I Have


I have
a tiny little
incision in my arm

I can still see
my blood
the transparent

I have
a tiny little
a vein
to my heart

They will spend
six months
pumping poison
into my heart
killing off cells
delivering death
and those
delivering life

I wonder
not for the first time
how many indignities
must my heart
continue to endure

You see

I have
a tiny little
that continues to beat
against all the odds

If I am
very still
I think
I can
hear it



It felt
on the wind

It sounded
wind chimes
banging crazily
the leafless
lifeless trees

a change
in perception
is the only way
to survive

She stepped
into the wind
and felt her hair
whip around her head
in a mad frenzy
that was
no longer there

on the wind
turned into
soft incantations
passionate invocations

as she let
the magic
of silence
take her


It Snowed Today

It snowed today

I danced
with dogs

Until the afternoon
claimed me

The nice man
with his litany
of risks
and risk assessments
and no way to know
if I will survive
the cellular event
or the not quite cure

It’s a numbers game
breast cancer

I have part of a breast
a missing nipple
and a tiny
little thread
of hope

It snowed today

I let myself
into the purity
of white

and forgot
the heaviness
of not knowing


Another Word for Love

They say
that cancer
of the breast
is a path

you walk

The truth is
will ever
be the same

ever is

It would be easy
to look at it
as just another
to be solved
but there is
no solution

There is

It keeps you alive
a little longer

It isn’t a cure

there is no cure
for death

The truth is
we are always
walking towards

Cancer is
a not very silent
reminding us
the end of our path
is near

And so
all those things
we put off

Healthy foods,
exercise for the body,
solace for the mind
becomes a need
not a choice

And then
there are days
like today

Where I sit
on my old
beat up sofa
looking out
the window
at a gray English
winter day
with a bright red amaryllis
blooming her heart out

While my mind
catalogs memories
happy ones
forgotten ones
curious ones

but no sad ones
no angry resentful ones

They haven’t
been invited
to this party

With the pain
my mind tumbles
in slow motion

I remember
the smell
of a vegetarian quiche
and the smile
on my little boy’s face
and the feeling of pride
in my fatigued heart

and love

I remember love

This path
of the woman
with half a breast
is always moving
in the direction
of love

There is fear
and pain
and isolation
but always
the mind and heart
join forces
turning my face
in the direction
of love

This cancer of the breast
is just another word
for love.




Zen and the Art of Breast Cancer

Mostly, I’ve found a kind of calmness. I’ve been reading the Tao. Still, the cruelty of the current geopolitical climate can still send me reeling and I forget who I am for a bit. I forget to give Love because it’s all Love.

My surgery to remove the cancerous growths in my breast is on Tuesday. On Monday I have to go into the hospital briefly to be injected with isotopes for the sentinel lymph node removal. And then at the hospital at 7:30 am the next day.

I’m signing off social networking and the inter webs now so I can find my Zen and breathe it, be it.

Catch you on the flip side.


In the meantime, here’s a pretty photograph of the Pacific on the Mendocino Coast of California from 2012.


Thoughts on breast cancer … and me… and who I am now.

I have this blog. I think it would be a great place to write about my breast cancer experience but I haven’t been able to write anything at all since I was diagnosed a month ago.

There’s just so much. If I die where do I want my remains to go? How can I make it easier for the Wonderspouse?

Today I talked to my GP. He was proud of me. He said I was the fourth woman this week who had come into his office having been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Yesterday the pre-op nurse said the breast cancer rate had risen from 1 in 8 to 2 in 4 and they have no idea why. Before I left she said, “Remember, you didn’t do anything wrong.” I almost cried.

The night before and the morning of the operation I have to wash with HiBi Scrub, even my hair. No shampoo. No conditioner. So today I went to my local hair salon and had most of my hair cut off. It’s kind of a short bob cut. It looks French. It’s kind of cute.

With the information they have now they don’t think I will have to have Chemo. Of course, that could change.

I have two tumours. They won’t be able to save my nipple but I won’t have to have a mastectomy (unless something goes horribly wrong). I will have to have several weeks of radiotherapy. They are hopeful. I am hopeful.

I have massive amounts of reading material and loads of instructions. The NHS nurses are amazing. We must all fight for our NHS. We are so lucky to have them.

And then there is the spirituality aspect of it all. I’m not looking for a “reason” or someone to blame but I am trying to find “me” in all of this.

I’m tired. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I rage at the heavens but mostly I just try to put one foot in front of the other. And sometimes I spend hours watching old movies or reading and sleeping.

I have Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS and PTSD. Obviously the stress of having breast cancer makes all of those things so much worse. My body hurts. My heart hurts. But the nurses and the doctors say, “It’s a process and eventually it will all be behind you.”

Although, at the moment I’m hugely flakey and can’t think about much more than that I’m using all my energy to survive cancer.

So… that’s what’s going on with me. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves but mostly I hope you are remembering to love yourselves.


Did I Ever Tell You…

Did I ever tell you
how hard
my birthday is
how filled
with darkness
it is?

I used to think
it was just winter,
the cold,
the fading light,
or the emotional
mine field
of the holidays

I would just say
it was my bad
time of year

A lover
once told me
I should
just decide
to not
be depressed

Of course
he was an asshole
and he’s gone away now

One year
I experienced
a vision
of Jesus
of the Sacred Heart
and fell into
like a hungry
to become
a Catholic

My confirmation saint
is Saint John of the Cross

is about light
oneness with God
an open heart…

Saint John of the Cross
wrote about
The Dark Night of the Soul
the darkness
the suffering
you have to survive,
to lean into,
before you reach
the light,
the hope
of transformation

A few years ago
I came
to the conclusion
that it wasn’t
my birthday
that was depressing
and sad
but my birth

So, yes
I am triggered
by my own birth

I feel
a bit suicidal
the entire day

but it’s not
a feeling
of wanting
to die

it’s more a feeling
of being on
the precipice
of life
and death

of a deep
like a bleeding
of not being
at all

of being
a dreadful

of rejoicing
at the miracle
of birth
of life
there is grieving
at this birth
at my birth

I don’t know
if this is truth
or reality
but it’s a feeling
an inner reality
I carry with me

A reaching out
for connection
and knowing
you will be met
with emptiness
so you stop
reaching out

My birthday
is a day
I struggle
to survive

There are always
and loneliness,

This year
I turned 65

You know
when I was younger
I never expected
to live this long

This year
three days
before my birthday

my right breast
was x-rayed again
and covered
in sticky gel
and poked
and prodded
needles sending
numbing lidocaine
and a larger needle
that felt a bit
like a drill
digging deep
into the earth’s core
but it was just my
poison filled breast

And then
I sat next
to a kind doctor,
a Dr Shepherd

I like the metaphor
inherent in his name

we looked at a big
with an image
of my breast
and the two
areas of concern

the shepherd
is fairly certain
the growth
directly behind
the nipple
is cancer

the second
dark spot
he’s not
so sure about

so he bored
into my breast
six times
removing tissue

and now we wait

My husband was there
with me
wanting to plan
to make decisions

but we must wait

He left
the next night

He wasn’t here
for my birthday

It’s just as well

it’s just a sad day
to get through
at the best of times

This year

this year

I suppose
I really am
on the precipice
of life
and death

16 December 2017
West Sussex, England