of a group of artists/performers called Welfare State International. They did a lot of work with communities, creating relevant art and events but they also did something they referred to as 'Rites of Passage' - creating personal ceremonies or events or moments to celebrate births, deaths, marriages etc. And their work could include the natural environment, it could be sculpture or poetry or anything. So I took these ideas to create my own, personally meaningful rite of passage.

I very carefully planned it out - it was to be a piece of 'sculpture' or rather, a 'piece' - using only natural materials, rearranged in their environment for my purposes but where they could be seen by other people. I thought hard about what I wanted to 'say' with my piece - it was important that it was all natural. I wanted to name or represent my sorrows; commemorate and appreciate the people supporting me and the qualities I drew from them to get through the difficult times; represent an onwards journey and commemorate or celebrate or salute the breast I was going to lose.

The design was a circle of long grass that was bent and flattened into a spiral, there was then a plaited garland of flowers intertwined with cones and berries and seed heads and pods, there were stones and rocks and at the centre a woven unturned basket made from twigs and covered with ivy with feathers interspersed.

The meaning?

The spiral of grass represented life - circular but also spiraling, ongoing and increasing - where I hoped to be going.

The garland was made from long stemmed flowers: rosebay willowherb and another yellow flower - one long stem for each of my grandparents, my parents and my brother. These are the influences in my life and my supporters. I felt that I had been given particular qualities from each of them that were helping me on my way.
Grandad: courage, patience, recovery
Grandma: courage, patience
Grampy: patience
Grammy: bravery, confidence, enthusiasm, the ability to gather people up
Mum: tenacity, determination,
Dad: steadfastness, determination
Brother: generosity
And of course, great love from them all. And all these qualities were represented by the cones and seeds and berries as they represented growth and living, the potential new life within them.

The stones were to represent the sorrows:
My sadness at having lost all but one of my grandparents, my sorrow at not knowing them better, missing them, the sadness I felt for the difficult things they had gone through in their lives, the sadness I felt for my brother's sadness, sorrow for the opportunities and dreams for life that I had let go, having cancer, great sadness at losing a part of myself and of being betrayed by my body and sorrow at having shut myself off from my family and friends.

Finally, at the centre - the woven basket, upturned represented my breast - the vines and leaves showed how it was a living, growing thing and the feathers, the softness of skin and flesh.

It took me two days to complete - the first I scouted round Hampstead Heath for a spot where I was going to create my piece and collected up some of the bits I needed, especially the parts for weaving the basket. The next day I made it. It rained on and off and I got quite wet - I also went bra-less with a low cut top - to flout all that was to come.

When it was complete I took photos and then very resolutely turned my back and left without turning back. I didn't go back to see what happened to it - in my head it is still there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I am de-ported.....hahahahahhahaha

Not funny?

Anyway, the deed is done; the damn thing is removed and I have a handy dandy portocath-in-a-bag souvenir on my coffee table to enthrall all who come by.... :)
Yes, I am that weird - I've kept my portocath. I managed to engage enough brain to say 'yes' I wanted to keep it whilst sedated.....

But, sedation! That's another jolly story! The surgeon and his shadow came by to consent me at about 8.45 (we'd been there since 7.30 - for why? I have no idea) and said 'you don't really want sedation, do you' in that tone of voice that says 'we don't want to sedate you, say no'. I went all blathery and said words to the efect of 'yes, I jolly well do! You bugger!' And he looked *VERY* put-out. And then made me wait until 11am before they did the actual surgery and then they made me wait around to be discharged and get prescriptions for pain-killers until 4.30pm - at which point the nurse said that they'd gone home and only one dr was around and he was busy and that I could take my own paracetamol or ibuprofen if I wanted to go. Which was what I'd been saying since tea-and-toast at 1.30pm......

Still, a very nice anaesthetist sedated me and put up with me saying outrageous things like 'if this doesn't work and I'm aware of what's going on then I'm coming to find you later'....ahhh, threats - nothing like threatening your medical staff for good service, is there? Still, he was game and replyed that I should do that :) There was also a very nice theatre nurse - Ann-Marie I think, and just made me feel better.

I cried again in recovery - it's either something about coming out of that unconscious state or a side-effect from the anaesthetic stuff that makes me cry. I cried before I was even conscious after the mastectomy and I cried this time. I suppose it was also partly that this was the same place I came round both of the other times and I was crying a bit for some of those too.

Anyway, I'm in one piece, stitches come out a week today - I asked him very nicely to do a super-duper job so I'm hoping the scar won't stretch as much as my other scars..... :( It's uncomfy but not *painful* (hey, nothing's painful after taxotere pain and arm cording!) I've been hiding out and sleeping but back to work tomorrow - at home! I love me some short weeks!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Sometimes I write things here that are true for that moment only. Sometimes I write things and later they are not how I feel - but I don't delete them.
I treat this blog like a diary, but there is a difference - this is 'out' in the world where other people can read it. So, why don't I just write a diary instead? Who do I want to read this?
What do I want to say? I want to say that I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, I'm sorry if I made you sad, I'm sorry that I can't say these things directly. I have been feeling muddled sometimes and some of my posts have reflected that. And sometimes in muddle I get things wrong.

During my cancer treatment several people said to me on different occaisions that I should write about the experience and I demured. I didn't want to, couldn't - or not at that point but now I have. And as part of that I've discovered things about myself; or, I am.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Warming up the lions and sticking up the v's at cancer

This is my Lion Scarf piece - wot I knitted to help keep the lions in Trafalgar Square warm - raising money for Cancer Research UK.

Stitch and Bitch London
and friends across the world have knitted pieces and sewn 'em up to make scarves for all four (large) lions. They were en-scarved today!

My piece is in green, pink and white-y/beige, knitted with three different yarns to make the pattern and then it has a crocheted ruffle on the sides - pretty, no?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Listen again...

Damn it! I may be able to write the flipping thing but apparently I can't copy and paste the right link in to my blog so y'all can listen to it!!
Thank you Pocketina for gently pointing out the slip *and* carefully listening to the other podcasts to find the right one! That's dedication! Especially since all I've been doing is nagging you to do arm can call it ass-kicking but I think it still masquerades as nagging..... ;)

In other news I have finally been on a new yarn binge and started knitting a pair of socks - my first ever go with more than two needles at once and after a day's go at it I'm starting to feel a little less like I'm knitting with a porcupine.....

Argh! They take out my portocath on Friday...why did I agree? Noooooooooo.

Oh - so then I went and posted this without putting in the right link.....I am losing the plot here!
Let's try again:

Ladies and gentlemen, now presenting my essay on the fabulous Cast On, blah blah.....
Episode 36 my friends - starring me (again, not my voice; just my words - just?)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cast On

Wanna hear a little something I wrote?
Follow the yellow brick road - I mean, the link, to Cast on
Never listened to Cast On? Shame on you! I'm a fan, although I'm terribly behind in my listening which is why I only recently discovered that Brenda had used the piece that I emailed her. That is, by the way, *not* my voice - it's decidedly too other-side-of-the-Atlantic to be me despite my US roots.
My piece is towards the end of the podcast so you'll have to listen to the lovely Brenda Dayne on the way - I promise you it won't be a waste of your time and there's three whole series-worth to listen to if you've some time on your hands. I very must enjoyed the series on the Muses - especially Episode 23 on Urania (I think it was that one) - So listen! Listen to me, listen to Brenda, listen and, as the lady says, "Knit like the wind!".

Monday, March 05, 2007

Another day older

::Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
You look like a monkey,
Go back to the zoo::

I am no longer in my 20's - does that make me older and wiser? I wish, I expect.

I've had better days and I've had worse days and I'm mostly undecided about how I feel today.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I have a song to sing-o

La, la la la la.....
What do I want to say - hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I want to say 'thank you!' I had some very nice comments/emails recently which I do love. It's nice to know who all those people I 'see' on my stats are. I've emailed/commented back to some of you but there was at least one Anon with no email address so I can't - so 'thank you'.
I know it's OK to still be finding things difficult but I don't want to be still finding things difficult. I don't *like* difficult - I like to be difficult but I'd rather things weren't difficult for me. Hmmm, karma? And I am talking about all this shit. I do. I am. But it's part of the endless refrain: 'It takes time' - time, ha! Who has time? I don't - I had cancer - I have no time. I'm on borrowed and stolen time. 100 years ago cancer would have killed me; 50 years ago my odds wouldn't have been brilliant; 2 years ago I was lucky; for now I'm holding on with baited breath. Living with NED.

La, la la la la......
It's my birthday on Monday - nowadays, a touchy time of the year since my birthday in 2005 was two days after my first chemo - oooh, nothing says 'happy birthday!' like nausea and sickness! Last year - not so good either. Too busy remembering nausea and sickness. Forget, brain, forget!

La, la la la la.....
I have finally agreed to let the surgeon take out my portacath - I have now had my port accessed to be flushed about three times as many times as it was used for chemo. Perhaps time to let it go, no? Plus I don't want any trouble with it when I'm in Peru in the summer and it'll need some time to heal up and settle down again I should think. I was trying to work out why I'd felt so ambivalent about having it removed when I had such trouble with the idea of having it put in. Mostly it was about not wanting to be cut open again and partly the last time I let them do surgery on me I came away with one breast. Which I knew was going to be the outcome, and I know it was necessary and I know it's probably saved my life - but I don't like it and, irrationally, I blame my surgeon for it. I am really angry with him for mutilating me like this. I am literally half a woman now and it is his fault. So, not feeling good about letting him loose again. I have demanded sedation for the removal which is done with local anaesthetic because I DO NOT want to know what is going on; I do not want to be aware of what is going on otherwise I will shrivel up and squirm and then they will miss and I will end up a mess. Irrational, much? So, this time in three weeks it will be gone - just the wound will remain to fade to join the other scars I've accumulated over the last two years.

La, la la la la la aaallalaalla,
That's a skimming of the top of my brain - there's lots more and I should write it down more often.